Lauren Campbell

CW: Mental/emotional abuse

[NONFICTION] A Shared Vocabulary: Messages to my Mother

I am so sorry you see things this way! I am sad that you don’t get that I have bipolar disorder with depression and anxiety, that I have abused alcohol to self-medicate and that I tried I really did! And when I ended up hospitalized I left you and Amanda with family. Had I known you wanted my information about my past as fuel to ruin or tear me down rather than to fill in the blanks I would never have shared and been open and honest. I, by the way, am not fucking that guy we are buddies and I am friends with his wife as well. I am so sorry for EVERYTHING and will leave you alone! And Amanda got you involved why? And why do you assume I need help; you are going on a one-sided version of what’s going on and what started it; that simply doesn’t seem fair to me!


Because I want a roommate agreement – we don’t live like a family here at all! There is a big difference! This was a mistake, I should have stayed in my apartment and not moved with them. Just because you are family and love one another doesn’t mean you can live together. It has gone too far with a lot of things here. Here are two simple examples: Andrew is sitting in his car watching me carry heavy bags of grass across the street and secondly – I am not cooking and John & I are watching TV; they have been hibernating for hours in their room. No discussion of dinner or food by anyone – no goodbye, kiss my ass, etc.…. Out the door they go to return 45 mins later with fast food cups in hand – now that’s roommate behavior! Family behavior would be “hey we are going to……., want us to bring you something?” Most of the time the answer would be no but come on you could ask. I wasn’t food shopping or cooking only enough for me and John until recently when they stopped eating and I stopped being able to afford it. I don’t bring anything in the house that isn’t for everyone (oh wait John’s truck food). Andrew makes sure you won’t take any drinks from half gallon and gallon jugs. See my point. So for just a few more dollars a month I can live where there is a pool, grass cut, snow is removed. Make sense. Hell I had pneumonia and no one here, including John, cared enough to take me to patient first, sick and on expired license I took myself and they were all shocked it was pneumonia. I don’t feel like any of them give a rat’s ass about me; including John. That’s a whole other story. Half the time they don’t speak in, to bathroom, to kitchen, and up to room. Up, dressed and out the door no conversation at all! I have really gotten myself into a mess this time and I feel like I am all on my own. There is nothing I can do and nothing is making this situation better so maybe I should just disappear, huh?


Might be better for you and your sister if I just wasn’t around anymore. So Amanda tells me that she told you about the weekend and the mess?  I am doing ok – crossed between pissed, hurt and sad. Sad to think that one minute someone can say they love you and the next they will slash your tires – and I am screwed cause he took all his money with him so he can get his own place and I will have to pay a “betterment charge” because of how worn the tires were – they are only responsible for putting the vehicle back to the pre-vandalism condition….so keep your fingers crossed that it won’t be too much – but it certainly isn’t an expense that I was ready for —- but oh well – everything happens for a reason and I guess I needed new tires so bad that at least this way I won’t have a blow out on the beltway —— taking the positive from this – well trying to – and being car less sure has made the last three days interesting – since I now rely on Amanda to take me places and isn’t that a role reversal…LOL


Those demented people that I live with – well that gets more interesting as each day passes – yesterday when I got home it felt like a frigging sauna in there – grandmom got really cold (she isn’t feeling well) so she turned the heat on — well they don’t remember enough about AC vs. heat temperatures so they put it on 78 degrees — HOLY CRAP!!   And all summer long Poppy thought when it was on 68 degrees or 70 degrees we had too high — again mixed up about the heat vs. ac crap — so he would drop it to like 62 degrees and you would wake up freezing your ass off….   every day it is something…. Never a dull moment — I am ready to move to a room for rent kinda deal —– where I can have that to escape to at least a few times a week and at least one weekend night — you know somewhere that is my own……


I can’t even take a shit without Amanda or john wanting to have a conversation with me —–nowhere to have any privacy it is really beginning to get to me … and of course “poor john” he is moping around cause I am on his ass and telling him that I am not happy and haven’t been for some time now — I just keep praying that he will be the one to want to leave – I will even pay for the first two weeks of his “room for rent” deal and half for a scooter so he can get around – I want to be civil about it and I am having such a hard time bringing it up because of his temper and nature to begin the shit slinging stuff — he does have a few things he could run around and tell on me for – they are old but not taken care of yet — and he gets that well if I can’t have you I can mess up your life attitude — I gotta tell you I am afraid of him and I’m not kidding. I don’t know if it’s safe to stay at grandmas because when he gets angry he goes off.


Why can’t men just go away quietly why do they have to do all this shit…and I will be damned if he thinks he is taking my baby boy Chico — he is mine mine mine and John can’t even take care of himself much less have a dog too I am so sorry – I really am – even Chico is upset he helped me pack and was all excited. You make a choice each and every day when you get up to be happy or to be miserable – I chose to cherish what time I have left and try my best to be happy — and do my best each day and that is all that I can be expected to do…………And remember your family is getting older and older each day that passes and that they are all on the countdown – don’t be sorry for the rest of your life because the last conversation – or interaction was horrific —– and always ask yourself these questions.


I am so twisted when it comes to this driving thing and going places alone — I don’t know what to do to get over it –because I really have to —I have let you down sooo many times because of this and it really limits my life and it lets johns sit here and laugh at me and he thinks it’s really funny – it is the last thing that he thinks he controls – so that should motivation enough —hope you are okay and when you come home next weekend how about we got to Della Rosas (my treat) the new one on the waterfront in canton and then take a walk on the waterfront —–you tell me when! I love you so much and I am sorry – emotionally sorry and I am a sorry person too —- but that we knew. Please don’t be mad you know this is how I am and there is so very little I can do about it. I love you – always will and always have —- I am worried and don’t want you pissed at me too – but really needed to say how much the old folks are hurting as a direct result of your not staying in touch, the fact that you have become heartless, sharp tongued — and I know I know everyone is entitled to their opinions and to express them – but gosh sometimes it is just better to say nothing and limit your visit – just like no one has the right to infringe on you and your beliefs you owe the same respect back to them – there is a very fine line between being honest and open and just a mean ass that is sarcastic and gives a crap about no one but yourself.


I want a social life again, want to do things, want to be able to sleep in the same room as my husband in the same bed. Not be ignored, lectured to, always taught lessons, etc. have a say in some of the television shows we watch as a couple. To be included sometimes! To simply ask how was your day? Or how do you feel? Or asked would I like something. I mean now when they do ask I don’t because it’s only because I said something not because they wanted to. And darn I don’t hear from you either and when I do text or call you seldom respond. Gosh, Lauren, I don’t even have an emergency contact because no one answers their phones so I list none. And I love being with Grace but I feel guilty because she is always paying my way.


I didn’t think I was as bad as grandmom, but apparently, I am because I totally understand how lonely she felt. Imagine how lonely you would feel if you were me. Super sorry I asked about Mother’s Day and caused a huge issue with you and Grace! Please accept my apology and get her to go with you! Again I am sorry! Also, I canceled the Orioles game I gave all the tickets to Amanda to do what she wants with them! Oh, and by the way, I am getting divorced.


Then your grandmother tells me she calls you and you aren’t coming home for thanksgiving – it is completely up to you – your choice your decisions but know that I have been where you are – a different time a different place but I have been there and I can tell you that in the end all you will have left is your dysfunctional family and you can take them at face value and leave it at that or you can act like a raving manic and expect them all to be transformed overnight into who you want them and expect them to be — but it won’t happen – just like you won’t let anyone change you or inflict their beliefs or opinions on you you can expect to be able to do that to others eitheryou are you and I am Iand that is all there is to it —you accept people for who they are and deal with it and come back home. You are such a heartless BITCH.


You send me papers in the MAIL like I am NOTHING to you well that’s fine I will be nothing!!! You don’t have a MOTHER. You don’t want to be my daughter anymore you have yourself a deal! Look you spoiled heartless brat you will NEVER HEAR FROM ME AGAIN and I was going to sign and send back BUT you know what they have ALWAYS PREFERRED YOU TO AMANDA and could have been more balanced what they did between the two of you rather they created one selfish nasty MONSTER so now spend some of their riches and get a lawyer and do this without me because you do NOT HAVE MY CONSENT. Do not call or text me EVER AGAIN. I am DONE with you—you’re their problem now. YOU GOT IT NOW MOVE ON AND LEAVE ME ALONE


So ok –how the hell are you?  And how did that million-dollar dress turn out and what about the shoes?  Did you love it or what? Did you have a good time at the formal?  Did you hang it back up and take care of it so that you can wear it again? How are classes going and all the work? 


And what the hell is this crap with aunt grace – she is so hurt it isn’t even funny and the worst part is that you blame her – but she got a panic call from Ryan at 2 am – that startled the hell out of her not to mention woke her up – she talked to you and you sounded ok – and then blame me, go ahead she asked me what I thought and I said yes call Ed – cause Lauren, there are three sides to every story – your side, the other person’s side and then the truth — and not being there not being able to tell in person whether or not you were ok – the med reaction that you had, the frantic calls from Ryan – the fact that you guys broke up – the fact that you don’t stay in touch on a regular basis with any of us —  the random behavior – lets go all the way back to NY when you are drinking to the point you do and mixing that with meds


I can keep going but won’t cause by now you are pissed at me too — and I was sitting here and could hear every word that grace said and all she did was ask how to reach him and after two switches she was connected to him – she did not identify herself until she got on the phone with him – Ed and inappropriate over reacting – I KNOW NOT – she was calm – matter of fact and stated the facts – the call from Ryan – the contents of the conversation the fact that she called you and you appeared to be ok – but that she wanted someone close to you to know and to be there for you – someone that you could and would talk to — and she even started the conversation out with I know that you can’t tell me anything and that is fine and I am not asking you to do so – I just needed to tell you the following…… and then she told him about the facts — and thanked him and hung up.


But you better above all just be grateful for what you have been given the opportunities that have been afforded to you and wake up and realize that no one ever intended to harm you – never – sometimes it just happens and that is the way it is —  overbearing, overprotective and full of love and smothering you is all that you can ever fault grace for — she has given you more than any one should ever expect to receive in a lifetime and at her expense time and time again – she gives and gives and gives and you are the princess, golden girl who gets all and then some ——– independent who are you trying to kid – did you buy that car, do you pay that car insurance, who buys your clothes, puts money in your account, makes sure you got your meds,  health insurance, your furniture bill, your other credit cards – come on who are you kidding – you are independent in your thoughts, what you say and what you do – but not to the point where you stand on your own and pay your own way – and in this day and age with the economy heading the way that it is – I would be very careful cutting off the source of your livelihood. And I will be here if you ever needed me — I don’t push myself on anyone – I know what I did wrong as a person, as a mother, as a wife and that list goes on and on ———- I don’t even have the right to be called a mother – I gave birth and walked away between the ages of 4 years and 12 years and I am not foolish enough to think that has not had an impact ….it has —- but accept it – let it go – pick yourself up and brush yourself off and be grateful for what you have rather than always look at the negative – be an optimist not a pessimist …..believe me.


Lauren Campbell is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at The University of Baltimore. Her collection of essays, Worlds I Cannot Know, is due to be released in May 2018. You can find her at

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