No one ever explained my mother’s illness to me, and the trauma I experienced had lasting effects. I worry that young people nowadays face the same challenges
When I was 12, my mother cornered me in the bathroom of our suburban Vancouver home. “Your teeth are too yellow,” she said, handing me a can of Comet.
Though disappointed that little about me ever pleased my parent, I understood from past experience how to get through the current predicament. I sprinkled green powder on my toothbrush and did my best to not let any of it go down my throat while I scrubbed.
The things I didn’t do: report her to authorities; confide in a reliable adult; tell my school friends; cry. Perhaps my mother was right and my teeth were ugly. Or perhaps the shame I felt overshadowed the grievous nature of her request.
As my sole guardian, my mother was the most important person in my life. And under her roof, I played by her rules, no matter how bizarre, because losing her was unthinkable. I didn’t know she suffered from psychosis. I only knew that when she stared at me, her brown eyes near black and glittering with relentless intensity, what she saw didn’t meet her approval.
“an invasive apprehension moved into my nervous system. Just the tap of her heels on the kitchen linoleum sent my heart rate into rapid ascent” more