This is a story about my life up until today. Although I might regret it later, I feel like I need to say it... if not for you to read, them for me to write.

For my entire life, there has been one constant, one force so powerful that everything else, for a long time, has paled in comparison. This omnipotent presence is my mother. As far back as I can remember she has been sick; when we lived in Canada she was in and out of the hospital constantly, despite the socialized medicine she claimed was killing her. In Tucson, she had surgery after surgery for problems that, looking back, I realize were mainly psychological. At the time, I constantly believed that she was dying, and I lived in fear of waking up one morning and not having my mother there.

Over time, as her doctors began to refuse her new treatments for her imagined problems, she began to look for new ways to be the center of attention. Being an only child, I quickly became the only thing in her life upon which to lavish attention.

I guess that I wasn't as easily manipulated as she thought I was. Slowly, steadily, and completely subconsciously[ I repelled her every attempt to make me what she wanted me to be. Maybe I was a terrible child and every mother should be allowed to force her offspring into a personality of her own design. Then again, maybe I have the basic right to be myself... Either way, she steadily became abusive. She was always controlling; but this was different. One night I stayed with my next-door neighbors' while she and my father went out to dinner. When she came over to pick me up, I was jumping on the bed with their daughter. Her mother made some sort of remark like, "Oh they sound like elephants." Then she laughed. So did my mother. We went home and we were standing in the kitchen and suddenly she started hitting me with a metal frying pan. She screamed that I had embarrassed her. I was so scared that I fell down on the floor; it was the first time she ever hit me. She kept on doing it until I blacked out.

That was only the beginning. When my father was away on business trips, as he often was (and continues to be), she was physically abusive. When he was home, she was verbally abusive. And if she had been consistently so, maybe it would have been better, because at other times she was incredibly sweet, buying me things that I didn't even want. Later on in the day she would scream at me about the money she spent on me. These mood swings were horrible in that I could never know what she was going to be like when I saw her. Some days I would get in the car after school and she would buy me an ice cream. Other times she would start screaming at me the second I opened the door. For I while I felt sick every morning when I woke up. I stayed in my room constantly; I created an entire cast of characters in my mind who were my only friends. I lived completely outside of reality for five years. I was scared to bring my friends to my house because I knew that my mother would only hate me as soon as they left-- but then she would get mad and say that I was embarrassed by her. Everything I said or did was wrong, no matter how hard I tried.

An avid reader (escapism defined me), I read a book called "Don't Hurt Laurie" by Willo Davis Roberts. It was about a girl abused by her mother. I went to check it back into the library and the woman behind the counter said, "I read that book. Aren't you lucky that your mother isn't like hers?" It was at that exact moment in time that the paradigm shift occurred. My carefully constructed fantasy world was shattered and could never be repaired. For the next six years-- I am seventeen today-- the hole in my life grew larger and larger. Suddenly I had friends who didn't exist only in my tortured mind. I formed lasting relationships with people besides her. I had support from people who loved me.

So what's wrong with me? Although my relationship with her has steadily worsened, I have an entire family of friends. I don't need her anymore. I have realized the incredible truth of the statement "That which does not kill you makes you stronger" and I know that one day soon I will escape this house and journey out into a world full of beautiful things. But I have recently noticed my inability to emote.

For the first time in my life I have met someone I really care about romantically. It took me six months to tell him. As for my friends, I can't tell them that I care about them without long, protracted analysis and explanation. It's easier for me to joke about everything than to express a sincere emotion. How can I be so cruel?

The nail in the coffin of my suspicion-- the one indisputable fact that made me realize what a horrible person I've become-- came two weeks ago. I went to Arizona to see my grandfather, who is in a nursing home with advanced Alzheimer's. I remembered my grandmother's funeral, where I sat passively while everyone else cried, in strange shots, as if from a broken camera. I remember a man saying the Hail Mary in front of her open casket, his mouth frozen in the shape of an o. I remember watching the coffin lowering into the ground. I remember everything... except how I felt. Because at the time, I felt nothing. And sitting in the nursing home, watching my grandpa ask where he was, and where his son was, and who were these people sitting in front of him... I couldn't even hug him when it was time to go. I don't know what any of this has to do with my mother; I can't honestly psychoanalyze myself. I only know that everything in my life is interconnected in some way, and I wish I could change all of this...but I don't think I can. I think it might be too late.

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