By M. Jai Jenkins
I believe she was born Pamela Gail Hightower. Maybe, I am not sure of her last name at the time of her birth in 1959. Her father, I’m told, was her mother’s uncle. He was later killed in a car crash, when the steering wheel went through his heart. Her mother had abandoned her and her siblings and being the eldest; was forced to her to raise her 7 siblings, while still a child. She is also a victim of rape. This is literally almost everything I know of her past. She is my mother.
I had two brothers born before me, one in 1978 and the other in 1980. She was 22 when I was born. I was followed by my sister, 13 months later in 1983. Her and I have the same father. My mother remarried in the late 80’s to an Army vet and when I was 8, my youngest sister was born. He was out of our home within 3 years, in part, due to drug problems. In total, she had 5 children: 3 boys and 2 girls. Of which, I am the middle child.
My earlier memories were the most positive with her. By positive, I’m referring to before the yelling, cursing, verbal and physical abuse. While a toddler, our home was burglarized and robbed, while we were all home. My mother and stepfather were tied up and my sister was taken. She was later found, unharmed and the culprits were arrested. My mother never spoke of this incident after my childhood. I never learned who did it or why it happened.
I have no memories of my father in the home with us. He stopped by periodically. Some weekends, I went over his house. Prior to my 8th birthday, that everything seemed average. We played kid games, ate regular meals, cussed and threw rocks at cars. I had a small party when I turned 8, with neighborhood kids and after that, she never acknowledged another birthday.
As I reached 9 or 10 years old, her language turned detrimental. Her daily verbal assaults would include, telling me that she hated me and that she regretted not getting an abortion. She would call me ugly, a bitch and even tell me that I’ll “be a fag like my daddy”. She occasionally took to physically beating us with a variety of objects that includes braided switches, extension cords, those small 18’ bats that they gave away at reds games. I still have a scar, above my forehead, on the right side of my head. She swung the cord, while holding the house fan and the metal plug cut open my head.
It endured, consistently for years. Once I reached my early teens, household fights would be a regular affair. I no longer had a positive attitude. Often wishing I were dead as an early teen. I fought everyone else in the household, more than they all fought each other. She would always take their sides. I have never felt her support in anything. I never understood it. She would call police and they eventually start coming to our home on a weekly basis, to breakup our fights.
I hated life. I wanted to die by the age of 13. I would write poetry about dying and often tried to run away from home. She never cared. She wasn’t emotional. She never hugged or kissed me, never told me that she loved me or was proud of me. Still to this day.
It tormented me as a kid, watching my friend’s moms treating them like they were prized possessions. That the only thing I’ve ever been jealous of. I never knew what that felt like. My dad disappeared right before I turned 12 and my mom was telling me that she hated me every day.
Several times, she would call police and have me arrested. They would send me to the juvenile detention center, and I’d stay for a few weeks at a time. I was sent to the local lighthouse runaway shelter and once; to a foster home in Dayton, OH. This was not because I was a threat to anyone in the house but because she hated me. I have never once tried to intentionally harm her. I did once, inadvertently but she hated me before then.
Through elementary, junior high and high school; she never attended any function I had, to support me. No award ceremonies for grades, sports or my actual high school graduation. She never accepted the tickets I left her, nor did she ever say congratulations. Ironically, she attended graduations for my siblings, my brother’s before and my sister’s after mine. I realized, when came home with my cap and gown on, diploma in hand and she never acknowledged me: that I had no mother.
I left and never returned shortly after. Not that I never attempted, I did once and was immediately reminded that I was never wanted in this family. I had my son two weeks before I turned 20 years old. Prior to his birth, I didn’t have a stable home, I had been floating since I left her home at 18, so I had no where to take him. One night I wanted my son but wanted to take him somewhere I thought was safe.
I called and asked my mom, “can I sleep on your couch so that I can get Jaden for tonight?” There was no reply. Just an awkward long pause and then finally a reply but not my mom. It was my sister, born the year after me. She said, “how you gon’ be company and you trying to bring company?” I was devastated. I was not able to see my son that weekend and I’ve never referred to them as family since. Not because of anything other than the fact that, they declared that my child or I, was not welcome as family.
Pamela and I have been estranged ever since. Jaden is 18 now and I have other children; none know her. We crossed paths several years ago at her mother’s funeral. I was at the door near the entrance and she walked in, saw me and said “hi”, then continued walking. Her brother, entering behind her noticed she didn’t stop and address me and called her name, saying “Pam, your son’s right there”. She turned to him, said “I know”, then walked back away.
Months after the funeral, we crossed paths again. My aunt was graduating from college and a lot of family were attending. I had my two youngest children with me. At the time they were 1 and 2. We arrived and sat with family; she arrived with 2 of her sisters and sat on the other side of the room. She never spoke to me or the grandchildren she never knew she had. When we took pictures after, she was absent. Once I had walked away with my girls, I looked back, and she had then joined them for pictures.
The last time I spoke to Pamela, my mother, was a little over a month ago. I was repairing sidewalk and needed more of the concrete mix. Exiting the hardware store, I saw her walking in my direction. As she passed by, I pulled down my mask and yelled “Hi Ms. Pam”. She stopped, standing about 20 feet away; she squinted and said, “who is that?” She raised her hand, then said “Hi”, shrugged her shoulders and then turned to continue her journey walking up the road.
I saw here a week later in the grocery store but decided not to speak this time. It had been nearly 30 years of disappointing interactions; I lack desire to entertain another one. I would love to have a relationship with her and for my children to as well but only if she gets help; under no circumstances, will I allow her to project her negative energy and trauma, upon me or my children. The effects it had me on me, took over 25 years to unravel.
I wish I could tell you a lot wonderful things about my mother but unfortunately, there are not many positive memories in the last 30 years. Life can either beat you or you can beat life, life won against her. She is still single handedly the most negative person ever to be a part of my life. She has more than one social/personality/behavior disorder, all due to the PTSD she suffered early in life.
Today, I’ve reached what I call “the other side.” Where the detrimental thoughts, the PTSD, effects of trauma, abandonment, homelessness, abuse and more are no longer present. There’s no animosity, hate, or negative feelings towards my mother. I’m glad that she never got that abortion. I love her and I wish her well. I realize, it wasn’t her fault. Her PTSD started early and although she aged physically, her mental capacity did not. It’s in a vegetative state; protected for self-preservation, from her initial moment of acute trauma.
She experienced not only abandonment but Sexual assault, Racism, Sexism, raising kids and all the other problems that we encounter in daily life. This, aggregated, with no Psychological help/counsel; rendered her mental capacity to a low/almost no chance of expansion for maturation. A constant state of trauma, occurring frequently is extremely detrimental to the human mind. This is evident in soldiers returning from war, as well those living in violent conditions.
Via the Mayo clinic -Diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an event that involved the actual or possible threat of death, violence or serious injury. Your exposure can happen in one or more of these ways:
- You directly experienced the traumatic event
- You witnessed, in person, the traumatic event occurring to others
You learned someone close to you experienced or was threatened by the traumatic event. You are repeatedly exposed to graphic details of traumatic events (for example, if you are a first responder to the scene of traumatic events). You may have PTSD if the problems you experience after this exposure continue for more than a month and cause significant problems in your ability to function in social and work settings and negatively impact relationships.
My only disappointment now, is that I can’t show her that there is another side. One, where you can take control of your pain and anger. Where happiness and peace exist, to show her how to move on past her trauma and reveal the happy young lady; I’m sure she once was. She’s still alive, so I have hope. Though I know it was an unconventional path, I’m thankful for every step of the way. I learned an understudy of psychology from her, that no school in America could educate me on.
Pamela taught me how to parent with a psychological approach. From our relationship or lack thereof: I learned a lot, including how to love myself. I learned proper communication, how to reverse trauma and what never to say to kids; how to diagnose mental/behavior disorders, as well as how to respond to them. Things that have benefited me tremendously. I’m proud of that. From your ex-sociopathic son, thank you mom.