about ultimatums…

When you give someone an ultimatum, there are simply two choices:

The choice you want the person to make.

and

The choice you hope with all your heart they won’t make.

I’m writing this post because, obviously, I just gave someone an ultimatum. Here’s the back story.

You all know about my history, I think. My childhood was full of beatings and verbal abuse. My mother’s life has been filled with the same only because the men who beat us were her boyfriends (or her husband).

My mother has been separated from her husband since Thanksgiving of 2008. I cut her off on Thanksgiving of 2009. However, I didn’t completely cut her off. That is often easier said than done. I really wanted her to change, and I knew I couldn’t keep dragging myself down the road she was leading me on. So, I cut her off.

I may have mentioned before, but last summer, she started seeing someone new. His name is Mike, he’s 42 (10 years younger than her), and a complete douchebag. When she brought him up to visit, she had spent the 2 months before that telling me how different he was from all the other men in her life. Ha.

“He doesn’t drink.”

If this is true, then why did he step out of your car at 11 am in front of my house with an almost-empty 40 that he’d emptied on his way here?

If this is true, then why does he have to go to jail in a few weeks for a DUI and spend 60 days behind bars?

If this is true, then why did he drink a case of beer by himself the day you came to visit?

I’m seriously confused about your idea of what “doesn’t drink” means. Does it mean he doesn’t drink liquor? I remember, as a child, you telling us that liquor made people mean, but beer was okay. Faulty logic, I understand now, but I believe you believe that. So, a case of beer plus a 40  aren’t drinking, right?

You can see the problem here, right? This logic is completely off. By a long shot, actually. So, here’s where we get to me giving her an ultimatum. You knew this was going that direction, didn’t you?

Tuesday morning, I woke to a phone call from my brother at 9:30 am. I like to sleep in. My schedule is wonky this summer, so I work until 2-3 am most nights of the week. You see why sleeping in is important, then, I assume.

“Mike beat the shit out of mom.”

No surprise, but heart-thumping seconds waiting to know she’s okay.

“Is she okay?”

“She says she’s fine, but…”

I don’t remember the exact words, but here’s the gist of the story (pieced together from my brother and my mother at this point):

She took him to the liquor store. Remember, liquor makes people mean. Later, she had laid cool whip on the counter to thaw so she could make a pie (this is from her). At some point, he wanted to go out (to the bar, of course – a redneck dive, and I’m not really sure which one), and she did not. So, they started arguing. He threw the cool whip on the floor and told her she wasn’t leaving until she cleaned it up. She told him she wasn’t going to clean up his mess. He started beating on her. In the head and ears, of course, where you can’t see bruises. This is a sure sign he’s abused women before, because it takes some time before they learn how to cover their tracks.

At some point during the argument, he pulls a knife and tries to stab her. When he misses, he pulls a gun. She runs out of the house, and he follows. He starts beating on her in the front yard. At some point, he has pulled the turn signal/headlight knob off of the steering column. This is another sure sign he’s a chronic abuser. It takes a while for them to learn not to let their prey get away. These are all things I’ve seen before – their names are Al and Daniel. One fathered my youngest brother, the other she married years later.

The neighbors come out of their houses to see if she wants a phone to dial 911. None of them, however, actually make the phone call. So, he beats on her until his landlord comes out of her house next door to his. She walks into his house, gets mother’s keys, and tells Mike he has 10 days to get out of the house. She also apparently says, “Has he been drinking again?” Yet another sign he’s an alcoholic.

At this point, my mother uses a screw driver to turn on her headlights and hides at a friend’s house. The friends take her to the magistrate’s office to file charges against him. She files 6 charges. The cops arrest him and release him after he makes bond in an hour and a half.

The next day, she has been talking to him on the phone a lot and forgives him. Not 24 hours later and he’s forgiven because she “sees a good man in him” and “he would never do this again.” These are also words I’ve heard before – over and over and over again. I’ve learned not to believe them.

So, when she drops the charges and starts seeing him again, I issue an ultimatum. I gave her this choice because it was only fair for her to know what she was choosing and what she would lose for making that choice. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was hard because when you issue an ultimatum, you know you’ll either be ecstatic or hurt. In this case, there was going to be work no matter what the answer, but I knew what she would say beforehand. Most people who issue ultimatums do.

Here were her choices:

1. Mike

2. Me

I would remain a part of her life as long as she let the charges stick and refused to see him again. If, however, she dropped the charges and started seeing him again, I would not be part of her life anymore.

She chose him. No surprise there, really. She’s a really broken woman. I feel really bad for her, there’s no question about that. I hurt every time I think about what she’s going through.

However, I can’t remain a part of her life and be her rescuer at every moment. She MUST learn to take care of herself. And, she must want my help before it can be effective. As long as I keep rescuing her when she fucks up, she gets to make mistakes over and over and over again with rewards at the end.

So, there’s my story. Next time you think about giving someone an ultimatum, remember that you know the answer before you give it. Also remember that there’s work to be done no matter what choice they make.

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Comments
6 Responses to “about ultimatums…”
  1. Rita Lee says:

    It always amazes me how miserable people can be and yet convince themselves that they are not. And, want to bring us along for that miserable ride just to have some company. Your Mom truly does not see how destructive her life is to her and you. And you are right that as long as she has you to rescue her she can just keep doing it.

    And, Porscha, she didn’t choose HIM. She chose that LIFE. She’s comfortable there. It’s familiar and, believe it or not, easier for her.

    Here’s a hug, sweetie.

    Rita

  2. You’re right, Rita. She didn’t choose HIM as much as she chose what he represents – all of her bad history. She can’t break the cycle for some reason, even though she has two children who support her breaking that cycle. Even my youngest brother told her not to bring Mike to the house (he still lives with her). He represents someone she thinks she can help, I think. She kept telling Trent that he “just needed some help” and he didn’t need to spend 2 years in jail for something that got blown way out of proportion. She always revises history to fit her needs at the time. She manages several different stories depending on who she’s talking to. She’s lied to me more times than I can count, just because that lie fit what it was she needed at the time.

    It’s strange, but I’ve found myself bored since the first time I cut her off. However, this reminded me that “boredom” is really stability and stability is okay. Thank goodness I have an amazing wife who manages to both put up with my mother’s crap and handles the crap I throw at her because there’s shrapnel in my veins.

  3. Beth says:

    My dear sweet Porscha….I want you to know that I love you and I always have, please believe that.

    I came across this blog today after I googled your name to try and find an email address to write you so I could find out how you, your mom and your brothers are doing. I am crying because I know that I was no role model for you either growing up. I only saw you once a year for the few years that your mom and I reunited as friends but when you all would come to visit, all we did was party and stay drunk. I am so so sorry that you have been so hurt.

    I am also crying because Jamey feels basically the same way about me as you do your mom. I am living with him because I was dealing with colon cancer in NC and he came and got me but he constantly reminds me of the 10 yrs. before I left Keith when I was nothing but a total bitch because I was so unhappy and a drunk when my friends came around. You saw the abuse in my house as well and it breaks my heart to think about what we put all of you kids threw.

    I’ve often thought that I should have been as strict on my boys like your mom was on ya’ll. My problem was I couldn’t spank the boys because I was beat as a child. It doesn’t help either when Jamey tells me that I should have grounded him more and not let him do what he wanted. My mother never loved me and I never wanted my boys to feel that rejection or hurt so they were given pretty much everything they wanted.

    I wish I had some majical words to say to you sweetheart. I wish I could turn back time and have a second chance with my own sons and a chance to help your mom have a better life than what she has had. You were the only girl and so very precious! I remember you and I walking down our street to the beach and talking about what was going on in your life. Your biggest worry back then was the boys not liking you because you were a big girl, I remember telling you how beautiful and sweet you were and not to worry about boys…lol.

    Jonathan finally gets home from prison next month, he’s been looked up since he was a teenager basically. He has 2 beautiful children and this time I know he will stay out of trouble and be a good father. Christopher just went into prison. He shot and killed a man who broke into his home and was sentenced to 14 yrs for aggravated manslaughter because he unloaded his gun in him. This happened when I was in NC and I called your mom 3 or 4 times because I was all alone and about to have a nervous breakdown with no way to get back to the beach to see him. I don’t know why but she would slam up the phone on me when she heard my voice. I truely don’t know why.

    Jamey is doing well. He went through rehab last summer to finally kick his 15 yr. heroin addiction and he was baptized on my birthday last summer and we go to church together. It is something I have prayed for, for such a long time and finally God answered my prayer.

    As far as I go, I’m still sick with Lupus and the other chronic illnesses from all the stress I had from being married to Keith. I haven’t had a drink in 8 yrs. and I am happy with my life. It’s not been easy but I learned how to love myself which made me a better person.

    Porscha, you are a beautiful, extremely intelligent young woman with a great grasp on what you want out of life. I hope you can find peace and forgiveness in your heart for your mother. I was never able to find that with mine because she didn’t want it, not because I didn’t try. I’m not going to preach to you honey but lift all of this up to God and ask him for help. Jamey is living proof that he hears our prayers. He was almost dead from the drugs but now his life is completely different. He has forgiven me but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten.

    I love you very much and would very much like to see you when you come to the beach and I know Jamey would too!

    Aunt Beth

    • Aunt Beth! It’s been years… too many, really. I’m glad to hear things are going well with Jamey. He really deserves that. I remember thinking he was a great guy when we were kids. I looked up to him a lot because he was a fun guy.

      I’m sorry to hear about Christopher. I hate that sometimes prison is what turns a person around. Cliff might be headed that way soon. He goes to court in August for felony possession charges. I don’t know any details because Mom lies about it. Trent keeps me informed, but I can’t tell if she’s telling him the truth, either.

      Sounds like Jonathan is going to be on the right track soon, too, which is good. I had no idea you were a grandmomma! Congratulations!

      I don’t know why she slams the phone down on you. She has always had a hard time keeping friends. She tends to run them off when they don’t do what she thinks they should.

      I love my mom. I can forgive her for everything in my past. I just can’t watch her go through this stuff over and over and over again. It breaks my heart to watch her make the same bad decisions over and over again. I told her that was why I couldn’t be part of her life anymore. I want to be. I want her to get help. I want her to want to get help, you know? But she doesn’t. I think she has bipolar disorder, actually. Right now, she’s in the psych ward at Catawba on 72-hour lockdown. This is the 5th time in a year. The first time, Trent and I had to go to the magistrate’s office to sign papers to have her committed. This time, Cliff found her with her blood pressure pills and an empty bottle and called 911. Then, she tried to attack a nurse, so they are holding her for a while. They just keep saying she has adult ADD and depression, but I think there’s a lot more going on. I don’t think she knows what’s going on in her own head. I was very clear with her when I told her why I couldn’t be part of her life. I just couldn’t rescue her anymore, and I gave her clear reasons. But, when Trent went to visit her the day before yesterday, she told him she didn’t know why I wouldn’t talk to her. I don’t think her brain works properly, and that scares the hell out of me. I’m not sure it ever has. She mostly just wants to party and forget about the world, which means she won’t ever try to help herself or find help from someone else.

      I would love to see you and Jamey, too! We don’t usually go to the beach because Lin (the wife) hates the sand! However, I could convince her to come at some point, I’m sure. Are y’all still in Garden City?

      Love. Love. Love.

      P*.

  4. Beth says:

    Honey I’m so sorry that you and your mom are going through this horrible time. My prayers are most definently with you both! A person won’t change until they want to change or are forced to change by hitting rock bottom and losing everything they hold dear to their heart. I could sit here and blame Keith or the boys for constantly being in trouble when they were teenagers but I had to accept responsibility for me and change didn’t happen until I did. I had to leave Keith and walk out the door with just the clothes on my back and go in and out of the homeless shelter several times over the years but it’s what I had to do to bring change in my life. Now that Jamey is clean and sober I no longer have that to worry about!! PTL!!

    Your mom sounds like she’s in need of a drastic change herself. The first step has to be loving herself and that’s not easy to do but hopefully she will get involved with some sort of therapy and they won’t just release her to keep on doing herself harm. I’m proud of you guys for taking such a hard step by signing the papers to have her admitted. I know it wasn’t easy and I imagine you really struggled with your feelings and probably got pretty pissed off at her for putting you in this situation. She really may not understand what she has put you all through. Maybe you will have an opportunity to all go in and speak with a therapist about what has been going on. That would probably help her to have someone else explain to her what she is just not seeing.

    We still live on the south side, off of hwy 501 on Forestbrook Rd. It’s real easy to get too and we would love to have you both come for a weekend whenever you can. I don’t have much but I have a couch and we can always make a bed on the floor like we used too for all of you….lol.

    Keep your chin up honey. I know it’s hard, your mom is a tough person but I know she loves you so very very much and deep down in her heart she never intended for her life or your life to have gone the way it is. I remember at my 30 birthday party in Tenn. we took a pic of your mom, me and all 9 of you kids. I thought we should make posters out of the pic and sent to our mother’s for mother’s day gifts………lol. We said we would make sure our kids had a better life than we did…………I’m so sorry that we failed all of you.

    All my love sweet girl,

    Aunt Beth

    P.S. I have hmmm let me count here…….Jamey has 5 kids, Jonathan has 2, Mary has 1, Erik has 3 and Zac has 2. Zac who was Cliffs age, infact somewhere i have pics of them together in their stroller, he was killed in 2002. That really did a number on the boys and Christopher still suffers deeply from depression over it.

  5. Beth says:

    Porscha, I just wanted to drop you a note and find out how things are going these days. I added your mom to my FB page and have written her a couple messages but she hasn’t written me back so I don’t guess she is going to. I really do hate that because we have known each other over 40 years and I think that is a friendship worth trying to keep. I won’t beg her to talk to me and I am grateful to be able to talk with you and be part of your life! I really do want ya’ll to come visit with us when you can. I told Jamey and he said to tell you to come on down:)

    Last week I met Jonathan’s 12 yr old daughter for the first time! It was so amazing to see this little girl who looks so much like me! Jonathan has a 6 yr. old son who lives here at the beach so it was so cute to watch these 2 interact with each other. They look a lot alike and by the end of the day were crying because they didn’t want to part from one another. I told Tanner that she is his sister for the rest of his life and nobody can take that away from him so that helped him to cheer up. They are just too cute to watch…lol.

    I was so caught up in the excitement that I stayed out in the sun too long and now I’m sick from my Lupus. I saw a dermatologist Friday and he gave me 4 creams to rub on my skin and took this torch type thing and burnt 5 or 6 pieces of skin off that were messed up with Lupus. I have to have surgery in 2 weeks to get it all removed but it is a plastic surgeon I am seeing so hopefully I won’t be left with more scars. You may remember how bad I would break out in a rash all over when you guys would come to visit me when you were little. I haven’t been to the beach in 20 yrs I guess and I sure did it up good this time when I did!

    Jonathan is released the 30th so I am getting excited to have him home and since I have developed a relationship now with his children I am excited for him to see them. This has been a good thing. Jamey is doing good, work has been slow so he’s under stress about money but I guess everyone is. Christopher is ok I guess. I worry about him so much and just pray that somehow his dad will find it in his heart to hire him a real lawyer and get him out of prison. He’s been promising for 2 years but he has not done anything to help. When I left him in 1999 he immediately moved in with this woman he is now married to and she refused to let him have any contact with the boys and he has just gone along with it. For years I was mad as hell and fought with him but now I have to agree that the boys have been better off not having them in their lives. They are 2 very selfish people and I don’t want my boys around that type of person. It still doesn’t change that it has hurt the boys which is so sad. Like this past weekend when Jonathans kids were here and we had such a great time together, Keith will never be able to share in that which is sad but I don’t really want my grandkids around them either. It just really sucks.

    Well girl I hope you and your sweetie are both well. Let me know how the boys are and if you talk to them tell them I love them and to please call me if they ever get to the beach. Hang in there baby girl…..I love you!

    hugs & kisses,
    Aunt Beth

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