A Dialogue

"It's a half-hour past your bedtime! I want you in bed right now! Stop fooling around! I'm getting really angry!"

"Stop yelling at me and leave me alone! I can get into bed by myself."

"I want you in bed right now! I want to go to the Primal Center, I'm feeling really insane and I don't know how to deal with you any more!"

"You just say you're insane because you really don't want me! When you yell at me it makes me feel like you don't want me.

"I'm sure it does."

"You don't want me. That's the truth, isn't it, mommy, you don't really want me."

"Yes, it is true sometimes."

"Why did you ever have me if you didn't want me? Did you want me when I was born?"

"Don't you know you aren't supposed to have a baby if you don't want one?

. . . Well? Why did you ever get pregnant? . . . Why don't you let me go to the adoption place then I won't be insane. . . . What's insane mean, anyway?"

"It's when your body knows something is true and your head can't figure it out cause you keep hearing words that are opposite."

(Hopeful) "Did you ever want me, Mommy?"

"No, I really didn't. Somewhere inside you know the real truth. Tiny babies know everything there is to know from the moment they are conceived. Even now you know everything. It's only the words that you don't know. Do you want to hear the story of how you were conceived - in words?"

(The tears cleared. Her face became alert with interest).

"I already had two children and that was all I wanted. You were conceived because I was tricked into a bargain. I had a dog, Zuri, that I loved very much but your daddy hated. He wanted to have you very much. When I was five months pregnant he said he would kill the dog if I didn't get rid of it. Zuri left. I became very depressed; I would go to bed for days and not get up. I even tried to kill myself. I didn't want to live any more.

(A weight of insanity and confusion seemed to be lifting from her body.)

"I've seen pictures of Zuri; I wish you had him now. I like him, he's so pretty."

"You were born in the Elmira Hospital. Your birth was easy for me. You came very fast. You were beautiful. I was sad."

"Didn't you want me then? If I was beautiful, why didn't you like me? Are you sure I wasn't ugly? I feel ugly when you don't like me."

"I don't know, I wanted to like you. I was afraid of you when I would hold you. It seemed like such a big responsibility to have such a beautiful baby needing so much from me. I stayed in the hospital for eight days so the nurses could take care of you. They would bring you to me to be nursed. I would try to talk to you but I never knew what to say. I was so sad and afraid. When we went home from the hospital your daddy and your sisters cared for you mostly. I nursed you every few hours but I hardly ever wanted to get out of bed. I was very depressed. When you were a few months old I tried to kill myself again. I was very sick. I suspect that's why when I'm sad now and really inside myself, you get so terrified that I'll go away and never come back. Your little body knew I wanted to die."

"Oh. I want to go to sleep now. I'm sorry I yelled all those things at you."

"You can say anything you want to me. I'm sure it makes you very angry to feel I don't want you."

"It feels like you do want me now. Sweet dreams, Mommy. Can you please put four chocolate cookies in my lunch tomorrow?"

"Sure. Good night and sweet dreams."

I can feel the pain of being unloved and unwanted, but my mother's denials add insanity to that pain.

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