Tuesday, January 28, 2020

On edge

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

On edge.

Growing up,
with a bipolar mother,
I never knew what her mood would be.

I'd be laying on my bed,
immersed in a good book,
reading quietly,
and she would throw open the door, without knocking,
demand to know what I was doing,
remind me that idle time was the devil's workshop, and
insist that I do the dishes or iron or vacuum.

We'd be at the checkout in the grocery store,
unloading the cart,
she would sneer at the cashier,
demand to know what was she looking at,
what was her PROBLEM?
and all eyes would be on us,
and I would empty the cart quicker,
and speak soothingly,
and want to disappear into the floor.

A neighbor,
or worse yet,
a friend,
would knock on the door,
and she would either ignore the door,
or open it, and then
slam it in their face.
Yes, really.

I just never knew.
Would she be flippant, giddy, silly, sarcastic?
She had two extremes:
depressed, sullen, and removed, or
bitchy, suspicious, and jeering.
I just never knew.

I learned to stay clear,
keep my head down low,
placate, be nice, and put on a fake smile,
living in fear,
not wanting to set her off.

On edge.

Here I am,
sixty years old,
feeling healed by both therapy and time,
certain voices overheard,
or looks on people's faces,
maybe a sharp response to someone's question,
whether friend or stranger,
and I am immediately
back in time,
on edge.


  1. I know exactly how you feel and think about how moments such as those you describe have impacted my relationships, and walls I’ve built. My mother also had a duality to her personality, but hers was alcohol induced as well as a byproduct of her family dynamic.

    I think a poem is the perfect form for stressing the way your mom could truncate a moment.

    1. Thanks, Glenda! I always appreciate your insight. For two people who have never met, I'm amazed by how regularly I feel such a connection to you. Maybe our mothers are the reason!

  2. So glad for the healing you feel. Hoping for fewer and fewer of those on edge responses. You deserve to be free.