I got 3.45 this semester. As for Basic German I and Foundation English, A-‘s for Introduction to Language and Linguistics and Oral Communication, a B+ for Scriptwriting I, and a C for Introduction to Social Sciences. All in all, I thought I did pretty okay considering this is the highest I’ve gotten in all my years of schooling. A shame about the C, but at least I didn’t go below 3.00.
My mother doesn’t agree. She called me worthless, a failure, a fool who could never be expected to amount to anything. She questioned why I didn’t get 3.7 and above, told me if I didn’t graduate university with a 3.75 CGPA she’ll make me pay back every cent they’ve spent on my university education.
I don’t rightly know if it’s abuse. At this point, I can’t tell. I’ve been hit a fair number of times when I was a kid in the name of discipline, and I’m the first to admit I’ve always been more partial to the wrong side of the tracks. I’m a true neutral. I do what feels right, even if it’s the wrong thing to do. Getting hit doesn’t constitute abuse to me. The words my mother’s hurled at me throughout my childhood and my growing up, though – that’s a bit hard. Much of my emotional distress and (stunted) development resulted from my mother’s barbed tongue. Yesterday I talked about how my mother ripped apart a paper I got a B for when I was nine years old and ignored me for more than a month. It’s made me physically ill to even tell her about my exam results ever since. It was the first B I’d ever gotten in my life – not a failing grade, not a D, just something just below a perfect A – and she treated me like a bastard child for it. I was nine years old. That kind of thing scars you.
As I got older and studies got more difficult, my mother hasn’t let go of the notion that her children are somehow all geniuses who can get straight As, who are heatedly competitive and will strive to get better grades simply because there are people out there who do well or better than them. I’m not that kind of person. I don’t care what kind of grades people have. They’ve got a 4.0? Good for them. Why should I care? I don’t want to compete with people. I don’t want to compare myself with people. I’m me, I have my own limits, I have my own potential, so isn’t that enough?
It’s not, apparently. Every time I get my exam results, she’ll be asking to compare me with other people. Did anyone get higher pointers than me? Did anyone get a 4.0? If they did well how come I didn’t? I must be stupid, I must be lazy, I must be a worthless child who can’t even make her family proud.
And I know she’s never been proud of me. I know she doesn’t care. If her love was unconditional she wouldn’t say how disappointed she is that none of her children ever studied overseas. If her love was unconditional she wouldn’t be calling me a no-good child. If her love was unconditional she wouldn’t threaten to make me pay back every single cent that goes into my university education, when mere months before when I had a breakdown and cried about how I’m the youngest person to owe my father a substantial debt, she told me I didn’t have to worry about it. If her love was unconditional, she wouldn’t lie to me about it.
But her love is conditional, and like a player who misses the cues in a QTE and mashes the wrong buttons at the wrong times in a rhythm game, I don’t make the cut. Her love is conditional and I don’t fulfill the requirements. I never have.
My mother has never loved me unconditionally, and she has never been proud of me. I don’t think she ever will.