Being an Audible member, a book was recommended to me based on other books I've listened to over the years. True crime is one of the genres I dip into now and again. I ignored the recommendation for a few weeks because I didn't know if I wanted to put my toe in that pool again. The pool of stench that describes Evil Motherhood. I finally did buy the book, and I could barely put it down. It is written by a True Crime master, Gregg Olsen. The title is: If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood.
If you were raised by an abusive and malignantly narcissistic mother, you may find this book to be triggering. Proceed with caution. I freely admit I lived through nothing compared to the daughters of this witch, Michelle Knotek. What I can also say is that I recognized all of it. The principles are all the same. The scale is where the stories differ from mine and maybe yours.
Knotek was evil. This was evident from a very early age. Her first victims were her family of origin. She grew up and moved onto making her own family. She became a master at looking like she was a loving caregiver. She lured people into her life who were already vulnerable emotionally and financially. She killed at least three people who came to live with her while her children were growing up. She used the cloak of a caregiver to cover her malevolence. Flattery, generosity, benevolence were her tools to get people close. Gas-lighting, extreme physical deprivation, divide-and-conquer, physical torture, mental torment, unpredictability, and drugging were her tools of control. Using others to carry out her will in order to implicate them in her crimes was also her consistent MO. All these things were familiar to me. The only difference is the scale. Michelle was willing to go far further than many evil mothers do, but the tool box is identical.
I found this story reaffirming in a strange way. It allows me to continue to condemn my mother's tactics in my heart. I'm in limited contact with my mother and father now. My mother is into at least moderate dementia. My father is near death. My mother is always in history revision mode. She recreates events to make herself a hero. It disgusts me. I rarely interact with her. Happily, she is my sister's problem. When dad dies, my sister will inherit mom. She is well positioned to do this because she has her own adult assisted living home and sister doesn't live on site. She can keep a distance while taking care of mother dearest. When my dad dies, which could literally be any day now, I will hold back very little when dealing with mom. When I rarely talk to her, dad is usually on the phone too which has helped keep Mom in check. When dad is gone, that check will be gone for her. And for me, too. Her lack of restraint will be met with mine.
My mother has zero power in my life. She has no hold over me. She knows it, and therefore finds me uninteresting. It's all good. I feel badly for my dad, but I also think he's reaping what he sowed. My mother and father have no contact with my daughter. My daughter has maintained her distance with my full support. I allowed limited contact with me after my daughter was well on her own. That was in 2013. I have seen my mother twice since then. My dad thrice. Before he became too ill to travel, he visited me for a few days without mom in tow. It was the first and only time in my adult life when I could have a long conversation with my dad without my mother there to interfere. It was good. I talked openly about the rift between me, him and my mom. He listened kindly and well. He earned some respect from me because of it.
The book of my parents is closing. First it will be dad. He is in the final stages of COPD due to those many years of smoking. Mom is totally dependent on him emotionally and every other way. She will transfer that dependence to my sister when he goes. My sister understands that I can't be involved in taking care of Mom when the time comes. If she resents me for it, I can't tell. I wouldn't care if she did.
I will now speak of my sister. She has changed dramatically. She had long been highly narcissistic as I have described somewhat on my blog, but I can see huge shift in her whole life and thinking processes. It's been a stunning thing, and a testament to God's power to change a life. She has been consistent for years now. The high drama is gone. She is polite and considerate toward me. She came for a week long visit a few years ago. We talked for days on end. We explored the many ways Mom lied to us about each other. My sister admitted things she did to me. She apologized sincerely and without equivocation. I don't speak to her often, but when we do connect it feels right. We are friends for the first time ever in our lives. She doesn't play the victim card, she doesn't excuse her behavior by blaming how mom raised her. It's hard to keep up this level of change for almost seven years. She makes no demands on me. I think she's finally grown up. I contrast the huge changes in my sister with my mother who hasn't changed a wit. My mother acts like she's a saint, but sister and I are not fooled. Mother lacks the mental agility to manipulate with any efficiency. She is rendered harmless by the deterioration of her brain, but she is still odious.
Like the Knotek sisters, I hate my mother, yet she was my mother and part of me loves her. It is a hard dichotomy to explain, but those of us with these kind of mothers understand perfectly.