the old bitch

The Old Bitch, aka the OB, was a vile, hateful woman who fucked up my life and my A-mom’s life for many years. I still carry emotional baggage from her reign of terror in our house. Her abuse is the primary source for my anger, my insecurities, my fears, my lack of confidence and self-esteem, my distorted thought processes, and my dysfunctional relationships with women.

The OB was A-mom’s friend’s sister, old enough to be A-mom’s mother. When A-mom died at 56, the OB was 75. She lived at our house for about 22 years, from before my birth to until I was 14.

The OB had a family in Oakland, but then her husband died (maybe in action?) during the Korean War. She had one son and 3 daughters, and the youngest became best friends with A-mom. The kids all moved out of their house as soon as possible, and the OB came to live with A-mom in Treetown. The kids basically abandoned her, and she needed a place to live. A-mom was the only one who would help take care of her. A-mom looked to the OB as a surrogate mother, since she was still hurting from losing her own mother 10 years earlier, so it was a perfect co-dependent match. Mom also enjoyed spending time with and babysitting for OB’s youngest kids and (later) grandkids.

Looking back through time, I think the OB had significant mental health problems. She was starting to get dementia; she was frequently depressed and had anxiety attacks; she may have had bipolar or even borderline personality disorder; and she was filled with anger and lashed out at anyone within reach of her hateful, piercing voice.

She would constantly keep a running monologue or spite and malice directed toward A-mom, then at me when I became old enough to understand. She continually would tell A-mom and I how worthless we were, and she treated us like servants who were there to respond to her every whim. We always had to prepare her meals; on multiple occasions she would throw the food at us if she didn’t like it or if it wasn’t what she had asked for ordered.

OB was a hoarder of newspapers, glass jars, and National Geographic magazines. The magazines and newspapers were stacked in great piles as much as 4 feet from the floor around her couch and in a nearby closet. Once I accidentally knocked over a stack of newspapers and discovered the 1950s. I was subsequently whipped.

She was very bitter about having to babysit me while A-mom worked, and let me know all the time how much trouble I was. One of my first memories was getting a waffle-pattern burn on my legs from the grate of the floor heater in the living room. I realized much later that the rest of that memory was that I was pushed down.

The OB was incredibly manipulative, and A-mom was vulnerable to this manipulation due to her depression. One time in Oakland we were on the freeway, and as usual the OB was trying to start a fight with A-mom. A-mom finally tried to defend herself, and OB decided she was going to get out of the car and walk. When A-mom wouldn’t stop, she opened the door partway and threatened to jump out. Of course it was all a guilt trip intended to get her way about something, and of course A-mom gave in. I was 5, I think.

A-Mom was at the lowest point of her life emotionally after her Dad died. In the meantime, OBL was getting worse, always criticising and manipulating and hurting Mom for her own reasons, reasons clouded in whatever schizoid trip she was on most of the time. OB’s anger and venom was directed at me as well. For a period of about 10 years, the three of us were locked in a mental torture chamber filled with emotional abuse, hate, fear, paranoia, distrust, disconnection. My escape was schoolwork and being alone in the woods; Mom had her school bus driving to distract her from what awaited at home. Mom tried to send OB away, but it didn’t work because OB’s kids wanted her as far away as possible, and OB had us as slaves to do everything she needed. Finally, when I was 14, she left for good.

The OB came back to haunt me one last time. When A-mom died (I was 21), all her friends were at the graveside memorial. Then one more car pulls up, and the OB gets out to “pay her respects”. She came right up to me and tried to guilt me into being friendly. Fortunately some of A-mom’s friends whisked her away before I could react or run away.

I was in the Oakland area a few years later, and on a whim I drove to her oldest daughter’s house. I had not been there for about 12 years, and had never driven in the area, but after many visits to that house it was if I was guided there without maps or wrong turns. The daughter was not home, but I talked to her husband for a few minutes. He agreed with me that the whole situation was messed up, and he hoped I was okay after everything that happened. I told him I still had bad memories, but I would be okay.

Twenty-plus years later, on some days, I’m still not okay. It still hurts to write this post.

It’s funny (in a sad way) how the truly evil people in the world live seemingly forever. I’m certain she finally died at some point, unless her bargain with Satan allowed her to continue her life’s work of fucking up other people’s lives.

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