Episode 94 - Break Free

ROSLYN: This Episode of Love and Luck contains content involving surviving and dealing with toxic and abusive parents. Please take care of yourself.

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ROSLYN: You've reached the Love and Luck Podcast.





MAGGIE: [ANXIOUS] Hey, Jason, it's Maggie. I just wanted to let you know... I'm considering limiting contact with our parents.

I just... I was thinking about how they've been acting about you, and... I don't want my kid growing up with that. I mean... what if they learn that, you know?

I don't want my kid to think it's okay to be mean to people. But if they watch their grandparents do it, and I don't do anything to stop them... what is that teaching them? I just... I just can't, Jason. I can't.

I thought I could have a cordial relationship with our parents. I thought that just because we don't get along doesn't mean we shouldn't make an effort. I thought... I thought I had to be on good terms with them, because they're my parents, but... now I'm not so sure.

I'm really, really sorry that this is happening. I know that however hard it is for me, it must be so much worse for you. And I'm really sorry. But I promise... I'm not going to keep letting this happen. Even if I have to cut all contact with our parents to make it stop.. then I will.

I'm sorry. I love you.



JASON: Hey Maggie.

Listen, I don't want you to feel like you have to choose between our parents and me. I'm happy to keep my distance when they're around. We'll make it work, I promise.

I love you too.



MAGGIE: No, Jason, that's not... Jason, that's not what I mean.

You're not making me feel like I have to choose between you and our parents. They are.

[Angry] You haven't yelled at me in front of my friends, or told me that I'm going to screw up my child just by letting them be around someone gay. You're not doing anything wrong.

They, however, are being shitty. And I don't want that rubbing off on my kid!

[Worried] I don't want my kid to grow up like them. I don't want my kid to think it's okay for people to be so cruel to each other. I don't want my kid to think it's okay for parents to hurt their children!

[Tearful] I don't want my kid to ever be afraid of me, or hate me, or think I'm going to treat them the way our parents treat you.

[Scared, vulnerable] I don't want our parents to poison my child. I don't want this kid to grow up like we did, scared and confused and messed up. I want to do better. I want to be better.

I just can't... I-I don't want to be like our parents, Jason. I want to be a good Mum. I don't want to fuck this up.



MAGGIE: [Upset, tearful] What if I do fuck it up? What if I'm a terrible parent?

I mean... our parents are clearly shit, and I just... I don't want to be like them.

But what if I am? What if I can't help it?

People always say that you end up just like your parents. And I... I already... I put up with their shit for so long. I let it slide because they're our parents. I let them treat you horribly. I let them treat me horribly.

[Scared] What if I treat my kid horribly? What if no one stops me?

What if their cruelty has tainted me? What if I can't stop myself being a shitty parent?

God, Jason... I just want to be a good Mum.

[Trying to pull herself together] I'm sorry. I'm sorry for this message. I'm just scared. I'm so scared, Jason. I don't want to fuck this up.



JASON: [Lovingly, firmly] Hey, Maggie... listen, I really hope the reason you're not answering your phone is because you're talking to Brad about all this, and he's hugging you and telling you that you're going to be fine.

Because you are. You're going to be a great Mum. The fact that you're scared? Well, as I heard someone say not that long ago, it just means that you understand the enormity of what it means to be a parent. And the person who said that was a really good mother.

And listen, you're not going to be parenting alone. You've got Brad, and he'll pull you up if you're shitty. You've got me, and I'll try and pull you up if you're shitty. I mean... we're going to care about this kid too, so... if something is wrong, we'll try and help.

I'm not going to say that our parents' shittiness won't affect your parenting at all, because... I feel like that's not true. But... I think that being aware of it, and checking in with yourself and people around you will go a long way towards making sure it doesn't infect you.

And I mean... if your kid feels happy, if your kid feels loved... that's the most important thing, right? As long as you're kind to your kid, and you love your kid, you'll be a good Mum. And I think that's something you can do. I think it's something that you definitely will do.

Not everyone ends up like their parents, Maggie. People can change the story. You can change the story. You can be be a good Mum. And I'm sure that you will be.


[Cassette noise]

JULIE: [Calm, thoughtful] Well baby, I was talking to Mum - your grandmother - on the phone yesterday. We were talking about parenting, and she was telling me about what it was like raising me from her perspective, and things like that. It was good.

We talked about her mother for a little while, too. We don't... we try not to talk about her mother, generally speaking. Her mother was... bad. Very bad. She was extremely abusive. So... you know, obviously Mum doesn't like to talk about her.

But... she came up in conversation today, and... well, Mum basically said, "Just do the opposite of everything my mother did and you'll do just fine".

And I've been thinking about that ever since. My mother... she doesn't get enough credit for surviving what she's been through. She had a truly horrific childhood. And then when she grew up, she briefly married my father, who was a horrible person too.

But she also grew up... she grew up kind.

She never hurt me. She was a really wonderful mother to me. And that's... that's remarkable. It's hard to break out of that kind of cycle. But she did it. She broke out. And... she's amazing.

I still don't know a lot of the details of what happened to her. She doesn't tell me. But that's all right. She doesn't have to. Mostly because it's none of my damn business if she doesn't want to tell me about her trauma. But also because... you still learn a lot from very little.

For example... I once asked her why we always bought the expensive toilet paper, instead of a cheaper one. She looked frightened when I asked, and held the toilet paper she was holding tightly to her chest. It was just for a moment, but it still happened. Then she took a deep breath, relaxed her grip a bit, and said, "Well... I like it more. It feels nice."

That look of fear... that told me a lot. I came to recognize that look over the years. And it didn't take long for me to notice that it was the same look as the one she would get if her mother ever sent us a letter.

Trauma leaves ghosts in people. You may well have healed from something, but there's always a part of you still living that moment. I saw my mother's ghosts, even though she tried to hide them from me.

And... I inherited some of those ghosts, even though I didn't go through what made them.

It's a strange thing to try and explain to people, but... I still buy the expensive toilet paper. If I even consider buying the cheap stuff, I remember that look on my mother's face, and I feel her fear twist in my stomach. I have come to associate cheap toilet paper with pain.

[Deep breath]

I want to be as good of a mother as mine was. But sometimes I feel those ghosts, and I worry... what if I'm not? What if I'm more like her mother, or more like my father? What if those ghosts overpower me?

But then I remember... my mother broke free. I know it's possible to go against the ghosts. She proved it.

And I am grateful for her strength and determination every god damn day.



ROSLYN: Love and Luck is written by Erin Kyan, and produced by Passer Vulpes Productions.

Maggie is voiced by Shelley Dunlop. Jason is voiced by Erin Kyan. Julie is voiced by Nic Rummery. Credits spoken by Roslyn Quin. Recorded by Kermie Breydon and Eris Barnes.

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