Up for Debate?
So, I like to think of myself as a highly evolved version of a human being. Then I have conversations with my mother and all that goes to shit, pardon my french. I have been mindful, tried to release the story, done countless hours of therapy and yet, when given the hook, I jump on that sucker like its Christmas Dinner. I read a couple of books about the relationship between mother and daughter right after my first was born because I didn't want to leave any mommy baggage lying around before I had a girl of my own. But then, like an idiot, I went and shared the books I was reading with my mother. I had these profound, deep, tearful moments with these books, written by women who get what it's like to have a detached mother. Then when my mom called to discuss them, she was negative, and of course questioned the author's viewpoints and said they were basically "ok"...
The first Al-anon meeting I went to, the topic was, "going to emotionally unavailable people for emotional support." And instantly tears dropped to my lap. I looked down and cried silently for a few minutes, willing myself to pull it together, and super angry that I belonged in this room. But I did belong, and I guess I still do. I don't know if I'll ever not belong. I hope to someday be able to breeze through all of the transactions with my mother as if I were simply chatting with a neighbor. Loosely attached to their viewpoint, but of course wanting to keep the peace for both our sakes. But today, I felt the old anger in me start to spin upwards again. Not over the top mind you. Just icky, just sad, just that old feeling like I was bothering her with my personality again. When I was little I was rageful. I wanted to hurt her. I wanted to hurt her for how much she hurt me, for never telling me how special I was, or saying "I love you," for not hugging me or supporting me. My mother is a questioner. Everything you do is met with questions, many of them full of judgment for your choices. I know now that this is because of her own trauma from a cold and distant mother who was never proud of her. Instead of it turning the other way, it followed suit for my childhood. Though I will say she is a touch brighter than her mother so I do see some progress. One thing my mother can say though is that she showed up. She was always there (physically) for me. Every game, every play, she was there, not always happily, but she was there dammit. I do think she tries her best. And I think she is terrified to feel. She attempted suicide when I was about 6 and was in a psyche hospital for a while and finally got on Bi-polar medication when I was about 10 and things drastically improved, well, at least the volume of argument went down afterward. Things were more muted in her, but medication is not a cure-all in many cases. It quiets the symptoms of the problem, but the problem remains. I did not have the hardest childhood by any measure, but it wasn't a cake walk either. Now, untangling the good from the needs-to-be-discarded is difficult. Even now, when in the presence of my mother at holidays and such, I hate it when she touches me. I let her hug me, but there is a revulsion from deep within and a feeling so acute in it's nauseating anger that I have not been able to pinpoint its origin and how to let it go. I want to. I want to so badly. I want to just forgive her and love her. And I do love her y'all. I do. I know she had to raise two kids all while having a life-threatening mental illness and she tried to show us the love she could spare and I am so proud of her for that. This last sentence made me tear up a little, maybe because it is so hard to feel those positive things for her. I spent so long blaming her for every mistake I made from my addiction, to my poor choices in men and my lack of confidence in school or my career. What I want is an apology, or maybe an amends. I know, I know, I know, this is futile and even if it were fulfilled it would feel empty, like it was too late. The teenager in me will just say she is only doing it out of guilt, not out of compassion. The adult in me knows that no parent does everything right, and most people feel this way to some degree about a parent and also that I will have to confront my own inadequacies potentially with my own children.
And my belief is that I will. I will look them in the eye and I will go through the pain with them. I will not abandon them, no matter how hard it might feel. I have been able to do my own trauma work, and work a program of recovery in order to do so. I know that I was afforded that luxury as a result of my upbringing, so for that I am grateful. I have a lot of people in my story who have parented me in ways I really needed. They were available for all my questions and treated me with love and respect. They let me cry and held my hand when I was scared. They taught me how to be responsible for myself and not give my power away to others when fraught with resentment. I have firsthand experience with humility and service proving to be far more powerful and superior in times of fear versus anger and lashing out. I know intellectually to pursue this in my family of origin. The actual practice is pretty tough though. But today, even though I bordered on a firm retort via text to my mother, I ended it by saying I was proud of her and ultimately I let go of needing to control the outcome (at least externally). And that is immense progress, and you know what. I'm proud of myself. This used to be something I thought was self-indulgent B.S. but it turns out I was so afraid to feel this for myself at one time in my life, it was physically painful to try to sit with this emotion for any amount of time. I wanted to violently chuck it out the window when mentioned by my therapist. I felt so icky. When I was asked to sit with it silently for even just 30 seconds I began to sob. I had NEVER felt this for myself in all of my 28 years of life at that point (37 now). I'm glad I had to go through it and was willing to look at all the deep dark dirty ugly because I will be able to talk about it with my girls. I just started writing this blog because for the first time recently I thought and felt like I have a voice and it is 100 percent okay to share it. Maybe I'll help someone not feel alone, or maybe I'll just feel better getting it out. Either way I believe we all have a voice that is worth hearing, so I hope you put it out there and find a well overflowing.