Mom really ran me through the ringer the other day. It was an epic fight that ended in the ushering in of a new era in our relationship. And after that things were really good for a little while. First of all a little background info:
I had done something else objectionable, don’t remember what, but I wanted to apologize and she said, “I can’t talk to you about that now or possibly ever.” I had no choice but to let it go for the time being, and to not talk about it until she was ready, as is always the case, and when she is ready, to talk about it, as is always the case. But this time was different. She didn’t say anything about it for the next few days. I was really wigged out by it because, as i said, she is extremely verbal and always says something about everything. So… I went on… not knowing…. I had to go out of town and the whole time I was away, I bore that burden, not knowing if she had forgiven me or if she was still mad at me. I felt awful. I am really affected by my relationship with her, and I can’t just shrug these things off. When I got back, she acted as though nothing had happened, and I had no choice but to follow her lead. I was miserable, but I realized that although I desperately wanted closure and forgiveness, bringing it up again could be calling a storm down upon myself, one that would be even worse that how I was currently feeling, and I would regret it. Plus, mom calls the shots in this relationship. Bad as it was, I figured keeping quiet was what I had to do, and I reluctantly accepted it.
A while later, something was happening, I don’t even remember what, and she made a joke about my doing something or something, and I didn’t react because I found it annoying in that moment, and she said “waahahaha” in a very playful, harmless, innocuous way, trying to get me to play along with whatever she said. I just looked down but tried to fake a little smile; obviously i was not in the mood. I was in a “kermudgeon-y” mood but trying not to let myself take it out on her. She kept it up. Instead of saying “cut it out!” I said a few minutes later, in a calm voice, “you’re the queen of annoying.” And that was the end of that incident, so I thought. Of course, looking back, that was a mean thing to say, and I thought at the time, because I tempered my reaction and didn’t let myself snap at her, that I was doing something positive; very stupid, of course. But it made me feel better, both by expressing my frustration and not doing it in the way I really would have wanted to. She said nothing and I forgot about it for now.
Later that day or the next, we were on the way to our aunt Eva’s in rochester, when mom was affectionately stroking my hair and we were all having a nice time. She said, “you’re so nice . . . most of the time.” The way she qualified that statement really stung – I got mad and confronted her at the gas station, when we were out of the presence of my grandpa. “You just said something so self-righteous!” And i quoted her. She said “I was still hurt about you calling me the queen of annoying” and walked away.
Instantly I understood everything. Instantly I realized what a mean thing I’d said and understood why she just said the mean thing she said and was sorry for saying what I said and took no more offense whatsoever at what she said. I desperately wanted to just apologize, make up and go on being happy and having a nice time. But it was too late. Not happening.
I tried to approach her, now with this new understanding of the situation, but she wouldn’t speak to me. That’s how it is with mom a lot. Once she’s hurt, she gets mad, and once she’s mad, there’s no talking to her. She wouldn’t let me talk to her until the next day. When she did … (and in the meantime I was just waiting for it, by the way. I know her, how she goes away to process things, and then comes back at me when she’s mulled it over and has a really great way to tell me off.) This time she said, “There are times when I think we’re having fun, and we’re connecting, and you like me, and we’re enjoying each other’s company. But it’s not true. All that is a lie. Our whole relationship is a lie. So if you can’t stand me, just stay away.”
I was devastated. I cried secretly when she left. She gets pissed if I cry in front of her.
Later I recovered slightly from this blow and decided I had to try to talk to her. I couldn’t leave it at that. Certainly, I had already learned a thing or two about life with her and especially about life with her since Thomas died (my little brother). She was a broken person, and not everything always made sense, to put it mildly. She was soooooooo sensitive about anything, because she feels like a failure as a mother. So to come to her as her daughter and say, “you’ve done x, y and z that’s made me feel bad” … even just that is something that I need to think twice about. She honestly may not be able to handle it. But in this case, trying to refute her ultimatum, difficult as it would be, was worth a try, precisely for the sake of her self-worth as a parent and definitely for the sake of our relationship.
I began a discussion which turned into a fight, but not an antagonistic one, but a very hard one to have, all the same. We talked then took a breather, talked some more. She said things and I responded, I said things and she responded… but to no avail. I told her that it’s not true, what she said about how I don’t like her and can’t stand her and our whole relationship is a lie, and everything we’ve ever had has been just an illusion, my being false. She didn’t even remember saying it!! Cut my heart out, and she didn’t even remember saying it. She may have conceded a little, but then just went on talking. She had the audacity to argue with me when I said that talking is easy for her, but hard for me. I was shocked and appalled, but didn’t go there, because that’s another issue. One of the things that came to light was that she had forgiven me for the first thing, whatever it was, and thought that in not talking about it she was doing me a favor. So that was good. We finally got to the part about my reaction to her comment in the car, about how I’m so great … some of the time. She said, so calmly and straight-forwardly, “I think you over reacted.” I was so confused, exhausted, zapped… We had been at it for some time and I just didn’t have the energy left to make heads or tails of what she was saying. I repeated it outloud to myself … “I overreacted…” Then I said, “Ok, mom. Bottom line is, I’m sorry and I’m going to try not to be so mean to you anymore.” She said o.k., and that was the end of it.
Readers, I was in a horrible state. Can you imagine my misery? The whole point of that conversation was to try to address her ultimatum to me, and we never got around to that, and it ended in my being generally accepted by all as a horrible person. A few minutes later, when I realized that she had accused me of over reacting, I realized what I should have said: “you think I overreacted, when you said something mean and I got mad, but that could have led to reconciliation, because it led to understanding for me. But, when I make two small mistakes, due to a bad mood, and you say our entire relationship is a LIE – you don’t think THAT’S “OVERREACTING??”
But it was too late. That conversation ended, and with it any chance of a 100% real relationship with her ever again. The take-home message for me was, there’s no talking to her. There’s no point in trying to reason with her or make myself heard. She’s sometimes crazy, sometimes not, so there’s no easy answer. I’ll always have to walk that tightrope, and do the best I can, and the best I can do is as good as it’s going to be. Don’t expect anything from her.
I went to work on the verge of tears the whole 5 hours, then got home and went to bed and cried. She realized I was crying and felt bad, but we failed to understand each other, and by now I had realized what this meant for us, so I just said, “I’m fine” although I knew it was not believable. I would begin trying to always say and do what’s best – and most Christ-like – even though it would mean adding fakeness into our relationship. If you’re dealing with a crazy person, you can be fake all the time, and give nothing and get nothing, and it’s easy. If you’re dealing with a sane person, you can always be genuine and give everything and expect everything, and it’s easy. But dealing with mom is none of the above, and it’s hard. Of course I’m to blame too; I’m just a human being and liable to make mistakes, blunders and sins, and I do all the time. Like I said, I will just keep doing my best. This blog is an outlet, and as rambling as it may be, I think that’s healthy. It’s pretty anonymous; I don’t care if anyone ever reads it or not; sometimes it helps just to “get it all out.”