Saturday, March 17, 2012

Talking To My Mother

Woke up this morning wishing for stuff that probably will never happen. And, actually, I went to bed and tossed and turned all night wishing for that same stuff... trying to figure out what, if anything, I could do to make it so... For example:

I wish my mother would stop being crazy and start acting "normal."

How's that for a wish list topper? I bet it's on a lot of wish lists... So, my mother had open heart surgery, and came home crazy.  Ok. That's not entirely true. Before the surgery, the passive aggressive controlling behavior and all that goes with it was definitely there. She was just a lot better at hiding it. And she didn't become crazy after she went home from the hospital... she was pretty crazy in the hospital too. And the most annoying part of the whole thing is that it cannot be described... I mean... I could tell you stories... and you'd just think I was a bitch and a bad daughter. (Which I probably am.) And you'd make excuses for her because, well, "she's old..."  (Which she actually is.) And I just wish I could have a talk with her - a real conversation... where I say what I really think and she says what she really thinks... but she absolutely will not allow it - and it occured to me this morning that I haven't had a real conversation with my mother since... well... I can't even remember... probably back when I was 5 years old right before she sent me away to boarding school... maybe not even then...

So... rather than get all frustrated about it, I'm here this morning to say all those things. And since I can't say them to her, I'm going to say them to the world wide web! Here goes:
  1. So, why are you so angry?
  2. Are you mad at me because I won't come down and move in with you and take care of you?
  3. Don't you realize that you are impossible to take care of?
  4. That nobody can do anything right? Even when (and especially because) you're right there micro-managing every little detail?
  5. That when I'm around you for more than 2 hours I start to feel strangled and my soul starts to die?
  6. And maybe that's because you don't see me? or hear me? And yet you expect me to not only see you and hear you but read your mind as well?
  7. Do you have any idea how tiring that is? To have to read the nuances of every minute facial expression and be expected to guess what it is that's going on in your mind? And then based on that guess, say and./or do the exact right thing in the exact right way? 
  8. Isn't this why I ran away from home? Why I live thousands of miles away? And why I don't invite you to come and live with me?
  9. Or maybe you are just angry at me because I keep trying to make you acknowledge and do something about your anxiety and your depression.
  10. Maybe you aren't angry at me at all... maybe you're mad at Daddy for dying and leaving you all alone.
  11. Do you realize that your anxiety started when he died?
  12. And is that because now you have to actually live with yourself? You don't have the lovely distraction of someone else to fret and fuss over?
  13. It must be hard for you now that you can't use Daddy as an excuse to get what you want. 
  14. That's one of the hardest things for you, isn't it... actually coming right out and saying what you want. So much easier to preface it with... "Bill wants... or your daddy needs... or Bill's tired... or etc..."
  15. As a matter of fact, taking care of a crazy cranky old woman isn't nearly as terrible when she's honestly cranky and admittedly crazy. It's all that pretending that gets on everyone's nerves...
  16. Did you know that Gracie hates... absolutely hates being called your "little sweetie"? You should know that because she's told you not to do it a number of times. And yet, when you are mad at her, and pretending not to be, that's what you call her every time! Wouldn't it just be simpler and easier to say "I'm mad at you" ?
  17. And what's up with the dogged persistence when it comes to pounding it into my head that I'm old and used up? We are not "two old widow women" who can hang out together! We not "old cronies." Not now - not ever!
  18. And the next time you tell me that, I'm going to start asking penetrating and uncomfortable questions... and if you suddenly have a bad connection and have to hang up, I'm going to call you back and ask you some more of them! How's that for a great threat?
  19. Or maybe you are angry at God...
  20. Now that's a good one. You've been shoving God and Jesus down my throat ever since I took my first breath - and now? God? Jesus? The bible? Prayer? Haven't heard word one about any of those things since you came home from the hospital.... I think you are angry at God.
  21. What happened? Did he ignore you? Did he not answer your prayers correctly? Did you try to micro-manage God's will... and it didn't work out? What?
  22. How many bibles did you pass out at the hospital? 25? 50? All that fake cheerfulness and bible sharing... and what did it get you? Are you happy? 
  23. And is that what all this anxiety is about? You've devoted your whole life to a religion, a book, a belief and now... it isn't working for you anymore?
  24. I think we need to talk about God... I really do... maybe I could tell you what I think about your God... wouldn't that be something?
  25. Are you angry because you didn't die on the operating table like you thought? Was that your plan?
  26. You don't want to live any more and now you have to? Is that what this is all about? 
  27. And what's this thing about blaming everyone else for what ails you? You have anxiety and it's not you... it couldn't be you... must be the medication... You don't have any energy and it's not you being depressed... must be the medication... must be something the doctors did or didn't do... couldn't be because you aren't doing anything except focusing on how shitty you feel...
  28. When are you going to step up and take responsibility for how you feel in your heart?
  29. Never?
  30. What if one time, just one time, you actually spoke the truth of what's in your mind and heart.... no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how inappropriate, no matter how "wrong"... How would your life change then?
  31. I keep having this thought - Who are you and where is my real mother? What did you do with her? But actually, your ability to manipulate through passive aggressive behavior is so well honed - you are so extremely good at tapping into whatever it is that will engage the people around you to dance to your tune... you have so much skill... I've got to believe that what we are finally seeing is the real you.
  32. I believe that when we are tired and frightened - who we really are comes to the surface.... we don't have the will or the energy to hide it anymore... Add to that mix any kind of physical discomfort- pain, nausea -- and you have a recipe for Hey Look At Me - This Is Who I Really Am. And I was really hoping that a beautifully sweet, kind, and loving person was hiding inside you.... BUT NO!
  33. And I'm disappointed... at first I was even surprised.... now I'm just frustrated and disappointed. How dare you not be who I want you to be?
  34. That makes me angry! So I figure it must make you angry that I have never been, nor will I ever be who you want me to be! 
  35. I did pretend to be that person, and it seemed to work for a while. But in your heart, you must know that it was just a persona, not the real me... in your heart you must know that I'll never ever be "nice" and that I'll never be content to follow the rules and be a "good girl." 
  36. I also want to thank you for showing me just how it is that I became who I really am... and why I like who I really am way more than I like who you really are... and absolving me from any guilt I may have been feeling about having no desire whatever to come down and take care of you in your old age.
  37. Interestingly, despite all this, and maybe even because of all this, I do love you. I've known you longer than I've known any other human being. I do think the world is a better place because you were in it. And it's actually quite amazing that you have been able to accomplish so much good in your life all while hiding this terrible secret of who you really are!
  38. And it makes me sad that we will never have this conversation... you won't hear what I really think, and I'm pretty sure you won't ever be able to express how you really feel or what you really think.
  39. And please, mom, would you stop being crazy and start acting normal? Could we just have one real conversation in this lifetime? I can be about anything you want it to be about as long as it's real and not just another mindless chat about the weather. 
So there it is... everything I'd like to say to my mother today. (Tomorrow there might be more.) And what about you? What would you like to say to your mother?

Oh, and by the way - in that picture, my mother is actually furious with me, but of course not saying so.... and just looking at the picture brings back that whole suffocating feeling... that aura... that energy field that she generates when stuffing all that rage and keeping it hidden under a facade of niceness. And do I feel better now? and less frustrated? Sadly, no.

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