Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The parents

I spoke to my brother this morning. My parents have been visiting him and his family for 2 months now, and have another month to go. I got the sense my brother simply needed to vent his frustrations, so I listened. He finds it hard to get along with my mom. What a coincidence. So do I. I understood perfectly. He recounted an incident where my mom ended up in tears, and my brother ended up having to have an "open honest" conversation with my mom. Still, he doesn't "get" my mom. Neither do I. It's like our mom was from some alien planet from a distant galaxy. It's like she speaks a different language.

Both my brother and I left home and our country of birth when we were young. My brother left when he was 19, and I left when I was 17. Does that have something to do with it?

The difference, though, between my brother and I, is that my brother does not resent my mom as much as I do. He genuinely cares for and loves them, and is frustrated that my mom does not seem to want that. Maybe she has low self esteem. Always a possibility.

Me, I'd rather just not have to deal with her. I guess I love her too - she's my mother, after all. But I have boundaries erected all around me to protect myself first and foremost, and I will resist and defend any attempts at crossing that boundary. Mostly, I am safe. I am in a whole other country, separated by land and sea. It's the only way for me to feel safe.

Yes, sometimes I feel guilty. Sometimes I feel bad. She's my mother, after all. It's shocking there are times I can't even speak to her without being enraged. She's also older now. Probably more frail than she used to be. She doesn't scream at me anymore. She doesn't deliberately withhold her love for me anymore. I've been away for so many years it's made her heart grow fonder. We could have a whole different relationship now. But I don't think so. And I think it's sad how we have to be accountable to the things we have done in the past, particularly things that are said and done in such spite and hatred.

I know she suffered. I know she had her trials. She was stuck in an unhappy marriage, a marriage in which she was subject to verbal abuse. I know that deep inside, she is a remarkable woman who made it through all that by simply gritting her teeth and doing nothing in retaliation. I know she persevered. For the sake of the children. And yet, as a child, I remember thinking how dumb adults were because they would remain married when they were so bitterly unhappy. For the sake of the children? I hope she didn't think she was doing me a favour.

We all change as we grow older. Maybe we all become better people as we grow older. But that doesn't change the damage we have inflicted in the lives of other people. If I have to take responsibility for the things I do, then why would my mom be any different?


Mr. Mulligrubs said...

I think you have to settle for accepting whatever small part of them you can respect, because understanding just doesn't seem to happen, at least for me in similar circumstances.

Thanks for the read, Polar Bear.

KansasSunflower said...

Polar -

When someone hurts you, time and again and again and again, at what point do you say "stop, no more!"? It sounds like you've done that to some extent by building healthy boundaries and walls (yes, I said healthy) to keep her from hurting you again. Yes, she's your mother, but your psychological well-being should be priority #1.

In my case? My therapist told me to mentally "say goodbye" to mother and cut all ties to her. No more. Yes, she's my mother, and yes, people will say "but she's your MOTHER!", and don't understand unless I get into a long drawn out conversation, so I just don't discuss it. Who needs to know anyway, you know? I don't lie, I just don't bring it up.

Guard your mental stability very tightly, Polar, and don't let your mother play "head games" with you. If you need to walk away from her, it's really, honestly and truly, "okay". It doesn't have to be a big ceremony of "I'm cutting you out of my life", but simply...not responding to her or calling her back, you know?

But I don't know your relationship with your mother - I'm simply paralleling with my own.

I'm sure you know the right course of action, but don't be afraid to let go of her, either...

Suzanne said...

G tells me that if my mother had to stop, think and accept responsibility for the fuck-ups she made then she would NEVER be able to reconcile what she did.

My sister ALWAYS sticks up for her... perhaps to the detriment of her own life which she's wasting away in the Welsh valleys with no hope, no prospects for the future. Exactly where my mother wants her!

butterflies said...

Ahhh mothers...mines controlling and manipulating but she cant affect me anymore.Sure I love her (very much actually) but she has no power over me now.Maybe its cos Im 50 and its taken all this time!
All I could do, was to be the mother to my child,that I always wanted mine to be.And hes grown up well..happy and mentally healthy so Ive done something right.
Hang in there sweetie.Youre doing marvellously! Im so proud of you