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?