I am so friggin over my mom. Just so over this.
Please. No more.
We were responsible for my mother’s happiness since before we were born, tiny embryos developing and taking in her every thought, her every word, her every action. We were soon to learn that if we wanted her love, we must make her happy. No one knew how to do this, including my mother. If we could make her happy, we would be loved, truly loved for who we were. But she has never known who we are.
In my mother’s world, as with any narcissist, everything is about her. We are reflections of her because of course, what else could we be? We exist only as an outward extension of her.
We didn’t know that word, narcissist, and we didn’t know a lot about normal, but we knew scary when we saw it. My three sisters and I stuck together and used humor to survive and later marriages, travel, alcohol, and drugs to escape. All of us are not close anymore, but when we needed each other as children and young adults, we were there for each other.
Even now, as I write this, the thought comes: You’re writing negative things about Mom! You will be in trouble!
But I’m tired. It takes its toll, this pressure, the years that we have endured this weird shit. I am 61. That’s a lot of years of mean comments, anger over our haircuts or any weight gain, her inappropriate and often cold responses to our views and thoughts. So many years, the evaluations, the criticism, the constant knowing that we really weren’t wanted and this woman found no true joy in any of us.
Anything close to the truth scares my mother, so of course any emotions were out of bounds (e.g. You’re so sensitive!).
Truth is not the important part of LIFE; it is how people perceive you. What THEY think is crucial and so very, very important to my mother. She called it pride when she recalled this in her own mother. I call it sickness. That belief that other people’s thoughts or opinions are more important than your own? What the hell? It doesn’t matter if these are people who have never met you. THEY have the only important opinions.
I knew this was bullshit from an early age and often found myself saying, “but who cares what they think?” The answer was and is, obviously, my mother.
I understand now that she only could do what she could do. Louise Hay taught me that. I practice forgiveness. If I keep practicing, I am hoping to nail it at some point. People can only do what they have learned in life. She could not dig herself out of the unhappiness hole she had dug.
She is never going to be the mother I wanted and needed. She is never going to give any one of us what we wanted from her, and it is time to let go.
How do I do that though? How do I put down the load that has always been too heavy to carry? How do I disconnect from my mother, who now looks fragile and old? Fragile but still strong. How do I let go of the pain?
She is 97 and claims she wants to die. She continues to take all the medication that prevents this from happening, but whatever. My father is gone and she misses him, though we know he too, failed in the directive to make her happy. She has two sisters who love her, nieces, nephews, grandchildren. Having never opened her heart completely to let these people inside, to let herself have close and meaningful relationships with them, she has successfully kept joy out of her daily life. This makes me so sad to write that.
So what do you owe to the person who gave you birth, kept you safe from outside predators, fed and clothed you and always encouraged a college education?
This person who cared for me when I was a child, or sick, and later after a serious car accident. This person who helped me with my children when they were babies.
This person who made me cry so many times, saying so many hurtful things, making demands that were impossible to satisfy. The person who criticized most of the gifts we gave her, including our time and attention.
The person who Dad would want us to care for after he was gone.
Recently, in trying to figure out plans for going forward, my sister and I discussed finances, as there are not unlimited funds. We also discussed how to let go, how to separate what we owe to our father–what he would expect from us.
We talked about the evening phone calls, sometimes one after another until we are beaten down and can’t answer anymore. We discussed how to handle the pain of those calls because there is nothing we can do about the fact that she is old. We can’t have her live with any of us. We are survivors, not masochists. We talk about visiting her and how she can still make us feel horrible.
It is just an unhappy situation for everyone concerned.
So this is what I came up with. I can’t make her happy.
I have never been able to make her happy.
I will never be able to make her happy, and neither can any one else, so we will make sure she is safe.
We will make sure she stays safe.
That’s all we can do Dad. I’m tired and over this.
Thank you Diana Fletcher for contributing this great article to our site!