Releasing the past in order to find myself

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


My son's birthday is coming up.  And what should be a fun time is, for me, filled with dread.  It saddens me so much that whenever something important and momentous happens I know that it'll  be emotionally exhausting as I deal with the narcissists in my life.  The birthday will not be about my son.  It will be about the grandmothers and the grandfather.  They will demand the spotlight,be loud and obnoxious, snipe secretly at each other, and compete for attention.  They will show up late and pull stunts to let me know who really is in charge.  There will be criticisms of the table arrangement and decorations.  People will overstay their welcome and do little to help.  It has been this way for every birthday up to this point.  Luckily, holidays are no longer like this, as I've reserved them for immediate family.  But with the birthdays, I have to suck it up and deal.  And more than anything, I hate that I'm upset. I hate that I can't enjoy my birthday and struggle to put on a happy face and let things go so my kids can have a great day.   It's most definitely not about me, and I will do anything for my son to have a fun day.  Too bad everyone else can't see it that way.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Father

I've put off writing about my father for a long time.  I really struggled with what  I would say and how.  Not because I was worried I would say the wrong thing, but because it is so difficult to really paint him with a clear stroke.
My dad suffered some unspeakable abuse as a small child.  I know little about the actual abuse, other than it scarred him for life.  He will forever be an angry, controlling, nitpicky, sweet, soft, vulnerable person.
When I was a child, he was a very scary man.  He was distant and stoic and I rarely saw him smile.  He was strict and rigid and, while I don't believe physically abusive, very harsh disciplinarian.  There was a right way and a wrong way to do things and you lived in fear of doing the wrong thing.  He was so angry.  He was depressed.  I know I enjoyed my dad at times. I have a lot of good memories.   But I never felt he was my protector.  I never felt close to him. We never connected, despite that I was continually "partnered" with him, as my sister and mother were always together.  He expected perfection in everything always.  In many ways he set me up for my abuse from my mom.  He very clearly laid it out that love was conditional on meeting his expectations. He always expected my sister and I to abdicate our feelings/wants/needs if it meant pleasing someone else.   He was so harsh that my mother seemed like a port in the storm, all the while she was poisoning us in another way.   I was not his princess or his little girl.  I remember calling him "daddy" once because I'd heard other girls refer to their dads that way.  I got an earful of angry insults and criticism.  He was not my "daddy".
When my parents divorced, he became a broken, shell of a man.  It was frightening actually.  To see someone who I viewed as so powerful, so stoic, turn into a blithering mess.  It was a rough couple of years for him.  At one point, I quit living with my mom and moved in with him.  He got on antidepressants.  He changed somewhat.
We've become closer over the years.  While my dad can have some extremely narcissistic traits, he has become less so.  I am no longer afraid to express my opinion.  He is interested in my life (although he often is so consumed by his depression, that I don't come on his radar) if I call.  He is (mostly) supportive.  And I think the most important thing, he will recognize when he is wrong.  I have received several genuine apologies from him.  But he still can be stubborn, and one sided, and it can be difficult to approach him with alternate opinions (but it can be done).  He still sometimes I insist that I abdicate my feelings for someone else just for the sake of doing it.  But sometimes he stands up for me.  I can call him and tell him about my bad day and he will be suppportive.  He's got a soft spot and is sensitive, but you have to brake through a pretty hard shell to reach it.
I don't know, it all almost sounds silly when I write it.  He is a very disturbing dichotomy of two opposites.  Sometimes the old, harsh dad I feared.  Sometimes I worry about displeasing him so much that I literally get sick.  Sometimes he is the new, mellow Dad whom I can talk to and relate to and feel good after spending time with him.  Sometimes he is not.  And the best part is, he is the least of three evils in my FOO.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dot, dot, dot

My mother has the very annoying habit of using (...) repeatedly in her emails.   There are very few punctuation marks beyond (...).  A typical email will be written like this.

"I went to the a few apples...saw our old neighbor in the parking lot...she looked old.  Drove home but didn't really want to...thought I'd rather be there with you...saw something for the kids...didn't know if you had it already...   Feeling a little cold...not much else going on...wondering how you were doing..."
These messages go on and on, with ...s through the whole thing.

At first, I thought maybe she just didn't realize how the message read.  How it was so annoying to read long pauses between each statement.  That punctuation actually means something and isn't just for visual effect.  Then, I figured she thought it looked cool.  Like she was some sort of intellectual with a stylized way of writing.

I finally explained it to her.  She laughed uncomfortable.  She hates anyone, especially me, to correct her.  She always claims to be stupid and uneducated and tells me I'm making her feel that way more.  But I just couldn't stand the damn dots anymore.  She stopped for awhile, but they soon came back full force.  I know partly she's doing it to annoy me.  She so loves to annoy me.

But then even more, it seems like a metaphor for our relationship.  She's always stringing those dots out between us.  Uses them to keep me on the hook and maintain attention on herself.  It's her way of being the center of attention.  Even in an email, I must maintain total and complete focus on what SHE is saying.  I'm not allowed even one period to stop and think for myself.

Birthday Drama

The subtitles of my mothers manipulations are finally coming to light for me and I'm finally allowing my self to not feel guilty for not playing into her games.  It's amazing to me how subversive it is.  How for so long, I knew something wasn't right but could never put my finger on it.
Since Easter, I've used my family being continually sick to help buffer me from my mother.  It's made it easy to excuse why I don't call, or haven't been available to chat.  But with my son's birthday coming up, I knew that I'd better ease back into things.  I knew that she was seething and resentful.  But all that was left behind when i called.  Since then, things are back to "normal".  I've been baraged by texts, phone calls, and emails.  In any given day, I have received one to ten communications.  Usually they are ridiculous things, used as bait to demand attention from her.
One of her favorite manipulation games centers around gifts.  She loves to give gifts.  Extravagant, expensive gifts.   Gifts that no one ever appreciates enough, or thanks her for enough, or loves her enough for.  Short of falling down and kissing her feet, our reaction to these gifts is never sufficient...and even then I doubt that'd be enough.  Anyway, TWO months ago, she emailed that she wanted ideas for my son's birthday.  She wanted to "get it out of the way".  She badgered me for ideas.  She wants a large list of ideas that she can then choose from.  She doesn't consider that I also have to provide ideas for other family members.  She doesn't consider that I don't have time to sit around coming up with magical lists that include items of all price ranges and styles.  At Christmas, I provided such a list.  When she saw my son, she whipped out a toy catalogue, had him pick from that and then bought him the crap he selected despite the fact that he already had the same toy at home.  So much for all my hard work making the damn list.  So, I told her that I would give her a few ideas, but there were only a few things that my son really needed (as we have a million toys already) and I didn't want to provide an endless list because, really, these few items would be the best.  I also suggested that she let me know as soon as possible what she'd selected so that I could pass the list on to the others.  This upset her.  I'm only supposed to provide ideas to HER.  (And as a side note, I provide all these ideas and then she acts like she's the best grandmother ever for providing such a PERFECT gift.  My MIL does this too.  I don't mind not getting credit, but the endless gloating about how wonderful they are really gets under my skin.  If it's the thought that counts, and they contribute no thought, then does it count?)  She emailed me and texted me and pondered over the list for two months.  She sent emails saying "next week, I'll select a gift, so you can pass it on".  Next week came and went.  She just loved having the control, holding it over me.  How do I know she wasn't just busy, just forgot?  Because she never is busy.  And this happens EVERY, SING:LE time there is a gift giving occasion.    So, she selected one gift.  I told her that was great.  Nope, not good enough.  She wanted to select another gift.  That took another month.  Then there is the barage of texts asking if it has been delivered.  I'm just worried it got lost, she'll text.  I see it was delivered, but you didn't let me know, she'll email.  Did it really get there? And even when I do email her that things arrive, she claims to not have seen those emails.   AAAHHHH!  Finally, I thought we were finished with the whole ordeal.  But now she wants MORE ideas.  For little gifts, special gifts she can get him.  Well, if it's supposed to be special, shouldn't she come up with the idea?  I tell her she has spent too much as it is (and for all her annoyance that I don't appreciate the gifts enough, it annoys her more that I reject her desire to spend too much.   This denies her the chance to be the hero/martyr and how dare I rob her of this opportunity).  Regardless, I have no more ideas for her.  I've given them all.  She emails me a suggestion that is more appropriate for my other son.  I suggest not to get this gift and that she's gotten plenty already.  So, last night, I get a voice mail.  "Hi, I was just calling to see if you had other ideas for (son's) birthday.  I just wanted to get him something he'd like, or something you didn't already have.  But I guess I'll just pick something up...I guess I'll just hope whatever I get works out...."  Can you feel the guilt dripping from her message?  All of this over a young child's birthday gift.  Nothing is given without a price.

Letting Go

It's been so hard to let go of the idea that, someday, I'd have the relationship with my mother (and my sister and my father) that I hoped for.   When I was little, I had this very idealized vision of my family.  I loved spending time with them and, generally, didn't want to be anywhere without them.  I idealized my mother.  I thought she was beautiful and interesting and I wanted to be just like her.  These days, I pray that I am anything but just like her.
It's so hard to let go because it is never THAT bad.  There is never a moment to point to and say "screw you, you did x, and so I'm over it".  It is difficult to justify that that all these little things, these secret manipulations and draining interactions, could cause me to want nothing to do with my mom.  It's difficult to let go of the idea that my mother just doesn't love me.  Or at the least, she doesn't love me more than herself.  And she'd sell me out, and has sold me out, whenever it suits her.  That my main purpose in her life is to provide a reflection of her, to fill her up, to give and give and give.  I can't explain it to friends.  My sister would never forgive me.  My father, even though he thinks my mother is nuts and hardly speaks to his own mother, would never understand. People think the problem is me.  And although I know it is not me (for the most part), it's hard to get past the point that I have such a selfish, manipulative, deceitful mother and not wonder what I could do do make it better.
The expectations of others are one of the hardest things for me.  Honor thy mother.  Respect your mother.  Where do you, Jessi, contribute to the problem.  Let it go.  Let it roll of your back.   Try and see her good points because someday you'll miss her when she's gone.  Well, maybe that's true.  But most likely I'll miss the mother I wished she had been.  Seperating from my mom, holding her at a distance, will always be held against me by society.  I'll always be the ungrateful, begrudged daughter who can't get over the past.  They will never understand that she is like a cancer inside of me who has eaten me up and that if I don't hold her at arm's length, if I don't seperate from her, if I don't let her and all my idealized hopes go, she will swallow me whole.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I don't know why I continue to expect more out of my mother.  I don't know why I expect that things will be different.  I don't know why it bothers me when the same thing happens over and over.

My in-laws are coming to visit AGAIN.  They have been here every other weekend, if not every weekend, for the past year.  Things would be different if we had a different relationship.  But I find them overbearing, disrespectful, demanding, and intrusive.  It hangs a black cloud over the weekend, as I wait for the "in-law bomb" to drop.  

Anyway, I was stewing over this and sent an email to my mother.  I knew better.  I knew I was not going to get the response I wanted.  I asked her about her weekend with her extended family.  She replied, in great detail, all the gossip.  Then, there was a small bit about my sister.  I replied with my two cents, told her about my in-laws, and told her I have a bad cold.  

Her response was text book.  I could have written it myself.  She responded to my two cents by arguing that I was now wrong (although I was agreeing with HER).  She made me out to be judgemental, taking the side of the person she was originally slandering, and acting as if she was now their supporter.  How sorry she felt for them.  How hard it was for them.  She told me she was sorry I was sick, but then included a paragraph about the progress of her latest ailments.  And then, she went on to complain about the extended family again. In a four paragraph email, she made one comment about my in-laws.  She said she understood.  She also said that "hell, I'd like to visit you more too.  But I know you need your family time."  Now, on the surface this appears to be a understanding mother.  It's not.  This is a jab.  A sucker punch.  She tells me she understands, and then when I'm open, she shoots me with how I'm not doing enough for her.  I want to scream at her, "maybe if you didn't do crap like this, you would be welcome more often.  Maybe if you didn't always have to make me feel badly, I would ask you down more.  Maybe if you were helpful, or kind, or supportive, or nice, I would want to come visit YOU!!  But as it is, I have to drag myself to visit you because it is so exhausting."  

Why do I do this to myself?  Why is there such hope that things will be different?   Maybe I really am insane.  I'm trying to do things differently, but old habits die hard I guess.  And somewhere, I still haven't let go of the hope that somewhere in my mom is the person I wish she could be.  

Friday, May 11, 2012


I just had a really bad evening with my in-laws.  I'm sure that I'm being discussed at this very moment.  That I am crazy.  They're all wondering what the hell is wrong with me.
As background, my in-laws all run on their own schedule.  My MIL and FIL have been here every weekend, expecting to just drop by at their convenience, for the past month.  And then every other weekend before that. They show up whenever they want and expect us to present the grandchildren so that they can have their little moments.  They are very different from the type of person I am.  We just have never clicked.  Not they are not nice people, they are just inconsiderate people.  They do little to predict or understand how their actions might effect someone else.
The short story is that they wanted everyone to get together tonight (us and husband's brother's family).  They don't make plans.  They just expect things to fall together.  When we arrive at the restaurant their is a 45 minute wait.  I have a baby.  I knew that things weren't going to go well from there.  Over an hour later we are still waiting for a table.  My MIL tells my 3 year old that she has a gift in the car.  Not for him now, but in the car.  And she expects him to wait for it.  She and my FIL think it's so funny how he politely asks to go out and get it (but don't actually get it).  They come over and tell me stories about my son to ME as if I don't know him at all.  They don't get that I'm getting agitated knowing that at any moment, my son is going to turn into a cranky mess.   We sit down, and there is some grousing on MIL's part because she can't sit in the middle of the table.  We all have small kids we need to attend to, but she can't be center of attention, and is annoyed.  We finally arrange the seating at the table, quickly order some food for the kids and an appetizer for hubby and me (while everyone else waits to eat, making my poor niece and nephew wait the whole time).  When the food comes, my MIL starts doling out food from one person's plate to the other.  This is a thing with her.  That everyone "share" whether they wanted to or not.  This irritates me to no end.  I know that it's not that big of a deal, but to me, it is such a boundary violation.  Who does she think she is, that she gets to determine who gets what food and how much?  She's grabbing my son's food, giving it to my niece (not that I mind him sharing, in fact, I encourage it) but she doesn't even wait to see if my niece asks for it.  She just hands food around.  And then starts sneaking her own bits of food off his plate.   Again, I know this seems small.  But it is a repeated thing where she will help herself to my son's food instead of getting her own.  It's not about the food to her.  It's about some weird "connection" she feels by crossing those boundaries and all being "one" that irritates me.  She used to do this with me before my kids came along.  I always left family meals hungry, as everyone else "helped" me finish food after they gulped down their own.  It's a touchy subject with me.  Not about the food, but the sense of feeling violated.  No one cared if I was hungry, or what I wanted, just about what they wanted.  MIL throws out (rather screams across the table) how great the card  I sent her for Mother's Day was.  She quickly sent me an email card this morning after mine arrived in the mail.  (Is it the thought that counts?  What if there is no thought?).  I doubt her sincerity as well, it just doesn't seem sincere.  My FIL loudly goes on about what my son knows of letters, although when I try to tell him what else my son can do, he ignores me.  MIL makes pointed comments to my son about how good he is "sharing".  My temperature is through the roof.  My SIL starts suggesting that hubby and I need a night out (which we do) but I find the timing weird.  She also suggests a girl's night, yet has been cold and reserved and on her phone all night.  I am slowly getting swallowed by my anxiety.  I feel pressure everywhere.  Tension.  And it is probably my fault.  My SIL and BIL leave their kids all the time with the in-laws.  I'm too afraid too (she's a space cadet).  They have a date night tomorrow.  My MIL has watched the kids all day and will watch them tomorrow.  They are one, big, chummy family, and I'm the bitch that keeps my husband and kids from being that too.
We finally get up to leave, leaving everyone else to their meals that haven't arrived.  But my infant is clawing at my head he is so tired.  My in-laws finally ask to take my older son to get their gift from the car.  I say yes, hold his hand (they act like this is a given, but with them, it is NOT) in the crazy parking lot, and to please hurry.  We wait for them.  Then they saunter in checking out cars.  Then, my FIL suggests he needs to "stop by" to see my son play baseball.  Again with the drop-ins.  Again, no regard for what we have going on.  Drop everything to see us, they push.  I am boiling by this point.  Then, they want to talk about my other son's birthday party.  They just can't seem to get the point.  I jump in the car, turn the key, and instantly feel awful, but at the same time liberated.  They have pushed and pushed all night, but of course, I am the horrible, rude one.
My husband asks if I'm all right on the way home.  He means mentally.  No.  I'm not the fuck all right.  He suggests I need counseling.  Really?  No shit.  He suggests I'm very angry.  Hell yeah, I'm angry.  I'm so angry.  Angry at them all.  Angry at myself.  Tired of being taken advantage of.  Tired of no one thinking past their own selfish needs, past their own asses.  Tired of being bullied.  I should feel worse, but I don't.  Why can't I be angry sometimes?  Why can't I be annoyed?  Why should I just go along?  Why is thinking about my kid's well being such a crime?
I'm so tired of it all.  So lonely, so tired, so angry, so broken.

Monday, May 7, 2012


For the sake of anonymity, some the details of the actual event will  be changed.
I have a close family member who posted something extremely offensive on FB.  Not only was it offensive to the people he posted about, but also to me personally.  This isn't unusual for this person, but I guess it finally got on my nerves.  But I didn't dare say anything.  I didn't want to rock the boat, so to speak, and judging by all the comments from this person's small minded "friends", I knew I'd be in the minority anyway.  And then I got angry at myself for not saying anything.  In the end, I just deleted this person as a FB friend, as I knew nothing I said would change them and would only open me up to ridicule.  So, better I just get rid of his stream of crap.
Anyway, I emailed my mother about it, as she is the person who links me to this relative.  At first, she was also disgusted, claiming how ridiculous it was.  The next day I received a very different email.  It was full of every narcissistic stereotype.  "Don't feel offended." she stated.  How can I not feel something?  And frankly, why should I not be offended.  Oh yeah, because that bothers her and god forbid she has to feel an uncomfortable feeling.  The offender is young, ignorant, uneducated, not as experienced as you, she said.  Oh, and so that excuses all of this person's rants?  Over and over she made excuses for why they would say something.  I wrote back, restating my point of view.  It was offensive to me, related directly to  me, and was scary in that people suggested violence towards these people.  It was just plain sick, I told her.  She wrote back saying she "hadn't understood the whole story".  Really?  I had clearly laid out the details before (and had the email chain to prove it).  But just one more excuse.  Then she turned it around to say how she puts this person in his place.  Why can't she just say, "you're right.  That is unacceptable.  I don't agree with them.  That is offensive."  Just one more example of how I'm not allowed to have feelings.  One more time that the validity of what I'm saying is argued against.  One more time where I'm expected to just "let it go".  I'm sure she'd say she just didn't want me to feel bad.  Hated seeing me upset.  But the end result is it was all about the fact that it made HER uncomfortable.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Sister, Narcissist in training?

I think I've always been some what fearful of my sister.  When we were little she would fly into rages.  She would beat the hell out of me, gouging chunks of skin out of my arms, slapping me, hitting me, tackling me to the ground.  It generally was for the smallest offenses.  She didn't like they way I played with something.  I angered her in my choices.  I didn't do what she wanted me to.  It was miserable and my parents rarely protected me.  They treated it as "typical sibling" fighting and that we needed to work it out.   There was no typical about it.  I was at a distinct disadvantage.  I had not the heart to hit her back.  I never wanted to hurt her.  So, I would just protect myself.  I thought all siblings fought like that.  But as I got older, I realized it really was abuse.  Her rage was far beyond what a typical little girl would do.  Her anger and temper were intense and volatile and frequent and my parents should have stepped in.  They should have at least tried to work through it with us.  There should have been some accountability for her actions.  However, most often, I was told to hit her back. And then I would get punished.  I would get into trouble for fighting. As my husband recently said, I got in trouble for getting beat up.  The other outcome was that my mother would tell me to deal with it.  I was charged with watching my sister for two hours after school.  We were only two years apart in age and we were both pretty young.  I was expected to keep her in line, make her do her chores and homework, and generally be babysitter.  This was no short order.  She was rebellious.  She was often difficult for my own parents to control.  She did whatever the hell she wanted to do.  We were assigned chores that required that one person do a chore, so that the other could do their's.  She would have to sweep, so that I could mop.  She had to unload the dishwasher so that I could load it.  I was a hopelessly responsible kid.  I would always want to come home and get my chores done.  At the very least, I knew that if I didn't get the chores done, I would be in trouble.  Erica would wait until 4:45 to do her chores.  My parents got home at 5.  The obvious result would be that I didn't get my chores done and I would be punished.  No matter that she didn't do her's first.  It was my responsibility to get her to do her's.  No matter that there was no pushing her into doing her chores, that I had no leverage for that.  Often, in trying to get her to do her chores, she would fly into a rage at me.  Attacking me and beating me.  I would call my mom in terror.  She would get angry with me for bothering her at work.  Bothering her with my menial problems.  I spent so much time confining my sister until she calmed down, holding her so that she would not hurt herself or me.  These afternoons were horrible.

If you hear tales from my sister, I was horrible.  I "threw her down the stairs once".  No, I dragged her down the stairs in attempt to get the flailing, angry child out the door until she calmed down.  She throws this one  incident, that is not even true, in my face often to "prove" what a horrible sister I was.  She says I always got my own way.  That I bossed her around and she never got a choice.  She claims that I was the "perfect" one.  And in that one regard, she may be correct.  I wasn't allowed to be anything but "perfect".

She was spoiled.  My mother coddled her.  I was often told to go along with what she wanted so that she wouldn't get angry.  I was mom's accomplice in appeasing Erica so that she wouldn't rage.  I was expected to make my mother's life easier by sacrificing my own desires and wants.  Erica always sat beside my mom.  Restaurants, behind her in the car, walking down the street.  I was not allowed to sit by my mom or Erica would throw a fit.  I was recruited to help with Erica's school projects.  I was expected to assume responsiblity for her.

This responsibility continued into our teenage years and beyond.  While my mom was out having an affair, she left me in charge of my, now, very rebellious sister  (overnight and weekends).  We were "co-parents".  As she and my dad split, I assumed his role as parent for her.  Erica spiraled out of control.  Drugs, sex, running away.  It wore my mother down.  She called me daily at college to get my advice, plead for me to help her, to dump all of her worry, stress, and anxiety about my sister on me.  There was no detail spared.

Ironically, my sister and I had actually been pretty close as kids.  We played together a lot and I believed generally enjoyed each other.  As she became so difficult and stressful for my mom, I resented her and became so angry with her.   We hardly spoke.  I hated what she was doing to my mom and thought she was a miserable human being.  As I see it now, I realize that most of my sister's actions can be attributed to my mother's parenting (or lack there of.  See "The Divorce" post).  But I despised her at the time.  She was extremely violent, often attacking me and my mom.  Mom never tried to protect me in these instances, but rather expected me to help protect her.  We were a team, trying to get Erica under control.  My mother ranted about my father not helping and I was expected to relay her messages.  Mom played the role of poor victim and expected me to console her and her unfortunate position.  My sister stole from me, beat me, abused me and my mother only used it as validation of how awful my sister was to her.   See how horrible she is, see what I have to put up with?  Sob, cry, boo-hoo.

As we entered adult hood, my sister and I had a mutual disrespect and dislike for each other.  My mother dragged us on two "mother-daughter" weekends when we were in our early twenties.  These were two of the worse weekends of my life.  I was trapped.  Mom was (what I know know as ) triangulating us, pitting us against each other.  Whispering negative things about the other in our ears.  Playing the poor me role, blaming everything on the other sister.  The fighting was full on war and mom got to play the martyr in the middle.  I swore I NEVER would vacation alone with the two of them again.

After these incidents, the anger and hurt hung between us all.  Somewhere, somehow, my sister and I began to speak again.  We began to compare notes.  We began to see the lies and the manipulations behind our backs.  While I hated her, blamed her, felt so sorry for my mother, my mother was busy blaming me behind MY back, calling me neurotic, saying how difficult I was.   Our position of not talking to each other had created fertile ground for my mother's mythologies to grow.

This realization did not necessarily fix things between me and my sister, but at least it got us talking. She is still very selfish and intense.  She still flies into rages over the smallest things.  She takes things personally, when they have nothing to do with her.  She demands that all attention be on her.  Everyone is expected to follow her schedule, read her mind, do what she wants.  She rarely does anything if it's not something she enjoys.  Everything has to be tailored to her.  Everyone waits on her.  She struggles to get her act together and we are always waiting on her.   She has the biggest problems, the most stress, the most to deal with.  Everything in her life is of the utmost importance.  I often take a back seat in her life.  We are not life long best friends.  Up until a few years ago, the last part of the decade was spent worrying about her.  She's been in and out of the hospital, abusive relationships, and the courts.  She's spent a little time in jail.  Her life is always in turmoil.  She often would call sobbing, drunk, at three in the morning to detail her latest fights with her boyfriend, never caring that I had to work in the morning.  She has had more bad things happen to her than I can count and it all can't be because of bad luck.   She has a sense of entitlement that is unparalleled.  She is naive and idealistic.  If something doesn't happen as she believes it should, she rants about how unjust it all is.

She has rarely been there for me in my times of need.  She offers little support.  In fact, I often get the distinct impression that I'm not allowed to have problems or bad days because they are trivial to her in comparison to the drama that is her life.  She has missed the birth of both my kids and has little investment in them.  She doesn't ask about them.  When we saw her last, she complained of how exhausting it was to spend the day with them.  Mom claims they are "the light of her life and mean the world to her" but that is hard to see.   She often misses their birthdays and sends gifts late (not that I expect gifts, but it would be nice just for them to get some sort of acknowledgement from her).  And then when we do get gifts I spend HOURS literally listening to her on the phone as she shops, complaining she doesn't know what to get them.  The gifts arrive and they are lavish.  After they arrive she complains about how broke she is because she spent all her money on gifts.  I teased her one year when she said the gifts would be late.  "Shocking," I teased.  "What is that supposed to mean?" She snapped.  But they are always late.  She is annoyed by my husband and doesn't tolerate him well.  She doesn't appreciate that he has a place in my life that somewhat displaces her.  Not that she is here that often to displace.  She has railed against me so often for not being "there" for my family.  She calls me selfish, stuck-up, and cold.  She has left me voice mails telling me she is sick of listening to the crap between me and mom and that I need to work it out.  Usually because she is sick of listening to my MOM complain, not me.  But if my mom annoys her, I'm the first person she calls.  She rarely sees our mom and complains when she does.  She doesn't have time for her, she says.  But then she'll make broad statements about how much she loves mom, appreciates mom, and she is the best mom ever.  She forgets mother's day and mom's birthday but if she does remember, she is a hero.  Mom has the best time with her.  Erica is so much fun.  She plasters pictures of her and Erica on Facebook.  Mom has not one picture of me and her.  Mom's always so proud of every little accomplishment Erica has, no matter how menial.  Mom worries about Erica, stresses about her, and makes Erica's issues everyone's issues.  She and Erica are best friends forever.  Best friends who snipe and complain and hurt each other every chance they get.  They both lie to me, complain about me behind my back, and generally place little value in me unless there is something in it for them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Worry, pity, bitterness and other emotions of my narcissistic mother

My mother is always worried about someone or something.  Someone is always dying.  Someone always has some horrible disease.  She worries that something could happen to someone.  She worries that some one might get an illness.  If she hears about a person younger than her that died of a heart attack with no known symptoms, she most certainly will dwell on that.  If someone is doing something that is out of her comfort zone, she will stress endlessly that something will happen to them.  A relative of mine was traveling to a small town for work that had a murder recently.  It was a senseless murder, with a very unlucky victim who happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  This town has had no murders before or after.  But this relative was in untold amounts of peril.  Mom was certain that she would get attacked, that she shouldn't go alone, that she should just refuse to travel there for work.  When I told her that she was being paranoid and that this relative would be more likely to get hurt in the big city that she and my mother were travelling to than this small town, my mother got very angry.  She barraged me with "proof" of this danger.  News reports and internet articles.  Everyone we know is always just on the brink of danger.  Everyone we know is so unlucky.  When someone she knew actually was dying of cancer, it was unbearable.  I received endless emails and monologues about how much it was effecting her.   How hard it was to watch for her.  And then the "revelations" she had were ridiculous.  It taught her that "family was everything".  You can die any day, Jessie.  It's important to live life to the fullest!  Respect your mother!  Live like those cheesy inspirational quotes she sent me.  Ugh.

In addition, she is endlessly plagued by illness and sickness herself.  My family has had a rough go of  endless colds the last few weeks, but my mother, well, she has REALLY been sick.  She tripped over a rug and sprained her ankle and was unable to walk for awhile and now is still limping.  She caught a cold and had to lay in bed all weekend (do you know how much I wanted to lay in bed all weekend?  What I wouldn't give!).  She has a face rash and a cancer patch on her nose.  All of these require separate doctors appointments.  I found out about the malignant cancer in an email titled "BIOPSY".  The biopsy revealed that it was not cancer.  But she was oh so relieved that they wouldn't have to cut of "half" her nose and it had been so "scary" for her.  Her back is messed up and goes out on her.  Getting old is a bitch, she claims.  Which I'm sure it is.  But the problem is, these maladies come and go. All of a sudden, something will just go away and you'll never hear about it again.  And she will never seek real treatment for them.  They are always problems that are beyond medical help.  All suggestions of treatment are dismissed and then we move on to the next tragedy.

Another favorite emotion of my mother's is pity.  She always "feels sorry" for someone.  Generally, these "someones" are people she recently complained endlessly about.  Telling me how horrible, stupid, mean, blah, blah, they are.  But then something happens, usually insignificant, and she feels sorry for them.  Not true empathy and compassion, but pity.  A pity that elevates her and makes the other person seem a pathetic victim of circumstance.  Some retched human being that is beyond help.  While she, the kindly, caring person feels so sorry for them.

If I'm not hearing about her Mother Theresa act, or her endless worries and illness, than it's bitterness.  How dare some one treat her like so and so did?  How dare they say that, do that, breathe, in her presence? Screw them for having money, or a nice car, or a nice home.  No one is deserving of the things they have.  Everyone is always milking the system or cashing in on something they shouldn't.  She is jealous about almost everyone and everything.  No matter that she has money and a nice car and a nice home.  She is been shit on and everyone else gets the things she deserves.  She works the hardest, she puts in the most time, she has pulled herself up farther than anyone.  Everyone else skates or is just plain lucky.

Conversations are rarely about anything other than these three emotions.  It is exhausting.

Lonely and Masked

I have been having such a hard time lately.  Coming to terms with all of this has been so extremely hard.  Hard to hear people tell me my mother never really loved me.  Hard to feel feelings that I've been denying.  Hard to look at the cold hard truth.  Hard to even determine what the hell the truth is.
Hard to find myself in all of this.  As I make commitments to allow me to be me, I struggle.  Where to put the guilt, where to draw the line, where to feel like I am not being a selfish horrible person.  Trying to establish boundaries with all those who have bulldozed me for so long.  Living with the choice and not replaying the what-ifs a thousand times in my head.
My dad told me the last time we talked that he's been depressed, really depressed for months now.  This is not new to him.  He has been depressed for as long as I can remember.  But sometimes, the depression sinks lower than usual.  This has been one of those times.  When I talked to him on the phone, he was bitter and surly and short.   So, I just let him have his time.  I've barely talked to him.   My sister has been in one of her all encompassing moods.  She is just so busy with her life.  She claims she misses me.  One occasion sent me a one sentence email about needing to connect.  But most of my emails or texts have been ignored.  She doesn't call to see how I'm doing.  And frankly, I don't call her either as I have not the energy to listen to her monologues.  I've had a considerable break from talking to my mom.  I haven't been avoiding her, but have just been sick and tired and been using it as an excuse to lay low.  It's actually been somewhat nice, with only email contact.  But it's like the calm before the storm.  I can feel her anger and resentment across all these miles between us.  See it dripping in the texts and emails.  I'm sure I'm in trouble.  I just don't think I care.  Or maybe I'm too damn tired to care.
So here I sit.  Alone.  Feeling divorced and separate and alone.  An orphan.  And I can't talk to anyone about it.  Everyone's lives move on and I'm stuck in this stagnant mud trying to escape, to move on.  And I wonder why no one, no one can see past my mask.