Releasing the past in order to find myself

Friday, November 22, 2013


So, ironically, as I penned my post yesterday, NM crafted this (the third in an installment of "love messages she's crafted in the past two weeks)  to put on her FB page: 

"A daughter is one of the most beautiful gifts this world has to give.
-- Laurel Atherton

I have been blessed with the most talented, intelligent, warm hearted,loving and beautiful daughters possible. Love my (Jessie) and (NSIS)."

So.....a couple of things about this:

First, I'm sure those of you who are not emotionally connected to my mother see this as a huge pile of bullshit.  A PUBLIC statement of her "love" and "admiration" for her daughters meant to shine a big ole spotlight on NM.  I see it too and I'm sure you are right.  Unfortunately, it's not always that easy for me to separate her bullshit from my emotions about it. 

NM uses "blessed".  She is not religious.  At all.  Blessed is the word of choice for NM lately (and it appears a ton of others) who is imitating all the conservative, right wing people she knows. 

"Most talented, intelligent, warm hearted..." BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  This same woman told me, about five years ago, that neither my sister and I lived up to our "potential" because we weren't making a ton of money.  She's told me and NSIS we are  smart (but it's a source of bitterness to her because she thinks she's "stupid".  She resents that it is "natural" for us).  She's never said out right I'm beautiful.  I know she clearly thinks NSIS is (I think NM would BE NSIS if she could).  Warm hearted?  Isn't this the same woman who says I don't love her enough and do enough for her?

The thing is that these things would be so lovely to hear from a mother.  She's already "collected" a ton of likes for it.  And I would love it so much if she actually meant any of this.  Or if she'd actually ever said it TO MY FACE.  If she really wanted to communicate these things to me, why doesn't she just tell me.  Privately?  Or personally?  Maybe she means all the shit she says, but somehow, when it's combined with schlepping for "likes" on FB, it looses any of it's meaning.

A few weeks ago,  I sent her a gift (long story).  Instead of thanking me by calling me, or sending a text, or a private message on FB, or an email, she PUBLICALLY thanked me on my FB wall.  Clearly, it was done for show. 

These kinds of things really make me crazy.  This two faced crap.  This overtly, open declarations of love for all to see.  And the private bitching, and whining, and covert manipulation.   It fooled me for years.  I would take these "tokens" of love as genuine.  Sometimes I still feel myself wanting to buy into this bullshit.  It'd be easier.  Maybe.  Just believe like all of the other sheep that she really loves and admires her "wonderful" daughters.  But then, when she purposely sets me up to hurt me, lies to me, tries to guilt and manipulate me into doing what she wants, ignores my feelings and turns attention that should be on me (or someone else) back to herself, acts out in jealousy, calls names, bitches, whines, and spews negativity, I'd be back in the same place.  Confused, stressed, sick, and hurt.  And ANGRY. 

I should add: I have not spoken with my sister (except very heated emails a few times) in over a year.  I am not interested, at the moment, in dealing with NSIS.  I've thought about it.  I've been trying to work out how to make a relationship with her work.  But I just don't see how to do it.  Any attempts I've made to communicate with her, she's turned into an abusive (very abusive) attack on me (and my family).  I wish it wasn't so, but I am really enjoying my peace away from her.

So, to be lumped into NM's big declaration of love with NSIS, really bugs the shit out of me.  As I eluded to in my last post, NM has always lumped me and NSIS together.  We are two halves of a whole to her.  Not individual people.  Not two grown, adult women.  After all, we are in our mid-30s.

The last part of the message that, I believe almost annoyed me the most, is the "my (Jessie) and (NSIS)" part.  MY?!?  We don't belong to her.  Do other mother's talk like that?  About their grown children?  Maybe I'd be over reacting if I had a normal mother, but that MY feels like a big attempt to (probably without her even thinking about it) express her "ownership" of us.  We are "HER" kids.  We belong to her.  That simple inclusion of "MY" just signifies to me how she will always think of us as something that is a part of her, something she needs to own, something she will never see as grown up, individual, adult women. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mother's Little Helper

I have some random memories floating around lately.  And also, some relationships in my life have come into much clearer focus.  So, I have some random stories to tell.  I'm really not sure what they have to do with anything, except that I want to write them.  I've avoided discussing individuals in my life in too much detail, as some sense of wanting to respect their privacy has held me back.  But now, although I still don't want to reveal to much about any one person, I need to write these stories down.

NM always says I was a good baby and toddler.  Compliant, easy going.  Easy.  I was always "easy" she said.  NSIS was not.  NSIS was demanding and irritable.  More needy. 

And so, from the start, I became mommy's little helper.  I helped coddle NSIS.  I gave in so that NSIS wouldn't cry.  I tried not to make NSIS mad.  I worked hard to keep her happy.  I worked hard to help NM. 

NM always says that I was a pretty good child.  That is putting it mildly.  I rarely got in trouble.  I did all my chores.  I got straight As.  Always.  My teachers loved me. (I was teacher's helper too.  I didn't realize until much later that, although I liked to help, I sometimes resented being too busy "helping" to enjoy things the other kids did at school.   Like goofing off, or having more social time.)  I did lots of chores.  I was in charge every day after school  and all summer long of my sister.  I did chores and was expected to make her do her's.  HA.  NSIS would explode.  She was violent and very physically abusive.  This wasn't a "sibling" fight.  This was every few days, her attacking me, me trying to restrain her (I never wanted to hurt her).  Me living in fear of pissing her off.  But also being "in charge" of forcing this willful child to do things she didn't want to do.  And if she didn't do her chores, I got in trouble. 

I also got in trouble if I called my mom, begging for help.  She saw the bruises and bite marks and claw chunks from my arms.  She new my sister raged.  But we "both" were fighting.  So, I got in trouble for that too. 

But I continued to help.  I often felt sorry for my mom.  I wanted to help.  I always tried to smooth things over.  I always was the good girl.  The less trouble I got in, the less trauma there was around our house.  My dad was depressed and often raged and life at home was tense.  I wanted to help.  I offered to start dinners for my mom.  I never asked for help on homework.  I didn't ask to be involved in activities because I knew it would stress my mom out to get me there. 

When my family exploded with the divorce and we all fell apart, NM disappeared for a few years.  Sure, she was still "there", but she was often busy.  Busy with her new boyfriend and his family.  Traveling to see them.  Enjoying her "new life".  She left me in charge of NSIS a lot more.  Whole weekends.  Over night.  With a child that snuck out and drank constantly. 

But I was still the "good girl".  I quit expressing my feeling about the divorce and how upset I was because NM said I couldn't feel that way because it was her "turn to be happy".  So, I ducked my head and shut up.  I still got on honor roll at school.   I was in school activities.  I held down a job.  I often (like most of the week) would stay at my boyfriend's parents house so I could go to work. 

I tried to be there for NM.  By now, NSIS was in full on crazy mode.  FULL on.  I felt badly again for NM.  The stress showed on her face.  I tried to help her with my sister.  I helped hold her down when she was trying to leave.  I stood by to help NM when NSIS was out of control.  I listened to her.  My first year of college, NM called me constantly with horror story updates of what my sister had been doing (really, truly, the stories were often horrific to me.  Still are.)  I wanted to be there for NM.  NM dropped NSIS off one weekend (a weekend of a friend's wedding that NM forced me to take NSIS to.  Which was just were I wanted my 17 year old, out of control sister was at a wedding of collage aged kids.)  I listened to NM.  I offered advice (that was rarely taken).  I tried to reason with NSIS.  I tried to talk to her.  I really couldn't stand her at the time. 

Slowly, NSIS evened out a little bit (although did not mellow out.  She is still is very crazy but it's not as intense.)  But I continued to be there for NM.  I listened as she complained about her new family (the family she had "dumped" me and my sister for a few years earlier.  I was reminded that I should be "over that" and have "moved on" and how long was I going to talk about the divorce for).  I listened for HOURS every week on the phone.  I drove to see her.  I visited several times a year.  She visited me.  I listened to her talk about NSIS, how hard it was.  How NSIS was still getting into serious situations.  I agonized with her.  I tried to help her with NSIS. 

I had always idolized my mother when little.  I wrote books about her and dedicated to her.  I crafted special gifts.  I saved my money to buy her presents.  I cooked and cleaned and babysat.  And this continued as I got into my late 20s.  I bought special gifts.  I tried to find ways to make her feel special.  I worked hard to develop a relationship with my step father (a man who helped my mom cheat on my father).  I tried to blend into NM's new family (like she wanted me too).  I cooked special meals, took her out to special dinners.  I celebrated her birthdays and most holidays with her.  I bought nice wine when she came.  I tried. And fucking tried. 

I continued to be NM's venting partner when she needed to unload about NSIS.  She unloaded her stress and pain and anxiety onto me.  She wouldn't let me separate from it.  She often said that she "shouldn't be the only one who has to deal with (NSIS)".  That the responsibility of it was shared.  And since my dad refused to do that with her, I became that person. 

I sent Mother's Day Cards, birthday gifts, thoughtfully bought and carefully wrapped.  I tried to find ways to listen to her advice (which I often didn't want, but felt it made her feel "included" in things.)  I continued to listen to HOURS of complaints.  HOURS of negativity.  NSIS did little of this.  NSIS often forgot NM's birthday.  Often didn't send cards (or even call).  Kept NM up stressed at night.  Called NM screaming in the middle of the night (on the phone, often drunk, often in serious trouble).  She was a difficult child.  She was a difficult teenager who was involved in almost everyone of parents' worst nightmares that I can think of.  She often didn't acknowledge or even thank my mother.  She got in trouble and didn't care (and certainly didn't feel remorse).  She caused horrific stress to my step father (and step family).  Again, put them in actual danger. 

And very recently, NM described BOTH me and my sister as ungrateful, neglectful children.  Children who certainly didn't appreciate her, didn't show her respect, didn't love her enough.  Both of us.  All that shit I did, all those years.  I didn't do it to earn her love; I did it because I DID love her.  And it didn't matter to her at all.  To her, I was the same as my selfish, crazy, mean little sister.  Ungrateful little brats, the both of us. 

Sometimes I don't know if it hurts more that she doesn't know how to love me, or that she wouldn't allow me to love her.  God knows I tried. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Defining Reality

Earlier this week was the anniversary of NM's mother's death.  A day that has been noted, extensively, for the past five years.  She posted a lovely tribute to her mother, carefully crafted from the many other "tribute" posts she's seen.  Like Dr. Frankenstein, she pulled bits and pieces from several places, including some ideas that were almost verbatim to things my aunt says (her SIL.)  It was flowery, spoke in a very important tone (you could tell she crafted the message in her head for hours before posting) and spoke of all of the loving and wonderful things grandma was.

Now, I wasn't surprised that she is saying this about her mom.  I've heard it for five years.  But in the many, many years before that NM said nothing but what a "weird" and odd woman grandma was.  How she was a horrible mother, a hermit who neglected her kids and often put her in charge.  A woman who she couldn't stand.  I remember her saying that she feared turning into her. 

But then grandma died, and like a light switch, NM suddenly missed their "chats" (or the phone calls she obligatorily made and then complained about before grandma died), or the visits (which she forced herself to do and never said more than a few hours...TOPS.  They never visited her.  Ever.  But NM recalls the "support" her mother offered her. 

Anyway, I hit the "like" button before my brain could filter it.  And then, in an instant, "unliked" it.  I don't have to like and support this drivel.  This propaganda disguised as mourning.  She can suck NS all she wants from people, but I'm not going to participate in this shit.  And I didn't.  I ignored it completely.  (I might add that for the first five years, NM is "in mourning" for her mother from early November when her mother died, to the beginning of January when her mother's birthday is.  One time she tried to guilt me into having her visit-when I LEGITMATELY had other plans- she said "you know how hard the holidays are after my mom".  You'll notice too that it suddenly became about the loss of "her mom".  Not my grandmother.  She's never been concerned with how I felt about grandma passing.  Not that I was all that torn up.  Grandma was a cold, nutty old lady.  She didn't bother me much, but I was never ever close to her.  So, it was what it was.  Anyway, NM lays it on thick every year. )  The thought crosses my mind as  I write this that NM probably expects some sort of public declaration from me for her "milestone" birthday in a few weeks.  Not going to happen.

Anyway, NM quit emailing.  I can always tell I've "displeased" her or that she's contemplating exactly how big of a shit I am by how silent the constant barrage of emails, and texts, and FB crap is.  It goes silent.  Radio silence.  There's always a message in it.  I ignored it.

Then, she posts a picture of my sons (one of the professional portraits I had taken a month ago.  I'm curious as to WHY now she would post that picture).  She, again, carefully crafts a message.  Shit about melting her heart.  And "love, love, love".  Folks, my mom is not flowery.  She is not heartfelt messages and sentimental statements.  EVER.  If she ever talked like that in real life, I'd fall over.  It, again, doesn't surprise me, as I've seen her mimic FB "social niceties" before.  Saying things like "my thoughts and prayers are with you".  She's not religious.  Calling people "sweet" before their name.  Ugh, gage me.

Anyway, this shameless pimping of my kids for her own attention pissed me off HUGE.  But what can  I do.  She took it from the photographer's public FB sight.  She (technically) didn't share MY shit.  And how can you say anything to a grandmother who is "just offering up her love" of her grandsons.  Blech. 

So, I ignored that too. 

Yesterday, after not-liking her shit, and a week of radio silence (and remember, she tries to contact me 3-4 times a day.  Never by phone.  That is some sort of boundary I managed to erect without ever having to say it.  Really, I believe that I pissed her off one time by trying to limit the amount of phone time, explaining I had very young kids, little "alone time" to talk properly, and when I did, I was often fucking TIRED.  I was just trying to cut down on the thrice weekly 1-2 hour phone marathons that she would hold me hostage on.....short of, literally, hanging up, you couldn't get NM to wrap up the conversation.  Anyway, after I said that, she quit calling.  And I, enjoying the quiet, didn't call back.  It's been over a year since we've talked on the phone-except my birthday, but that was another story.  I believe she's "punishing" me.  But, I'm enjoying the silence, so I haven't bothered to call.  I hate talking on the phone anyway.)  OK, SOOO, I get this text asking how we are.  If we are feeling better (this is her "go-to" wedge to try and get me to respond to her.  She asks how I am and than launches into herself or what she wants).  I tell her "doing good".  This gets her hair up.  She replys "good to hear.  Hey, have the boys call me sometime when you get a chance.  I would love to talk to them."

Huh.  Fuck that.  She wants to talk to THEM?   And why doesn't she just call THEM.  She claims it's because I'm "so busy" and she never knows when to call.  She actually did try to call THEM (only) a month or so ago.  It was 5 p.m.  End of nap time, beginning of rest time.  I didn't pick up.  She knows the kids schedule.  But she called then.  And now, she is putting it all on me.  "When you have time".  Note, she says nothing about talking to ME.  Not that I care, but seriously.  I'm sure she's pissed too because I was supposed to offer up a free weekend when we had one, so she could make up for that canceled trip.

But here's the thing, we haven't had a free weekend.  Not that we are "so busy" but we've had shit going on.  My husband's been gone.  It's a busy time of year.  The cancelled trip was TWO weeks ago.  But I KNOW in her head,  I just know, she's sitting there bitter, pissed off, angry that I haven't offered up a time.  She's stewing in her "mom died grief", wallowing in pictures of her grandchildren she "never sees!"  She sees them every two to three months for days at a time.  That's enough for me. I seriously can't handle more, and the stress of seeing her was killing me. 

I didn't have my kids call my mom today.  Not going to lie, I had to FIGHT the urge to do it.  I didn't want her to think badly of me.  Think I was avoiding her.  When she says jump, I literally have to tie myself down not to jump.  I know the instant I didn't respond to the text yesterday or have the kids call, she got pissed.  I can feel the "icy stare" from her almost 700 miles away. 

And here is the real kicker.  I'm not TRYING to ignore her totally.  It's not like I'm sitting on my ass purposely trying to "hold out" so that I'm not rewarding her demanding behavior (although it would be completely legitimate of me to do it).  I've been busy.  She texted me yesterday while I was a the doctor's office.  I sat for two hours there and went home to put the kids to nap.   I got them up, cooked dinner, let their dad play with them, and put them to bed.  Got up today, had hair appointments, shit to do, and really didn't have time to slam in a phone call.  I've legitimately been busy and she still manages to make me feel guilty....or at least I can see the ingrained tapes she's installed in my head.  If I was a "good" daughter, I'd make time.  I'd find a way in TWO days to make the time.  I'd prioritize her.  She just wants a little time with her grandsons.  Mean little daughter that I am I don't give her anything. 

And I have to work SO damn hard to reroute that thinking.  To not feel anxious and overwhelmed about needing to please my mom.  I can rationalize, that if our relationship wasn't so messed up, that a "normal" mom wouldn't take it SO DAMN PERSONALLY if her daughter can't get back to her immediately.   And while, obviously, there is some undercurrent to our current situation, it's because this is the way she's been my whole life.  She says jump and I'm expected to snap into place.  And if I don't, she assumes it is a personal attack on her.  It doesn't matter how legitimate my excuses are or what else I need to do, I'm expected to attend to her immediately. 

It's so hard to break these thought patterns.  I'm going to admit, there are still moments I wonder if I'm crazy.  Am I REALLY seeing the things I think I am?  Am I being over sensitive?  Am I reacting poorly to "normal situation" of a grandmother wanting to be involved?  I feel, often, like the sane person in the funny farm (I'm beginning to believe more and more that NSIS is also bi-polar, and I've been coming to terms with some realizations I've had about how depressed and broken my dad is.  I always knew he was, but I'm really facing reality.)  And then I struggle with MIL and BIL, and I think, again, it has to be me.  I'm just nuts.  Or can, they really ALL be messed up?  (And for the record, I'm clearly not totally OK or sane.  I mean I grew up in this shit, how could I be?)

It's so hard to not think I'm a bad daughter.  To not agree with the voice in my mother's head.  To argue against my "instincts" of what I've been taught to do.  To realize that if she wants to take me not calling personally, that's not on me.  It's just so damn hard sometime. Am I making this more complicated than it needs to be?

(And as an aside, MIL has managed to sneak some crafty shit in on me this week too.  Dang, can't a girl catch a break sometime?)

Thursday, November 14, 2013


This song was written about something else entirely, but it always reminds me of my relationship with my mother.  Although some of the song doesn't fit (exactly), the majority of it expresses how I feel:

written by the members of U2

Is it getting better?
Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now?
You got someone to blame

You say...

One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night

One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don't care for it

Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without?

Well it's...

Too late
To drag the past out into the light

We're one, but we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head?

Did I ask too much?
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got

We're one
But we're not the same
Will we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law

You ask me to enter
 But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

One life
With each other

One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

One... life


Thursday, November 7, 2013


This month is "thankful" month on FB.  And so each day people (other people, I don't do this shit, although maybe I should) post what they are thankful for.  One friend said tonight, "I am thankful for my mom."

My first thought was, I'm not.  I'm not thankful for my mother.  I got a raw deal, I think before I can stop myself.  And then I felt guilty.  Stomach ache guilty.  Who isn't thankful for their mom?  Lots of people had it worse.  At least your mom tried some of the time.  Once in a while.  She didn't beat you.

I comfort myself with the thought that's a normal though when you've been hurt and torn and pushed and left by your mother to not be "thankful" for that.  But still....

Do these people. those who are thankful for their parents, know something I don't?  A way to make peace and find the good?  I know a friend who's father beat him.  Beat him so badly, I've been told, that my friend's (a teenager at the time) friends tried to beat the father up to defend him.  And this friend professed he was thankful for his father's help with plumbing issues.  And how he always was there.  Am I missing something?  Am I cold and heartless and unforgiving?

My stomach hurt.

And  then I thought of a few more thoughts.

I don't like my mom. I've actually been feeling this for quite some time now.  I find her phony, and ignorant, and small minded.  I find her jealous and childish.  I find her boring.  We have never had an conversation that I can recall that was mentally stimulating to me.  She's not dumb.  She just doesn't engage in a conversation at all.  And it's boring.  She brings nothing but phony lines, and parroted lines, repeated b.s. or gossip to a conversation.  She can not engage.  I also find her a bit mean, gossipy, and jealous.  And petty.  If she wasn't my mom, I wouldn't enjoy her company.  I wonder if my struggles with her come solely from just not liking her. 

But that's not to say I've never had a good time with my mom.  Lately, I've had actual good memories of my childhood leak in.  I've held them at bay for so long.  I felt that, if I admitted on any level, that their was good, I was admitting the bad didn't happen or wasn't bad.  It took me a long time to reconcile that admitting to a good memory of my mother didn't discount, minimize, or deny the truth of the bad.  That it didn't even out.  That the "good" account of mothering doesn't "balance" out the "bad" account.  They don't cancel each other out.  And that being said, I can remember good in my mother.

I also feel sorry for my mother.  I'm sorry for the misery she grew up in that made her the emotional cripple she is today.  I do feel for her.  I have empathy for her.  I do feel the deck was stacked against her.

She wasn't a horrible mother ALL the time.  She did some good things.  She did try.  At times.  She didn't do these things to manipulate me.  All the time.  Sometimes she really wanted to be a good mom.  And she succeeding.  Sometimes. 

But she was a shitty mom and continues to be a shitty mom a lot of the time.

Another friend, a woman exactly my age, lost her mother this week, announcing  it (briefly) on FB.  My heart ached for her.  But I couldn't think how that would feel for me.  If I lost my mom.   It didn't make me feel, even for a moment, that I should treat my mom "better".  That I somehow will "miss her when she's gone".    I'm sure I will be sad.  I'm sure it will be upsetting.  But I can't say I won't somehow feel relief.  And that's a horrible thing to think, let alone write down. 

And then I feel guilty again.