Releasing the past in order to find myself

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lost Heros

So, yesterday I explored some feelings on my blog around a situation that is going on in my home with my son and my mother's lack of support.  I'm not sure that I really got to the core of the issue (for myself) and as I wrote, I sort of felt like I was grasping blindly in the dark for something but just couldn't reach it.  I was sort of feeling around the issue, but not fully "seeing" it.  Then something my friend Kara said sort of "brought all the pieces" together for me.

As an aside,  I sometimes try to "mask" the details of my life in order to remain anonymous.  So, like yesterday,  I sort of talked around the issue.  I feared if NM found this blog, she'd immediately recognize the details and know it was me.  BUT, I think I've already sort of given myself away, so I thought I need to be more open about the situation so that I could explore it fully (without worrying about "covering" for myself). 

The issue was that my littlest son (who's 2) lost his very favorite "lovey".  It is a small, dark colored (hard to find) stuffed toy that he has had since he was three months old.  It also belonged to his brother (who never fully attached to it, but attached to the blanket it came with as a set.  Something that I felt a bit ironic.)  He had other options, but he picked this toy to attach to.  It is a very important "member" of our household.    And it disappeared.  It does not leave the house and I know it is in my home somewhere.  I have driven myself CRAZY trying to locate it.

A child often picks a "transitional object" to attach to as the learn to separate from their mother.  It is the first thing that "belongs" to them and helps to define them as separate (in theory).  It is something to help them learn to sooth themselves away from their mother (and represents a part of her) and provides comfort for a child during stressful situations. 

I have diligently looked after that thing for almost three years (and five years with his brother's loveys).  I have hunted and searched and worried about that animal.  When it went missing, I panicked and felt a whole surge of emotions.   At first, I felt extremely upset.  I worried my poor boy would not be able to sleep, that I wouldn't be able to comfort him.  That he'd have to mourn.  (As I'm struggling with some very similar issues right now, I think this part hit me a little hard.)  I didn't want him to feel sadness (and also realized it is a part of life).   I worried that I wouldn't be able to comfort him.  (Those worries tended to be unfounded, but as an ACoN mom, I'm always worried about the "emotional line" I tow with my kids.   I don't want to be under emotional, but I don't want to give emotions too much power that my kids are overwhelmed....really, it's hard to teach a skill to my kids that I'm working on myself.    This is also a topic for another post that I would like to explore.)  I felt a touch of sadness and nostalgia for the dang thing.  Losing it felt like losing a piece of my son's "babyhood".  I don't plan on having more kids (again, something I'm dealing with right now) so losing the toy was sort of a "tangible" symbol of moving past having a baby.  I had some sentimental attachment to it too.    I also felt extremely GUILTY.  Guilty I had let it get lost, guilty for having a lot of my own feelings, guilty that I'd let my son down.  I stressed and stressed about the appropriate way to handle this and how to help my boy.

Now, don't get me wrong, this is not about me.  None of my feelings got in the way of helping my son.  He didn't see (nor did I hint at) any of my own feelings and I made sure to focus on the best ways to help him.  But, since this is my blog, and I need a place to talk about my feelings, which is why I'm talking about me, and not my son, today.  And yes, through the whole thing I tried to make sure I was keeping the attention and focus where it belonged. 

This would've also been the time that having my own mother to lean on would've helped (as I wrote about yesterday).  I was comforted today by a blog (written by a therapist) about what she did when her child lost his lovey.  Her feelings were very similar to mine and it helped me to feel comforted that I was having "normal" reactions instead of "ACoN mommy" overreactions. (This woman stated she had wanted to call and "bawl to her mommy" too.   She didn't, but she had that option if she wanted to.)  I also had my lovely friend, Kara, who held my hand too.  That definitely helped.

It was something Kara said about my mom that really "clicked" about why my mom's involvement in the whole situation bothered me.  I posted on FB that the lovey was lost.  I had hoped that the positive messages from friends and family back would somehow help me find the toy (I know, sounds like voodoo mystic crap, but I was desperate).  NM offered some messages of "help" but then ignored the whole thing for five days.  Friday and Saturday, the crazy woman sent me several texts that were all "me, me, me, me".  She didn't bother to ask about my son (or me, but who am I kidding) at all.  I get that she doesn't see me, but it fucking sucks when I see her completely ignore the grandkids she "loves" so much.  When they were babies, it was harder to see, but as they've gotten older, it's clear to see she only materializes when it benefits here.

And so, cue Sunday, when suddenly she asked about the toy and told me she had been on a quest to find a replacement.  I told her not once, but SEVERAL times, that it was OK, my son was working on it and we were "trying out" suitable replacements.  Despite that, she spent all of Sunday and some of Monday trying to find a replacement.

Sounds nice right?  Grandma looking to help her grandson?  But she's not helping him.  She's not sending something hoping he might pick it.  She's sending something, fantasies already concocted in her head that she's going to "be the hero and save the day" and SHE is going to replace the toy.    She purposely waited for this moment to decide to "support" us in a way that benefited her.  And she's not actually doing something for my son because she cares.  She's doing this in an effort to "assign" herself the roll of hero.  She's not earning the roll, but creating it so that she can then "play the part".  As I see it, she has noticed an opportunity and is jumping on it and it is all a very, very, subtle way to turn all of the attention to her.  If she was trying to help, she would've been helping all along, and not just "coming to the rescue" when she sees an "easy" way to fix the problem (and really, her arrogance that SHE is the one that will find the replacement pisses me off.  My son should chose it, not her.)

NM loves to play this "hero" roll.  It is her favorite form of narc supply.  She loves to be the one who solves the problems, has all the advice, fixes things for people.  She needs people to depend on her "smarts" and "wit" and "problem solving skills" to fill good about herself. 

And here's the really fucked up part, the part that I've seen dimly before but see clearly now, she actually creates situations so that she can swoop in and play the hero.  She will cut me down and criticize me so that she can then "comfort" me.  She will allow someone to languish in pain, so that she can then be the "healer".  She will remove other "comfort objects" from my kids (she has stood between me and my screaming children so they couldn't get to me, demanding they let her comfort them.  She refused my older son his comfort objects and demanded that she should comfort him instead.)  She allows my sister to flounder and enables her so that she remains in a position of "needing" my mother for "support" and comfort.  She infantilizes her so that she doesn't learn to take care of herself....and then she needs NM to "rescue" her from behaving like that.  NM always ready with advice, "love", and money. 

NM loved to "rescue" my grandparents and take over too.  She would often not include her siblings in issues surrounding their medical care, so that she could then point out how she had "taken care of" my grandparents.  She sends them money and then claims she is the only one who supports them.  I can think of tons of times she allowed me to be emotionally hurt so that she could then be of comfort to me.  Specifically, I know she used to go to my father when my sister wasn't behaving.  He'd step in and discipline her, at the request of my mother and in a horribly harsh way (which NM knew he would do).  And then she'd step in and "comfort" my sister.  I often wonder if she allowed my father to be harsh with us specifically so she could then "rescue" us (plus, it was a good cover for her own asshole behaviors.)  I also think that NM's continual description of me as "nervous and anxious" was trumped up so that she could do things for me and make it look like rescuing.  Because I'm too an

I have a good friend who's NM mother has Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (they create medical problems in others in order to look like the "rescuer" when they bring the relative in for care.  For example, a mother slightly poisons her kids, so she can get attention when she brings them in for treatment.)  I think my mother has a very similar issue, except that she creates emotional stress in people, so that she can then "rescue" them emotionally. 

The other issue I have with her need to rescue is that, often, I DO NOT NEED HER TO RESCUE ME.  Yes, in this situation with my son, some support would've been nice.  I did not need her to buy (several) new toys.  One toy would've been one thing.  But making a production of her search, buying several, and not even one that is close to the original is something else (oh, and she knows where she could actually find a replacement, but chose not to do that.)  I do not need her to step in and solve this problem.  I am the mom, I will take care of it, and I will solve the problem.  But to her, if I refuse her "help" I'm being ungrateful. 

It's such a catch 22.  Because what she is basically saying is that she doesn't think I CAN solve the problem myself.  That I NEED her to step in and take care of it. She does not believe in me.   I have felt the refrain of this sentiment over and over in my life (and can see it more clearly with my sister).  Her constant need to step in says I am incompetent.  When my son was born, she would buy out stores of clothes and toys.  At Christmas, she sends HUNDREDS of dollars of stuff (that I later get criticized for by others because my kids 'have so many toys').  I do not need her to clothe my kids.  I do not need her to send toys.  I am perfectly capable of it.  But she continually does it and then acts as if she's done me some huge favor.  And if I tell her it's too much, I'm ungrateful.  She's just "trying to help".  When I tell my kids to do something, she parrots me afterward, as if I need her help to get them to oblige.  It is so degrading.  She is robbing me of fulfilling my parental obligation to my kids, and hides it under generosity and kindness. 

Basically, she creates a situation of emotional strife, tells me I can't handle it, determines that she will rescue me, and then determines "how" she wants to rescue me.  Oh, and then I'm supposed to be grateful for it. 

My MIL has a very similar pattern.  Although they have a similar effect on me, I hadn't been able to quite pin how they were similar.  But they both need to be needed.  They both PUT their children in situations (or hold them in situations) so that they can rescue and be the care taker. (For example, MIL will share negative gossip someone else has said about me, and then offer "sympathy" that someone would say those things.) The both want to rush in and be the "one" that everyone looks to, the one who fixes it all. 

It's amazing to me how an act of "kindness" can hide such subversive and horrible motives.  How they will sacrifice the health and self esteem of their children to make themselves into the fantasies they have created.  I know that I've discussed the principles of this before and I think I have a good theoretical understanding of them.  But to actual see the "inner workings" of how this gets done is disturbing.  To know that for most "normal" people, all they see is a loving and helpful grandmother, is scary. 


Post Note:  One of NM's suggestions to me for dealing with this was for my older son to give his lovey to his brother.  When I pointed out that this was not fair, NM said "true" but she felt so bad for my younger son (so it's all about NM?).  WTF?  How does that accomplish anything?   Kara pointed out that it is absurd to think that because one son attached to it, the other son will too.  For me, I was appalled to think she'd rip the comfort from one son and just give it to the other, thinking NOTHING about my older son.  What would my older son do without his comfort object?  I told NM that my older son had generously offered up many of his other toys.  This gesture of love meant nothing to my mother.  She felt it best to just "rearrange" the objects (including the kids) into her idea of "fixed".  She is crazy. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


It has gotten easier to catalogue the ways NM has hurt me.  The times that she has purposely done something to hurt me.  When she's allowed her jealousy or insecurity to validate undercutting me.  I've watched her try and steal love from me.  I've watched NM force me to make sacrifices to appease her (or NM's emotional state).  I've felt used by her constant need for attention and validation.  I've felt the sting of her criticisms and nasty manipulative abuses.

I'm getting better about feeling anger and hurt over the injustices she does to me.  But I'm only recently realizing how much I've missed out on by having a mother like mine. 

Recently,  I have been struggling with a parenting challenge.  Nothing huge, but just one of those "bumps" in the road of parenting.  This issue caused my littlest child some significant stress and it's been hard to watch and find appropriate solutions.  My heart hurts for my poor little guy.

And, at the same time, this challenge has brought up a lot of feelings in me.  Probably just typical things that any parent would go through.  It has highlighted some milestones for me, and reminded me how fast time is flying.  It's brought up some odd feelings of abandonment for me.   And, of course, the issue is not about me, it's about my son, so that is where my attention and focus is.

NM has been aware of this challenge but has offered very little actual support for it.  She made a big deal of it on FB the first day, but then ignored it (while texting me a million texts about HER).  In the last few days, she has been asking about it again, but only in reference to how SHE is going to fix the issue for me (and of course, her ideas of how to "fix it" are so. far. off.   She clearly doesn't get the issue at all.)

And for some reason, her stupid little texts, which are not really that different than the drivel she usually doles out, really upset me.

And then it occurred to me how many times my mother has simply not been there when I needed a mother.  That at times when I really, really could have used a "mom" to call, someone to lean on, she was not there.  Right now,  I could really use a chat with my mother, someone to tell me it will be OK.  Someone to give me a bit of comfort and support, so that I can continue to support my son.  Someone to have my back and be my comfort as  I work through all of this tough stuff that can come with being a parent.  I wish I had a mom to ask advice from.  I wish I had a mom to step in and give me some respite when my energy stores are depleted. 

I wish I had a mom who could've comforted me when my older son had surgery last year.  Instead I had to tell her not to come, as I didn't want her attention seeking behavior to distract from my son.

I wish I had a mom who would've comforted me after I had my children and taken care of me.  Instead, she made it all about her and expected a pat on the back for her help.

I wish I'd had a mom who'd stood beside me at my wedding, instead of constantly making demands and throwing fits.

I wish I'd had a mom to pick out a prom dress WITH me (not FOR me).  A mom who would've ran my theater script lines with me.  A mom who asked about my friends.  A mom who was interested in what I was doing.  Instead, my mom only had a basic knowledge of what I was doing in my life.  It's still that way.  And it drives me crazy when she tells me she knows me better than anyone else.  She doesn't know me at all. 

I wish I'd had a mom who would've rubbed my head and comforted me when I was sick, instead of acting like I was an inconvenience.  I wish I had a mom who hadn't thought of me as an inconvenience at all. 

I wish I'd had a mom that I was excited to call and tell I was pregnant, instead of a mom I put off calling because I didn't want to deal with her reaction (and the NS SHE would require). 

There have been so many moments that I've been appalled at the things my mother does to me.  But looking at all the moments she was a shadow figure in my life.  A cardboard cutout of a mother.  It makes me so incredibly sad.

 I don't think a lot of people understand this.  They think "make amends.  Work on the relationship."  Like if I tried hard enough, I could have the mother I needed.  Hell, I know I thought that for a long time.  But it wouldn't matter what I needed, or how I called and asked for it, or how hard I worked to make the relationship.  My mother would never be their for me like I needed her to be. 

I was discussing this all with my husband, who was just not getting why something that he felt "looked" a lot the same on the surface was making me so upset and why I still seemed to be hurting over the same injury.  I told him that a friend of ours had held a tribute dinner for her mother who died a few years back.  That, even though this friend has moved on and made peace with it, there would always be moments where she missed her mother.  Moments she wished her mother could be there with her.

And it feels a lot like that to me (not to minimize my friend's loss at all).  I feel like, sometimes, I look around and "miss" my mother.  I miss not having someone there for me.  Someone that has my back and is looking out for me.  I miss having a mother who shares in my kids with me.  I miss having a mother to call and discuss my challenges with.   NM is there, but she doesn't really exist. 

I suppose I have a lot more mourning to do for the mother who didn't show up.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Floating In

I hadn't thought about this particular memory in a long time.  It sort of floated into my consciousness the other day, and I'm not exactly sure why.  I remember at the time feeling absolutely dejected, although on the surface, it didn't seem like such a big deal.

I've written before about my parents divorce and how it just devastated me.  Of course, it wasn't a complete shock, as my parents fought a lot and didn't seem particularly in love.  Our house was a negative, somewhat cold household.  But I was 14 and I remember thinking that parents don't get divorced when their kids are 14.  I can remember thinking that I was "safe" from that happening (which, for a kid to be thinking about that at all must mean I had some inklings things were not good).  It came shortly on the heels of my father losing his job and going back to college (which made money more scarce, and amped up NM's anxiety) and the death of my grandfather.   I sort of felt like I was in a tail spin.

And the divorce itself was hard.  My dad fell apart and my sister fell apart.  It was like a bomb exploded in my life, shattering the pieces to the far corners of the world.  And then there was NM.  She was happy for the most part.  She felt it was "finally (her) turn to be happy".  She was in love, in a new romance, and she had stars in her eyes.  The problem was, she also decided to "check out" of being a mom at that point (not that she had been a gold star mom before that, but she completely took a vacation from almost all mom duties).

NM was completely checkout and it she never checked in to see how I was doing.  I got no counseling.  She never discussed my feelings (when I tried, she made it clear I was infringing on her happiness and I didn't have a right to deny her her happiness.  And, hell, I wanted her to be happy, right?).  My dad was so devastated that he was useless.  My sister was spiraling out of control. 

I remember that for a long time (weeks, a month?)  I didn't come out of my bedroom.  I borrowed my father's small black and white television for my room.  I got up, took a shower, and went back to my room until the bus came.   I didn't talk to anyone.  I went to school, came home, and went back to my room.  I came out to eat dinner (silently) and went back to my room for the rest of the day.   Even if I only did this for a week, shouldn't that have been enough to clue NM into the fact that maybe I wasn't handling things that well.  I do remember my dad coming back to check on me.  Once.  But at least he asked me if I was OK.  NM just ignored me.

NM had an affair with the man she would later marry.  I remember not feeling very kindly towards my stepdad.  How could I like him?  He was the reason (in my mind) my parents divorced.  When NM introduced us to him, she gave us no warning.  NSIS and I were lounging around on a Sunday, watching TV, when she rolled in with him and his kids.  I remember feeling completely off guard and...just weird.  It was weird.  And NM expected us to love him as much as SHE loved him.  She told me, not too many years ago, that she had felt that step dad would be a "better" father for us.   Like she had traded my "old" dad in and got us a new, better, (richer), model.  I remember feeling very bitter, but NM would have none of that.

When she got married, it was a small "family" affair.  Just me, NSIS, my aunt, uncle, and two cousins and stepdad's parents and kids.  Maybe a friend or two.  Most of NM's family didn't come (I wonder why now....)  NM had decided that NSIS and I should sing NM and stepdad's "song" for their wedding.

There was a lot of little things that NM kept secret.  She and stepdad signed their cards, and had on the cake, a number (213).  NM wouldn't tell me what it meant, but I imagine that it was the hotel room number where they would meet up (I DID know that they had one specific hotel that they would meet at.  I can't remember how I found that out....)

So, all these secret little things, toted as "romantic symbols", the marriage itself, the wedding made me feel so many things.  Grossed out, bitter, angry, sad.  I felt all hope I had that my parents would get back together would disappear when NM got married again.  It was a really, really rough day for me and NSIS.  I struggled to put on the happy face and be "happy" like NM wanted.  I struggled with the step family who didn't seem to want anything to do with us.  I struggled to accept the step father whom I felt had betrayed my family, whom I blamed for so many things. 

And NM wanted me to get up and SING HER DAMN LOVE SONG TOO.  I remember telling her I didn't want to do.  I didn't tell her exactly why (I mean, she wasn't interested in my feelings) but it had to occur to her that this would be a hard day.  Somewhere, along the line, when NSIS was drinking or I was locking myself in my room, or I went to high school every day in sweat pants, a flannel and no makeup that something was WRONG.  She HAD to have known.  It HAD to have occurred to her that her wedding might be hard on me and NSIS.

But she, apparently, didn't give a shit.  Because she was pushing, hard, for NSIS and I to sing that damn song.  I remember her attributing my not wanting to do it to nerves.  Maybe I even told her I was too nervous.  But she had to know that wasn't true either.  I had been in theater for YEARS, performed a ton of solos in front of people.  I didn't have stage fright. 

I just didn't want to stand up and be a part of her "celebration" of her marriage.  A marriage that symbolized, to me, the end of my family, the end of my childhood, the reason my mother abandoned me.   She abandoned me and my sister for her "new" family, and now she wanted to celebrate that.  And she expected me to play my part of happy, little daughter.  She didn't care that I felt I was dishonoring my father.  That I felt I was being disrespectful by acknowledging, by singing their "love song", to them.  I remember feeling so horribly conflicted. 

And she either didn't care, didn't notice, or didn't want to notice.  It doesn't really matter.  All she cared about that day was herself.  All she cared about was HER happiness, HER marriage, and God forbid, she have to put that aside for a moment and think about how her children might be processing that day. 

It's not a huge thing, singing a song at a wedding.  But it symbolizes so much of what was wrong in her damn head.  And how enmeshed I was.  Because I ended up singing the damn song. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Intellectual Anger versus Emotional Anger

This last month has not been easy with NM.  Not that anything particularly out of the ordinary has been going on.  It's just been a lot.  I'm not sure if the winter blues are making her worse or what is going on.  I almost feel like a storm is brewing. 

A little background.  Almost two years ago this spring, NM and I were having a conversation about how hard it is to talk on the phone with young children.  At the time, NM called several times a week and often was on the phone for over an hour with me.  These conversations were often painfully negative and if I tried to get off the phone, she would do anything to STALL getting off.  Rarely did we talk about me (unless you count her questioning me about the kids about me), often she ranted and begged advice (that she didn't actually want to hear), and when I'd try and get off she'd say "let's see...let's see...what else is going on?" in order to hold me hostage on the phone. 

So, as my kids were screaming in the background, the conversation of how difficult conversations were came up naturally.  I said that I usually only had a half hour or so.  I wasn't actually trying to set a boundary or make a point or anything.  But she took it as such and quit calling.  I'm sure I was supposed to make any effort to call her.  I'm sure that she expected that, after not calling me for awhile, I'd pick up and dial her.

But I didn't.  I found the time off from her liberating.  And it wasn't like she didn't have ANY contact with me.  I still got daily texts, emails, or FB messages (often many and often from several different mediums).  I haven't called her, save a handful of times on birthdays and holidays, since then. 

A little more background: my mother has always seemed anxious and overprotective about her kids.  She endlessly "stresses" and "worries" about us.  Everything sends her into a tizzy.  But if you tell her you are concerned about her stress, then she back tracks and says how "strong" and able to deal with things she is.  She loves to be the martyr of stress.   Several weeks ago, she sent me a message detailing her latest medical appointment in which they did tons of tests as "something doesn't feel right".  All the tests came out fine and NM said she believes it's all the "stress" she's been under.  I suggested a therapist in response.  She immediately told me how wonderful everything was.  So.  That was that.  Stress seems to be a sport with NM and worrying about her kids (and herself) seems to be a favorite past time. 

Earlier in the month, NM came to visit.  It went OK.  As well as could be expected, I suppose.  She pulled some shit with my son that I've had to deal with and address.  And that sucked.  But nothing else major happened.

Then, I got the "something's wrong but nothing's wrong" message. 

Then, I got a load of messages as she looked through old photos on her computer (copying them and her commentary and emailing them to me.)  Included was her insane idealization of my grandmother.  (See this post). 

Last week, my family got a horrible cold.  One of the worst colds we've had.  Several weeks before that, we had a horrible stomach virus.  It's not been a good month for us.  And then, last week, a blizzard hit our town.  I live in a place that is used to snow, lots of snow, but this storm was complicated by bitter cold (well below zero), freezing rain, sheets of ice hiding under record amounts of snowfall, and raging winds creating zero visibility.  Several times over the weekend, HUGE drifts of snow (over 4 feet tall) blocked the road to our home and we were snowed in.  On Saturday, we were able to get out of our home but the snow had drifted so badly by the time we got back from the grocery store that we got stuck several times (including in our own driveway).  We were then snowed in (again) until a front loader construction truck came and dug us out.  (We live by ourselves at the end of a loop and so we were a bit isolated.  Not completely without help if we needed it, but it was a bit anxiety provoking.)  It wasn't the worst thing ever, but it was not a fun weekend.  Add to that we are still all sick and we've been stuck in the house for most of the last two weeks (me, hubby, and our two young kids.  It's enough to make anyone stir crazy).

NM also got some bad weather (but not like ours) and has to commute a distance on relatively isolated highways to work (however, it is possible for her to stay home.  She wouldn't lose her job and has something like 6 weeks of vacation.)

So, over the weekend, I updated my FB status a couple of times about being snowed in.

Within an hour, NM had posted her OWN status about having to drive on the roads.  It almost felt like she was one upping me.  I don't know why.  I've discussed with my blogging friend Kara how I just know my NM (and my sister).  I can feel the tone of their voices in posts.   I know their patterns and ways of behaving.  So, while I may have no proof of her trying to one-up me, the timing just felt too coincidental.

On top of that, she was messaging me about noticing a condolence I had posted on a friend's page (she must have been closely monitoring my activity on FB to see that).  She went on and on about how "short life is" and how "sick" the story made her.  And on and on.  About her.   And then, at the end, she tacked something on asking about how the kids are feeling.  She didn't ask how I was feeling, despite knowing we were all sick.

She also didn't ask how we were doing in the weather.  She didn't ask if we were OK or if we had help if we needed it.  It seemed SO strange.  So strange for this woman who frets and stresses and worries constantly (she has said in the past that she couldn't deal with me being pregnant because it's so stressful FOR HER.)  I'm guessing, and again this is conjecture, that I was being punished for not "checking" in with her (because, you know, she has it HARDER in the weather because she has to drive the roads).    I did make one comment on her picture and update about how bad the roads were.  She clearly was DRIVING while taking pictures and posting to FB so I told her to keep her hands on the wheel.  She responded by saying "I know these roads so well after driving all these years (do you hear the sob story there too?) that I know every bump on the road."  Hmmmm.  So, the roads are SO bad that you feel you can take your hands off the wheel?  Just because you know them well?

So, back to my point of punishing me for not being concerned about her.  Things started to click for me in a new way.  It's sunk into my head that she makes everything about her (obviously).  It's not lost on me that she changes everything around to herself.   But, when it sunk into my head that she was withholding love and concern for us as punishment, I hit a whole new level of anger and sorrow.   It finally dawned on me that this "overprotective, stress" is all manufactured and can be turned on and off depending on how much I'm catering to her.  If she feels love and concern for me, she'll mirror that back to me by being all stressed out and concerned for me (her definition of love).   As I've moved myself to safer distances from her, she's pulled her attention and concern for me.  She doesn't call and ask how I am, she doesn't ask how I am feeling (only the kids), and she doesn't seem interested in anything that I do.   The little trickle of concern she seemed to have for me has all but dried up.  So, when I didn't text or write to make sure she was safe on the roads, I could almost feel her bitter resentment shooting back at me.  I can almost hear her say "fine! If she can't be concerned about me, I'm not going to be concerned for her."   I can almost see her foot stomping and rage that I'm, somehow, making the storm (centered over MY town) about me.  That I'm not concerned enough for HER.  And for the record, I hadn't really thought about NM.  I had other things on my mind and the roads, while a bit dicey, seemed relatively "normal" for this time of year.  It didn't seem like anything she hadn't dealt with all winter. 

It wasn't until this situation last weekend that the full realization of how little she actually cares and how her "concern" is an act came slamming home.  Memories of my teenage years came flooding back (I really dislike this part of the process.  It's not like I've suppressed them, but when things like this happen, the memories come back very vividly.  And they suddenly "reorient" themselves into ways that make much more sense to me now.  It's like I had categorized them differently, and as I come out of the FOG, they 'line up' differently in my mind.  It's sort of hard to explain.)  I remembered how NM would make a huge deal of me being home when she called.  She'd be spending the weekend with her boyfriend and call at 10 to make sure we were home.  It never occurred to me to sneak out.  But I look back now and wonder why it didn't occur to her.   Once she got that phone call, she didn't have any clue what happened to me and, clearly, she didn't really care.   She had satisfied herself that we were alright and then it left her mind.   When I lived off of my boyfriend's couch in my senior year of high school, she never knew where I was most of the time.  She didn't know if I made it to school, or got fed, or got my homework done.  She just expected I would.  And I was such a good kid, I took care of all of that myself.  When I went to college, she had no clue what was going on with me.  Her concern and "stress" only seemed to pop up when it was useful to her.  Or when she needed something to do.  Some drama to live off of. 

She makes huge deals about stressing over NSIS.  So much so that she "wound up in the E.R."  Yet, when she goes on vacation, she suddenly doesn't have any worry.  How in the hell can she just shut it off like that?  Because it wasn't real in the first place.  It was trumped up and created for her own entertainment.  She freaks out and expects me to soothe her as she stresses about my kids, or death, or her health.  I used to believe that she had real anxiety and I sympathized with her.  But the fact that she can turn it off has lost her all my sympathy.   If her daughter can be snowed in (with her precious grandkids) and she doesn't feel the need to see if we are OK, then her "concern" in other areas is all an act.  Her concern is not a real feeling at all but a "product" of her feelings about me at the moment.  She can only be as concerned for me as she feels "filled up" by me. 

After all this work studying narcissism, this realization isn't totally new to me.  But as my friend Kara put it, it's one thing to "know" it intellectually.  It's a whole other to finally "feel" it emotionally.  And I am angry.  It hurts like hell to (again) have to accept that my mother's concern and love only extends to me when SHE feels like it.  When I've done what she wants me to do, acted how she wants me to, and when I've given HER the love and attention and time she wants.  It hurts that her love for me is in direct correlation to her views on how good of a daughter I've been.  I can not fathom, as a mother myself, how in the hell she can just "turn it off".  How she can withhold love and concern as punishment.  How does a mother DO that to her child?