So here it is again; that one day of the year that I dread the most and I am telling myself that this is the LAST time I am going to allow myself to acknowledge this “holiday” in this manner. We can’t all have what we want, even though this one should not be this difficult. You can only try so hard and so many times before you finally give up and give in. That said, I live vicariously through you all, my friends, and your moms as I watch and read your posts and photos; and I am genuinely happy for you, I truly am. Let me warn you now, this post is all over the place and I am writing from a raw and broken heart that is in pieces and constantly grieving the loss of what was seemingly, the All-American, [only slightly dysfunctional] family that turned fully dysfunctional when my father passed in 2013. Something that should have pulled the family closer together, no-less.
From this nonsense I have experienced the following and I hope you all take it seriously because NO ONE is immune from family dysfuction: “If you are a parent, PLEASE think about the long-term consequences before getting overly angry, judging, lashing out, or holding a grudge against your own flesh and blood for any reason–especially reasons or choices that do not concern you. Needless drama and negative reactions can have a very painful and lifelong effect on not only you and your child, but others within the family who feel compelled to choose sides. Plus it is just downright nonsensical and for what? The sake of being right? The sake of beating said child/adult child down? To be controlling? Instead, take the high road. Sit back and listen; really listen to your child/adult child and allow him or her to make their own decisions and support them. You don’t have to like them or agree, but you do need to give them the chance and support they so desperately need”. Keep in mind that they are probably already in a dark place and what they need from you, the PARENT, is comfort, acceptance, and your love…not your opinions or to make things even more difficult on them”.
Our children, young and old, are a precious gift of life and energy and should be treated as such, never discarded, nor are they some kind of possession to be controlled by their parent(s). In most cases, you/we wanted to have these children; some worked hard for them and some came easy; whatever the case may be, most were wanted. They are not punching bags, nor are they on this earth to live up to our expectations just because we created them. As mothers, it is our job to raise them to be good-hearted human beings, to help and support them through their life struggles–while we also learn right along with them, because no mother [or father] is perfect or right, and to teach them the necessary skills to survive on their own. That’s it. It is NOT our job to criticize what they do, how they do it, or who they choose to do it with! And for those who like to throw religious guilt into the equation, just don’t!! Not everyone believes the way you might and this has NOTHING to do with religion, so leave it OUT!
Every day of being a mother should be cherished, but some mother’s can’t do that and refuse to see past themselves and their own unhappiness, for the sake of having a healthy relationship, because “being right and shaking that almighty finger” is their only focus. I have lived this hell every.single.day–for the past 6 years–and very few people know this about me, because I am devastated that I can’t fix it. I’m insightful, thought-out, forgiving, educated…so what in the hell is the problem here? Maybe it’s not me; I know it’s not me because I would never choose this for myself or my family. Secondly, it has been drilled into my head this whole “privacy” bull-shit; that it’s bad to talk negatively about your family, because, well, they are your family–no other real reason. Sorry, but I call bull-shit on that and if someone(s) decides that this is how they wish to conduct themselves, then why is it my job to cover up and protect them? Not doing it, not anymore. I’m not protecting her ever again, just to spare the feelings of the one who ruined my self-esteem and confidence.
I feel completely short-changed; although no one in this life is guaranteed a perfect set of loving, understanding parents; or anything else for that matter. Yet, oddly, I still think about mine every single day; all alone in what is a self-induced misery. I also get angry that other family members have been affected by this too; by so many negative words and misunderstandings that NEVER should have been an issue in the first place. It’s a plethora of emotions; lots of wasted moments in tears and sleepless nights when the rest of my life is happy–that pisses me off that I have been robbed of joy. When I least expect it, I read or see something that is a trigger, and down the rabbit hole I go again of emotions and tears. I should not have to live like that; no one should; it’s preventable and unnecessary! I have a great life and this is what keeps it from being even greater. This is what keeps our family from celebrating new births TOGETHER, relishing in one another’s accomplishments TOGETHER, or just plain visits for no reason other than to enjoy one another’s company. BUT, there isn’t a goddamn thing that I can do to change it because it isn’t going to be over until there has been more hateful things said. How does someone turn on her own child like that? Especially one who has been successful, who has done good things with her life, who has raised four terrific kids (aka her grandchildren!), and who tries her damnest to be a good person? The problem is, she doesn’t think I’m a good person. She is humiliated over the divorce and even more humiliated that I remarried and has told me this much. Everything is about appearances and societal expectations.
But really, why can’t my mother love me? Is it jealousy? Is it some kind of religious condemnation? Is it that we have utterly nothing in common? Our relationship was always mediocre with ups and downs since as long as I can remember, but it was tolerable until I got divorced and them BAM! Whenever I’d think things were going well, there would be another round of the dreaded “silent treatment” or being told how “disappointed she and my father were in me” (because of my divorce). All because I wasn’t living or doing something the way she would do it…or not do it, which was generally the case. She has always been on me for something, especially my marathon running or when I went back to school to be a nurse because it took me away from my kids–even though it was the best thing for all of us over the long haul; it didn’t matter. I have always had to defend myself to her, no matter what age, I have never been good enough, never “made her proud”, never gave her “anything to brag about”. I say that I am over it. And most days, I do pretty good as I focus on being the best mom and grandmom that I can be for my offspring; focusing on everything that I say and do so that I am not mirroring the behaviors to which I have been accustomed. My heart would never let me be that person anyways, but as the old saying goes “sometimes when I open my mouth, my mother comes out”. I used to be scared to write “out loud” how I feel about her; but no more. The lines have been crossed too many times. The day she started badmouthing me to my own children and it got back to me, was the day that I decided I was done protecting her.
What I resent the most about her behavior is how it has affected my children. Oh, and there’s one small other detail. How in hell are my grandchildren EVER going to wrap their innocent little minds around this fiasco? What will they be told when they ask 1000 times why Nona (that’s me) isn’t at this Christmas or Thanksgiving party or why great-grandma acts like their Nona doesn’t exist? It’s bad enough that we all have to pretend that I’m not remarried and that my husband doesn’t exist; she hasn’t even met him and refuses to! Where does the madness end? They SHOULD NEVER have to ask these sorts of questions. It’s unfair on so many levels and she flat-out does not care! What’s sad is, my kids support her and her actions to some degree because they feel bad for her and she is VERY good at what she does–play the victim. They love their grandmother; and I want them to, don’t get me wrong, but why aren’t they trying to convince her that she has made the biggest mistake of her life with her only “blood” child? Is she so cold-hearted that she can’t even make things better for their sake? She shows them all the unconditional love, adoration, and outward displays of affection that I NEVER got. Maybe they are scared of her too; as in a “keeping your friends/family close and your enemies closer” sort of way? It’s just safer than confronting her. If there is one thing I have learned in this life, it’s that you don’t cross my mother. There will be hell to pay if you do and it doesn’t matter who you are. Trust me when I say that no one wants to be on her bad side. Not her siblings, not the pastor, not the teachers or principals, not a neighbor and definitely not her child.
So, I look at others out and about with their moms and I long for that bond; I always have, but it was just never meant to be. I’m not looking for sympathy; in fact, I don’t want it, so please, no “I’m sorry’s, or I feel bad for you’s or I will pray for you”; although well-meaning and I love you all for caring, that’s not what this is about. I write this because it helps me to cope and I write this because sharing knowledge and wisdom can be powerful for someone else. I look at every life experience as a learning one; good, bad, and ugly. I say things out loud; things that many others are afraid to say. I say this because along with honesty, comes condemnation for speaking out about it, but hey, it’s real, it happens, and it doesn’t just happen to me. The more I talk about it, the more I learn just how many others are suffering a similar saga in their life with a parent, child, or other family member. So maybe something good can come from sharing about my misfortune. Even if it makes one person stop and think before they act irrationally towards their child, then something positive can result from it.