Hello Blogland. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been around because I’ve been procrastinating this post. I suppose I could skip this post, but it’s been on my mind lately. Anywho, here goes. (And I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a doozy)
So, here’s what I assume is a little known, yet unsurprising fact. I am in therapy. I have been in therapy on and off for … many years. I started in college, where it was free. I had a lovely therapist, named Shirley (my grandmother’s name). I started my Freshman year right around, possibly right after, the Psycho John fiasco. (Another story, likely not for another time, since it is ancient history, and the name alone tells you all you really need to know, and he lived up to it) I continued sporadically throughout college, when I broke up with my long term college boyfriend (2 years is long term in college years!) but then especially when my parents’ relationship got rocky. At one point, my therapist told me that my mother “lacks empathy.” (Which is important later)
I’ll stop here to interject, and get to the main point of this post, Mother’s Day is hard. For anyone dealing with loss and/or IF, Mother’s Day is hard. Last year, mine was a double whammy, because I was supposed to have a baby somewhere around a week old when Mother’s Day hit… AND, I hadn’t spoken to my mother in a year and a half at that point.
Anywho. I graduated in 2004, and didn’t start therapy again until 2009 or so. Had I not been incredibly broke, and insurance-less, I probably would have continued. But I did ok.
So I started again when Andrew and I were together, I think after the courthouse wedding, but before the big celebration on our 1 year anniversary. I was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that he was, let’s not lie here, a big fat asshole to me (and other women) before he finally decided not to be. I tend to think he “grew up” a bit. I was having difficulty reconciling just how cold and closed off he’d been when he was a jerk, and how much it hurt, with how loving and caring and obviously serious about starting a life with me he was now. I was always hung up on him, even when he was a jerk, because I felt like I knew that nice, loving guy was in there, but he didn’t know it, or didn’t want to admit it. Regardless, it was still hard to accept, and believe it when I turned out to be right. Well, we’ve been married just over 4 years now, and we are still absolutely stupid for each other. ❤ So I think all is well on that front.
I took a brief break from therapy somewhere in there. And then picked it up again when I decided to stop speaking to my mother. For the record it has now been about 2 1/2 years.
Rewind back to college a bit. When I was growing up, my Mom was the one who was home all the time, caring for us, and (theoretically) the house, etc. Upon further reflection, much of that time was spent with her on the couch watching TV, expecting her children to wait on her, but I digress. When you’re little, you are pretty naive. Mommy says mean things about Daddy all the time, and you laugh, because of course Mommy is right, and they are funny. And you don’t know any better.
Once I got to college, my perspective shifted. The day, early my freshman year, my Mother called me to complain about my father reading the newspaper, was probably the first time I realized something was not quite right. Around halfway through college, my father screwed up, so irrevocably (in my Mother’s eyes) that their relationship hit (as far as I could tell) an all time low. (Though I suspect the highs were never very high, at that) Yes, he screwed up, nobody denies that. It was her 50th birthday, and he did not make enough of a show about it. I guess the fact that she demanded a surprise party for her 40th didn’t clue him in.
She has always made a huge deal over holidays — especially those that involve gift giving — including her birthday, a national holiday. She threw a temper tantrum when she didn’t like her Christmas presents. (An act I ashamedly repeated a few years later, when the punk-ass teenage girl I was realized Mom had picked out all the presents, and Dad hadn’t — I made my poor Dad cry on Christmas) She made a huge scene when her sister said, offhandedly, “you’re being ridiculous!” on Mother’s Day… and proceeded not to speak to her for over a year, maybe two. She threw my brother out of the car on Father’s (Mother’s?) day, when he failed to even provide a card, and then they didn’t speak for upwards of a year and a half, the silence only broken because she went into the hospital.
There was also a brief period after college where I didn’t speak to her. I don’t remember what sparked it, or what ended it.
Anyway, my parents finally, thankfully, divorced. It was an incredibly messy, angry, drawn out affair. She left my father, symbolically on her birthday, two years after the incident. Unfortunately, this was also a month and a half before my college graduation. She filed the divorce papers a little over a week before said college graduation. And she had the gall to at one point say that the only reason she stayed with my father so long was for me. If that were the case, she would have at minimum waited 2 weeks to file the papers, so that the most important day of my life might still be about me. But no, it had to be about her, as does everything.
I could go on. About how she made me cry on my wedding day, by throwing a temper tantrum at having been in the same room as my Father and Grandmother for a few minutes. (To this day, I’m pretty sure she’s unaware that she made me cry, and thankfully my wonderful bridesmaids calmed me down) I could go on and on. But this post is getting long enough, and my point more than made.
Somewhere in here, with years of therapy, and a few self-help books, I came to the conclusion that she has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. And that her very presence in my life is toxic. Wikipedia lists 8 symptoms of the disorder, and a conservative estimate puts my Mother as having at least 5 — though arguments could easily be made for all 8.
Right around this time, Andrew and I were looking to purchase our house, and subsequently begin TTC. The thought of bringing a child into the world, and letting her have any influence over it, made me sick.
I spent a lot of my adult life being angry at my Mother. Then I finally realized that all that anger and hate was really a waste of energy. They say the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy. I think I have finally reached that point. She is not a part of my life, and I am so much happier for it. She is my mother, and so on some level, I love her. But I do not like her. That sounds cold, but she once said the same of my oldest brother, who has always been a disappointment to her… that she loves him but does not like him.
And so the long silence between my Mother and I began. Partially out of self-preservation, because I hate myself when she is around… the eager, sniveling child who wants nothing more than to please Mommy, make her happy and proud — which is an impossible task, as the woman is not capable of happiness. She is only happy when she is complaining (read: getting attention) and even then she’s not truly happy. But mostly out of this intense need to protect my child(ren), despite the fact that they had yet to be conceived.
Do I like the fact that I don’t want my Mother as a part of my life? No. It sucks. It’s depressing, and it makes me sad. But, it is a necessity as far as I see it. For my well-being and sanity, and that of our children.
So, when little Sweet Paprika is born in November, I still do not intend to let my Mother back into my life. It is not a decision I take lightly, nor is it one I expect to waver from. I fully expect outside pressure from family, maybe even from her directly, but at the end of the day, I am the one (along with Andrew) responsible for this little one’s well-being, and nothing in the world is more important to me. And that well-being does not include a toxic Narcissist.
When SP is old enough to make his or her own rational decisions, I expect they will want to meet their Grandmother. At which point I will allow a brief, controlled visit. In the meantime, I plan to do my best not to skew little one’s perception. Mommy doesn’t talk to her Mommy, and that’s ok, we can talk more about it when you’re older.
I used to say my two biggest fears in life were: 1. Turning into my Mother, and 2. That I already had. Well, if I spend my time bad-mouthing her to the little one, when she is not around, then I truly would be like her.