In which I ramble about my feelings and my mother.
I find being around my mother exhausting. Exhausting at the best of times, but when I’m already clinically exhausted, it’s almost more than I can handle. It’s also the worst kind of exhausting. The kind where all I want to do afterwards is go to sleep but I can’t, because my brain won’t stop whirring.
Today’s lunch was not unlike many others of its ilk. We talked about things that to her probably seem innocuous to her but take a whole lot out of me. She mentioned again how much she and my dad want to be grandparents and how she feels like I’m “missing out on a whole aspect of life” by not being a parent - a fact that upsets me because not only does it feel like pressure, it’s a reminder of how ill-equipped I feel to parent anyone given my inability to even look after myself most of the time. She spent another 20 minutes telling me why she finds it impossible to forgive my boy’s dad for the things he did to him growing up, even though it’s not her place to either offer or withhold forgiveness - then talked about how much harder she finds it to forgive people as she gets older and listed her growing grudge list. She spent time asking me why I think it is that I find it so difficult to go easy on myself, when the reason for that is principally the one asking me the questions.
I come away having to remind myself that someone doesn’t have to intend to do another person harm for harm to occur. I find it incredibly difficult to reconcile the fact that all she ever seems to have wanted is to be a good mother, but her behaviour towards me wasn’t exactly ideal parenthood. To suggest that to her would likely shatter her into little pieces, so I have to clench my teeth and say nothing. Everything she said to me when I was growing up suggested that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, high-achieving enough, perfect enough to gain her positive regard. I didn’t get cuddles growing up. I remember policing other kids to make them behave because I was terrified - plain, out-and-out terrified - of being badly behaved because the look of disappointment and the back-turning that came with that was more than I could stand. I don’t remember ever being told that I did well with there being no “but” attached. I know she did that because she wanted me to be the best I could be rather than because she was malicious or abusive but the fact is, to hear her now say “I don’t understand why you can’t see how much you’ve achieved in your life,” when all I hear in my head day-in, day-out is her asking me how I could do it better or how I could improve makes me sad and furious all at the same time.
She says she doesn’t understand why I find it so hard to take care of myself. This from the same woman who told me that when I was a baby, my cries would drive her so insane that she would go and stand at the end of the garden, as far away from my crib as she could get, and smoke cigarettes until I shut up. If I grew up believing that even as a baby I wasn’t worthy of love and comfort, how the fuck am I supposed to believe that the adult me is worthy of that when I don’t even have infancy on my side?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a candidate for one of those trashy supermarket memoirs about abused kids. I was never locked in a cupboard or beaten or sexually assaulted. I was fed, clothed and schooled. And all those things make it even harder for me to accept that my upbringing wasn’t exactly optimal.
The worst part is, not only do I feel like a complete shit for feeling hurt and let down by my mother, not only do I personally beat myself up about that, my boy unintentionally turns that up to unbearable levels. His mother died when he was very little, so the idea of having a mother is something that’s treasured and rare. When I say that I struggle to be around her, that the way she treated me when I was growing up and the echoes of that I still get now still make me angry and miserable, he looks hurt and tells me that it’s important that I do all I can to make a good relationship with her. I get where he’s coming from but it’s not that simple, and no amount of me having a good relationship with my mother will make up for him not having had one. And yet I feel that by feeling the way I do about her, I’m not only betraying her by harbouring these thoughts, I’m betraying both my boy and the memory of his mother.
*sigh* Oh well. At least I got a pumpkin spice soyalatte out of the deal.