I avoid engagement with my mother. It is a conscious choice, and one I am vividly aware of every time I make it.
My entire life, wherever I was, no matter where I lived, or what I was doing, I called and spoke to my mother daily. There are very few times in my life I can recall this not being the case. Now, when I have to speak with her, I brace myself first and try to shield myself as best as possible.
Her words are more often than not, laced with judgement, anger, bitterness, not usually at me, but always present, whether it be the threats to call the cops on the neighbor’s mean and scary dog, or the number of unregistered vehicles parked on the street, the mere mention of someone’s name that she cannot stand to be in the same room with – or any number of things/people in the world that are wrong in her life or in this world.
When she curses and spits anger and hatred and speaks of how useless people are, and how she is going to do “this” or tell them “that” when she sees them, I silently sit and listen, because I do not comprehend. I try to remain still and silent to protect my energy from being depleted, my heart from absorbing the anger, and my mind from the ugliness of the words.
When it is directed at me, in judgement of how I spent my money, or something I did not do, or a choice I made for myself that she feels is wrong and/or stupid (one I hear often), or indirectly at me about my children and their behavior, even sometimes when she is right, I can not help but let it hit a little. It stabs me like knives all over my body and makes me want to cry.
I feel myself getting angrier for allowing myself to listen, but she is my mother. She has given up much of her life taking care of my children, and when I have fallen apart, taken care of me.
She was not always this way. While she is talking, I wonder what brought her here. Was it me? Was it my children? Was it years of allowing her to help me take care of my family? Does she resent me? My kids? The world?
My mother has always been the most giving woman I know. Growing up I cannot remember her ever being really angry at me, except a few times as a teenager when quite frankly, I deserved it. But even then, she would always calm. We could always come around and connect again; we could always make it work, and somehow make it right.
I wonder if, as she gets older, and I get more self contained, and my children need her less, she feels less useful? My mother needs to be needed like no one I have ever known. She will give and give and give, because not only does it help someone else, but deep inside, I believe she needs to do it to make herself feel whole and good. She cares for an elderly neighbor who eats dinner with us every day. She works on weekends caring for another elderly woman, and she does this with patience, kindness, and love. But somewhere along the way, in the past few years, I noticed a change in her. I wonder if she was always this way, or maybe I am just very different now that is seems so shockingly different to me.
Hearing her anger makes me want to move away, run away, and not let it infect me. I have spent so much time searching my soul and the world around me for beauty. Of course, I get angry. I am human. But I make it a choice to pause and reflect before I act or speak. I want to be angry sometimes. I want to scream and yell, and judge and complain, but I rarely do.
I try to stay focused on positive outcomes and use my anger productively in ways that heal the environment and those closest to me. But also, I feel as though I can not ever really be angry because I have to remain calm to counterbalance her levels of rage.
I feel smothered and suppressed in my own home. I feel like I am in a marriage that I can not get out of with someone who stopped loving me, and the world, somewhere along the way. I have worked so hard to face all of my own anger, and my own hurts, and heal them to the best of my ability, to forgive myself, and others for the things that bring me darkness, and it’s hard.
I know she loves me, and I know she loves my kids. But I think she does not realize the damage she is causing – the tornado of emotional response that happens in me, in my children, in those around her.
I hear all the time from women, how I help them, how I empower them to learn and to grow and to heal, but I cannot seem to do it in my own home. Not with my mother, or with my daughter, who seems to be following in her footsteps. It makes me so very sad. Of all of the women in the world who I want to help, the ones I love the most push me the farthest away. I am a stranger, a ghost in my own home. I try to come in and out as quietly as possible so not to disrupt the calm. I rarely speak, and when I do, it seems no one cares.
Hearing her anger, makes me feel broken and incomplete, and I want my mother back. Hearing her anger makes me angry and hurt, and I want my voice back. Hearing her anger, makes me nostalgic for when life was simple.
I am fearful for my future, because I feel pressed and stuck, unable to move forward or backward. Hearing her anger is the one thing in my life that freezes me where I stand, and I feel like a little girl with no voice, too afraid to move for fear of being hurt again.
Hearing her anger makes me both thankful that I don’t feel that way anymore, even though I could easily slip back into it. I lived most of my life angry at the world that had hurt me so much.
Hearing her anger, makes me angry at whatever causes her so much pain. Hearing her angry, makes me scared for her, for myself, and for my children. Hearing her anger, makes me question everything.