Friday, January 14, 2011

Ruby Blueday

Fuck me.

Ok, I know this is brain dumping on you all but I am walking around in a constant state of nausea and anxiety and need a little support from someone and most of the women I am close with are related to me and I don't want to involve them in the shit between my mom and I.

I already wrote about the tensions at Christmas and that that was just a breaking point and not really the issue. I went back to my old therapist because I wasn't coping well with the tension between my mom and I and I wanted help working through our conflicts without further damaging our relationship. I also want to get to the point where I can appreciate the good things about her and accept the other stuff. Therapy has been helping tremendously. My therapist is helping me work through some past anger that colors the way I deal with her now, helping me set boundaries to protect myself but in a way that isn't defensive or inflammatory to my mother. So mom and I have a conversation about a cousin's wedding happening this summer and I ask her how important is it that we come then versus later in the summer. The wedding falls on Jul4 weekend and travel sucks as well as everyone is very busy when we visit and it's hard to make plans, the last few years we have come a few weeks before or a few after. Anyhow, I told my mom that if it was very important to her, we would find a way to get there on that particular weekend but that if it wasn't, I had more flexibility to plan our travel around some of the kids summer stuff etc., just to let me know and I'll figure it out. We had at one time talked about the possibility of her taking the kids and extra week or two and then flying with them home. Because she and I have not been getting along at all, the idea of having to deal with her more negotiating the kids stuff etc. was too overwhelming and huz and I decided maybe next year but this year we were going to visit, get and get out, short and sweet before anyone got riled up. Rather than be honest with her and say I'm upset with you and don't want to try to do a back and forth with you with the kids because it's too stressfull and right now I don't trust you, I told my mom that we decided with all the kids different summer programs, this years it wasn't going to work--hoping to spare her feelings and my sanity.

Anyhow, my mom sends me a, uhm, pretty awful letter. I don't think she liked the itty teeny boundary I set.(And by the way, I was awesome calm and neutral on the phone with her, I was concilatory and did a very good job at comminicating all this in a friendly tone, no barbs, no hostility, no defensiveness). I would love to post the whole letter here but I would have to change too many details to make it ungoogleable and I certainly don't want her coming here.

The letter is basically,
-You have disdain for me.
-I refuse to let you mistreat me
-I don't know why this is happening
-I am telling you upfront(her words)I am unwilling to revisit my past transgressions as a mother
-no one likes everything their parents do, I'm sure your children wont either(hey mom thanks for the vote of confidence)
-Here is everything I am mad at you about(like not doing our dishes the last night we staye d at her house-uh mom, our problems run wayyyyyyy fucking deeper than that) and how you suck(1/3 of it is totally true, 1/3 of it is somewhat true but wildly twisted rememberings and perceptions, and 1/3 of it is total nonsense)
-My only mistake is not telling you how much you suck sooner.
-Great I feel better now we can move forward, except that I won't talk about the past and by the way all these other people think I am right.

My take on it is this. I am definately part of the problem in our current situation. I go into conversations with her ready for a fight or to be hurt. I am sensitive to the things she says. I am sometime unappreciatove of the things she does because of either the spirit in which they are done or feeling angry that a check doesn't make up for the other neglect. I understand that I have a part in the conflict we are in. But her drinking, my molesting stepfather and other things are part of that dynamic. In her letter she took zero responsibility for our current situation, seriously, nothing. There was no verbiage of reconciliation, yeas at the end she was all I hope we can move forward, blah, blah, blah but really, no. It's like me beating the shit out of my husband, telling him he's the problem and then saying oh babe I hope we can patch things up, if you stop sucking.

So I am left feeling attacked and really disappointed because the immaturity of her response and her total refusal to allow me to talk about things I am upset about and her unwillingness to own her part in this is making me feel like maybe this relationship is unsalvagable.

Help. I just don't know how to process this.


  1. Has she ever owned the fact that she was parenting you when your step father molested you? Is she still married to him?

  2. Thankfully they are no longer married. The hard part is that I have yet to talk to her about that part. My resentment lies in that she brought a stranger that she had known about two weeks home from Mexico to live with us. I was 9 he was 19 (she was 26)and then she left us home alone all summer. I don't blame her for the sexual abuse but I am angry that she didn't know that this set up in itself was dangerous. I am resentful that she didn't protect me and pay attention to the striking behavioral changes that happened after her came. She has always been a person who worries little of consequences and in some parts of life this has helped her(like getting ahead in a male dominated field for instance) but for me it meant sometimes having to live with the consequences of a parent who is this way. I don't want to shame her with the alcoholism or abuse, I don't need her to cry at my feet and say she was a shitty parent, I just want her to acknowledge and express some regret that she wasn't there for me or at the very least, not shame me for wishing she had been. The one time I confronted her about the drinking, she finally exploded and said blah, blah, I was going thru a divorce and I had a new promotion and was under a lot of pressure, and my own parents were doing xyz..and I said, very sincerely, mom, the adult me totally understands that the stresses and pressures of your life were at that moment more than you could bear but the kid in me doesn't care. She said, well how long are you going to keep punishing me for this? And remember this was the 1st time I had the balls to bring it up. I told her, you have never told me that it is ok for me to wish that you would have been there for me and if anything you have acted like I'm childish and sensitive for feeling the way I do. You have never apologized or taken any responsibility. That was me at age like 19 and then in my 20's when I told her I was going to see a therapist, she asked why and I told her honestly and calmly that although I knew it probably hurt her to hear it, that I thought my parents divorce and her drinking have had an affect on my ability to get close to people and trust people and I wanted to be married and be able to be a good partner and needed help. She flipped out and I was just like, hey you asked.

    Like I said, I don't need her to bleed and be stoned and drawn and quartered, I just need some concilatory gesture that she wishes some things could have been different. Instead I get letters from her blaming me when I have never taken that route with her and offering uo nothing in the way of love or understanding or anything. Ugh.

  3. ultimately, successful relationships have to have the work of both parties - one way effort will just never work. and unfortunately there is nothing you can do to make her *want* to work on it. because that would mean she'd have to grapple with some stuff she'd rather avoid. pain avoidance is a pretty powerful innate drive, and her lashing out is all about pain avoidance.

    so if you're trying to make things better, but she is not, it's no wonder you feel hurt and disappointed. it must feel a lot like she doesn't care as much about your relationship as you do, which is a pretty painful realisation. her avoidance of pain is causing you pain.

    given that you can't make her put in the effort or do any kind of self-reflection, what *can* you control? the amount of pain you expose yourself to. i know things get much more complicated when grandkids enter the picture though.

    i have parents who, for quite lengthy periods of time, found it easier to defensively blame their kids, than deal with the guilt of having hurt them. eventually, that did change (mostly). so it can happen. but i spent many years not communicating with them because i needed to limit my exposure to the pain.

    cutting my communication with them was painful as well - but at least it was something i could control. and it was a huge relief to not dread every conversation, every phonecall ending in tears. my therapist once told me, "if they were strangers, and not your parents, you wouldn't feel the slightest bit bad about protecting yourself."

    i don't know if any of this resonates at all, but i really feel for you. i so do.

  4. Me too, I really feel for you.
    Something that really stood out for me in MG's last post was:

    "What's the big deal? When did I become so attached to the idea that an issue cannot be truly resolved unless all parties involved are discussing it on what I've defined as a 'deep' level?

    As she said, there are so many other people that we can usefully talk with about these things - why do we fixate on the ones least likely to be helpful and most likely to compound the hurt?

    I think you'd be doing yourself a favour to talk more to your therapist, and less to your mother about this. And maybe give yourself a bit of distance and space - I've never known how to describe this, but recurrently in my life, I've only ever got what I thought I wanted when I had really and truly let go of the desire. By which time, of course, I no longer wanted it.

  5. I am not sure what to say....just that I know it must be hard. It is difficult and frustrating when the other person won't take any responsibility for their part in the issues, when you clearly recognise that you have to put your hand up and say some of it is your 'fault' too. ('I am being mature dammit, why can't you?' lol)

    I have had a couple of similar situations (mum issues and letters written by other which shat on me from a great height) and all I could really do, other than beat my head against a brick wall, and talk about it...a lot) was step back from these people, let myself know that I had met them halfway and if they couldn't do that too, it was now their issue, not mine. It was the only way I could stay sane.

  6. I can't even get into all of this.
    My mom's an alcoholic, too, and she chose a man over me, making me an independent adult at 17, while I was trying to figure out how to graduate high school, etc.

    I empathize.

    Boundaries are 100% necessary in having a relationship with an alcoholic. Boundaries are extra difficult if that alcoholic is your parent.

    I cope by not having a lot of contact with my mom. I wouldn't allow my kids to stay with her and her freakazoid husband. Period. She's not gonna hurt them, nor is he, but I don't need my kids to see her as a parental figure.

    Not that my kids would even recognize her if they saw her. Granted, they're my step kids, and I've only been in the relationship for 4 years... and she lives out of the state... but, she's only ever seen them once. *shrug*

  7. Goodness Rubes - I asked such a big question and then didn't come back for so many days. I am sorry.
    I really meant what I said in the post that Cat pointed out - that I no longer believe all parties involved in a harmful situation must own their part before resolution can be attained.
    The fact for me is that I want to be huge. Giant. Grown. I want to reach many summits and realize there are those who will simply run out of oxygen on the way there. They simply cannot make it. (In the name of all that is unholy, I heard that from Oprah!)
    But, their inability to make it has nothing to do with me. It's not personal. It is something else. What, I do not always know. An illness such as addiction? A bad childhood experience of their own? Maybe - but, one way or the other, I just know I want to be giant.
    At the same time, I love it that you are pissed at your mom about this. What a depraved set of choices on her part! What a heavy price for her own daughter to bear! Not being outraged at ANY set of circumstances that cause a child to be harmed would be nothing short of denial, in my opinion.
    I am glad you are not in denial about any of this. Goodness knows the only way I've ever found to be giant is to first discover and accept from what point I am starting.
    Sending love.

  8. Well said Mongo. For the point at which Ruby must start is very small indeed.

    Rubes - you desperately want to believe you don't blame her but you reiterated the anger you felt when she wasn't there to protect you from a sexual predator at such a young age.

    My God, my girls are almost nine. It shatters my heart to think of their little bodies being violated. She didn't stop it, nor did she even bother to notice the signs in front of her when her innocent girl revolted in disgust and guilt. But here's the deal sweetie:

    Alcoholics cannot and do not recognize the hurt that lies in the wake of their disease. They cannot provide you the essential needs you deserve yet they are cunning enough to make you believe in them because they can cleverly make their way through a male dominated world. Guess what? That male dominated world is quite often conquered by the ability to drink with the boys.

    She did what she had to do, alcohol got a grip on her and that was all she wrote. My brothers drank themselves to death, knowing they were leaving children behind. To watch it is horrifying and helpless.

    You must let go of your self-imposed responsibility, free yourself from saving her or restoring your mother/daughter bond, recognize her condition, rise above it and fly on the wings of angels. For those are the very
    angels that will come to take her. You need to be familiar with them. They offer love and forgiveness when you meet them as they come to restore her from this life.

    Don't be blue Ruby Tuesday. Be red with anger, be yellow/orange with the sunset of this phase and dawn of a new beginning and be strong enough to accept what she was, decide why it was given to you and apply it to your own path or mission.

    All human beings deserve our thought but ultimately it is up to us to decide who we want to continue to guide and shape us.

    Let go and be free.

    With love,