February 04, 2014

The Mama's Mom

TRIGGER WARNING: Parental abuse

I alluded to issues with my mother in my annual year in review post, but I didn't take time to write about it for a few reasons. 1) I'm so over it, and 2) I actually took off to San Francisco on a mini-solo-vacation, so I just didn't have time to spare over such stupidities.

Now I guess I'm ready and willing, and I think it might actually help to share, so here goes.

My mother has admitted to not having a maternal side (which always makes me wonder why she had children) and spent most of my childhood being manipulative and calling me, "stupid" or "idiot" (those were her favorites) at least daily. Essentially, I could do absolutely nothing right. I dreaded her coming home from work, where she would go through the house and find everything wrong with it. If the windows were open, ("who's the idiot who opened the windows?") she would close them. The next day, in an effort to please her, I would close the windows, only to have her come home and yell about them being closed and then open them. I walked on eggshells constantly. (Which is what led to my anxiety, hypervigilance and later PTSD diagnosis, which stayed with me even after moving out.)

To be fair, my father was abusive in his own way, but not quite as bad. I also think there's something that hurts even deeper when it's your mother who is abusive. I ran to my dad for comfort and understanding. Now that he is dead, I do not feel I have a loving parent I can go to for comfort and love, which made the death of my father that much worse.

All this to say, I was scared when my son was born that my mother would continue to heap her shit upon my child and I was deadset on making sure that did not happen. I was powerless as a child to escape, but as an adult, I have the freedom to avoid the toxicity and also keep my own child away from harm. I originally did not want my mother to have a relationship with my son at all, but my sister convinced me otherwise. She believed it should be their relationship to nurture and that my son would resent me if I did not allow him to have a relationship with his grandmother.

So I kept an eye on things and to my surprise, my mom was mostly good. Not great, but not horrible and certainly not abusive. But slowly, little old habits of hers started to show themselves. However, she never SAID anything abusive, so I let her babysit him and he seemed to like her.

Until Christmas dinner.

The Little Man was already stressed to be at her place. We sat at the table, which is very stressful for him, but I did it to make her happy. Looking back, I should not have tried to make her happy, since that always fails anyway. I should have prioritized making my son happy. I take ownership of that mistake and I will not make it again.

Anyhow, to make a long story short, he was not coping well with the stress and she decided the best thing to do to make him comply was to start shaming and insulting him. (Because that's a great parenting technique, right?) In which case, I shut that down.
You know, I don't always stand up for myself, but I will sure as hell stand up for my son.

So we left and my mom cried and got upset and I actually didn't feel bad. I didn't really feel anything. It felt like the same old record started playing again and I'm so tired of hearing the same old song.
And I could easily predict what would happen next. She would contact me and say, "I love you" because that's what she always did. She would yell at me and call me names and then about 30 minutes later, come and tell me she loved me. Always. Like clockwork.
No apologies.

Guess what? A few days later I received the "I love you" via text and an offer to talk. I did not respond. There is nothing to talk about. Unless she wants to apologize (and even then) there is nothing to say. Nothing will change until hell freezes over.

And so I have not spoken to her. We have emailed over trivial things since then, but I have nothing to say. And the Little Man does not want to see her. If and when he does, we will deal with an arrangement then, but she will not be able to be with him unsupervised. She lost that privilege.

As for the Little Man, I came home from that dinner and did damage control the best I could. I sat him down and I apologized to him for arguing in front of him. I told him none of it was his fault and it had nothing to do with him. I told him he is perfect and loved and wonderful just the way he is. That's the best I could do and I don't want to have to do it ever again.

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