Monday, June 11, 2007

So.... Now What?

Okay, so that was the general gist of that whole icky saga. I saw N about a month later at my brother's funeral, and she was sad and sweet, and we did hug. She asked if we were okay and I said yes. Mauela, N didn't apologize in her letter to me, but she had sent an e-mail (the last one of the series) that did apologize. She said that she was so wrong to get involved and attack us the way she did. I have to summarize because Mr. R didn't save that e-mail. Mr. R is still not okay with the whole thing, but I think it's wrong to discount the apology. I really don't mind if Mr.R feels this way; he is, after all, pissed because someone was shitty to me, the person he holds most dear in his life. And you know? It's flattering to have someone look out for you that way. He's like my very own Super*man! Or at very least, my great white moth hunter.

I know I didn't deserve all that crap. I didn't, and it doesn't make it okay that it happened. It just gets so tiring being angry all the time. I don't want to hold onto anger for N - that would keep her front and center in my life and that's not her place. She's essentially a good person, and very passionate. She had been manipulated by my mother (even if she might never realize it), as I had been so many times before. So I can understand it. I'm not excusing what she wrote in her initial e-mail, but I do understand her motivation.

Which brings us to the real culprit here: my mother. Years ago, my therapist asked me why I kept trying to talk to my mother. "You keep trying to tell her what you think, you disagree with what she's saying... she never listens to you... What's the point? She'll never really hear you so why set yourself up for so much aggrivation? Keep it superficial. " I tried that. And you know what happened? My cousin L, who my mother and I are both close with, told me "Your mom said that your relationship with her is so much nicer now! What happened?"

What happened is I kept it light. Oh, I'm not saying this as, like, the solution to all my problems or anything, but I developed a goal a while ago, as to what I wanted from my mother. Want to know what it is? Here goes: I just wanted a civil relationship. A relationship where we weren't at each other's throats all the time. I knew she wasn't going to change so I had to, because I was at least capable of change.

So I stopped communicating. Piece of caake! My next therapist (I moved) asked me if it was hard keeping things from my mother. Oh, no! I replied. Simplicity itself: She never asks questions! Not really all that interested in me. Just my brother. What's really sad is that it truly is her loss: she doesn't know who I am as a person. I gather that she doesn't want to know, otherwise she'd be more interested in trying to find out more about me. (And I mean by asking questions of me). So that's my answer: keep it light, keep it simple. So it's not a real relationship. And that's fine by me, because truly seeing the person my mother is, she's not a person I want to have a REAL relationship with. She bad-mouths everyone, including those who are closest to her, those who have done so much for her over the years. The slightest insult, whether real or imagined, carries the same weight with my mother. It doesn't matter if you've been there for her over the years. Say one thing, the "wrong" thing, and it's all over. She's not a forgiving person. In preparation of our wedding, I got to see the person she really is. And I saw that her love, while she professed otherwise, was indeed conditional. That's not easy to realize, but it gets easier with time and acceptance.

Now, the harder questions... (from Manuela): "I want to ask you the same types of things people have asked me. Why do you want this toxic energy in your life?? Are you sure you want your son exposed to the influence of this woman?? Because as he gets older, he WILL see the dynamic, and I'm sure you don't want him to believe that it's ok to treat people like that!"

I don't want this toxic energy. It's not okay for her to treat me this way, or to expose the Bee to this kind of dynamic. Fortunately (I guess), I can be quite cold. I can keep things superficial and light. If she pulls this kind of crap, I will distance her not only from me, but also from Bee. And as Bee is her only grandchild and she's got pictures of him everywhere, apparently, I doubt that would sit well with her. My guess is that she'll be on her best behavior because I don't think she'll want to jepordize that communication. Because I will not expose my family to this crap.
(What's interesting is that my mother hated my father's mother. My grandmother was always on her best behavior around my mother because she was afraid my mother might keep my dad, my brother and I away from her. What's even more interesting is that my mother is actually a bit similar to my grandmother in some of their behaviors. Not that she could ever see that or anything).

The last day I saw my brother alive, I had a conversation with my mother. Okay, well, not so much a conversation as it was like trying to talk to a crazy person. I realized, and truly saw, that not matter what I say to her, she will never hear what I have to say; she will never be and can NEVER be wrong. EVER. I cried inside, not because I realized my mother was no mother, but because right before I saw her, I talked to my aunt. She told me how much she loved me, and how she wished she could be there to hold me. She said that if my mother started being difficult or giving me a hard time, to imagine that she was standing next to me, holding my hand, giving me her strength. And it dawned on me who was my true mother. My spiritual mother. The woman who has shown me time and again throughout my life, what it really means to be a mother. I call her aunt. I call her mom. But she's so much more than either of those titles. And with all the agita I have lived with from the woman who is my mother, I am grateful everyday that I have Cyna in my life.

So this is what makes it easier to deal with my mother. I can keep it superficial with her, because I have my "real" mom always standing my my side, holding my hand.

So why do I keep her in my life, you ask? The stupid phrase that keeps coming to my mind is "Because she's my mother." To which Cyna always says, "So what?" I suppose while she's being well behaved is fine. Since my brother died, it's like she has suddenly remembered she had another child. I haven't seen her this "happy and light" since... erm, ever, I don't think. (I know I vent here about all her machinations, but she was definitely not the world's worst mother. Far from it. Just a narcissistic personality/malignant narcissist disorder). I know most of her mood is because she no longer has to worry about my brother: he has moved on and is in a much better place, no longer trapped and in pain. He's fine.

I thought I would harden my heart after my brother died and shun her if she tried to reach out to me. But you know what? I don't want to stay angry with her, either. It keeps her too fresh, too much in the forefront. And that's not her place in my family. I know at this point what she's really like. I know I can't have a "real" conversation with her and fankly I feel so over it already. But again, I am extremely blessed to have the love and support from both my Cyna, and my father (who, everytime I tell him something my mother did from our childhood, it horrifies him and he cannot understand how his wife and my mother were ever the same person).

I know this doesn't answer everything; I'm still working it out, and I'll continue to do so for as long as it takes. Thank you once again for reading and all of your comments.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Less Ugly Post-Birth Saga, Episode 3

And now... the conclusion. Here is the letter I received from N (after having sent her a thank you note and letter detailed in the previous post):
Dearest Anna,

Thank you for your beautiful letter and most kind words. You need to know, I pray for you and Mr. R amd your dear son every day, and know that your sweetness is the result. I have a tremendous respect for you as well and look forward to the hug; you can be assured I'll be hugging you back. I'm also happy to hear Mr. R's posture is softening as well; he was only trying to protect his family and must have felt very threatened to say the things he did. My apologies again for bringing him to that brink.

As I get older, it is becoming more aparent that nothing is as it seems.

I have watched your dear mother suffer first the abuse of her father, then the torment of witnessing her son develop symptoms of a disease she realized she'd passed on to him, the disappointment and disbelief of a failed marriage, the struggle and heartbreat of a divorce, her bitterness and sadness of not feeling capable to attend your wedding... the list goes on.. Your mom always seems to be in the midst of a crisis... and so it goes.

I love her very much and try to spend as much time with her as my life allows. At this moment in time, she is struggling for survival. With your brother so close to death and your dad so angry she is grasping at anything that will keep her afloat. She has lost 30 pounds in the last 6 moths; she isn't eating properly and it is affecting her physically, emotionally and psychologically. She isn't talking to anyone meaningful (psychologist or psychiatrist) but continues to self-medicate - a sleeping pill or muscle relaxant here, an anti-depressant there... maybe a little alcohol before bed. She is often irrational, irritable and most notably inconsolable. At this moment in time, her state of being is most fragile.

She loves you very much, Anna; she wants and needs the relationship you speak of so tenderly but doesn't know how to go about attaining it. She is often her own worst enemy, regurgitating old hurts and disappointments and unable to look forward to the future and better times. I don't know what advice to give you except to pray for patience and hope you can facilitate in the healing that way. I can assure you it's definitely worth the effort; she has so much love to give and is feeling very alone in the world. It's a void I can't fill with time or money.

I also know how difficult it is to be with someone whose temperment is always an issue; my relationship with my father was strained until I decided to take control of it. I made it a policy to contact him about once a week (that was all I could take for a while)... but I called when it was convenient for me and when I had time to talk - or more accurately, listen to him ramble on about some insane thing or another. I knew what to expect when I got on the phone with him and when I hung up it was always with the promise of speaking to him again soon. It worked for me. I was able to muster up the resolve I needed to have the conversation and always felt better when the call was completed; I know it made difference to him as well.

I know I will be seeing you in the near future. I'm so sorry you're losing your brother; he is surely going to a better place, where he can see God's face and won't need his chair or legs. He will be missed but never forgotten. Knowing him has been a blessing in all our lives and the world is a better place because of him. I don't know if you're aware of the sculpture he did for me... it's enormous and lives in my backyard just behind the pool. I will always remember his creativity, enthusiasm and sincerity.

Much love and prayers for the days ahead.
With love,

PS: Please be discrete about who you allow to read this. I'm trusting your goal is the same as mine - to heal the wounds that divide your family. Blessings to you all.

I haven't shared that letter with anyone, even Mr. Right, until now. Because to be honest, I don't want to hold on to anger and resentment. I could say, "Oh yeah? Fuck you! You wrote that horrible e-mail!" But then I would be discounting the things that were said afterwards and those have to be taken into account as well. I chose to accept her letter at face value; I also take into account that N is a Sagitarius; they have a tendency to talk first and think afterwards. Mr. R calls this "Foot in Mouth disease"... He should know, he's a Sag rising. It's also a fire sign, so they can be a bit agressive. I'm an earth sign; in fact, my chart comprises of seven earth signs, four water and an air. So, ladies and gents, my name is mud. Literally. No fire. What's also interesting is that Mr. R has no water signs. None. And the Bee has only one earth sign (we both have the same ascendent). If you're curious about yours, you can look it up here for free.

Aside from that little astrological tangent, the choice is mine. Where do I want to go with this?
I'll be back soon with more, my comments on N's letter, Manuela's questions and more stuff as I try to figure out how I feel about my mother. It's helpful for me to try to work through all this stuff in the privacy of my own internet. Thank you for your comments and your support. You guys, as always, rock.