The Old and Immature

My mom called.

She started about some transfer forms, unfinished business in the wake of the divorce, but carefully segued into asking if I wanted to take a trip to the States with some other family.

This is how she tries to make amends. She doesn’t apologize or ask how I’m doing because she can’t. She can’t admit that she’s done any wrong, not even to herself. Her insecurity doesn’t allow her to show any vulnerability.

I keep my rage in check, but it’s a hard fire to fight. After what I’ve been through, after telling her never to talk to me again, she has the audacity to ask as if nothing has happened.

With a firm voice, I tell her no. No to the trip, no to her, and this causes her tone to grow angry. It’s funny to think that she may be angry at me, like a rapist being angry at his victim, but I know it’s not anger. It’s sadness, but she masks it with anger, the way she hides her guilt behind her excuses and explanations.

It’s easier to deal with the loss of your only child when it’s his fault.

From what she says, I can tell she’s more worried about her image of being a bad parent to her friends, than to actually being a mother to me. This was the person who “raised” me. The person who was supposed to teach me to be proud of who I am. To not be superficial. To be humble. To own up to my mistakes. To take responsibility for my actions. It’s a scary thought.

I can read my mom like a book. Not because I’ve known her for so long, but because she’s still a child. I know exactly what she’s thinking, and at the same time, she shows a total lack of self-awareness. She still hasn’t learned the important lessons, the epiphanies one experiences through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

Talking to her is like talking to myself at an earlier stage in life.

4 comments

  1. I’ve taken a similar approach in dealing with my father (step-father, to be perfectly accurate). Your earlier ‘sticker book’ post resonated with me. In my case, the circumstances were different but the end result appears to have been the same.

    After I left home our relationship became something akin to a person I knew (but didn’t like) in highschool. For the sake of my mother, I tolerate him but otherwise avoid contact where possible. My girlfriend has a great deal of difficulty interpreting this behaviour since she had/has a wildly different sort of relationship with her family.

    I must admit to feeling some vindication in knowing that he’ll be working in his menial job to achieve a menial retirement while I’m already vastly more successful than he ever was. He’s jealous, and says as much when he wonders how I “lucked into it”.

    Needless to say, I feel no guilt about the approach I’ve taken. Neither should you. The time and place for second, third, umpteenth-chances have long since passed.

    And for the record — I always wanted (but never managed to get) a root beer scratch ‘n sniff!

  2. Ah, you’re dennis from in town! I confused you as Dennis from Scotland at first.

    It’s interesting that your girlfriend doesn’t understand. My girlfriends have always been able to empathize, maybe because they could tell how sad I was.

    I don’t feel vindicated though. I take no pleasure in my mother’s sadness. I feel nothing. You’re right in saying than you shouldn’t feel guilty about the approach. It’s that umpteenth chance that makes it easy to move on.

    And the root beer sticker must be somewhat universal. It’s crossed houses, playgrounds, and cities now.

  3. Jeff, are you in Ottawa? If so, I didn’t realize that!

    My girlfriend not understanding is probably my fault. I don’t necessarily advertise my thoughts on the subject; I generally don’t speak about it at all.

    Great redesign, by the way.

  4. I thought you knew! I don’t remember how I found your site, or how you found mine, but I thought it was Ottawa related somehow.

    I’ve always needed support on the who family thing from my girlfriends (since the drama wasn’t just my mom but my dad too), so I’ve always admitted it to them. Not all of them have understood of course, one of them even said things like she was better than me because she had a good parents. Why don’t you talk about it with her? In most cases, it’s helped me.

    And thank you. I’m still working out the kinks (IE 7) and some unforeseen Lightbox Javascript problems, but otherwise I’m happy with the new design. :)

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