With Mother’s Day approaching, I’ve had some things on my mind. Realized a few days ago the holiday is upon us, then drug my feet.
Then today I ran into a woman I spoke to about a month ago a few times, she being a neighbor of someone I work for. We wound up in a few deep conversations, she being what some might describe as a “mystic Christian” of sorts and in her 50s. Met her originally quite a while back but didn’t know what to think of her right off. Still don’t. But that’s irrelevant to the story that’s on my mind tonight.
We got to talking a little about where we come from, places and then people and then family, and she expressed her doneness with her own mother as of about 4 years ago or so. Well, I’ve been very estranged from my mother for over a decade and our relationship has been eroding all my life, most markedly from age 10 onward. My mother texts occasionally now and again to tell me some tidbit of news in her own life (though wouldn’t answer or return any phone calls), but otherwise we haven’t actually spoken or laid eyes on one another since August 2011 and before that it had been many years. Tried emailing her in 2009 finally laying out some of my feelings toward her, which didn’t go over well — ended with her saying that my brother managed to turn out all right. Yeah. Right. And that’s why he too recently wised up and left her, stating that she was costing him too much money.
But I’ve been buying her something for Mother’s Day, her birthday, and Christmas pretty much all along. Which she rarely used to acknowledge. Sent her some beautiful fire and ice roses during my freshmen year in college, and later my brother told me he didn’t remember ever seeing them. Would send her a card at least, signed by name only (we haven’t told one another we love each other in I don’t remember how long). Sometimes she sent me a card as well. If she was feeling chipper, she might send along some little gift (one time I recall she sent the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus audio cassettes). In recent years, anytime she asks what I want I tell her socks, because socks are always useful, especially warm winter socks, to which she complies. Last Christmas I sent her a a Snuggie-like body blanket deal with a picture screen-printed on from one of her favorite movies, which she really did seem to like. And it made me happy to make her happy with some small gesture.
But I think I’m done with all of that now. I think I’m done dealing with her from now on, in fact. There appears to be no reason to continue contact, and doing so can’t help but stress me out a little. She herself stresses me out, just by her nature and her very existence at this point. On an emotional level, she’s a ghost to me and has been for a very long time. The person she is now isn’t someone I really even care to know. Not that she’s changed much over time.
The lady neighbor and I got to talking today about the subject of forgiveness, which is something I struggle with frequently, having heard all the lip service paid to the idea repeated from Oprah to Jesus. Everybody talks about it, and so often so shallowly, as if what they’re saying makes any sense. Like, “forgive but never forget.” Well, if you’re holding onto the memory so as never to forget it, how much are you forgiving that individual really? Or “forgive because it’s good for you.” Hmmm…I suppose, but easier said than done. Or, “it doesn’t matter if they request or deserve forgiveness, do it so as to unburden yourself.” Nice in theory, but again, easier said than done.
I do have compassion for my mom and always have. Likely always will. I seriously do wonder if the car accident she was involved in as a baby affected her brain, because she’s an odd duck in a way that’s like no one else I’ve ever met. Grandma actually told me the story again recently, and I don’t know if it’s my memory or hers that’s getting details twisted, but this time she explained it differently than I remember before. The accident where Papa was drunk was apparently more minor and didn’t injure anyone (or only himself? Can’t recall). This accident, however, he was totally sober (that being back before he got into drinking too much) and they had gotten off of work and were taking the kids to some creek or river to play. A man driving in the other direction, rushing to sing at a church or funeral, came around the curve fast and swung into their lane, causing a front-end/mostly driver’s side collision. Papa hit the steering wheel so hard it ruptured his spleen, which is why they had to take it out (which years later he wound up having problems with due to them botching the surgery, on a side note). And my mom had been in my Grandma’s arms in the front seat because this was the early ’60s before car seats had caught on or been invented. My uncle, the oldest, wasn’t majorly injured, but my mom got her head slammed into the dashboard (that also being before padded dashboards became mandatory, which you can give thanks to Ralph Nader for helping bring about). The man in the other car got hurt also, though Grandma didn’t know the extent of his injuries. My mom, a 9-month-old at the time, and my Papa wound up being kept at the hospital. The word is my mom had a concussion, but technology wasn’t advanced enough back then to tell a whole lot more. I’ve been thinking for years now that she suffered some sort of frontal lobe injury based on what I’ve observed of her.
So, it’s not about hate there. Just sanity-preservation at this point. She, like the lady neighbor said about her own mom, had time to look into a book or to at least apologize in all these years, but she didn’t. Not to me or anyone else. And at some point we have to cut the ties and move on, accepting that shit didn’t turn out the way we hoped but we can at least free ourselves to move on in life. My mother doesn’t ask me for help, so I’m not rejecting her. She acts as if she’s nearly oblivious about social ties and their importance, behaving in a self-focused way taken to an extreme that almost seems child-like aside from being so cold and detached. She’s not sorry because she can’t be. Admitting any wrongdoing appears impossible for this woman, no matter how miniscule or who it’s in relation to. She just can’t see any errors in her way, which makes honest communication impossible, as has always been the case. I’ve decided recently that it is unacceptable that she spread malicious lies and false accusations against her family members, and if healing is ever to be possible, it must begin with her owning up to that, first and foremost. She smeared my Papa’s name in a major way that hurt him and a lot of other people to degrees she’ll never comprehend, and I wound up growing up surrounded by those lies and they took a huge toll on my young psyche. We have to start there—which I tried for in 2009 with no success—if we’re to go anywhere further in this. And I seriously doubt she’s willing to deal with brutal reality and take responsibility, so that’s it. Take care and there’s nothing left to say.
Tired of trying to play nice there. It’s nothing but an act on my part by now, so why continue it?
All of that is understandable to me. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve just not wanted to pull the plug.
The goal isn’t to be vindictive — I do wish to be understood by somebody out there. Life could’ve been worse, but it sure could’ve been better too. We hurt one another in ways that can leave wounds that last a lifetime. I’ve observed this in some of my loved ones and their relations with each other. Wondering if I’m gonna turn out like them, embittered to the core and scornful. I don’t want to carry that weight around, so I’m trying to figure out how to lessen this load.
People say we should take responsibility for our part in shit, so it’s about time some of these folks take back what they laid on me that I can do nothing more with. Or they can refuse it — whatever, I expect that. It’s just not mine to carry.
So anyway, I’ve decided that this Mother’s Day I am sending a plant to my Grandma because she actually loves and respects me. And I love her so much too. It’ll arrive Saturday. For my mom, I am sending a simple text message. I am weaning myself off of toxic people and their expectations and their craziness and their irresponsibility and their hostilities. I am done being blamed for shit that was out of my control, and I am tired of being saddled with what was within theirs. That lady neighbor I talked to earlier remarked that I was behaving like the stereotypical “good Christian” by trying to be tolerant and accepting and persevering and not wanting to give up on them. She then said that forgiveness doesn’t ask a person to stick around. People hurt you and maybe you should move away from them. I do believe many folks are too quick to drop people like a bad habit, but I’ve put in a lot of work and tolerated what I could. Done what I can. No success. It’s done. There’s no real love for me there, so why am I still crying over people who I seriously doubt ever cry over me?
Because a clan meant something to me. Means something to my spirit, to my core. I can feel it and am propelled that way. But this is an obstruction that cannot be lifted, at least not by me alone. The few friends I have made are a blessing, and I’m very grateful to have them in my life. Family sometimes is what we construct, not merely what we are born into. My grandparents were overall very good to me. I was blessed and should focus on that instead of wasting my energy with people who apparently can’t care any more than they’ve shown already. I am wasting my time here, and time is a precious resource that cannot be replaced or regained.
Hate their stupid drama and being drawn in to their mess. Hate the families being divided. Hated the step-side of the family’s bullshit most of all and would have been better off never meeting those people. Bunch of assholes that I seriously did not fit in with. But they left their marks, and all there is for me to do now is walk it off. It’s all that can be done at this point.
Felt like for several years there that I was dealing with all of this better. Back then dad and I were getting along for a while there, and my brother seemed more interested in having something to do with me, and I was distracted by my old job, needing to keep my eye on that ball, along with being in college. Then I graduated. Later found out Papa had cancer. Then a couple female friends completely turned their backs and walked away. Then Papa passed away. Then a few months later I just lost it. Probably lost it all of 2012. My heart broke, and I reacted in self-destructive ways. Hurt my relationship. Drank too much. Reintroduced mom into my life a bit. And then dad got a girlfriend and went away. My brother faded away too.
I’ll continue sending my brother gifts on his birthday and Christmas since I do wish to keep that door open. Maybe someday he’ll come around to wanting to talk.
Keeping the door open to dad too. Maybe he’s just caught up in something new and doesn’t realize how his sudden absence came across.
But that’s what I’ve decided on. This being my project in living out loud, I’m sharing this with the universe. No need to hide my human reality, right? This is simply what one individual is dealing with and trying to sort out.