My relationship with my mother is....complicated.
I rarely write about it because honestly I don't want the grief that will come from her recriminations and accusations. And there will be grief. And recriminations.
I have been in YEARS of therapy trying to come to terms with my experiences as a child, as a young woman and finally as an adult and mother to my own child.
While I never blamed my mother, per se, for my experiences - I did seek to place events in perspective.
Last night in a deserted Chinese restaurant in the town in which I came to adulthood, many years of silence broke into a hailstorm.
It was not because of my mother that I made the drive south. No. It was for my sister, about whom I also rarely write.
My mom is a narcissist. With a capital N.
I have spent a life in the shadow of her most beloved - herself. Her children, her husband - all played second fiddle to HER experiences, her opinions and her greater glory. She sets grand drama into play and then spins it all - hard - to her advantage. She is the great martyred mother, whose ungrateful children disrespect, abuse and abandon her. She accepts no responsibility for her part in any of the dramas she has created. She is a victim of them, you see.
It is generally useless to argue with this, as you can never win. This has led my to simply refuse to talk or engage with her in her presence. Which, I must admit, drives her crazy. She will up the ante until I engage. Like when she tried to wear a white dress to my wedding. And asked who was walking HER down the aisle. At which point I suggested she just wear her wedding dress and walk on my step father's other arm. Then I think I hung up the phone on her.
And I tried last night. Tried to withstand the baiting over dinner designed to draw me into this ridiculous rehashed argument about what a good mother she was to us.
It was when she asked me when I became such a pretentious snob that the dam gave way.
Not because I believe that to be untrue. I can be a hell of a pretentious snob. I have gotten to this point in my career and life BECAUSE I can be a gi-normous pretentious snob. As I have also been called whore, slut, bitch, and told that I was ruining her reputation by dating a black man ( I read this as nigger-lover, don't you?), the names don't affect me much.
No. It was my overwhelming need to serve this woman a dose of reality to her face.
My answer? I became a pretentious snob when I was forced to be the only adult in the house...say 1971 or so.
It was, in all, a foolish thing to get drawn into with her. It, as always, exhausts me.
But the funny thing is that I didn't feel any rush of adrenaline. I felt flat during this whole argument. I kept saying my truth...to be rebutted by being told that my childhood wasn't "so" bad. That I took my blog title from HER, since she always said that she was doing the best she could, that she never kicked me out of the house and withheld the last year of college tuition from me because I was dating Terrance....
Exasperated, I finally asked - "What do you want from me?". But I know what she wants and I can't give that to her. She wants me to tell her that our family is normal and all right. That she is/was a good mother and that none of the current events in her life, or the lives of her children have anything to do with her actions, words or omissions. She wants absolution, and I can offer her none.
She has reaped what she has sown. In her obsession with herself, she has put forth children who can not give her what she wants. We were too busy protecting and raising ourselves. She does not actually know any of the three people produced from her womb.
"Was I that bad a mother - was I abusive?" she shouted.
"No - I never said that. You were inattentive." I said.
My feral childhood filled with benign neglect came from life with an inattentive mother so consumed with herself that there was no authentic room for her children. We were props in the greater drama of her life.
Exit, stage left.