A few months ago, at the urging of my therapist, I clicked "accept" to the facebook friend request of my mother.
My therapist reasoned that I could always unfriend her if she acted "Inappropriately". I was on the fence about this. On one hand, I really felt kind of badly about my radio silence stance. My mom is 60, and as my sister has moved away, she has no one nearby.
I still don't think of my my as "old", but she is getting old -er. In a discussion earlier in the year, Terrance asked me if I would regret not making some kind of peace with her in the event that she died.
I was, of course, torn. Of COURSE I would regret it. But what can you do? And at what cost? I know that nothing I say to her will resonate. I know how the game ends.
My brother has remained most secure in his choice to have no contact. My brother is emotionally built in a very similar way to me. We batten down our hatches, hunker down and wait for the storm to blow over.
This wasn't always true, of course. As a baby and toddler, Donnie cried a lot. I was there. I remember. I suspect I also cried a lot as a baby and toddler. But you learn. You learn to stop crying and not react, because crying gets you nowhere and reacting only seems to feed the flames.
Yesterday, when the storm blew my way on facebook it wasn't exactly shocking. I mean, these have been happening all my life...just usually over the phone or in other less public venues like our house....or restaurants.
My mother was also raging at my sister, via text and phone calls. As the only child who is still speaking to her, my mother unleashes on Jessie in a manner that I know all too well. Jessie still reacts, you see. Jessie will still cry and get upset. For that is exactly what our mother wants. Someone to involve in her tumult. Seeing her children angry, crying, upset? I believe it makes her feel good, feel happy. For that attention is better than no attention. No attention is being exiled, and for the narcissist exile is death.
So I did what I do when young children in my classroom behave in this manner. A warning; Then the logical consequences of your actions.
I warned my mother. Allowed her to rage and insult and write terrible hurtful, untrue and intentionally provocative things about me. Then I unfriended her.
Later,on the phone with my siblings ( you've got to love a sibling in Massachusetts, a sibling in Montreal and a sibling in Connecticut all discussing their mother in Vermont)...we very calmly told our sister that if our mother continued to threaten to hang herself in the basement, that our/her only recourse was to call the police and tell them that we had a person threatening to commit suicide. That was, obviously, her next move. To threaten to kill herself, because no one would care. And don't bother to bury her, just cremate her because we didn't care and would want the cheapest way to just be rid of her. She texted/called with this for over two hours with my sister.
Do I believe that my mother was serious? I don't know. I would tend to say No...But, I can't be sure and it wasn't a chance I wanted to take, particularly not with my sister feeling like she was on the "hook" for the well being of our mother. My sister warned our mother she was going to have to do this if my mother continued to threaten suicide.
My mother continued to threaten. And my sister followed through. A fact over which I am immensely proud. Not because I have some malicious desire to wound my mother...but because it shows that my sister is getting healthy and standing up for her right to be free from the shadow of Our mother's ego.
You have to understand that when you grow up continually being bullied, being threatened, both covertly and overtly, you develop an instinct to soothe the person. Calm them down by any means necessary. Of course, the punishment is coming. Oh yes. It is coming. But not right now. And never in Public.
Later, we all received voice mails telling us how she didn't appreciate "someone" calling the police on her. That if we were trying to get her fired from her job she would give us her work number directly and we could call and complain about her there since we were collectively trying to ruin her life. She was just "a little upset" after all.
In this message, there lay a lifetime worth of threats. Don't tell. Don't involve outsiders. Don't dismiss my threats. Don't threaten my work/job by your behavior. Don't believe that what you see is real. Bad Daughters, Bad Son. Ungrateful. Selfish. Mean. Liars.
The best thing to come from all of this? My sister has told her no more. No contact until she gets treatment and comes to terms with her own actions and decisions. Jessie, who is finishing her Masters degree in forensic science and then, most likely, heading to medical school to be a crazy criminal CSI pathologist, has arrived at a stage in her life when she must start defining a healthy space for HER.
Sadly - for all three of her children - this space has no room for our mother.