I’ve always been the type of person to avoid confrontation. For me, it is more than just unpleasant–it is emotionally fueled, painful, and anxiety provoking.
It has always been easier…better…to just be the peacemaker. The nurturer.
I was cultivated into this role from an early age. The first person that I tried to avoid confrontation with is a person that I still try to avoid confrontation with: my mother.
My mother has always been the type of person to see life from her own perspective. Everything has been about her. If I was upset with her, she would some how switch track the situation and turn it on me–Why don’t I love her? Why can’t she ever do anything right with me?
Clearly, it was all my fault.
I found myself abandoning my own feelings and feeling worse.
Feeling bad for her.
So, rather than continue to explain my own viewpoint and communicate my needs, from early on I simply avoided confrontation when I could.
I became the one who listened to my mother. The “good” daughter…because she could complain and complain about everyone else and I would listen and try to make her feel better. I tried to avoid stirring the pot after learning that, every time I did so, I would get burned.
When I started therapy, I began to recognize how unhealthy my relationship with my mother was.
I can now see her manipulation and passive aggressive tendencies as they are occurring–or even before they happen.
Our relationship, right now, is strained. She knows I have put up lots of boundaries. I am no longer her sounding board. I no longer let her emotionally bully me into doing things that I don’t want to do (if I can avoid it.).
We seem to be in a cycle. It starts with everything feeling somewhat “normal” and okay. I am busy. I don’t reach out and contact her, but she tries to be understanding and pass it off as normal busy-ness. Then, as time goes on, she starts to get upset, but doesn’t say anything. It is obvious in sighs and glances. Then comes the passive aggressive phase: Oh, you and grandma had dinner? You know I like to have dinner, too. It sure would be nice to be invited sometime. I don’t know what I ever did that none of my children want to spend time with me.
Then, the pissed off stage.
Then, the apologetic stage.
And it starts again.
It is, at least, predictable.
But, it is frustrating.
Many, many people have asked me: Why do you still deal with her? Why haven’t you gone no-contact and cut her off yet?
The honest answer? I don’t know.
I don’t know why I can’t seem to fathom this idea.
Mothers and daughters are intricately connected. It is so complicated. My children are her grandchildren.
I want a mom I can talk to about my problems. Who I can laugh with. Who I can hug. Who I can cry with. Yet, repeatedly, she has shown me she cannot be that mom.
I cannot trust her with secrets. I cannot trust her with my emotions.
It is dangerous and she has shown me, too many times, that she will use these things against me if it suits her.
My biggest problem? Getting rid of this want is so difficult.
Cognitively, I can sit here and tell you that I don’t need a relationship from her. I don’t. Despite all of my fears going into this process, I have learned that I have other people I can turn to. It looks different, but these other people mean the world to me–I trust them, which is something I have never been able to fully do with my own mom.
Emotionally, however? Giving up on the idea that she can change is so, so hard.
Moreover, that cycle we’re in? It screws with my head.
Yes, the cycle is predictable. But, somehow, when she is in that apologetic, nice stage, she can seem so genuine. It starts to make me feel guilty.
I start to think, Maybe she isn’t so bad. I should call her. I should check on her. I should be the “good” daughter.
And I do.
Then, I’m filled with regret.
Because we move onto the next part of the cycle. And, again, I am finding myself searching for the right responses as she accuses me of not loving her.
Love? It has always been her weapon. It is not unconditional.
It is full of so many conditions that I have never been able to get it right.
Because there is no right. At least…not from me.