Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another mother

Have you ever known anyone who always tries to present a falsified/better image? This person is so caught up in maintaining this unrealistic image. Ultimately, you would respect the person more if the person was just more authentic and not so caught up in being "perfect."

For me that person is my mom. I suppose it would be easier if I was the only recipient. Unfortunately, she's like that to everyone. She is perfect, the rest of the world is very flawed. The rest of the world makes stupid decisions.

There's that people in glass houses saying that I want to tell her, but I know I would be subject to death if I even alluded to her not being perfect.

Nothing specific precipitated this post; I've been feeling this way for decades. In the back of my mind, I had hoped things with her would change once I became a mother. She might let her guard down at least once and have a real conversation.

I haven't ever had what I would call a real conversation with my mother. By a real conversation, I mean something like a blog entry (I know it's one-sided, but humor me here) that involves talking about what you're thinking and feeling. I'm not one to voice my thoughts very well, so instead I do tend to blog. But in the right environment I do talk about things with people I know and respect. I'm talking about getting to the blog level of discussion. As in this entry where I say I've never had a real conversation with my mother. I wish I could voice that concern to her….without her going apeshit.

I was an only child. I didn't envy friends with siblings. My dad wasn't around. I didn't envy kids with dads who were around (although I'm appreciative that my daughter's dad IS around). But I did envy those who could really talk with a parent, most of the time their mothers. I envied being able to have a real conversation, with someone who would listen and give you advice if needed or a hug if needed.

I didn’t have that.

It's a peculiar construct, I realize this now. Mothers are supposed to give you hugs and gentle words of advice and support and all those things that are at the very essence of motherhood. I didn't have that.

I'm not coming from a place of anger. My mom is odd, and as I proceed on my own path of motherhood, I'm realizing more and more how odd she actually is. I'd say she has Asperger's plus a few personality disorders (borderline, maybe a light version of bipolar).

So much of what she does and says revolves around maintaining a picture of perfection, particularly in being orderly and scholarly. Nothing bad that happens is ever her fault and nor does she contribute to it in any way. There is zero ownership of the bad and 100% ownership of the good.

A friend I knew gave me this button: "Neurotics build castles in the sky. Psychotics live in them." Sometimes I think my mom lives in this fantasy world that she built, and it's impenetrable from the outside world.

So what do my mom and I talk about? Not much. I don't trust her. And she's only focused on facts from me. There's no support from her, and I'm surrounded by constantly feeling like a failure even though in actuality I should be very proud of myself.

For instance, growing up I was expected to have impeccable grades. I did have great grades, for the most part--an endless string of A's and raves on my report card for citizenship, being a hard worker, thoughtful, etc. But when I got an A- or a B+, she would make a huge deal that would basically say I was headed to a life of homelessness because I'm "lazy." I never bought her arguments, and it's hard to argue with crazy. I was more of the type to walk away and retreat into my room. And she was the type to continue on by opening the door every few minutes, yelling an insult and slamming the door.

I couldn't wait to leave the house. Aside from a few other personal and financial reasons, that was the reason I started college at 15. The more quickly I could amass college credits, the sooner I could get the hell out. I LOVED not living with my mother anymore once I transferred to a four-year university at 17. I didn't miss her mood swings, her insecurity disguised by emotional abuse, her weird sense of self. There have been other indications, like her employment history is somewhat speckled, and my aunt recently told me that she didn't do well on her current performance review.

My college report cards were sent to her house instead of the dorm. One day I had to compile all of the classes I had taken for one reason or another, and I was going through the big filing cabinet of important papers to collect all these report cards.

I have to admit that I was interested in finding more about my mom. She was always so quick to evaluate me, but she was always so secretive when the shoe was on the other foot. I wanted to know more about her. I remember finding her college transcript in that filing cabinet. It was littered with C's, D's, B's and a token A here and there.

My mom's GPA sucked, and she was on me about my 3.92 GPA being awful??!  When I looked at that alphabet soup, I knew there had to be something going on behind the scenes. My mom wasn't that bad of a student, was she? Maybe she didn't adjust well to college. Maybe it was a boy. Was that when her mom was sick? I gave her the benefit of the doubt that something went on for those few years that caused the poor grades.

But it's not like I could ever bring that (or anything else) up with her. She would accuse me of spying despite our records being in file folders right next to each other. She wouldn't be honest with me or herself. She would shut down.  

Another question that makes her shut down: "What attracted you to my dad?" I just want to hear something for goodness sakes!  Was it his smile? Was it how he told her a joke? Maybe I want to see her giggle and tell me a story about the day they met. It's not like I'm asking how to get into Fort Knox. You fell in love with him for some reason. Yeah, it didn't end well. Some of my relationships didn't end well either. But I can still do that little sigh and remember all those tiny details from 20 years ago even with the ones that didn't end well. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to conclude from her refusal to answer, but what I come away with is that she doesn't want to be reminded of something that didn't end well.

There are so many instances and examples of why I have never had a real conversation with my mother. I feel like I have to compensate for the weirdness with my mom by overtalking with my daughter. I probably overshare. I've written journals and letters to her that I want to give her on her 18th birthday to explain myself and how I'm the crazy mother she ended up with. I don't want to pretend to be perfect with her. I want her to feel like she can talk with me. I don't have answers most of the time, but maybe I can give her a perspective that helps in some way.

I do envy those with a mother that they can actually talk with about things. Over the years, that void has somewhat been filled--mostly with my husband and various friends and sometimes just blogging, yet I don't think it's the same as it would be with an emotionally present mother.