A blog in a blog? What? Yes… that’s exactly what you are getting from me this month. Sometimes you have to go backwards, in order to move forward. Long before I was writing for the Feels, I was still writing. Long before my mother made the choice to not have contact with me anymore, the train was barreling forward full steam towards a life-altering wreck. It leaves me wondering why I didn’t see it coming?
Back in early 2015, as I was sitting in my therapist’s office talking as usual. No…tearfully crying as usual, about my troubled relationship with my mother, he pointed out that we were just about out of time. But he assigned me homework. I had been telling him how angry my mom seemed lately. Not just at me, but at the world. I was in a place of pretty deep introspection and retrospection at the time and really digging into my heart, and the world and consciously trying to focus on the positive things around me. I still do. But when you do that, the negative that has always been there, that you walked by every day, all of a sudden screams at you with its ugliness. And it can leave you reeling.
I have always best expressed myself through pen and paper. My emotions spill much more honestly onto paper than they ever will coming directly from my brain to my voice. So my assignment? A first from him. A writing prompt. Yay! Easy!
“I want you to start with this: hearing her anger makes me…..”.
Oh. Hmmmmm. Ok. It is still writing. I can do that. No problem!
I spent the next few weeks painfully starting and stopping. Typing and deleting. Writing down a thought, crossing it out. This was a lot harder than I thought. I am an overachiever and when I write, I want it to be perfect. But digging deep and being real did not make for perfect writing. It was messy, and tearful, and ripped at my insides. I hated this assignment. Finally, under the gun, the night before my appointment, I just sat down and spilled. I sent it to him raw and unedited before I could stop and think about it. If I was going to do this, I had to do it “right”, not perfect. In this instance, there was a big difference between the two.
After over a year a half of no contact from my mother, here I am going backwards and reading what I wrote. And the writing was on the wall even then. I wish I had the power to erase pain. Hers and mine. But I don’t. Sometimes, you need to go back, to get a glimpse of why things happened the way they did. It offers no solutions, no miracles to give me my mom back. But it did allow me to understand it goes so much deeper than just me. It allows me to forgive myself just a little for feeling like everything is my fault. Pain can take a lifetime to show itself. Sometimes it trickles out slowly over many years. I am only in control of my own. I have to tell myself that every damn day.
Below is that original, raw, piece of me that I sent to my therapist years ago. It was the first of many writings about my relationship with mother as an adult. And it is probably the most insightful to me now. If you wish to read the follow up to this that landed on the Feels, you can find it here: https://www.ourdailyfeels.com/2018/11/28/easy-like-sunday-mourning/
You can definitely feel the patterns, as I revisit my past over and over searching for answers I may never have. Even today, I would love nothing more than to feel my mother hug me and tell me she loves me. It’s amazing how our hearts are willing to give in to so much pain in exchange for a single moment of love. I love you, Mom.
Hearing Her Anger
I avoid engagement with my mother. It is a conscious choice, and one I am vividly aware of every time I make it.
My entire life, wherever I was, no matter where I lived, or what I was doing, I called and spoke to my mother daily. There are very few times in my life I can recall this not being the case. Now, when I have to speak with her, I brace myself first and try to shield myself as best as possible.
Her words are more often than not, laced with judgement, anger, bitterness, not usually at me, but always present, whether it be the threats to call the cops on the neighbor’s mean and scary dog, or the number of unregistered vehicles parked on the street, the mere mention of someone’s name that she cannot stand to be in the same room with – or any number of things/people in the world that are wrong in her life or in this world.
When she curses and spits anger and hatred and speaks of how useless people are, and how she is going to do “this” or tell them “that” when she sees them, I silently sit and listen, because I do not comprehend. I try to remain still and silent to protect my energy from being depleted, my heart from absorbing the anger, and my mind from the ugliness of the words.
When it is directed at me, in judgement of how I spent my money, or something I did not do, or a choice I made for myself that she feels is wrong and/or stupid (one I hear often), or indirectly at me about my children and their behavior, even sometimes when she is right, I can not help but let it hit a little. It stabs me like knives all over my body and makes me want to cry.
I feel myself getting angrier for allowing myself to listen, but she is my mother. She has given up much of her life taking care of my children, and when I have fallen apart, taken care of me.
She was not always this way. While she is talking, I wonder what brought her here. Was it me? Was it my children? Was it years of allowing her to help me take care of my family? Does she resent me? My kids? The world?
My mother has always been the most giving woman I know. Growing up I cannot remember her ever being really angry at me, except a few times as a teenager when quite frankly, I deserved it. But even then, she would always calm. We could always come around and connect again; we could always make it work, and somehow make it right.
I wonder if, as she gets older, and I get more self contained, and my children need her less, she feels less useful? My mother needs to be needed like no one I have ever known. She will give and give and give, because not only does it help someone else, but deep inside, I believe she needs to do it to make herself feel whole and good. She cares for an elderly neighbor who eats dinner with us every day. She works on weekends caring for another elderly woman, and she does this with patience, kindness, and love. But somewhere along the way, in the past few years, I noticed a change in her. I wonder if she was always this way, or maybe I am just very different now that is seems so shockingly different to me.
Hearing her anger makes me want to move away, run away, and not let it infect me. I have spent so much time searching my soul and the world around me for beauty. Of course, I get angry. I am human. But I make it a choice to pause and reflect before I act or speak. I want to be angry sometimes. I want to scream and yell, and judge and complain, but I rarely do.
I try to stay focused on positive outcomes and use my anger productively in ways that heal the environment and those closest to me. But also, I feel as though I can not ever really be angry because I have to remain calm to counterbalance her levels of rage.
I feel smothered and suppressed in my own home. I feel like I am in a marriage that I can not get out of with someone who stopped loving me, and the world, somewhere along the way. I have worked so hard to face all of my own anger, and my own hurts, and heal them to the best of my ability, to forgive myself, and others for the things that bring me darkness, and it’s hard.
I know she loves me, and I know she loves my kids. But I think she does not realize the damage she is causing – the tornado of emotional response that happens in me, in my children, in those around her.
I hear all the time from women, how I help them, how I empower them to learn and to grow and to heal, but I cannot seem to do it in my own home. Not with my mother, or with my daughter, who seems to be following in her footsteps. It makes me so very sad. Of all of the women in the world who I want to help, the ones I love the most push me the farthest away. I am a stranger, a ghost in my own home. I try to come in and out as quietly as possible so not to disrupt the calm. I rarely speak, and when I do, it seems no one cares.
Hearing her anger, makes me feel broken and incomplete, and I want my mother back. Hearing her anger makes me angry and hurt, and I want my voice back. Hearing her anger, makes me nostalgic for when life was simple.
I am fearful for my future, because I feel pressed and stuck, unable to move forward or backward. Hearing her anger is the one thing in my life that freezes me where I stand, and I feel like a little girl with no voice, too afraid to move for fear of being hurt again.
Hearing her anger makes me both thankful that I don’t feel that way anymore, even though I could easily slip back into it. I lived most of my life angry at the world that had hurt me so much.
Hearing her anger, makes me angry at whatever causes her so much pain. Hearing her angry, makes me scared for her, for myself, and for my children. Hearing her anger, makes me question everything.
Joan Poirier is an Empath, a goddess, a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend. She is you, and she is me. Just a real woman, embracing her age and her wisdom, and not afraid of opening the dam and making some waves during her short time on the wild ride of life. She is on an ever-growing quest to live better, do better, be better and taking all the lumps that go with it.