My first blog entry on the subject of Healing (and lets be honest, its mostly healing from 5-decades with Mom) was about experiencing the Apex of how bad a day can get with her, and how confusing it is when My intention was nothing like how the day went—with her. In it I mentioned a technique recommended by therapists, that sadly did not work for me when the paper I wrote her hurtful words on WOULDN’T BURN! So – I will try this again, but a bit differently.
Here are a few of my Mom’s favorite words and sayings.
“I don’t want to be an imposition.” I’ve never in my life heard another human being use the word “imposition”. I have no idea where she picked it up, but I imagine it’s something one of her abusive relatives said to her. This factored into our navigations a lot, like on MOTHER’S DAY when she wouldn’t let me buy her brunch. It was very awkward and embarrassing not only for me, but for the waiter who hadn’t a clue how to handle us.
“Well, Shit.” This one is funny. It must be a Southern thing since Leslie Jordan also was a fan of that phrase. Works in a lot of places!
“You should”. As in telling me how whatever it is I am doing isn’t the way SHE would do it.
“Most people” Another way of letting me know whatever I’m doing is out of acceptance to the rest of the world – and she should know! I had to ask her repeatedly, “Have you done a mass audience poll to get these facts?” No? Then stop saying it.
“Belligerent” Another word I never heard another human say. But it was a favorite part of her ‘rounds.
“I just wish you would GROW UP”
“Why can’t you BE NORMAL”
"You are an UNGRATEFUL daughter."
"What's WRONG with YOU?"
"You sound HATEFUL." This one really threw me off. What did I do that was so horrible? I called her on the phone first thing just after I woke up and was having my coffee. I guess I had “trucker voice” that day, but to her it sounded “hateful”. She kept me confused and off-balance on a daily basis.
"You have a CHIP on your shoulder."
I wonder why? [rolls eyes and shakes head]
"You act like you are mad at the world."
"You are RUINING my marriage."
"You are too sensitive."
"You take things the wrong way."
"Why can't you just let it go/roll off you, etc."
And if she couldn’t slander me, she tried slandering my pets:
"I don't want to eat your food because there might be a cat hair in it."
Besides being hurtful, she contradicted herself on this one when she would go to my cousin’s house and BEG their dog to SIT IN HER LAP, and with the dog running all through the kitchen had no issue whatsoever about eating their food. She would praise them all and glow about how great a cook he was. Until one day ……. All this time I thought her slander was only directed at me. But after their divorce, we were still asked over to the house (now the wife’s house) and we ate a glorious meal, that she seemed to devour with glee. Then we got in the car for me to drive her home and before we even got off their driveway she attacked his wife’s cooking! I couldn't believe it. This woman graciously invited you into her home – COOKED FOR YOU – and you slander her on her own property, you couldn’t even wait until we got home??? Unreal.
"No man will want you with all those cats."
Ah, the MEN slanders! Exactly what a young woman who HAS had ‘man problems’ needs to hear from her Mommie.
"If you would cut your hair maybe you could find a man."
"I hope you can meet a man that won't BEAT you."
And what she would say publicly to people:
"There will never be a man good enough for her. She wants George Clooney."
I guess she was embarrassed that I never “found a man”. I didn’t do what “most people” do; leave home at 18 for university; meet someone; marry after college; set up a house; have 2 children, a boy and a girl. So my failing to ‘get a man’ was answered by her idea that none of them were good enough for me. Well, she wasn’t half-wrong! -LOL. I went into the dating pool and came out with a very good joke, and it would make a great Country song: “It’s like fishin’ for bass in a catfish pond”!!!
Food slanders anyone???
"All coffee tastes the same."
This was during a drive to the Mall with both her and my Aunt (her sister). My life had been so boring that the only exciting thing I could think of to add to their conversations was of a new coffee I had tried. Actually, I was very proud of myself. I had joined a friend and his family in Louisville for a New Year’s Day lunch at a Vietnamese café where they served a coffee I had never seen before. It was delicious, so I asked them to write it down knowing I’d never remember or be able to pronounce it correctly. “Trung Nguyen Creative 1 Culi Robusta”. Yep, glad that’s on paper now! So I went on the hunt and found it! Sadly, THAT was my BIG NEWS of the New Year and the only thing I had to share with ‘the group’ of Mom and Aunt Jo, so I did. I sort of was expecting some enthusiasm from at least ONE of them, but no. All Mom did was burst my balloon with “All coffee tastes the same.” She didn’t add “to me”, or “to me, but I’m glad you found one you like”. No here comes the blanket statement that covers the entire world, and of course, SHE’S RIGHT. Well, Ma. Actually YOU AREN’T RIGHT. In fact “most” coffee tastes so different that there are coffee sommeliers that taste the differences just like in wine! And I could have gone on about how coffee DOES differ all over the world, but I wasn’t going to make that argument with her that day. EXHAUSTING.
“WHY are you shaking the milk? Don’t shake my milk.”
“ugh”. exasperated sigh.
The answer to your question, Mother, is that I drink plant milk and it SAYS ON THE BOTTLE to shake well. So when I come to your house and drink your crappy WalMart 2% cow’s milk, I still shake it in case there is separation. What I never got to ask her is “WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT TO YOU THAT YOU MUST INSIST I STOP???” Just another thing to pick on. It never ends.
“YOU RUINED MY DOOR”
This little ditty was on Christmas Eve, when I, instead of staying at work to sell Gift Certificates, I did as my Mother commanded and came to her home so we could be together the night before Christmas. Was I welcomed with “My Beloved Daughter, so glad you put aside your needs for mine and came to my home!” No. First thing, she’s at me. Mind you she smoked so her house reeked of that smell. So I go to my old room down the hall and put my luggage into the closet hopefully to hide my belongings from her tar and nicotine sludge (it didn’t work). It’s a bi-fold door. It has always come off the railings, as bi-fold doors will do. Mine at home does the same thing. This one in particular has done this for years. Nothing new to anyone who lived there. But for this day, this Christmas Eve day, it wasn’t a simple act of putting the door back on it’s rail, no, it was cause for RUINING her house: A DESTRUCTION OF EPIC PROPORTIONS, right? Not exactly the warm Hallmark welcome, is it.
"Why don't you want to be a part of this family?"
We covered this one last time!
This will need to be it’s own Blog entry! I did nothing but try ‘to be a part of this family’--HER family. A family I later realized never wanted me in it.
“Family” was her sister and her sister’s family: husband, son, and later wife and two kids.
MY FAMILY was My Mommie and my dear Granny. That’s it. The rest was a fabrication of my mother’s imagination. And one I’m still trying to heal from. But, I think I’m getting better at it. Sent the ghosts back to where they came from. Ta.
I wish these memories would go away. I wish I could fill my head and heart ONLY of ‘the good times’ – and there were good times, but there were so many more chaotic ones that the good ones get buried under the weight.
I’ll be in the kitchen – making coffee – and will get a flash, a memory of some ‘trauma’ (ok, a strong word. But in the house of bricks that each comment makes, they do add up to ‘trauma’), something she said that either hurt my “too sensitive” feelings, or was completely out of place, bursting my joy balloon, or just spun me off my center, keeping me unbalanced. Just the act of making coffee brings up TWO such memories. Now, I try to laugh at them. What else can I do? I’ve spent so much time ON HER--trying to understand her better so I could heal from it.
My equestrian friend does a ‘meditation’ every year where she sets one word for that year’s goals. Maybe one year it’s LEARNING so she is reminded to keep learning, studying, or taking examples from her life as a learning moments. Each year is a different word. So for 2022 my word is APPLAUSE. I use it in my healing process like this: When I am in my kitchen, Mom long since deceased, and one of her derogatory comments flashes through my soul again, I stop and give myself applause for whatever it was she was trying to deflate.
“I AM happy for myself for being introduced to a NEW taste in coffee. What a fun new adventure this is. Coffees from around the world, all available to me in my kitchen! And I LIKE shaking my milk! For one, it says to shake well on the bottle, and two, it creates a lovely foam like I’m having a European cappuccino! Yay for me and my exploratory nature! Keep seeking new things and enjoy them!!!”
Yeah, it’s A LOT of work creating the words they “should” of said. But someone’s gotta do it!
That current of criticism runs deep.
NOVEMBER 26, 2022
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