Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Silent Treatment

Sunday was Day 7 of my mother not speaking to me. You can read how this all started in the eloquently titled: "Why My Mother Is Driving Me Bat S%#t Crazy."

I know exactly how this will play out because it will play out just how it has 1000 times before. She will have my Dad call (he did), then she will get on the phone (she did) and pretend to have a terrible migrane (It's awful! It hurts to blink!  I can't believe I'm even alive!) and then I will feel guilty for even thinking about wanting to have a conversation with her (I was) about why she hung up on me after I asked her to stop talking to me about my giant BIG BUTT (weight gain, but Big Butt is more colorful.) 

Over the years, we go round and round in these circles and what she doesn't understand is that, she is losing her daughter. I am exhausted, I am over it, I (sometimes) do not want to have a relationship with this person.

In therapy, I would say to the woman I was paying massive amounts of money to, that I wasn't sure what my mother could handle since her nervous breakdown. If I talked to her about how she made me feel, could I make her situation worse?

But now the bigger issue is, I'm sad that I may never have a relationship with her that resembles a mother/daughter relationship. It's because of the hot and then the cold. She loves me more than anything, she knows me better than anyone, I HAVE THE BEST MOM IN THE WORLD! I need it on a coffee mug and t-shirt, pronto!

Then the cold comes in, she ignores me, she says things to me to get me to be angry with my sisters so I will only love her, she has such amazing insight on EVERYONE (ugly gossip) yet cannot look at herself.

I'm (getting) over it.

My little sister told me two months ago she was over it. She couldn't stand to be screamed at and then have my mother in a pile of tears when E stopped coming around so much just so she wouldn't have to put up with such things. It scared me. I could see our family fracturing and I just wanted E to, "Please, please, don't be so hard on her. Just let it go!"

But the more we let it go, the more we are letting go of ourselves. The more we ignore, the more we are playing the game my Mom wants us to play.

My therapist used to say that when someone experiences a horrible trauma (for my mother that could be the death of her own mother at 19), they sometimes never emotional grow past that age. I see that with her. But worse, I see that behavior in me.

If I am mad, I will just freeze people out. I stop talking to people. I can disconnect and be done very, very fast. I am up and I am out. Only, I don't want to be that way anymore. I don't want people to be afraid of me and my reactions, like I am of her.

I'm over it.

I don't know the answer concerning my mother. My shrink used to say to me I need to "mourn" the idea of not having a normal relationship with her. I couldn't do that.  I could not give up.  What kind of person gives up on their mother?

I am very torn. Either I serve her or I serve me. I give her up or I give myself up. I don't know, I just don't know.


Anonymous said...

I just started reading your blog about a week ago and bookmarked it. I LOVE your writing...you have made me laugh and cry. You are an excellent writer. I look forward to your blog entries.

hope&laughter said...

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place or however that saying goes. Do you cut her out, that way the cycle can stop and life can go on. or do you keep tourturing yourself with this. I've heard that only crazy people and fools keep expecting different results from the same actions. What you think?

Jess said...

First of all, I want to congratulate you on the writer's strike ending!!!
I can relate to your situation...Personally, the best thing to do is to work on yourself first and take some time off from your relationship with her. That doesn't mean you have to be mean or disrespectful to her....just avoid any situations that would compromise the work you are doing for yourself. Then after you have had some space, start to work with her on the relationship between y'all.

Melly said...

If there is an possibility of talking this out with your mother, I would suggest it. If she usually interrupts and is unable to hear your message, try writing it down instead.

Write several drafts - one that including your sarcasm and humor, and then work it down to something she'll be able to read without getting all defensive.

Point out the patterns that are happening, and how they make you feel. Explain what you want, and how you want your relationship with her to function, rather than dysfunction. Emphasize that you love her - if that's true.

Also explain what you won't participate in. Such as - I won't stay on the phone for you to yell at me. I won't play games that involve Dad. Etc. Explain how this change will benefit both of you.

The most important part of this is that you have to stick to it.

I don't think you should give up on your mother - but I don't think you have to participate in her pathology either. You can be the healthy half. You can teach her how to best interact with you. At first she'll probably act like a toddler, but if you stay firm (and fair) and don't play into her manipulations, she WILL learn.

It's not an easy thing to do - but it will make a big difference. In YOUR life. Also, not accepting this kind of behavior from your Mom means you'll stop accepting this kind of behavior from yourself. No more freezing people out. You already know how horrible that feels.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I can completely relate! My Mother is (for a lack of better words) flat out CRAZY!! We go around and around all the time. She screams, she crys, then I'm her best friend and while I am her best friend, my brothers just happen to be the worst guys ever. But it seems at the times when one of my brothers is her "best friend", I am the absolute worst daughter in the world. It is soooo mentally exhausting. I believe that my crazy mother in particular does it as some f'd up way to maintain a relationship with me. Because if she can't have the "Child/daughter" relationship where I rely on her daily, then she doesn't know how to have a relationship. So she sort of thinks that I don't need her anymore. My mother actually went to the extent of saying that her children (who are by the way grown and don't live with her anymore) stressed her out so badly that is caused her to produce diabetes. She has always been a little crazy, but seems to have gotten much worse as the years go by. But, my point throughout this long explanation is that yes, you should let go. I did it, and in doing so have managed to concentrate a little more on me. I know that sounds so selfish, but sometimes you have to be a little selfish. It took me a really long time to do it because growing up, my Mother was all I had so I sort of felt guilty, like I owed her or something. But when you do finally let go, it really is like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. Sometimes, I find myself slowly getting back into that rut with her, so it is constant work. But, what relationship isn't. OK I rambled! Sorry! It does feel good to get things out sometimes though! I love this blog!!


ferretspaz27 said...

Dear Adventure Grrl,
I am sorry that you are going through this with your mom. I don't think there is any such thing as a healthy mother and daughter relationship. I know that you are looking to your mom for love, support and acceptance. Your mom uses her diet obsession as her way of coping with all of her feelings. Since you are the only one aware of the problem and you don't want her to have another nervous breakdown you might need to let her behave the way she has to behave to cope with life. If she has to give you the virtues of I can't believe it is not butter, you might have to let her. You have the power to know that you cannot change her. I recently had a problem and I called my mom several times. Everytime I called her she told me a spanish phrase that she had learned recently. I never got to talk to her about my problem, but I learned alot of spanish phrases. I was frustrated and a little angry. I know I can't make her be there for me. I am still there for her because I am aware of the situation. I don't know if it helps but when you have a problem you can write it in your blog and we will read it. We will offer you our support and advice. If our advice isn't good at least you know that you have our support.

adventure grrl said...

I just wanted to say HI you guys, I really want to take the time to address your comments, since they mean so much to me - for some reason, I can't on my own computer so I am camped out in the dark at a friend's office. But I will soon. xo

tryitagain said...

Wow - this blog totally hit home with me. My brother and I have been estranged from our mother for the last two years. It wasn't our choice, she just decided (once again) she wasn't talking to us anymore. Usually, one of us or the other caves in and calls her, pleads with her and we are all once again, a happy family. Well, not this time. My brother and I both called it quits at the same time. Finally at the ages of 30 and 32, we learned that our mother was hurtful, poisonous and playing head games that neither of us had time to play anymore. She had a knack of making you feel worse about yourself than when first you called her by pointing out every flaw and mistake made by you in the last ten years. When I was having a bad day, sometimes I just needed to hear her to say, "Every thing's gonna work its self out, hon. Hang in there." She was never capable of such words.

Not a day goes by I don't think of her - after all, she is my mother - but I am thankful to be rid of the destructive comments and pain she constantly shoveled into our lives. Be strong - speak your mind - she'll either take it or leave it.

Anonymous said...

your writing inspires me! but on a purely personal level... i remember reading a quote from sherry lansing that when her mother died, it was very freeing, that she could let go of the ties that held her back. i say living or dead, let it go. because this is YOUR LIFE. and only you can live it and make it your own and be positive and achieve all you can. ONLY YOU! and you seem to be on a path. i commend you. and i hope to follow in your footsteps.

adventure grrl said...

Hope&Laughter said: "I've heard that only crazy people and fools keep expecting different results from the same actions." Yes, yes, yes. My shrink always said that to me. And yet I cannot get out of this vicious cycle. I think I might have to hit more of a bottom before I can separate. I'm just not there yet.

Jess, Great advice. I'm just trying to keep things easy-breezy right now.

Melly, I want you to be my personal life coach. I'm going to write that letter. I think I'm going to wait for the next situation that happens to use it. But I think it's important, for me, not to just keep playing her game of blowing things off when she hurts me.

Laura, thanks for the support. And the stroy about Spanish is priceless. Thank God we have each other and a sense of humor through it all!

Tryitagain, welcome girl! I'm sorry for what your brother and you went through. But it sounds like you were both courageous in knowing how to separate and take care of you. Thanks for your advice.

AJ said...

I gave up on my mom. It saved our relationship. I no longer expected her to be a person she wasn't, and I look elsewhere for motherly support.

It helps that I don't expect my friends to understand why I write her off so completely - I just say "You weren't there." And the friends who were there/have dealt with her do understand.

For years, that was my paternal grandmother. Now, it's my godmother. Nothing official like "Will you be my mom?" of course, I just dial my godmother instead of my mother when I need *that* person.

Anonymous said...

for me, its my father who I had to disconnect with...an angry man who could not stop being the boss of every situation, a control freak, type A personality who used to terrorize us with his hate and anger...I had to cut off my mother at the same time, for if he found out I was talking to her behind his back, he'd go ballistic..its been 4 years, and I don't have the nightmares anymore, waking up screaming at him in my dreams...he died recently, and I was glad to hear it...my shrink also wants me to 'mourn' the loss of my father, but I did that over 20 years ago, when I realized back then that he'd never be the father I wanted/needed...taking time for yourself, to heal yourself, to stay away from the craziness, that's not a bad thing...that's your survival mode kicking in...don't fight it...get strong, then when you're ready, see how you feel about contacting your mom again...listen to your shrink, they know of what they speak...

past-continuous said...

I just started reading your blog today and I've been glued to my computer. I decided this was the perfect post to actually comment on because of the parallels of our lives.
I too have had this inner struggle with when I should/could give up on expecting my mother to be a mother. While my mother has not admitted her psychological issues we all sit around waiting on egg shells for the light bulb to go off in her head, as it had in our heads years ago. I'm no psychologist but I'm positive my mother is manic and bi-polar.
The phone conversations about weight and your life and how one should control the other are so unfortunately familiar to me I could cry for you. To my mother weight equates to success followed by an education followed by lots of material nonsense. When I didnt go to law school directly after graduating college in 3 years I was disowned until my fiance put a rock on my finger which caught my mother's fancy and then even more so when I went back to school. I didn't achieve full acceptance though until I myself lost 25 pounds. My mother is a "recovering" bulimic who now weighs way over 250 pounds and yet she loves to let me know how lucky and I am to have found a man to love me for more than my chunky appearance and she is positive the only reason we are finally getting hitched this weekend is due to my rapid weight loss, though I could still "afford to lose another 15-20"
So to you I say bravo for the years of patience and loyalty you have shown to your mother. Ive recently patted myself on the back for coming to peace with my inner struggle and I love that you do the same.
On a much lighter note, keep on blogging!


Anonymous said...

Try to walk away. My mother gave me the silent treatment most of my childhood. She was such a b**** that the thought of having to say a word to her made me sick to my stomach. I went to school everyday in the same unwashed ragged clothes with nothing to eat. I was banished from the dinner table for most of my childhood. I ate when I could steal food from the kitchen. I was not allowed to use the bathroom so I went outside just like the dog. I stole underwear from the back of her drawer because she wouldn't buy me any. When I left for college so did not even say good bye or ask where I was going. She just gave me a look full of pure hate.

Over the years I have tried to make peace with her. She is civel to me when only she needs something from me. Otherwise it is the silent treatment interrupted by cruel comments. Her siblings have noticed now because she doesn't try to hide it anymore. If I do call her and try to be nice she verbally beats me up. She blames for every wrong in the world. It is my fault that athletes make too much money. I am to blame for poverty. I am to blame for politicians she disagrees with. She is absolutely nuts. Us kids were raised Catholic and she is anti-Catholic. She actually told me once that Bill Gates should buy Vatican City. It was supposed to be hurtful but it was so goofy I just laughed.

Ever since I was a child, she has told people that I am difficult and a mean person. I am in my mid 40s and have recently begin to talk about what she has done.

She is now repeating the pattern and has not said a word to her oldest grandchild in over five years. She recognizes one sister and her children with a birthday card or Christmas greetings. The rest of us aren't even worth a birthday card.

I have learned that some people are toxic and will never change.
Run don't walk away from her. You can't change her.

There is some justice in the world. My mother is now a bitter old lady whose eyesight is failing her and she is alone. I am the only child who lives close to her and I don't call her an offer to help.