August 17, 2002
My mother is a very Controlling person. And for years I thought
that I was the only victim of her rage. Throughout my childhood I grew
up with, "I sometimes think that about jumping out the window, but I
don't do it because of you." "You're the only thing that I have. No
one will ever love you the way that I do." "I hope you have fourteen
kids and they're all just like you!" "I pray that God will heal you."
"You're like a flame, and I'm a moth. Every time I get near you, you
burn me." "You have to forgive me. I forgive you for everything that
you do to me. Forgiveness is the scent a violet leaves on the sole of
the foot that stepped on it." (Yes, that's exactly what she said! I
could never make something like that up!) "You don't appreciate
anything that I do for you!"
This along with a barrage of constant niggling negative comments
that persistently wore me away. I thought that it would get better
once I moved away, but the constant barrage just turned into
intensified A-bombs hurled over phone or e-mail lines at random
intervals, and foul derision for my entire life whenever she visited.
I once asked her what her idea of Unconditional Love was. She
replied that Unconditional Love was like the love the dog had for her.
"He listens to everything and takes everything I say and it doesn't
bother him. He loves me anyway."
"Mom, I'm not a dog."
Last year I confronted my mother with her abusive behavior towards
me. It was the hardest fight I ever had to do, because I was literally
terrified of her. Even though I was living eight hundred miles away I
still felt that she could still come and claim me anytime she wished.
The argument that ensued was dirty and vicious. I kept every e-mail
that she sent, and re-reading them even a year later puts my stomach
in a knot. I would try to ask a question, "Why did you say that to me?
That really hurt my feelings." She would counter with, "You're making
mountains out of molehills. Lighten up. You take everything so
seriously. You hurt me. Is it against your religion to care about
people?" ad nauseum.
After a full month of fighting over phone and e-mail, she
threatened to leave. I wished her luck. We didn't speak at all for
nearly four months. But she came crawling back with apologies. When
she talked dirty to me, I either ignored her or agreed with her.
I think she figured out that I had the power and ability to never
speak to her again, and it terrified her. I didn't come back, she came
to me. After all that she said, she came back. I realized that she
couldn't hurt me, she couldn't claim me, and that every bargain and
deal I'd made in childhood was off. She had to grow up, accept who I
was as myself, or she could drive herself crazy and leave me. Which
wasn't such a bad option!
I had spent eight months in therapy learning to stand on my own two
feet and not allow myself to be bullied or intimidated by her. And she
was playing by my new rules. It was an uneasy truce that had come with
During the argument, my mother claimed that everyone else in the
family was scared of me. No one in the family wanted anything to do
with me anymore. I was too scary for them. From my vantage point, I
thought that everyone else did indeed have a good relationship with
her. They seemed to love her. My mother said that Aunt #2's voice was
the only warm voice she heard. I loved my family dearly, and I missed
my Aunts and cousins. I wanted desperately to explain to them the
abuse that I had put up with for years and why I was doing what I knew
I had to do. Thinking that they wouldn't understand, and not wanting
to destroy a seemingly good relationship with them, I stayed away. As
much as I loved them, I felt it was for the best.
Last week I received an odd e-mail from Aunt #2. She had spent the
weekend with my mother and the grandparents at their house. She said
that the experience had left her so emotionally drained she broke down
and cried on the kitchen table. Mom had made nothing but negative
comments and harsh demands on them and Aunt #2 broke down. When Mom
found her crying on the table, she snapped, "Why in the hell are you
crying like one of your damn kids?" Aunt #2 said to me that she wasn't
going to tolerate the behavior anymore, and that she knew that Mom's
behavior had affected our relationship. I told her everything, and she
was speechless. "I don't know how you lived with her."
I sent Aunt #2 a letter, detailing further what had happened during
those months. We vowed to be closer. I'm not the only one. Aunt #2
said that she felt bullied by mom for years, but never said anything
because we were all trying to make her happy. I told her that I'd
learned that you can't make people happy at the expense of yourself.
"I love my mother. I hate her behavior. When I realized that it makes
her feel good to bully me, I knew that I couldn't make her happy."
Aunt #2 agreed.
We've taken a new turn in a road I thought I'd all ready passed
through. And this time I've got some hands to hold. I'm filled with a
new sense of validation and love. We agreed that we should encourage
her to seek help, to prevent her from spreading her vitriol on us
further. And I have my family back.
Thanks for listening, Thanks for
The Shetland Pony