Not even Mommie Dearest...
October 8, 2008 7:51 PM Subscribe
Parents splitting up after 35 years -- maybe temporarily, but I'm betting on the long-term. They're both crazy, but my mom is C-R-A-Z-Y, and her poisonous attitude has now doomed this relationship for good. Our own relationship has always been strained, but how do I even begin to relate to her now?
posted by Madamina to Human Relations (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Background: I am in my late 20s and see my parents about once a week. I'll be in town for at least six more months as I finish grad school. My parents have had various problems for a long time, especially since my brother and I moved out, and now my mom has announced that they are "taking a vacation from each other." She will be staying in the family home, because she "knows how everything works" and she works out of the home; my dad will be renting a room a few blocks away.
My dad is hardly perfect, but he has tried so hard to do things on her terms and ask what he can do to make things better. My mom's M.O., however, is to have absolutely no idea what she wants and then, when presented with something in exasperation, yell, "OH, ANYTHING BUT THAT!"
She is your basic passive-aggressive responsible first child Midwesterner. She has this habit of getting an idea in her head and, when things don't go according to plan, she gives up and shuts down. To give you an idea of our relationship, she once told me that she felt like a failure because things did not go the way she wanted, primarily because I had free will. (????) I know she was reflecting on herself, but I am an opera singing gameshow champion who will soon graduate from a master's program completely free of debts, police records and drug problems. Hel-LO.
She is just SO un-self-aware, and it has ruined our relationship. She is absolutely obsessed with propriety and the way things should be, so for example she manhandles me in public if I am bouncing my legs. But she thinks nothing about her own propriety, to the point of telling people she barely knows about how I supposedly spent my high school summers having sex in my boyfriend's dirty basement. No boundaries, no respect, nothing.
So she told me about the separation by saying that, "oh, it's no big deal" and then, as I sat there slackjawed, jumping straight into some breezy little anecdote about something funny that happened AS SHE LOOKED FOR A NEW HOME FOR MY DAD. And that's not a big deal? This is very typical. Throughout my life, I've been taught that my emotions are completely backwards from what they should be -- both from what she thinks they should be and what everyone else feels.
Hell, I've been upset with our relationship since I can remember. We're talking power struggles since I was 3. But what is usually a politely concealed simmer is making me want to napalm her house. Her behavior has made her waste money, fill the house with junk, and now has taken the last shred of stability away from my dad. I'm not even mad at them for separating; I've been separated myself, so I know it could go either way. But I am so very, very angry with her for treating this -- outwardly, at least -- as an opportunity to lie around with a margarita.
Where do I even begin?
(Yes, I've been in therapy for a long time, and have made some progress, and am staying as far away from the situation as I can.)