When I was young me and my mama had beef
August 16, 2008 9:09 AM Subscribe
How do I let go of the past?
posted by prefpara to Human Relations (23 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
When I was growing up, my mom and I fought constantly. Sometimes, the fights were very bitter, and we would end up not speaking for months. During the worst fights, she said things to me that I have not forgiven. I definitely behaved badly, but I have been working on letting go of my guilt on that score, which has really helped us have a better relationship now that I am an adult and out of the house. However, I think I have reached a plateau. We don't fight, and we generally get along when we're together, but I can't get myself to include her in my life in any way. I want to have a good relationship with her, but I don't know what to do to get there.
I'm starting to think that at some point, I will have to talk to her about these issues. This is complicated by the fact that any time my childhood comes up, she starts crying and saying that she was a bad mother, which I resent and see as a manipulative move meant to make me feel sorry for her and reassure her, and to take away my ability to confront her with my feelings. Also, it works. I can't very well say, yes, you were a bad mother, and what are we going to do about it, when she just cries and generally acts wounded and makes me feel like a villain. Or maybe I should, but currently can't. In part, this is because I really don't know what I would want out of the conversation. I would tell her that she did x, y, and z wrong, she would cry, and then what? I can't visualize a way for the conversation to help or end constructively.
I really want to work on this on my own before I start working on it with her. Right now, despite the fact that she hasn't said a cross word to me in years, I am still incapable of opening up to her.
If you have had experience with a similar situation, please let me know if you think there are any ways of thinking about this that could be useful, or if you can suggest a way to talk to her, or really any advice that you have. I would like it if I didn't need to keep a wall between me and my mom. I just don't know how to unbuild it.
Finally, I very much appreciate all of your advice and help. However, I am hoping for answers that contain advice other than "seek therapy."