You know that song ‘Ex-factor’ by Lauryn Hill? Those words hardly ever seem to relate to a man. No, for me that song evokes my relationship with my mother.
“It could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard. Loving you is like a battle; and we both end up with scars. Tell me who I have to be, to gain some reciprocity. See no one loves you more than me, and no one ever will.”
There are only a few songs that do that, but they’re the ones that make me cry.
On Monday I think it was, eyaniev and I were old-talking; we had been having such a fun time just catching up and liming, hanging out, y’know?
My mother calls up, near hysterical. I won’t go into what she was hysterical about, but suffice it to say it wasn’t really a problem; she was making a problem out of nothing. Nothing I said could calm her down, and she hung on me and (thankfully) did not call back.
I wonder what she would do if I simply stopped being that accessible; if I stopped talking to her and telling her about my little ups and downs.
Wouldn’t that just send her in a tizzy? I don’t think she’d know what to do with herself.
Except it put a pall on my mood, and eyaniev had to talk me out of it.
Right now, I’m just so tired of it; of her and her histrionics. I’m tired of constantly having to defend myself against imagined crimes, and paying for her resentments, fears and insecurities.
To be honest, I don’t think I’d mind not talking to her for a good long time; more, don’t really want to see her either, because inevitably, there will be some form of drama.
I love my mother, I really do; and I know she loves me, but she’s got so much shit she has to deal with, and she doesn’t really deal with shit well.
I just wish she’d stop calling me and passing on her frustrations and resentments on to me.
My birthday is in a couple weeks. I’ll be thirty-one. You know how people tell you that your mother knows you better than anyone? I have long believed that if that were true, my mother wouldn’t be so unneccesarily harsh in her criticisms of me.
Truth is, I’m just tired. I am bone tired, soul tired of battling my mother. I no longer have any inclination to please her; to make any attempt to make her happy. There’s nothing I can do to help her, but I simply do not want to be around her most of the time.
It’s no coincidence that when my mother announced she was planning to move back to Barbados from Cayman, that I packed my stuff and left and went to live in Trinidad. When she expressed a desire to move to Trinidad, as both my brother and myself were there, I put the Atlantic between us. I simply do not want to be on the same land mass as my mother–at least not for more than a few weeks at a time.
This is bad. I know it’s bad. I’ve tried everything I could, been and done as much as I could to gain her favour, her respect, but you know, it doesn’t seem to be working and at my age, I’ve just grown weary of the effort.
I don’t even have wishes for things to change, I just want to be free of the whole damn thing…. but it’s my mother, so I’ll never be completely free.
I don’t want to demonise her, but that line reverberates and speaks my thoughts on the matter: “No matter how I think we grow, you always seem to let me know, it ain’t working…. it ain’t working; And when I try to walk away, you hurt yourself to make me stay. This is crazy….”
My mother lobs words like grenades, completely disregarding the damage that she does.
I have long learned not to respond in kind. Not to get so angry I find myself hissing and spitting and saying things I regret. My mother almost never regrets. Occasionally she apologises, but she says the same shit over and over and over, until now, after years and years of hearing it, I know what she’s going to say before she says it, and now, I simply have no time to hear it. So in the end, the apologies are meaningless.
This is my point: I no longer have the time to give my mother the kind of mental and emotional focus she seems to need. I think she needs a man.
I am empathetic to her situation. Her two children are now in their 30s, she has a house she worked her fingers to the bone to acquire, extend and make into a place she is comfortable with, but she lives there alone. She has divorced her family (most of them), quite rightly so, but this further escalates her sense of isolation. This is why she calls my brother and myself two, three times a week; not to quarell or dis everytime, but often enough she does. Most of the time, it’s coming out of left field too. Many times the histrionics is just her need to dump, to exorcise her frustrations on someone else, and we’re the only people she has that she can do that with.
Of course, I have to assume responsibillity for my own part in this. I have done things I regret, I have said things I regret where my mother is concerned. Not stuff I did as a child (although she is very, very, very quick on the draw to through shit I did as a teenager back in my pace, 15, 16 years after the fact), no stuff I did as an adult that I bitterly regret, because it’s just added fuel to the fires in which her resentment, bitterness and insecurities bubble and boil.
The only thing I can say in my defense is that I was immature, and when you do things, make mistakes, you never really know what it’s going to cost you in the long run.
Thing is this, I can never depend on my mother. Never have been, and now, after so many years and age beginning to pile on to me, I don’t expect to be able to. What’s more, I don’t think I want to be in that kind of position. Because to accept help or assistance from my mother is to surrender a pound of flesh; and you know, it’s just too much now. I no longer have flesh to give; nor the sense of martyrdom required for it.
With my mother, she finds a way, when you’re helpless and in need of help, to offer to help. In desperation the help is accepted, and she shows up be it days or weeks (never months) to claim said pound of flesh. It’s a pattern as predictable as sunrise and sunset. One of my mistakes, was falling for it. Yet another was repeating it.
I am continually disappointed in her, as she is with me. I’ve had to learn to live with her disappointment, because I know I will never please her. However, in the last couple of years I’ve seen her make remarkable progress, but then she backslides into old behavioral patterns. I can’t be too judgemental, because it happens to everyone, including my mother and myself as well.
I am completely tired of the fussing and the fighting and I know within myself it’s far easier for me to accept my mother the way she is, than for her to accept me the way I am. I am also tired of resisting her attempts to mould and bend me into a shape she finds pleasing. As much respect as I have shown to her as my mother, she has never respected me as a woman. And a woman I am.
Guess I’m just going to try and see if I can not answer her calls, go somewhere other than Barbados on holiday. Avoidance is not a solution, but it will send her a message.
I’ve never tried to avoid her before, and I think this is why it’s so easy for her to dump on me. I’ve never just simply not been there, not been around. In fact–if you want to talk about karmic patterns–I’ve provided her with ample targets to take shots at. She’s gotten used to me not responding to her dramas, and being there for her to cut into deep. I have become a piece of wood she knows will not stand up and knock her down, no matter how many arrows she buries in my bark. By now, she is well aware that I wll not rear up and throw back as much fire as she can stand, to eat up all the air she uses to fa my internal flame, the way I did when I was much younger.
The only thing I won’t let her do, is cut down my tree altogether, y’know? I have been trying to grow into the human being I want to be, to find calm and serenity in my existence. I go through rough patches, but I don’t lose it altogether, and more, I don’t dump my shit on