Addressing the past

So my dad and I continued on our quest to improve our relationship and bring it to a healthier place this week. The unit was on “clean fighting.” Sadly I could check off just about everything on the dirty fighting list; denial, avoidance, walking away, sarcasm, yelling, ignoring, and more. We didn’t do the activity because neither of us could come up with something to “fight” about.

When I woke up this morning, I realized I did think of something that we could discuss in this context of “clean fighting.” The way he treated me way back in college. We briefly talked about it once a couple of years ago, but there was no acknowledgement on his part about the horrible and hurtful things he said. I would like him to do that this time around. I want to be able to tell him everything about how much her hurt me, how he seemed more focused on maintaining his reputation instead of his relationship with me. Looking around now, none of the people he was worried about are even part of his life now. But I am. And he was willing to sacrifice me. I need to be able to say that to him. I need him to understand how much he hurt me and how tormenting me even just a few years ago with “that time you really broke my heart,” was super hurtful. Like my life decisions had anything to do with him and his life. Like I set out to hurt him intentionally by living my best life.

Apparently because we are doing this program and podcasting sometimes, my mom has become jealous of the relationship that we are building. Wtf, Mom. Like WTF?? Why would you not want me to get past all of the issues we had for so many years? You sat there watching us fight all those years and told me to stop giving him such a hard time; that I was just breaking his heart by being so difficult. And now you are upset because he and I are working through that? My whole life she would tell me things like she was used to me pushing her away and that it was no big deal if I hurt her, just that he loved me so much so I shouldn’t hurt him. How the hell am I supposed to be normal when they pit me against each other or push me at the other one? Why can’t I just develop these relationships in my own way at my own pace? They both chose to emotionally abuse and neglect me when I was a kid. And then they tried to make me feel guilty when I went off on my own and REFUSED to look back. This dynamic sucks and I don’t want to be part of it.

It’s not even the issues I have with my mom that hold me back from sharing with her and building a better relationship. It’s that she gets offended so easily by ANYTHING. I once said they could visit any time, but make sure to give me plenty of notice and don’t just drop in. Ummmm…first of all, that was a joke because we live about 900 miles apart. No one is dropping in from 900 miles away. And secondly, why would that be offensive? If it’s a boundary that I want to be in place, they should respect that and not be offended by it. Why is it that I can’t joke with them or even set reasonable boundaries? But that offended my mom so much that she swore she wouldn’t visit us here until she was formally invited. Then there was the time when the third kid was born and they were coming to help out with the older two while I was in the hospital. They were supposed to come for like 5 days to include one night after I got home from the hospital. Right before they left to drive down, they told me they were cutting their visit short by one day, the ONLY day I would’ve had to spend with them after being discharged from the hospital. They said they were still willing to come help with the older boys, but only for the exact number of days we would need while I was in the hospital. I called them minimalists who only do the minimum amount of anything. Now, yes, that was a low blow, but I was hurt. My mom went back home and emptied her house of almost everything to get back at me. She really showed me, huh? Giving away all of her stuff to prove to me that she was a minimalist? How does that even make sense? I can see now though, that I failed to express how hurt I was to lose that time with them. Maybe if I could’ve told them that instead of name calling, they would’ve stayed.

But this woman, I just can’t win. She won’t share anything. She won’t open up and tell me how she feels unless it’s anger. She’s so passive aggressive that you never know what set her off. There have been so many times throughout the years that I really tried with her. And then I think things are great. Randomly she pulls away and I’m standing there, looking at the empty spot where she was by my side, wondering what exactly I did wrong and how I could’ve prevented her abandoning me…again.

My dad said maybe my sharing would help her open up. So my question to myself is can I handle that another time? Can I handle opening up to her, maybe letting her in with no guarantee that she’s going to open up to me in return? I can’t clear old hurts with her because she just shuts down when she feels like she’s being criticized. We once had an issue with the second boy and the doctor was evaluating cystic fibrosis as an option. I hadn’t ever had the genetic testing for it and he didn’t have any real symptoms, but one test for it was inconclusive. And when I told her, she lost her shit on me and said I was blaming her for all of my genetic faults. And then she refused to talk to me for days. I DID NOT EVEN SAY ANYTHING that would make it sound like I blamed her. I just told her what had happened at the first doctor’s appointment and the follow-up testing, and my concerns that somehow I missed something by not doing genetic testing. No part of that has anything to do with her, except that we share some genes. Why flip out over something that was already stressing me out? Why make my huge health scare with my kid even worse by making it all about you?

So I ask myself once more….can I do this again? Do I WANT to do this again? Is it worth the effort if it goes well? Would the effort be wasted if it doesn’t go well? I am not sure. I guess I need to think deeply about it for awhile and then decide.

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