Thursday, February 25, 2010

More on Crying...

How do I make my mother cry?

I don't. I don't ever remember my mother crying at anything I said or did.

She has cried when talking to me about her other children. These tears are shed in the context of how mean they have been to her, and how they've done her wrong, according to her versions.

She also used to cry a lot when talking about my deceased father. But again, that was always in the context of how much crap she had to put up with, and the final insult: his suicide, which put her in the position of being abandoned. She remains very indignant to this day that he selfishly left her, left this life and her.

She teared up when I had to put my cat down. I thought that was sweet.

And she also cries a bit when missing other when my children were really small, and we had to send them out the door and into their father's car for their visitation time with him.

This is not to say we don't have arguments. We do. Lots of them. I have a lot of bitter memories of the fighting down through the years. Fighting (never physically, just vicious verbal assaults) was a way of life in my family. As a child, I used to hide, cowering in my room as the screaming and swearing went on, sometimes for hours. Unusual, in that my parents and sibling and their spouses had no addiction issues, which often fuel rage and fighting. No addictions, that is, except to fighting, I guess.

As I got older, I was targeted by both my mother and siblings. Incredibly intense and vicious verbal attacks would come completely out-of-the-blue. I used to be taken by surprise - ambushed - and would end up sobbing, broken-hearted.

By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I began to fight back. It wasn't pleasant, but inevitable, as I matured and was able to control the shocked hurt and tears, and try to defend myself.

I eventually handled the unsolvable dysfunction by distancing myself from all of them.

My mother moving in with us here in Kookytown has brought the closest contact I've had with any of them for many a year. And so the fighting has started again. It's pretty minor compared to how it used to be. But it still hurts.

And notably, my mother never cries when we argue. I don't any more either; I'm way beyond that. But I sure used to. I've shed gallons of tears after attacks from her venomous tongue. I still get hurt feelings when she says horrid things to me. But I don't cry anymore.

Our baggage makes our present relationship quite difficult at times. Anthony wonders why I get annoyed with her. He also says I should just suck it up and ignore anything she may say or do that bothers me.

I've really tried. But I can't do it all the time. So we still argue.

Anthony doesn't have any inkling of what I've seen and heard in my family relationships. If he did, he might understand a bit better how my mother can say seemingly innocent things, which act like hot-iron triggers to me. Her little comments and actions are laden with meaning for me, way beyond the obvious.

Still, he says, "Why does it bother you? She's old."

Indeed, why? I've tried to figure it out. The best answer I can come up with is that even old people can say nasty things. And those things hurt, just like a knife cutting. And the pain makes me lash out.

Now you may wonder at all this. Because this blog has described my mother as a very old, almost feeble woman who can barely remember how to get out of bed.

That is an accurate description, for the most part. But she has good days, and bad, and that's what dementia is like.

On good days, she's quite sharp. She looks fresh (as fresh as you can at 90), chats happily about the day's events, helps set the table. She is usually pleasant to my kids.

On bad days, she looks bad. Her face sags, she forgets things said one minute ago to her, she snarls at Kathleen (which is a hot trigger for me, of course), and sometimes sits in the dark, head in hands, blathering about this and that.

And so it goes.

When she and I argue, even a little bit, it affects my marriage. Even if Anthony doesn't say a word, only hears from afar, it bothers him. His opinion of me has changed, he tells me, concern wrinkling his brow. I'm not the same person I used to be, he warns.

It is the ultimate irony that I was the only person in the world that my mother had left to turn to, the only person who would help her in any way. And in helping her, I may have harmed myself, badly.

Now, I've become her enemy (again). In feeling sorry for her and opening up my home to her, because I wanted to "do the right thing," a can of worms has been opened that's quite ugly.

And impossible to close.

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