The bad seed

17 Aug

My mother and I don’t have a close relationship. It’s not a bad relationship – it’s just not a superclose relationship. This, apparently, makes me a bad daughter.

Every once in a while, my mother decides to air these concerns under the guise of “trying to help” me. Monday night was another example. She was concerned for me because I spend “an inordinate amount” of time by myself when I’m home and thus must be “avoiding” her. I have tried to point out to her that by the time I get home at the end of the day, it’s usually about 9:30pm and I’ve been gone since 6:30am. I just like to eat dinner and chill by myself from the day. She thinks instead that I should tell her everything that happened to me that day and how I feel because “mothers and daughters should be best friends”.

What? Where the hell does that come from? She wasn’t best friends with her mother. And she and I haven’t been close since I was about 9. It’s not like this is a new behavior. Since about 5th grade, I haven’t used her as a sounding board for processing what’s happening in my life. It became quite clear to me early on that she does not understand me or my life. I’m not sure why she still, 30 years later, thinks there’s a problem that we’re not best friends.

And it always, always comes back at me as there is something wrong with me because I’m not close to her, and that if I’m not close to her, I must not be close to anyone. And it’s unhealthy to not have close friends. I’ve told her that I have lots of close friends that I talk to about life, but she doesn’t believe me. “What kind of daughter doesn’t talk to her mom about things in her life?” Um, lots of daughters?

I think a lot of the problem is that my two sisters are both married with kids and talk to my mom a lot. So they are behaving the ways daughters should. They’re following the script my mom has. Me, I’m divorced, was living on my own and alone until recently, am not afraid of being on my own, am a reflective introvert for the most part, am friends with lots of guys, and don’t have kids. Plus, I divorced someone that she loved. When I told her we were divorcing, she told me that it was the biggest mistake of my life and I would live to regret it. Yeah, that makes me want to talk to her more about my feelings and things in my life.

I wish I could get her to understand that it’s not a bad relationship, it’s just not close (to which she replies “nowhere near close”) and THAT’S OK. I love her and I appreciate everything she’s done for me. Of course I have issues with how I was raised – who doesn’t? But I know she did the best she could. And yes, I’ve said all this to her. Last night she told me that it is very difficult for her to accept that there is such a problem with one of her children that she can’t be close to me.

How does it help to tell me that you think there is “such a problem” with me? I think I’m doing pretty well, thank you. I certainly have issues, but god knows I’m working on them. Arggh, it’s very frustrating to know that how I’m living my life and who I am, although good for me, causes her so much pain because it’s not following her script.

I try very hard to fly below the radar with her. I try to make small talk with her so she feels like I’m talking to her. I help out around the house. But I try not to do anything that will raise a flag with her – at least I try not to let her know about it. Example: my tattoos. She’s seen one, because it’s on my arm and I had to wear a sleeveless dress for a dance event. But she doesn’t know about the other three nor have I ever talk to her about any of them.

I wish she could just accept our relationship for what it is and be OK with it. I worry sometimes that she’ll die thinking I’m a bad daughter. And I really don’t think I am. I just have my own script to follow, one that I’m writing myself. I get input on it from my friends, but I need to write it all by myself. I followed a script my whole life until about 5 years ago, and it wasn’t allowing me to be me.

Wow, I’ve never really thought about it like that: I’m writing my own script. How exciting! I just wish my mother would be OK with that and see the value in my script.

“Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change.”

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