My Mother

Posted on April 10, 2015

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We all have a ‘mother story’. Here’s mine.

My heart’s pounding. She’s shouting at me. Screaming actually. Accusing me of shouting at her. I wasn’t. My voice might have raised out of anxiety, and she gets on my nerves so much it’s sometimes hard to hide the frustration at constantly being spoken to like this. But I wasn’t shouting.

I ask her if we can talk. I say it calmly. It’s 10 minutes later and i’m in my room, pacing. If we don’t speak about this and clear the air i’m in danger of punching a wall. I’m getting to the point where I’m scared about how this is making me feel.

And I believe it’s important to let her know why we’re mis communicating. She shouts at me, that she’s not interested. ‘I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!’ she spits in my face, and walks off. My heart races again.

This is the way it constantly goes. Why?

She has created a narrative about me that feeds her taunts. I’m always making mistakes, she screams. You cooked something in the microwave in tin foil! I did not. And I prove it from the facebook post I wrote that she thinks is where I admitted to putting tin foil in the microwave. She slams the computer down and says ‘I’M NOT INTERESTED OKAY?’

Our conversations go round and round like this. She thinks i’ve done X or Y. Sometimes it’s founded in truth. But its never anything worth getting so worked up about. It’s silly stuff, that normal people do. Losing your keys. Accidentally forgetting to sweep the floor. Or saying you’ll sweep the floor, and then within 10minutes you haven’t done it yet, which isn’t good enough by her standards. You know, paying a bill a few days late – a recent one. We spent half an hour screaming the house down around that one.

Totally unnecessary.

She only knows about these things of course, because at the moment i’m living with her and Dad in their in their house in the middle of nowhere in nowheresville.

She screams, she shouts, she goes mad. She accuses me of everything under the sun and more. I can’t be trusted, I always do silly things, i’m forgetful, I’m stupid, I do stupid things. It’s been like this for years now, aggressive taunts flavoured with 0-90miles per hour anger management issues based on very indescribable and hard to make sense of foundations. Where it comes from, no one knows. Dad sits there and shuffles in his seat awkwardly, whistling a tune to break the silence.

I rage.

Internally of course. Chest tightens. I flare up. I will argue back and say ‘you have to stop this! this is ridiculous!’ and we all go round and round saying the same old thing every time like we’re trapped on a 1990s meri-go-round of disfunctionality.

I will defend myself too. I’ll get pissed off sometimes and shout back and tell her in no uncertain terms that she’s being crazy, and disrespectful. That it hurts. I have to. It pours out of me, it’s unstoppable. And she now thinks i’m a cry-baby. That i’m ‘too sensitive’. So if I try to talk to her to say that this isn’t on, she won’t have that conversation or she’ll just use that as another chance to feed her own narrative.

Other times I try to sit there and take it and say nothing, but to be honest when the narrative is so wrong and so hard to fathom where it comes from, verbal lashings so regular, it takes a stone to sit there, unemotional, and in silence.

And i’m no stone.

Plus, you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. I’ve tried it all.

The silent approach: [Her] What you gonna do, sit there in silence and give me the silent treatment now? You’re a damn fool!

The pragmatic approach: [Me, calmly] Mum, I really don’t think we should talk about this now – it’s not worth getting upset over. [Her – red faced and spitting] I’m not upset! You’re the one shouting at me! 

The lighthearted approach: [Me, laughing] I know I must seem a bit forgetful sometimes Mum, but I’m not an idiot. Listen, let’s just stop talking like this its not worth it. [Mum, getting more angry] SHUT UP! Don’t you start with your nonsense! You think you’re so clever!

Of course, she’s paranoid she’s a nightmare (only she’d never admit she actually is). So there are extreme times of paranoia sprinkled in amongst daily life with Mum and Dad. She recently got obsessed over why my brother hasn’t introduced his girlfriend to the family yet. It’s making me feel like he’s embaressed of me or something? She’ll cry. And then she’ll go on and on and on about it until she’s reassured that’s not the case.

And there of course the pleasant times. The days when we’re laughing and joking about stuff. But her annoyances and grievances and unnecessary worries and concerns will – and do, regularly: like every hour – creep in – which can be anything from stuff like a new Airbnb guest who has made a request for my spare room in London: You have to be careful! I don’t feel good about this. What if they’re a terrorist?! (and the subsequent argument that ensue, when I say ‘don’t be so ridiculous Mum’ and then i’m accused of suggesting I KNOW BEST) versus the other constant, nagging, telling me what to do every 5 seconds moments of pain.

Earlier today I said I need to be more mobile, that i’m restricted to their house so its hard. And I told them I’m thinking of buying a dirt cheap car. Something local, a little runner. At first she’s hesitant. But I thought you had no money. True. I don’t. But I have some savings. Enough to buy a cheap little car. Which would stop me from going slowly insane. Seems like you can’t put a price on that to me. And she understands, she’s going along with it. She starts saying how she can help me find out and she sounds excited. But then she ruins it and says But you better listen to us – unlike last time, when we told you that car was gonna be trouble, but you didn’t listen did you? And what happened? It turned out to be crap.

The truth behind that story is that I took my parents along to view this car I’d found, and they gave me the green light. And when I bought it and took it for a check up, and it turned out to need a few hundred quids work done to it (not the worst thing in the world, but equally a surprise), she never let me live that one down. It was MY fault. Apparently she’d told me not to buy it. Which is not the case in the slightest.

Now our arguments revolve around the fact that she thinks I forget ‘the truth’ and that I twist what has happened in the past to serve me. When it’s actually the other way around!

She talks to my Dad like this too. She is always telling him what to do, berating him for being a ‘goddamn bloody fool!’ if he so much as opens/says/looks at/moves toward the wrong thing, and it’s constant and relentless and never ever changes.

And we all get accused constantly of the ones being in the wrong, and then accused of the ones trying to ‘blame her’ for whatever it is in her head that she thinks someone or something has done wrong. Just because we try to explain that it’s ‘not what she thinks it is’.

Because she never understands what we’re staying. She just hears what she wants to hear, her own brain tells this story that we’re all attacking her all the time. So she’s constantly on the attack. Like a dog.

It’s exhausting.

She’s not diagnosed with anything either. She’s not bi-polar, BPD (borderline personality disorder) or anything else that might provide an explanation for her anger and fear which translates into frequent outbursts of unnecessary anger and seeming hatred and quick fire aggression and verbal abuse.

And the worst thing? You can’t talk to her about it.

And a lot the time too, she feels guilty and then starts trying to make amends by offering me a piece of cake, a cup of tea or some ‘support’ around the thing we started arguing about in the first place. And when I politely decline, she gets in a huff.

I’m angry right now of course so I am probably sounding harsh, given she is my Mum and I love her dearly (through gritted teeth).

And of course i’m grateful for the roof over my head and for my parents generosity, but my hearts still pounding and this feels raw, the constant attacks like this. It’s exhausting. And I don’t know what to do.

Does anyone else know what this feels like?

I’m 35 years old. I run my own company. I have a mortgage. I’m a pretty high functioning, sensible adult, very capable of looking after myself. I travel round the world refrequently, I go to fairly high risk places sometimes, and I always return unscathed. And I get berated for losing my keys and treated like a buffoon. Instead of supported for all the great, wonderful, fantastic things I do in my life.

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Posted in: The Truth