Yesterday it hit. The thing that’s been peering through windows, waiting for its moment to strike – the metaphorical body blow from my mother.
My mother is a hard person to get close to. She is like a hazelnut you try time and time again to crack, but you constantly fail because you just cannot find that point of weakness. She binds herself tightly in self-righteousness that is stronger than any armour made by man.
She and my sister, Shelley, had a falling out over twenty years ago that resulted in Shelley moving to America. She has never returned. She and my Mum communicate sporadically, tiptoeing around one another like strangers, experts in discussing only neutral subjects. Shelley believes our mother’s heart is locked away in a box and that the key has been lost.
I believe she does have a heart but she is afraid to show it. Her reasons for doing so are hard to fathom.
I could tell you why we fought. I could tell you why it’s been brewing for so long. I could tell you of the resentments that simmer, left on the hot plate for too long, but at my age I should be able to rise above all that petty stuff. So I will.
I love my mother. Of course. But I am weary of her mindgames. It’s taken me my whole life to realise that she’s been playing them and that I’ve been an unwitting participant.
She’s afraid. Terrified for her youngest daughter. Yes, my youngest sister has addiction problems. She has a mental illness. She is married to a man who abuses her. I’m afraid too but I’m trying not to let my fear ruin my relationship with everyone else I know. I’m trying not to cast blame where blame should not be cast.
It’s funny what fear does. It’s like a bird without feathers being forced to fly. It sits at the base of your throat, resting like an invisible hand. It is easier to let living with fear become a habit than to banish it for good. It is easier to keep a song on continuous play than it is to change the CD.
My mother said something the other day that intrigued me and scared me at the same time –
Your sister is still a little girl.
My sister is 36 years old.
Life is full of uncertainty. Deep down we all know that. Somehow we learn to live with it. Bad things happen to good people every day. We have all seen it. Yet hope continues to prevail.
I wish my mother could see that. I wish she could see that sometimes the fear of what could happen is more destructive than what actually happens. I wish there were no molehills in her mountains.
She jabbed at me yesterday. She pounded me. I am a disappointment to her. My husband is a loser and has no money. My son will never amount to anything. A barrage of words that should have ripped me to shreds but instead forced me to mentally step back. Away from her.
How is it that my mother can have the courage to attack me with such force but continually shy away from telling my sister the truth about her life?
There comes a time when weariness sets in. When you realise that some relationships are damaging and need to be avoided for a while. It’s sad. But knowing what needs to be done is good. It’s better than listening to the same old song over and over again.