Kill Them With Kindness

I have another joint session with my mother and our psychologist tomorrow and I am dreading it, mostly because I have no idea what is going to happen and if any old wounds will be reopened that will upset my mom even more and for an even longer period of time. I can barely stand her being so cold and distant right now, I don’t know how much longer I will be able to handle it before I will be forced to numb all my feelings completely.

The assignment was to write down what we feel the other person is still resentful of towards us. I am not sure how long this list will be but I am going to do a bullet pointed list, with brief explanations if need be.

Okay, so here goes…….

It is my understandable belief that my mother resents me for:

  1. Not establishing myself in my career after I graduated from such an expensive University as Loyola, that she paid for.
  2. Getting pregnant before I was well established with a career and able to be 100% independent.
  3. Settling and having children with someone like Mike, who is obviously a bit rough around the edges.
  4. Not being as fearless and open to new experiences and obstacles in life when they present themselves.
  5. Not being smarter, more of a go getter…..etc. Basically not being someone more like her.
  6. Being my father’s daughter and not Yuri’s, since Yuri is more successful and his daughter is better off in life right now then I am. It just seems like his daughter has personality traits that I completely lack.
  7. Holding her back from being able to “live” her life as she wants to live it.
  8. Not taking what she says as law 100% of the time and questioning her ways of thinking versus mine.

I know that I will probably be able to think of more as time goes on but those are the ones that stand out to me in my mind right now. My whole life I grew up not feeling good enough, mostly because my mother is in a class of human being that is almost all her own. She came here with me from another country and established herself while raising and supporting me without much help whatsoever. I often look at her in awe because I am certain I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I was in her place. She just has these qualities of a go-getter and of someone who needs to keep going, needs to keep moving forward and doesn’t need to take many breaks at all or maybe she just refuses to take any. And as amazing as that is, it sounds exhausting to me just thinking about it.

On the other hand, I have always judged myself for lacking in qualities where she so obviously excels. I often wish I would have been Yuri’s daughter or at least would have taken more traits from her and less from my father. It seems that the only trait I have taken from her is her sensitivity and heightened emotional state. In the past I have seen myself in a completely negative light and thought that something was wrong with me because I saw myself with these qualities: moodiness, pessimism, laziness, stupidity, unattractiveness….the list goes on and on. I knew I could never live up to her expectations because I was so different from her and I wished so badly to be more like her.

It’s taken me time but I don’t see myself all bad anymore. Sure, I might not be like my mother in many ways but that’s okay because I am my own person and I have many amazing qualities regardless. Weather or not she resents me for all of the things I have listed above, I don’t know but what I do know is that just because I am not more like my mom doesn’t mean I am a bad person and it doesn’t mean that I am a bad mother, daughter, fiancé…..etc. And after this long I have finally realized that my mom isn’t perfect either and she has many qualities that are negative as well. I just wish she didn’t put me in the same box that to her equals perfect or better even. I think it’s another example of how rigid her worldview is and how she shouldn’t compare apples to oranges.

I definitely resent her for some things as well but I am ready to let go of those negative feelings so that they stop holding me down and preventing me from living my life to the fullest, whatever that word means to me. I am curious what her answer to this homework assignment will be though because we have not budged since the initial fight. She has left and hasn’t been home for over a day now and is being very immature in her text message replies. It’s okay though because I am being the bigger person and am replying with nothing but kindness and love. What is that saying? “Kill them with kindness”, definitely very relevant in this specific situation and I know that eventually it will start to rub off. That and maybe she’ll realize that there’s a bigger picture here, instead of focusing narrowly on this particular situation, seeing how much more is at stake here and what really matters and what doesn’t. There are grandchildren involved now for Christ’s sake! Nothing much can compare to that in terms of level of importance. Perhaps she needs some time to understand that.

Shades of Grey

Just had a rather unproductive session with my mom and our psychologist. I’m really not sure how we got to such a bad place that even one session can’t solve much at all. And to me, even having a joint session with a third party present to help see the situation from an unbiased view is kind of a lose-lose situation. Mostly because my mother has said in the past that I am an expert liar and that I even found a way to manipulate Lisa. Honestly, to my mom everything is a conspiracy against her. But that’s okay because I know myself enough now to know that the only thing that’s different is that I am actually comfortable in my own skin and I have confidence in myself. Things that my mother used to say to me don’t hurt or touch me much anymore. The only thing that sometimes gets to me is when she tells me that I am a bad mother which is ridiculous because I am not a “bad” mother, I am just an overwhelmed mother most of the time and need to catch up on some sleep.

Part of our problem is that she sees the world in black and white and I see many shades of gray. I mean, after seeing how far we have come as human beings and what kind of things now exist in the world, how can you say that there’s only one way to look and see something? My whole entire life she ridiculed me for looking at things differently and whenever I have tried to communicate my stance on something, she would start rolling her eyes and calling me stubborn, stupid or just a little kid who wants to argue facts. For this reason she never listened to me and once when we had a joint session with Lisa in the past, I was literally choking on my own words because I was not used to being listened to or to even have a chance to communicate what I was feeling/thinking…etc. How messed up is that? I’m pretty sure something like that is enough to mess someone up pretty bad for the rest of their life.

In this instance, we were still nowhere in agreement as to what exactly happened to the car and “why” it broke so badly in the first place. It was a lot of “she said”, “he said” and pointing the finger. And here is a perfect instance of seeing a lot of shades of gray. Why? Because we all have different perspections of the same event. We weren’t all there when she was driving it, so who knows, she could have not been paying attention herself, could have been preoccupied with something else…..etc. And who’s to say then who is right and who is wrong? It’s all perception and I’m just glad that our psychologist understood me finally. I can finally think more logically and remove the emotional part of myself in certain situations I could never do that in before. And that is a pretty amazing accomplishment.

It’s also astounding because we just came back from taking Izzy to gymnastics class and this is the first time the car has been driven since it was supposedly fixed, and guess what? The engine light is back on which brings up the question- were the mechanics even component to begin with or did they just not care? I don’t know, my mom said that she went in and made sure to tell them to fix everything so that her grandchildren can be safe in this “run down” car, so then why is the engine light back on? She was also so smug during the session when she told Lisa that the mechanics where she took the car said that the car breaking down had nothing to do with 4-wheel drive and that a certain part of it snapped because it hit a bump and could have happened when anybody was driving it. Hmmmm, that’s odd since that very part only exists to help run the 4-wheel drive. Man, I don’t want to bring it up and cause even more conflict but I might bring it up in our next session with Lisa if I get the chance.

Also during our session Lisa made it a point to tell us not to point fingers and make accusations at each other. And as much as I totally agree with that, she used the example of when I tell my mom that she needs help because she’s mentally unstable. Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t say that directly to her face and I only ever do it very rarely when she’s already driven me to the point of no return but it’s true. And you know what I hate more? I hate the fact that she can’t admit that her bipolar is actually worse than she says it really is. On more than one occasion she told me that this is how normal parents act and that it’s nothing so out there that I am so messed up and broken because of it and that she needs as much help as I tell her she does. This makes me scratch my head because parents don’t talk like she does to their children, no matter what their children say or do, at least not the unabusive ones.

In the past she used to go off on me and say crazy things and then she would apologize but that’s gotten less and less. Sure, there are moments when she still does that but they are very few. And from all of that, how can someone say that something is either black or it’s white, that there’s no in between? You can’t possibly go through all this in life and be so emotional and not think that there’s more then just one way or one answer to anything in this life. Maybe she’ll realize it one day. We shall see.

We Hurt Those We Love the Most

Today is a better day, I can feel it. It doesn’t even matter that it’s Valentine’s Day, the day after a storm is always more positive and uplifting than the day of. My mother is still in her room and hasn’t left since but that’s okay. At this point, I am over the whole situation. I don’t even want her to talk to me until she is ready to move on from this and go foreward because if we’re not moving forward in life, we are dying. Literally.

Mike is going into work later then usual today which is great because he can help with the kids somewhat and I need all the help I can get because Nate still has a slight fever and the poor guy goes from crying out of nowhere to acting totally fine and playing around like nothing is wrong. It’s truly the worst when kids are sick, especially the younger they are because they can’t tell you how they’re feeling or anything.

So about a week ago, I had a pretty big epiphany. It’s interesting how as kids we internalize certain sayings that we see or hear our parents live by and these seemingly unimportant ideas govern the rest of our lives without us even realizing it. Well, lately I have noticed one of those very ideas and how messed up it really was.

We hurt those we love the most”, this is what my mom said to me more then once in my life and what I have always taken as plain fact. How messed up is that? This simple statement constitutes the idea that if we are not at turmoil with those we love or aren’t in some kind of conflict with them, that it’s not true or genuine love in some way.

Of course I am not going to hold this against my mother since I know that that’s probably the only way she’s ever lived her life and it’s all she’s ever really known. I don’t know much about her childhood but I know that that belief must have come from somewhere, early on in her young life.

Growing up, I realize just how much I was affected by this belief. I watched my mom’s relationship with my stepdad and all the pain that that relationship caused and brought into our lives and I thought that if love isn’t a rollercoaster, it’s just not real love. I used to compare my mom’s love story to the movie Titanic because it truly was a beautiful love story in the beginning. Something akin to “boy realizes that he can’t live without that one special girl and after messing up royally, is driven not to give up on winning back her love at all cost.” Although as long as it took him to win her back, once he had her, he ended up hurting her again.

I remember looking at my mom’s relationship and being in awe, thinking how special their relationship really was when in reality it was just not healthy at all. I thought that people who have been together forever and don’t fight much and just get along all the time are not in love, they are just in a companionship. And for the longest time that is not the love I wanted for myself.

Now, at 27 years old I can finally say with one hundred percent certainty that my view of love was skewed based on what I saw around me. And it didn’t only go into romantic love, it also reached those close family and friends’ relationships. I thought because my mom and I also had a relationship where it was the best ever and then would plummet unexpectedly that that was just a display of how strong and real our mother-daughter bond really was.

All in all, I can finally see things clearly now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen things so clearly in my life. Sure it’s going to take me a lifetime to heal these broken perceptions of significant things such as love and different types of relationships but the fact that I see them for what they really are now is a huge step in the right direction.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

How is it that you can have the closest relationship with someone and also have the most fucked up relationship with the same person, at the same time? It’s like two sides of the same coin.

I am talking about my relationship with my mother here. I can recall having the best emotions in my whole entire life associated with her and can also remember vividly those emotions that were the lowest of the low. And she was the common denominator, she’s ALWAYS the common denominator. Our relationship has a factor of codependency to it and that takes things to a whole new level of crazy.

Let me give you some background info. We are originally from Russia and came to America, just the two of us, when I was only 7 years old. The reason was because the love of my mom’s life was in America and he realized that he couldn’t live without her so she packed us up and we moved across the ocean, away from every single family member. Things didn’t work out on that end but I was grateful to have established ourselves in this land of opportunity. It was worth the stress and tears, at least for me.

So as you can tell, being as we only ever had each other, we relied on each other completely and depended on each other for everything. However, the move to America and my mom’s strenuous relationship took its toll on her and she was diagnosed with bipolar very early on. For those who don’t know, it means she gets a high where she has tons of energy to do everything and starts all these projects and then all of a sudden she will hit a low, and this low is worse then any kind of low that people with good mental health experience. Emotions attached to these two extremes are heightened and much more intense then is usual.

Today something happened that made me really upset and made me reevaluate my relationship with my mother for the millionth time in my whole entire life. About a week ago my mom took my car to pick up some furniture and in the process broke it, to the extent that it was completely destroyed and needed thousands of dollars worth of repairs.

What ensued was a drown out game of finger pointing and what I would call “the blame game”. It was argued that the car was already not in tip-top shape to begin with, that she was driving it in reverse when it was set on 4-wheel front drive…..etc. Both parties were at odds and disagreeing with each other, complete with a whole pile of hurt feelings as well.

If that isn’t bad enough, the day that it was found out that the car was not working and needed major repairs, my mom stopped talking to me for about four days. Now, if you know me, you know that I am the type of person who hates any kind of prolonged fighting or tense atmosphere surrounding the people involved. For me, I can’t really be at peace until the conflict is resolved and everything has been discussed and laid out on the table. My mom is quite the opposite, she internalizes everything until she can finally look at you again and even then, she won’t make it clear why she was mad at you in the first place.

I only found out later that the reason she was angry with me was because I just assumed that I was going to use her car from now on, in order to drive my daughter Izzy to Pre-K. It’s a habit of hers to “assume” what someone is thinking or what exactly someone means, even if that’s not what was said or even mentioned whatsoever. For four days I racked my brain, trying to understand why my mother was mad at me for something I had nothing to do with.

We were supposed to have a talk about the car when it first happened but she was seemingly so upset about the whole thing and it being even partially her fault that she couldn’t even be around us or see us or have anything to do with us whatsoever. Well, finally on Monday, after Mike texted her that we should talk about it because he wanted to use some of the money she gets from claiming me as a dependent on her taxes towards fixing my broken down car, we had the talk.

It began with both parties claiming that neither one of them was at fault because of various reasons and nobody wanted to back down. I sat in the middle, as I usually am in these situations, hiding my face with a pillow because the whole talk was disturbing and very upsetting to me. Then, my fiancé got a bit angry and started to raise his voice towards my mom because she has a tendency to play the “victim” and make everything extremely emotional and not about just mere facts. They had hit a wall and were not moving anywhere because my mother could not admit that she was partially at fault in this situation.

It started negatively and he was accusing her of not having to pay much whatsoever in terms of bills or the majority of the mortgage but he quickly apologized for saying those things and the conversation moved towards how he gets really upset because of the way my mother treats me. How she shuts me out because of her tendency of jumping into conclusions and exaggerating everything and makes mean comments towards me like, “You are a horrible mother and your children live in filth.”

Mike was saying that he wants us to talk to each other and to figure out our issues because he hates to see us like that and he apologized more then once to my mom for his previous outburst of anger. I was laying on the couch in tears, joy in my soul that Mike was finally telling her what I couldn’t tell her all these years, mostly because she never listens to me or takes much value in what I say.

After the conversation was done, I was praying we would be able to sit down and have a heart to heart but instead, she got up and walked away, shutting the door to her room behind her. I was flabbergasted but thought that maybe tomorrow would be better and she just needed some time to think about everything that was said.

Well, let me just tell you now that it DIDN’T get better. Oh no, on the contrary it got much worse. After I broke down because she couldn’t say “hi” back to me in the morning and instead just walked away, shit hit the fan. The pain that I have been dealing with so well and trying to keep at bay for a change, quickly bubbled to the surface and penetrated my whole entire body and soul. I couldn’t even workout like I usually do during my midday break because I was in so much emotional pain and decided to start a blog instead and maybe have a talk with a friend.

Things got even worse when my mom ended up taking Izzy upstairs with her into her room because Izzy knows how to manipulate us all and knows that grandma will give her what mommy doesn’t, like her phone. I was pissed off because you won’t talk or acknowledge me but you’re going to spoil my daughter and go against what I’m trying to discipline her with? I was so pissed. I know I shouldn’t have done what I did but at that point I was just beyond hurt and confused. So, I walked into my mom’s room and demanded she tell me what the hell I did because at that point I just couldn’t take it anymore.

There’s only so much one person can take before they snap. I was proud of myself for controlling my emotions before that but today just completely pushed me over the edge. My mom, full of hate and hurt in her eyes, told me that I was enjoying the conversation while Mike “tortured” her for all that time and that she is scared that he will kill her next time! Like, for real? He got mad, yes, but there was nothing beyond a raised voice. This is another instance of my mother taking nothing and turning it into something completely different and out of wack totally. When I told her that she was being ridiculous and not right, she told me that I am a liar and that if we want to talk to her she will need a mediator present or a recorder.

This all ended with her shaking and freaking out on me, screaming for me to get out while I was holding Nate in my arms and Izzy was laying on the bed next to her. As sad as this whole situation is though, I have been through these kinds of situations my whole entire life.

At first I was mad, so freaking angry, I wanted to tell her, “You know what, if you don’t move on from this and just let this ridiculousness go, I don’t need to let you see the kids anymore and we are done for good.” Of course, I didn’t do that because I am not that kind of person and once I calmed down, I texted her saying that I am letting all the negativity go and I hope that she can do the same. She is obviously not forgiving or forgetting yet, so we’ll just see what ends up happening. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good outcome but you never know with my mom.

What baffles me the most is that she is willing to damage our relationship because of a five minute part of a conversation that lasted an hour or more. There are much more horrible things going on in this world and being bitter or holding grudges is just silly when you look at the big scheme of things. I hope she comes to her senses and sees that life is too short for these stupid fights and misunderstandings. Perhaps she just needs more time. Here’s hoping.