Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Buffering

So tomorrow is our first ultrasound for this pregnancy. I'm nervous and excited. Mrp has been swamped at work and we thought I would just go, but as the appointment became closer we realized we both needed to be there. Thank goodness! It would have been so hard to do it without him, good or bad. I have no reason to think we will see anything bad, but you just never know. It's just my nature to prepare for the worst I guess.

So, yeah. I'm sort of a pessimist. I am actually very optimistic too, but I always buffer myself for potential bad stuff. I think that's a pretty standard reaction for people who've experienced sudden and tragic loss. I'm not sure what it is--pregnancy hormones, holidays?--but lately I want to work on my relationship with my mother. I haven't talked about her much here, if at all. It's a very complex thing. I don't even know where to start to try to explain it.

My mother had me when she was very young--17. She married my father a month before I was born, during her junior year of high school. Imagine! My dad was just 19, himself. Tip: don't get married that young. Really. Like wait until your 27. At least! Seriously, though. It wasn't the most stable environment for me as a child. The early early years were kind of fun. My mom did cartwheels and taught me ballet in our kitchen. My dad was creative and fun and made crazy snow forts and sand castles with me. On the other hand, my parents fought and these fights were sometimes physical. I distinctly remember getting in between them crying and screaming at them to stop when I was about 3 years old. This was a running theme throughout my childhood--parenting the parents.

Around the time my sister showed up, my father's mental illness appeared. He was a major depressive. Like, to the point of psychotic. My mother was a brick in the face of it all. Stoic. Soldiering forward, taking care of her family. When he finally died--he had tried to commit suicide several times before over the years--my mother seemed relieved more than anything. And who can blame her? Not me.

She really was a pillar of strength and amazing in that way. I don't know that I could be as strong as she was. However, here's where the story changes a bit. My mother's way of coping was to forget about it. Um. I was 11 and my sister was 6. We can't just forget that our dad killed himself. To make matters worse, our entire extended family was more or less on board with this strategy. If we cried or struggled, they told us to stop. At first, the main strategy to get us to forget was to spoil us. Later, my extended family would criticize me for making things hard on my mom. My mom worked full time and I took care of my sister. I was 11, 12, 13. I just lost a parent, suddenly. Violently. My feelings, my very being was wrong they seemed to say.

I somehow persevered, and though I had episodes of depression (I realize in retrospect) I did pretty well throughout my adolescence. But, by the time I was 20 I was a mess. I got off "the path" when I dropped out of college after one best friend (a guy) raped another best friend (who is still my best friend to this day). I couldn't take it. But I moved back with my mom, who had since remarried and moved to a new house. I didn't belong there. I felt like I belonged nowhere. All my friends were in school. I felt like a huge loser. All the denial and suppression over the years created a pressure cooker and the feelings just exploded out. In all my life, this was the only period where I truly felt depressed. My mother would have none of it. She insisted it was my hormones. I know she didn't want to believe I would turn into my dad or something, but still. I went to my doctor and told him what was going on and he quickly concluded I was depressed and needed to talk to a therapist. THANK YOU! My mom was not supportive of this, but I went anyway. The insurance ended up not covering it, but I went anyway.

But yeah. I'm not sure if it started after my dad or if she was always this way, but somewhere along the way my mother became the kind of person who can never admit something is not right. She exclaims, "Everything's great!" so frequently that it's her catchphrase. On peanut's birthday it was 5 minutes until the guests were going to arrive and the appetizers were not even started yet. I was exasperated and annoyed and frantically trying to get them going and she said, "it will be great!" And mrp and I looked at her with the "oh yeah?" look on our faces. And her response was, "what else am I going to say? Everything's going to be a disaster?" In her mind, everything is great or a disaster. Nothing just is.

This might seem harmless, but it causes a lot of problems. My mom fails to see many glaring problems and gets very angry with me for pointing them out. The worst example is her husband's alcoholism. The man is an alcoholic. There is no denying it. I can't remember the last time I saw him without a drink. He keeps a cooler in his truck. He hates going anywhere where he can't drink. And the worst thing is that he drives all over the place. My mother doesn't drive much (she has MS that affects her vision--a whole other issue) so he's driving her all over the place after drinking a lot. I HATE it. And now with peanut and #2 coming, I just can't take it anymore. I don't trust my mother. I do to an extent, but not completely. I know she loves peanut, but her commitment to pretending there are no problems causes her to make really bad decisions sometimes. Like, she drinks herself quite a bit in attempt to make her husband's drinking seem more normal. Or, she tries to act like he's peanut's "Grampa" and force peanut on her husband who really doesn't seem to want much to do with him (and hey, I'd prefer it that way myself!) She often says we are overprotective and things like carseat laws are excessive. She insists on giving peanut foods that are choking hazards even if I point it out because "it's fine!" No raisins, mom. Really!

She gets really excessively indignantly delusionally "Everything's great!" when she seems most unhappy. I so want to help her. I so want to improve my relationship with her and for her to have 100% grandma privileges with peanut, but we're nowhere close to that right now. I don't even know where to start with her. But you know, I didn't think I knew where to start with you and I figured it out.

7 comments:

JenC said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that and am impressed with the woman you have become. Sounds like your mom is an enabler like my mom was (my step-dad only quit drinking because the doctors told him it was killing him - he was a fabulous man after he gave up alcohol). It is okay to not want to leave your children unsupervised with her. Truly. Hang in there my friend and good luck with the u/s.

Katie said...

Hang in there! I have more comments but first--we have our first ultrasound today too! In the waiting room now trying not to freak out! Good luck-I will be thinking of you!

Viper said...

Good luck with the ultrasound and improving your relationship with your mother. I wish I had good advice, but alas I only have good wishes.

Quinto Sol said...

It sounds like your mother preempts "the threat" by denying it... at her age, it will be next to impossible to "fix" it... you can only be patient, methinks.

Congrats on the second child...

Best...

DR said...

I applaud you for being NOT like your mom and dad. My parents fought (verbally) all the time and I find myself there. A Lot.

The Salty One said...

Jen--I so wish he'd have his rock bottom moment. What I would give for that! Ugh. I feel so helpless sometimes.

Katie--Hope you're u/s was great!

Viper--Thanks! That means a lot :)

QS--I believe fervently that old dogs CAN learn new tricks! Anyone can change. It's never easy.

DR--I'm not like them now, but I was married before and was a victim of domestic violence. Not shocking at all and it took me almost 6 years to figure out how messed up the relationship was and that I deserved better. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have my relationship with mrp and that we've managed to provide a stable nurturing environment for peanut. I almost cry every day with joy thinking about it!

Mnowac said...

Of course i have no good advice. You know the mess that is my family, but I am sending you a hug!