There is a change occurring in me, a shift. It started around two years ago and is increasingly getting stronger and demanding.
I really began to notice it around a year and a half ago. I was sick of the life-stealing consequences of my chronic illness and began to walk, working my way up to light jogging. I was tired of never having money and quit smoking, which was an addiction that was a noose around my neck and felt like a miracle when I finally quit. I began to change how I reacted to my mother’s barbs and loveless controlling ways, moving from seething quietly to something in me putting its foot down and saying that I will never tolerate certain behaviours from her again. It’s like something was rising inside of me.
Last year I told myself that when I was fifty-years-old I will cease to put up with putting up with abuse, with being afraid of others, with waiting for life to finally be kind to me. I say I told myself this, but really it was something in me that informed me that things needed to change and that age was at a comfortable enough distance to start practicing new ways of being in this world. It’s like the inner me had finally had it and was informing the outer me to start getting ready to change.
One incident in particular was when I was with my mother at a small volunteer charity event she was heading. I was standing with her as she chatted with another one of the volunteers when she made a negative and critical comment about me (in regards to a feature of my slim figure that only she would consider negative and only made her look bad). Out of the blue. I was stunned and mortified, even the volunteer looked at me and was visibly uncomfortable, making her leave right away. What she said is too embarrassing to repeat here, but it was inappropriate under any circumstances. Of course I ignored what she just said and changed the subject to other things. If I had called her upon what she had just said she would have gone off on me right in front of everyone. My mother does not put up with me, or anyone really, confronting her, no matter how delicately it’s done.
She’s mortified me before but this time something clicked inside of me.
The next day I was vacuuming and I did something I had never done before. Something rose up in me and the covering sound of the vacuum drew out from me angry statements. They were as if to my mother but they were actually for me to start setting boundaries: “You will NEVER speak to me like that again! I’m DONE. Your opportunity to treat me like that is OVER! You could get away with it when I was younger, but you should think twice about speaking to a full grown woman like that!” On and on I ranted, repeating these sentences bubbling up out of me.
I meant those sentences, too, and I’m sure they began a work in me even when I later made excuses for it, willing to attribute her embarrassing statement to her narcissism making her increasingly socially awkward as she ages. I was willing get along with her, at a distance.
This and other incidents occurred before the trip I had taken with my parents and older sister that I have just written about in previous posts. Writing about that trip has helped me put things into perspective, and one of these things is realizing that I don’t need to soften and make excuses for what she said, not then and not for all the other things she comes up with. She knows exactly what she’s doing. I don’t have to sugar-coat it anymore.
She worked with my oldest sister during the trip to drive into me just how much they disrespected me. I saw with clarity the enjoyment they received out of it, they indulged in the satisfaction they got out of it, never letting up.
The inner me saw all this with clarity already. It was trying to form in me some kind of resolve to end the abuse once and for all. I had a hope for normalcy and it excused her behaviour for humiliating me. I see now that I’ve had this wish for normalcy my whole adulthood and it has pulled me back fruitlessly again and again to try for some kind of renegotiation of our relationship. Unfortunately, I was the only one willing to negotiate.
My outer self is now ready to begin to chime in with my inner self, “I’m done. There will be no more opportunities to denigrate me. You should have thought through disrespectfully treating a full-grown woman like that who will NOT tolerate such behaviour anymore.”
She will not miss me. I’m realizing I won’t miss her.