Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"You Can't Do Anything Right....."

It's the holiday season which means more contact with my dysfunctional family. Also more contact with my non-dysfunctional in-laws, which only serves to point out by contrast that my family is even more dysfunctional than I thought.

My Sister and her Husband came down to visit at the last minute. Thanksgiving is the only holiday Mom is guaranteed off since her days off are Wed and Thurs. Sister mentioned she was visiting.

Now Mom hasn't seen Sister in one year. She didn't use her vacation time to visit. Nor did she suggest visiting this time. That's okay - she wasn't invited.

So instead of asking for an invitation, offering to come, or addressing it directly, Mom does her usual passive-aggressive crap. She says, "Oh, Enola is cooking. That ought to be interesting." Because, after all I can't do anything right, like cook a meal.

After the visit, I get an email -- "Did Sister get there and home okay. I never got an email...." Because after all, I can't do anything right, like email her that everyone arrived okay.

Then I sent some pictures and get a response, "Thanks for the pictures. Sure wish the group shot wasn't so dark." Because after all, I can't do anything right, like take good pictures.

Oh and I don't even want to get started about Christmas visits. Because Christmas Eve/Day and New Years Eve/Day are Mom's days off. But I'm sure not inviting her here. She'll think she needs to be home with her husband anyway because she can't possibly leave him alone, even though growing up we never celebrated on the actual holiday anyway because Mom was working. And I'm sure not giving up my good holiday plans to accommodate her. So I'll get a "wish you were available to visit for the holidays. Maybe I can see you....sometime" message.

I fell into the game-playing crap with Tgiv and emailed the whole family, including Mom that we had a "great time over Tgiv. The in-laws graciously hosted and didn't bat an eye at having five additional. Sister, etc came down and were adopted into the family. It was a great, old-fashioned family gathering." Hah - take that Mom. And by the way, the in-laws extended a standing invitation to Sister, and are buying presents for the kids for Christmas. And the kids begged to go again next year. They've never begged to see you.....

And since I can't do anything right - like keep my mouth shut - I'll probably email to brag about going to the in-laws for a family Christmas Eve gathering, and then having the in-laws here Christmas morning so they can see their grandchildren open presents (like true grandparents get the opportunity to do.) If I can't be perfect, I might as well have fun being un-perfect.


Rindy Walton said...

This really sounds exactly where I was at many years ago...before I took charge of MY life. I was not going to change them, no matter what I did...not by being nice, sarcastic, "I'll show them" or anything else. They were, and still are, who they are and have not changed. I have changed however. For me it took writing a letter to my entire family. For me I didn't know who was on one side and who was on the other, because all I heard were things like "you tear apart the ENTIRE family" or "EVERYONE agrees". No one had the guts to stand up against my parents and for me.

The question I asked myself was "if these people weren't family, would I want them in my life?" I was bluntly honest when I separated from them (not mean), but made it clear that I was making the choice. Was it hard--yup. Did their reactions hurt--yup. Was it worth it...absolutely!

Family doesn't have to mean "blood". The farther I got away from them, the healthier I became and the more I began to see it for what it was.

I pray for you because I know some of what you're dealing with. Stay strong and know that you are worth it!

Anonymous said...

Enola; Tomorrow (Thursday) I fly to MS and will return on Sunday.

I am 54 years old and left home to join the Navy when I was 17 years old.

I have NEVER flown "home" before. Me (and my family) live a little over 600 miles away from my mom's home (dad died about ten years ago).

I have 5 siblings and I can count on one hand the njmber of times any of them have come to visit us.

Me and my girls have often said that I was the one who "escaped". Perhaps your family and my family are the pictures used as examples in the dictionary if you look up the word "dysfunctional".

The reason I am flying "home" for a few days is that my mom turns 80 years old on Saturday and as painful as it may be (for me) I want to surprise her, tell her I love her and appreciate all the sacrifices she made raising us six kids. You know... to honor her in spite of "how she is."

I think you know that my middle daughter is widowed from the Afghanistan war.

Last month when it was Little Cooper's two year old birthday I called mom and left her a message on her answering machine too remind her to send Little Coop a birthday card.

Mom called me AFTER Little Coop's birthday. She didn't have their address or phone number. If Alexis wanted her to have them she would have given them to her. She said that everyone is so busy and they just forget about her. Now she (my mom) knows how much her parents appreciated her phone call once a week when they were old. She (my mom) gets lonely.

Geesh, give me a break. SHE'S THE ONE WITH NOTHING TO DO!!! Why doesn't she make the effort? She is not widowed with a two year old, working full time and going to school too!! But it's somehow Alexis' fault.... RRRRRRRR

But you know what? Mom is mom and after eight decades of dysfunctional living she ain't going to change.

It is still my obligation to honor her and yes in spite of herself I love her.

Sometimes we just have to determine to make the best out of what we have.

I also try to remember the manner in which she was raised.

Be blessed and have a fantabulous weekend!

austin said...

The people that commented sent a kind reminder of the power of taking charge of one's life. I am a bit of a hypocrite in some and that may stand out when I say what I'm about to say.

This is the thing E, your mom doesn't have a reason to change. She hasn't lost anything. She still has her daughters and her grandchildren as well as Toilet. She has not lost anything which might perhaps motivate her to change or fake kindness when in her presence. She knows she can manipulate and get her way. She knows despite doing what she did she'll still get to spend holidays w/ her family, get phone calls on special occasions, have emotional support and financial support no matter what, no matter what she allowed to happen to her kids. And no matter that she still chose a pedophile she will still have everything the same. What motivation is there for her to change?

Passive aggressive emails and phone calls will trigger her own response of pa behaviors. The cycle continues unless you step outside the family's dynamic and refuse to play along. You must ask yourself what you get out of staying. And ask yourself what your daughter will get out of you staying and what your son will get out of you staying the same way w/ your mother?

It took me forever to conclude that life begins outside of my mother's presence. It is still difficult beyond belief because I want badly to be someone's little girl BUT not at the expense of my future. Last but not least, the relationship you have with your mother WILL affect your two children. They'll see and learn for good or bad.


austin said...

That comment above may not sound as compassionate as some that I've left. I wasn't trying to be mean or inconsiderate. I know it'll come across as stinging simply because it's true but as true as it is I am not out to cause sting. But someone needed to say that if she won't change then it's up to you. Perhaps it'll take an un-intentional offense to bring to light what she's gained despite what she gave away. The woman that cared not about your innocence gets to hold your newborn. Why? Then she can go back to that man. How disgusting. And your daughter, you assured her she would never be left alone with her but you did. Yes it was just for an hour but you broke your word to her and left her with a very cruel and heartless woman. What did the mother say in that hour? E, she hasn't lost anything, not her daughters or her grandchildren. She's got everything she started out with so there is no motivational reason to change. The change has to come from you. I know exactly how hard it is, I really do.

Also, to pit one family against another will disturb the less dysfunctional family. Why bring them into the game? That will not be your mother's doing to disrupt that family. Since the in-laws are wonderful people stick with them, let your family be with them and walk away from the tie that gags and binds.


lawyerchik said...

I love it: "If I can't be perfect, I might as well have fun being un-perfect." I want that on my tombstone!! :)

Right after my aunt died, I had to talk my mom off the ledge (so to speak) because she was all upset about her family's failure to treat her like she was worth anything.

What finally got through to her was my asking her if the things her family had said (or thought) about her were true. Since they weren't, she could freely disregard their ignorance.

Easier said than done, but still - sometimes you just gotta remind people that their family doesn't know s*** from shinola, so they should ignore them!! :)

[BTW - speaking as someone who has only gotten to know you online, I can authoritatively state that your mother doesn't know s*** from shinola about you!! :)]

Tamara (TC) said...


I truly feel your pain because I have been there. Nothing I ever did was good enough and my parents remained unloving and critical as I worked my ass off to try to gain their love and respect. Fact is, they are NEVER going to respect me because they don't even respect themselves. They are incapable of true love and incapable of changing. However, this is their sickness, not mine.

I cannot suggest that you walk away from your mother. That is a decision that only you can make when and if the time is right. This, however, may be the only way you get peace in your life. For now, try to remember that you are working on yourself and your healing, you are raising a wonderful, beautiful family, you have good and meaningful career, you are doing so many things right and the things that your mother believes you are not doing right are just petty bullshit. It is HER issue to deal with, not yours.

Many, many hugs during this difficult season. It can be a very triggering and frustrating time of year which is not fair. You and your family should be able to enjoy this time of year in peace. I am sorry that you can't.