Rejection is a Hard Thing to Be OK With
I remember vividly the day I tried to confront my mom with how she made me feel inside. Its not that I felt at the time that she was a bad mother, but I figured if she knew how I felt, she would be sympathetic and apologize and maybe we could heal our relationship. We got along pretty well up until I was in college. Even through my ultra-conservative church years, I remember having much more conflict with my depressed dad than with my mom. Still, when I hit college we began to fight. I don’t remember what we fought about anymore, but I do remember often feeling like she thought I was 12 and not a 19 year old college student who was finally having that identity crisis I didn’t allow myself to have years earlier.
We were in the van driving back home from somewhere during a break from college and no sooner did I try to explain my feelings that my mom started to cry. I hated when my mom cried. I loved her so much and she worked so hard and supported my dad through all his crap. The last thing I wanted to be was a source of sadness. She instantly lamented about how she wasn’t a good enough mother to us. That wasn’t at all what I meant to convey, but it didn’t matter. The inability of her to simply accept my feelings shut me up.
I believe many people who manipulate don’t mean to and don’t even know they’re doing it. My mom apparently genuinely had guilt issues. I suppose it was from how our lives changed when Dad became disabled and subsequently depressed and maybe she felt like she couldn’t be the mother she wanted to be. Whatever the cause of the guilt is (I can only guess), she carried this guilt for things she wasn’t responsible for, nor did I blame her at all. But when you’re depressed and too busy to even admit it to yourself, I suppose its easy to believe you’re a person who isn’t worth much. And then you end up manipulating people out of the guilt you carry around.
I did that for a while too. I lost two jobs in less than 2 years and began to think the reason I lost those jobs was because there was something wrong with me as a person. The years of accepting myself for who I was and not giving a fuck who liked me gave way to overwhelming self-doubt. I easily drifted to thoughts of worthlessness. And since my husband was depressed as well from a job loss and the death of his mother, we didn’t get along very well and it compounded the feeling of worthlessness for both of us. I’m sure I manipulated out of the guilt of being worthless and not having made better decisions in college and my career up to that point. I honestly had no idea I was doing it. And so I believe my mom did the same and truly had no idea she manipulated me into silence.
Fast forward to now, nearly a year and a half after going through life-coaching (effectively counseling without the license) and I once again am on the path to loving and accepting myself and not giving a fuck who among the general public likes me or not. I love myself so much now, that I refuse to be manipulated. I demand that my relationships operate out of health or at least be oriented with purposeful goals in that direction. Many of my relationships have directly improved as a result because the other person also has a desire to operate in a healthy relationship.
Two months ago, Mom and I had a fight over a literal misunderstanding. And then the manipulation began, involving both her and my dad. It was clear they did not want to communicate with me verbally anymore, so I wrote an email. I wrote two emails. One was really raw and harsh and used the word “fuck” a lot. The 2nd one wasn’t so raw. But I guess it was still harsh. I told my mother she had a problem with alcohol, that religion wasn’t helping her and that I was done with the manipulation. I criticized how she shuts down communication. I told her she needed to stop hating herself. I finally did what I tried to do 15 years earlier and confronted her for how she makes me feel.
When we were younger, if my mom was mad at my dad, she’d give him the silent treatment for about a week. The silent treatment she is giving me is now two months long. I’ve invited her down for two events, one being her granddaughter’s 13th birthday and not only is she not coming, but she hurried off the phone as quick as she could with as little words said as possible.
At first, the fight, the emails and their typical crap didn’t bother me. I moved past most of it in my quest for a healthier life. But the more I think about it and especially after realizing she’s still very upset with me, I can’t help but be 19 again, thinking about my mom crying. Feeling guilty over being somehow a bad mother that makes her daughter hate her (but I don’t). I must have cut her really deep to expose all the things she uses as a wall of defense. It is hard not to feel rejected by my parents yet again. It is hard not to feel bad for causing her so much pain and for being a source of sadness. I do feel rejected. I do feel bad for hurting her. But there is no apology hanging in the wind waiting to be spoken. I HAD to tell her how I feel. I HAD to confront this madness for myself. I had to communicate that it wasn’t OK to treat me the way she’s been treating me regardless of the reasons why.
Now I have to be ok with the possibility that she’ll never love herself and as a result our relationship can never heal. I have to be ok with the silent treatment lasting for a long time. I have no idea what she’s really thinking, or if she’ll ever have the desire to be emotionally healthy. All I know is that ever since that day when I was 19, all I wanted was for my mom to love me.