My mother does not watch the news. She does not want to be told the news. If anything is personal and unpleasant, she is angry with the messenger.
Yesterday she is telling me about her ex, who was not too pleasant with her before the end of their relationship. Her ex is looking for another place to live because her common law spouse has entered a nursing home and therefore the house (in spouse’s name only) is being sold to pay for the nursing care. The spouse is, I believe, two decades younger than the ex and definitely at the end of life.
I told her I understand the concern the family has for the spouse and the spouse’s assets, because the spouse gave my mother’s ex a place to live, when there was none, and then they very quickly married.
Once you get off to a start from unequal playing fields, it takes a while for people to take you seriously. Everyone is on alert when it appears the elderly are being taken advantage of. I did not say anything critical, only factual, and I am aware of all the other circumstances that have added to the perception of shady intentions. Once people are suspicious enough, they willingly overlook the work the ex has put into the new relationship.
So my mother is very angry with me. Because I laid out the opposing view for her, and reminded her that it is all to be expected, that there is not much to be done about it, except plan on ways to cope with suspicious adult children petitioning courts and spying and etc.
During the call she used a lot of Alanon phrases. She has been a devotee her entire life. She defines herself as codependent, and I am sure she is right. But the things she says, about why I should not think of the other point of view, don’t seem much better than admitting there is judgement and prejudice in this world.
She told me ¨not my hula hoop¨, which means ¨not my business¨. But only this is used if one is critical? This is exactly the same as claiming Islamophobia if you remind someone what the Quran actually says. Just because it is not your life does not mean you should not have knowledge of it, and I claim the right to form an opinion or take a side, which in this case I do not have, because both sides are right. The spouse’s children are right to be concerned, and the ex is right to be upset by that. I am not going to pretend that I do not understand the facts contributing to the issue, and I am not going to pretend to be blind to how much of society views those facts.
She also said that I should never say anything about understanding the other point of view, or reminding her of the abuse she put up with from the ex, because the ex did this and that for her, and for me. I told her blind loyalty is never appropriate. I don’t think you should ever do something for someone and then expect different treatment because of it. You can expect a thank you note, maybe a return gift, some good feelings. But you don’t get a free pass in life because of favors you have done. That is corruption.
I said none of this lightly. I covered up failings for my own ex for years, serious stuff, because he had once been heroic, because we had children, etc. That was wrong of me, I regret it, emotionally if not practically, because doing so enabled me to gather enough evidence for conviction and thus safety for myself and my children.
But the worst part was that she told me what to say, and when. I had apologized for her upset feelings, and she insisted I apologize at a different point. She insisted and prompted me to thank her for having this confrontation with me. I do not like control. I like to discern good or bad intentions from what people say naturally, and clarifying their intentions as required. Putting words in the mouth of another is distasteful for me, and I only do it for the politenesses required when training up children to be socially acceptable. I understand that in her opinion she is insisting on being treated a certain way, trying to ensure that she is being respected, but it does not feel good to be her parrot. I did it, though. I love her.
What I am puzzled about is why a recovery organization would tell people to ignore the facts about others, when you need such information in order to deal with your community. I am not going to send my kids over to play at the house of the mother who was arrested for giving children alcohol, and etc. If I ¨not my hula hoop¨ through life, I cannot make informed choices. I also do not know why she would insist on not using critical thinking regarding a situation involving someone who once or even multiple times did favors for you. Shouldn’t Alanon have cured a person of such dangerous ways of thinking? Lastly, why does she want to control my own sentiments towards her? How is it learning to recover from codependency when you :
A) Blame the messenger B) Dictate that others parrot certain phrases back to you.
Making people afraid to freely address the topics you bring up in conversation, and having them say what you want them to without it being of their own volition smacks of control issues. I do not understand why you would not simply allow people to speak, clarify, and form your own opinion rather than trying to shape them to your own mold.
I know I haven’t got a lot of readers. I welcome any opinion you might have. I had to write this all out because it bothered me. Thank you.