I Really Want to Change This

I know we are all always working on ourselves.

If it is not some new clothes or cream or another shot of espresso, then it is a new self help book. A New Year’s Resolution, a promise we make to ourselves.

I am learning to like myself. I have always been learning it, since I was a child. I thought I was on a pretty good path with it recently until my mother came to visit this time. I found myself unable, unwilling, to hide my impatience. I could hardly contain my anger with her. I felt like I was a kid, all over again.

I could not stand my mother as a child. I wanted to be as far away from her as possible. I was in emotional agony around her, perpetually irritated by her existence. I don’t know if she did anything to deserve that, I have not had another mother to compare her to. I have had a stepmother that I barely saw and I have had the mothers of friends that I saw more, but it is not the same.

When I got older I thought it was about rejection. Her refusing to be my friend when I was a child and invited her to be. Her refusing to let me pay rent and keep my job, living in her basement instead of on the street. The criticism.

When I had kids and knew more, I thought it was about neglect.

I don’t know what it is, really. I just know that I felt awful, having someone in my house, judging me, my skills, and worse- judging my children. I just spent time waiting for her to tell me what it was about the visit that she did not like. It triggers me, the watching and the waiting. Makes me on edge, the stress was so bad I could hardly sleep at first while she was here. I don’t know if this is about her or about my PTSD.

She wants to do vacation things, so we took her to do them and she could only be out of the house for two hours and then she just collapsed. I don’t know if she enjoyed her vacation activities, she mostly wanted to shop. Shopping with three busy kids is frustrating. I don’t like it, so we opted out and took her where she wanted to go while we did something else.

I didn’t stay quiet, and I am both proud and ashamed of that. I told her when she offended me, I yelled at her when she was being unstable, and I explained to her that her decades in Alanon succeeded not in fixing her, but in giving her new methods of manipulation and control. She wanted me to join. For what. For becoming as she is, unable to speak honestly with people and unable to handle any emotion? Last year she dictated to me, over the phone, what to say back to her. I stopped calling for weeks and she cut that shit out.

I have not the comfort of religion to turn to or shield myself from reality with. I have not the patience of the devout that I was known for. I am a new self, somewhat like before and much not. I am not comfortable with me around my mother. I am comfortable with me the rest of the time. I want to change this. I don’t know how. My mother is elderly, she deserves my best, and all my patience, and I seem to have run out of both when she is with me.

I want to be good, and I want to be right- and those two things are not always compatible. I want to change, but I don’t want to be who I was before. No matter how pleasing it was to anyone, even my mother.

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