I’m in my therapist’s office, going over the things he routinely asks about to make sure I’m playing with a full deck. He asks if I’ve talked to mom recently. No, I tell him. But, I expect to see her this weekend — the first time in two years.
He asks if I’m nervous about it. To my surprise as well as his, I tell him I’m not — and I actually mean it.
I won’t repeat all the background of what happened between my mother and me. You can get the back story by reading an earlier post called “The Mommy Problem.”
Let’s just focus on the present…
The last time I saw her was the summer of 2009. I met with her for lunch and told her all about my treatment for OCD and how I was in a 12-Step Program for the binge eating disorder. She seemed to get where I was coming from. I was certain this was the start of the healing.
Then she sent an e-mail a week later asking when she was going to see her grandchildren. I told her Erin needed more time but I was ready to sit down with Bob on my own. I expected he’d sit there and call me every name in the book and tell me how much I had hurt the family, and I was ready to just sit there and take it. He was entitled to that.
But they were having none of that.
My mother sent another e-mail suggesting I was whipped and controlled by my wife, and that I was the laughingstock of the family as a result. Back to square one.
That was in August 2009. We haven’t spoken since.
So why am I calm about the expected Saturday encounter? I guess it’s because I feel comfortable in my own skin and I feel like I’ve done a lot of hard soul searching in the five years since our combined mental illnesses imploded the relationship and took a few people with it.
I’ve taken it to the confession booth at church too many times to count. I tell the priests I wrestle with the whole “Honor thy mother and father” commandment. I’m always told that honor thy mother and father doesn’t mean sit there as you’re repeatedly run over by a tank.
I did make a big effort at reconciliation two years ago. I even connected with her on Facebook, for heaven’s sake. When I realized my efforts were going to fail, I de-friended and then blocked her from my profile.
Looking at the whole sorry affair, I still think she did the best she could with the tools she had. The problem is that she’s really lacking in the tool department, mainly because in her mind she has no problem. She’s a victim. Pure and simple.
We often look at abusive relationships in black and white. There’s the abuser and the victim. But it’s never that simple.
I forgave my mother a long time ago for the darker events of my childhood. I doubt I would have done much better in her shoes. Her marriage to my father was probably doomed from the start, and the break-up was full of rancor. My brother and I were sick a lot, and one of us didn’t make it.
I didn’t fully appreciate what a body blow that was until I became a parent. After Michael died, she became a suffocating force in my life. I did the same to my own kids until I started dealing with the OCD.
I hold nothing against her. There’s a lot I can get into about this, but the reality is that this relationship is a casualty of mental illness and addiction. This one can’t be repaired so easily, because much of my OCD and addictive behavior comes directly from her.
For the sake of my immediate family, recovery has to come first.
Without it, I fail EVERYONE.
Right now, I don’t see how saying much to her will be helpful in that regard.
I’ll be nice. I certainly won’t be mean.
And despite what has happened in recent years, I expect her to behave the same way.
After all, the day will not be about us. It’ll be about my cousin and the awesome gal he’s marrying.