Thursday, 14 February 2008

Hot salty tears

One of those nights where I have slept earlier on the sofa and then having gone to bed after midnight have lain in bed awake since. Contemplating life, the universe and everything, one thing leads to another and here I am crying. Hot salty tears that flow effortlessly and I wonder why am I crying? About events and situations that happened thirty to thirty-five years ago it seems utterly ridiculous. All whilst the steady, deep breaths of darling Mr Doris sleeping alongside.

It doesn't feel as if I want to be pitied or felt sorry for. It is not that I want to be a child again - heaven forbid I should go back to that purgatory. Maybe it is an escape mechanism for all the things not going right just now I can fall back into blaming my past. But I do not think it is that either, especially at a time I have realised I need to let go once again. Perhaps it is the over-indulgence in the red wine earlier in the evening but I feel as if I have slept it off already.

A week or so ago a crazy idea flashed across my mind that perhaps I wanted to confront my parents and to give them the opportunity to say sorry. To give them the chance to clear the air before any of us shuffle from this mortal coil. I don't for one moment think they are actually aware of the pain I carry from my mother's physical and mental blows (as a result of her own screwed up childhood) and from my father's negligence and complicity. Instead I organise family outings and treat them with extraordinary kindness and tolerance, even though I say it myself.

Back in the 1980s I came to a certain peace with my past for a while. At a time when I learned inside myself to forgive and let go although even then I felt a strong forgiveness I found it very hard to forget. I also realised nothing was to be gained from talking over the past with my parents: my mother would just deny it.

Which drives me back again to wondering why on earth should crummy events from all those years have such an impact now. I feel pathetic as a result. Like I should just pull myself together and move on. Or maybe I should face the fear and bring it out and let my parents in on it. If I have screwed up big time with my children I would rather they gave me the chance to fix it. But then I am really mainly sane. My mother is a little child inside. Not a child I could love but an egotistical little bitch who is mean, brutal and demanding. Sure she has a very kind side in an over-bearing "what-I-give-must-ultimately-be-paid-back" kind of way but nothing endearing to me. She wants to be loved and that is probably all she ever wanted. But she has had so many chances and so many lovely people in her life who have tried to show her love and friendship and if she blows it then that is her path.

Meanwhile I have known love and am loved. So why do the ghosts of the past still torment and affect me on occasion. What am I supposed to learn from all this - I am sure there must be a reason but I never seem to be able to put a finger on what it is. One day the answer will come from within. Thankfully writing it down here my eyes are now dry and perhaps sleep will wrap me in warm slumbers.


Steg said...

Hope the warm slumbers help.

The past leaps out on us from time to time, sweet. I can blush in aninstant at the memory of spectacularly stupid things I did 20 years ago and yes, there are paths that lead to tears.

There is no reason or answer, just yesterdays tormenting today. But hopefully not tomorrow.

Doris said...

Hopefully not tomorrow! Or ever again. Thanks Steg x

Thursday said...

There is no reason for you to feel pathetic at all. Perhaps just by telling your parents that their behaviour hurt and still hurts you, even if they didn't apologise, it might release some of your pain.

Curly K said...

There is definitely no reason for you to feel pathetic, old wounds can take a lifetime to heal - be gentle and kind to yourself. Have a frank discussion with your parents if and when you feel you should. You will know, trust yourself - it's all there :). And if I can be so bold as to suggest you could count yourself amoung the lucky ones, in that you consciously know what has wounded you, some of us feel inadequate, sad, hurt.....and have no rational place to put it back to (or maybe I'm just insane LOL!) Anyway mrs big hug - hope the warm embrace of sleep - and Mr. Doris make you feel better.

Doris said...

In a perfectly rational world one would think that possible and of course it is my fear that holds me back. But it is a fear based on some good reasons and past experience.

Curly K
I wonder if ever I will feel the time is right. In any case, the crisis has passed and has been put away in its box. T'would be nice if the lid didn't flip open again! I can't imagine not knowing what was causing the hurt etc so that is a good point. Although there are other areas of my life where I am my own worst enemy and those causes I don't understand - don't have anything to grieve over but suspect it is all interrelated.

Meanwhile, for Valentines Day dinner I am cooking roast lamb (not my fav but Mr Doris and son love it) with all the trimmings and a pineapple upside down cake which must be ready just about now - so going to get that out and put the meat in. Fingers crossed for it all :-)

Chandira said...

Ooh, my mum to a T. They all have their nice, social face, that all the friends get to see, etc, then there's The Bitch.

My mum would worry herself stupid about things I was doing or not doing, and stew on it, until she exploded, making for a very untrustable emotional environment at home. I never knew where she was, emotionally.
One minute I'd get 'nice' mum, all giggly and fun, the next I'd get The Bitch, who would come storming out of nowhere, yelling, hitting me, manipulation by guilt, etc.
Either that or she'd get my dad to do her dirty work. My dad was always fairly mellow and easy going, until my mum nagged him so much that he'd come and take it out on me, and I'd get a whack out of the clear blue sky, perhaps hours after whatever incident had apparently caused the punishment. Then he'd feel terrible, apologize and go hit my mother. Fun times.

I went through it all with my mum, we've had hours of talking, crying, anger, shame, forgiveness, denial, drama, etc. Every emotion you can imagine.
Trouble is, my mum is a drama queen, and also thrives on that, too. So now I just ignore it, but also find, once in a while, that there is pain and fear there. I find I can't do something simple in life that most people can manage sometimes, and inevitably it comes back to her.
My mum I think has a maturity level of about 15 years old, and it's hard explaining things to a 15 year old, and having her understand.

In some ways, I think just leaving it all alone is OK too. I've done both things, and ultimately, I think we just have to love them. Sometimes, they just never get it.

Sorry, that's an essay. That's also just the bad side of what was otherwise a very idyllic childhood in a lot of ways. :-) Try to remember what's also good about it all too, if you can. Reclaim your parental treasure.
You're right on the money about her wanting to be loved, I guess that's all any of us ever want, even our mums, in all thier spectacular disfunction.

It all makes you a better mum.

Ally said...


B reckons that a lot of my issues are coming up now, when I am safe and loved and feel that I have the space to explore them safely. Maybe it could be the same for you?

Doris said...

Silly me for thinking this was just a blip; just Pandora's box cracking open momentarily. And there was I thinking it was all packed way again when I received during the course of the evening a shitty email from my mother over something she had evidently been stewing about since Monday. A vile, sniped attack at me the likes of which I haven't had for quite some time. I am not going to reply to it until the morning sun has risen and things feel different. By then I may know what to say and be able to see through her anger. But I just want to tell her to fuck off, so am saying it here rather than go down that path.

Thankfully I had read the replies above from Chandira and Ally first (before her email arrived) - and had gotten so much from them. But I want to re-read them too and reply to them when I am little less sore.

Doris said...

This morning I have re-read the email with Mr Doris and it doesn't seem quite so bad. However, the barbs are in there and they are quite pointed. In fact, it is so cleverly worded that for me to have reacted to it would have reflected so badly on me. Almost like "whoa what's my problem". Which is the thing - what is my problem. Excuse me for speaking out loud here.... I am chewing over.

What a mad-house you came from! And I had my mad-house too. Interesting use of words from you though as it did put words to the fears I had with my daughter .... I wasn't anything like that but I have been emotionally unstable and made for an "emotionally untrustable environment at times". I haven't been able to shake off all the bad stuff from the past and although I know I have been a better mum I could have been a whole lot better. I am much better these days and my instabilities are related to hormones and so are fairly "predictable" as such. Though still not much fun for anyone.

It is interesting that you have managed to have discussions with your mum and covered lots of stuff but to varying degrees of success. In my heart I do feel that leaving alone is the best thing but maybe that is because I don't like and don't seek confrontation and am basically a scaredy cat! It also, sadly, reflects my lack of desire to interact with my parents about these issues. Sort of says I don't love you enough to sort this out.

It is a novel idea to reclaim my parental treasure! I regularly have my mother ram down my throat her rosy eyed view of the childhood she gave us. The only thing missing is the soft focus lens and the alternating violin choirs or brassbands. It is very difficult to get through the mire of that. The things I can be thankful about are more about circumstances and are double edged anyway: eg we travelled a lot and I saw a lot but then whenever relationships with friends got tough we just moved on and I never had to face or confront things. And look at me now .... still running!

I think you (and your B) are spot on. There is that letting go and feeling safe gives room for the gremlins to surface. But I think I'd like to see a full scale war in my mind with nothing but a bloody outcome with all the gremlins slain. But no doubt, I'll sit down with each of the gremlins and help to psychoanalyse each and every one to help the issues be resolved. I'm chuckling at the thought of such a ridiculous feat. Will it ever be resolved in that way ..... no, I think I have done enough of the navel gazing and want a swift and final resolution to it all.

alan said...

Dad's been gone since October of '83; he was 56, I was 27. Lots of food for thought there, lots of things we "never got to say"...

Mom is still here and even more full of herself than she was then...

I feel guilty sometimes for the way I feel about her, and I put up with her, but everytime I start to think I'm wrong she pushes one more button!



Doris said...

Ah yes, button pushing! So you understand the feeling guilty too ... hugs to you too Alan.

Josephine said...

Oh darling Doris...forgive me...where was I when you were writing this? I'm so so sorry. I should have been keeping up...

Oh honey honey honey. I know about Mums. You know I know. They get inside you, and I know some of the story of yours.

Deep breaths Doris. Space and perspective. You are strong, competent, a really beautiful, tender, loving and lovable woman. Her words speak to the child. You aren't a child any more, though she would have you be the child because that is where her power lies. She wants to throw the 'child' switch in you. You can stop her.

You can deny her power. Hold your hand up to her in your mind. Say 'No you can keep this. It is your story, your need to be this way, not mine. I am grown and I have moved on, even if you haven't'.

Honey, the idea of you there crying in the middle of the night...

My dear dear friend, enormous enormous hugs....

Jo xxxx

Doris said...

Thanks Jo xx

Steg said...

That's beautiful by Jo....

Chandira said...

I'm glad you got something out of my essay. lol

Yeah, it was an occasional madhouse, but sometimes a nice place to be too.

I think sometimes the best we can do is find our own peace with it all. I don't think you'd necessarily be a scared cat for not confronting it all with her. Maybe there is somebody else you can confront it all with, instead. My buddy Keith who leaves the occasional comment on my blog, has been a great help with my mum, and what I went through.

My own treasures are my mum's awesome and warped sense of humour, and interest in 'spirituality' (as opposed to 'religion'), she taught me the difference. She's also psychic, and I got that gift too. She also gave me a confidence in myself and my own abilities, paradoxically, because he had none of her own.
I got my dad's great values, and love of the environment, animals, history, etc, and his outgoing, easygoing, laid back personality.
See, I bet you can think of more. Write 'em down.
Some of mine were things that my parents lacked, and forced me into developing, out of need, but they're still treasures. :-)

Jay said...

There are things in my childhood that scarred me too. In my case, I thought I had a great and normal childhood until I had kids of my own and realised that I was raising them in a VERY different way to my Mum. She is OK, just lacking in empathy but there were incidents ... anyway. Once I realised where the recurrent nightmares and irrational (and sometimes frighteningly abstract) fears were coming from, I found that what I needed to do was spend a little time crying for the child that I had been. I felt desperately sad for her - as if it were someone else and I could still 'save' her. And then I needed to let go. As Josephine says, we need to learn to say 'hey, that's YOUR baggage, not mine' and refuse to accept it any more.

You won't change your Mum, especially if she has Asperger's. My son had a good friend with Asperger's, so I understand a little about that. Remember that it is something she can't help and can't control. It controls her.

Hugs to you.

Doris said...

Yes, I agree!

I always get a lot from what you write! That sounds sychophantic of me but I'm not really ;-) I'm not sure that I can yet sit and write out my treasures as a result of my parents but maybe I am getting there. I'm certainly in a different plac to where I was when I wrote that post!

"crying for the child that I had been. I felt desperately sad for her - as if it were someone else and I could still 'save' her. And then I needed to let go" I've certainly done some crying for the child I had been but I think before I had never done of the process of then letting the child go. Which sounds quite obvious really!

Thank you for your hugs - coming back to you :-)

Doris said...

It is nearly five years later .... how interesting it is read the words writ all that time ago. Sometimes I read old words and they make me cringe. These don't, they speak right to my core. More importantly, the discussion and feedback from others was just amazing. Helpful and thought provoking topped off with generous of helpings of just plain nice. The opportunity to discuss and share and hear suddenly that this or that person had this or that experience.

Just yesterday at work, a client who is ten years older then I, was laid on the couch having her wobbly bits ironed out by me, suddenly shared about her mother being near the end and how she did not get on with her. We had an amazing and frank discussion (maybe she is blogging under a pseudonmymn elsewhere!) about our mothers and parenting - both of being parents and being parented.

How many of us have had such dysfunctional parenting? How normal is "normal"? The media portrays this "myth" of the perfect parent and how fair is it?

Writing is cathartic and helpful which is why I am back to doing it. Discovering I am not alone is sad in some ways and so very helpful in others.

Viva la blogging!