Lately, I’ve been thinking about my mother, and all my other familial ties. Family has been a really weird thing for me, compared to other people, and I seem to have a vastly different perspective on it that I’d like to lay out.
To describe my mother: she is bipolar, and most likely a sociopath. When I was very young, she was neglectful and would drop me with my dad on a whim, for however much time. Later, she became very controlling. I’m not sure when she started physically abusing me, but I was pretty young. She’s manipulative. Basically a whole host of bad, treatable symptoms. If she’d ever stayed on her medication, we might have had something good.
I’m trying to imagine, from her perspective, the time that she hit me with a wooden ruler on the face and arms until well after it had broken. It’s difficult to imagine striking a cowering child repeatedly. Honestly, it sickens me.
A lot of her family also has the crazies. (I know it’s ableist, but most of them have something wrong and I’m unaware of the diagnoses.) They’re abusive toward each other, physically and emotionally. Ties get cut, remade, and cut again. I’m almost never interested in dealing with them, with a few exceptions for certain people. I have no idea how much I have in common with them because just at the age that I’d be interested to know their political or religious opinions, I decided that their behaviour was not healthy for me.
As for my dad’s family: He doesn’t speak to his father anymore, after granddad refused to co-sign for my dad’s house, claiming that it wasn’t “in God’s plan”. My dad views it as a cop-out, and now they extremely rarely speak.
Those we do speak to are too religious for us to comfortably discuss our atheism around them. They’re unwaveringly Republican, without even thinking about it. In general, they have opinions that they didn’t think much about, and that lack of intelligent thought is enough to make me uncomfortable. I’m interested in discussion, or at least being able to say what I think, and I will certainly offend all of them if I let slip my anti-theism or disgust at their unintelligent voting.
I don’t dislike who they are and I can easily shut my trap for a few hours to visit with them. It’s just irritating.
As for my dad and his immediate family: They’re awesome. My dad has been my hero, quite literally, my entire life. He provided a safe haven when I needed it, he took care of me when my mom decided to dump me off. He was almost always broke, and he’s struggled with depression (something I can now fully appreciate), but tried to make it work.
Now that we’re both adults, we have so much in common that it’s easy to be friends. I like my stepmom much better now that we aren’t in close-quarters, and my sisters are blossoming into interesting people.
So, now that we’re done with exposition: I don’t understand the argument of “well, she’s your mother, so you have to love her.” It’s completely nonsensical that I should have to devote my time and effort and love and energy into an abusive woman who won’t take her pills, who punches her own mother in the face at age 32. It almost strikes a chord with “God has a plan, keep faith even when shit gets thrown at you.”
I’ve heard “She gave birth to you, you have to respect that.” Well, my mother got pregnant with me at 15, and I’m pretty certain it was either to control other people using me, or to have someone in the world who was supposed to love her unfailingly. She also threw it in my face a lot that she gave birth to me.
Hearing it all the time and knowing that she could have (SHOULD HAVE) gotten an abortion at that age instead of having me chips away at the hallowed respect for motherhood. It was a stupid decision that she STILL hasn’t recovered from, as she’s been working on college since she was 19 and still doesn’t have a bachelor’s.
I just really don’t see the point in keeping someone in your life who is so destructive. The sheer quantity (and quality) of her fucking balls-crazy behaviours is absolutely stunning. I can’t really understand what it’s like to have manic-depression, but I do know that psychologists and pills and support groups exist. She really could be helped, and maybe someday she’ll figure that out and get some REAL treatment.
As it stands, her behaviour is the same as ever. My younger brother still lives with her. He receives the treatment now. Apparently she has him on Prozac and ruined his chances at going to the best school in the district, thanks to truancy.
My disconnect with my mother pretty much breaks down any other ‘you should love your family because they’re your family’ cyclical logic. I feel absolutely no need to associate with people that I have nothing in common with, that I don’t enjoy being around, who make me uncomfortable, or who are rude to me, just because we share some DNA. I wouldn’t continue hanging out with a friend who acted that way, and I don’t see why or where it is different to dissociate with harmful family members.
I talk to my dad and co. because we have things in common. We can have open, frank discussions and agree to disagree. We don’t live together, so we don’t really have anything to argue about anymore. If anything, I’d really like to see them more often. Cost and trying to be careful with my ancient car keep me from visiting. I LIKE being around them, and almost never leave with negativity.
The one thing that sucks the most about my mother is that we COULD have had a good relationship. I feel like we should have, at least from seeing how other people feel about their mothers. It seems that if she could stabilize and get help and stay medicated, we could have been pals. We do have a lot of common interests. I don’t even know her specific religious and political views, though this would be the time in life that I’d love to know.
In some alternate reality, maybe she and I could have a functional, healthy relationship. It’s really, truly unfortunate that I can’t get to know her better through the barrier of her illness. She has damaged me too much to ever really forgive, and I don’t see her trying to get better. Lots of people have tried to have relationships with her during her entire life, and no one really succeeds. It just ends in destructive clashes, tears, and broken hearts.