Friday, November 9, 2007

Swallowing the Bitter Pill

You ever have that person in your life that makes you feel all warm and needed and loved and then they yank the rug out and you see that they really were just fooling you? Again. And you feel all hurt and betrayed and pissed? You’re mad at them but really you’re mad at yourself for letting them fool you again?

My mom was supposed to come for a visit. She was flying in tonight and leaving next Tuesday. She sent me an email yesterday to let me know she’d cancelled the trip. A fucking email. I called her to see why and got her machine. She sent me another email to say she had the flu and she’d call me later because she didn’t want to talk about it at work. Didn’t want to talk about the flu at work? If she has the flu, why is she at work? And she didn’t have the flu the day before when I called her.

So she calls last night and says, yes, she had a flu shot and was having some reaction to it but I could tell that wasn’t all and so asked her what was really up. She said she didn’t want to come out when there was all this drama with Dave’s truck and she didn’t want to be the “mother-in-law” in the way. (Dave’s FedEx truck broke down and cost us nearly $6000 to fix) She said she’d come out next month. I told her there’d be drama then, too because that was going to be peak season and she wouldn’t see Dave at all because he’d be so slammed with the route.

I said, “There’s always going to be drama, mom. So whatever. When you feel like you want to come for a visit and deal with the “drama” that is our family you come on out. I’ve got to go.” And I hung up.

Our drama?? Yeah, we have drama. We’ve had drama since we moved here a year ago. It’s been a financial nightmare. But that’s life. And this coming from a woman who is completely addicted to drama and chaos. If you think I've got drama it's because, baby, I learned from the best. And I’m always the one she calls and I’m the one who is there for her.

She’s been saying, “I wish I could be there for you,” when I call her upset with things going on here but when it comes down to it, she doesn’t want to deal with it. Just like always. She’s helped out financially here and there in my life but when I need her emotionally, it’s too much trouble. Anything beyond listening on the phone is too much trouble.

I cut off all contact with her for most of the 90’s because I was tired of her lies and chaos. Through the magic of therapy, I reconciled with her. And we’ve had this really great relationship as long as we never talked about the stuff we really needed to talk about. She was visiting us every year after the boys were born and when her husband got sick we came out there. That’s the last time we’ve seen her, when we visited her summer before last, because her husband was dying and we knew she couldn’t come see us.

He passed this April and I called her every day for about 4 months to make sure she was OK and always answered when she called me. Then there’s this whole drama about her inheritance that she put in the safes of her 2 adult stepsons and how half of it is missing now. I’ve been dealing with her shit for… well, forever.

I feel tricked. I feel like Charlie Brown forever running for that damn football. And, if I’m honest, I did it to myself. I keep having this fantasy that she’s going to act like a real mom someday. And I’m not talking about June Cleaver - she’s great at that. She sends cookies at Christmas and sends the boys cards and presents. I don’t need cookies.

And the boys. I’ve been pumping this visit for 2 weeks now and I had to tell them last night that she’s not coming. Davis is too little to know/care much but Trev was pretty upset (I used her flu excuse). And again, being honest, he’ll get over it. I don’t know if I will.

All this time, I’ve been telling myself that she’s like that because of the husbands she’s had. They were bad guys and controlling. I knew deep down it wasn’t true and now I know for sure - there’s no husband for me to blame anymore.

I’m so angry, I can’t see straight. I’ll get over it, but not anytime soon. So, yeah, she can visit whenever she wants and we’ll have this nice fluffy visit. And as far as her dealing with our “drama”, she won’t have to anymore. We can have a nice fluffy relationship, too. She can keep her damn football.

In yoga (or was it Tai Chi?), there’s this move called Swallowing the Bitter Pill. You put your arms at shoulder height and curved like you’re holding an enormous beach ball. You do these wavy movements with your arms, making the “ball” smaller and smaller until it’s tennis ball size then you make these movements in front of your face and down your throat to signify swallowing the bitter pill. I never understood it. Why would you want to swallow a tennis ball sized bitter pill? Why internalize that? No thank, you.

Spitting it out, Ruth


sophanne said...

I hate that. I hate every part of it. I hate dysfunctional parents who try to lay their bad karma on their kids. I hate that they aren't smart enough to go to therapy, or yoga or get out of their own selfish heads. I hate that they have the "power of parent" to make you think that football isn't going to move. I hate that I (you-anyone else) feels like Charlie Brown because we are compassionate, forgiving and at peace in our own spaces. Your story resonates. You are not alone. Ask. Me. How. I. Know.

Chris said...


About 7 years ago, I finally broke off all contact with my mother. It took having a joint therapy session (with my regular therapist) to give me the strength to do it. After the session, when my mother was gone, my therapist confirmed that my instincts were right and that my mother was indeed a poisonous person I shouldn't feel obligated to have in my life.

It's been remarkably freeing. I hope you can find that freedom, whatever you have to do to get there.

Kristyn said...

I am so sorry for you. I sort of know what you are going through. My father is not very interested in having a relationship with me if a holiday or birthday is no included. I have just decided it is his choice and that I will be there if he ever decides to change. You are a strong person and you will get through this to become even stronger. Good luck!

Susan said...

I'm just gonna add to the chorus here and say how utterly sorry I am that you're going through this.

Hang tough, sweetie.

Nell said...


Do you remember that song from the 80's? Once Bitten Twice Shy? I love that idea but I'm not so good at it in practice. And it sounds like you're the same way. It's hard not to always believe the best about people. But sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and protect yourself. I'm so sorry that it's your mom that has earned this treatment. I'm proud of you for telling her how you feel though. That can be really tough.

Me7of11 said...

This story makes my heart hurt. I don't know what else to say. I will wish that your life continues to fill with enough joy to sooth your soul and to help fill the void left by your mother's selfishness.

Tammy said...

I'm so sorry, Ruth. To an extent I can relate because I come from a fairly dysfunctional family myself. I know the hurt of repeatedly being let down by someone close to me.

I can only try to encourage you by reminding you that it is your mom's issue and her baggage... it is not a reflection on you. As my dad always says, "All you can do is take care of your side of the street." You can't change anybody else. BTW, my dad's an alcoholic who is 30+ years sober now... but was not a part of my life growing up.

Love yourself and you family and hope, for your mom's sake that she gets a clue someday.

WandaWoman said...

I'm really sorry about your mom. That's really terrible. Perhaps you should not have her in your life, she seems a bit toxic.

knitnzu said...

Ugh, so sorry! But be strong and be who you are, which is a good person! Maybe that bitter pill exercise stretches something?

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. I have the same type of mother; she's a mother or grandmother when it's convenient for her. There's a lot of sh*t in our past and I keep trying to put it aside and trust her, but I also keep getting knocked down. Be strong and know that she is the one who is losing out.

Diane said...

I'm sorry that you have a selfish mom. I'm sure her perception is totally different from yours. I guess the best fit would be not to count on her for anything.

uberstrickenfrau said...

Hey- My heart goes out to you. The good you can take from this is now you know what kind of mom NOT to be to your sons- or grandma for that matter.