Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's what we do in this family

I called my mother, speaking to her for the first time since our awkward parting on Christmas Eve. I figured that she's old now, she's forgetful, she's not well and she's not going to change. Whatever happened on Christmas Eve shouldn't ruin whatever time we have left. (My sister, though, she's a more prickly situation …)

Anyway, my mom was very chatty, thanking me time and again for my gifts, merrily reporting on my niece and nephew. More than once I was tempted to say, "Do you want to talk about it?" OK, I was dying to SHOUT it! But that's me, that's not my mom, nor my sister. Their style is passive-aggressive. To act out a bit, and then spackle over the problem, pretending it's gone away.

Their style is not my style. For I believe (to quote Carrie Fisher) that nothing is every really over, just "over there." But my mom was raised by a pair of alcoholics and is desperately confrontation-averse. She's also 70+ and my mother and I love her despite of her flaws. Her parents messed hers up, mine messed me up, and if I had a daughter, I'd probably mess her up, too. It doesn't mean she doesn't love me. It means we must accept one another in order to enjoy the time we have left.

PS I got your message and thank you, Snarkela. You're so dear. I'm afraid, though, that what our dustup refers back to is too painful to discuss just now. But I'm so grateful that you're out there.


  1. Thanks for the shout out - I just wanted you to know I'm here if you wanted to talk. (HUGS)

    I'm like you - if something happened, I wonder how the other person can go on acting as if nothing ever occurred. WTF, right? Their ability to deny all that goes on makes it so hard when you are conscious of all of it. It's like a big ass elephant took a dump in the room and they're all "So, what's new with you?" about it. It sucks. I know. Been there, done that.

    And BTW, you are so self-aware that I bet any child you raised would be that way too. We who have been F'd up and understand where it came from and why try really, really hard to do better. (Me? I'm sure I would have found eleventy new ways to mess my kid up! LOL)

    Love you.

  2. I've survived several passive-aggressive family festivals. Thank God for therapy.


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