Guts and Gutlessness

Ok that’s a bit too much for a title, but hear me out. I am the most cowardly person when it comes to dealing with my own mother. She and I hasn’t been seeing eye to eyes these past year and it is driving me insane! It all started with a legitimate reason for my sudden change on how I viewed her. Before that happened, I knew her to be a strong, caring (in her own tough way), and wanted the best for everyone. And now all I see is someone who had manipulated my thoughts, actions and emotions into what she wanted. I’m not trying to be hateful, and I do want our relationship to get better because I do love her, I just don’t appreciate it when she tries to get everyone to do what she wants either through guilt trips or using other people against us.

For the longest time, she would always tell me “You’ll take care of me when I’m old, right? You’ll let me live with you?” After years and years of this, I felt so much pressure. I felt so much pressure to do well in life, which, in hindsight, is not such a bad thing but the motivation behind it is all wrong, don’t you agree? She never once hounded my oldest brother about it and when I found the courage one day to ask her this question, she answered, “I can’t rely on him, you know that.” I was disappointed, to say the least. Instead of feeling like she was seeing me in such a good light, I just saw how she wanted to be comfortable. My brother is the type to just go with the flow, and not push himself any more than necessary. I could never rely on him financially, let’s say if I needed $5000 for a debt. They would hassle, scold and nag me to figure out a way to get that repaid or reduced. If it was my brother who needed the same thing, I would be a bit hesitant at first but I’d shell it out. Why? Because my mother drilled into me the important of sticking together as a family. And that’s how I treat all of them, very important but I try not to show it because I find they abuse that.

For example, my mom knows that guilt trips work on me like magic. I cannot, in good conscience, let other people suffer when I know I have something to give. This is after she’s told me all the sad history that this particular person (usually a distant relative) and then I can’t undo that knowledge and my conscience kicks in and I start feeling guilty that I’m doing well and I can’t even spare a few hundred dollars to help this person out. It’s not that I abhor the giving part, I don’t mind it actually. It’s how she haggles ONLY me for this that pisses me off. She knows my other siblings won’t do the same because they can tolerate talking back to her, and I couldn’t seem to do that. She knew me enough to do things like that, but not enough to know how I truly felt when she did do those things.

Somehow I managed to live with her like that, and I’ve even learned to accept that she will always be that way. For years, I lived my life putting her first when I make major decisions. When I bought my car, it was primarily so I could drive her to work if my dad didn’t want to (if you’ve read my older post, there’s a much bigger reason but eventually comes down to this). See what I mean? Even now, as I’m getting ready to buy my own place, I still worry about their bills coz I pay them currently and help with the groceries as well. So I have to figure out how the’ll be able to manage without my income to help them out.

What changed my view of my mom was both what she said and what she didn’t say. We had talked to her about divorcing my dad for various reasons (mostly his fault) and then talked to my dad separately about it. It was a very turbulent time for all of us, and for me, I just wanted it to be over so we could all move on. Keep in mind, I was with my mom on this 120%, I was ready to back her up even with what I know, because I  knew she made the right choice, even with how she was prior to this. (This threat to break the family has been ongoing. Imagine the stress of that when you’re around the people that are screaming and hurting each other all the time and in the process, hurting you by not thinking about how this affects you as it drags on and on and on.)

Anyways, it was during our talk that I finally realized she was never really intent on leaving my dad if she didn’t get to live the same way as she is. I was all for it and I told her she’d have to start going by bus to work again, we’d have to live in a small apartment when they sell the house, and we might have to start our life over again. Now to get a view of her life is right now: She gets dropped off and picked up from work coz she doesn’t know how to drive, we travel every year together as family (with me and my brother) handling most everything aside from her flight tickets (they have air miles), we live in a brand new house. You can see the difference it’ll make, right? But I didn’t even worry about those things because the emotional toll it was taking was so hard on me and I could barely think of anything else in my daily living. When we finally asked her if she was going to separate, she said “I can’t leave him; I don’t know what he’ll do to himself.” She was using my dad as an excuse to hide the fact that she won’t be content if she’s not living the same lifestyle if they went ahead with the divorce.

That was the turning point for me. I thought, if you’d rather be living a lie and stay miserable, I can’t support such a decision and I won’t stay in this kind of environment anymore. I’d never said those things aloud and I think that part is my mistake. She has no idea what the reason is for my cold demeanour when I’m around her. Because ever since then, every time she talked to me, all I can think of is “How could you lead us on like that the entire time?” And I can’t seem to stop the numbness, the lack of love and the seething anger that I get when I see her or hear her voice. It’s continually progressing even now. I’ve tried forgiving her and accept her as she is (for my own sanity’s sake) but it screwed with my mind that I started feeling guilty for my current decision of wanting to leave.

It’s hard to admit that I don’t have a good relationship with my mom, because she’s the one that I had trusted most when I was a kid. And now that that’s broken, it saddens me even though I want to get away as fast as I can. I lack that good communication with her, but history taught me that she’d get mad at me and end the conversation with a guilt trip every time I tried to talk to her about these things. To me, I feel like if she changed herself for the better, I would consciously try my best to see past our rough patches and make it work again. I mean I miss hugging her, having family gossips with her, or her crazy funny side.  But since that is not happening yet, I think I have to distance myself if I don’t want to hate her for the rest of my life.

My gutlessness is in that I can’t tell her I’m leaving unless everything is all set and I’m ready to go. But it’s because I know her enough that she would try to do something to stop it had I told her of that decision early. I’m giving her a month’s notice but no more. I know she’ll be hurt, but she had already made her choice so I’m making mine. For my own well being, I want to have a peaceful home environment and a quiet that would be good for meditation. None of this, swearing at each other in front of us, the yelling and constant pretence of being a happy family. I’m exhausted and I need the change.

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