I spent the final day of 2017 in tears. I was already a little fragile but what ripped me open was some hurtful, although well meaning, comments from some older friends that I have come to care for deeply, people I’ve seen as good role models and as “Mum and Dad”.
We had visited and just sat down to lunch with them, they asked how things with mum are going. Having seen her sitting with us at our Christian Worship in the morning, they were happily assuming that improvements in our fractured relationship had been made. Mindful that my children were present I choose words carefully to express the circumstances were not favourable.
She started “You need to treat your Mother with love! It doesn’t matter what she has done, she’s your mother and you should be thankful you have her around.”
I felt the air leave my chest in a woosh, actually, it felt as off all of the oxygen had been sucked out of the room. I stammered as I tried to find the words to explain again that our relationship wasn’t like the one she had with her mother, but I have had a childhood and my adulthood filled with psychological abuse from her (and physical abuse by others because she didn’t care enough to stop it).
Then he continued “We think you should stop calling us Mum and Dad, it’s not appropriate and we don’t like it. You should use our first names and the kids should call us Mr and Mrs, not Grandad and Granny.”
They said they hoped we were not offended and I smiled and said that of course we would respect their feelings.
In my head I’m recalling the last few times we visited and that I mentioned that my mother doesn’t like that we have created a family within our congregation for ourselves and our kids, a congregation filled with loving mums and dads, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. I realise that they’ve been thinking of this and do not feel it is appropriate as my mother is there, but she has told us very clearly that she doesn’t want us in her life unless it is on her terms.
We don’t have a family if we don’t create one of our own with others, my children miss out on love and care of grandparents without our mishmash family. As a mother myself I don’t want my babies to suffer that like I did.
This judgement isn’t new, for years people have been drawing incorrect conclusions about myself and my husband, many of whom have openly expressed their disapproval that we have distanced ourselves and our children from her.
My mother is an expert manipulator and currently she is in fine form. In the past 2 weeks four of my husband and my close friends have come to us telling us to look after her, pointing out her age and health, and financial crisis (she has been on more than 30 holidays in the past 5 years though), reminding us of our spiritual duty to look after an elderly parent.
No, I wasn’t offended by our friends desire to look out for her, but I was absolutely shattered in my soul. How can people who know us, know me, those who have experienced our open and generous, loving hearts and genuine Christian kindness, fall victim to her machinations, and look at us in a negative light like that?
And why can she not leave us be? It is her who has refused our multiple attempts to make peace, not us.
Starting the year with this black cloud in my heart is not ideal, but it is nothing outstandingly different. Life as a narcissists daughter is exhausting.