Monday, January 5, 2009

Need advice from my peeps! Part One

I was going to post about two things I'm not quite sure how to react to. However, as I wrote the first one, I realized I couldn't be brief as I had intended. I'm a little long winded, if you haven't already figured that out!

Friday night, after an enjoyable day at the casino, my mother asked me I thought she and I had a good visit. She and I had already discussed in the car on the way home from the casino that she had had a good time, on and on ad nauseam. She cannot stand silence, she has to fill it with chatter. So her asking me this just a fishing trip, the way that I think about it. I answered her honestly by saying that I did enjoy her visit, especially as we get along better a few days at a time.

Later that evening, out of the blue, she asks, "why do you kids hate me?". My reaction was an incredulous, "WHAT?". Where the fuck did that come from? She responded that my sister, Bouf, had said something a couple of years ago, and her daughter Meg always says mean things to her, and that she and I had had a "problem" over the summer, and she wanted to know why we hated her, what was wrong with her. I honestly told her that I do not hate her. I then informed her that I would absolutely not get into it with her and ruin the last night of her visit, nor could I speak for anyone other than myself, anyway! I suggested that maybe I could write her a letter when I would have time to think about what I wanted to say and would be able to articulate myself better. She accepted the brush off and let it go.

Knowing my mother the way that I do, I have to assume that:

A) She really doesn't want to know
B) She will actually forget asking this
C) She'd be happier with her delusions that nothing is wrong
D) I cannot make a leopard change her spots
E) If I actually wrote the letter, And Sent It, she would wonder why I was attacking her

So, looking for advice on problem #1. Should I just write the letter and not send it? Or, should I send it and break an old woman's heart?


Aunt Becky said...

I don't think I'd send the letter. Maybe it's my drama-avoidance, but I figure that there are plenty of things that even if asked, remain better unsaid.

Sass said...

So many times, if you just write a letter and don't send it, it helps clarify so much to you. And maybe it'd help you communicate with her more easily if you had written it all out first?

In other words, write, don't send.

Laura said...

I agree with the write don't send method. I have my own mommy issues but I have found that no matter what, they will never change. There's no point in making the problem even more apparent.

~E said...

Don't send it. It's not worth the pain you may cause, plus she probably is unwilling to hear your thoughts or willing to change herself this late in life anyway.

chaos37 said...

I've written letters many times with no intention of sending them and it is theraputic. You'll never be forgiven if she ever actually read it. It's not worth it.

Gwen said...

Write it, because it will make you feel better and give you clarity. But do not ever send it. In fact, destroy it when it has served its purpose.

Angie said...

Another vote for write, don't send.

LegalMist said...

I agree with the write / don't send advice. It is hard to receive such a letter, and you can't see her reaction / change your approach / stop as needed if it's all written out in a letter and mailed. But I don't agree that you should simply avoid the issue forever if she is actively asking why there's a problem.

If she doesn't bring it up again, perhaps it's best to let it go.

But if she asks again why your relationship with her is so troubled, you might consider whether there is anything you can say that would be helpful rather than hurtful. I agree that raising problems can be hurtful and not solve anything if the person doesn't really want to hear them. But if she's asking what she's done wrong, is it possible she really does want to know how to relate better? And in that case "drama avoidance" might be a sad response, giving her no way to improve her relationship with her daughter, when she might really want that.

So if she asks again and if you think she really does want to try to change the dynamic, maybe you could say something like, it's partly me, too, Mom, I know that, but here are a couple of things you could do that would help us get along better -- and then pick one or two relatively simple things that she could change if she wanted to, and that would not hurt her feelings too much. If she responds well to those, you could move on to larger issues if she seems receptive. Just a thought. Behavior changes are always easier in small steps.

Don't do this, though, if you're not ready to hear her complain about things you do and ask you to change them. Or if you think she really was just playing "drama queen" with the "why do you hate me" question, and has no intention of actually trying to change anytying.

Just as an interesting note, I have heard that one of the questions they ask you in the pre-hiring polygraph test at the CIA is "Why do you hate your mother?" They will not take "I don't hate my mother" as an answer. Apparently they think everyone hates her mother for some reason or another. So if you want to avoid the issues, perhaps if she asks again "Why do you hate me?", you can ask her if she has gotten a job as a hiring manager at the CIA...

JoJo said...

I'd write the letter, but then put it in her coffin when she dies. That's what I'm going to do.

My mom is the same way. She has no clue why I get so angry when she constantly criticizes me b/c she sees it as "helping me".

Nothing will make these old ladies change. They are from a different era with different ideas on parenting. My mom is pushing 82. There's no point in telling her off. She won't change.

Although I have no regrets on what I said to a former boss when he asked me if I was changing jobs because of him. I was changing jobs b/c it was a way better opportunity w/ way better pay, but yeah, he had been a major league dick to me and since he asked, I told him. Clearly he had to have been feeling guilt b/c I never expected him to ask me that, nor had it really played into my reasons for going elsewhere.