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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ignorance is Bliss

I'm still sorting out my holiday pics and will post some more soon, but right now something is bothering me and I need to get it off my chest (and no, it's not my sister's coconut bra!!). It's something that happened between my mother and I when I was in Scotland.

It's my aunt's birthday, so we (my mother, my sister and I) all trundle up to Edinburgh to take her out for lunch and spend the day with her. Lunch is great, everyone had a wonderful time and I had carefully positioned myself to the outside of the table (and spoken with the maitre'd on arrival) to make sure I can take care of the bill as my aunt is very forceful about 'paying her way'.

I manage, despite much waving of arms by both my aunt and I, and threatened assaults by both of us on the wait staff to 'give me the bill', to take care of it. My mother later berates me for doing that, saying she wanted to pay. I kindly pointed out that due to her location at the table, that would have been impossible as she was in the far corner and past my aunt. Therefore, I took care of it as I knew the plan was that my aunt would not, under any circumstances, be allowed to pay. I should have sensed that would not be the end of it.

Later that afternoon, there is some reminiscing about the early years in Scotland by my mother and my aunt (this, for me, is birth to age 2). They were talking about where they lived and so on and suddenly my mother comes out with "She was an awful baby, a real bitch (looking at me)." I was somewhat stunned at this reference to a baby as a "bitch" and said so. My mother continued on, referring to me again as an "absolute bitch" due to the fact I apparently cried and screamed a lot. To the point she wanted to throw me against a wall. She even said that when my dad came home from sea, he told her that he couldn't bring himself to even like me. I think that hurt the most.

I said, and this is indeed my understanding, that a baby doesn't cry for nothing, there has to be a reason for it. Oh no I was told, you were just a bitch. I was so stunned I really didn't know what to say. So my mother continues on about how wonderful my brother was, how if I wanted one of his toys, he gave me it even though she told him not to, with him saying "it's OK mum, I don't mind". And what a wonderful boy he was, and man he is. My eyes started to sting a little as my brother and I have a very ugly relationship about which I've posted before and about which noone in my family knows. What she does know is that he tried to kill me several times before I reached my teens and she often recounts these stories (the two she knows about, there was one other I never told her because he threatened me at the time) and makes jokes about them.

When I was in Hawaii with my sister, we spoke about our mother a bit, about dealing with her and how we can be there for her in the difficult months ahead. I was taken aback when my sister said: "You know Fion, mum's really really nasty about you." I didn't even want to ask how, or what she'd been saying. I'm the one who has been the most supportive, I made sure I was there with her when she got her diagnosis and was the one able to ask the important questions, the answers to which are what have helped her decide what she wants to do about her illnesses. I'm the one who shops online for her for things she can't get locally, who goes out of my way to think of things she needs or might like to have. Who does more than call her on a regular basis (which is all my brother does), instead trying to make sure her life is made more comfortable. Even my sister has asked me why I do all this for her if she doesn't appreciate it. I guess I feel duty-bound in some way.

Since my dad passed away, I like my mother less and less. I care about her less and less. It's almost as though she's fading away already. It's almost as though, too, her affection for me has disappeared since my dad left us. I wonder if the two things are related and if she ever even liked me, or just made a show of it because my dad loved me so much.

More about my mother

Should I continue to just swallow all I hear and be the respectful daughter during whatever days she has left? Should I tell her how her beloved son stole my childhood and fostered such fear in me, which she would probably choose to deny anyway? Or should I just do what right now I feel like doing, and avoid her as much as possible?

I no longer feel as though I'm losing my mother, I feel as though I never had one.


Steve said...

Ignorance is certainly not bliss... you are not the only duty-bound one in your family, hon: other people should be held accountable too for their actions. They should be allowed to feel honorable. They need to sit in that seat once in a while, while you take the lesser seat. Or, allowed to be judged as dishonorable too: again, instead of you being hurt by their false accusations, as the case may be. You are not the only one who gets to pay the bill... or set things right for what others have done or failed to do, for the sake of holding your family's honor.

The one who does not want to be held accountable, does very little to account for himself (your bro)... he pays for nothing, and takes care of little, and when you take that duty upon yourself because you have the means to do it, they resent you, it seems, because you do have the means to do it... and they don't want to owe you anything.

Stop paying the bill. Let them pay sometimes. Hold them accountable for their own, actual, actions. Then, you will see less resentment toward you, and more regret toward themselves, that they didn't act rightly before, as they should have, when they sat in that seat, and you had the lesser one.

I don't mean be vindicative...NO... I mean be honest and validate yourself, whichever way you choose to respond, but don't try to get them to validate you in any way... because then, it is not done in love. Don't take their dishonor away from them, nor any honor away from them either, you will only be controlled and punished for that... not appreciated... so differentiate yourself, do things that you want to do, but don't care one way or another how others feel about it... so that you are not doing it for their appreciation. Appreciate yourself for now on, you lil' bitch you!!! I say that with love.

DG said...

My answer is simple. Walk away and don't look back.

freebird said...

It always disturbs me when I hear of parents who don’t appreciate their children’s qualities - good or bad - especially when their blindness affects other siblings. I’ve seen it before and it’s an injustice I can’t stand. But what’s the right thing to do when the parent is dying? I can’t believe it’s right that she should never know the truth. I feel for you in this impossible situation. Hugs to you Fi. xxx

LePhare said...

A friend of mine once said to me, "the only thing I want from my family is distance."

Being the only one, I've never had your trouble, but my wife is one of five girls, and there are certainly favourite in her family. The youngest sister can do no wrong, while the eldest is the biggest sh*t on earth......... except when things go wrong. Who get the phone call for help? You guessed it!

My wife is in the middle so has to take her turn in the pecking order or being picked on order.

Choose your friends, you can't choose your family. We're there for you Fi.

Fiona said...

Wow Steve that's deep....thing is, I don't stop anyone else from feeling honourable, the meal thing was just so my aunt didn't pay for her own birthday lunch - she's incorrigible and would NOT have sat back, so I was doing it not for anyone else, but for her hon.

Gosh I don't do any of this for appreciation, I'm not looking for that kind of validation, I do it so that she feels taken care of in some way and I just get upset when she's nasty about me and I really don't deserve it. I did laugh at the 'lil bitch' bit *L*, I know you love me ;)

I know DG, but it's not so easy is it. Especially now when time is limited.

Freebird, thank you. It's just that the truth might not be believed....or even turned against me....and would it help anything....I don't think it would.

I miss my dad Ian, he was my anchor and cared about me. And yes, I'm the dependable one...the one who, on arriving in Scotland when he died, hit the ground running...as soon as I got there everything was handed over to me...arranging the minister, the eulogy, the announcements, the catering, the lawyer...while I cooked dinner (and listened to my mum give my brother everything of emotional value that had belonged to my dad, to him). But that's me too, my fault, for taking over when it's expected of me I guess. Thank you, it means a lot to me that you are there.

Sunny Delight said...

Fi, darling woman...in spite of the anger I feel at such a woman as your mother, the thing I try to remember in situations where I feel that I am not appreciated is that in the end I am the one who has to live with me...do not be her doormat but do what makes you feel right....

The childish side of me says...stop all you do for her. Allow her to realize what a jewel you truly have been to her....but how would that make you feel?

I think you are correct she will choose to not believe you in regards to your brother...the woman knows she is dying...and somehow she has never allowed herself to view the world as it truly is, but instead has created a make-believe one that she somehow chooses as the better world....whenever an evil is done to us we hold out this hope that before the end comes it will all somehow be made right...sadly this does not always happen....

If your father were alive today....and he was able to truly see this woman for what she is....what would he tell you? I somehow think he is one of your measuring sticks when you face a touch choice....

It is so easy to say walk away, let her lie in the bed she has chosen...but it is not easy to do...

chele said...

Oh Fi. I want to say tell her the awful truth but you and I both know that wont matter to her and it will only hurt you worse. I want to say walk away and never look back but I also know thats not in you. You never quit. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt your dad adored you Fi..and so do you. Let your mothers bitterness eat her alive..not you! You do need to stop doing everything for her though. Just do the basic things and stop trying to make her care. You are who you are today because of your father and you will care for your mom because you know he would expect that but dont let her beat you down anymore. As far as your brother goes..he will get his some day!

Some one said we dont get to pick our families..thats true in most cases but your my family! I chose you and I will not let you go! Sister of my heart..lean on your friends and the family you chose. I love you! (yes im going to bed now!!!)

Fiona said...

Sunny, it is so hard to not love the woman who brought me into this world. To sit and listen to praise about others and never hear anything positive about me. To have even the fact I can be practical, slammed. I think my dad DID see her for what she is, she gave all of us ample opportunity.

To give an example, my sis (in London) had surgery on both breasts a few years back and needed someone to look after her for a week or so at home afterwards - changing dressings and bathing and even putting her clothes on. I (in Hong Kong, 13 hours away) couldn't because of work commitments and fully expected my mother to do it. In the end it was my dad (from the Canary Islands, 4 hours away) who went over and helped to change the dressings and do other things that really a dad shouldn't have to do for his grown daughter. My mother's excuse - she couldn't leave the animals (two dogs)! My dad would have been there at home, but she couldn't leave them. For me that really taught me alot about my mother and her feelings for her daughters. And it also showed me that my dad would do anything for us.

Chele, you've come to know me so well and yes, we are family. And you're right, I don't think any good can come from these revelations. I think in all honesty I'll keep quiet and just keep being there for whatever she needs, but probably not visiting the way I did with my dad. It feels horrible, but it also feels necessary, for me.

Hugs to you both and thank you for your words and your friendship.

Emily said...

I am so very sorry about this. The things your mother said are unbelievable and just not true. A baby is not a bitch. A baby is just distressed at times, and sometimes just needs to cry and scream because that is what babies do! A woman, however, really can be a bitch!

There is obviously something quite twisted in your mother that she has said these things to you and so openly favoured sibs. Not uncommon, unfortunately.

These things can be very hard. My father has said some unbelievable things to and about me, and even though I shouldn't care, it does hurt. And I know I felt a lot better after I put my complaints against him in a letter and I DID post it.

Yes, he was angry, but sometimes it is actually a relief to both parties to know where they stand. And although he denied everything I said in that letter, since that time, he has made more of an effort. We still don't have a great relationship in my opinion, but it is cordial and even affectionate sometimes.


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