The consollation of illusions
Tuesday November 17, 2009
Over the last couple of years, I have been become estranged from my family. After the death of my father, I saw how small, petty and narcissistic my mother is. On my dad’s deathbed, she was like a petulant child – angry with him for dying first. To say I was disgusted is not an exaggeration and sowed the seeds of the direction I was about to take with regards to taking a stand. I addressed the unhealthy relationship my brother had with my mom – he is a surrogate husband, in my opinion. For that, my brother disowned me. I also realized that my brother resented me since early childhood. I do not blame him, since any wrongs I committed against him likely happened, although they grew out of our family dysfunction.
I tried to maintain a relationship with my sister and mother, who I sensed blamed me and supported my brother. My sister has always rebuffed my attempts at seeking any warmth from her. My feelings of her not liking me and feeling highly competitive and resentful for my very existence (she is my senior by seven years), were born out recently when she invited me for coffee. We had not spoken for over a year, so this was a very surprising invitation. I went, hopeful, that perhaps she might be open to a new, more honest relationship.
This request for contact was actually a result of my last conversation with my mother, which occurred in January. I have tried numerous times to speak honestly with my mom about the dysfunction of our family and to address specifically her anxiety and the disabling anxiety that I have experienced in my own life. My mother told me that all of my concerns were in my imagination. Furthermore, she has been a good mom (my brother and sister have told her so). She has done nothing wrong, and would do it all again. She wonders why I am so nasty and want to hurt her. I stayed relatively calm and told her I was taking a break from our relationship. She said she loved me. I asked her one last time, “Do you have anxiety?” She denied it (she has been three times this year to the emergency for symptoms of panic – each time she was sent home with a recommendation for antidepressants).
Upon sitting with my sister in the coffee shop, she began what I can only call an interrogation as to how I could have abandoned our mother. She used every manipulation to instill in me guilt, remorse, and even fear. My sister was angry, I think, because seeing to my mother’s needs now on her own is only fueling her resentment towards me. My mom is healthy and of sound mind, living in a luxury seniors’ apartment on her own (my brother lives in another country – good for him, by the way). I have also ruined the holidays, because I refuse to show up.
At any rate, after venting and threatening me, my sister dismissed me. I think she got some satisfaction that I am a cold-hearted bitch with serious mental health issues.
Of course, the Christmas holidays are approaching, and I feel a pervasive weight on my shoulders, doubt in my mind, and guilt for what I have done.
I have no one really to support me in my path. Friends and coworkers bemoan their relationships with their families and mothers, or care for their abusive fathers because they are now old and feeble. I am in better health I believe for my decision, but I am very much alone in my life. Sometimes I think I should try again, or just bear with the absurdity of the fantasy of our family, because the loneliness exacts a toll of its own.
I guess Alice, I am just seeking a kind word of encouragement and support. It would mean a lot to me.
AM: As your mother obviously lies about her panic attacks and says she “would do it again”, I am afraid that your body will not feel well with going there for Chrismas but maybe you still need some illusions.