In an earlier post, I mentioned not being in communication with my Mother. I am not proud of this, nor am I proud of the conditions surrounding its occurrence. The details are not of importance, other than to say they were any of the myriad of instances that I am sure have occurred between you and your mother, or between you and your daughter, at various times throughout your lives.
There’s something about the relationship between mothers and daughters that is difficult and stigmatic and nearly impossible to keep from flaring up. Our details piled up over 40 years and finally broke the camel’s back–– buried the poor slob right into the sand.
It’s been just over two months since I’ve seen my Mother, and have only exchanged emails within the past few days. She wanted answers to some valid questions: why am I singled-out as the bad guy when certain things are brought up? why do I only find out about things after we’re all yelling at each other?
It was that last question that hit me hard. Why is that the case? She’s right. I keep information from her––big things, like major surgery, being infertile, and having needed help because I hated my marriage. I had to take a good hard look at myself to figure out why I keep things from her. I keep them from her because she and my Dad kept (and still keep) most things from me and my siblings… like major surgery, cancer, etc..
Learned. Behavior. That’s it. It’s not a pretty reason, nor is it one I consciously decided to perpetuate, but it is the reason why. What motivates us to hoard information? For me, it’s because “it will be easier if they don’t know.” Hmm… when was I appointed decision-maker for the people around me? Right… I was not. I do it with the best of intentions, but then one day the shit hits the fan, and in a fit of rage or pain, it gets blurted out, hurting both parties and the relationship. Good job protecting your loved one, me. Way to go.
I emailed my Ma (I’m Italian, we don’t have mothers; we have a Ma) last night, answering what of her questions I felt I could, apologizing for my ridiculously disrespectful behavior, and telling her about a terrible surgery I had last month which… you guessed it… I kept from her. Not surprisingly, I received a call from her this afternoon. I could hear the concern and the pain in her voice while she asked how I was doing.
I kept my surgery from her because I’d seen how terribly the last one hit her. It was so difficult to see her try desperately to handle the whole thing; she won’t be winning any poker tournaments anytime soon. I couldn’t put her through that again, and yet, I did. I put her through it in a different way. By not telling her about it, I calculatedly kept her out. I put myself in her shoes, and wondered how I’d feel if I had a daughter who didn’t tell me she was having major surgery.
Part of keeping a healthy relationship with your Ma, or anyone else who matters, is honesty. Honesty, even when it’s hard. Honesty, even when it might hurt the other person. Without it, what do we really have?