violetcheetah: (Default)
This is the first letter I have received from my mother in the last three years.  I'd written her three times.  I haven't phoned in that time, except to call and ask if there was a family history of heart arrhythmia, because my doctor wanted to know.  She has phoned me once, to tell me my aunt, her sister, had died; she called me about two weeks after the funeral.  

I may repost this letter annotated with my thoughts later, but for now, I'm just posting her own words.  She seems to think I post everything about her on Facebook, so I might as well not disappoint her.  I'm not sure which of her friends who are also my friends on FB have shown her things I've written; I don't mind, am even glad of whatever posts my mother has seen, but if you're reading this and have shared my posts with her, I'd love you to Private Message me if you could give me any insight on her state of mind.

I will note that, in the letters to her, I told her I wouldn't share any details of her life she didn't want shared.  However, she never shared any details, and I did not agree not to share my own memories of events I lived through.

I would also ask that anyone reading this post not resort to publicly calling her names or belittling her or otherwise opining that "What she thinks isn't important, anyway."  You may mean it as a comforting-to-me gesture, but it's not going to comfort me.  I welcome thoughtful responses, but not dismissive ones.

-----

[received October 5, 2015]

I don't know how to answer you. I am not going to argue with you.

Talking to you is like talking to a drunk

"Tell me all the bad thing you ever did. Tell me all the bad things that ever happened to you. So I can put them on the Internet for the whole world to read. I just want to "comfort" you. Tell me. Tell me. Tell me."

You seem to think it is terrible for me to talk to a family member about someone we are both concerned about. But you seem to think it is okay for you to tell everybody your version of something and then when somebody doesn't agree with you — you get mad.

So I won't talk to you about anybody in the family again.

I won't tell you anything about my life — good or bad.

I won't tell you anything about my friends. I don't even want you knowing who they are. Because we don't want to be the subject of one of your rants on FaceBook.

No, I don't talk about you to anyone — not even family. I don't tell anyone about your "craziness."

You do. If you don't want people to think you are crazy — then don't act like it. When you get on FaceBook or your Blog and rant and rave over and over and over, what do you think people are going to think of you?

It may surprise you to learn that I know a few people with your type of mental illness. They always hate the person who loves them most — usually their mother. They blame them for everything they think is wrong with their life.

You are like a little kid. "It's all your fault. Make me happy."

I wish I could give you happiness and peace. But I can't. You have to do that yourself.

And you can't be happy or at peace when you are so full of hate that all you want to do is hurt other people.

It's your choice.

[unsigned]
violetcheetah: (Default)
So, on November 23, I wrote about the enlightening phone conversation I'd had about a month earlier with my mother, regarding the memoir I wrote about my father. I had locked the post at the time, but I don't really feel a need to keep it private, and while there's a good bit of revenge in my motives, I also want the input of more people who know the people in question, and I want the following letter to be accessible to other people I don't know who might have a similar family dynamic, so they can feel less alone.

[I'll try to keep the editorializing to a minimum; my own notes will be in square brackets.]Read more... )

violetcheetah: (butler)
This summer, I wrote a short memoir about my father. As you can probably guess from the title (Daddy Dearest: Tales of Terror and Glorious Schadenfreude), it's not exactly veneration. I've achieved a kind of acceptance, and something between pity and sympathy, but the fact remains that living with him was miserable and scary for me, and understanding him now doesn't change what I felt as a child.

My mother never understood my anger. I don't think she ever really understood the depths of my fear; I'm not sure anything scares her, and maybe she doesn't believe that anyone else truly feels afraid. I used to try to explain, but when you tell someone you are afraid and they respond, "No, you're not," it kinda ends the conversation. She also doesn't want to hear anything negative about my father in general, or anyone in the family.

When I was home in mid-September, I gave her a copy of the memoir. I wasn't hoping for some miraculous connection with her, for her to suddenly understand me and accept me and unicorns and rainbows. I used to think that if I explained myself well enough, I could get her to understand. Even after I knew it would never happened, I still hoped for it. I've stopped hoping. That sounds sad, but it isn't. She's never going to understand most of me, either because she's incapable, or because she can't bear to without breaking herself. I don't need her to understand anymore. But I still wanted her to hear me, and I wanted to hear her response, even though it was surely going to be unpleasant.

I called her at the end of October, and after we talked about the goings-on in her town and church and family, and I gave her the highlights of my own life that I wanted to share, I asked if she had read the memoir. There was a pause, as there often is on the phone with her. "Yes." After another pause, she continued, "Some fact, some fiction."

This was the point at which I would normally be crushed. Disapproval, disappointment; I could see her pursed lips. But I realized I was smiling. Smirking, actually, trying not to let laughter leak into my voice. "Well, I tried to write it as best I remembered, but nobody's memory is perfect. What are some of the things you remember differently?"

She was silent for several seconds, and then I heard her breathe in. I held my own breath. "Oh, I don't want to get into now. Sometime when we have more time."

I almost said, "Wow" out loud. I was in a Tennessee Williams play, or a political campaign movie. Had she just called me a liar, and then when I asked what I was lying about, had she simultaneously refused to specify and indicated that there were too many untruths to list? "Well," I said again, "I'd love for you to write down your thoughts, and the way you remember it."

And then she changed the subject. My mother never changes the subject. At least twice during any phone call, I ask, "Are you still there?" because she just falls silent when a topic is exhausted. But now she started talking about a neighbor's recent health scare, and the memoir was gone from the conversation. Then the call was over, and I got up and fed the cats and fed myself, pausing occasionally to laugh and say "Wow."

I've been waiting for three weeks now for the other shoe to drop, for the second-guessing and shame and frustration to hit. Still hasn't happened.

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Violet Wilson

October 2016

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