Thursday, January 25, 2007

Family... Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em.

Well, of the 10 days of life our little Dude has lived, we have had but 2 nights alone. And our family members who have stayed with us have taken the approach of being "guests". Great. Just what I need - to entertain guests.

I have never had much of a solid relationship with my mother. I won't get into it here. Simply put, she and I just aren't on the same wavelength. Every time something of importance happens in my life, she feels left out and our "relationship" implodes. When I cut off my long hair without telling her first, when I shopped for my graduation formal dress, when I got married, etc. So I should have expected a dysfunctional response to this occasion, too.

To get her back on track, I have learned that the best thing to do is to completely shoulder the blame for all of the dysfunction in our relationship and kowtow to all of her requests. God, it is absurd and childish. But I have several decades of experience with her - it is better to do things this way.

She spent a few days with us this week. This meant that I spent my time biting my tongue while she prattled off sentence after sentence beginning with “Don’t you think you should ____." Bless my husband for not tearing off her head in anger.

I have been remarkably good at ignoring her. However, one of the things that she has said has really gotten to me. She accused me of keeping everyone away from me since C. died and "building a fortress" around myself. And my answer is this: of course I did!

So I ask you this: when you buried your baby, did you do what I did? Did you retreat to the relative safety of your husband and a handful of understanding friends? Did you put yourself out there a few times, only to discover that the clueless of the world would unintentionally hurt you with their thoughtless words? Did you discover that the only way to protect your soul from that hurt was to be increasingly careful about who you would spend time with, share your thoughts with, open your life to?

My mom is not wrong. I have built a fortress around myself and my little family. I do NOT apologize for it (though she thinks that I have).

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Because we chose a name for this little guy that starts with a C, I think that I will refer to him as BB - short for Baby Brother. This way we can avoid confusion between my two boys.

6 comments:

Treggles said...

I do NOT apologize for it (though she thinks that I have).

Nice compromise; I like the balance there. Well done.

And thanks for the warning about visitors in the early days; we've already read "if you have visitors, put them to use", but seeing your experience reinforces this!

Catherine said...

When my mother was obsessing about the food to serve after the funeral and I had to yell, "This isn't a f***ing party," I KNEW we weren't going to be able to communicate. That "off" feeling was reinforced many times over during those first few months when the pain was so raw. So yeah, I built a fortress around myself. I had to. Or else I would have inflicted bodily harm on my mother.

You do what you have to do. And you know what, if you have to throw every last person out of your house right now, you should do that too.

{{{hugs}}}

Aussie Kate said...

Sorry to hear that having family around is making things tough going - hopefully they will be departing soon??? ;)

Yes, I definately built a fortress around my heart after losing S, it was the only way to protect myself from further pain while attempting to deal with my loss and grief. And to some extent it is still there, and part of it will probably always be.

rach said...

I think your mom is a space cadet. Of course you built a fortress. How else were you to survive? And I can't wait for the day when the relatives are gone and you get to be ALONE with hubby and BB.

My BB will soon be calling - got to clean up the kitchen. Seriously, the relatives need to BACK OFF. This time I have no problem telling them when we will be sleeping, etc...so they don't come then. They are in town and it's the last thing I need to have to worry about entertaining them.

kate said...

Yes, i built a fortress. And my so-called 'relationship' with my mother (which seems to have some serious similarities to yours) has been irreparably harmed by it -- because she is where her comments put her, firmly outside of it. And do you know what? I don't give a shit. Because i did what i had to do in order to survive, and only someone who was so self-involved as to lack in the some of the most basic forms of compassion for others would not see that.

I have also apologized to my mother on numerous occasions for this and that and the other but what i am really sorry for is that her life has come to such a pass that it is *all* about her. But that is not my fault, and i cannot apologize for it.

These events of birth and death bring out -- i don't want to say the best or the worst, but certainly something primal in us. They remind us that for all our central heating and fancy cars, we are animals after all. It sounds like you are doing well, if no violence was done. I certainly hope your 'guests' are soon magically replaced by people who HELP OUT.

Julian's Mom said...

"So I ask you this: when you buried your baby, did you do what I did? Did you retreat to the relative safety of your husband and a handful of understanding friends? Did you put yourself out there a few times, only to discover that the clueless of the world would unintentionally hurt you with their thoughtless words? Did you discover that the only way to protect your soul from that hurt was to be increasingly careful about who you would spend time with, share your thoughts with, open your life to?"

100% YES