Monday, July 9, 2007

Raising Our Parents

I am a grown up, with a successful career, a string of mostly positive life choices, fun hobbies and good friends. I am single, to the extreme disappointment of my parents, because after hundreds of dates, several long term relationships and one broken engagement, I would rather be happy and single than be married and miserable with the wrong person. Through life experience, lots of hard work and introspection and a little therapy, I have become a person whose company I enjoy, almost unrecognizable from the person I was growing up.

My mother still speaks to me like I am the sullen, introverted, judgemental 13 year old, living in her house. My friends tell me that no matter how much they have achieved in life, their parents treat them the same way, it's "natural" to fall into habits that were set years ago, modes of relating and behaviour that are so hard wired that even a complete Reset would not get rid of it.

I give others the benefit of the doubt that I afford myself, if I can change, if I am willing to put in the effort and the pain of examining the proverbial elephant camped in the middle of the room, so why can't my parents? Several weeks ago, with no apparent trigger, a routine phone call with my mother turned into a psychological nightmare. My mother launched a ten minute diatribe, actual character assassination; that she does not enjoy speaking to me and that there is nothing in my life that she be proud of. That I reflect her failure as a mother, and I must leave my independent life, move back into my parents house so they can fix me.

My only so-called failure in this case was my not hanging up immediately when she started spewing garbage. I have since not spoken to her, and through my father relayed the message that I await an apology, an apology that comes from the truth of knowing and understanding that you have hurt someone you love, an apology that says that she has examined her own motivations and will try her hardest not to repeat her performance.

Her version of the story is that I owe her an apology for hanging up on her, because she cannot admit her responsibility here, because she would rather be the victim than admit that she has victimized someone else.

I wait for this apology, hoping that this blackout period of communication will make a difference. I may be waiting for a long time...

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