With the new year I thought it was time for me to really grow and assert myself as an adult. Lately, I have been feeling smothered and drowned by my mother. While I love her to death, she is going through a rough time in her life and seems to be determined to drag everyone else down with her. She's lonely, frustrated, and having some financial issues. Things have been this way for her for a while now but it seems like life has been piling the crap on lately this past year. At the same time, however, I have fallen in love, found a good job, and I am closer to graduation every day. Things are going well for me and I am growing in ways that I never imagined I would in such a short period of time.
Because my mother is a single parent and we have always been close I felt it was my responsibility to keep her encouraged and listen to her when she is down, like i always have. While it sounds like I am being a great daughter, I am also neglecting my needs and feelings. It's difficult to keep myself encouraged when I feel so heavily responsible for the emotional well-being of my mother. It was clearly weighing me down and exhausting me and adding to the stress of everything else going on in my life (for anyone who made it out of their 20s...you are sooo lucky lol). I've watched her become something unfamiliar...she is negative, judgmental, and bitter...and yet she projects these things onto all the people around her and has cut them out of her life, isolating herself and perpetuating her loneliness. Though things have always been difficult for us throughout the years, she was always able to maintain her optimistic outlook on life and has lost that.
While this may not have been the best time to assert myself as an adult and request some autonomy, I don't think there is ever really any good time to tell your parent that it's time to cut the umbilical cord. Seriously, it is just not healthy how enmeshed I am with her...for either of us. So what did I do? I wrote her a letter just expressing myself. There was no pointing fingers or blaming and I didn't even mention how I thought she had changed. I was just saying that I had grown and it was time for me to truly test and see how good of a parent she had been to me. I also shared with her my plans with my boyfriend...stating that he was a great person and a great friend to me and that I really loved him.
Why couldn't I just tell her all of these things in person? Well...my mother is not a great listener. All she needs is ammo to hear one thing that she doesn't like and you might as well just glue your lips shut and grab a box of tissues. She's been adult for much of her life (even when she was a child she acted like an adult) and because of that she often forgets what it is like to be in her 20s. When she was my age, I was 5...we clearly led very different lives. I just wanted to be able to express myself without interruption and without feeling bad that I want to be myself and live my life and make my own decisions.
Unfortunately she didn't see things my way. She immediately jumped on the defense and almost made it about her--feeling the need to remind me of all the sacrifices she made for me while I was growing up. While I appreciate all of her efforts as a parent, I don't think it appropriate for a parent to throw in their child's face things that they were supposed to do. Her job was to make sure I was taken care of and my job was to get good grades and make something of myself; I did that, and I did it well if I may say so myself.
In any event our relationship is forever changed. It was something that needed to happen in order for her to begin to see and respect me as an adult. I will continue to take care of myself and make her proud and hopefully one day soon we can begin to rebuild our relationship, until then I am actually going to enjoy a bit of emotional separation from her so that I can figure things out for myself.