Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's a Rather Large Nut to Crack

I have a complicated relationship with my mother. Complicated as in it-would-take-a-novel-to-explain complicated. This isn’t that unique: I really don’t know one woman who doesn’t have a complicated relationship with their mom. My particular paradigm is hard to explain, like I said, but maybe think of it as this: Sometimes it is hard for me to see anything but her flaws and seeing her flaws only amplifies my own flaws or my potential for those flaws. Like seeing a destiny I am afraid I can’t avoid. Or looking at an ugly version of myself. That makes for a difficult relationship.

Anyway, when I feel especially bitter (a very much inherited response to situations…case in point….) about my childhood or adulthood, I try to remember the words of my friend Annie, who always sees in the good in people: “She did the best she could.” And this is absolutely true. Simple and true. She did the best she could, regardless of whether or not I deemed it good enough.

I don’t even know what to say here. I have been struggling with this post for days. I really want advice and criticism and stories and those I-can-relate, it’s-a-small-world comments. I wanted to be carried through all of this with the support of objective listeners (readers). I have typed and erased, typed and erased and typed and erased. I spoke with a couple of friends and did a lot of making lemonade-out-of-lemons-thinking, but I still feel so overwhelmed. And I am still finding a hard way to even crack open this whole thing in words and lay it out here.

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are always some deep dark things that we don’t share on our blogs, some relationships we don’t dissect, some secrets we don’t reveal. Because even in an anonymous way, it is awful to feel judged and vulnerable and it feels terrible to hurt people you love with your own truth.

There are many reasons this Whole Big Situation is hard to share. Part of me doesn’t want to air someone else’s dirty laundry. Part of me is afraid of some of the sure-to-be “You are [insert negative word here]” reactions. And part of me just wants the whole thing to go away. But it isn’t going away.

In the beginning, this blog started out as an outlet to express all of my fear and angst about being pregnant after a long and difficult road. I reached out to the TTC community and it reached back. I can’t even begin to describe how everyone’s support and comments and positive ness helped me through every day, but most of you know because you experience it yourself.

My blog then morphed into a place to express my fears and concerns and joys of having babies, a difficult transition for me, because it felt awful that there are people still in the TTC trenches. But I didn’t want this to be about babies alone. And now, I am trying to move away from just parenting issues and getting into the deeper issues, kind of like what happens after, say, the fourth month of therapy when you stop talking about the decoy issues that aren't really issues at all and finally begin to open up about the core issues. It takes a while to drag all that crap out. And it is buried under a lot of fluff. But there are some bigger issues here: Working through a complex relationships with my mother, dealing with my own insecurities; finding meaning through work; trying to be a sensitive, caring, unafraid, secure, loving partner; trying to let go of grudges and bitterness and regret; being more forgiving of myself and others; trying to find balance; letting go of body issues. I could go on and on. I think many of us grapple with similar issues. I struggle through some days and sail through others.

But there is in me a certain level of low-grade melancholy. And I know where it comes from. I just don’t know how to fix it. Anyone with drug suggestions, natural or otherwise?

So I need another day to finesse a post that explains this situation while not making me look like an ass or making me feel so exposed.

Pictured above, me. Nicole took this picture. It’s funny to think this is her view of me. Very "Kilroy was Here" without the military/historical implications. This is how I spend chucks of time during the day and many of my nights, glued to this screen, googling “rowing machines” (for Nicole) and “Annie Lamott official site” (my new author obsession) and a million other things and reading about everyone else’s lives.


Shelli said...

I don't post about my mom at all. I want to, too. But I fear judgment, among other random things.

It's a relationship, at best described as a role reversal. I became the parent a long, long time ago. And it's about learning to accept her as she is that presents me with the largest roadblocks. So I get it.

I took up quilting, in order to prevent Narda from having the SAME exact view of me - except my spot is on the corner of the sofa. Brown leather, too.


So now I just troll the web at work, and less frequently at home.

Not much different, actually.

Leggy/Clover said...

I started reading right around the whole choriod plexus cyst drama (I went through it too with my daughter and was looking for examples where it turned out fine- she's fine). My twins (b/g) are about six weeks younger than yours, so its been interesting for me to read where I'm headed as they grow. And I can relate on a lot of the post-baby, not working, post-partum body, where is my life going, what about work, partner issues.
Anyway, all that to say, I have written extensively about my family (and my husband's) on my blog. It is a hard balance- sometimes I found people incredibly supportive, other times I was hurt that they (in nice ways) told me I was perhaps too judgmental or was overreacting. But it has been a growth experience and its a good place for me to work out issues. (I'm happy to share the PWP if you want to see.) Anyway, good luck sorting it out, and I'll be reading whatever you write, whether its vague and non-specific, or examines every detail.

Pronoia said...

I think the challenge with relationships as complex as those with parents is to figure out how to simultaneously know they did the best they could AND acknowledge and honor the ways in which their best wasn't good enough/right for you.

Good luck; I'm thinking of you.

K J and the kids said...

I think you are thinking too hard about this. This blog is for you.
Say it how it is, say it how you feel. all you can be is honest. if you are anything else then this blog probably isn't doing for you what you want it to do.
You wouldn't soft coat a journal. Think of this as your journal.
In the long run...who cares what anyone else thinks any ways. because what you have is still you and your reality. Nobody's opinion will change that.

Michelle said...

Your first paragraph describes my relationship with my mom to a T. And I have also been trying to convince and remind myself that she did (and does) the best she could. Then I look at my daughter and wonder if she's going to have these same thoughts about me someday. Fuck. And since I became a mom myself, all of these feelings about my own mom have surfaced with a vengeance. Not surprising, really, but that combined with my shock at how difficult the transition to motherhood would be led me to seek therapy and an antidepressant, both for the first time in my life.

I'm reading "The Mask of Motherhood" right now -- very interesting. I want to read "Operating Instructions" next. My therapist recommended "Parenting from the Inside Out" to deal with my 'Oh-my-god-I-don't-want-to-turn-into-my-mother' issues; I haven't started it yet.

I'm sorry that the Whole Big Situation is weighing on you.

sara said...

I'm an Anne Lamott fan as well and she's written a lot of hard, smart things about her own parents.

Jeannine said...

I don't post often, but read you daily and do feel a huge kinship with you. I also have twins about a month younger than yours, and have the same struggles, with body image, perfectionism, etc. Also a huge Anne Lamott fan, so let me share with you a nugget from her that gets me through when I feel a bit lost. I know she didn't write the quote, but she refers to it in both "Bird by Bird" and "Operating Instructions" (and I'm paraphrasing here too): writing, and life in general, is a lot like driving at night - you can only see as far as the headlights but you can make it the whole trip that way. Peace to you on your journey to tell your story - and remember, just focus on what you can see in the headlights and you'll get there eventually.

steinbockfrau said...

Anne Lamott is SUCH a hero of mine. I actually listed to her reading of Some thoughts on Faith when I couldn't sleep during IVF 1.5.

I wish she lived next door and could pop by with sage advice or choice swear words.

As for the unbloggable. Yes. I hear you on this.

I do know this- those of us that love you love all of you. We are composites of all kinds of situations: wonderful & shitty.

(also- feel free to make comments moderated to weed out anything shitty)

As for the Mom stuff. I hear you on this as well. My relationship with my Mother is the best it has ever been, and yet there are many, many moments where I find myself having this sort of retroactive bitterness for some of the choices she made.

Those words from Annie might need to be words I type and print and put in a place where I can be reminded every day.


Jen said...

The paragraph where you list the Bigger Issues? I could pretty much copy and paste it into my blog if it weren't plagiarism! Scratch that - I could ABSOLUTELY do so. You summed it up very well. Except I'd have to add some stuff about anxiety! :)

As to the melancholy - St. John's Wort helps for some. I did not see a difference. Flaxseed oil or other Omega 3s/6s definitely helps but I am not taking any at the moment because there's some possible connection to 1st tri miscarriage.

I was resistant for a long time to taking prescription meds but they really have made a big difference in my life. I've tried several, which is usually what people need to do to find out which helps most with the least side effects. Currently I take Prozac as it has few s/es for me and is okayed by my shrink for breastfeeding and TTC.

Keep on struggling and writing and being honest. You're inspiring a lot of us.

psapph0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
psapph0 said...

Let me go against the grain here a bit (what a surprise, huh?) and say that, sometimes (and, sometimes, more than sometimes) judgemental and bitter are not only OK and justified, but deserved and necessary-- and I speak to the mom issues there as well as other things.

I think you've heard a share of my "mom" stories (do you know the one about the dolly, the ham sandwich and the cat? If not, I'll post it for you...), though I can elaborate if you like :-) And not only would I be being bitter and judgemental, but I would be speaking ill of the dead as well (HA! put that in your taboo pipe and smoke it!)

Hmmmm... I guess that what I'm saying is that all of it, (it being any issue at all) doesn't have to be sublimated into a friendly "He/She/It did the best he/she/it could" or turned into lemonade! There's only so much lemonade you can drink before you start puking up disgusting, artificially sweet bile (a nod to body issues?).

My past has more than a few cobwebs, skeletons and partially decayed bodies scattered about it, and many of them never see the light of day-- and only see the light of the moon in nightmares or curled up in the arms of a particular "somebody" while I'm rocking catatonically (isn't it funny how, in the midst of writing something like this, you have to stop your train of thought to spell out a long word "cat-a-ton-ic-ly....no, wait, that's not right...cat-a-ton-ic-ally) A lot of this stuff has walked unbidden into my life this past year an a half... hell, last weekend I helped my dad clean 30 years of emotional-baggage-turned-physical out of the attic of our old house. As if finding EVERY paper I EVER filled out in elementary school wasn't enough, I found a trunk of my mom's journals dating back to the 1960's. With regard to that, i stand directly between building one hell of a bonfire and sneaking into the house to read them when no one is home.

No matter what you write, it will be cringe-worthy 10 years from now, so why not go for the most cringe-worthy thing possible and make it worth the trauma?

tracer123 said...

I have a great relationship with my Mum, but had a complicated one with my Dad, I think we all have a variation on this theme.

You won't become your mother just because she is your mother, you are you.

That's all the advice I have. :)

JB said...

"I think many of us grapple with similar issues. I struggle through some days and sail through others. "

Exactly. you just write so much better about them, then I could!

As for the low-grade melancholy--- I was super resitant to meds too, but prozac has made a world of difference for me. It's a bumpy road trying to find one that works and I don't know if you've been down it, but in the end, it might be worth it. I definitely second the Omega 3's and also B vitamins... those seem to help with the anxiety as well...

Whatever it is that you need to talk about, I have a feeling we will all read and respect what you have to say. It's your blog, and you obviously have quite a devoted readership who is ready to support you in whatever way they can.