The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Family of origin and self esteem issues

On Wednesday nights, Son and I usually go to a hobby group together. Sometimes Husband joins, and sometimes Son and Husband go without me.

Husband is working late tonight, as he has been of late with his still-new job. So Son and I have gotten into a routine of meeting my mom for dinner before our hobby group.

I'd stayed up too late last night (watching Battlestar Galactica in bed on my iPad!,) gotten up early, and had a long day. As we waited for the check, Mom asked how my day was and I mentioned that I was pretty bushed. She thoughtfully offered to go to hobby group with Son. Since she'd accompanied him a few times before I didn't think he'd mind.

But when I told him Mom was going with him instead of me, he began to protest and continued to beg me to go as we made our way to the parking lot. I was surprised, and torn because as we approach the end of Son's single digit birthdays, I have a limited number of such opportunities left.

He continued to cling to me and whine (not too passionately, but stubbornly nonetheless.)

My mom absolutely couldn't tolerate it.

As I listened to Son's faux-whining and gave further consideration to my decision, she immediately tried to shut him down - I think in my defense, although I hadn't asked to be defended.

"It's okay, Mom, he just wants me to go with him," I said, soaking in the feeling of Son's arms wrapped around me in his attempt to obstruct my progress toward departure. But she kept offering alternatives and telling him to stop being upset.

I quickly lost my patience and told her the conversation was between me and Son, and to stop involving herself in a discussion that didn't involve her.

And then came the truly astonishing, revealing part of the conversation:
Son: You have to go, and that's that!

Mom: Stop that! She said she's tired. Do you want her to drive while she's tired and get into an accident?

Me: Mom!! Stop trying to make him feel guilty!! Stop trying to make him feel responsible for things that he's not responsible for!

Mom: Well he has to know the circumstances!
Oh my god, how instantly she can transport us to another universe!
Me: But that's COMPLETELY MADE UP!!! That hasn't happened, and it's not going to happen!
But she couldn't see it.

She doesn't understand that she was trying to make him feel guilty for wanting me to come with him to hobby group, and she doesn't get the concept that she's teaching him to feel responsible for everything that happens in the world.

If you want your mother to come with you to hobby group when she's tired, and then she does, and then she has an accident, it will be your fault for begging her to go.

She can't see that she's teaching him to try to anticipate how things will turn out and then shape his desires, needs and feelings around that, as if anyone can really anticipate the future.

She can't grasp that she's telling him that he has the power to keep his mother alive by not expressing what he wants in that moment.

No wonder I've lived most of my life unable to validate my feelings, needs and desires in a healthy way.

No wonder I feel responsible for things beyond my control, and believe deep down that if I'm just fill-in-the-blank-enough, all bad things will be averted (and then conversely if they're not averted, that some failure on my part must be the cause.)

It further amazes me that until recently I would have been unable to even recognize the unhealthy dynamic transpiring.

Aside from explaining my particular fucked-up-ness, this interaction is a succinct illustration of the fact that people who love you can mess you up just as much as people who don't love you.

Being really exhausted and knowing I have a full day ahead of me tomorrow, I told Son I really wanted to go home this time, and that I'd go with him next week for sure.

"Oh, fine!" he harrumphed, assuming a mildly British accent. "And you're going to make me late, woman!" (One of the many things I cherish about Son is his keen sense of humor.)

As we parted I called out to my son, "Don't let your Grandmother make you feel guilty!"

And then I turned to my mom. "Thanks, Mom."

"Well get some sleep!" she said. "And don't forget to get gas!"


God! Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change!

Courage to change the things I can!

And the wisdom to know the difference!


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