There was so much preparation for this. So much overthinking, or in this case I can call it, just-enough thinking. I knew I had to address some things within myself. Like how I’d respond when I was triggered, how I’d look deeper into what triggered me and how I’d have to identify whatever resentment I had left to be able to let go and coexist. You see, our relationship has never been easy, at least not during anything I can clearly remember. My mind goes blank before 5th grade, the only vivid memories dating before then have been repeated and painted into my memory through conversation like story time at family gatherings. It’s weird to think that I feel fear in hearing that it wasn’t always like that, that when I was my daughter’s age we had a beautiful relationship. The fear of the possibility that my own relationship with my daughter could turn into this blinding emotional rollercoaster that is ours, mine and my mother’s.
We cannot live in fear though. We can live with resentment, but we won’t live easy. That is not freedom nor is it truly living. So when I say always, I mean as long as I can remember. We’ve bumped heads. It wasn’t all her fault. Especially now as a mother I see how the decisions she made were for my best interest according to what she knew at the time. That she was doing the best she knew too, I don’t like referring to it that way because it sounds like she didn’t do THE BEST or like she could have done better. That’s not what I mean, she did everything and although I hold resentment, I am learning to respect everything she has done for me.
At the time I just simply didn’t understand because I didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was what I was living. All I knew was that she had moved to another state and my little brother went with her and at 11 years old, all I saw was that my family was broken and because she was no longer where we all lived together, it was solely her fault. All I knew was that in a huge transitional period of my life as young girl/woman I didn’t have my mother close by to turn to. All I knew was that I was so sad and I couldn’t pinpoint why on my own and I was offered medication because it was wrong to be sad without a sole reason. All I knew was being put in the middle between my parents’ disagreements, “Ask your father, tell your father, well it’s your father’s decision, tell him I said this, and tell him he better…”
I’ll never know how their separation would have affected me if they had only been a little more transparent. I’ll never know if they had shared a little more about why or had given me (us – my brother’s and I) more notice if that would have eased the transition and possibly eased the misunderstanding. I’ll never know how they could have handled it differently to have saved me some trauma. I guess that’s what it was? I built up so much resentment based on a lack of understanding. It didn’t help that when I started to ask questions, I still got little information, that little information had me investigate more which made me feel like that little information was really just some lies to conceal the reality that might have helped me understand.
Moving to live in the same household with her for the 3rd time since she “left” us in California, the other 2 times being a sort of failed experiment to regain our relationship, I knew there were going to be disagreements, arguments even. I knew there was a possibility that it could completely tear us apart, but I also knew that as a mother now this is such an important time in both my children’s life for them to get to know their grandmother. (Creeps in regret for moving away from my father, a best friend – it’s hard when your parents aren’t together. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m giving one more of an opportunity than the other). My feelings upon our relationship were discussed with my significant other. After a few years of getting to know me, encounters with my mom, or hearing conversations between us over the phone, he had a good understanding of our dynamic. He didn’t agree to moving our family a whole state to live with her blindly. We knew the possibility and the struggle, but we didn’t anticipate the mental toll it temporarily took on our relationship or the way we parent or the way I speak to him while we learned how to respond.
I had hoped for the best. At one point I wasn’t sure if I had dreamed too big or if I just set an unrealistic expectation. That’s because I thought I had just grown past it. That I’d suddenly just move into her house and be the bigger person. That because I told myself over and over that I wouldn’t talk back, that I wouldn’t argue, and that I’d only say graceful, kind and thought-provoking things during an icky encounter. About 2 months in I realized that I had so much more to face head-on.
I realized that I hadn’t disclosed my resentment. I hadn’t let out what I felt I needed to. I hadn’t asked the questions I felt I needed to as an adult, once I did, I definitely didn’t get the answers I expected. I hadn’t yet pinpointed what actions or words of hers triggered me. The 3rd to the 5th month where the hardest. I started understanding where I needed to just listen, where I needed to count 3 seconds to think before I respond. I started understanding that much of my resentment towards her was hindering me from helping the situation. There was no effort going into mending but making her look stupid or feel stupid like I had felt when “my mom had left me to get my menstrual cycle on my own at school and call her friend to pick me up because she was a state away and I had to then ask my dad to take me to buy pads when neither of us knew which ones to buy.” So many instances from multiple transitional periods that I experience during a time where she was trying to do her own healing. Only now as a mother do I realize how hard that is. How hard it is to be fully present to your children when you are struggling, when you are trying to heal, especially after a separation. That I do not understand, I don’t understand what she was going through and no matter what, especially now that I see a little more clearly, it is not fair that I hold so much against her.
Only now as a mother do I see how she felt the decisions she made were for the best for herself so that she could be a better mother in the future. While there is a lot I am still not sharing about our relationship and a lot I feel that I am uncovering just writing this…
I now understand that this move to Arizona in fact WAS the best BEST DECISION I could have made for my family and myself, only not in the way I had intended. This move has allowed me to face the greatest center piece to my trauma, something that therapy in CA would not have even scratched the surface of because I hadn’t yet uncovered what it was because only NOW have I faced it head on. Only now have I opened my heart to release the retained anger, sadness, and misunderstanding. Only now am I able to get to know her at a deeper level, not just as MY mother, but as A mother. Only now can I see how similar we are yet how different. Only now am I able to learn to respond to her with better judgment and not just the anger I’ve built up. ONLY NOW AM I ABLE TO HEAR HER how she means to be heard and not through the autotune my mind set for her.
Only now am I able to heal this part of me for the future relationship with my children and my partner. Also, a huge part of being able to heal in my own relationship with myself.
2020 was about breaking free. 2021 has been about healing. 2022 will be about action.
I cannot just grow past my trauma & resentment. I must growth through it. That means facing it head on, thinking before I speak, and turning to gratitude when I have nothing positive to say. I must remember that those who have hurt me may never understand so their lack of understanding should not be my burden, but I may also never understand their misunderstanding and lastly, it is not my responsibility to shift anyone’s opinion of me and vice versa.
****I am aware that some of this may sound like it still comes from anger and resentment, that’s plainly where it’s from. Hiding that would be silly and contradict exactly what I’m going through, however, reading it as I type this I am identifying those instances.