Yesterday Mary Ellen, my therapist, did a session with me and my mother. She sugested it when I saw her last week, and I agreed despite the fear that it would go terribly wrong and blow up in both Mary Ellen's and my faces.
It wasn't disastrous, but I don't really think it was constructive, either. I felt like we kept harping on the money issue long after it had been resolved. We agreed to better communication, but it's nothing we haven't tried before. I don't foresee any drastic results, since we didn't really get to the Issues.
My big Issue in communicating with my mother is that I can't trust her. I've dealt with too many versions of her to be sure. I never know when my words will be taken as intended or twisted all around, when my words will be accepted or hurled back at me, when my words will be quoted or misquoted. How can I trust my words to a woman who secretly read my journals for years and used them against me? How can I trust my words to a woman who doesn't listen to what I do say and accuses me of saying things I've never said?
If I can't trust her with my words, neither can I trust the words she speaks to me. She says she loves me, but three years ago she looked me in the eyes and told me, "You have drained the lifeblood out of this family in every possible way." Those are neither words of love nor words you can take back. They were deliberate. I remember her tone, her voice, her look as well as I remember her words. I saw no love there, only blame and disgust for me. I was never sure before then if she meant it when she said she loved me, but I have never believed her since.
Last night, I felt manipulated into saying that I loved her. I do love her, as much as I've wanted not to. She's my mother, and I don't know how not to love her. The questions were leading, and I resent being manipulated. I said I loved her because I didn't want to look like a bad person and because I felt obligated to fulfill my mother's emotional need to feel loved. I resent feeling I have to say I love her when that's not what I want to say. Oh, so much rage there.
I can't be open with my mother; she's too much into the guilt trips. Some of it is me, I'm sure, but every time I tell her how I really feel, I end up feeling like a terrible person. For years, her words told me that I was responsible only for myself, but her behavior told her I was responsible for keeping her happy. When the mother was unhappy, bad things happened to me and my sisters. Eventually I made myself responsible for the entire family. When a counselor wanted to have DHR remove me from the home, I told him I couldn't because I'd already ruined my family and I didn't want to make things worse. I also thought I had to protect my sisters from the mother.
I can't have a healthy relationship with her when I never know what my role is. I am supposed to be the daughter, but in the past she's forced me into being mother, best friend, therapist, confidante, and surrogate spouse. I can't be those things. I can only be one person at once, and I can never tell which person she expects me to be. I can't have an adult relationship with her now because I never had a healthy childhood relationship with her. I am stunted emotionally in my relationship with her.
I don't see how I can ever have a trusting relationship with her. She is an abuser. She made my life hell for years, and she hasn't really changed. She just knows I won't take the overt stuff now--the screaming, cursing, threatening, throwing things at me. The subtle stuff is just as bad, but I can't call her on it because outsiders rarely recognize it, so she acts righteously outraged, and I get angrier and make myself look bad. So I don't say anything. But I can't trust her.
I hate this. I still want her to love me. I think if I just try harder she will...but it never works. I want to curl up in bed and cry.