|The desert of Palm Springs, CA|
For now, I am taking a break from my mother. I have put her into time-out. The rational, loving, compassionate, wouldn't hurt a fly part of me regularly tromps on my own conscience for this reminding me that I am the only biological child that she has left in this world and how terrible it is for a mother to not be able to have an ongoing relationship with her only daughter. I have used this particular excuse for the past five plus years since my brother died and it often works sending me back into the pit of relationship/boundary hell that I have grown far too accustomed to over the entire course of my life. The other rational, logical, self-protective part of me who has had it up to here and then some, says no more. I do not want to be swept away in a sudden flash flood of someone else's drama, albeit my own mother's. I do not want to drown. I do not want my cat to eat my turtle's leg. There is this thing about divorce that has always bothered me and although my dad reminded me when I was growing up that nothing in life is fair, this one truly seems particularly lopsided. When two people(or a good 55-60% of the married population depending upon where you find your data) decide to get divorced and there are children involved, those two people get to make a fairly clean break of it once all of the finances and emotional bullshit are completely hacked up, but the children are the children for life. So, as my dad has no more responsibility toward my mother than he does for a stranger on the street (They have been divorced for over 30+ years), I am stuck with her for life. Yup, not fair. And yet, how does one completely wall themselves off from the person who gave them life? I have allowed my mother to be a huge part of my daughters' lives. Not only that, I encouraged it. I wanted a mother and my children were a very good distraction for her mostly selfish behaviors. I offered my daughters up as the sacrificial lambs in hopes that it would make something within her click and she would magically become the mother that I always needed her to be. She was a much better grandmother than she ever was a mother which is why I have put up with a good portion of the BS over the years. My girls love her and she loves them and I think that is a very good thing. Heck, I love her. But I do not like her, not now anyway and I have a physically visceral response to having to deal with her. It is unhealthy. It borders on self-abuse because I know that my blood pressure is going to spike and my breathing is going to become shallow whenever I speak to her but she expects me to even though I have told her this. In other words, it was good for me, doesn't matter how it was for you. I do know that when I wall myself off from my mother, I suffer from far less depression. I live in a much calmer space. I treat myself better. My mother does not even know where we live at this point because for a long time, our beach home was only our second home and it felt good to have a place where I could conceivably hide from reality for a bit. She nagged and bugged me about it, and now, I just do not want to tell her. This probably has something to do with the defiant little child in me, but it also brings me some satisfaction and allows me to feel as if there is a physical boundary that she cannot cross.(Although her husband tauntingly told Mark that they found out where we live, so who knows.) Mark did tell them that if they do show up at our gate, we will not be allowing them in.
A couple of nights ago began the holiday of Passover which celebrates the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Under the leadership of Moses, the Jewish people were finally led across a miraculously parted sea and through the desert to the land of milk, honey and freedom from the oppression which they had lived with for far, far too long. Moses never actually entered Israel. He and the generations of slaves who traveled upon this journey along with him, had to remain in the desert until all of the slave generations had passed on. God did not want His people to bring the mentality of slavery along with them into freedom because that would mean that they would never truly be freed from the shackles of oppression that were still very much alive inside of their own minds. He wanted His people to have a fresh start. He wanted them not only to be physically free, but mentally and spiritually free, as well. Sometimes, I tell Mark that I do not believe that I will truly be free from the guilt and the expectations and the obligations that I feel for my mother until she indeed, passes away. This is in no way a wish for my mother to die. I know that regardless of everything, I will be very sad when that day does arrive for many complicated reasons, and as I said before, I do love her. I also know that so much of her behavior is dictated by the relationship that she had with her own mother (There I go making excuses again, but it is true) and that she is probably incapable of changing during this lifetime which is also why I have cut her so much slack. But in so many ways, in order for me to be free from the suffocating oppression that I often feel from my mother, I must also be willing to make an exodus with which I can better exist. I have been working on this for most of my life. I do not know whether our earthly relationship will end in a more peaceful place or if my exodus will remain incomplete. What I do know is that my mother takes far too much out of me and that each time we have a falling out of sorts, she chips away a little bit more of the part of me that is reluctant to construct a permanent wall.
I sit here, contemplating Moses' exodus from Egypt. I consider my people's need to break away from the confines of Pharaoh's harsh rule and as I do, I look out at the massive expanse of ocean which sits just below my home. I think about the gated entry and my mysterious address and all that I have subconsciously and consciously done to free myself from the unrealistic demands that my own mother has placed upon me throughout the years and I wonder, if not now, then when? If not now, then when will I allow myself to journey away from the chains which have bound me to a woman who is all expectation and so little give. When will it be enough? When do I choose to allow myself to be freed from the demands and commands that cause me so much pain despite whether or not I am speaking to my mother or not at any given moment? When will I allow myself some peace? And how? How do I allow myself to keep a firm boundary in place while still holding tight to the commandment which commands that I honor my parent? And what does honor entail? The financial piece of things will, more than likely, remain unless Mark and I experience our own financial hardship because we always agreed that we would see to it that all of our parents would always have a roof over their heads and food on their tables but that never included their medical or dental bills so that line has already been crossed. Too many lines have been crossed. I often wonder if God will somehow allow me to cross my own desert back to a place of health if I learn to honor myself or, if like Moses, I will be destined to die just outside of the land of milk and honey in order to allow future generations to live more freely. I have so many questions and very few answers.
My prayer for you during this Passover/Easter season is that whatever exodus you might be working on, that you will do so with both guidance and clarity. That you will be led by both internal and external longings which will sooner, than later, bring you to a place of strong serenity and peace. May you find strength, growth and renewal upon your journey and to my Jewish friends who figuratively are sitting with me around the seder table this year, may I say, next year in Jerusalem. I believe I have found new meaning in that phrase this year. And to that may we all say, Amen.