One of the recurring themes in my mother’s life is that of personal responsibility. She has always had a hard time accepting it. When confronted about something that she did wrong, she would always blame someone or some situation instead of just admitting that she was wrong. When confronted about not taking responsibility, she would always blame the fact that she didn’t have a mother to teach her right and wrong therefore she has a hard time recognizing when she is wrong. Ok, that’s sweet but it’s still a cop-out.
Once my brother and I both became adults, we really started to confront her about these issues. Of course there was always some excuse. One of the big things that I would push is just her overall worldview. I am a huge proponent of living in the moment. I have always had the attitude that your life and your world are what you make it. When there are people living in 3rd world slums but are very happy and people who live in multimillion dollar mansions that are miserable, that tells me that money has little to do with it and attitude is everything. So, when I would talk to her about her life and she would go on and on about how miserable she was and how it was all Dave’s fault, I would be quick to answer “then leave him.” She would always agree that it was a good idea. I even went as far as to find a 2 bedroom condo that was affordable for her just to get the ball rolling. She would stop that ball in its tracks every time.
The truth is, my mother doesn’t want to take responsibility for her own life. She loves the drama. She feels justified in putting the blame on someone else. When it really came down to it, not only did she not want to be alone but she couldn’t live without cable, internet, a nice car, a nice neighborhood, her cats, etc. She was not willing to make any sacrifices to save her relationship with her children because she knew that she would have to give up a few things in order to make it on her own.
When money finally got tight enough (she’s unemployed), Dave and her had to move out of their nice suburban rental home because they couldn’t afford the payments anymore. My grandparents allowed them to live in their investment condo for almost 1/3 of what they were paying in rent for the house. It was very generous of them but they had a condition: they wanted to leave all of their furniture and fixtures. My parents would have to put all of their things in storage. Understandable. They are in their 80’s and don’t want to be moving furniture back and forth. They had nice furniture anyway. Was my mother grateful? Fuck no. Up until I finally cut it off with her, she bitched and complained about goddamn everything.
I am a problem solver by nature. It’s part of my biological makeup. Ok, I don’t know about that but I am definitely a problem solver. I’m good at math and computers and organizing and all of that. So, when a person comes to me complaining about a problem I immediately try to help them find a solution. What is the point of suffering when there are viable solutions, right? My mother complained about everything from their furniture to not being able to get cable right away. I suggested that perhaps she could spend some time outside getting in some exercise by walking. It was spring after all so the timing was perfect. The neighborhood wasn’t nice enough so scratch that. I suggested that perhaps she should listen to music and read books and rediscover her inner artist. Well, there was an excuse for that too. I gave up.
It’s not all about taking responsibility for one’s actions but also their own life. If you aren’t happy but yet you have shelter, food and clothing, then find out why. If it’s depression then get help for it. If it’s not then try to change your worldview. I always told her that nobody will be happy for her. Nobody will live her life for her. That goes for all of us.
She even tried to blame Dave for her abusing me as a kid. I did confront her a few years ago in as loving of a manner that I could. I told her that she wasn’t a good mother. Yes, she fed me and clothed me and bought presents but that was about where it ended. She blamed him and told me that he was always coercing her to beat me and spank me and that he would tell her that is how parenting is done. I tried to sympathize with her but this just never sat well with me. She was still trying to play me on the fact that she just didn’t know any better. I still have a hard time accepting that.
What I have learned to accept is the fact that I am an autonomous, responsible human being myself. I am responsible for not only myself but also my children which is why I had to make the heartfelt decision to cut my parents off. The welfare of my children is of utmost importance. Also, I consider my own happiness and life to be my own responsibility. While my husband and I are working hard to get a college education, I have come to terms with the fact that things might not always work out as planned. Even if we end up living in a mobile home on food stamps, I still have to be able to find pleasure and enjoyment in the little things in life. I think that I have achieved that. I consider myself one to have a “silver linings” type of attitude. It drives my husband up the wall but I really do try to be positive and stay on the sunny side of things. If I don’t, I find myself becoming like my mother which I promised myself I will never let happen.
I also have the responsibility of ending the abuse in its tracks. I don’t care if it’s been a generational thing. It ends with me. I have caught myself a few times getting full of anger and rage and have had to find a way to stop it and level my emotions out. It’s necessary. I never want my children to go through what I did, even on a small scale. I don’t want them to have to recover from their childhood when they are adults. I want them to look back at their childhood and remember all of the fun, love, mischief, family and all of the positive things that a child should remember.
I may have missed out on my childhood but I have an inner child emerging and a responsibility to ensure that my children always remember a beautiful childhood.
My happiness is my own. My pain belongs to me. My life is a reflection of all of those things and it is my choice to turn it all into something beautiful.