I read, therefore I quote.
Today’s quotes are taken from The Mom Factor by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, and
On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
I’ve been writing about my relationship with my mom and her current health issues and I want to explain where I am with all this.
Most people are familiar with the phrase “stages of grief” although, I admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what they all were until I looked them up earlier today:
“On Death and Dying”
by Elsabeth Kubler-Ross
I’m sure that when my mother dies, I will be sad, but right now, I’m not. I believe I’ve already worked through the bulk of the pain associated with the loss of my mother.
I discovered I was at Stage 5 when this latest “mama drama” began in September. My mom was supposed to have a triple bypass and a valve replacement. And I wasn’t upset. At first I was concerned that something was wrong with me. How could I be so desensitized? Am I in denial? No. I knew she might die. And I wasn’t upset. I had processed this new information and accepted it as fact.
I know the grief I experienced was not the grief of losing someone through death. It was the death of a relationship. Grieving the relationship that was never what I wanted it to be. What I needed it to be. Grieving the relationship that would never become what I wanted it to be. I don’t need it so much anymore. What that relationship didn’t provide, I’ve found in other relationships.
. . . you may not have received everything you need from your mother, and only when someone gives you those ingredients can your life work correctly . . . This is what friends do for each other every day. This is what it means to be restored to the mothering process.
. . . As you begin to see and understand the missing elements in the mothering you received, your responsibility is to grieve and forgive so that way you may be healed of whatever you mother might have done wrong. Then, as you see and take responsibility for your side of the problem, you will be able to receive what you did not get, gain control, and change those areas where life has not worked for you thus far. In this twofold process of forgiveness and responsibility, you will find unlimited growth.
. . . The essence of an adult relationship with a fragile mom is this: If she cannot contain feelings, then relate to her in a way that she can handle. Take your need to be soothed and validated somewhere else. Do not continue wanting what she can’t give. Relate to her in the ways that she can relate.
. . . If you had a fragile mother in real life, you are still in need of containment. You need soothing and structuring, and you can get this from other people in your life and from God. They are there to help, but you have to ask. And you have to learn to receive what is given as well. Do not only place yourselves in good mothering relationships, but make use of them as well. Risk, open up, depend on them, and receive the love and containment that they can bring. If you will respond to mothering in this way, you will find great healing.
“The Mom Factor”
by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
So what if the grief I experienced was in losing my mother, not to death, but through a completely different departure? A chosen departure.
It’s taken years to move through the stages and I hung around in “anger” for a very long time. But really, the last 12 months have been the most intense and the most healing. It started when my mother bought a house in Arkansas and asked my dad for a divorce, nearly a year ago. I went straight into denial. I would actually call it disbelief, because I cannot tell you how many times over the course of my life she has told me she would leave my father. A recurring game of “cry wolf.” When I was younger, it was an emotional, unstable, roller coaster ride. Now I’m 44. I’ve had a lot of experience with this game. I didn’t sit around saying to myself, “This isn’t really happening.” I didn’t sit around at all. I didn’t believe her and didn’t want to play this latest game of “cry wolf.” When I didn’t want to talk to her about it, she would say, “I’m really leaving this time.” and I would say, “You’ve said that before.” and she would follow, “This time I really mean it.” and I would sigh and say, “You’ve said THAT before.”
When the game lingered on . . .
I can distinctly remember going through all the stages since then. Except for “Bargaining.” I never did ask her to change her mind and stay. Because I knew it was pointless. When she wants something, she does not stop until she gets it. And she wanted that house in Arkansas. I knew she wouldn’t change her mind. So the “Bargaining” stage? Waste of time. And I’m pragmatic, remember?
I left the “Anger” stage behind before she left. Abandoned it is more like it. Anger was not serving me well. I wrote about that transition already in “therefore I quote . . . Po Bronson” It took a while, but I discovered that I didn’t need her to apologize to me in order to forgive her. I also discovered that I didn’t actually need a relationship with her. Sure, I wish I had a mutually edifying relationship with my mother, but I don’t. No use whining about it. When I’m done whining, I still won’t have a one. Whining would be a waste of time and effort. I don’t like wasting time and effort.
Since my mother moved away in May, I’ve had very little personal contact with her. I’ve used the time to read and learn and work on my own personal restoration – without her involvement.
So, now I find myself in this surreal place. I have boundaries. And I’m sticking to them. And I don’t feel guilty. I know she is very, very sick and I’m not rushing to her side. I made my decisions months ago:
- I will accept any decision she makes about her own health care.
I will not tell her what to do.
I will not tell her what NOT to do.
I will not criticize her choices.
I will allow her to be responsible for her own choices.
She can not live with me.
Why would I have made these decisions months ago?
I’ve written a little about her before, but let me give you some more background info. I’ve known this was coming for a very, very long time. She’s a non-compliant diabetic, with a heart condition, high blood pressure, high cholesterol . . . I think she’s on 14 medications right now. I can’t tell you how long she’s had these conditions or how long she’s been dependent on on multiple prescription drugs, but it’s been decades.
My entire family has tried to get her to live a healthier lifestyle. We’ve tried reasoning, begging, anger, tears, manipulation . . . nothing. I had to stop going to restaurants with her. It was just easier. We would all order salad, grilled chicken, broiled seafood . . . she would order Fettuccine Alfredo and make “mmmm” noises. I’m not making this up. All I could think about was her heart clogging up and her blood sugar spiking. And I can never eat at Denny’s again. ever.
So, I’ve been at a place of acceptance about her health for a very, very long time. I no longer disagree with her about ANY health related decision she makes. I do not tell her what I think she should do about any aspect of her health. I liken it to this. Let’s say someone is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The person has a choice (in this case, my mother). Do they fight for a few extra years or do they live with abandon, enjoying the little time they have left? By her inaction and refusal to alter her diet and lifestyle, she’s essentially chosen to live a shorter life – on her terms. I had a choice. Do I accept that? Or do I put another nail in the coffin of our relationship by never letting it go?
I accepted it. stage 5.
“. . . therefore I quote” Thursday: If you have a quote to share from something you’ve read recently, feel free to comment and/or include a link to your own “quote” post.
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4 thoughts on ““. . . therefore I quote” Kubler-Ross, Cloud & Townsend”
My mother actually did leave – several times. She was brought back once and came home on her own the other times. I have a guarded relationship with my mother. I’m the one who moved away – it was easier for me that way. I really appreciate you being so up front about this because I think I’m going to come back and read this a few more times. It’s like you wrote this for me.
And all that without therapy? Man, that’s amazing!!
Your story sounds so familiar, Julie. I think I know how you feel, though I’m not sure I could maintain the same acceptance if I were in touch with my mother.
I haven’t seen my mother since 1986, I think; haven’t spoken with her since 1988, I think. I really don’t remember. She has no idea what state I live in, and it doesn’t bother me. The only reason I know she’s still alive is my brother, who lives in the same state as she, would tell me if she died.
I mourned the death of that relationship over 20 years ago. It broke my heart then, but now I feel nothing for her. Not anger, nor hate, nor disappointment, nor interest, nor love. Nothing.
Maybe faint gratitude, because I work hard to have a good relationship with my daughter. I never want her to lose feelings for me.
You are so much more evolved than me. Still stuck in anger.