I Haven't written for some time - I have been adapting and have spent some time getting used to what I have been thinking of as, "My New Normal"
But I felt the need because as I gained greater distance I find the view into the past is stranger and stranger.
I have been practicing using words such as abuse in conversation, but only on my closest confidants. (nobody else asks or cares and this is both surprising and reassuring) This has been at least partially because it has been hard to adjust to a life where I have not been constantly scrabbling for the approval of the parent who will never give it, and it is that particular defeat which has been hardest of all to admit.
There has never been anything I can do that will make that relationship work.
Not because I didn't find the secret formula that would fix things, but much more simply,
because 'fixed' didn't mean the same thing to both of us.
We both knew there was something wrong but not that we were pulling in entirely different directions and I really just didn't spot that huge and glaring mistake.
I thought that if we were 'fixed' she would love me like I wanted to be loved, but that can't have been the case, because that was always there for the taking.
She didn't want to be the loving mother who was proud of me and my achievements.
She didn't want to grow into my friend as an adult or have any kind of close bond with me.
She didn't want to be involved in a loving and supporting way with me and my children.
She just didn't want any of that.
If she had wanted it, it was there - she could have had it all, or any single part of it.
Over and over I put that on a plate an offered it to her without condition, beating myself up, trying to change what was on offer to make it more appealing.
She just didn't want it. At all. Any of it.
But she didn't mind watching me try.
I think that is where the real cruelty of this comes into focus. That she would neither admit to herself, and certainly not to me, that in some way she was repelled by me. She just could not be satisfied with me - and here is the point of cruelty, she blamed me and thus offered me the hope of acceptance, if only I could be different.
Learning that that was not my fault has been and continues to be a difficult journey. I think the type of relationship we have with those people we are so fundamentally reliant on as children defines so many parts of us, not least our concept of 'self' and what we are prepared to accept in relationships. It is a yardstick by which we are programmed to measure our future lives.
I find it hard to associate the soft skinned stooped elderly lady, haunted by a faint smell of talcum powder, with the personality traits that she employed deliberately, or unconsciously, to strip me of my individuality. It ricochets around in my head creating a dissonance that I find hard to deal with. I want to see the grandmother, the mother, the friend, the supporter, but cant help but notice when that even when that image seems to be dominant, that there is a dissonance, and I think "My! what big big teeth you have, and we are alone in the woods again...."
Dissonance provides other problems too, as I grow more distant I find it hard to keep in mind the pain in the same way that in the middle of Winter It is hard to remember the warmth of Summer.
It feels a little unsafe. Whilst the distance made by time mercifully removes the jumble of painful memories it unfortunately leaves doubt in their place. I find myself wondering, "Did it really hurt? Was it really that bad?"
I always had that to cling to - the life raft of bad feelings vindicated me. My choices were easy to justify.
But now I don't hurt like that. It is just so much less and I cant remember exactly how it felt to be enmeshed in such a destructive relationship, here I am in summer unable to remember the winter properly and to an extent it frightens me.
I worry that I will actually forget so much that I will step stupidly back into this relationship. I find I am exchanging pain for self doubt and I both want to forget, but am frightened of forgetting. I am expending energy on mistrusting myself, doubting my good sense and mostly on fearing that I will truly forget myself and step back through the mirror - into the welcoming arms of the grey haired old lady..with the long sharp teeth.