I had a conversation with my Mom last night. And I saw how much she is hurting. I saw how much she wants to change this but is in a position where she is too scared or too worried or too ashamed to ask for help.
I empathize with that version of her. And the fact that the conversation was difficult and she didn’t run away from it and actually admitted some things gives me so so much hope. And I was calm throughout, which means maybe I’m breaking from the codependent cycle.
Mom: “sometimes I wonder if we are all codependent”
Me: “Mom, we are”
Mom: “well not really”
Me: “we are. We all affect everybody else in this family. One of us react, we all react. None of us are in control of our own selves. We all rely on each other for approval of our actions and who we are. Our selves are defined in the context of the other.”
Mom: “well I don’t want it to be that way”
Me: “me either, Mom, but we can fix it.”
Mom: “I don’t want to 24/7 be his support but I don’t know how to get out of it”
Me: “cause if you pull the rug out from under him he will lose it and possibly kill himself”
Me: “and you shouldn’t just suddenly stop, it needs to be an easing off process”
Mom: “but I don’t know how to do that”
Me: “me either, but a counsellor would”
Mom: “we can’t afford that”
Me: “I call bullshit. If I can afford one, you and Dad can afford one”
Mom: “I am not letting your Dad pay for it, I am an independent woman. God, PD, I am so sorry, I wanted this to be a good trip for you.”
Me: “it is. This conversation represents a good trip for me. We needed to talk. You listening and acknowledging there is a problem is huge for me”
Mom: “no I’m so sorry I shouldn’t cry on you you aren’t my therapist”
Me: “no, Mom, I get to define my experience here and I am not upset.”
Mom: “yes you are”
Me: “no, I’m upset when you invade my space or privacy or when brother comes home and loses it or when Dad questions my alcohol consumption despite the two of you drinking so much. Those things make me upset – but this doesn’t.”
Mom: “oh.. Okay. Well then” I think I caught her off guard here. “I shouldn’t have taken you to see your Grandma this morning so sick.”
Me: “I would have gone anyway. I am an adult. I choose what situations I go into”
Mom: “it’s my job to protect you”
Me: “it was – it isn’t your job now.”
Mom: “I just don’t know how to do this”
Me: “I don’t either – but I look at it like this. All the coping mechanisms I have (I pointed to my glass of wine) – I needed at some point. I needed them growing up. And I think of them like a life raft. And now I’m carrying that life raft on dry land, so it’s time to let go of it, slowly.”
Mom: “I have like 50 life rafts.”
Me: “I know. And given those life rafts you have done SO well raising two kids and a steady job and how successful you’ve been while my aunts and uncles have all been addicts or hospitalized and forgotten by the system – you survived. And your resilience is to be applauded. But you know what scares me the most?”
And then my dad came outside and she shushed me. She’s ashamed of having this conversation with my Dad.
I was going to say that what scares me the most is my Mom living out her life never discovering how wonderful she truly is. That she never breaks free of the habits that I am learning do not serve me anymore.
That she continues to carry those fifty lifeboats on dry land because she is too scared to let them go.
But I can’t carry them for her – I don’t need any more boats.