It’s Anti-bullying month

My friends have used Live Journal for quite some time. I, however, only use it to download episodes of tv shows that I have missed. My friends use Live Journal to stay connected and, more importantly, to participate in fan fiction. I, however, only use it to glean info useful for mocking purposes at a later date.

One of the features I like, however, is what they call writer’s block. It’s a question that is posed on the front page, right when you log in, that provides you with a discussion point and something to get you writing. Something to respond to. Sometimes it’s a simple question, like favorite vegetarian dish (pasta, mozz cheese, basil, tomatoes–all fresh). Tonight, however, it was a bit more involved for me: Who is the biggest bully in your life?

And my response, in its entirety, is as follows:

I hate to say it, but honestly, I think it’s my mother.

As I have gotten older in life I have gotten to where I refuse to put up with the bullshit any longer from friends in my life or men that I date. (Hmmm. This could also be a reason why I am single at the age of 38.) I am extraordinarily blessed by a roster of people I am proud to call my friends, people that I have chosen to be in my life, people that I have chosen to have a relationship with, people that I have chosen to be part of my story. Among that roster is a core group, predominantly female, that know more about me than most. More about me than my family. More about me than my coworkers. More about me than my own self, sometimes.

It’s these people, these core women, that keep me grounded. That I go to when I need to vent. That I go to when I need to cry. That I go to when I need to do both.

And nowhere, not in any of those circles, is my mother.

Don’t get me wrong, after all this time I have figured it out what works in my relationship with my mother. I call it the 3Ms: Meals, Manicures, and Movies. If we have something going on that involves any one of those three things (or better yet, two or three!), then it will be a fine encounter. If it tries to delve any deeper–she wants to offer advice, she wants to give an opinion, she wants to know what’s going on in my life–it falls apart. She sacrificed the right to offer parental advice almost a quarter decade ago when I became the parent. She lost the privilege of the finer details of my life when she told me that my children would be maimed and scared for life and die an early death, all because of the man that I had chosen to marry.

Over and over again I think that I can have a normal mother/daughter friendship, if not relationship, and over and over again I am disappointed and hurt. I have gone into situations thinking that I have a fun day planned with my mother, and by the end of the day I end up in the car, in tears, calling “one of the core” (I’m going to start calling them that, I like the way that sounds!) so that I can get home in one piece without falling apart at a stoplight.

Yesterday, in fact, is yet another example. It was my baby brother’s birthday. I had been planning to go see him for the weekend and just chill, and he ended up coming to town for the weekend for another round of premarital counseling with the minister (ten weeks left!). I spent Saturday with him and my future sister-in-law and had a great time despite the horrific head cold I developed. Sunday I figured he would have the day with her and with my parents, and wished him happy birthday as I parted Saturday evening. Instead, as I left church on Sunday, I had a text message with a restaurant name (not a location, and there was more than one) and a time. A time, note, that is impossible for me to make. I teach children on Sunday, and don’t get to leave until my kids are gone, so I frequently am there until 1. (Church lets out at 1245). So I am 20 minutes late once I figure out which restaurant to go to, and then I meet my brother’s future in-laws as they are there as well. I find out later that they were offended that I was so late, as no one had told my brother I was invited so he could explain my situation and my late arrival and my mom just said that “we’ve learned that she is inconsiderate about these things”. Wonderful first impression, right?

I am sitting next to his future father-in-law, and we chat a bit about standard how to meet you stuff, when mom decides to tune into my conversation instead of one on the other side of the table. And when this nice man that I have just met asked me the next question she jumped in, answered before I could, and in doing so mocked and belittled everything I stand for, everything I do, and everything I am. I had to listen to extensive criticism of my faith, my faith practice, my work ethic, my morals, and my dedication to what I (evidently erroneously) find important–all in about 120 seconds.

It was all I could do to sit there and listen, trying to be the adult and rise above, not react, and not respond, while inside yet another piece of my soul was breaking.

And one day, one of these blasted days, I will find the strength to let it not bother me so much and to realize that I am better than that.

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