...Continued from last entry...
As the eldest child, I was stunted, but also the good, responsible one, and so I went to boarding school, followed its rules, got decent grades, and sulked at home over vacations.
I graduated in 1967, and went onto Clark University in Worcester, MA, were I blew everything - family, school, and myself - out of the water. I discovered drugs. Mostly speed, weed and acid. They helped mask the pain. I acquired an education, but not the one my father was paying for.
I am sure it was very difficult for both my parents, but especially my mother. While I was having a high old time, she was at home worrying. And not just about me. My brother got kicked out of his boarding school( for 5 marijuana seeds), and went off to New York to live with friends. And she was suffered through a difficult menopause, and a some bad years with my father in their marriage.
I was quite oblivious of family problems, though. I met Geoff, my ex-husband, and dropped out of school, then went off speed cold turkey for the first time since I was 13 (when my mother had our family doctor put me on "appetite pills") For over two months I stayed in my one room apartment and slept and ate food my crazy gay floor-mates brought me (a whole other story), while Geoff worried and visited every evening after grad school. I was 19 and going nowhere very slowly.( I never dropped acid again, but smoked pot for a while longer.)
The next summer, Geoff took a teaching job in Connecticut, and. after we went to PA to meet my parents over the summer, I moved here, too, although we kept up the fiction of separate abodes for both our parents' sakes. He proposed, I accepted and I happily had the wedding my mother always wanted. She did give me one good piece of advice, however, "Don't marry a man you want to change. It won't work" "Oh, Mom," I laughed, "don't be silly, I don't want to change Geoff, he's perfect!" One unhappy woman giving great advice to another,completely unheard
Things got better, though, between my mother and I, when I had Meg, their first grandchild and only granddaughter. Tentatively, we began to spend more time onthe phone, then summers together, and we began to "play" again, the way we had before adolescence, by laughing together at silly things, enjoyed adding Meg in our activities, taking first weekend, and then a couple of longer trips together. Even though she lived 5 hours away, we spent a good deal of time together, and had fun.
It was good, except that I still suffered from times of paralyzing depression, and she did too (although she has never been officially diagnosed) so there were gaps of time we did not connect.
Eventually, I went into therapy, and began to discover just how wounded, demanding, spoiled, guilt-ridden, passive-aggressive, perfectionist and hurt I was.(Gee, somewhat like my poor mother, though I couldn't see it then)
It was easy to blame my parents, and Mom was an easy target because she knew how unhappy the family had been, and was well taught about guilt from her own mother. And yet, we still spent time together, had mammoth fights, but always got back together again. I had realized how much she loved me, and I loved her. Sometimes I even felt blessed.
As time has passed. I learned how to cope with my anger better, to grow and change, and the roles began to reverse some- I became the one who listened and reassured, the one to tell her it was ok to be introverted, to choose herself in stead of everyone else, to not care what other people thought. And she, too, has changed, become less worried, a bit more direct and open.
Don't get me wrong, our relationship still has sharp points and awkward angles, but I am no longer stunted by my childhood. I have grown into myself enough to see that I have my own beauty and worth, inner and outer, as does my mother.
Last year,once I was recovered enough from my accident to sleep in a bed again, we went to the Poconos in PA where they have a cabin and had chosen to stay for her cancer treatment. I was a mess, and she was very sick, but we had Thanksgiving together, and stayed a week. We went back in the winter, after her surgery, then in June and again in August for a family get together, (See August's entries.)
Eachtime, I realized more and more the feelings of regret and guilt she has about not having been a good mother, a better buffer between my father and me, never physically nurturing enough... so many negatives. I feel sad for her because I know she did the best she could with what she had and knew and understood. And I want her not only hear me say it again, but to feel it, to know how much I love and admire her. How much I am like her, and glad to be.
So I have booked a flight to Denver, where they live in the winter, and I've scheduled enough time to really hang out with her, and I am hoping I can help her see how much I love her, and how blessed I have been to have her as my mother. I hope she can hear me, and believe.