I had a very nasty argument with my mom last Wednesday.
Actually, “nasty” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
A few days had already passed during which I kept thinking I wanted to talk to my mom, to just share some bonding time with her and listen to what she feels and thinks about dad’s situation and life in general. I’ve been keeping myself emotionally available for dad, making sure he knows I’m here if he needs me, but I hadn’t done the same with mom.
Now, the problem with mom was that she was arguing with dad every now and then, making some very negative remarks about life and how this year has been “horrible”. She was just being a shitty source of support for dad, if any at all. But I hadn’t really had the opportunity to sit down and talk with her because something always came up, or she was in too bad a mood to even remotely approach her.
Then on Thursday she and I accompanied dad to an appointment with a fourth (!!!) urologist. This doctor seems to be “the one”, he’s nice, took his time with dad, and unlike the stereotypical surgeon he really made sure that surgery was the necessary route of action after examining dad’s case carefully. I liked him, mom liked him, but most important of all, dad liked him. So, dad’s going to get his surgery sometime in early December or January.
Back to mom….so we went to that appointment with dad. And then I had some alone time with her coincidentally, since dad had to go run some errands. I took a chance and decided that was a good moment to talk to her, as she seemed to be more at ease after meeting this new doctor.
Oh boy, that was a mistake. And it wasn’t her fault. It was my fault. Entirely MY fault.
I started talking to her, approaching her….but she began spewing a bunch of negative comments (which is her way of dealing with intolerable emotions like sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety…). I knew in a matter of seconds that the conversation would not end well, but instead of stopping right then and there, I unfortunately kept at it.
To those who are science geeks like myself, my emotions are like an action potential. I’m slow to warm up, but once I reach that threshold there’s no going back and I go from zero to 500. And let’s just say 500 usually results in saying things I later regret, not thinking things through, etc.
So, I reached my threshold at one point. This particular moment was when mom was criticizing the concept of “optimism” and saying that there was no point in being optimistic in life and that she had always been a negative, pessimistic person. I responded with: “Well, I’d rather be optimistic than suicidal like I was back in April.”
Yikes. Point of no return right there. I could see it in her face and I could feel it in my chest.
That led to full-fledged, screaming-in-your-face arguing, emotions running on high, and tears….from both of us. And it was all my fault because I ended up screaming a lot of pent-up thoughts I had about her being so negative around dad and how he didn’t need that….how none of us needed that. I also mentioned how I barely talk to her about my personal things, but that she, likewise, doesn’t talk to me about her feelings and “stuff” and how she’s never given me a chance to just trust me with her thoughts. I mentioned how it was ridiculous that she wanted dad to avoid Thanksgiving for his surgery, because his health is more important.
Oh god, it was ugly. Like I said, we both cried. I can’t erase her tear-stained face from my mind. She was really emotional, shouting at me how she had always been alone in her life and how friends always abandoned her since she was little….how dad is terrible at giving her any kind of support (which I truly believe, because dad’s kind of shitty with emotions and feelings in general), how her marriage ended up being as shitty as her own parent’s marriage (who were alcoholics)….and how Thanksgiving is one of the only times she can be with her family, something she deeply wished for when she was a child and her own family didn’t provide that.
Now, all I said sounds horrible. It was. But there was some truth in the things I said, because mom keeps to herself mostly and she never tells me these things. How am I supposed to know? Plus, she’s very confusing when it comes to what she actually feels, because most of the time she’s thinking one thing and feeling one thing, but demonstrating something completely different (usually anger).
So, that was that. It was horrible. I felt horrible. I still feel horrible.
I knew I had to apologize. There was just no way I could go on without at least letting her know I felt really bad for what I had done. But the problem with mom is: she doesn’t give or accept apologies.
So, I considered writing her a letter. MM approved of that idea. But I just….didn’t feel it was the right thing. I felt what I had done was so horrible that writing her a letter would be the easy way out.
Then I saw R on Thursday and I told her about the argument. She said something that stuck with me: “I have a colleague who says the most difficult roles are those of being mother and daughter.”
Yesterday (Saturday) I finally apologized to her. I sensed her to be emotionally stable at one point, relaxed, and responsive….and I gave it a go. We were alone at home and cozily sitting in my bed, so I made the most of the opportunity. I bypassed my shame and guilt and just said it.
“Mom, I want to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“I’m sorry for what I did on Wednesday.” She didn’t know what I was talking about.
“I’m sorry. I said some very nasty things in the worst way possible. I just….got very emotional and didn’t know how to stop.”
She was looking at me.
“That’s ok. That happens sometimes.”
And we hugged. (I had to hold back tears.) Her accepting the apology seemed very genuine, which surprised me in a good way.
But you know what? I still feel like shit….like utter shit. She didn’t deserve any of that. And more than having someone screaming at her, what she needs is someone to listen to her and have some patience with her.
PS: I’m sorry I took so long to update. I had a lot of things in my head. Hence…I have a lot to post now.