My mother and I had words last night. She was in pain and we’d been sitting in the ER for a few hours, and I suppose that her defenses were down pretty low.
She said some pretty hurtful things to me, but in the course of listening to all of that, I heard a few things that surprised me.
1. I heard my mother’s real feelings. Not that I’d never heard them before, but with the pain I heard them in a new way. I don’t know how to describe it; it was like she was determined to make me see how she felt since I was there and couldn’t leave her alone. Maybe she was trying to drive me away so she could muster her resources and deal with the pain.
2. I heard my mother’s fear. When she was ranting at me, I heard the anger and expected it. What surprised me to hear was the fear.
Now, fear of what? I don’t know. Of losing authority maybe, though she’s not had that for a decade and more. Of losing power over me? That’s a strong possible. I haven’t given her reason to fear me as a person (at least I hope not; it’s a hell of a thing to think your own mother is afraid of you).
I also heard her jealousy, but we’ve covered that, so I won’t belabor it.
So what did your teller of tales learn from the blasting she took?
I learned that I’m pretty strong. My mother was less than flattering in the things she was saying, and it was pretty clear she wanted some reaction from me. But I didn’t give her the reaction she wanted. I didn’t back down and I didn’t fold over. I stood my ground. I’m pretty proud of myself.
I also learned that I can stand up to some pretty bad things and not let it bother me much. Usually after something like that, I worry over it for days and days, trying to find out how I could have done it differently. Granted, last night I did go over it–but after I looked at it and could find nothing wrong that I had done, I was able to step back from it and actually get a pretty decent night’s sleep. I’m able to look at it and laugh a little.
I feel like that’s something to be proud of.