I’ve lived with my circumstances long enough now to have adopted a new habit of waiting before I post. Sometimes, I admit, my writings are therapeutic ventings, and after a few days, or sometimes just a few hours, the vent putters out, the steam is gone then I keep those to myself.
This post is connected to that which I’ve posted before and all about how angry I am a lot of the time.
This self reflection is inspired by a friend’s recent sharing of a quote on Facebook. I won’t go back and look up the quote. I'll just paraphrase the gist of it: Love and honor your parents.
I read through the comments on my friend’s thread and came across a mutual friend who wrote about the guilt she experiences because sometimes she's short with her elderly parent, and sometimes she's mean.
I often feel this overwhelming guilt when dealing with my own anger and seriously inappropriate words spoken to my mom, the one I'm to honor.
Several days after having read the post on my friend’s Facebook page this is still on my mind. I wrote a venting blog January 8. I was hot with anger, and the stuff coming out of my mouth was clearly laced with venom. Then it occurred to me today how while I'm in this new position in my life I now have to set the rules and boundaries in my own home. The roles are for real reversed. And as I watched my mom’s behavior and actions this morning, as I corrected what I considered highly inappropriate for my home, I realized I have to utilize all of these different approaches to get my mom to follow my rules. Then I thought about this need for me to set rules, and concluded that my mom and I are so different that I am not willing to compromise. As for some of her ways, I am in complete disagreement. I’ll tell you 'bout them rules in a minute.
My setting boundaries and having rules requires a consistency from me that can come off as mean, and my mom is really like a child who tests, constantly tests, these boundaries and my responses to these tests of hers.
I’ve begun to see her respecting these boundaries, not automatically always, but more often.
Observing myself in all this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not comfortable with being the bad guy, and, unfortunately, I am better at being the bad guy than I'm comfortable with. AND that bad guy thingy sticks on me and I sometimes catch myself carrying it with me everywhere I go.
So, Ugly Bugaboo, what are your rules?
There are more, of course. And addressing these issues often has me not being my nicest, and I don’t like that.
But as she readied herself for going to play bridge this morning, as she reluctantly admitted she was hiding potato chips in her coat pocket, I saw all this: my consistently, regularly, routinely having to play the bad guy by any means necessary. I got a glimpse, that flew by ever so quickly, that the foul language I sometimes use is the only way I can get my seriousness through to her at that moment. My consistency with taking on the role of bad guy underlines the seriousness.
This is hard because it makes me have to do things and behave in ways I ain’t comfortable with. I see too that sometimes she misbehaves intentionally in order to illicit a response from me, negative or otherwise. For her at time any response is attention or company even. At those times, when I spy it (this want of irritating me), I’ve learned to just turn and walk away without explanation.
When I look at my mom, I am sometimes reminded how scary it is to grow older, and how much we have to surrender. I am reminded too how different we all are. My mom was a player who LOVED to party, who LOVED to get all dolled up to go out; she had a real good time most of her life; she wasn’t from the streets but she was sure enough attracted to the smarts needed to function and survive on the streets; she loved people who had the street in them (and she still loves them). She tries to bring that mindset into my home. I’m not from the streets either, but I’ve been well trained by my mom and some of the people she brought into my life. There is a charm that is in the streets, but my mom has not taking on the ways of those who are charming (well a little bit) but the ways of the schemers and hustlers. But lucky for me, my mom sucks at her own games.
So just because, in this calm space I’m in right now with my mom out the apartment with her caregiver, I recognize I am the bad cop, the bad guy, in our living arrangement, it doesn’t make it any easier being that. But as I see her being more childlike than independent, I see that comfort, that almost relaxing of the shoulders (metaphorically speaking) that I have witnessed in children before when they see you are a person who has these boundaries that are not expandable.
I once rented a room in a place where I lived with a young person whose parents had, to some degree, emancipated them. This young person was a teenager at the time. Once they came home late at night with another friend of the same age (about 17) and a mid-twenties year old person. The vicious guard dog in me snapped into action. The person they came home with was just a few years younger than I was. Even though I was the rentee, I kicked the older person out. I don’t know what I looked like or what I was doing to make me so effective but the older person was quick to go. The friend with my “roommate” angrily turned to follow saying things about me under their breath, but not threatening at all, and demanding that my “roommate” follow. My roommate did. But little did my roommate know that the subtle shifts in posture told a different story and communicated a resounding, Thank You.
I get so angry around here sometimes, and tired too (mentally and emotionally so), but in the nucleus of the molecules floating around here is that same communication, Thank You.
I'm just writing to keep from losing it.