I haven’t called home since the day after I came back from San Francisco. I sent my mom flowers to acknowledge her “birthday” a couple days after her birthday two weeks ago, though. She expects a gift around the time of her birthday, but not on the day of her birthday because that would be going against Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs about no celebration of birthdays or holidays (it seems like a total crock because she wants what she is not supposed to have according to her chosen religion, but hey, that’s what she wants). Part of the reason I haven’t called home was due to work stress and drama. The other part was because I just needed to decompress from all the pointless arguments that happened where my mom, as per usual, insists people (including me, of course) have wronged her endlessly and that she’s 100 percent innocent and has never done a single thing wrong.
I called today after work, which was probably a mistake. I regretted it as soon as I heard her cold, testy voice. She immediately started saying that because of something someone else caused (me) where she did nothing wrong, she’s now being “persecuted.” I had no idea what she was dramatizing, but whatever it was, it was clear she had her finger pointed at me as the one to blame.
Apparently shortly after I left, my aunt, who lives upstairs, hosted a large gathering of JW friends, and while hosting all these guests, she never bothered inviting my parents. My mom was livid and ran through all the reasons that my aunt wouldn’t invite her. “But I put two and two together, and I know what happened,” she said. “You told your cousin bad things about me, and he told your aunt, and that’s why your aunt is mad at me and doesn’t want to invite me!”
A previous version of myself would be angry to the point of yelling. I’d raise my voice, tell her that it was all a paranoid, made up story she decided to fabricate in her head and run with. I’d get soft feet, feel my throat drop into my stomach, and feel small. I’d stand there, scared of her response. The current version of myself merely stated that I never spoke with my aunt; I did no such thing. She can believe whatever made up stories she wanted to believe, but (and I love doing this) “God knows I did nothing wrong, so you can believe what you want to believe and make up whatever you want.”
The paranoia was obvious. She started raising her voice, saying she never “directly” accused me. I’m not stupid, I said plainly, and I wasn’t born yesterday. She’s blaming me, and it’s not true. She then moaned on and on about what a good child my aunt’s eldest son is, how “he tells his mother everything and obeys her from her head to her toe. He would even tell her when he has sex with his wife (yep, this is a real quote) — that’s how much he cares about his mother!” This is her way of comparing, saying I do not obey, I am not enough of a daughter, that I am a terrible child who is “against her parents.”
If I wanted to get a really nasty reaction out of her, I could have responded, “Yeah, I really love that you keep comparing me to my aunt’s oldest son. Constantly comparing — it’s so nice of you! I mean, that’s what you used to do to Ed — constantly compare him to ‘the kids’ upstairs.’ You and dad used to repeatedly call him ‘useless,’ ‘brainless,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘idiot,’ ‘moron,’ ‘dumb.’ And where is Ed now? Hmmmm….”
But I refrained and I held it in. Because I recognize that will get me nowhere. It will get us nowhere. Ed and I had an emotionally and verbally abusive upbringing, and it ended up being a huge contributor of his ultimate downfall. That “upbringing” isn’t over for me because I still have to endure all the nastiness of my parents to this day. But there’s line you have to draw to be an independent, healthy adult, where you acknowledge that you cannot “blame” your parents for everything bad in your life, that you have take ownership of your own life.
And that’s what I am trying to do. I’m drawing an invisible line to separate myself from my parents, to prevent their constant criticisms and fabricated stories from getting the best of me and my psyche. I refuse to endure the constant abuse, to try to continue rationalizing the made-up stories she keeps creating in her head. The world is not “out to get her” the way she thinks. The world… just is what it is. It’s not the warmest, friendliest place, but it’s also not full of evil at every corner, either.