Grieving and Shame

The grief cycle is really interesting...and not in a good way when I'm in it.

After the debacle that was the post-Mother's Day/my birthday/x's birthday lunch at my parents house, I realized that I have not moved through the grief cycle of my mother's narcissism as easily as I thought.

Many of you may be nodding, and thinking, well obviously, because she keeps listing every grievance against her mother on her blog.

Or that's just me...

We showed up just before my cousin and greeted my parents appropriately. I complimented my mother on her outfit. I asked how their visit with my brother went and got a weird tepid response. Cousin showed up, toting an appetizer and beer (we brought nothing because, well, I've hardly ever brought anything and it feels like pulling teeth when I ask if I can bring something to the big holiday dinners). Cousin asks my mom about their visit and mom launches into detail all about it, embellishing and such, and interacts with my cousin like I'm not even there. Come again?

Basically, that killed my good graces. When that stuff happens, and it happens at any dinner my cousin attends, I revert to sullen teenager. I can't even try to stay part of the conversation, because my head is spinning with shame. Shame that I can't have a relationship with my mother that is better than the one she has with my cousin. Shame that my cousin seems to have taken the place of "daughter". Shame that I'm not a good enough daughter.

I withdrew and I know that most of my interactions with everyone there was terse. I tried, but I can't bring myself to fake positivity in these situations.

Cake time came, and the one shining moment was holding Baby A in one arm, and blowing out candles with X. I had to make sure that S took pictures, because when my parents take pictures, they never share them. It probably seemed like I was bitchily ordering S around to take the picture, but I didn't want that one bright moment to pass undocumented.

Gift time came and X received cool gifts from grandparents. I like how he gets so excited by them, but I don't like the prompting that comes from my mom. "Do you like that? Oh, we knew you would like that! What about this?" My gift, well, that's been a bone of contention for months. I had complimented mom on her handbag, as I do, because I know she likes compliments. It turned into "we should go shopping and you can pick one out for yourself!" comment. This persisted for several months graduating to, "I really want to get you a nice leather handbag, just let me know when you can go shopping".  Over, and over and over again. I finally told her I don't have time to go shopping (the truth, everything is shop online or during lunch at work) and why doesn't she choose one for me. Then, I decided, I don't need a f*cking handbag and she's just trying to force something that's not there, so I tell her I don't need gifts. Mixed messages, I know. I get a handbag for my birthday/Mother's Day gift. She says that she knows I asked for nothing, but she wanted to get it for me. I say, it's really nice and leave it at that.

And so that handbag sits in my room. Shaming me. Making me feel bad because I just couldn't suck it up to go shopping with my mom for a couple hours.

I'm crying. Because a mom who cares about her daughter wouldn't have pushed the shopping thing, wouldn't be so desperately pushing her daughter to act the way she wants her to.

I'm crying. Because I'm afraid of what my cousins think of me vs. my mom. Are they on her side? Do they have any idea what this feels like? Do they see an ungrateful daughter? Do they think I'm a huge bitch?

I'm crying. Because I have a nice handbag and I hate what it represents.

I'm crying. Because my mom teased X with a book as we were leaving (literally, he was in the car), then told him he couldn't take it home, but they would read it the next time he came over.

I'm crying. She's using my children.

I'm crying. This is not how a mother acts.