A difficult conversation
This morning I called my mother. Why is that an event worth recording? Over the many years of our difficult relationship I have never known if she would speak to me or not when I called, often she would answer "oh it's you, I don't think I want to speak to you right now" and hang up. As a self protective measure after far too many years of tolerating her behavior I began to set boundaries with the help of Karen C L Anderson and my therapist. This led to me going no contact for many months, very hard to do but necessary for my own well being.
On Mother's Day of this year I called her, miraculously this led to a reconciliation of sorts, this story will be in a chapter of a new book by Mary Bath Sammons coming out in the spring of 2020.
Recently my mother has spent several weeks in hospital after several bouts of falling, I called her just a few weeks ago when she was obviously down in spirits, this led to her snapping at me in an extremely aggressive manner. While in some ways I can't blame her for this, she is older, unwell and scared of her deteriorating health and future I needed to protect myself, I did not call again until today.
We were both obviously cautious in talking together, I could tell she was being careful in how she spoke (a positive thing) I was ready to be firm and hang up if she became aggressive (self care) she was very open with me and shared that she thought she wanted to move into a care home. This is a huge step as I'm sure you can imagine. The last time, just a few months ago I had broached the subject of moving into a ground floor apartment the conversation had not gone well.
I cautiously said that rather than deciding right now to explore the options with her carers, perhaps visit a few care homes and then make an informed decision. She also recognized that she would have to completely downsize her stuff, a huge task, but seemed ready to just take the minimum and leave the rest. I acknowledged that this move would help to relief her anxiety of falling again as she would have others around her, no more responsibility of having a home, at the same time not a decision to take lightly but good to consider.
Perhaps I got my story telling desire from her as she has a vast amount of files with family research, letters, essays she has written as well as photographs from the past. She seemed ready to let all that go now that my brother was able to take hundreds of photographs of all her years of keeping records. I have much of it in my possession and one day want to tell our story.
We ended the call on a positive note, I kept the conversation short, quality over quantity, her last comments were that she would just keep her "happy memory book" and read that. Of course I had to ask what some of those memories were? She couldn't remember at that moment, I encouraged her to take a look and write down a few more happy memories as they came to mind.
I felt incredibly sad after the call and took myself off to exercise, good for my mind, body and soul and it always makes me feel alive. I was sad for her, sad for me, sad for us and the relationship that we were never able to have. I am happy that finally I am able to accept the reality of this for what it is and move towards healing. I don't believe in dwelling in the past, that is not healthy for anyone. I do however believe we need to explore our past, own it and move on to healing.
Thinking about our conversation afterwards I decided to think of a happy memory that we shared together, write it down and mail it to her. She is three thousand miles away, we have not seen each other in over two years, it was a short visit and not an easy time. In all of the difficult years I know there are some happy memories, mostly from my younger childhood. I will start to explore, remember and share them with her, perhaps as a memory book to open at Christmas? I am open to possibilities.
Do you have someone in your life who would appreciate receiving a happy memory card or letter? It can be to someone you have a really great relationship with, or to help heal a difficult one, perhaps it can make their day?
Let me know if you send a memory to someone, what did you say? How was it received?