Passive/Aggressive, Table for 1

April 30, 2009

So my mom responded to my letter.  She actually responded on Saturday but I didn’t respond because I was helping out a friend who is going through a very rough time right now.  I also didn’t want to respond to my mother before Hubby and I went to therapy.  Dr. J read the response from my mother and agreed with me.  While she’s not angry or mad or anything like that, I would call it a “non-response.”  What do I mean by that?  She doesn’t take any responsibility for the things she said.  She doesn’t apologize.  It’s a lot of “I’m sorry if you think I hurt you.”  That’s not a real apology, that’s not really acknowledging that my feelings are hurt.  That’s sort of like someone shooting you in the stomach and then saying, “I’m sorry if you think I shot you…”  All the while, they are holding a smoking gun. 

She says a lot of things like, “I’m used to having to get over things…”  Why she says that, I don’t know because I didn’t tell her to get over it.  I told her that I knew she was upset and disappointed and I was sorry for that.  I apologized to her for something that, looking back, I shouldn’t have apologized for.  I had no idea that I was supposed to come for a visit.  We never discussed it.  How can I come if I don’t know I was supposed to and then how can she be angry with me for not coming?  She admitted that her main complaint was that she feels everyone else knows what is going on my life but not her.  Also, her reasoning for not recognizing the week the boys died was because she didn’t want to remind me.  Really.  Damn, she’s totally right.  I completely forget the worst day of my life.  How astute of her to want to protect me from that.* 

She launched into a lot of her normal possessive language as well.  Lots of “you are MY child and I have the right to worry about you.”  Fine.  Worry about me all you want but don’t make me feel bad or hurt my feelings.   Despite being my mother, you don’t have the right to do that.

So I haven’t yet responded.  I don’t know what to say.  As a result, she sent me another email that she’s disappointed that she hasn’t heard from me since the email.  I emailed her back and said, “I’m thinking of how I want to respond.”  Her response was, “fine.  I won’t bother you again.”

And hello Mrs. Passive Aggressive, welcome back.  I missed you for the whole 10 seconds you were gone from my life.  Can I show you to your table so that you may begin making me feel bad again?  Great.  Thanks.**

So the long and short of it is, I don’t think the letter did anything in terms of her changing her behavior.  It did, however, make me decide that I’m not taking this behavior from her anymore.

*I get very sarcastic when I am angry.

** Okay, really, really sarcastic.

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9 Responses to “Passive/Aggressive, Table for 1”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Sigh. I hope, with time, that she can learn that she needs to be supportive and that she may have to adjust how she thinks and deals with things. Good luck.

  2. Sarah Says:

    Hi, this is Sarah from stillthinking… I’m still reading… hope that’s ok? 🙂

    Passive aggressiveness sucks. Don’t know if there’s anything more frustrating. I’m so sorry that your wonderfully-written email seems to have gone nowhere. But I am truly glad that your therapist seems to be helping to such an extent.

    And speaking of therapy, do you think that perhaps your mom could attend a few therapy sessions with you? My therapist has suggested that several times for my father issues. He says that it would help to have an objective 3rd party present, but I still haven’t done it myself. Anyway, just a thought…

    • mkwewer Says:

      I’m so glad you are still reading, I hope you are well…I think that’s an good idea, I will mention it to Dr. J next week…thanks!

  3. Frances Says:

    “It did, however, make me decide that I’m not taking this behavior from her anymore.”

    And that my beautiful Martha is all that matters.

  4. Laura Lohr Says:

    I think one of the most important things you can learn in changing your own behavior. You aren’t taking it anymore and that may, eventually, finally hit home with your mom. She has to play by the rules or she doesn’t get to play. It is a win-win for you.

    Five years later and many therapy sessions, I have an amazing relationship with my MIL. She is still the same passive/aggressive personality, but she toned it way down and she knows her boundaries. I believe your setting boundaries will reap the same/similar benefit for you and your mom.

    (((hugs)))) I hate you have to go through this. Many, many good thoughts and lots of sticky vibes to you!

    • mkwewer Says:

      Thanks Laura. I know you are right but it’s the lay down of the law that I can’t stand. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement…I know you are in need of those too so know that I am thinking of you and hugging you from long distance…

  5. KB Says:

    So…I’m going to tell you something that my therapist tells me quite regularly, including this week when I was sobbing/screaming/sobbing that I wanted the sibling who hurt me to be punished, to apologize and to leave me alone. And you might not like hearing it: You cannot change anybody, nor can you make them do or not do anything. So the best you can do is learn to stop giving other people power over your wellbeing and learn to be OK with them being their ridiculous selves. Which to me always feels like I’m condoning bad behavior but my therapist says it is different. I think it is more like turning off our desire for these people to behave in certain ways because they probably will never change and we do our best to learn how to release our need to have them be a certain way for us, i.e. be supportive or decent or helpful. Which is hard and disappointing b/c they are our family and we need and want them to surround us with love and care – but – they might not be able to – and so we learn to surround ourselves with others who can and let go of the want for those who cannot. That’s the hard part – letting go of the want for those who cannot.

    I’ve ben trying to get my mother to attend therapy for years – years. Not happening. The conversation always turns into a big fight. Totally not worth the effort of bringing up that topic in my family. Unfortunate b/c I’ve come to really appreciate therapy.

    It is hard. I know. I do. You’re doing great. Better to talk and get it out then to stuff and let it eat you up. XO Remember too, that you’re practicing your own mothering skills right now so maybe try reversing your role (in your mind) with your mother and perhaps try surrounding her with the love you desire. Unless, that would be too hard right now. I donno. Just an idea.

  6. Amy Says:

    Ugh…. that sucks. We’ll talk tomorrow.

  7. Jaded Says:

    you wrote to her so truthfully and honest too…sigh.


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