Apr. 26th, 2005

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I spent four hours on the phone last night: one with my grandmother and three with my mother. My head is still spinning. And those four hours of discussing family angst topped off a weekend where our family dysfunction was the main topic of conversation. All I want to do today is forget that all of it happened. But for you, my audience, I will hit the highlights to tell you where I am right now. That is, if you're interested in a lot of family shit that I need to clear out of my brain.

Family psychobabble -- emphasis on the PSYCHO -- is here. )

I really, really want to believe that my Mom has come a long way in her thinking and that she's more self-aware than I've given her credit for being. I want to believe that Mom is ready to find a therapist and do the hard work of growing up and becoming responsible for herself, her actions and her emotions. But part of me suspects that Mom has been here before and never followed through with anything, and this is why my Dad has totally given up believing that Mom will ever be any different than she is right now.

And Dad's another huge thing. At the beginning of our conversation, Mom said that she thought she had lost Dad for good. In the middle of the convo, I told her that I wasn't asking about it because I didn't want to get in the middle, and she agreed with me. At the end of the convo, she told me that before Dad went to bed that night, he had called a female friend of his from work to say goodnight, along with, "I miss you and wish I was there with you. I'll see you Thursday."

Now, Dad is not having an affair, at least not a physical one. That's not his style. But I know that he is utterly fed up with my Mom and is very emotionally close with a few women at work. Granted, I think he's still playing the Savior role -- his favorite -- because these women usually don't have a man in their lives they can count on, so Dad jumps in. But the fact that he needed to call another woman to say goodnight has Mom totally upset -- and I don't blame her. Dad has put his emotions in another basket, and Mom said that he doesn't understand why that makes her feel betrayed.

Here's the thing: My mother married a man who is emotionally withdrawn like her mother. My Mom has spent years throwing hissy fits with both of them to get their attention and try to get her needs met. The fact that it has never worked has recently dawned on Mom, and she knows she needs to learn other tactics to get what she wants/needs. As their child, I am very, very worried and scared that if Mom gets emotionally healthy that it will lead to a divorce, because SHE won't be able to put up with Dad anymore.

I've read and experienced how when you decide to make changes in your life, the people you're closest to send out very strong "CHANGE BACK" signals. Mom said that Dad has done that over the years, and I believe her. Mom's dependence on Dad has fulfilled some part of him that he probably hasn't acknowledged. A healthy Mom would be counter to all he has known, and in part, he has worked very hard to create the situation that exists now. He's an enabler to a great degree.

I don't want Mom to stay the way she is, because it's toxic for Dad and horrible for her, too. But I also don't want my parents to divorce. Some big seismic shift is coming in their relationship, and it is scaring the hell out of me. After all, they're my parents and I want them together. The adult in me only wants them together if that's what they want. The child in me wants her family intact.

Mom is coming to visit me next month. We're going to take a long weekend and go down to the Outer Banks and hang out. I'm really looking forward to it. But part of me wonders if someday, it's going to be me and Mom living in Richmond and Dad and the boys in New York -- not because they're divorced necessarily, but because that's just how they'll leave each other.

I am very, very afraid of what might come next.


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