I’ve been feeling pretty shitty lately, and I’ve been open about it–here. Not in my real life because I keep that shit to myself. I wish I could talk about it, but it goes against everything I was taught. My mom has been calling me more often lately, and it’s mostly to complain about my father. Sometimes, she will perfunctorily ask me how I’m doing, but even when I answer with anything other than ‘ok’, she’ll move it right along to whatever is on her mind.
Side Note: My father is a raging narcissist, and I’ve known this since I was a little girl. I might not have had the term for it, but I knew he was a self-centered man to the extreme. What I didn’t realize until very much later, maybe my thirties, is that my mother is self-absorbed as well. I wouldn’t say she’s as extreme as my father as she has some self-awareness, but she can’t see other people’s points of view very well, either, even if she keeps it to herself more. One time, she asked how I was doing. I said I had a cold, and after a minute of sympathy, she segued into how she had had a cold as well. Then, she was off and running about her travails with my father.
Side Note to the Side Note: I’ve gotten sucked back into being her confidante. I’d done better at setting boundaries, back when we had a more fractured relationship, but now that I’ve moved past much of the turmoil of our earlier relationship and let go of a lot of my resentment (which translates in me snapping much less at her), she’s taken to dumping all her problems on me again. It’s frustrating for more than one reason. One, I’m her child. Yes, I’m an adult and an Old, but I’m still her kid. I don’t necessarily want or need to hear about her problems at length, especially with my father.
Two, she has no intention of doing the hard work that would actually make her marriage better for her without sacrificing more and more of herself. She said something about her ‘not being allowed’ to do something or the other in her marriage, and I pointed out that she *could* do it, but it would just make my father extremely unpleasant to deal with. He’s learned that if he throws a big enough temper tantrum, he’ll get his way. He’s can be very cruel and downright mean when he wants to, and my mother is extremely conflict-avoidant as am I. She knows she’s enabling him. She knows that she’s rewarding his bad behavior when she does what he wants when he throws a tantrum, but she’s been doing it for fifty years.
Three, I know way too much about my parents’ marriage now, and there’s the added fact that there’s an elephant in the room as my mother pisses and moans about my father. His mistress. Who might or might not be his mistress any longer but who is still heavily involved in his project and therefore, they talk for hours every day. Yeah, they’re still involved, even if it’s not physical. I know about it because of his hubris (as I’ve explained in past posts), and my mother knows about it because she’s not stupid. She won’t actually say it, however, and when I’ve sideways confronted her about it, she’s both deflected and talked about it (without actually naming it) in equal amounts.
This is why I don’t want to be in a relationship. Well, not the only reason, but a big part of it. I’ve watched my mother whittle away at herself and excuse my father’s bad behavior time and time again. I’ve seen her denigrate herself in order to accept the horrid treatment my father gives her, and I’ve seen her cry over his asshole behavior. She’s an intelligent, capable, professionally awesome woman who has convinced herself that it’s her duty to abnegate herself in order to preserve her marriage. Or at least the facade of it. After dumping on me about my father’s bad behavior, she’ll say a few nice things he’s done as if to convince herself that the bad times aren’t that bad.
I’m sick of it. I’m frustrated by her refusal to do anything (and, yes, I know all the stats about DV and I know the culture about divorce, though that’s changing in Taiwan. Slowly, but it’s changing). I ask her if she’s afraid of him, and she always says no, that he won’t physically attack her. But, he’ll follow her from room to room just to yell at her. I know how that goes because he did it to me when I was a teenager.
I know that there’s nothing I can do to make her leave. Lord knows I’ve tried. I used to beg her to leave him when I was a teenager. Actually, it was the quickest way to get her to shut up about him–by forcing her to consider actually taking an action. I know it’s not going to happen now, though. They are nearly eighty and have old-school views about marriage and divorce. Interestingly enough, the divorce rate is between 25% and 30%, which is double what it was a decade ago. My guess is because women didn’t have equal rights in divorce until…well, they probably still aren’t equal, but starting in the late 1990s, the law slowly started to change to make things better for women.
Back to the side note of the side note. I am the only one my mother feels she can confide in. I know it’s not my problem, but it kind of is. I think one of the problems with being an American with a Taiwanese mother is that the cross-cultural differences can be difficult to explain to Americans. I know it’s not healthy do to be the sole recipient of her problems, especially since I’m her daughter, but I can’t fathom just cutting her off completely, either, which is what Americans would consider healthy. I love reading advice columns and think of them as my stories, but there is definitely a strong pro-independence American bias to them, which isn’t always the right answer.
I don’t want to shut down my mom completely, but it’s wearing on me to have to listen to her for hours (aggregate) a month talking about her woes. Part of the problem is that she doesn’t actually want advice, even if she’s asks for it. She’ll say, “What do you think?” And if I actually tell her what I think, she immediately refutes or counters. That’s a whole nother story about how she listens to my brother’s opinion over mine, and I’m not going to get into it now. I think i would feel better about talking about it if she actually made any progress as she talked. She doesn’t though, and there is some research that shows when people vent/complain constantly about something, they think they’re doing something about it when they’re actually not.
Wildly veering back to the original topic. Which, to be frank, I don’t quite remember what it was. Oh, right, yeah! Doctor shit! I went. It was fine. I really like my doc (PA-C). She is positive and enthusiastic, but not in a Pollyanna kind of way. It’s taken me some time to find her after quitting my last really good doctor, and I hope she never retires.
Anyway! My scalp issue is probably psoriasis as I thought, and she gave me a prescription for that. My stomach issues, she confirmed it would be hard to test for Celiac’s because I don’t eat gluten any longer. I don’t think it’s that, and she doesn’t either. She suggested it might be IBS, and she mentioned the FODMAP option. I made a face because it’s really restrictive. Then again, if it helps me figure out exactly what is annoying my digestive system, it might be worth it. I think for now I’m going to continue focusing on one potential trigger at a time rather than go intense with the FODMAP diet. My doc gave me the number for the allergist she uses, and I probably will resort to that if I can’t pinpoint my specific triggers.
Honestly, I’ll be relieved if I can get the scalp itchiness problem dealt with. It’s been low-key annoying me for the past few years (and sometimes highly annoying me when it’s at its worst), and I would be relieved to not have to deal with it. I joked with my doc that I was a lizard because the psoriasis has scales, I have a low basal temp, and I prefer cold temperatures to hot.
Now I’m exhausted, though. That took up my daily allowance of personal interaction. I think I need a nap.