The balance between respect and boundaries is like walking a very tight rope without a net.
I know there are a lot of us that have a strained relationship with our parents. It really sucks.
Currently, I am a caretaker for my Mom. Yes, we live together, in her house.
I’m in a small bedroom. I have some clothes, sure, but all of my stuff – an entire home, outside toys, camping, costume collection, books, DIY stuff, vending – all of it is in a storage unit.
Trust me when I say, I GET it.
Our relationship has been rocky since I was 4 years old. I started pulling away that young.
We are so very different.
Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, even physically that communication across the generations, is ALMOST impossible.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- Being kind when you want to bite your tongue off
- Not feeling appreciated and helping anyway
- Exhausting yourself daily
- Frustrated at being “the chosen one”
- Thinking about how many ways it could be different
- Mentally preparing every morning for each negative remark
- Physically staying strong and trying to be/look perfect to deflect comments
- Crying yourself to sleep cause you feel like a horrible person
- Feeling less than
- Keeping busy to stay out of the line of fire
- Uncontrollable anger
- Knowing you can help others but have to dig deep to keep the faith
- Having zero privacy
- Fighting to keep calm when you know they are pushing buttons for attention
- Trying to concentrate on homework with them interrupting
- Struggling to believe in yourself when they obviously do not
- Searching for any and every tool you can use to release the energy
For me, it came down to years of taking classes, workshops, studying and learning all the modalities I could to find anything that would connect us.
At that point I would’ve taken it on any level, you know?
Everything changed years ago when I realized, SHE was never going to change, I had to.
The only thing we control is ourselves. So, in that vein, I started looking for tools for myself, not her or the both of us. Began really putting together the Toolbox I share with clients.
Only recently have I started seeing small wins. As sad as that is, it’s true. And it all had to do with me.
Literal decades have been spent trying to gain some semblance of normalcy in our communication. Hours and hours spent listening, practicing, reading, breathing and looking in the mirror.
Now, let’s include a pandemic. Enter: covid.
The whole “God works in mysterious ways” quote is not just a quote.
I swear God thinks he’s funny. Smh. And although I do enjoy his humor, I am only recently appreciative of what I learned and gained from this experience.
I still stumble, you know. I’m not perfect, the whole human thing. It has gotten exponentially better, however, it is still not an easy road.
Living with her after getting kicked out at 18 and made to move to another country was not in the plans. Apparently they were, but not in my head. Smh.
I’ve been here with her since covid started. Really debated about being honest about this publicly because of the whole ‘image’ I’m supposed to maintain.
But you know what?
I’m not alone in this. There are so many that I talk to going through the same thing, so my understanding on a deeper level, actually helps.
My brother was here when I moved in. Another not planned situation. He was diagnosed on Mothers Day in 2020 with Stage 4 Thymus Cancer and was gone almost exactly 6 months later.
My mom, as she should, took this hard and went into a deep depression. I’ve spent the last two years trying new things to bring her back to life.
If you know me, you know I’ll do damn near anything for those I love. I’ve sacrificed myself in every way I am able to help.
Do you think it’s good enough?
Do you think it’s appreciated?
Do you think it matters?
Nope. Not even a little.
But I knew that going in, didn’t I?
I did these things for her, sure. Not for her, but for ME.
I don’t have to be here, I can leave. But I don’t. Because that is not who I AM.
After a while you understand, in your heart of hearts, that you do it for them because YOU can. Not because you should or have to.
This 80 year old woman has been through quite a bit and lived a long life. There is simply no chance I’ll let her live out the next 15 years miserable. But, that was and will continue to be, my choice.
One thing I can suggest is to remember, it is about you.
It was never about them. Promise.
As triggers come up, jump on them, get them dealt with so YOU can be happy and healthy going forward.
Sometimes you just have to walk away, but sometimes, just sometimes, you stay in the trenches because you know you’re going to bring them out.
Partner, family member, friends, whomever.
Sometimes, your boundaries come first. Sometimes they can be bent.
You have to decide how you want to live, the characteristics you want to be remembered for, the type of person YOU choose to show up as and what you are and are not willing to give. Then do it with a willing heart.
Even as you bite that tongue, leave your heart open. It changes you…
Let’s change your story, shall we?