Changing The Subject

Alright, so this post title is both something my mother does and a bit of a play on words. It was something I was thinking about yesterday, as I go through things and process things.

Whenever my mother is uncomfortable with a conversaton topic, she changes it.

Whenever my mother has been accused of a wrongdoing, of doing something not nice, she doesn’t apologise. She wants to talk about something else instead, because apologies are too hard. Hurt feelings don’t matter, she’s right and if they got hurt by her, that’s their problem not hers.

She did this the other day, after I accused her of hypocrisy:

Let’s talk about something else love before someone gets hurt. So… fireplaces

I didn’t care about fucking fireplaces, I was livid. I couldn’t unsee it either, the attempt for control:

Let’s talk about something else before someone gets hurt.

Back off and accept my double standards before I hurt you for hurting me.

It’s not a request, in a way it’s a concealed threat. The trouble is, by underscoring her double standards I’ve now (and unintentionally) wracked her with guilt. Ironically, if she just heeded my care and concern (ie did what she’d asked me to do), she probably wouldn’t feel so guilty. I don’t mind Mum having fun, just…. careful fun.

But also it refers to this post and how my pack will inevitably end up, ahem, “changing the subject”. In a way they already are.

Strengthening her. Emboldening her. Empowering her. Not because they’re trying to change her, but because unconditional love does that, naturally.

“I don’t think she’s ever apologised to me” I tell Matt. When I really think about it then I think Mum has, twice: once when she chewed Matt out (she was just stressed with work) and we killed it with kindness; she was overcome with guilt then too. The other time was when I gave her irrefutable evidence that I am not autistic, and she admitted that she hadn’t been a very good mother to me (she had always judged me). That was a hard moment for me, but I forgave her because that’s what I do. Because strong people forgive others, even if it takes a little time.

But there comes a time when – and as hard as it is – you realise that some people don’t deserve to be in your life on the whole. They don’t respect you fully, so they don’t deserve you fully.

You aren’t good enough for them, and you will never be good enough. A people-pleaser like me though? We have to learn that the hard way.

I read something on Quora yesterday that honestly moved me to tears, that basically summarised toxic love. A conversation between the heart and the brain; the heart loves unconditionally and the brain knows these people are wrong for the heart.

“But these people are my family!” screams the heart, “I love them, I’ll never stop loving them.”

“I know,” says the brain, “but they don’t love you like you want, need and deserve.”

“I deserve?” asks heart, unsure. Heart was never good enough.

“You don’t think you do?” replies brain.

“Do I?” asks heart in response.

“Trust me, heart” smiles brain, “we get it wrong sometimes but you know I’ve never lied to you. You deserve to be loved for you, we both do.”

Heart pouts a little bit, how can heart not love the people that heart loves so dearly? Brain knows what heart is thinking. Brains think a lot, too.

“You can love them a little bit, heart, but not too much. Find other hearts who will love you for you, who you can love unconditionally too. I know how much you hearts love doing that. Do we have a deal?”

“It’s a deal!” agrees heart excitedly.

I got thinking about that old adage yesterday, that blood is thicker than water. Blood isn’t always thicker than water though, even if it is an adage that I was bought up to believe in. Blood is thicker than water – my family is strong and impenetrable. Wrong, my family was just anxious, dysfunctional and tightly controlled. It wasn’t that therapists couldn’t get in, it’s that they simply weren’t allowed to. In order to heal from my childhood I needed to get therapy for myself and work out the past on my own.

“It’s like cancer” I said to Matt this morning, “when I was young I always thought cancer happened to other families, then it happened to mine. Abuse is like cancer, it devastates you too.”

When I was young I was led to believe that other families were dysfunctional and abusive. Not mine, mine was loving and perfect. We had fun, we had family holidays and Halloween parties that everyone begged to attend. How was my family abusive?

I was fed the sickening lie that if they don’t hit you, it’s not abuse. If you don’t have marks, you’re not abused. They could hit you if they wanted to, if you don’t do as you’re told. In fact, you should be grateful that they don’t.

You’re not lucky at all, that’s coercive control.

I still could be controlled this way, effectively, that’s why I’ve realised now that I have to severely limit my exposure to my family. Until now I have still been letting them abuse me and letting them get away with their actions in the name of peace. I am not showing myself love when I do that.

This is another emotion right now: Disbelief.

I hate that feeling, I hate the numbness and detachment from myself. Right now sleep is dreamless or it’s frightening and vivid. I feel myself present, and yet I’m not here. Food is just sustenance, it isn’t tasty. My sense of smell and hearing are amplified and I often hallucinate. Stress does that to me.

I want my Mum, I think to myself, the Mum who abused me.

Again the disbelief sinks in.

Matt and I laugh about some stuff, and then my laughter turns to tears. I hate this. I can’t stand the idea that my loving family abuse me, that I have to cut down on the love I know. I have to fight myself to stop myself believing that the problem in my relationships really is me.

“Hey, why are you crying?” he asks softly.

“I’m okay, really” I whisper, “catharsis”. It’s what I need right now and so, so badly: Sweet, delightful catharsis. I need to ‘go there’, I need to be used, hurt, filled in almost an act of revenge against my mother. I need to give myself to a man, or men, to smell their sex on me. I need to feel their use and enjoyment of me, I need my place, my one true purpose. The place where I am truly loved and accepted for all I am. The place where, even on my knees, I am strong.

I tried to arrange a mutually-satisfying impromptu play session last night, given my yucky feelings and Matt’s recent raging hormones. Come 10:30PM and he’s passed out on the sofa.

Oh well.

I created two new tasks on my to-do list app yesterday – ‘turn on the answerphone’ on Tuesdays and Fridays and ‘turn off the answerphone’ on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I’ve always been available to my mother, and I need to stop being so available. I need to reclaim my life.

Matt’s a little reluctant for me to do it but, if I may be so outspoken, I feel like it may do him some good. I’ve got no problems with his Dad calling his mobile if needs be, it’s just that the landline will go straight through to answerphone. I don’t want to take Matt from his Dad, I just want to stop Matt feeling that same level of obligation that I have long felt, to be there to answer “just in case” the home phone goes.

For my mother though, and from now on, I will be unavailable on Tuesdays and Fridays, and I will call her on Thursdays if I don’t speak to her before. Meet-ups are optional, but must be planned and agreed in advance. If they’re not, I will take the initiative and finalise the plan myself.

I also won’t have calls coming in on my mobile on my ‘me’ days, so there will be no “how do I…?” calls from my father-in-law. Again I’ve always been too available, too willing to help. That needs to stop. He’s 71 years old and he has a smartphone. If he can use Facebook, he can use Google.

The only apps enabled on my phone on Tuesdays and Fridays from now on are Youtube, Youtube Music and Signal. Signal, so I can talk to my two delightful gentlemen about whatever.

Perhaps fortunately, my mother hasn’t yet discovered Signal.

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