Just like I would never actually CALL my mother Voldemort… July 20, 2009Posted by Sparkel in M, realizations.
I’ve often found it remarkable that there are people in our lives who we encounter briefly or who we dislike, but things they have said or qualities they possess pop into our minds more often than those we care deeply for or see every day. Some of the most random, seemingly insignificant things can be the most haunting. Why is this?
I believe I’ve written here before about my relationship with my mother, or lack thereof. Clearly a mother, in most cases, is not a person with an impact one could consider brief. I see the effect my mother’s behavior has had on my siblings, how it has molded their tempers and behavior in relationships. They both speak to her much more frequently than I do and are less tolerant of her outbursts. I feel that I have internalized harsh words and the marriage between my parents as more of a case study.
The conclusions I reached were obvious and simple; name-calling and the use of nothing but “I” and “you” when trying to sort out differences of opinion are bad. Violence escalates. Yelling makes everything seem worse than it probably is. Bringing up old fights in new fights is not only counter-productive, but annoying and frustrating for both parties.
You can never “unsay” anything. Even if you apologize, the damage is done.
Once you learn something, you can never “unlearn” or “unknow” it. And some things are better left unsaid, no matter how true they may be. That the truth doesn’t set you free because words can hurt, especially toward and from those we claim to love the most.
For the most part, my relationship with M has been…not fight-free or angst-free or frustration-free. We argue and bicker and fight like any normal couple. But he comes from parents who fought in silence. If one got mad, they would ignore each other (sometimes for months) until the feelings passed. My parents were, clearly, the opposite. No insult was left unsaid. Their only regrets were the really amazing comebacks and names that were thought of after the fact.
M fights like his parents. The surest way I can tell he is angry is if he doesn’t respond when I speak to him and leaves the room when I enter it. It’s a bit annoying, sure. Okay, that’s not true. It’s HELLA frustrating and I’ve often reached the point of getting in his face and asking him if he’s seven. But he has never called me a name. Never yelled at me. Never hit or pushed. Never said anything that wasn’t true, just out of spite or anger.
I on the other hand… I try my best. I really, really do. I know myself well enough to tell when the mean words and biting insults are brewing and popping up on the tip of my tongue. We got into an argument on Saturday over something domestic and stupid; he cleaned the bathroom for the second time in a row, which I thought was the plan after I cleaned the kitchen during the week while he napped on the couch.
The thing about M not explicitly stating why he’s angry has actually been something of a bonding experience. Because he won’t tell me when I ask him, I’m forced to guess. He’s very Dumbledore-esque about wanting me to figure things out for myself so fights can also be learning experiences. And because I’m forced to use subtle hints and re-trace my steps, I’ve gotten to know him almost telepathically. I need to argue, need to talk it out in order to move past fights. He would rather ignore me until he’s just not mad anymore. So, I end up basically arguing with myself right in front of him. I state his side, waiting for almost imperceptible nods or head-shakes, and then begin my defense.
We went out for dinner as planned after I realized he was angry about having to clean the bathroom and I was PISSED. Didn’t I clean the whole kitchen, which wasn’t even my mess!, while he SLEPT??? Did I get angry? Did I say a word? NO! And wasn’t is agreed that he would clean the bathroom anyway?? HOW DARE HE! I am NOT his goddamn MAID!
The point of this extremely tedious post (my sincere apologies and thanks if you’ve made it this far!) is that I had *ahem* other…thoughts…too.
The mean, nasty thoughts that would feel SO! GOOD! to say at the time. You’ve convinced that they’re true, they’re warranted, they’re deserved. The pain you would cause with these words is going to be the sweetest justice you dole out this week.
I told M one of them. One of the nicer ones, mind you, but a very nasty thought. I regretted it immediately, eyes-welled with tears, reached across the table to grab his hand and apologize profusely. This was about more than hurting my best friend and love of my life in a moment of anger. This was my mother’s lessons coming to the forefront of my mind and me being weak enough to resort to a quick fix for ME and MY frustration, instead of what is best for US, as partners who would very much like to spend every day together, til death do us part, without needing to forget careless words in order to do so.
With Harry Potter fresh in my mind, I’m reminded of a quote from Dumbledore to Harry; “it isn’t how you are alike. It’s how you are not.”
I realize I’m comparing my mother to VOLDEMORT, which seems…well, oddly appropriate at times. But that quote encapsulates perhaps the most important lesson of my young life.
And I say “young life” because I don’t imagine I will spend the rest of my life trying not to be my mother, trying not to have a relationship as destructive and loveless as the one my parents have. The fact that I knew, through my anger and pride, that my mean, horrible thoughts were not necessary, means I have already distinguished myself from her. No matter how right or justified or true these thoughts probably were at the time, saying them out loud would not help either one of us. We both have flaws and constructive criticism can help anyone, if applied correctly.
The difference between my mother and I is that I understand that the best love is unselfish and compromises. And that difference makes, well…all the difference. Not in the end, but in every day.