My mother came back into my life on Monday afternoon. (As a result, I won the wager between my brother, DH and myself. I got the day and time right.) Oh, she had sent me a few emails, one of which was a letter complaining about me not responding to one of her previous emails that detailed her woes and frustrations. Her latest email was a bit passive aggressive and whatnot, but whatever. In reply, I was as neutral as possible (even DH agreed). Here are our last three emails for you to judge me:

A week or so ago I tried to tell you that I am up to a blow-up point, but somehow there is no response. Probably you don’t know what to say. It does require special skill to handle emotional gooey stuff.  After all, I am a grown-up and I should know better. It can be tragic, when you find out there is no one you can talk to. It leads you to believe that no one cares! So what is the solution? ISOLATE!

There are so many things that I have swallowed down for so many years. (Who told me to do that, right?) At some point I realize that I am no good for anyone until I can react normally. So lucky you and [your brother], it happened! So after three days of isolation, I crawl out a little bit from the pit. Whether further isolation is necessary, it remains to be seen!
you take care!
Mom
My response:
Thank you for sending these past two emails. I’m sorry I didn’t get
back to you for the other email. I was trying to think of a response
and then honestly, I forgot about it. I’m sorry that you were close to a blow up point, but I’m not really sure what you wanted from me. Did you want me to sympathize with you? Tell you that I hear you? Or did you want me to help you not blow up? Because if you wanted me to prevent a blow up, I really can’t help you with that.

I know these past few years have been really hard. I’m very sorry that you feel as if there is no one you can talk to. However, that is simply not true. You have many good friends that you could talk to. You have pastors and people who care about you. In addition, you could find a counselor that is experienced with dealing with Chinese
Christian women your age. You have many options.

However, it is your right to choose to isolate yourself and be upset. You are perfectly entitled to choose to believe that you are alone. And if you isolate yourself, you will be alone.

I want you to know that I love you and will be available if and when you come out of isolation. What you choose to do with your future, I will support. However, if you do choose to isolate yourself, please also know that while I do love you, I will let you choose your isolation. I will not be able to tell if it’s the kind of isolation where you truly want to be alone or whether it’s the kind that is a cry for help and you want us to pursue you and call you and tell you that we want you to come back. So, I will assume that when you do not want to be around us, you don’t want to be around us. Only because I am not a mind-reader and I don’t want to be. When you come out of it and want to rejoin us, we will gladly welcome you back!

We love you and miss you and hope you are getting what you need. I encourage you to talk to your friends and to find a counselor who can help you.

And finally, her reply:

Thank you for getting back to me. Don’t worry, I never expect you to read my mind, or to pity me or to pamper me or to solve my problem. (Only God can solve my problem. hahaha) Have you ever thought that I just try to communicate with you? Obviously, we are very different in a lot of way. In this particular case, I just need some time to be alone. After a couple of days I will be ok. (I have learned by now this is the only way.)

Your response is understandable, most people think similarly (whether verbally or non-verbally).  You are very honest and never hesitate to share a piece of your mind. Just don’t be so sure that people haven’t tried all the things that you think people should do.

This is the last time we ever need to talk about this kind of thing. Next time, when I want to be alone I will let you know. you don’t have to figure out. If I forget just remind me. (just remember I am getting older….hahaha…)

Don’t you all just love crazy emails??

I love my mother. However, with that said, she drives me crazy to distraction. Now, being that you guys are not either me nor my mother, you might think we’re just inventing reasons to be crazy. Perhaps.

But seriously. I get so frustrated and mad at my mother because I feel as if she has brought most of her problems onto herself. She has a husband, who is repeatedly unfaithful, but instead of doing anything about it, she just buries her head in the sand. Then when finally, he produces a bastard child, it becomes too unbearable. Well, now then, he wants to keep as much money for himself as possible and makes it absolutely impossible for her to get what she wants (which is the house) and he’s trying as much as possible to unearth any “secret” accounts she may or may not have.

Then, she gets mad at ME, because I do not respond to her in the way that she wants. She has called me abusive in the past. Because we got into a fight. Really? She’s like talking to a child who just figured out how to say, “No.” Because in reality, she IS. She just found her voice and instead of having any sort of grown up filter on what is or is not for her, if it’s something she doesn’t like, she uniformly rejects it and says, “No.”

I get so angry with her because she lies nearly as much as my father does. Only instead of lying about a mistress or bastard children, she lies about her accounts, her feelings, what has happened. Her lies are ones of omission. My family is a family of lies.

That is why I am often brutally honest. Mostly to my detriment.

That is also why I am the “Walk All Over-er” in a relationship vs. the “Walked Upon.” This is why I am often hard and unyielding. Because look what being pliable does to you. It breaks you into a million little pieces.

My family taught me how to lie. Ok, I suppose most families teach their children how to lie. Lies out of politeness or fear or kindness or shame or just plain pathological. I’m sure I’ll teach my own children how to lie – albeit, through actions and not some kind of lesson plan.

I suppose one of the reasons I am so blunt and harsh with my family is my way of rebelling against our unspoken rules (oh, let me be real – sometimes, actual mandates) about lying to one another and “keeping the peace.” The other day, I had a new thought about this phenomena. I think MD* was the one who truly taught me how to lie. FKB taught me to keep better track of my lies and get my stories straight (and truly, how not to get caught).

After all, MD was the one who would tell me things about FKB or BB or whomever and then tell me not to tell anyone else. MD would unburden herself and expect me to share the load. Let me just say, it completely sucks to know horrible things about family members that would definitely affect the way you interact with them but then pretend everything is fine. I often feel split and fake. It blows.

These family secrets weigh on my mind. I wonder what to tell my children (if at all). When? At what age would be appropriate? I would hate for them to find out some family secrets and then be upset at me for not informing them. Or even to have their views and opinions and love for family members irrevocably changed.

But here’s a weird thing. I don’t know how to live in a world where my family would actually be honest with each other. I have no idea. Right now, I can act sweet, caring and affectionate around FKB because I’m not supposed to know he’s a lying bastard who is a classic narcissist and has given me half-family members who will never be acknowledged unless there is an act of God. Because as much of a complete asshat FKB is, I still love him. Terribly so.

On the other hand, he’s completely broken my heart and part of me rages at him. Part of me wants to just let him have it and let him know just how horrible he is and how he has damaged me and my loved ones. (Not that he would take any responsibility. He is the world’s foremost victim. Oh, and the Worst. Liar. Ever.)

The pretending nothing is wrong act can sometimes keep my anger at bay. It allows me to pretend that my family is ok. I truly lack the imagination to see how our family can be any other way – and yet, I yearn for truth. I will just have to eventually resign myself to accepting that nothing may ever change.

*I realize that anyone with half a brain can easily deduce from context to whom these fake initials refer. However, since I want to remind myself to respect the privacy and the truth of other people’s stories, I will use these pseudonyms. Perhaps along the way, I will also remember to remove any identifying characteristics or what have you so that it will also be harder to deduce from context.

However, I do want to be honest and not constantly edit myself on my own blog (as well as tell my own story as best as I can recall or tell). It is my right. But it is also the right of the people who appear in my story to have reasonable expectations of the web equivalent of talking in the shadows and having their voice altered. So, pseudonyms. And along with those, awkwardly worded sentences.