Parents updated us by phone on mom’s cancer. It spread from lungs to liver and brain. So that is not ideal. Functioning of those organs is not yet impaired, so chemo and eventually radiation will be used (again) to slow it.
It’s not curable but they’ll try to treat it to prolong life. She said she’s not ready to go. She’s only in her late 70s; her mother made it past 100.
Spouse did all the talking. We didn’t open our mouth. What can we say? So much is unsaid, remains so.
We haven’t tried to guilt them for what we endured. We haven’t tried to change them, reform them, shame them, tame them. We have tried to understand them, to figure out what needs of theirs they were trying to meet when we were a kid.
Words from then might not do much for us. They had their chance to help us by saying what was alive in them back then. We asked. One of them said, “I can’t remember.” One of then offered nonsense by way of explanation. They claimed they would do anything to help, but they did not mean that either.
It’s odd to listen to them talk. We feel distant, detached, disconnected. Covid distancing has intensified that chasm.
Younger Child asked if we wished things were different, that we were closer to our parents.
We really don’t think that way. To be close, we’d either still have to be delusional (in denial about what happened to us) or we would have to accept everything and somehow still feel safe. We don’t. Parents can retain power even if they don’t want to. The dynamic can be hard to shake.
He was still reminding us into his 40s and maybe 50s that he could still beat us.
Thanks for the reminder.
This is who he is or was. He’s not “bad.” He has a history, a context. He is trying to meet his needs without regard for our. Empathy gap. Compassion gap.
We would not prefer to be subjected to shaming (happened twice by him in public even after our hospitalization), which is a form of violence that feels awful to us.
What are we willing to risk to be closer to our parents? In truth, not much anymore. We are fragile. It’s hard for us to set boundaries (if you’ve read this blog very long, you know that boundaries were a primary theme of 2018-2020, and they don’t appear to be sharing in importance), so we can get trampled.
We don’t bounce back from conflict. It takes days.
Once she dies, we can’t “reconcile.” But what is their to reconcile? We recognize her humanity: she gave birth to us, tried to raise us her best, made errors as all humans do, she tried to survive her own life and meet her own needs as best she could, she offered her best version of love and nurturing—it was more than nothing.
And now we have fallen out of knowing our parents. We don’t really want to. We need the energy for us and our children and Spouse. We fucked up, too: we yelled and we shamed—and then we realized it and have been trying to improve and have given our kids therapy and been accountable and offered love.
If we treat our parents as evil monsters, so do we brand ourselves.
So, hopefully, you won’t die soon, mommy. Maybe with time, we can creep closer to you. 💛