I came to an agreement with myself about my mom today. For a long time, when I was growing up, I thought my mom was right about everything, that she had a direct line to God, and that if I didn’t agree with her, I was wrong. Later, I realized she was wrong about just about everything, and was in fact, dangerous, manipulative, self-absorbed, and would just keep taking as long as I let her. (And to be clear, I still realize these things about her. This is, after all, the woman who changed my granparents’ will and tried to get my grandmother to sign it in her hospital bed, only hours before she died. The woman who less than an hour after my grandfather died took his ATM card and withdrew the maximum allowed because she knew she would soon no longer be able to take from their bank account any time she wanted.)
But now, I just feel sorry for her. Sorry for her life — not the life she’s living — that’s entirely her own doing. But the life that makes her feel like she’s always in the right and that no one appreciates it. It’s odd, really, how I can think of her with detachment. I can think abstractly that it’s sad to not to have parents, at least parents with whom I can have any kind of relationship. But I can’t mourn her specifically. I stopped letting her suck me in long ago.
She called me this morning. The first time she’s called me in at least a year. And I’m sure she meant well. I really do. She said she called because she heard about my cat and she was sorry. She knew I’d had him for a really long time. After all, she continued, she also has had her cats for a really long time. Not as long as I’ve had mine. But still. A long time. And she would be very sad if anything happened to them. Not that anything has. They’re all healthy. They’re great really. She’s super happy about that. But before. She’s been sad about pets before. And did she mention that she didn’t have any money?
And as I listened to her make the conversation entirely about her, I realized that she didn’t know any differently. She doesn’t know how to be in any other conversations. And she really did mean the call with good intentions. She just doesn’t know how to listen to other people, or care about them, or to make things about anything other than her.
And that’s a lonely kind of life.