Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two Way Streets

Lately I've been thinking a lot about relationships and the importance of having a two way street in each of our relationships.

This mostly comes about as I deal with some unresolved issues surrounding my mother, but as I examine my tendencies, I see how I coped with my mom has seeped into other areas of my life.

My mom was never really there for me. I don't mean to sound like an ungrateful or overcritical daughter, but it is true. As a child, she tried to be a peer, often talking to me about topics I truly wasn't mature enough to deal with. At the time I took it as a compliment and was grateful to be treated like an adult, now I know she was ignoring her resonsibilities as a parent and not respecting boundaries. During the divorce, she was completely absent as a parental figure, swallowed up in her own grief and upset. Even after I moved, our relationship revolved around her:

- When I had a lump removed from my breast, my mom was upset with me for not telling her. Her upset was the main emotion, followed later by empathy.

- When I didn't seem to call her enough when I was a grown woman in college, she took matters into her own hands and called the dean, who then called me into her office. Of course, my mom was not my guardian and was not contributing a cent to my education, but she felt the right to ask my dean to correct me.

As an adult, I find myself making every single phone call and every single visit. I used to explain it away and go along with her excuses. She doesn't like to fly, she doesn't have money, etc. But then I realized that it wasn't just the money she wasn't contributing to the relationship, it was everything else you expect from a mom. An interest in me, an interest in my children, a willingness to reach out instead of being reached, a willingness to express excitement over birthdays, holidays and milestones. I'm tired of making excuses for her and trying to pretend our relationship isn't damaged. I'm tired of doing all of the heavy lifting and doing so out of fear of guilt, both from her and from me.

So, as this happens, I find myself examining other relationships in my life, and realizing that I haven't been requiring two-way streets.

Here are some tag-lines I've tried to live by, which unfortunatley have fed this coedependency inside of me:

"You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." Zig Ziglar

"Go along to get along."

I'm finding these don't work for me anymore as I can't do them and hold onto my needs and wants. I can't follow this and ensure that I am doing for me too.

1 comment:

yertle said...

I have an interesting response to this. Your mom was very self focused and could not see things from any other perspective from her own.

The idea that popped into my head is that you are now run by trying to not be self focused, to not be like her. That is what all of your tag lines say.

What this means is that you continue to neglect your own needs and wants at the expense of others. It is almost like you need a dose of self focus to make sure your needs are met.

I struggle with this myself, feeling like it is bad to be self centered and to do what I want, but then not doing it makes me angry and resentful. The one thing that keeps me on the path of trying to change it is that the last thing I want to give my kids is the belief that they should put everyone else ahead of them and put themselves last. I want them to care about others, but to also feel confident and safe to be who they really are in the world.