I promised a mention of “family” the other day, and I do apologize for being absent since then – things have been a bit hectic this last week.
My peers and I are sometimes referred to as the “sandwich generation”, as in being in between and caring for our parents, as well as children still in the home. This is especially apt in my own situation, although not for this reason.
In my case, I’m quite stuck between two generations in what almost seems an epic battle for what is right – not who is right, but just the general “right” versus “wrong”. Surely there are those of you out there who feel the same way, who struggle on a daily basis with both toxic parents and toxic children.
On the one hand, I deal almost constantly with a son who insists that I “yell” at him when I am merely expressing anger or disappointment. My words may be harsh at times, but my voice is seldom raised. Even when I tell him such mundane things as “you need to make your bed”, or some other communiqué, he turns around and tells his friends that “Mom’s been yelling at me again”.
He also frequently refers to me by using some vulgarity or another; although he hasn’t done it in front of me for some months or specifically addressed me that way. He seems to have issues recognizing the truth; everything, to him, is relative to his perspective and is not based in reality at all. It’s always someone else’s fault, or someone else “should have” been punished in like manner. He has no remorse and thinks nothing at all of lying even to law enforcement, his counselors, or other family members.
Which brings me to the subject of toxic parents.
I have one remaining parent, in the definition of a blood relative from whom I was given life. She, too, appears to have difficulties with reality and prefers to either bury her head in the sand or attribute events to improbably causes.
She lives quite a distance away; I seldom see her and have stopped most communication with her as well. She used to manage to visit perhaps once a year, but recently seems to only wish to speak about me, instead of to me.
She enjoys discussing me with her other child; the two of them, I’m quite sure, have a high old time denigrating my accomplishments, conferring over what they perceive as my parental failures, gossiping about my finances and what they believe is a lack of unemployment. Strange thing is that neither bothers to ask me any questions; of course, when they do, they don’t believe the answers anyway.
She also enjoys telling her friends and family members about me; unfortunately, her lack of training in psychology or any other pertinent area doesn’t stop her from diagnosing me as, at different times, narcissistic, controlling, and manic.
You see, that’s her opinion, based on the difficulties I’ve had with my son. We’ve always told our kids the rules, and none have taken issue with them until now. We expect them to do their chores, be pleasant, study hard, eat right, and get enough sleep; this is pretty much what any parents expect.
She thinks that because our son has rebelled against these things that I must be too controlling. She thinks that because he’s lied to police and said that we beat him, it must surely be true; she thinks that because he says that I said something that, too, must be the case. I assume this is what she thinks – at least, it’s what she tells anyone who will listen.
She also thinks that because I become upset, I must be manic; that because I want to talk to her about it, it must be “all about me” and therefore I’m a narcissist.
Oh, this could go on and on. There’s much, much more. But you can’t deal with irrational behavior and speech, you can’t counteract it; so I am stuck between trying to do what’s best for my son and having my mother completely undermine it. How, you ask, does she do this?
Because my son, and my daughter, are two of the people with whom she shares her twisted logic. Yes, she feels it appropriate to discuss a parent’s decisions with children; she feels it appropriate to agree with my son’s warped reality and my daughter’s sense of entitlement. She thinks nothing of telling either or both of them that “you know what she’s like” – and this from a woman who has no idea what her daughter is like, because for my whole life she has avoided any sort of relationship.
All that said, now I’m going to put on my tinfoil hat because, you know, according to her I’m also paranoid. Unfortunately I’m not, and I say “unfortunately” because if I were, I could chalk all this up to imagination. It’s not imagination; it’s truth, in black and white. I’ve seen it, and I’ve heard it as well.
This is just part of my family. Am I lucky, or what? Maybe that shouldn’t be phrased as a question!