My Mom and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember. I can remember very specific life lesson's she taught me along the way. Some good and a few bad. Most of the bad things (as in things I knew I would choose to avoid because I watched her do them) were inadvertent. Despite what my therapist has told me, I feel like I had a pretty good childhood. I wonder though; was it just 'the thing' to do to pretend you were an orphan? My brother and I did a lot of this. We had a blast pretending to live on a ship and try to survive going from island to island or how we would gather enough food to live in a bush in the park behind our street (and close to the community pool so we still had bathroom facilities! We were not stupid!)
A total aside here... gosh, I never even considered not being able to go to the bathroom when you need to if you are homeless. That somehow makes the realization of being homeless even more horrifying!
I went to therapy for a year several years ago. God and I had done a lot of work on me (and not all of it was done with a 2x4), but I found that there was a wall I kept hitting and couldn't figure out how to deal with it. I didn't know it at the time but the wall was my Mother. This would prove to be a very (very) bad year for my Mom. I'm very sorry that it turned out so poorly for her, but ultimately I have to believe it's for the best. She is now much happier and living her own life for quite possibly the first time in her entire adult life. That is certainly a good thing (even if her stupid jerk of a now ex-boyfriend and she just broke up).
Apparently, others could see what I could not. I was quite co-dependent when it came to Mother. I have a need to help people and honestly I'd been trained from a young age to be this kind of person. This is not a bad thing. However, when one comes upon people who troll for such easy marks, it can put me at a rather great disadvantage.
As I said, my Mother and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember. I should mention now that my Mother is also often batshit crazy. I'm not just saying this though. Crazy is a family trait and we have our fair share of relatives who have been (or should have been) locked up in institutions. Maybe it was living so close to states like Kentucky. I can only blame inbreeding or the like early on. (You might be a redneck if your family is batshit crazy.)
My Mother is also a major depressive. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it means that my mother is what some might call uni-polar. She gets depressed. Very depressed. Depressed as in she was once in bed so long she suffered from Vitamin D deficiency depressed. This is not fun. For her or anybody else.
When I think back now, I wonder how bad it would have been to have just kept things the way they were. Would it have killed me or my marriage? Who knows. But with the help of my therapist, I drew some boundaries that were not overly appreciated by my Mom. She kind of had a nervous breakdown; which I do honestly feel bad about (but I need to refer you back to my comment about her being crazy and that I was honestly trying to be a better me at the time). Initially, I thought the therapist was just trying to do the whole "blame your parents" thing, but I finally realized he really wasn't trying to get me to blame anybody. He just wanted me to realize that I had been trained to be codependent -- especially for my Mother and that was not fair to me, or my husband, or my kids.
Unfortunately, this process turned out to be kind of ugly. My Mother became extremely abusive when I took a step or two back from her. I didn't do any of the things you might imagine. I didn't tell her "it was all her fault." I didn't yell or blame her in any way. I simply tried to create some boundaries. Honestly, I don't remember much of it now because much of what happened is eclipsed in my memory by some pretty mean and angry emails, a lot of yelling and ultimately being told that I am overweight because of my guilt for how I treat my Mother (seriously, this is just pregnancy/baby weight I need to loose. That my baby is now almost 12 is inconsequential). Most of the things my Mom threw my way were just delusion. However, it's hard to argue effectively with crazy. So, I kept to my side of the boundary line I'd drawn. Most of the time, I didn't respond with anything more than, "I'm sorry you feel this way, I hope you are feeling better soon." I'm sure this really made her angry, but it worked for me. I did respond in a way that would have been far more satisfying and ultimately might have ruined our relationship forever... I just sent these emails to my best friend at the time instead of to her. We ended up having a good laugh about it all, which in all the stress, I greatly needed.
I guess Mom and I have reached out peace over the past few years. It's good to have that back and probably better that there are some boundaries there now. Who would have guessed boundaries are so important in life? I see how few of them I have and how that impacts my own expectations of complete exposure and sharing without holding anything back in other relationships in my life. I am probably a Princess or Queen of TMI when I think about it.
I'm going with... 'at least I'm entertaining."