Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you NO WIRE HANGERS EVEEERRRRR!!?!?!?!!


Pardon me while I go on a long rant about my Mommy Issues.

My mother cannot grasp basic concepts like the difference between genres of writing. 

She believes that because I am a Writer, I can write anything and everything effortlessly, and it will perfect. She thinks I should be able to whip out brilliant letters for her and Lil Sis to send to FAFSA pleading our poverty so Lil Sis can continue to go to college. She thinks I can write ad copy for the town's school fundraising organization, for their next charity event. 

Today, she thinks I can magically write a biography for her to put on her website. 

This is a perfect example of the problems with which myself and my siblings have had to deal all our lives. It is a pattern that never wavers. We can sense it coming, and yet we are powerless to stop it, because what Mum does to us is the equivalent of being left stranded on a narrow ledge with a pack of saber toothed tigers behind you and a 2,000 foot drop into hot lava in front of you. There is no possible way to escape. You are going to die a horrible death no matter what choice you make. 

So Mum asks me to write her a biography. And we then have the same exact discussion we have had an infinite number of times before. 

I write fiction. The only non-fiction I write is this blog, and even then I think my approach is more Gonzo Journalism than anything else. Me writing formal non-fiction? FUNNY. You'd think the grades I received in English class all throughout grade school and high school (mostly C's) would be good enough evidence of my lack of skills with formal writing. 

But Mummy dearest doesn't get this. As far as she is concerned, if I am Writer, then I can write absolutely anything perfectly with no effort whatsoever. 

Part of this, I think, is that she simply REFUSES to listen to anyone other than the voice in her head. My mother has a neurological disorder (my presumption; she has never been officially diagnosed) that makes her incapable of even trying to see things from someone else's point of view. 

So Mum asked me to write her biography. I said could she possibly lay out all the facts she wants in her biography, then I could I try and throw something together, and then give it to a friend (who happens to write that sort of thing for a living) to look at. Because I have no idea how to write a biography, so it would be better if Friend helped. Sounds reasonable, right?

THINK AGAIN. 

I knew what she would say before she even said it. Because any and all altercations with Mummy dearest follow the EXACT SAME SCRIPT every single effing time, no matter which of us children she's fighting. 

Step 1. - The Bait and Catch
As of the present time, this step now only works on Little Sis. Big Sisters #1 and 2, and myself have cottoned on to this tactic and will never take the bait. Ever. But that doesn't matter, because when Mum's prey won't take the bait on the end of the hook, she gives up on fishing and just fills the lake with arsenic.

I'll use Mum and Lil Sis's most common fight as an example of the Bait and Catch. They just had this argument last Friday, as a matter of fact. (They had it again on Sunday, but I was not there to witness that one.) Lil Sis was home from college for the week. She spent most of the week with her boyfriend, some of it at home. She spent all of Friday with Mum in the city. 

That's 8 hours. Lil Sis and Mum were together 8 consecutive hours without a screaming match. That is rarer than the ivory-billed woodpecker.

So anyway, Friday night, Lil Sis had planned to go out with a high school friend around 9.00. She had told Mum this several times during the day, one of those times in front of me (you need witnesses when you tell Mum something, or she can and will claim it never happened). Then 9.00 rolls around and Lil Sis announces she's leaving. 

Mum - ::sad, rejected, woebegone tone of voice:: "You're not staying in to spend time with your mother??"

(I would just like to point out that this is the reason that I, at 28 years old, still feel guilty leaving the house.)

The correct thing for Lil Sis to do would have been to laugh off Mum's comment as a good joke, and leave the house as fast as possible. 

But no. Lil Sis cannot resist. She had to try and fight that with a rational argument.

Lil Sis - "Seriously? I was with you all day!"

This sort of response leads directly to:

Step 2. - The Bleeding Martyr
Mum will now use all of her skills as an Irish Mother to make you feel guilty and worthless enough to commit suicide. 

Like for reals. She should have "FINE I'LL DO IT MYSELF" tattooed across her forehead, right above "YOU NEVER DO ANYTHING TO HELP ME," and "I SHOULD JUST GO KILL MYSELF" (Step 4, but we'll get to that...).

My siblings and I will give Mum a legitimate reason for not being able to comply completely and unquestioningly with her request. In turn, she will stop just short of a full Shakespearean monologue. 

In response to me telling her I'd like to enlist the help of Friend for her biography, Mum said: "I'LL JUST DO IT. I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU CAN'T EVER HELP ME OUT WITH ANYTHING. YOU'RE A WRITER I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT YOU JUST DON'T WANT TO."

(Yes, she actually texts in all capitals when she's pissed off.)

So now we come to the ledge, and must choose between the saber-toothed tigers and the hot lava. 

Step 3. - Attempting to Just Give In Because You Think It Will Save You
We all respond the same way to Step 2, even though we know the inevitable result: we immediately agree to do whatever Mum asked us to do in the first place. It could be something physically, spiritually, and scientifically impossible--we will still agree to do it. Mum could have just demanded that you fold space-time to create a black hole so she can teleport to work faster. You will agree to do it. 

But that doesn't matter anymore. 

In Lil Sis's case last week when Mum asked why wasn't she staying home and Lil Sis pointed out that they had just spent the whole day together, Mum replied with her usual "FINE THEN GO OUT."

So Lil Sis instantly caved and said, "Ugghhhhh fine I'll stay home," and then stormed off to the TV room.

Or in my case, when I said, "Yes yes yes I'll write your biography!"

Mum replied with, "JUST FORGET IT NO DON'T BOTHER."

Mum has now left the territory of General Anger and has ascended straight into Irrational Hysterical Rage. 

We cannot win any argument with Mum. It is not possible. She will not listen to any rational arguments. She will not let you get enough words in to form full sentences. She will not listen to reason. 

And God help you if she actually figures out that she's in the wrong all by herself.

Big Sis's #1 and #2 and I no longer continue fighting, but Lil Sis and Mum and will repeat Steps 2 and 3 over and over and over and over and over again until one of them explodes:

Step 4. - Mum Threatens to Commit Suicide and Pretends to Run Away
It would be impossible to keep track of the number of times Mum has threatened to commit suicide. Usually she says she's going to hang herself because obviously she's such a bad mother and everything is her fault and blah blah blah.

And oftentimes she punctuates this by declaring "I'M LEAVING AND I'M NOT COMING BACK," and she grabs her purse and storms out of the house and drives off. 

When you are eight years old and this happens, leaving you confused and alone in the house, you might believe her. The first time. After that, you just take advantage of having the whole house to yourself so you can play Mortal Kombat at maximum volume, or watch as many inappropriate HBO programs as you like. 

Lil Sis has never handled this as well as her older sisters. She dissolves into a terrified, sobbing mess (which was totally fun when she was a toddler and I was the one stuck looking after her for the next 3 hours -_____-). 

She can't handle the possibility that Mum might remain angry with her, and potentially hate her forever. By the time Mum returns home, Lil Sis is climbing the walls in anxiety, which can only lead to mental collapse because

Step 5. - Mum Acts Like Nothing Happened and Everything is Fine
Mum will return home cheery and calm, with the demeanor of one just returning from a pleasant outing at the shops. 

If she didn't go as far as pretending to run away, this can be even more nerve-wracking: after the Step 3 screaming match ends with either Mum or her children or both leaving the room, Mum will return five minutes later happy and friendly as you please, and offer to make you a cup of tea.

The older sisters and I take advantage of this, but Lil Sis ends up a little frayed around the edges. The extreme chaos of Steps 1 through 4 ending with the total and complete calm of Step 5 act like a power surge on her brain, threatening to short circuit everything for at least the next 12 hours.

Exhausting, frustrating, infuriating, yes. But there's nothing we can do about it. 

Except maybe

Step 3(a). - The Wild Card
I'm the only one who's brave enough to do this. It is a brilliant tactic, completely derailing Mum's momentum if I can catch her off guard. 

Essentially this is a manic modification of Step 3 (Just Giving In). I shall use the very first Wild Card incident as an example.

Several years ago, Mum asked could I put Lil Sis's new bookcase together.

Initially (2 minutes after the bookcase arrived via UPS) Mum's request was "when you have a chance."

She repeated the request about one hour later, minus the "when you have a chance."

By that evening, the request came my way roughly every 20 minutes. 

I was in college full time, and working 2 nannying jobs plus a retail job for a total of like 30 hours a week (on top of school). So you can imagine that my free time was extremely limited. You can also imagine that my patience was stretched pretty thin as well, which led to me doing something you should never ever do. 

I snapped at Mumsy. 

Snapping at Mumsy is like taking the Warp Zone straight to Step 4.

I accused Mum of nagging me and said I would bloody well put the bookcase together when I had the free time to do so. Mum HATES to be accused of nagging because she believes that she never nags (which is probably hilarious from an outsider's point of view), so of course she flipped with the usual explosion of shouting, saying she only asked me to do one bloody thing and I'm always so unhelpful and I never contribute to the household and she's going to kill herself because she's a bad mother etc etc etc.

So I put on my best Loud Voice (I don't yell; it's just not my style) and said, "YES, I KNOW, I NEVER HELP WHEN YOU NEED ME TO, SO I AM GOING TO PUT THAT BOOKCASE TOGETHER RIGHT NOW." and marched off upstairs to put Lil Sis's bookcase together. 

I don't think Mum has ever been so confused in her life.


The current standings in the Mommy Issues Awards:
- Uncanny Ability To Never Piss Mum Off: Big Sis #1
- Consistently Remaining Under Mum's Radar: Big Sis #2
- Uncanny Ability to Warp Zone to Step 4 Without Saying or Doing Anything: Mich
- Zero to Epic Screaming Match in under Fifteen Seconds: Lil Sis


And that, my friends, is why I am never EVER having children.

21 comments:

  1. That sounds like a personality disorder. Or two or three. O.o

    Among you, I'm the sis #4. My mom was more subtle about the manipulation, but even now I find myself entering Just-Keep-Her-Fucking-Happy mode, despite the fact that I won't bend that way for ANYONE else.

    Which is the main reason I created my "I will not live within a 2-hour drive of any family member" rule and pretended I meant it about everyone and not just her.

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  2. Your mother is the QUEEN of psychotic child-manipulation. Omfg. There is something seriously wrong with her!

    Lol, I recognise her tactics. Mum used them a lot, but not to the extent that yours does. She doesn't carry the routine of #4 all the way to pretending to run away/suicide threats, that's for sure!

    I promise I'm sticking around for a bit. I've got two Yosaffbridge shawls to knit! I think mine will be in merino, lavender with brown spots, if the pattern calls for 4ply. Gotta find a nice deep green or something for you.

    Tiny sick ANYTHINGS are hard to look after and just plain gross with fleas and pus and everything, but it had to be done.

    Yeah, we're following you guys it seems. Wanna come annex Stewart Island and tell the rest of the world to go fuck itself?

    The way bureaucracy and understaffing completely assfuck the staff and patients in mental health systems everywhere drives me foaming-mouthed incoherent with rage. You're right; there are no words. RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

    Thank you so much for the package, it was so many kinds of fantastic <3 I'll try to put together a little spring sheer thing when the stat day pay comes through :)

    Take care of yourself, ok? Love you to bits *e-hugs*

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  3. Even if you only write fiction, I think your writing of the biography would be great. This is why I (along with like, 568) love reading your blog- you're interesting and have fantastic writing skills (in my opinion, which may not mean very much!). Your mum seems like an... interesting character to live/communicate/deal with. She could possibly even get here way if she were trying to achieve world domination! With my mum, instead of staying under her radar, I'm always in it- one of the suckish things about being the only child. When I don't agree to help mom with something, she will usually do it herself whilst giving me the silent treatment and making me feel like a horrible person for not helping her.

    My grandmother, however, will continuously nag every hour all fracking day long until I FINALLY do whatever she's asking. I've learned with my grandma that if she needs something done, I do it right then or else I won't hear the end of it!

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  4. Step two is the worst step, I've been there before with my father and I know exactly what it's like. Sorry to hear that your mother can be so annoying Mich, she does sound like she has several issues that she needs to wise up and sort. I kind of feel like no matter what it is that you can write wonderfully though and think that you could do a good job with the biography. It shouldn't be forced and manipulated upon you though, that's the annoying bit here, parents can just sometimes be so selfish as ironic as that is, great post Mich.

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  5. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH my god I thought my mother was the only person alive who pretended to run away after throwing a tantrum.

    Is that Freud laughing in the moon? How appropriate. Good call on the wild card. I wish I'd thought of that growing up. I'm with Tempest on the never living anywhere near relatives rule.

    Are they bringing Simon Adebisi onto game of thrones? they really should.

    Nice one on the Event Horizon quote, I just noticed that on your banner. It is from Event Horizon, right?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that is Freud. :D

      If Adebisi came into that series and shanked everyone but Jaime and Arya, I would be a very happy camper.

      Yes that is from Event Horizon, but it's actually the correct Latin for what Lucius Malfoy said, as opposed to what was on the recording... crikey I'm a nerd

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  6. Oooooooh, this post is "Parental Brilliance". i think my mum, in her younger days, employed ALL of these tatcics and then some....'course, now i can't say anything bad, as she seems to be getting in worse and worse health, but i do remember the days....! And grownig up (and here i mean untl the last 10 years or so....maybe more!) there were MANY!

    Your pic's especially of the "Lion King's Cubs" are so utterly adorable and amazing!

    Wanna come visit me? Hub is off for the week and i thought he would be happy........WRONG!!!!!! He's being a miserable mayter....with good reason, but it just wants me want to hide out and drink more....which makes ME horrible. Sorry for the ramble. i should get my own blog....

    love you.

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  7. Well, fuck! I think your mum, my mum, Tempest's mum and Peri's mum escaped from the same nuthouse! Can you spell narcissistic, manipulative, emotionally and mentally abusive, self centred, self absorbed and persecution complex?!

    I had exactly the same sort of thing, when I still lived at home. It got much worse when my mum went into menopause. She left it untreated and turned into a raging psychopath! She threatened to walk out on us all the time, too. She never came back as if nothing happened, though. She loves to brood far too much! The tension lasted for weeks, it was hell! She once packed all my clothes in a garbage bag, threw them on the pavement and told me to fuck off for back-chatting my step father. I was 7 years old. And she wonders why I haven't spoken to her in 14 years! Bitch!

    You deserve an award for putting up with that shit. I'm afraid to say that the further away from her you can get, the better. She's quite noxious. Well done for not going completely bonkers and for not killing her or yourself!

    Good work on totally fucking with her shit! Rock on! Love you so, M. :)

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    1. "Well, fuck! I think your mum, my mum, Tempest's mum and Peri's mum escaped from the same nuthouse!"

      Indeed! We need a transcontinental support group.

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    2. My mother too! I'd love to see all these crazy moms togther. ...actually no, it sounds horrifying, but they should be confined with their own kind. It'll be like clash of the Titans on estrogen-steroids.

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    3. Sounds good to me as long as we're bringing a good supply of hard liquor.

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  8. well if she thinks that then you should write your new best seller "my Mum needs to check herself on a mental instutition: Book 1 out of 353w5t3wrfs, Volume 5 million"
    shit im a formal writer i don't think i can write non-formally and be okay with it omg
    im fucking Robert Frost
    i am your Lil Sis bb
    this post i will go print it and tape it to my Mum's room because
    are you sure we're not related i can relate to every single one of these points
    okay the tits Game of Throne picture more than the rest of this
    im never having children because those fuckers are selfish bitches
    i should know
    im one of them
    -Sam Lupin

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  9. Have any of you ever thought to jus follow through on what's rational instead of caving in? If you know she'll get over it and she'll get mad regardless why not do what you originally stated you would do? For example, why didn't your sister just say that she spent the whole day with her mom and se was going out. Her mom would have been mad but she was hurt regardless and still moved on.

    Emily

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    1. That's a nice theory, but when you factor in emotions and natural reactions to things like a borderline pd mother who goes looking for a fight, its easier said than done. I think Mich's mommie dearest knows exactly how to push each of her kids' buttons, and will keep pushing them until she gets the reaction she wants. You can't stop a angry mother who loves to go fishing for a fight, unfortunately.

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  10. Wow. Your mum be crazy.
    That's it. Your mum & tempest's mum & peri's mum & jeanne's mum all need to be locked back in the nuthouse & we'll all head to Mich's house (or whoever has room for us all) and I'll bring *my* mum! She's disorganized & scatterbrained (tho I have it worse) but she's a lovely mum. Now that she's dumped that horrid job & spends her days doing stuff she likes she's a happy fountain. And she does have a habit of adopting stray humans ^_^

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  11. What a fun read lol.... and i can only imagine it. Your household is blog material galore. Poor mom putting up with your ass haha...

    Kidding... poor you. Kinda :P

    I get the same with the writing, but not from mom but from friends instead.

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  12. As always, hilarious (although, I suppose, unfortunately true...)

    You could try to hit mom with this analogy. I am a voice-over professional. I have voiced commercials on both radio and TV, as well as on recorded telephone applications. I am very good at what I do. I have a strong male baritone voice. However, I would be the wrong person to ask to do an ad calling for a female voice, perhaps an ad for feminine hygiene products or diet soda or baby wipes. The final product would be a travesty, a parody of what it should have been. I know my limitations. More important, anyone considering my particular talents, with at least half a brain, also takes my limitations into consideration, and would no more ask me to voice such an ad than they would ask a female voice talent to do an ad for a monster truck rally or an Old Spice commercial. And the producer who doesn't know enough to know the difference, and why he or she shouldn't consider a person outside of the necessary skill set, is an idiot and won't be in the business for very long.

    Eh. Probably won't help, but I felt like being long-winded and pedantic. I think I at least succeeded at that.

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  13. Gerard's mom is Irish. One time she got very drunk and made a huge ass of herself and proceeded to lock herself in her room acting angry at every one else for 3 whole days once she was sober. Yikes. Then there was the time she tried to force me to take communion and the time she tried to guilt me into taking cattecism (sp) classes "in case" I married her son. I was. 19. Irish mothers be crazy lol

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We say whatever we want to whomever we want, at all times.