Thursday, February 14, 2013

Flourishing: Personal

There have been some crazy things going on in the background around here.  Crazy as in "how many cats that lady have now?"  One is the really unfortunate murder of one of my daughter's friend's mother, by her ex-father-in-law, which happened on Monday.  I can't imagine anything worse, and we're very anxious about who the kids are with now, hoping for the best for them and that the family will be able to stay together, but of course that's being kept private as of yet.

The other crazy thing is in my own extended family.  I've probably mentioned a little about it before, but it just keeps getting worse in many ways.  My parents have been separated for almost a year now, most of that time without any contact other than email (no phone, visits, etc.)  My mother has tried to get a personal protection order against my dad (the court overturned it pretty quickly), have him excommunicated (didn't work), and lately has been attempting to get him committed to a mental hospital (also unsuccessful).  She likely has mental illness herself, a condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder, and it's very distressing to see both of their lives, health, employment, and relationships deteriorating.

But, here's the good news that I just cannot keep to myself: I crossed a real milestone in my own relationship with my mom.  It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, and it won't make an immediate tangible difference, but it has been on my mind constantly and joyfully.

First, some messy background I can't avoid: last weekend, my mom tried yet again to get me to take some information that she would provide and use it against my father in some way that she prescribed.  This is a consistent pattern, and we had recently had a conversation in which I reminded her that if I was convinced that I couldn't remain neutrally outside of events, I would always include my dad in the discussion as well.  She got very upset and ended the conversation.  So when she began leaving me texts and voice messages last weekend on the same subject, I responded that my position hadn't changed in the short time since we had talked.

I won't go into details about the exact who-what-where, but let's just say that she tried to pull a lie over on me and I happened to have had immediate, recent evidence of its falsity.  She doesn't know that, but as I continued to respond that I wasn't going to act on any information she was "providing" me, she left me two long voicemails in which she unloaded all sort of vitriol on me.  She called me hopelessly dimwitted.  She implied that I'm purposely ruining her life.  Anyway, this has been happening for many years now, I often ask her to stop and she just gets louder and more insistent.  In my own mind, it's clear that she's being cruel, that it never helps her get her way, and that I've told her I don't like it.

But this time, I wrote her an overall kind email, in which I however included the statement that "I did not/do not deserve to be treated that way, ever."
I don't think I've ever put it that way.  I've asked to her stop, tried to tell her how I felt about the treatment (ha), all sorts of other approaches.  But the way I put it this time was absolutely neutral in terms of blame, emotions, begging, etc. 
I don't deserve to be insulted.
I don't deserve to be vilified for exercising my conscience.
These things don't say how I feel (which she can invalidate) or ask her to "please stop" (which she can ignore), they apply even with strangers and whether or not the behavior actually hurts my feelings.  (Which often it doesn't anymore, thanks to years of prayer, repentance, therapy, and temple visits. Just occasionally it does, almost for old times' sake.)  They have to do with my inherent worth, not with how she's making me miserable at any given point.

Do you see why I feel so wonderful?  I've gone from literally trembling all over every time I saw her name on the caller ID a decade ago, to having a knowledge of my inherent worth shine through whatever she throws at me.  And I can tell her so

I'm really grateful, and just feel brimful of joy whenever I think of it.

And, to top it off, look at this yummy food.

An extra-wonderful batch of bread

Homemade pumpkin granola with cinnamon chips

1 comment:

  1. You are an amazing woman and I am so privileged to call you my friend. This post gives me great joy.