Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Role Reversal

As a child (adult child, as it may be), it still throws me for a loop whenever I'm disappointed in my parents. Quel role reversal!! For the longest time, I thought it wasn't right, or even possible, for a daughter (let alone the baby of the fam) to be disappointed in her parents, but obviously, that's not the case.

As I'm sure you've figured out, I'm extremely close to my Mom. We have grown closer throughout the years and being so far away from her has been one of the most challenging parts of moving to New York. We talk daily, sometimes multiple times a day, and I still sneak into her bed when I go home. I'm her baby. And right now I'm struggling. I am struggling to realize that she doesn't always know what's best for me and that right now, she is not being the mom I need her to be. Allow me to explain...

I've had a rough couple of weeks. I hate not being in control, and that's exactly what's happening here in NYC. That coupled with my complete lack of certainty regarding my future here, be it professional or personal, has got me in a tizzy. On top of that, I've been dealing with some roommate drama and a potential rent increase, all of which culminated in a 2-hour "discussion" (I use that term loosely) last night. Having my sister here was a godsend - I needed her, in the flesh, to tell me things would be OK. Which is exactly what she did. The weird thing is, I'm more used to my Mom being the comfort and my Sister being the disciplinary/tough love mother figure. But my Mom seems to have changed her definition of "supportive" in the past week and a half, and it's got me in major devastation mode. What am I to do when the person who's supposed to be my biggest source of comfort and #1 life cheerleader turns her back on me?

Luckily, Dr. G has been in town for the past few weeks, and last night I sent her an emergency email asking if she had time to meet. We met for coffee this morning (at the darling La Grainne Cafe!), and I was feeling back on track. She reminded me that I am an individual, and I know what's best for me. And that means being honest with my Mother and telling her what I need from her - aka support, comforting words, a shoulder to cry on. And if she can't give that to me, then I don't need to be talking to her right now. So I felt good, came home and called my Mom, told her what I needed and fully expected her to apologize and say, "Of course, darling, if that's what you need, I am more than happy to give it to you." Unfortunately, the convo did not go that way. It was more of a, "Well, I'm not going to tell you it's going to be OK because you need to be scared and face reality and it might not be okay." (Nevermind the fact that I am a twenty-six, soon to be TWENTY-SEVEN, year old lawyer who is FULLY aware of how tough this city is and the risks I took to come here.) So I said I couldn't talk to her if she couldn't do that for me, and she said fine, don't talk to me.

So here I am, feeling un peu like an abandoned child, and realizing that no matter how inextricably bound I am to my Mom and no matter how wonderful she is, I am, at this very moment, incredibly disappointed in her. She can't give me what I need right now, and so I need to find it elsewhere, and I need to not talk to her. That is extremely difficult to digest. But since I am SICK AND TIRED of crying (you should see my face right now - it's a puffy disaster zone), I'm just going to have to accept it.

Can you help me accept it? Have you experienced this with your own family members or mentors? How do I let this not affect my (currently fragile) emotional well-being?


Danielle said...

It was very mature & brave of you to tell your mom exactly what you need from her. I'm sorry that the convo didn't go as you had planned/hoped. It is difficult when we can't get the support we need from those closest to us. But, as you said, you have your sister and friends to take the place of your mom. Although, no one can replace her, you have others to lean on & give you encouragement. Look to those people to provide what your mom can't give you right now.

Celia said...

this is a loaded situation, tomato. here's my two cents and you can do with it what you'd like...

first of all, everything is going to be fine. unless you have a life-threatening disease, life ALWAYS has a way of working itself out. sometimes it's not what we wanted or what we expected, but it's always fine.

second, it sounds like you're starting to see your mom as the person she is and not just your mom. i think most of us grow up thinking that our parents are perfect and that they're always right and they always have the answers because, HELLO(?!) they're our parents. that's how they're supposed to be, right? well... not really. parents are just regular people like you and me that AREN'T perfect, that AREN'T always right, and that probably don't have very many more answers than we do. i think the part that scares me the most about being a parent is knowing that babies don't come with a magic package that tells you what to always do and say, you just kind of have to wing it. i can pretty much guarantee that what your mom is TRYING to tell you is backed with good intentions. i know MY family is so brutally honest with each other because we know we'll always love each other no matter what. i've heard many things from my mom and siblings that were the last thing i wanted to hear, but once i step out of my own head for a minute, i always see where they're coming from. maybe you're mom doesn't think you're in the best spot, making the right decisions... and it scares her and makes her worry. haven't you ever noticed that moms are ALWAYS scared and worried? she's probably having trouble expressing herself correctly to you, but there's a good chance that that's where her "lack of support" is coming from.

NOW, here's the tricky part. dr g is right, "you are and individual" and "you know what's best for you". at the end of the day, we all need to be our own supporters and our own cheerleaders. i can see how you're mom not supporting you is frustrating (trust me, i've been there MANY times), but if you're not there to back yourself up and stand up for yourself, then what's the whole point of living YOUR life. your mom isn't always going to stand behind your decisions, but that's OK. i think it's hard for mom's to separate themselves from their children and realize that they are their own people. if YOU know that the decisions you are making are right, and that even if you are in a shitty place right now, you can see how it's all for the best, then that's what you have to go with.

good luck, tomato!


Celia said...

oh gosh, so many typos and misspellings in my comment! proofread, celia, PROOFREAD.

Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

Oh, Carolyn, I am so sorry you are so upset :( I think ultimately most people make some decisions their parents cannot support - it does not mean the parents love their children any less. I think it's just part of life. Celia basically said it very well above - and yes, as long as you have good health, life does have a way of working itself out. It really does.

Analiese Marie said...

That is a hard situation, one I actually have been in myself recently. It's hard to realize that someone you rely on for comfort and support can't always give you what you need. I, too, am working on improving my ability to rely on my own internal validation rather than seeking it from outside sources of support. It can be so tough sometimes, but ultimately - cultivating emotional self-reliance will make you a stronger person. Best of luck doll! xo

Ellecubed said...

This really is a hard situation and it is definitely something that I have dealt with before. I wanted to write here and let you know that it is possible to come out of this on the other side and even though things are really devastating right now, things have a way of working out over time if both parties love one another.

In my case, I had grown to rely on one of my loved ones for comfort and support. When I went through a traumatic event, she basically took away all the support and left me on my own (I had other amazing people in my life...but I had grown to rely on her).

Although it really sucked at the time and my face was constantly red and puffy. Now, two years later we are closer than ever and have created a new relationship where we are both equals and we can ask for what we want and need. The journey from there to here was not easy but it was oh so worth it.

My advice to you would be to not get to mad at your mom and realize that she is human too. Have a spot in your heart for forgiveness and be willing to dialogue with her in some way.

Lavanya said...

Hi Carolyn!

First up- *hugs* and cheer up - you have soo much to do and enjoy and experience!!

Having sort of been at both sides of this equation, this is what I can say:

From your mom's perspective: she is scared for you and worried that you may not be making the right decision for yourself. And she wants you to be aware of all the possible outcomes of your decision.
So, even though she doesn't seem to be reacting in the way that you want her to- she still has only your best interests in mind.

From your point of view: You know that you have made the right decision for you and you want everybody to see that and support you.

However, since your mom is so special to you (and not just anybody) - I personally think that you should give her a listen with no pre-conceived notion regarding how you want her to behave. tell her that you've thought about what she's said and how she feels- and that you understand. But this is what you think is the right thing for you to do (if that is how you feel after thinking it through). Yes, you have taken a risk by coming here- but this is the perfect time for you to take that risk. You are young, you don't have a household and children to support. Any later might be too late, ya know?

You are definitely NOT the abandoned child..*hugs*- It is so obvious that your mom loves you (and you her) and she is just very worried. Don't tell her that you won't talk to her if she doesn't say what you want her to say- I have seen somebody being at the receiving end of something like this and have realized that that isn't the best way out. Tell her to give you sometime to see if your decision is right and can work. And let her know that you love and respect her but sometimes you have to take a chance.

OMG- didn't realize I'd typed soo much- sorry for going on and on like an advice

*hugs* and hope things work out.

TheAnalyst said...

Hang in there Carolyn! You are a brilliant girl and I'm sure you will make everything work out for you. Of course, it is scary right now but you will get through.

Regarding your mom, I agree with Celia. You are getting older and becoming more and more mature and realizing that...what! Your mom is a human! When we are kids, I don't think we really see our parents are "real people" with "real problems." Of course, when we were grounded, we might have thought they had issues! But what you are going through is simply becoming an adult child.

Lauren said...

I've been through the same thing in recent years. Sometimes, though it is painful, seeing our parents as not perfect and not always supporting us can be a good thing. You learn to stand on your own two feet. You learn to let go of expectations.

One of my favorite quotes goes something like, "Sometimes things have to completely fall apart so that better things can fall together." I believe it because I've experienced it and I believe it for you. It took a lot of courage to do what you did. Creating change isn't easy but it will be worth it. In the end, you have to live your life for you and no one else. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own happiness. Keep those that support you close by and keep moving forward. I am sure that your Mom will come around eventually.

Sending lots of hugs your way!


shannon said...

Wow! I'm so sorry you're going through such a hard time. I agree with Lauren - these types of growing pains are not easy to handle but I promise you'll come to the other side a stronger individual. Good luck, sweetie!

Crystal said...

Don't cry! It makes me want to cry. :'(

As cliche as it sounds, whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger. It's true. I think you've just reached that final point before 30 when you become a full-fledged adult (meaning: you see people -- like your mom -- as who they are, and not just as their titles). This is not a bad thing. In fact, it's both a fascinating and enlightening time in life!

What your mother said wasn't *bad* per se; I see where both of you are coming from. In her own way she is aiding you in your process, while you clearly feel misunderstood. She loves you, and you know that, people just deal with these things differently. :( I wish I had something better to add, but just know that all of us go through these times. I did, when I was about 25-26. Then I realized that everyone (read: my mother) is entitled to their opinion, but that I'm not going to listen if it's not for me. Sure I'll *consider* what my mom says, but I won't rely on it since I know I'm my own person...if that makes sense.

Globetrotting Cacti said...

Not sure that I can add any-thing more to the words you have been given above (which I agree with) but wanted to send you a virtual hug....

Crikey - you have made me think. I know my little people are only 16 months old but one day I will be in the mother role and supporting them through their choices (which I may or may not agree with...) how will I react?

Hugs to you x