Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Long Goodbye

My friends, family and anyone who reads this blog knows I have a challenging relationship with my mom. My mom is a person who, for whatever reason, has chosen to fill her life with anger and resentment. For the past thirty years, I have tried reasoning, arguing, pushing, distancing and incorporating every communication model and method I could get my hands on. Nothing changed except my levels of hope and frustration. I always held hope that one day, somehow, something would happen and my mom would see all the opportunities for joy she has in her life. I held hope for her to be the mom I always wanted and needed her to be. I wished for her to embrace my nephews and also my son. She has repeatedly chosen not to. I have watched her push away friends and other family. I have been witness to her unleashing the most hateful and hurtful words on people I love. She has directed those hateful words to me as well. When my mom found out I was gay, she told me that I would ‘get AIDS and die and go to hell because that is what I deserved.” That is one of the milder statements to come from my mom.

And still, I held hope. People told me to give up and I didn’t listen. I would call or visit her for an hour and then need days to detox from the experience. For over two decades, I have been struggling with what to do. I turned it all inward, examining what I could do or say differently. I have come to realize what others in my life have known for some time. There is nothing I can do differently. My mom is making her choices.

Three days before this past Christmas, I stopped by her house for a visit. As always, I hoped Christmas would soften her just a little and as always, I ended up being surprised when it was the same experience that keeps repeating itself. I chose to stay quiet while my mom delivered her well rehearsed monologue for over an hour, berating me for being a bad person, a selfish and self-centered son who treats her as though she were garbage. I left that day and again, it was almost a week before I felt like me again. My entire life, I have watched her drive people away. Her best friend, her daughter, my niece and anyone else who comes into her life.

Just over a week ago, I received an email from her. The first line apologized for the last visit. I felt my hope rise as it always has. The rest of the email was full of the resentment, anger and hate that has come to define my mom. In the email she states that I have the characteristics and traits she hates in people. In that instance, I made a very difficult decision I had been battling for over two decades. Thursday evening I took a deep breath, exhaled and severed my relationship with her.

I feel both sad and relieved. I still hold hope that one day she will have that epiphany and chose for happiness, joy and family and at the same time, I also know that I can’t have her in my life in any capacity at this time.