“There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.” ~ Jane Austen
On the “precarious” front this week, my daughter’s mother (MDM) called. She wanted to talk, yet she let on as if she hadn’t been served the divorce papers. It was only later that my lawyer informed me she had received them. I therefore had no clue where the conversation was going. I was puzzled by her unusually receptive tone and her considerate, yet pointed questions. In brief MDM wanted to know if I would reconsider the whole divorce decision and seek counselling with her… etc, etc.
My encounters with MDM require close scrutiny of my motivations. I don’t know which is louder – the external critical parent voice that comes from her, my own or both? As much as I analyze and re-analyze, it’s impossible to come to one hundred percent certainty about another person.
As Austen says, “Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.” However, in spite of human limitations, discernment is necessary and one of the reasons I journal is to be able to explore conflictive issues in a safe environment.
How is it possible for MDM to bear grudges so long (recurrent themes in her letters about how bad my family treated her, etc.,) then, make it appear all is forgotten? How do you approach someone who is combative and tenacious about her sense of her rights one moment, then charming and cuddling then next? When your trust has been eroded by someone’s taking-advantage-track record, how can you be sure what she is saying is true or pretext?
MDM is certain she is right about what she does on DD’s behalf, yet expects me to shoulder the majority of the financial burden. She says there are no jobs for her and that I must accept this reality. How can you measure truth? I want to cut my losses as much as possible when it comes to this legal settlement, yet I also realize it’s important to DD’s emotional wellbeing to maintain the lifestyle she has become accustomed to. The result is I feel divided.
One of the disturbing dynamics of the marriage that I will not forget was the feeling that the more I did for MDM, the less she’d do for herself. It became an embedded pattern and I as the enabler felt uncomfortable with this role, yet did not have the tools to change it.
I’ve also had bouts of heartsickness these days. This is one side effect of having contact with MDM. It reopens the wounds. No matter how ambiguous the marriage had been with the mixture of I-love-you/I-hate-you messages, the move toward divorce isn’t easy.
While separation seems like a suspended interval of time out, divorce feels like death. The person who once played center stage is strangely dead to you, yet alive in your memory or subconscious. As you know our mind plays tricks with memories of deceased people, idealizing them once they are out of sight and you no longer see their flaws up close…