Wednesday, July 04, 2012
BEWARE... this is a diary blog. I’m just writing to write out my feelings.
My family has never been a big believer in ‘family comes first’. I do not have a lot of family left, as by the age of 18 I had already been to over 8 funerals. As my Mom and Dad had me later in life (+35), many of my cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles were well into their lives by the time I was old enough to get to know them. Many of my living relatives can go years without seeing each other, as family isn’t as big a deal to the remainder– the joke has always been that ‘funerals and weddings are the reuninons of our family’, and the sad thing is that is mostly true.
My one exception is my direct family. I have always made time for my Mother, Uncle and Brother – usually visiting at least once a week. When I first moved out of my Mother’s house, into a small apartment with Chris – I called my Mom once a day, every day for almost a year. I have had many people ask me why, at the age of 19 (at the time) I felt it necessary to let her know I was okay and how my day went.
The simple (and honestly brutal) answer was always guilt. My Mom is the absolute QUEEN of a guilt trip, and I say that with no small amount of awe. If I didn’t call that day, the next time I did call – “Were you out of town? I was worried you were sick!”. If I mentioned something she didn’t agree with – “Well, you know I only want you to be happy with your choices in the end.”, or “What does Chris think about it?”. I swear, it is an art that has been perfected over the years.
But I slowly broke away on my independence, and managed to ignore the guilt and feelings that would be associated with each call. The catalyst that brought this change?
When I turned 20, I found out my Mom is a Gambling Addict.
Over a series of 5 years she managed to be fired from nearly 20 jobs (for not showing up, attitude issues, etc.), lost her house due to debt issues (yet, if you ask her she still will tell you she has marvellous Credit History – yeah, she kind of lives in her own little head sometimes.), and managed to guilt her own brother (my Uncle) into buying the house from her before the bank got it, and he lives in the basement. The worst part of this arrangement (at least in my feelings) is that he pays for everything, does all the cleaning/care taking, and...
She is still Gambling.
And it isn’t even her own money that she is Gambling with – obviously she ran out of that years ago (and hasn’t held a job down in over a year, and has no interest in a job currently). As I have no interest in ratting my Mother out to the authorities (at least right now - I have considered it, to be honest), let us just say the money comes from a government organization, due to the fact that she is on a type of Medical disability.
The medical illness is mentally involved – which also leads me to how difficult it can be to handle a relationship with her.
While my Uncle seems able to handle this way of life (until she goes out Gambling again – then he comes to me for a shoulder to cry/freak out on. And I have no problem with this –he needs to talk to SOMEONE), a few weeks ago when she went out on a 2 day ‘Bender at the slots’, I realized that this relationship wasn’t working for me.
So I didn’t call her. And she didn’t call me – probably because she knew I was PISSED.
Then on Sunday afternoon, something wonderful (and another Catalyst, although I didn’t know it at the time) happened. My first (by blood – I have 2 by my ‘sister’) nephew was born – Michael Alexander Gutierrez. I was ecstatic, and immediately put it on Facebook that I was now Auntie Jenn! 7lbs, 4 ozs, 20 inches long, with a head full of hair (the joke is that he has more hair than his Uncle, Chris. LOL).
My Mom saw this as an opportunity to call and congratulate me, and I’m assuming – figured I would be in a good mood and would not want to fight. Unfortunately, she did not know that a few days before I had come to the conclusion that this wasn’t what I wanted with my life.
I told her that I wasn’t able or willing to handle this in my life anymore – and that I would not deal with a Gambler being in my life anymore, and causing me pain. This was the first time she didn’t say that she was going to change – in fact, she stated that I needed to accept her for her faults. In short, it was the first time I felt that she was actually HONEST with me, in a LONG time.
And I immediately decided (and told her) that I DO have a choice – my choice was to remove it from my life. She told me I was putting conditions on her love by asking her for this. I told her she was putting conditions on my love by asking that I be okay with this. (She didn't like that part at all)
When my Mom gets backed into a corner, she always has the same sentence to state - "Don't you know I'm an addict and can't help my behavior?". I have heard this sentence (or a derivative of...) so many times in the last year - but this time, it was the last thing I wanted to hear.
So I hung up.
It was very difficult, but I think I made the best choice for me that I can right now. The last thing I ever thought I would do is cut my Mom out of my life, and I do feel horrible for it – but it is time to focus on me now.
My brother escaped my Mom years ago, and now enjoys a healthy relationship with her – as long as he isn’t in town. If he comes back to Calgary and tries to spend any time with her, they end up fighting within 10 minutes, and Kyle always ends up staying with me instead.
I can’t imagine how she must be feeling in all this, but the sad thing is that I can no longer afford to be worried about how she is feeling. It is time that I move on and move forward with my life.
After all, I deserve to be happy, right?