(Source: Dan Piraro)
I am not entirely serious about the comic strip; it’s more of a hyperbolic comment on my life, but I need some humour and the chance to vent in order to deal with today. My mum has been cavilling me since the morning, a constant trickle of criticism and petty jabs. And even though I am fully aware that I am not the reason for her jibes, but merely the most convenient target for her projections, it still hurts. Drip.
The individual remarks are trivial, not worth getting upset over, one should think: one was about my doormat having been dirty for “at least three months”, when the handymen who are currently renovating the flat next door had left the crumbs of mortar and concrete only 36 hours ago – which have been cleaned away since Friday night already. Drip. One was about me relating a news article of local interest I had read online which according to her was “old news” – despite the publishing date being yesterday. Drip. One was a degrading remark because I had to take a nap this afternoon, “just because you had to go shopping at 10 AM” – even though I’d had a really bad night with only 5 hours of fitful sleep (when I need 9 hours because of the depression) and still had gotten up without complaining. Drip.
What upsets me the most is that my mother makes these comments because she is upset with another person, and then takes it out on whoever crosses her path. I’ve been through this in therapy so many times and know exactly what I should do and say, but she triggers an automated behaviour in me which just makes me sound sulky and defensive instead. We are not really interacting with each other, but acting parts in a pre-determined script. There is so little self-reflection on her part…
My sister is between jobs right now, with another month to go before her new employment starts. Being divorced and unemployed, she and my mother spent a lot of time together: eight, ten, twelve hours a day, for the last three months. My sister also has started seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants; generally speaking, a very good development. So I understood that my mother would be preoccupied with all of that, since it indirectly concerned a large part of her own day.
My mother has strong tendencies towards OCD-behaviour, with a myriad of unwritten rules one better not crosses. Doing something in a different fashion than the one she uses will give her a very hard time. She is also “orthorexic” in so far that she is obsessed with nutritional properties, minerals, vitamins, and whatever positive qualities an ingredient might have. So when my sister decided to try a vegan challenge, or go at least vegetarian for a while (she took a break for Christmas), my mother was all over that.
Now, I don’t have anything against vegans or vegetarians. I understand and even agree with a lot of the reasons why people would choose to eat this way. In fact, I try to have a vegetarian day or two every week, but I could not go without meat for a longer time, and my husband is quite the carnivore. I respect the choice others made, and want mine to be respected as well. But once my sister embarked on her vegan adventure, my mother’s occasional negative remarks on what I am buying / cooking turned into a steady stream. Drip, drip, drip.
Thanks to the antidepressants, my sister had the urge to walk a lot, and so they would go out together, walk two or three hours every day – and are now bragging about the weight they lost. Some days, they make me feel like a fat, blubbery pudding; the German word I have in mind is Trauerkloß, literally a “mourning dumpling”. The idiot who is too slow and pathetic to get on with her life, the fat fuck who always sleeps. Of course they do not use those words, but this is the effect their little verbal needle pricks have on me. Drip, drip, drip. And it took two years of psychotherapy just to come to the conviction that the problem is actually on her end, not mine.
Not only are they together 90 % of the time these days, but on the rare occasion I see my mother without my sister, she incessantly talks about her. And while I understand that this is on the forefront of her mind due to the many hours they spend in each other’s company, I would very much like to talk about something that is important to me once in a while. I feel like I am going to have a melt-down if the situation goes on for much longer.