Posted in family

Autistic daughter; anxious mother.

My mother and I are fighting.

But we’ve fought on-and-off my entire life. So.

I love her very much—sometimes, I think, too much—so it’s been difficult, of course. But what made it different this time was my portfolio of mental illnesses.

Prior to when she exploded, then left our home, I’d already been seeing a therapist and psychiatrist, engaging in a daily “let’s redesign life for happiness” practice, (also engaging in a breathing practice on Calm.com,) following a sleep schedule and activity-based treatment plan, trying to get my life to stillness, after having been diagnosed with:

  • autism spectrum disorder;
  • major depressive disorder;
  • social anxiety;
  • math phobia (working on it right now through Brilliant.org);
  • panic attacks;

…and I’ve also been showing signs of agoraphobia, ex., hiding in my bedroom all day with the curtains drawn shut; feeling like I have to “pump up courage” just to go to the grocery store; and bribing myself to make the walk from the front door to the car.

So I’m focusing on self-care.

I’ve no idea what set my mom off. The problem is, she sees reality through gray lenses,—and she taught me to see reality through gray lenses, too—so whenever family issues escalate, it always ends with her saying I vilified her, then telling me to “own my behavior, for once in your fucking life,” or something 75%-99% of that effect.

All my life, she’s told me my memories of reality are wrong, so I question reality regularly now. I tried to give her a copy of The Invisible Gorilla to make her stop saying these things to me, but she said, “You always have such a bizarre memory of things” when we were in the airport parking lot, and whatever I murmured to Chase in reply, she immediately got into her my-daughter-hates-me persona: “Oh Chase, do you see how mean she is to me? Look how she’s treating me.”

Like, I seriously have no idea.

About anything.

That happened.

When my mother was visiting.

I think my brain has honestly learned how to erase traumatic experiences with her. Like full-blown formatting. Like synaptic unfuckwithability.

This is very difficult for me to write about. I can tell because, when I reread, my thoughts feel a little scatterbrain. I keep having to edit, re-edit. I can only hope the implicit threads connecting these thoughts together is making up for the explicit jumps in logic.

And I am absolutely terrified out of my epidermis to push the blue [Publish…] button, to take the blue pill. (Or was it the red pill?) In any case, I feel very much like this Bustle.com author, Gabrielle Moss, describes:

While there’s no argument that parenting involves a certain amount of personal sacrifice which all children should appreciate, my mother was after something else. She thought that I was responsible for maintaining her happiness by complying with all of her demands, including ones that would make my life less happy. And when I didn’t, she’d explode into rage.

And the part that sucks is that I really, truly, honestly love my mother.

I forgive her, and I hope someday, she forgives… whatever it is she perceived me doing that wrecked her, before I actually went on the defense, like it was my foreordained destiny to, well, wreck her.

This sort of thing tears you up.

I just don’t want to drink the negative thinking Kool-Aide anymore. I want to create a safe and positive environment for when Chase and I have children, so that I can raise a family that doesn’t suffer the same pain I did as a child, and that doesn’t suffer the same pain my mother did when she was a child, and my grandmother, and so on. I don’t want to only be the first-generation college graduate; I want to be the first person whose mother gene is stronger than her inner child is scared.

I hope we can have a peaceful and loving wedding in July.

More than that, though, I want my body to be a healthy one. I want a galaxy of healthy human cells, from my head to my toes. I want to give that positive body to my womb, my daughter or son. And I can’t do this until I heal, until I protect myself, until I use my adult superpowers to provide this inner child of mine with some peace.

That peace starts with not opening my ribcage to take the swings of my family’s anger.

Does your mother seem to support your accomplishments … but only so she can talk about how great she is for having raised you? If you tell her about your problems, does she easily find a way to turn them around so they’re actually her problems? It’s a sexist myth that all mothers must be so self-sacrificing and egoless that they no longer care about their own interests, opinions, or achievements after having kids. But if your mother is focused on making sure that everyone pays attention to her, at the expense of showing any interest in you, then you are probably dealing with a toxic relationship.

Read more of the Bustle.com article.


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Author:

Kourtnie McKenzie holds an MFA (Fiction) from Fresno State and a BA in English (Literature Studies) from Cal State Fullerton. When she isn't writing novellas, she's moonlighting as a professor at Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias. To read more of her writing, visit Kourtnie.net.

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