TRIGGER WARNING: References to physical abuse with language that could be considered triggering, but no graphic descriptions.
And she’s been triggered again, folks.
I was helping my mom yesterday for the second day in a row, and she was gushing on and on about how my evil sister’s going to have to show me how to operate her car, which will bring the two of us closer together and even put us in close proximity for the first time since said evil sister may or may not have pushed our mother down the stairs. (The jury’s still out on that, as is my mom’s memory.) That was three-and-a-half years ago. After 2018, the year 2020 was a cakewalk for my family. Covid? Schmovid!
So then my mom went off on a tangent about how our new insurance agent’s name is Megan (that’s not my birthname, but it’s close), and I sat there helplessly.
“And I told her my daughter goes by Meg,” she said. I smiled grimly and kept waiting. “And how I used to have an [M-word] for a daughter.”
“I should get going,” I said. “I’ll see you later.”
I came home and was angry, but I used all the techniques in my books. Could my mom be free of ulterior motives here? Could she be senile or confused? So I very calmly called her on the phone and complained.
“I thought you’d be proud of me,” she said. “I was bragging to her about how your name is Meg now.”
“It reminds me of being abused,” I admitted.
“Well, who abused you? I don’t understand. But anyway, I’ll try not to say it again.”
“That’s good. And you also asked me if I wished my cousin, Andy, a happy birthday.”
“Oh, right, sorry.”
“And when I said no, you had to dredge it all up again by asking me why.”
“I can see how that would be upsetting,” she said. “I’d forgotten.”
(Andy’s hated me ever since I reported his wife to CPS for having Munchausen’s by proxy and repeatedly dragging their kid to the hospital for faked reasons. My mom was pivotal in destroying my relationship with Andy at the time, but she now claims to have forgotten it all. A likely excuse.)
Regardless, I didn’t lose my cool or anything, so I emailed my mentor to brag about it, as I felt very successful. He wrote back thusly:
Let’s address your rather trivial [gripes] about child abuse……
Hmmm …. do you think you might be being a bit hard on your mother for having the audacity to use the name that she gave you? I understand that it triggers things for you, but it doesn’t for her–so she can hardly be expected to make the connection.
Yes, yes, yes ….. I know you’ve told her over and over again but would not a “listen, Mom, I don’t know how many times I’ve asked you not to use that name in my presence, but could you lift your game a little in that department?” It is not as if she is doing it on purpose to upset you. Is it? (actually I don’t care what you say. The answer is: no, it is not). What is the purpose of your anger, in this case?
And your cousin …. why not wish him a happy birthday? What have you got to lose?
I possibly need to point out that my use of the word ‘trivial’ was sarcastic and self-effacing (why do I feel the need to explain such things?) but I do think you have to stop blaming people for your reactions. Your reactions are your responsibilities and no one else’s. Stop asking for special treatment.
Sorry, was that harsh?
And I was deeply hurt. Fortunately I’m not easily shamed. It’s more accurate to say that there was outrage. I wrote back and described how I feel like I’m being spanked all the time still, and how it’s in my cellular memory, and how I can never outrun it. I can’t wear thin pants. I can’t raise my legs in bed to tuck my blanket under my feet. How hearing my mom say M-word makes me hear, in my head, “[M-word] Elizabeth, I’m going to spank your bottom,” over and over again. How I can’t ever use the word “bottom”. How I always have to say, “Look on the lower shelf,” or, “LuLu’s resting on the lower step.”
While I didn’t act out in extreme anger, that’s only because I know my mentor means well and was being particularly ignorant and idiotic. Not to mention thoughtless and insensitive. And boorish. He’s usually much nicer. But if I were reading this blog post, I probably wouldn’t believe that.
I slept quite poorly and feel hungover and tired. My dad and I took a walk, and I ranted and raved the whole time about how both my mother and my mentor have triggered me, how I’m still triggered, how I keep hearing people saying, “[M-word] Elizabeth, I’m going to S your B,” (I was speaking in code for a few reasons), and how I wanted to lash out at everyone.
“You need to keep reading your self-help books! This is exactly the sort of intense anger you’re trying to avoid,” my dad lamented. “Why’d you quit reading them?”
I shrugged. “Because it was yesterday! I can’t read continuously! I’ll read more later. Geez.”
So to recap, I’m angry at the world, I’m triggered, I’m feeling hopeless, and I’m out of solutions.