Friday, January 28, 2005

Lucy's got the ball and it's time for me to punt.

There is a big disconnect with my mother that I don't know how to resolve. In the past I mentioned how my mother has suddenly gone old school with me. Recently it has come to the front, that that major disconnect between old world and new world has been ever present and has always been the source of our my less than perfect relationship with my mother.

'RESPECT' is a major component in interpersonal relationships. However, the definition of 'RESPECT' is completely different in Asian society. 'RESPECT' also includes 'FACE'. 'FACE' is putting niceties ahead of opinions. Opinions show a lack of 'RESPECT'. In American society, opinions are displayed freely. Heated discussions permeate the government, television, radio, print and the workplace. One can hold a different opinion yet be respectful of another's. Well, most are civil, Tucker Carlson and Chris Matthews excluded.

Two weeks ago, we went to visit my mother. My mother asked my husband what are the expectations of the typical American regarding the elderly. Of course, this is just an invitation for a train wreck.

For the next two weeks, my weekly calls to her are met with a cold shoulder and as always, we end the calls with "Ok, then. I'll talk to you next week."

Honestly, talking is usually a minor part of our weekly calls. My 30 years of life here with my mom have taught me that I can either accept the cold shoulder or nag her until she hangs up on me. The hang up usually results in a call from my father, brother or family member telling me that I've hurt my mother. So I call my mother, talk about the weather and call her the following week for another icy reception.

Fast forward to today. After a most excruciating meeting with someone who makes my anal retentiveness look messy, my mother calls.

pgmom: Silence

pg: Hi mom. Everything ok?

pgmom: Silence

pg: Mom?

pgmom: Can you come see me?

pg: Ok. When? What's wrong?

pgmom: Silence

pg: Mom? What's wrong?

pgmom: My heart is broken.

pg: Why?

pgmom: Sobbing. It hurts so much.

pg: Why?

pgmom: sobbing

This continues for 20 minutes until she sobs that she should not be held accountable to her son in law. Essentially, she finds disrespect in the fact Lrudlrick asked her how she is planning for her retirement. In the eyes of my mother, she was being interrogated. Mind you, she brought it up.

BTW, this same question was posed to his mother recently. I was not met with a two week freeze out and a crying session on how no one should question her.

The next 90 or so minutes include me reminding her:

  • No one said her plans were 'wrong'.

  • No one's plans are right or wrong but a decision based on circumstances.

  • Inquiring is a sign of concern not disrespect.

  • Inquiring is not a sign that she cannot handle her life.

  • She is not held accountable to anyone but herself and God.

  • Waiting two weeks until the festering pustule pops is not a healthy way of dealing with emotions.

  • In between this, I received mini-Lifetime television dramatic gems such as:

  • I hurt.

  • My heart is broken.

  • I need nothing from you.

  • I don't want to be a burden.

  • I'd go to China before I live with you.

  • and my favorites:
  • I've seen more than an average 50 year old woman has lived through.

  • My friends say I'm a strong woman but inside I weep.

  • BTW, if you ever want to see pantrygirl turn into the incredible hulk, tell her that no one has lived through what you have lived through and watch her turn green.

    Did I mention, I'm at work in my office and I have two meetings and three deadlines to make?

    Now I don't know how to resolve this riff. I've given up a longtime ago with trying to have my mother open her eyes to other points of view. Years of non-communication and being made to feel as if I'm the bad guy for being such a hurtful child result in me enabling her. I don't do it in the extreme that my dad did it but I do. I am guilty. By not saying anything and just letting her continue ranting her rant is essentially enabling her.

    My brother and I just nod or just simply won't discuss subjects we know will only lead to a three week depression for her. All because we have different opinions which she sees as personal assaults. Funny, I'm not afraid of confrontation with others but I avoid it like the plague with my mom.

    When I was younger, my anger for her self-centered approach to life angered me. Was I the only one that noticed it? Why wasn't my father or brother aware of this? In my 20's I developed the coping mechanism which they learned early on. Now I'm in my father's shoes between two cultures and my questions of enablement have returned.

    So what do I do? I'm not the only first generation American to have to deal with culture clash. Lrudlrick won't censor himself and why should he? My mother thinks free speech is the sign of rebellion and disrespect for authority. My step dad feels I should be sensitive to my mother's sensitivities. My brother just wants to live his life with little drama as possible.

    If this was a simple difference in opinion, intellectually we can eat a meal together and agree to disagree but this is more than a difference in opinion. One person has personalized this and until that is resolved, and I don't see it resolving anytime soon, there will always be a divide.

    Next week on Dysfunctional Family Hell, pantrygirl begins the controversial BPC therapy, beer, pizza and cheesecake. Lrudlrick doesn't complain until the dogs begin using pg's ass as a cushion.