offering my best

One of the things that I’ve found most challenging about my mother is our conversations…which have almost always felt like parallel monologues; she talked about other people and what they were doing (which to me felt like she was avoiding any “real” conversation) and I would in turn would try to introduce “meaningful” subjects (things that I found interesting).

I tried for a number of years just to listen to her, thinking that eventually she would ask me a question or inquire about my life in some meaningful way, but found that she would simply talk herself out and then, if I did begin to speak, that would somehow add fuel to her thoughts and she’d be off and running again, or she’d become uncomfortable and start looking around the room, get up and clean something (or once she got an ipad, she would turn to that).

I am 61 years old and had never found peace with this dynamic. I have always felt as though there was something wrong with me when it came to my mother and our relationship. Then last week in couple’s therapy, I told our therapist that I had stopped by my mother’s house and as she immediately began to talk about other people, I said, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about anyone else….” Our therapist replied to me by saying, “You are still trying to change your mother.” I knew that he was right…after all of these years, I still was trying to get my mother to be interested in me.

Then he looked at me with the most compassionate eyes and said, “Your mother doesn’t like you.” I knew it was the truth.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that my mother loves me, she just doesn’t like the woman that I am. I like to swear and have a particular affection for a word beginning with the letter F. I am direct. I like to ask questions. I am, at times, loud. I am curious about religion and spirituality and have always questioned ideas and beliefs which, in my upbringing, were the “unquestionable”. If someone told me that I couldn’t do something, this often felt like a challenge to me to do it. I am smart, and although I didn’t know this for a long time, my mother told me many times that this aspect of me intimidated her.

Over the past week, I’ve found a new sense of freedom when I’ve thought about my mother and I’ve had the interesting revelation that I don’t like her either. Just admitting this about myself, and acknowledging her feelings about me, has brought inner peace. I am free not to like her. She is free not to like me. She doesn’t need to change one bit for me to love her, but I don’t need to change to get her love either…as a mater of fact, I can’t.

I would go to the ends of the earth to help my mother if she needed me and I know that she’d do the same for me…this feels like real love….so good to know.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself, just as I am, then I can change.” Carl Rogers

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Evolution of Little Wing Shop & Gallery opening June 10th at 10 a.m…(148 Dunbar Rd. Cambridge, NY). I’d love to meet you (or see you again!) if you’d like to stop by. 

 

17 thoughts on “offering my best

  1. Mary, I read this with a lump in my throat. I dearly love your honesty and willingness to plumb the depths of your beliefs, and sharing your realizations with us. This post helped me so very much. Thank you.

  2. How closely I can identify with this! I bet a lot of us can. This may sound strange, but after my mother “passed on”, I went to see a Medium. Mother came through clearly (no doubt about it!). First, she congratulated me on having the courage to be myself. And later she said that the anger and friction between us was because I wasn’t “like her” — not a copy of her. That made perfect sense. Yes, there was love underneath.

  3. I know that soooooo many of us will be able to identify with this post — as far as thoughts and relationships with either our mother or father and being honest about them. Your sharing of your therapy insights is “icing on the cake.” I want to share a paragraph or two from a book by Esther and Jerry Hicks titled “The Vortex.” It resonated with me as to my thoughts/relationship with my father and his “idiosyncrasies.”

    Jerry Hicks, in speaking of his mother, said:

    “My mother was born a dyed-in-the-wool nonconformist. I, too, was born as an adamant nonconformist. For over 30 years, Mother tried, even quite violently, to get me to conform with what she wanted me to be. Every time I came in contact with her, I tried to vehemently and defensively get her to conform to how I wanted her to treat me. Also, I was always a bit embarrassed in public (but somehow proud) of her obvious lack of conformity.

    “And so, for more than 30 years, every time we came together, we fought! But then, soon after my father died, I adopted a new premise–it just came to me as a complete idea: The “flawed” premise each of us had been operating under for all those terrible years was: “If I try hard enough, I can get a natural-born nonconformist’ to conform.” (And how was that working out? It wasn’t!) And so, I adopted a new premise: “Since I cannot control Mother–and Mother can’t control me–I’ll just continue to be the delightful, uncontrollable me that I am; and I will allow Mother to be my uncontrollable Mother. . . and, since strangers find Mother’s idiosyncrasies entertaining (rather than repulsive), I’ll look for and find entertainment in her differences . . . ” and we lived happily ever after!

    “After over 30 years of beatings, restraints, fights. . . I decided to change to a new premise (I didn’t ask her to change); and for the next 40 years, we never had another cross word!”

  4. So shocking and so true! I have this kind of dynamic with one of my stepsons and I realize that we’re sooo different. (I don’t want to hang out with him) When I just started admiring the things he does and enjoys, that I don’t, our relationship got better. e.g. instead of commenting that he ‘should’ spend more time with his wife, I asked specifics about his wilderness hiking.
    THE SHOP is gorgeous!

  5. well this is interesting….I am wondering about the comment made by the therapist, although she seemed comforted by it, I am not sure I would be. I like the confirmation that sometimes we do just have to step back from our egos and just accept people the way they are. Does this apply to my Obama hater -Trump loving cousin? I guess so 😦

    On Mon, May 22, 2017 at 6:24 AM, Mary Muncil ♡ White Feather Farm wrote:

    > Mary Muncil posted: “One of the things that I’ve found most challenging > about my mother is our conversations…which have almost always felt like > parallel monologues; she talked about other people and what they were doing > (which to me felt like she was avoiding any “real” conve” >

  6. Mary, I find it very interesting that your comments are made in the present not past tense, indicating that you are comfortable discussing your mother in this way and I find it very refreshing. I found in reading your comments, that I was feeling anxious, knowing the feeling of speaking to people I know, who didn’t hear me, feeling that anxiety of not being heard, of feeling that I was unimportant in the scheme of things between us…and then, how you were able to sort out the feelings and still say you’d be there for your mother and she would, for you. It was an interesting juxtaposition of feelings and honesty. I’m wondering how your mother would feel about it, what her reaction might be to your sorting out the dynamics of your relationship with her. I’m so glad you’re messages are coming back into my inbox,
    SandyP, in S.Ont.Can.

  7. Oh! Mary, you and I could be the same person. Not long ago, out of the blue, I realized my mother never loved me either and I was very relieved to accept this reality. Thanks again for sharing. Phebe

  8. I see this with my husband and my son — and I love and like both of them — and it hurts. But I have to let them carve out their own relationship. Once in awhile I throw something into the mix, like tickets to something they would both enjoy (Beatles or Pink Floyd tribute bands, mostly) so they have something to do together and talk about. But it is something I would ‘fix’ if I could. I’m so glad you are at peace with this, Mary. It gives me hope for my son down the road. They are both good people and I should probably leave it at that.

  9. Thank you Mary for always being so honest. I loved my mother dearly and miss her everyday of my life. I understand some relationships need to be left alone without anger or questions just accepted with a hug. I love your Gallery and especially love getting your post. Don’t question yourself or change, you’re perfect.

  10. Taking time to savor all the comments to this heartfelt post, Mary. I think the three word title you chose says it all, “offering my best.”. It’s really all we can do. We can’t know or control how someone will react to who we are, how we try and relate and communicate, and so often it seems like it is our family members that give us the most challenges – we care so much – want so much to be ‘liked’ – to fit in, but that one size fits all glove just does not always fit. Best when we realize we don’t need that glove at all. It just constricts us and tries to make us squeeze into the likeable mold. Off with the gloves. As well as letting others be themselves as well. I love seeing so many familiar names here – gosh, is White Feather six or seven years running now? And just getting better! Little Wing looks SO inviting!

  11. wow. . .this sounded like you were talking about me. This mother daughter thing is so very tricky. I have no doubt my mom loved me and that I loved her. . .but as with you, many times I felt she didn’t like me, & just couldn’t relate to who I was. There was, for me, a heaviness between us that I didn’t know what to do with.
    THANK YOU for you goodness, and your amazing honesty in sharing this.

  12. Mary, I too can identify with your relationship with your Mom. I accepted this many years ago and it has become a part of me. I can make a difference with my loving and very open relationships with my daughter and grand-daughter.(my dau is 39yrs. and grand-dau is 18yrs.) thanks for this post. 🙂

  13. I get this on a very broad but deep level. Not with my mom who I both like and love dearly. But certainly in other important and close relationships. I get kinda caught in a circle when
    thinking about it. I ask myself, if we love ourselves, accept ourselves, and are happy with ourselves, why would we even want to change simply to get another’s approval? On the other hand, if we recognize that we are not happy or not being true to ourselves, then perhaps we take the path or approach that it is US who must do the changing. I heard a very relevant statement the other day from a pastor. He said that if we are seeking someone’s approval and don’t have it, then we do not need it. If we need someone’s approval to fulfill our destiny, then God will see that we have it. That is still sinking in with me. But I trust it. Some people can’t feel our light because they aren’t ready to accept it. Or it scares or annoys or intimidates them. But we can only offer, as you say Mary, ‘our best’. We can’t control how it is received. I think I can count on one hand my/those relationships
    where I can say I am truly at peace. Not many…hmmm…someone always trying to change me or
    me trying to change them…either way, not at peace. This is really excellent thought provoking
    writing/sharing Mary. I do believe we each have a relational responsibility…perhaps it is as simple
    and as complicated as being ourselves but loving ourselves in the process. I don’t know…but you
    really have me thinking about it! Thank you!

  14. After decades of an adversarial relationship with my now, 93 year old mother, I’ve now been “no contact” with her for 11 months. I love her from a distance though she only lives 40 minutes away. What a game changer in my mental health this has been. Now the issues focus around my only daughter who I like and love. Seems the crone I’m becoming triggers her issues with me. Guess we all have our own work and gratefully I can step back without punishing her when she needs space. Owning my stuff is liberating. Thanks Mary, for this timely revealing post.

  15. what you said about your Mother and your relationship with her greatly parallels my relationship with my Mother. Thank you for your honesty! My Mother is gone now and she and I were able to make some peace in the 3 months before her death. Surprisingly, this time of making peace is what I remember about her the most. I call this grace! Joy Lehtinen

  16. thank you so much everyone for your incredible comments…I’ve read them all, several times, and feel a warmth in my heart as I sense our common desire to be free, authentic, and at peace (with both our mothers and ourselves). I love it that each of us is doing this in a unique way as well.

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