Bug turned 2 last Saturday and naturally we had a birthday party for him.
I like to keep things nice and simple. There were 7 adults and 4 kids--the perfect sized gathering for me.
Mom came (which after her arrest and my failure to come bail her out, I wasn't sure she'd make it) and was pretty quiet, but seemed to have a nice time.
It wasn't until a few days later when Hubby and I were talking that I noticed I had a HUGE breakthrough moment and I didn't even realize it!
Hubby's innocent question: "How was your mom this weekend?"
My response: "I have no idea." I almost added an "I don't really care, either" comment, but didn't. It wouldn't have been the snotty, hurt-feeling kind of response. Instead, it would have been the healthy, "I'm not going to stress over it" reaction.
I can't even begin to tell you what an utterly HUGE moment that was in my life!
I have spent my entire life up to this point being able to gague Mom's moods and guess her behaviors. My childhood revolved around a certain look in her eyes. It was a look that incited so much fear in me that I continued to allow it to have that effect on my until I was 28!
It was then that my therapist asked "why are you afraid of her?"
What was I afraid of? I was married and no longer lived with Mom, I could tell her "no" if I needed to. I didn't have to let her into my house and I didn't have to answer her phone calls. So why did I allow her to have that control over me?
I decided then and there that I was done running from her. I have an amazing husband who offered to come home to help me deal with Mom if I needed him to and an incredible best friend who offered her house as a refuge for me to run to if I needed it. But I was done running. I was an adult and had a daughter to take care of--what kind of example was I setting?
My therapist suggested setting boundaries. I thought of at least 10 boundaries to set, and the first one was "call before you come."
I can't even begin to tell you what a life-changing decision that was! It seemed so simple--and yet made such a profound impact. So far, that's the only one we've had to set and enforce from time to time.
The first time I kept control of the situation and didn't let her take over I felt so incredibly liberated! She dropped by, after I had requested she call before she come, and I only let her into the foyer for a 5 minute visit. That was all it took for her to realize I meant what I said. She's tried to push the boundary since then and I've stuck with it and we haven't had any major issues since then.
Up until that point she had taken to just dropping by. That might not have seemed like a big deal--but she lived 2 hours away at that time (since then she moved closer--now she's only about 20 minutes away)!
So the other day when Hubby and I were talking I realized that I had no idea how Mom was doing mentally. And that didn't bother me. Instead I felt great.
If she's entering an unstable phase, fine. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. If she's semi-sane, fine. We'll enjoy time with her.
Sure I noticed she was a little quiet and reserved (which is SO not my mom) last Saturday, but I didn't give it a second thought. A year ago I would have been analyzing every look that crossed her face. I would have agonized over when the storm was going to break (which sometimes is 6 months away and other times is next week). I would have gone into "self preservation mode" which would have involved dissociating myself from the situation (read: life in general). I would have become anxious and unfocused.
Two years ago I would have cringed at every comment other people made that could have been miscontrued by Mom. I would have been on edge when she made snotty or nasty comments.
Her moods conrolled me--and I let them.
I'm happy to say that they don't anymore! At least not this time. There will probably be times in my life when I'm down and something will come up with Mom and the instincts that kept me alive and protected as a kid will start to kick in again. I can only hope and pray that I have the strength to say "never again" and stop them before I allow the situation to take control of me.
So, yay me!! =)