Stream of Consciousness #Saturday #SoCS ‘Mean Mothers’

This post was written in response to Linda G, Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. This week’s prompt is ‘mean‘. Feel free to join in or read other posts.

Nobody expects an adult woman to complain about having a mean mother. It’s considered too childish or an exaggeration, and yet there some, fortunately not many, women who have toxic mothers, also referred to as narcissistic mothers. I’m one of them.

My name is Lucy and I have a toxic mother.

I feel like an addict owning up to an addiction. I’d been thinking about writing a post about this for a long time, and when I realised that today’s prompt word was ‘mean’, I saw it as a sign to own up once and for all. It’s a first step, and it actually feels great to be able to get it off my chest and share it with readers in cyberspace.

I didn’t realise why my relationship with my mother was so distressing until recently, a couple of years ago, when I started hearing about the topic and investigating in psychology blogs, specialised articles and manuals.

As a child I always felt guilty about being the cause of my mother’s anger and disdain. I wasn’t clever enough, pretty enough, or good enough at anything. She never liked my friends and she especially never liked my boyfriends.

She tried to convince me I was bad to the core, from birth, because when I was born I looked at her with ‘evil eyes’ and she knew I would cause her problems.

When she was feeling especially mean, she would tell me she was convinced I had been changed at the hospital and that someone like me couldn’t be her daughter.

I would never be worthy of her love and kindness, so she refused to love me unless, and for a short time, I was completely compliant to all her requirements, be it the clothes I wore, the friends I had, the food I ate, the places I went to etc., well into my adult life.

When other people are present, there are two possible scenarios. In the first, she makes an effort to point out my good points, because she’s responsible for all my achievements, as if I’m a trophy, which is why only those who know her well (and many do, eventually) can see it’s an act. In the second, she humiliates me pointing out my failures and lack of achievements, because I didn’t follow her advice.

She constantly reminds me that if she hadn’t been my mother I’d be a useless wimp, or in the second case, that’s what I am because I don’t pander to her demands.

I left home when I was 17 to work as an au pair in France and then left for College when I was 18. After College I moved to Spain. I’m 59, so I haven’t lived under my mother’s roof for 42 years, but that doesn’t stop her being mean, by phone, when she visits me, or when I visit her.

Her latest (last week, when I visited her) meanness: you’re a wimp, you’re too fat, your hair’s a mess, you’re useless, I always have to clean up after you, your work isn’t important, you didn’t bring up your children well enough, your husband is worthless, and of course, she hates my novels: ‘How can you write those awful things’, she says. My character also has terrible flaws, I’m ungrateful, selfish, argumentative and insolent, because I don’t let her rule my life.  

Toxic / narcissistic mothers have two types of husbands, the enabling type, who simply pander to their narcissistic needs by supporting them at all costs, in spite of their cruelty to their children, or the missing husband, the one who leaves and never looks back. My father was the latter.

I’ve never known how I should react to this continuous, mental abuse, because as I said, I wasn’t aware, although I did suspect something wasn’t right, my mother had a psychological condition. When I was a child, I would argue as infrequently as possible, to keep the peace, and I continued doing so for most of my adult life. Most interactions with her leave me feeling emotionally drained, worthless and guilty.

Now I know much more about this personality disorder, I am aware, because the experts seem to agree on this, that it’s incurable. There’s no magic pill or therapy to change a toxic mother’s attitude towards her daughter (and although I haven’t gone into this aspect, in my mother’s and many cases, the rest of the world).

There’s only one solution for the daughter: to keep contact to a minimum and refuse to be drawn into any type of argument, which will only feed the toxic mother’s ego and give her an excuse to lash out abusively, thereby still maintaining the power to upset, humiliate, and make her daughter feel guilty.

I really miss not having had an affectionate and understanding mother, someone I could talk to, ask for advice, or simply chat with, without feeling upset and humiliated.

I’m a teacher and I’m very grateful to my own teachers for the encouragement I received, especially as a child and a teenager. I believe in the power of education to improve our lives by giving us access to knowledge and opportunities.

As a teacher and a mother I’ve always believed in the benefits of positive thinking, and I make an effort to increase my students’, children and grandchildren’s self-esteem and confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Ironically, I have my mother, partly, to thank for this, because I have always been determined not to be like her in any way, so without realising it, she made me the better person.

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This Stream of Consciousness post was easy to write, because it’s been on my mind for a long time, but it was hard to make the decision of sharing such a personal experience publicly. I’ve decided to post it to purge myself and also in the hope that it may help other daughters, of any age, who are coping with difficult relationships with their mothers.

I’m not an expert and this is a vast topic. I’ve simply shared a small fraction of my personal experience. There’s plenty of information on the web if you search for the terms toxic or narcissistic mother, father or parents. It can also affect sons and other close relatives.

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Feel free to share suggestions, advice, opinions, knowledge, or personal experience in the comments.

#SundayWalks ‘Flowers and Patios’ #Tanka #Poems

 

In ancient gardens

Dismembered, Roman statues

Watch pruned, potted plants

Bursting with fragrance, glowing

In lush, flourishing patios.

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I went for a walk to visit the World Heritage Patios Festival in Cordoba, Spain, this morning with my friend Gabriela. What a stunning place to stimulate all my senses!

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I hope you were able to take an inspiring walk this Sunday❤

 

#SundayWalks ‘A Rose at the Zoo’ #haiku ‘Not a Rose’ #Poems #Poetrymonth

A rose at the zoo

Watches elephant cry, while

Poet writes haiku

Not a Rose

The rose is a rose,

Loveliness extreme.

The elephant is not a rose,

And it is not lovely.

An elephant at the zoo is

loneliness extreme.

The poet is a woman,

Who writes about beauty and despair,

While she thinks of lonely elephants,

Watching lovely roses, wondering

Why an elephant is not a rose.

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I went to the zoo this morning with my children and grandchildren, and two things struck me; the beautiful roses and the downcast elephant. Well here they are, joined by my pen to be shared to the world.

My daughter and granddaughter

Hope you were able to take an inspiring walk this Sunday❤

#MondayBlogs ‘To Do Lists and To Be Lists’ #MondayMotivation

I’m a compulsive writer of ‘To do lists’.

Before I leave my office, at school, every day, I check my notepad and cross out the things I’ve done which were on yesterday’s list and I add my new tasks for the following day.

It makes me feel as if I’m in control of my work life and it actually works, because it means I usually get (almost) everything done (almost always) on time.

I also write shopping lists and weekly menus. Having three children and four grandchildren, who still often come home for lunch or dinner, this also makes me feel I’m in control of domestic matters.

There is a wonderful lady who’s been looking after the rest of the housework once a week for the last twenty years, which means I rarely have to worry about it.

Fortunately, work and housekeeping, (usually) run smoothly, which frees my mind, so I can devote the rest of my time to my writing.

I also write (sort of) to do lists related to my writer’s life. When I wrap up, I write down my word count, what I’ve done (writing, editing, rereading, researching, etc.), how I feel about it, and what I’d like to start with the following session. These reflections are a great help in focussing because I can’t always write every day, and losing track would be far too easy.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do away with my lists, but as a result of recently reading a short yet enlightening post by GunRoswell, I realised I wasn’t writing the most important list of all: My to be list.

So I’ve put it up on the window of the room I usually write in, to remind myself to make sure I take care of being as well as doing.

I’m going to be thankful every day for everything I am and have. The importance of gratitude can’t be overstated.

I’m going to be kind(er) to those I interact with, because we don’t know what other people are dealing with and because we all know what goes round comes round (ain’t karma a bitch!).

I’m a teacher a wife, mother and a grandmother, so being patient should be a priority, and it is, but sometimes I it isn’t easy, and on other occasions, I forget.

I need t find time to nurture my mind and be creative by devoting time every day to either reading, writing, playing the piano, photography, etc.

I need to remember to be in love, because love is the strongest feeling which binds people together. I must never forget to make sure those people around me who are special, such as family and friends, know I love them.

I also have the right to be happy. In spite of tragedy, pain and suffering which exists around me, I can allow myself to enjoy moments of joy.

I also need to be at peace with myself. I have made mistakes, and probably will continue to do so, but I need to forgive myself for making mistakes, as long as amends are made as soon as possible, stating the reason, expressing regret and offering repair.

I can’t do much without taking care of my physical health. If I’m sick or unfit, it would affect every aspect of life negatively, so I need to be healthy take care of my body by doing exercise, eating well, and making sure I keep up with my regular check ups…

I should never forget to be prepared for the worst and yet be optimistic and expect the best to happen.

Finally I need to be alive, ‘feel the rain on my skin’, because ‘no-one else can feel it for me’.

Do you write lists?

What’s on your To Be List?

#SixWordSaturday Getting Ready for #Christmas Family Reunions

Christmas Tree outside the shopping centre.

Close up of the Christmas tree.

Inside the Christmas tree!

November’s a longish, coldish month.

Today, while doing my weekly food shopping, I noticed a Christmas Tree in the square outside the shopping centre, and plenty of Christmas decorations inside the shop.

I didn’t buy anything, not yet, but it reminded me about the family reunions ahead.

This year I’m looking forward to having all my children and grandchildren at home for a few special days.

Have you seen any Christmas trees yet? 

#FlashFiction ‘When I grow up’ @NorahColvin @Charli_Mills #amhealing #WWWBlogs

Healing Lilly

“How was your day, Lilly?”

Tears spilled.

“Tell me about it.”

“No-one wants to play with me and they call me names.”

“So, what are you doing about it?”

“Crying, mostly. Sometimes hiding. I don’t want to go to school.”

“Lil, listen to me. You’ll get good marks, make wonderful friends, be a great teacher and have your own family one day.”

She stamped her foot. “I’m ugly and silly!”

I held the picture of my younger self to the mirror.

“Look at me, Lil. You can and will do it. Anything you want is there for the asking.”

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Fifty years and still healing. Lucy at about 8 and 58

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Lilly or sometimes Lil was my nick name at home when I was a child. My sister couldn’t say Lucy, so she named me Lilly. Elsa died many years ago, and nobody has called me Lilly since, but I know Lilly’s still with me. I encourage her and remind her not to worry and believe in herself, every day. I think it’s working, Lilly is healing and Lucy is happier every day.

We all have hang ups from our youth. Speak to pictures of your younger self, tell her not to worry because it will work out. Believe me, it works. We can heal the child within.

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This post was written in response to Norah Colvin’s prompt on Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest, coordinated and inspired by Charli Mills.You can take part in the contest or just post your flash on your blog, which is what I’m doing.

Norah asks us to cast ourselves back to six years of age, knowing what you do of life in the present; what would you want to be when you grow up and how would you go about achieving that goal? Tell us in 100 words, no more no less. It can be real or imaginary, serious or light-hearted. Extra points for comparing it to your childhood choice, if you remember it.

Geoff Lepard is hosting the challenge this week at his blog. Check it out if you’d like to join in.

#IWSG Reworking Old Stories @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

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Every month there’s an optional question to discuss.

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Some people think we live in chaos.

I don’t believe in chaos. There is order in nature, in the universe and in our comparatively small lives, because every cell in our bodies is both part of the universe and contains the universe.

There is no chaos.

The sun doesn’t rise every now and again, the moon doesn’t spin and show its dark side whenever it pleases, leaves don’t turn blue if it’s cold, people don’t have two noses. There are exceptions to some rules; it might be hot on a spring day, someone may claim to have seen a heavy snowfall in the middle of summer, really? But when exceptional events do occur, it doesn’t mean there’s chaos, it’s only a tiny glitch.

The universe works like clockwork.

And nothing happens quite by chance. I mean there’s always a reason for everything that happens, although we might not realise at the time, or ever, in fact, but that needn’t worry us; there’s so much we’ll never understand.

The IWSG question resonates with me this week because, quite by chance, I’ve been rereading the beginning of a novel written by my sister twenty-eight years ago. Of course, you all know by now, that I don’t believe this happened by chance, at all. It was meant to happen.

My sister died, twenty-eight years ago. It seems like yesterday, every day, but still, the calendar says it happened twenty-eight years ago.

Last week, one of my sister’s friends ‘found’ me on Facebook and we started chatting. I’m afraid I didn’t remember her very well, she and my sister were five years younger than me, which isn’t a lot when you’re over thirty, but is a great deal when you’re under twenty!

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She was intrigued that I had become a writer, and I mentioned that it must run in the family, because my sister was writing a novel when she died. Her friend knew, but she had no idea what the novel was about. Elsa, my sister, was very secretive about it. I myself found out about it after she died.

She lived in Harrow, London, just around the corner from where she had been born twenty-five years earlier, and I was married and had moved to Spain, where I lived with my husband and three children, so we only saw each other once or twice a year, although we often spoke on our landline phone and wrote letters, as people used to do twenty-eight years ago.

Elsa had only just started her novel when she died, unexpectedly and tragically. 

I have a prologue and one chapter printed out on an old dot matrix printer, and obviously corrected. There are a few more chapters, but although they’re also typed, these were typed on an old typewriter and it’s obviously a first draft, which hadn’t been edited yet, in fact, it may not even be part of the same novel.

Unfortunately, there was no outline, no handwritten notes, or any other evidence of how she meant the novel should progress, and nobody knew about it, because she hadn’t discussed it with anyone, at least not with anyone I knew. This leads me to believe she was obviously a pantser and it was all in her mind, or there might have been a plan, but it has been lost.

I’m not a pantser, but I have nothing against panters, yet I don’t believe she wrote without a plan, because it was some kind of intricate thriller, so she must have written notes somewhere. And, in the 80s, people used pen and paper a lot, I was there, and I remember.

The novel is called ‘One Woman’s Story’, which may be a working title, and starts out with a woman who dreams about her own murder, death and funeral. She tells her best friend about her recurring and distressing nightmare. Shortly after, she is murdered and everything happens just as she had told her friend it would. There it stops.

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The few pages I have of my sister’s novel, One Woman’s Story.

I have no idea at all what she had in mind for the rest of the novel, but it was obviously going to be either a detective or psychological thriller, which would have required at least some notes, and a brief story line, yet, there is nothing at all to go on.

Elsa had no first hand knowledge of police procedure, that’s why I’m inclined to believe it was more of a psychological thriller, but that’s a hunch. We both loved reading Ruth Rendell novels at the time, and psychological thrillers weren’t as popular in the 80s, as they are now, but who knows?

I’ve often wondered whether I should continue her novel or not.

Last week, after speaking to her friend,  I reread it once again and tried to imagine a novel of my own, unsuccessfully. My version would probably look nothing like hers would have, because I have no idea what she had in mind.

Yesterday, reading the IWSG question, I started to think about continuing my sister’s novel, again. Is that a coincidence? But I don’t believe in coincidences, do I?

Any suggestions or ideas? Should I go for it or forget about it?

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