Monday, March 26, 2007

The Invading Horde

I've been pushing this thought around in my head since my last therapy session. See, people tend to see me as a control freak. I don't think of myself that way; I mean, I like things how I like them, that's all.

Several weeks ago, we uncovered that I don't really have a need to control so much as a need to anticipate. I'm okay with change, so long as I can predict or reason out what comes next.

And this is perfectly reasonable given the environment I grew up in. I knew that if I started a conversation about friends, and mentioned a boy, that could lead to darkness in my mother. So I'd avoid that conversation.

My need for things to be in their place also harkens back to Mom; she always suspected people of stealing from her, from us. If I knew where something was, it wasn't stolen - what she "saw" wasn't real.

As fearful as my Mom was of the outside world, our home was a fortress - if I stayed home alone, the windows had to be closed and locked. The door and phone could not be answered. I wasn't allowed out into the front or back yard. If I did leave the house, I had to call before I left and when I returned. If those calls weren't "on schedule", I knew there would be an outburst.

But our fortress was also a prison for me. Not just because I couldn't leave, but because nothing was "mine". My books, my backpacks, my clothes - these were all subject to search at any time. My room was not a sanctuary - it, too, was subject to entry and search. Worse was when Mom would "find" things that I would be forced to explain.

I was so eager as an adult to have my own home. Not an apartment, where you can't paint the walls or where you have to wait for a landlord to get around to fixing your leaky water heater, but a home.

Now that I have a home of my own, I'm very protective of it, especially when my family comes to visit. I like my things, and my things have their place. I like the order of my home, the cleanliness of it. When my family (and particularly, my mother) comes to visit, I feel as if I'm being invaded by a foreign army. And they force me to feel guilty for asking that they, my family, observe my rules.

This extends to sharing my life with my mother. I simply don't. She asks how things are going for me personally, I say things are fine, and change the subject.

The therapist pointed out how this all comes back to my childhood. I know from childhood experience that if I open up my personal, private life to my mother, I'll be interrogated. My friends' and colleagues' motives will be attacked.

I know that when my mother comes to visit, she will get in to everything. (She even once used a credit card to get into my shed for my gardening tools. I appreciate that she feels she's helping me by doing some yard work, but breaking in to my shed to accomplish it?)

I have to admit to being worried about all this. My sister says I'll never be able to live with someone else. That I'm too set in my ways. And I think I started to fear she was right.

But truly, I can share my life with someone else. I invited Fred into my home, and if anyone can bring chaos to your life, it is a puppy with a sensitive stomach! But Fred is in my home by my choice. I set the rules we live by (some of them, like no paws on the bed, have resulted in a compromise). And Fred is perfectly happy with that.

So, my need for order, my need to anticipate, my need to protect my home and my life from invasion - these are things I need to be conscious of. It's okay to protect my home and my life from my mother, but by not sharing these things with other people, I've isolated myself. I need to open myself up more, but to the right people. People I can trust.


Blogger andi said...

OK. Wow. Alot of stuff. I feel so good about you being able to write it down, and see the words, and sort through it enough to narrow what you want to work on first. Boundaries are a difficult thing. Parents have this odd entitlement into your life, even as an adult. My mom, because, she left us, then came back, really gets that it is by my choice that this relationship exists. It is not a bitter thing, but a wouldn't you rather be friends with your ADULT child, than try to continue parent someone who has grown up? She offers advice usually only when asked, she is not critical and trusts me to parent my own kids. I know she worries about me, but not even in the same realm as my dad. God love him. I've tried to tell my Dad, hey, you did a good job. I'm grown up, don't you want to get to know me? I'm the actual mom here, I make all kinds of decisions all day w/o asking for help. He just doesn't get it. I have so much more to say, but my dang life is calling.

5:08 PM, March 26, 2007  
Blogger Cary said...

Andi, that sounds so great, that you and your mom have been able to reach that point. And as for your Dad, don't you love those stupid cosmic scales?

The shrink noticed that a lot of my dreams revolve around the same themes: being trapped in places from my past, no one seeing me for who I am today. Do you get those?

11:21 PM, March 26, 2007  
Anonymous Bryan said...

Hi Cary,

I just stopped by to see how you were doing. Keep working on you. It would be nice if the entire family dynamic were a bit healthier... but if you keep working on your own health, then at least your bit will be better.

Keep at it. Even when it seems like you're not making progress, you really are. Just understanding it a little better is progress.

Good Luck. I'll come by to see you again soon.

12:14 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger orangehands said...

i'm surprised you let your mom into your house at all. that would be too big of an invasion for me if my mom didn't respect my boundaries.

and having boundaries is fine. i need private space or i wouldn't survive.

3:01 PM, March 31, 2007  
Blogger andi said...

I don't have the trapped in my past dreams. Mine are dreams of not being taken seriously. A 'there, there - oh she has a little opinion about something' type of dream. Or a more aggressive variation on the theme - humiliation, demeaning, frustration at not being able to make my point. Usually it is my husband in the bad guy role(I think because I feel safest with him that I can make him the bad guy, you know?). Sadly, in these dreams I have a tendency for physical violence - I usually wake-up crying and in the middle of hitting him. Not nice, these dreams - but he takes it.

And to comment on Ya-Ya - I HATED that book! Alcoholism is never funny, nor is it a good excuse for abusive behavior. Man I hated that book. OK, I hated Vivi, but the Sandra Bullock girl was alright.

10:12 AM, April 03, 2007  

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