Misery loves company

I’m sure some of you reading my posts about my Mum must find my attitude towards her a bit harsh.  I get that.  You’re reading snippets of my worst thoughts and feelings about the situation and I’m sure I appear pretty hard-hearted.  However, I’ve lived with my Mother’s “issues” for 48 years now and I admit to having compassion fatigue.  Dealing with her is exhausting and I’m already tired from dealing with my own shit.

At the heart of my disengagement with her situation is my lack of understanding that anyone would waste their life being miserable.  And my Mother has been miserable my entire life.  I’m sure she’s had things to be unhappy about, don’t we all, but at some point you have to let that stuff go.  You have to forgive yourself, and others, for mistakes and poor choices.  You have to come to terms with the fact your life hasn’t turned out as you’d hoped.

Due to my shitty childhood, caused for the most part by my Mother, by the time I was 18 I was clinically depressed.  I would wake up every morning wanting to die and I spent nearly an entire year holed up in the house, sleeping half the day away and not answering the phone.  But despite my overwhelming unhappiness I knew I couldn’t live like that for the rest of my days and I sought help.  Two years of therapy, anti-depressants and doing as much exercise as I could manage later and I was in a much happier place.  But no-one came knocking on my door offering a quick fix – I had to ask for help and then I had to do the work.

There are some things we can do absolutely nothing about.  I can’t change my health no matter how hard I try and I can’t change my financial situation being as though my lottery numbers annoyingly haven’t come up.  There are things I wish were different – I’d love more friends and I’d love a partner, both of which have remained rather elusive.  So I have two choices – I either find a new way to be joyful in this life that has been forced upon me, or I’m miserable for the rest of my days.  And that’s the bit I just can’t get my head round – that anyone would choose misery.  And it is a choice.

My Mum retired 16 years ago.  She parked her arse on the couch and has spent the intervening years smoking, drinking and watching the telly.  She must be lonely as hell and miserable as sin.  But she’s only been unwell for the past 5 years – before that she had 10 years where she could have done something with her life.   She could have become a volunteer which would have given her a purpose, a sense of achievement and would have meant she got to meet new people and make new friends.  She could have taken up a hobby.  She could have gone to classes for the elderly to learn how to use a computer which would have opened up a whole new world – she worked for 20 years in an office so it’s not like it would have been totally alien to her.  While her sisters were still alive she could have taken them for days out, or to the pictures, or for lunch, or to the theatre – but she never did, she just told us all how much she missed them after they’d died which I find bizarre being as though she didn’t seem to appreciate them a whole lot when they were alive.  She could have taken an interest in her step-grandchildren, who are lovely and visit her regularly, instead of barely ever contacting them or doing anything with them.

It seems to me that some people just like being miserable.  But it’s no way to live.  Despite everything life has chucked at me and, let’s face it I’ve had enough shit chucked at me to last 3 lifetimes, I absolutely refuse to be unhappy.  I will not waste my life – it’s the only one I have and it’s flying by at an alarming rate of knots.

I am not surviving in a war torn country.  I do not live on a rubbish heap.  I do not have to beg for food.  I was not forced to marry at the age of 11.  I am not bare foot.  I am educated.  I drink clean water every day.  I flush the loo and my poop disappears.  I have a beautiful home.  I have freedom of speech.  I am not persecuted simply for being female.  I have so much to be thankful for.

This week there was a funeral in my village.  A 44 year old Mother of two who died of a brain tumour.  My friend in the village, who is 54, is slowly dying from cancer.  And I found out this week a family member, who is 58 years old, has leukaemia.  You can’t think you’ll be happy somewhere down the road – you have to be happy now.  Today.  Because there might not be a tomorrow and you will have wasted your whole life being miserable.

My Mum grew up in poverty – one of 7 children in a house which had one room upstairs, one room downstairs and a loo at the end of the garden.  Yet she ended up owning her own home and travelling the world.  She went to Australia (4 times), Rome, Venice, Scandanavia, Austria, Singapore, Malta, France, Germany….the list goes on.  She has always been surrounded by family – brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews by the truck load.  She has children and grand-children, including a daughter that would do anything for her.  She has a husband of 38 years who everybody, but her, loves.  Yet she appreciates none of it.

I gave up some years ago trying to work out why my Mum’s unhappy and making excuses for her.  She’s been a grown-up for a long time now and if she hasn’t sorted her issues out then I can only assume she doesn’t want to.  She might want company in her misery but she’s not getting it from me and if that sounds harsh I’m OK with it.  I’m OK with my choice not to engage in her negativity.  I’m OK with my choice to care for her but not be dragged down by her.  I’m OK with my choice to be happy.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Misery loves company

  1. Glo

    Exactly. My mom was never happy and she didn’t have a hard life. She never worked but was supported by my dad and she inhierited a goodly amount from her dad. Complained about everything and everyone. Never volunteered because why should she work for free? Her only hobby was shopping and it took the estate sale man 3 sales all of them overloaded to sell everything and there was still some stuff left. She spent her last years in the best assisted living my sister and I could find. She had her own little apartment table linen with meals created by a chef. Never did you walk in and think it smelled bad or looked bad. Activities and outings. Still not happy. She passed away after a months illness at the age of 95. Every year of it unappreciated as far as I could tell. Hard to understand.

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  2. TC

    There’s no shame in feeling let down or disappointed with your mum and the fact that she wasn’t prepared to do anything to help herself. Sometimes people never do sort themselves out and cause misery to all of those around them. They often can’t see that they have a problem and are in denial, or they know that they have a problem but aren’t prepared to do anything about it. I guess we have to accept that that is the way they are, good or bad and let them get on with it. Nothing we say or do will help some people. My sister laments the fact that our selfish, drunken, Narcissistic dad was never a good dad and wishes he had been like David Attenborough! I tell her to accept him the way he is and move on, but she can’t really. Dad has never recognised that he has a problem and sees that he is always right and everyone else is in the wrong. He would never have therefore got a diagnosis. Having studied psychology, I saw many of the traits, but as the situation was too close to home, it didn’t dawn on me until recent years that dad had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This was probably brought on in his adolescence.

    My ex-has really severe epilepsy. He is a lovely man, but his condition and medications have brought on a form of bi-polar. Our relationship suffered because he would go into deep depressions. Our relationship was on-off for over four years. He would withdraw from me and become very unpleasant. I was the one who felt the full brunt of it, as I was the closest to him. He kept up the pretence of everything being normal to his family and closest friends. This isn’t uncommon. I eventually got him to admit he had depression and he finally saw the doctor who put him on antidepressants and he was great for 8 months with no moods swings. He then secretly came off the meds and dipped back into a depression. He told me what he had done and his excuse was he didn’t need the meds as he was feeling great. I told him he felt great because of the meds and by coming off them he relapsed. He’s now back in denial that he hasn’t got a problem, although admits that he is a ‘little bit low’ at times. The really has an impact on his ability to work This is pretty common with people with bi-polar to to this. Luckily we stayed friends and are in regular touch by email and telephone.

    It’s such a shame when things could be so different.

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  3. TC

    PS I get the negativity bit and I am pretty upbeat as a person, even though my health is pretty much f*****. I have a sense of humour and that helps a lot.

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  4. Karen, The Walking Allergy

    Hey you! I am so sorry to hear that the very person who should be supporting and loving towards you is doing the exact opposite. Such a funny race we are. I haven’t spoken about it on my blog, as much of it is ancient history. My father is a recovered alcoholic- hasn’t touched a drop in over 35 years. Unfortunately, like many who start drinking at a young age, his teenage narcissism has never gone away. In the last year, my sisters and I have all cut off contact with him. So… I have a tiny bit of understanding of that side of things.
    What I have a much better understanding is about being a Mom. There is no excuse for her behaviour, but looking at tough situation from a different perspective can be helpful. So, I’m going to be unabashedly rude, and give you my opinion. Please feel free to tell me I’m a complete bozo, if you feel the need.

    So, your mom is of a generation where emotion was NOT acceptable. If they survived the war, no other suffering exceeded that. Compaired to the war… Your problems can’t measure up (nobody’s can). So it wasn’t that she was taught to hide or suppress her emotions, unless she had remarkably progressive parents, she was taught that they were invalid. So, the likelihood that she has deat with her early trauma??? Right.

    Stay with me here…. to Mom’s, the absoute worst thing you could do would be to make their child sick, and make you utterly powerless to make them better. My emotional pain when I have a major anaphylactic reaction can be rough. Compaired to K telling me that her ears are itchy, and she pops a Benadryl…. My allergic reaction is barely a footnote to the other.

    I’m guessing your mom has no idea why she is hurting. She’s figured out that it goes away when she’s drunk though, so, in order for her to deal with this paradox of ‘your emotions don’t exist’, “But I’m hurting now.”, she anesthetizes herself. She knows that she is going to have to leave her sick child, and won’t be able to make it better before she dies. The pain of that must be huge. When you come over, and you look at her, and she turns away, you feel massively hurt. I know I would, too. This re-enforces her belief that she’s a shitty Mom, so she drinks more. Ugly vicious cycle.

    You have zero control over other people’s behaviour. The only thing you can control is your reaction. (There’s this great video of a South Asian woman telling off a man on an airplane, because he groped her. He tells her she is over-reacting. Best line ever- “You choose the action, I will choose the reaction.’). I don’t know your Mom, but I would bet the farm that she loves you. The Hubs and I got into a fight the other night (extraordinarily rare), and really, it was because I was trying to do something nice for him, but I wasn’t listening, and it actually made things harder in the long run.

    I won’t presume to tell you what to do. I do know though that sometimes these vicious cycles can take over. Sometimes chucking a spanner in the works gets everyone to stop and re-evaluate, sometimes a nudge is all it takes.

    That said, can I pop over an smack her upside the head for actually creating the thing that she fears the most?? Talk about self-fulfilling prophesy!!! It sucks.

    Karen

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