I know that I am a disappointment to my parents in many ways. I also know that there is nothing wrong with me. The problem is (and has always been) my parent’s expectations failing to align with me. Failing to meet their expectation for perfection means that they are perpetually displeased with who I am, and what I choose to do with my time. So while I know that they love me, I am constantly being bombarded with passive aggressive retorts about how unsatisfactory I am (measured against their own ideas of excellence).
I know this is a thing that parent do, believing that the criticism motivates children to try harder, and I also think parents fail to realize how destructive this is to a child’s developing psyche.
My mom spent all my childhood specifically telling me what I was permitted to do with every minute of every day, because she believed that her children needed her guidance. But she never eased up, and she continued to command us well-into our 20s. She still bosses everyone around when she visits, and continuously berates us for not doing things exactly how she wants them.
My mom has no idea who I currently am, because I have stopped taking her seriously. In reaction, she is extremely hostile toward me, because she believes that she has done a good job parenting, and it’s all my fault that I turned out so different from what she desired. Yet she still has the audacity to publicly declare how #blessed she is to have us.
My brother and I are approaching 30, and our mother is still unrelentingly trying to control our lives. She spent months trying to talk my brother out of his engagement.
My brother has somehow managed to become immune to her criticisms, and has forged an adequate life for himself. Yet our parents still tell people that he’s a massive disappointment, despite the truth: that he’s average, and living a conventional life.
But I am committed to the game, and have slowly buried myself in layers of secrets and feigned ignorance. I believe that my mother wants to have a relationship with me, despite decades of pushing me away. So, because she has narcissistic rage and unreasonable expectations, and I am quietly sadistic, I want to deny her the satisfaction of ‘knowing’ me.
For the last few years, I’ve suppressed myself. I keep my personal details hidden, and present a bland faux identity to her and her acquaintances. Maybe I’ll get tired of these mind games. Maybe not. But this is the relationship I currently have with my mother.