My daughter is in the process of moving out on her own. She has IKEA furniture to put together and is anticipating that the total move will take a few days.
It was interesting today. We had a couple of pretty lengthy talks. Honestly, I should have known she was transgender many years earlier than I did, just because our relationship is so typical of a mother and her oldest daughter.
We are SO much alike that it causes clashes with each other sometimes. More often, it’s her getting frustrated with me, rather than vice versa. But we have similar shortcuts we use in our speech (like a “Charlie flowchart” which refers to that meme from It’s Always Sunny, which uses a very complicated-looking flow chart to explain a theory) and even physically, down to how we react to certain medications the same.
My mother and I are a lot alike too. While sometimes my daughter and I clash, I don’t think it’s the same as how I clash with my mom. But my daughter might tell you differently, I really don’t know.
I can say (and she has acknowledged this before, many years ago) that I have made a very concerted effort to have a better communication pattern with her than I do with my mom.
What I know about my mom is that she still supremely gaslights me about certain things—specifically, about things that I feel like she handled poorly.
Instead of admitting that she handled something poorly, she nearly always says that she “never said that.”
In fact, it was in response to me writing an article for Medium about why you should apologize to your kids (since deleted) which she refused to read at all that I think broke my writing streak. I told her that the article was mostly about things *I* have done wrong as a parent.
But I also told her that I wrote that you shouldn’t deny that you ever said something because it makes your child question their own reality. She got very, very defensive and said she decided not to read my article.
Then she didn’t talk to me for almost two weeks. I lost my momentum about writing around that time and haven’t really regained it yet.
The fact (yes, fact) is that she gaslights me about certain things. She absolutely insists that there’s no possible way I remember things correctly—essentially calling me a liar, rather than take ownership of something she said or did.
I know she’s the child of an alcoholic who has at times had serious drinking problems herself. (I don’t know the current status of her drinking.) I don’t know how much that has to do with anything. I just recognize it as very dysfunctional and want nothing to do with it.
It has taken me at least 25 years to be able to somewhat friendly with my mom in spite of this. The behavior is still there on her part and the only way I can have a relationship with her is to ignore it, which is a very huge deal for me. I honestly feel sometimes like I’m a much healthier communicator than she is, which I find sad, to be honest.
The extremely ironic thing is that she’s convinced that many people are gaslighting her, when as far as I can tell, she’s the one actually doing the gaslighting.
But I honestly truly don’t trust myself as a result of growing up with that. I don’t know if I am just as guilty of gaslighting as she is and similarly can’t see it.
All I know is that I try to be extremely aware of myself and to correct misunderstandings when I discover them or they’re pointed out to me, then try to do better.
I really, really want the gaslighting to stop with me. If you tell me I did something wrong, I might say I never intended it that way but I always sincerely apologize. Doesn’t matter if it’s to my kids or my husband or whatever.
I’ve recently realized that no matter how good my relationship with my mom ever gets, there’s always going to be that profound unwillingness to own fault in anything on her part and that’s just something I have to live with.