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Posts Tagged ‘estrangement from parents’

(c) Lynda BernhardtMy sister called to tell me that our mother/abuser is in the hospital. Apparently, she has been experiencing pain around her rib area and feared that she was having a heart attack. She checked herself into the hospital, where the doctor says he wants to keep her for at least a couple of days while he runs a battery of tests.

I have no idea how I feel about this. My first reaction was not how most people would react to hearing that their mothers were in the hospital. I felt no panic or sadness. I felt no overwhelming urge to drop out of my life and race to the hospital in another state.

However, I also did not feel happy about this news. I did not think that this was justice being meted out on my behalf. I took no pleasure in knowing that she is lying in a hospital bed, likely all alone because she has very few friends, I am not in her life, and my sister could not drop everything and drive five hours to visit her, either.

Honestly, what I felt was nothing, so I immediately went into what I “should” be feeling so I could act appropriately. I made myself stop this immediately.

This is how I lived much of my life. I would act and react based upon how I “should” be acting and reacting. My life was so far from normal that I could not rely upon my own instincts about how I should react. A few years ago, I would have dropped everything and rushed to her side because that is what a daughter is “supposed” to do.

I then analyzed how I would feel if she died in the hospital this week. Would I regret my estrangement? (I have not laid eyes on her since December 2003 by my own choice.) I don’t think I would. Would I go to her funeral? I don’t know. Probably. I think the closure might be good for me. I might catch some grief from my aunt, but I don’t really care about that. I seriously doubt that many people would even show up. Her passing would make my life much less complex, which is sad but true.

The only time I felt any sadness was when I acknowledged that I probably should send my mother something for Mother’s Day, especially in light of her hospitalization. I have chosen to continue “honoring” her on this stupid, card-sales-driven holiday because I have no desire to hurt or embarrass her, and my decision to blow her off on Mother’s Day would accomplish both.

Mother’s Day is always tricky because I refuse to lie. I am not going to buy her some mushy “you are such a great mom” card because she is not. I generally look for a card that reads “To Nana” and sign my kid’s name to it. However, I decided that, because I procrastinated so long, I had better send her something over the Internet and pay for speedy shipping. I decided to buy her the DVD of a movie she loved when I was a kid. That is what made me sad – the memory of her laughing hysterically at this silly Doris Day movie.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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