The challenges in adult relationships...
I got a call from Mama today. Weird. She never calls. But the other day when I'd called Nana had thrown a hissy fit during our talk and Mama had to hang up. She was calling today, half to apologize, half to explain that she was taking care of my toxic, vicious, grandmother, who is unquestionably making my mother's golden years a living hell, because it is what she feels compelled to do. Do I sound that critical? I suppose I do. I don't mean to.
It kills me because it's killing her, and there's nothing I can do about it because it's what she chooses, what she believes is the right thing to do. I can offer little hints, little suggestions, but in the end, nothing but my grandmother's passing will really help Mama. She chooses this burden. All I can do is be there if she needs me. Visit when I can get down there, fifteen hours away. Call when I can. Be as present as possible.
And it struck me that I seem to have a lot of this going on in my life right now. Sitting by and watching the people I love most destroy themselves (or so it seems to me) out of a sense of duty that is completely foreign to me. Helplessly watching them martyr themselves to some cause or principle that has no reason or rhyme.
There's my beloved friend. The man I'm not supposed to love. Not now. Except that I do anyway. And he chooses the same thing mama does. To stay in a place that is killing him because he believes it is the right thing to do … stay until his youngest child goes away to college. Even if he destroys himself, his career, and the possibility for love in his life. Subjecting himself to a day-to-day life I can't even imagine.
It kills me because it's killing him. If he were alcoholic, or addicted to drugs I could do an intervention. As it is, his utter, dogged determination to stay, even if it kills him, sucks me helplessly into the dysfunction that is his life. Too late now to warn me away. He's got all my heart, the most important part of my anatomy. And there is nothing I can do, not really. I can suggest he go to therapy and get objective, professional, help. I can try to be patient and not let loose the mountain of frustration that happens when I see him spiraling into the insanity of his life, but otherwise, all I can do is be present. As present as possible.
The reason I struggle is that their choice, that of my mother and my beloved, makes no sense to me. I've just undergone a nightmare. The child I raised and loved and nurtured, the child I gave up most of my adult life to care for, protect and love, hates me. Not for anything I've done or not done, but because it's easier that way. She hates me so much that she wants to destroy me. Really. And my solution was to reject a life of martyrdom. It was to walk away. Refuse to allow her to vent her hatred and spleen on me for one more moment. I decided that the most loving thing I could do for her would be to live my life rejecting anything or anyone that chose to hurt me for no good reason. Show her what it means to take care of myself. To succeed.
And that choice is a very different choice from that of my mother and my beloved. And it's hard. Because even though I don't mean to be critical, I am so impatient with their choice. If I could make the hard choice to turn away, why can't they? I am impatient with those who cannot do what I have done. I am not like them in their charity, their compassion. And in comparing myself unfavorably to them, I think that perhaps I am not so different. I love them both. I am present to each of them. As present as possible. And in that, I share their burdens. And maybe I make their lives a little lighter.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?