My mom died 30 years ago yesterday. It puts a little crimp on the 4th of July, not that I ever have anything good going on.
I think about her a lot, and usually in negative terms. I’m angry at her strict intolerance, and yet I feel sorry for her because she was a sensitive girl raised in a family of fairly hard people.
She was anxious all the time. My father was anxious a lot as well, but not as much as her. I think this environment has made all their children anxious. My mother had a very rigid and unrealistic idea about how you had to live life, which I have discarded intellectually but not emotionally. My sister struggles with this but I don’t think she has any idea what to replace it with.
My mother seemed to believe that life was a test, every day, with exceedingly high standards. You always had to put other people first, because they were more important, and their needs and wants were more important. Actually, their wants were more important than my needs. You must love and forgive everyone no matter what they do, and whether they stop doing it or not and whether they have any remorse for it or not. You must not express any negative emotions such as anger or frustration, or negative thoughts or judgments of other people. If you feel or think these things, they must be immediately suppressed. Certain authority figures- teachers, priests, and older women- must never be questioned. Others might be under some circumstances. Sex is bad and dirty. Sex itself, and the associated emotions of desire and feelings of pleasure. You must not want anything. The most basic things- clothing to prevent nakedness and food to prevent hunger- will be provided. Anything else is vanity. You must not want attention or praise for anything.
That’s a recipe for insanity. For a brief period when I was 12 I figured my life was not going to work out for the better in any way and I was going to have to submerge myself in this and hope for relief in the afterlife. Then I thought, “No, this is bullshit, I shouldn’t have to live this way.”
There has to a happy medium for relating to people and living in the world, but I have never figured out what it is.