Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A note on estrangement…

The recent Anna Nicole Smith drama has brought forth a long overlooked debate over parental rights. It seems to me that no one wants to discuss the parental rights issue until someone has died, is fighting with biological parents to keep a non-biological child or someone stands to inherit a ton of cash.

The thing is legal parental rights differ a lot from emotional connections and a bitch can personally attest to the fact that the emotional bond can be long severed while that legal cord remains firmly attached.

Ahem.

I am estranged from my mother.

Pause.

Shit, that sounds way too soap opera dialoguesque!

My mother and I do not talk…have not for years. She is my only living parent, my beloved father having died several years ago. But she is toxic and I decided long ago that the gift of life doesn’t guarantee the giver an emotional target.

I’m working on understanding the why of it all, but this bitch learned years ago that everyone can’t wear yellow.

My mother and I are estranged.

Most people do not hear that sort of thing very well. They struggle to fit it into their view of the world.

I’m so sorry to hear that!”

Why?

I’m not.

Not continuing a relationship with my mother was the best thing for me. I do not miss the relationship I let go of. What I miss is the fantasy relationship…the mother myth of what could have been. I no longer delude myself about what should have been...everything happens as it should and for a reason.

Anyhoo, I’ve watched the Anna Nicole Smith post-mortem legal battle from the angle of the estranged and it woke me the hell up. The emotional break from my mother took years to accomplish and once I took that final step back I still had the baggage of having done it to deal with.

What I hadn’t thought of was the legal connection that remains and what that might mean.

Shit, no one wants to think about their death (shudder)…but watching people fight over a body for weeks is some serious motivation!

What?

Yes, a bitch is broke…but let me assure you that my people would fight like rabid beasts over my decomposing broke ass out of spite and what this bitch suspects may be genetic bitterness.

Estrangement is strange and complicated.

And the legal business of dysfunctional families has been a money maker for years.

Blink.

Makes a bitch wonder why functional families were ever considered traditional…

15 comments:

Huntington said...

Everyone needs a will. Even us broke-ass folks leaving only a body to be squabbled over.

marciamarcia said...

I'm also estranged from my mother for what sounds to be largely similar reasons.

Only I'm a lot newer at it, having just enjoyed one wonderful (yet deeply weird) mother-free year, in which my stress levels went down, my mental health went up, and I got to finally deal with my anger and address the sadness of having to, in effect, bury the imaginary "good" mommy I'm never going to have.

There should be a support group for this shit. Hell, there probably is and I'm just missing it.

Thank you for posting this. It took me a long time to accept that I could do this and still be a good person and it means a lot to me to just know that there are other people working through the same issues and coming out on top.

I've already ran on extra long here, so I'll save my rant about how every TV show in the world seems to devote at least one episode to telling me that I'll regret my decision...

And just say, again, thanks.

Saskia said...

I'd like to extend my thanks, too. I've struggled for years with the huge gap between what I'd like my relationship with my mom to be and what it is. We've had periods of estrangement, but no permanent break, nor any other sort of stable resolution. You've given me more food for thought.

Thank you, thank you.

It pisses me off that the mother-daughter relationship is so often idealized in our culture, when, IMO, it's often the most complex and conflicted, even when it's a largely positive relationship.

Dizzy Dezzi said...

I'm feelin' all of this.

I just cut ties from my own "mommy dearest" a few weeks ago...after learning that most of my siblings had already done it for the same reasons that you mentioned. Particularly, mother is toxic.

I didn't realize how much until there was a near-death in the family.

I held onto the fantasy, despite seeing "Mommy Dearest" several times and shaking my head mumbling about how much I could relate.

Now, I just need to keep working on not being the kind of mother my kids want to be estranged from...

...better get to work on my will.

Fat Dancer said...

Girl, you have hit a nerve here. I am not officially estranged from my mother, but have had a "3,000 mile policy" for many years in terms of how geographically close I can stand to live to her. And we rarely get on the phone and visit even rarer. I can't stand to be in the same room with her for more than an hour, but still can't bear to draw a permanent line between us. However, I did have a wonderful, fabulous Nana, (on Dad's side) who gave me most of what was missing with Mom, may she be eternally blessed! I wonder how many of us "motherless" daughters there really are??

Paula D. said...

I have a cousin that is estranged from her mom. Just like you, it was the best thing for her because her mom is very toxic.

Ravenelvenlady said...

I want to thank you so much for sharing this. I myself am dealing with an estrangement that I have had to impose on my side, albeit it's with an aunt. It's a sticky situation in that we've been residing in the same house for the last several years and the estrangement is just very recent. It's hard to get used to, but I find that it's necessary, and I'm relieved of the stress of an ongoing relationship. It's a long story. I know that our lives are going, and have been going, in separate directions anyway, and this emotional distance is for the best. Especially for me.

ginviren said...

I consider myself estranged from my mother (and most of her family)...too bad she seems to be in denial about it. I'm sorry that anyone has to make that decision, but sometimes it has to be made.

~Macarena~ said...

I distanced myself from my mom so I could learn to think for myself. Otherwise, I could not have resisted her. And I hated being asked whether I was going "home" for the holidays, because, to people who like their families, the explanation sounds unfortunate. I always wondered why they cared. What's the big deal?

On the other hand, there are people who insist all kinds of crap about what constitutes a proper lavish wedding...

Are you working on a living will or choosing whom will have power of attorney?

evilganome said...

Toxic Mom is the price I pay for having an ongoing relationship with my brothers. I just do my best not to listen to a word that comes out of the woman's mouth. Thing is, my brothers can barely tolerate her as well. Go figure.

lori hahn said...

I spent years estranged from my father. I let him back on my terms, and it's working beautifully. I also have 0 expectations, so I'm never disappointed!

Also, congrats - I see ABB has been nominated for the 2006 Sandy Koufax Most Humorous Blog award! You've got my vote. http://koufax.wabanaki.net/node/49

Disgusted in St. Louis said...

Maybe enstrangement of or by a family member is more common than we believe. Growing up, there was no one in my family I was closer to than my brother. He enstranged himself or rather his wife enstranged him from the rest of the family and all of his previous friends.

Ok, I stopped myself and just deleted way more than anyone would care to hear about and that I would care to rehash.

Let's just say that for years I was the only that kept communications going in the family, but I finally gave up -- his wife is just too evil -- yes evil! The final straw for me was her mouthing off to me about fucking seating arrangements at the grave site during my mother's funeral. There were no seating arrangements other than the front row for the immediate family - my father, brother sister and me - not my sister's husband nor her as my brother's wife. The last thing I ever said to her was while standing at the open grave (with her still complaining to me about seating arrangements), "Shut up! Don't ever open your mouth to me again or I will personally put you into a hole in the ground next to her (pointing to my mother's coffin)!"

Hattie said...

I gave up on my sister a year and a half ago and have been very happy ever since. I wonder why I did not do this sooner.
We used to get along, but she has become more and more like her nasty abusive husband. Who needs to be around that?

It's Me, Maven... said...

A "Late Kate" comment here...

I think that "functional" families are myths like Big Foot and mermaids. The more we try to measure or try to become what we believe is functional, becomes or compounds our dysfunction.

What I truly believe is "functional" is precisely what you have done. It's called conflict resolution. You've used your God/Goddess given intelligence and compassion to realize what would work in your situation. I, for one, would not say, "I'm sorry" with being told about your estrangement. I view it as empowering!

GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF!

Anonymous said...

thank you for your honest comments, I too have a mother who is toxic - it's hard to divide the feelings of love you have for that "good mother" that isn't really there (the childhood fantasy) and what really is... It's heartbreaking really, but thats how you can finally move on... it does help to know there are so many of us out there... It feels so lonely at times... keep on keepin' on!