An unsent letter

Dear Mom,

How do you do it? How do you manage to make things about you? I ask this honestly because I’m really puzzled about how it happens that one minute I’m upset and explaining why and suddenly I’m apologising to you, when I’m really not sure how I was in the wrong.

Somehow, you manage to turn every discussion into an attack on you personally, without listening to what the other person is saying. You internalise this irrational hurt and blow it up to be something so hurtful to you that you lose sight of what I’m saying. You did this with L and it’s taken you 6 months to realise that hey, maybe you weren’t in the right.

The other night, you noticed I was hurt and you started off by acknowledging that. But as soon as I started explaining that yes, I was hurt and why (and that I realised that you hadn’t intended it), you shut down and made it about you can never say the right thing so you’re keeping quiet. You started sulking and suddenly I was in the wrong. Why? What was wrong with me explaining why I felt hurt? Why did you shut that out and make my explanation into an attack? I was so careful to phrase things – “this is how I feel” and “I realise this was not what you meant but this how I felt” so it wasn’t an attack, and yet there I was, feeling like a fleck of dust for bringing it up.

When you sit there, eyes downcast like I’ve just slapped you and muttering that you’re fine, I feel even worse and I wonder, would you prefer me not to talk to you about how I’m feeling? Would you prefer me to internalise it all and make little snarky comments and be bitter? That seems to be your way of dealing with things which to me seems a little counter-productive.

I’m a sensitive person, I know that, but you take being sensitive to a new level sometimes. I worry that you see the world as against you and you don’t seem to be able to understand where the other person is coming from. I’m sad for you that you internalise it all and I wish I could talk to you about this without it being an attack but I don’t know how. I don’t know how to talk to you and it hurts me.

I know that I can only control my own actions and reactions but I wish you could stop and see my perspective for a bit.

I love you.

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