Okay, here’s what you need to understand going in: my mother is mentally ill, most likely with borderline personality disorder (characterized by certain patterns in a person’s social interactions). She is extremely passive-aggressive, as well as manipulative and emotionally abusive.
Around sixteen years old, when I was just beginning to realize how fucked-up my family relations were, I devised a rule for myself: information = ammunition. You see, anything my mother knows about my life will be twisted around and used against me. Today, tomorrow or ten years from now. And the end result, that ammunition, may bear no actual relation to reality. She takes these bits and pieces, turns them over in her mind, and makes what she wants of them. So my #1 rule of self-protection in this relationship is withholding.
The other thing you need to understand, I will go into below the emails.
A couple days ago,
Subject: [Mom’s rheumatologist’s name]
I had an appointment that got cancelled by him last week.
I finally saw him yesterday and had to have a shot in my arm, because it is in bad shape,
It is better today,
But the reason I am writing this
Is for two reasons
[Dr]’s Mother passed away from a brain tumor , he was grieving very badly, he said his mother told him that he aught to be happy she was dying that he was wanting to be rid of her anyway, he said can you believe that, those were her last words to me, I can only hope that was the brain tumor talking.
We talked for 20 minutes or more, and he gave me a hug and told me thank you for talking to him.
The other reason is, I have to lose more weight, so he gave me the name of an all natural supplement that you can take called [omitted], bottle hold’s 120 pills,. That’s two month supply. You can get them at [omitted], $28.99 if you do not have one in your part of the world, you can purchase them online, he assures me they will cut my appetite and help me lose weight and they will not harm me., and you can take them with Lyrica [the one medication my mother knows I take].
And then today:
Belly-Flattening Pork Tacos
Straight from our Flat Belly Diet, this recipe fires up your taste buds while melting off any unwanted flab.
So here’s the other thing you need to understand: Up until a couple years ago — after I moved across the country — I was super skinny. This was a huge point of contention in my family circle. All gather ’round Amanda to lament how unfortunately skinny she is and what must be wrong with her! I remember it when I was six, and twelve, and sixteen. I gained a small bit of weight when I was eighteen, after starting the Lyrica. That made me still-skinny, just not scary-skinny anymore.
Then I shipped all my belongings to Pennsylvania. I’ve returned home only once since — two years ago, for our wedding. In that two years, after a serious hormone treatment for my endometriosis, I’ve gained around 30lbs. But my family doesn’t know that, because there was never any reason to tell them.
I remember having a bit of a pudge belly when I was little (partly because I’ve always had a slumpy posture due to my chronic pain), even when I was super skinny. And my brothers (a generation older than I, and also mentally ill) teased me endlessly for it. I had no idea what to think. I mean, I was skinny, right? But I was being teased for looking fat? I didn’t understand, though I still felt the shame and self-consciousness.
I have very, very slim arms and legs (even now, slightly “overweight” — most bracelets/wristwatches dangle awkwardly off my wrist) with very wide hips. I remember when I was a young teenager, my mother, within a time span of about one month, criticized me for having “Holocaust legs” and then turned around and teased me for having my sister’s “thunder thighs.” My body had not changed an ounce in that time.
And now my mother — last she knew, I was still slim, remember? — is sending me weight loss tips.
And who knows what she means by it. I gave up trying to understand her thought process long ago. Again, it bears no relation to reality. Who would send their daughter passive-aggressive “tips” for weight loss (and oh, trust me, I have words for that doctor) knowing she struggled being underweight for most of her life? Perhaps she thinks that I have gained weight so now I need these tips. But there’s been no indication from me that I’m anything but the same skinny-minnie I was last she saw me — so if she thinks so, it was devised entirely within her own mind.
This sort of thing I have been dealing with for years now. When I learned to withdraw, and when possible discuss nothing more personal than the weather with my mother, she had a prolonged fit. I went through six months of absolute hell living with her before moving out here, and I am one-hundred-percent serious when I say the only reason I didn’t commit suicide is because I had two sick cats to care for. It was a perfect storm of severe panic attacks, untreated anxiety disorder, and an emotionally abusive mother going through an adjustment period (to put it lightly) when her daughter suddenly stopped talking to her — started going places without prior notice and without filling her in on every detail, and reenacting every conversation so that she could “share” in her life with her — stopped engaging when she tried to pick fights.
That was my life then.
My life now is considerably calmer, and happier, because my only contact with my mother is by email. I ignore all her forwards, and occasionally I’ll email her to talk about the climate here in Pennsylvania, or what the cats are doing right that moment, and … well, that’s about it.
In fact, she thinks I live in Philadelphia. Even though I have explained to her more times than I can count on both hands and feet that I live in the Pittsburgh area, which is across the state from Philly, in fact a 5-6 hour drive which is about as close as she is to San Francisco. Still, she sends me stories about things happening in Nowhere, Philly Exurbs and remarks how she never sees anything about us in the Philly papers.
Maybe it’s better off that way.
Comments I will not tolerate: but don’t you realize fat is unhealthy; here’s a Helpful Suggestion on how to lose weight/manage your pain/make her mental illness all better; anything that demonizes the mentally ill or ascribes the abuse I, and others, suffered to the mental illness itself. Please use common sense and courtesy – thank you.