What You Should Do. (Or, Happy Birthday To My Mom.)

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been sixty-six. We would have had a party that was organized by her, but Dad and Bo and I would have done the leg-work. That’s what we did.
My mother spent a lot of time telling me what to do.

She thought she was being helpful, giving me guidelines of how to live my life, but she had no idea of the chain of events she was setting in motion.
It was really highlighted for me when I was travelling with Kirsty and Michie in Italy. I realized that it was silly for me to have to call every two or three days “Or I’d worry, Dear.” And then when I did call, she’d tell me what I should do or what I should see. And little old me? I’d feel guilty for saying I wasn’t going to do things her way. While making agreement-type noises, because if I said “No, I think I’m going to do this instead,” she sulked. Yes, actually sulked.

Now, I have spent years rationalizing her behaviour. She was an invalid, she couldn’t do things and therefore wanted to have the experiences I was having, blah, blah, blah. All true. She was limited in her mobility. The recent trip my dad and I took to Philadelphia to see my brother, which involved a crack-of-dawn flight across the country, a party late into the night, and three days of walking everywhere, would have been as doable to her as a trip to Mars.

Okay. That’s the rational. Here’s the emotional: I am thirty three years old and swimming in the middle of a life that is absolutely strewn with possibility. Every day, my options are limitless, but I am paralyzed with fear that I’ll become her somehow. That I’ll cause people to form entire networks of interpersonal relationships just so that they can fulfill my every goddamned whim. And then, when the relationships are good and entrenched, and these people are completely emotionally attuned to do my bidding, I’ll die. And leave them flailing.

Because of my goddamned fucking fear of turning into my mother, I am afraid. I’m not sure if I want children. Why fuck someone up the way I’m fucked up? I don’t actually think I’d get a child as eager to please as I was (hard to do), but I still do not want to cause anyone to feel the way I feel. Or how my brother feels. I don’t want my nonexistence to fuck anyone up as badly as my dad is fucked up, either.

I also have this little voice of my mother in my head explaining that I won’t be a good parent because I will try not to do it her way. This is completely irrational,as her way consisted of being controlling but attentive until I was 12, getting a debilitating spinal disease, and being controlling but immobilized and out of touch from the time I was 12 onwards.

Sometimes I think I’d be a pretty good parent. I’m pretty sure I could work up the confidence If. Only. I. Could. Get. Her. Voice. Out. Of. My. Head.

And me? I’m still too much of her child to know how to kick the voice out.

Every day I am getting older and older, and the opportunities being presented to me won’t be here forever. And me? I’m a deer in the headlights, paralyzed by indecision, anger, and regret.

And I still don’t know what to do.

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