My mother has always derived a particular vengeful pleasure in giving the object of her wrath “the silent treatment.” She has often gleefully boasted about her prowess in this particular art form. In the 16 years I lived under her roof, I watched her use it on many people, listening to her crow about how she would make them crawl back to her.
I think one reason she hates me is that I never would crawl. I did go as far as asking what I did to set this thing in motion, but getting no answer, went about my business.
I know why I’m getting the silent treatment now. After my father died two years ago, I no longer had to protect him from her rages, so I stopped doing several things I had done before, which I had been doing only to shield him from her wrath.
One of them was to tell her “I love you.” I don’t love her. I loved her desperately as a child, and all I got was curses, insults, belittling, mocking, and, of course, the silent treatment. So, once my dad was safely dead, I simply stopped lying. I never said “I despise you,” “I can’t stand you,” “You make me sick to my stomach,” or any of the other endearments she showered upon me when she had the chance. I simply don’t lie anymore.
To complicate matters, I was supposed to have visited a month or so ago, but I came down with the flu and had to cancel. She of course thought I was lying in order to get out of visiting (she is a prolific liar herself, so she assumes the same for me. I can’t lie to save my life. I’m no good at it.)
I really do need to communicate with her regarding some family business, but after two phone calls where she’s been so phenomenally “cool,” as she puts it (another way to punish someone: be cool and distant), in the two phone calls I’ve tried since I cancelled my visit, I’m beginning to think it’s not worth the emotional effort to try to help her. Maybe I should just back off and let her manage as best she can.
I have to remind myself of the times I visited when I lived in Israel. I would fly to America, 14 hour flight, rent a car, and drive the three hours from the airport, arriving completely done in, wanting nothing more than a hot shower and a bed. Well, there was a bed, but no sheets, and the bedspread full of cat hair (and fleas). So, fresh from a trip literally halfway around the world, I had to clean the bed and find some decent sheets and put them on before I could lie down to rest.
Why could she not have a bed made up for me when I traveled so far to visit? She always scurried to make up a bed for my cousin, who lives two hours away. Why not me?
The answer, I believe, lies in one of her favorite pet names for me, her term of endearment:
It is as if God gave her an only child to despise at her whim.
Children MUST love their parents, she has screamed at me.
Monkey see, monkey do, and I did not see anything resembling love from her.
My parental love died with my father**. All that is left now is my Biblical duty to make sure that her physical needs are provided for.
“And in the end/The love you take/Is equal to the love/You make”–The Beatles
**And of course a good deal of her biliousness toward me has to do with the extremely close relationship I had with my father, who was in no way any sort of angel, but was generally kind and always honest, and never played stupid games or called me names or cursed me. So she has always been jealous of my open love for him, and treats me like a rival. Sick.