It’s really not fair. For years my mom and I have had a certain type of relationship, I being the sole provider of emotional support and stability. This past year I have done so much evaluating of my life, healing and growth that I have unfairly begun to change the rules on my poor mom. She’s in her eighties and I can honestly say I really DO think it’s rather unfair of me to change the nature of our relationship at this stage of the game. None the less that is exactly what I am learning to do.
I’ll give you an entirely mild example of what I am talking about. My mom called me yesterday in a COMPLETE and utter panic because her smoke alarm beeped. Tears, agony, WAILING fear….total drama. She said she had my dad (who can barely WALK) climb on a CHAIR to check the back of the stove for the (totally odorless) possibility of carbon monoxide? Honestly don’t ask, I don’t have a clue. Propane smells like rotten eggs she knows that. She then told him to light a match. IF she thought there was a gas leak WHY would she have him light a match? But I didn’t even go there. My dad has learned that arguing is futile and even if he wanted to argue he can’t. We have pretty much tied his hands behind his back by giving him aggression meds. Now my mom is free to poke him in the forehead all she likes without fear of violent repercussion. How sad is that?
Anyway, back to the drama…..
I said “mom, did the alarm go off or did it just beep at you once?”
“Oh, no worries mom, you just need to change the battery. If there were an actual problem the alarm would continue to go off. Beeping once means you need a new battery. I will come by and change it for you.”
Of course she doesn’t HEAR this. My job is to be a sounding board for the drama, part of the play. Actually FIXING the “problem” is never required of me. I think it comes instinctively to want to be a fixer when you are raised by a narcissist. It’s taken me years to understand that fixing the problems isn’t at ALL what she needs. She only requires a willing and sympathetic audience in me. That’s it.
“I tried calling 411 but I can’t get the fire department!!!”
Mom, 411 is information, 911 is emergency but don’t call 911 because this is not an emergency.
DON’T YELL AT ME, WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME I AM UPSET AND VERY WORRIED AND SOMETHING IS WRONG AND I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME…….
I CALMLY reply: I’m not yelling mom I am simply saying you do not have an emergency. Why don’t you….
WELL HOW DO I GET THE FIRE DEPARTMENT?
At some point I realize I am not fixing this, nor do I even care to. She WANTS the fire department to come and would jump for joy if they came in a blaze of glory complete with sirens and horns. So I just tell her to look in the front of the phone book and call the non emergency number for her local fire dept. Good luck mom call me and let me know how it goes.
She called me back about an hour later.
“I called every town until someone picked up. Our local number was BUSY! (Imagine) They came right out! It was just a man in a panel truck.” Sounding entirely disappointed of course. Apparently they didn’t think it was much of an emergency either.
“He climbed up there and checked it and said we needed a new battery. Oh, I was SOOOO relieved that he was able to figure it out and FIX the problem!”
Big resounding sigh…………….. aannnndddd………CUT!
That’s a wrap.