I had this dream the other night.
I dreamt that my mother threw an elegant cocktail party. It was attended by her well to do friends and it was very formal. The house was decorated beautifully; all dressed in sparkly Christmas decoration, Christmas flower arrangements and the type of decorating perfection that my mother has always been known for. There were handsome waiters in beautiful black tuxedos quietly bringing around trays of fancy treats and beautifully presented drinks.
My mother looked stunning in her black full length evening gown; She was happier than I had seen her for years.
I felt as though I was not actually “at” the party but that I was observing it. I felt awkward in my professional style dress and wished I had thought to buy a new evening gown myself. I felt more like I was part of the “staff” instead of a guest. (In real life I always felt like part of her staff too ~ just a servant, her cook, her whipping post) I noticed that what had started off to be a slight tension headache was quickly becoming a migraine headache and I decided that I better take some Advil and get somewhere quiet to let the pain killer work before it was too late.
I quietly slipped upstairs to the guest room to lay down while the Advil took effect. A few moments later my mother quietly slipped into the room. She whisper/yelled “what do you think you are doing?” I felt that same shock and bewilderment that I always felt when she asked me something in that accusatory tone of voice as though I was purposely doing something “wrong” and that I should not PRETEND that I didn’t know what she was talking about. I was already backing away from her as I explained that I was getting a migraine headache, that I had taken something for it, and that I was going to stay quiet for a half hour while it took effect. I didn’t think anyone downstairs at the party would even notice. I could see in the dream that she was becoming outraged. Her eyes were beginning to grow brighter and she got this “look” that I had come to know as “the warning look”.
I felt myself brace. I knew what was coming next.
She started to reprimand me. Her whisper/yell became louder and then she dropped the whisper. She was very angry with me. She said that I always found a way to ruin her plans, that I had to make everything “about me”, that I was selfish and self centered. How dare I take the focus off her and her party! She said that she had gone to so much trouble for this party and that she had been planning it for months and that I had ruined it.
She started to hit me and while she was hitting me she continued to express her disappointment in me and her devastation over how I had wrecked her party.
In my mind, although I was dreaming, I was shocked but at the same time I had this surreal feeling that “this verbal rant” explained a few things. My mother had gone on these rants in real life accusing me of all sorts of things and bringing up every time in the past that I ever messed up in her mind. BUT she had not verbally spewed any of this detailed stuff while she was hitting me and she had never make it so clear that in her mind I had destroyed something that was so important to her in the way she did in the dream. In real life when she went off on me as an adult, it was always more about the things that I did that made her so ashamed of me. I never connected those rants to the current event in event in her own life that she thought that I had actually destroyed or that whatever I had done had gotten in the way of her success or happiness.
It was as though I suddenly realized that her rants and rages had their foundation in her belief that I had hurt her perhaps on purpose; that I had actually “set out” to wreck things “for her” and that I had control over those things. I felt as though her disgust with me had to do with her false belief that I could make her world perfect if only I “wanted to”.
I realized also that somehow I had believed that too, all my life; that I “could have been” the perfect daughter if “I wanted to.” But I believed that I was a failure as a daughter, just like she said. And because of that “failure” that I took responsibility for, I believed it was my job to restore her order by taking abuse from her. Verbal abuse, emotional abuse and even physical abuse.
In the post I wrote about when my daughter was born and how my mother made this big deal about wanting to “be there for me” and how hopeful that I was that she was “finally going to be “My Mother” and then how it turned out to be such a disaster to have her there, I give an example of how my mother raged at me for some unknown reason. I used it as an example of our dysfunctional mother daughter relationship and her symptoms of narcissism.
Through this dream, I suddenly realized that in my mother’s mind, when things went off the track when I went into labour with my daughter, and all the anxiety that it “caused HER” I had destroyed the way she had envisioned the whole thing going. She had this “plan” that SHE was going to be different this time. This time it was going to be about her, my mother, being there for me. This time (my mother believed) she would make up for all the other times that she had NOT been there for me. She was going to be mother of the year and for once she was going to “be a great mom” and because of how it actually went, she was royally stripped of her grand plan to “make it all up to me” and it was all my fault, so she did what she always did and lashed out at me. She blamed me because things didn’t go HER way when I was having MY baby. This was actually how she justified her verbal and emotional abuse.
Putting dysfunctional events with my mother through this grid of understanding made many of the mental madness moments in my relationship with my mother more understandable. It is still pretty sick and dysfunctional. In the dream I thought to myself; “my poor pathetic mother. She really is a little bit psychotic. Her thinking process is completely dysfunctional and abusive at the least. She is freaking out at me because my headache interfered with the way she envisioned her perfect Christmas party”.
When I woke up I didn’t feel so sorry for my mother; I was relieved that it was a dream!
(I actually threatened my mother when I was 15 years old that if she ever hit me again I would hit her back and it scared her enough to stop that part of the dysfunctional toxic parent child relationship we shared, so although this dream was about my mother physically abusing me as an adult, that never happened in real life.)
NOTE: Realizing this and having this insight into my mother’s thoughts, doesn’t change the damage that my mother caused to me, it just helps me comprehend how messed up her thinking is. Realizing her crazy thinking does not excuse her behaviour nor should it be used as an excuse for her behaviour. Using these insights as excuses for mistreatment and abuse got me stuck in the dysfunction for YEARS.
This little insight through the dream helped me to realize HOW she thinks (based on her reactions in the past) however it doesn’t change the fact that she is and was wrong and that the way she parented me and our mother daughter relationship was toxic and dysfunctional. She has always acted as though she believes that it really is my job to make things go well for her. Her actions inferred that life doesn’t happen, but that I “caused” good things to go bad. She acted like I had trouble with the birthing process just to wreck her plans of being the perfect mom for once. I could never get my head wrapped around her way of thinking. (and I no longer want to)
Please share your thoughts,
Exposing truth one snapshot at a time;