I just rewrote this goal, which used to begin “take the deep bitterness I feel towards my brother…” Our mediation was, I believe, successful… not that everything is kiss-and-make-up or that we reached too many tactical decisions… but communications were opened up, grievances aired, and agreements made about how to deal with our way-beyond-impossible-91-year-old mother.
I’m still processing this, but it really went much better than I could have hoped.
First off, I was quite astonished that he agreed to come up and do this… he has been dismissive, angry, condescending at the very idea of therapists/counselors/mediators, etc etc etc, and underneath probably scared out of his mind (feelings are not his preferred melieu). But he did. To me, this demonstrated that, whether he admitted it or not, he did have a stake in wishing to heal our relationship, and though I was jittery and anxious, I still had to give him that… that he was making the effort.
And, after some dance on his part around “I’m only here because you wanted it,” he finally copped to that: “How many sisters do I have?” An UNBELIEVABLE statement… I can’t recall his ever saying anything remotely that affectionate before.
- We agreed that being a victim, blaming others for one’s problems, feeling “a sense of entitlement” , and sinking the hooks into others indirectly was part of our family’s behavioral legacy, and while we could see it and loathed it in our mother, it was much harder to admit that we also had many of those same behaviors. But unless we admitted to that and were willing to see that, how we could we STOP it, and how could we cease blaming each other? (There was one situation in which we both felt that we had been greatly taken advantage of by the other, and I think we both had legitimate reasons to feel that way. And I think we both AT LEAST admitted that we each had legitimate reasons. But that it wasn’t productive to stay there.)
- We expressed and shared a lot of our frustration with our mother and her situation, and came up with a strategy to keep her from playing us against each other.
- Perhaps most important, to me, is this. My brother has a harsh and awful assessment of a situation in our past, and my role and my late husband’s role in it. In fact, all three of us did some good things and some bad things, made some wise and some foolish decisions; all of us bear responsibility. My brother has selectively forgotten or whited out his overlooked responsibilities and broken promises, as well as those my husband and I met with flying colors. He has then taken these selective memories and totalled them up in an analysis of what happened and who he thinks E and I are/were, that is just plain wrong.
I accept, though reluctantly and regretfully and sadly, that he believes his version of reality, always will, is not going to change. I have for a long time. But I also believe that this is no more or less than his version of reality… not objective truth, any more than mine or anyone else’s can be (the Rashomon syndrome).
A deep sticking point for me… the one at which I felt terrible rage… has been his refusal to extend me this same courtesy and respect. It’s never been “You have one view and I have another and we disagree,” it’s been, “I am right, I know not just exactly what happened but have an understanding of motivations which you lack. And you lack it because you are naive at best or a scheming rip-off artist at worst. This proves that, as has been true our entire lives, I am superior to you… as indeed my income bracket as opposed to yours would bear out.”
The huge breakthrough for me was that he finally came to see that it was just no more or less than his perception, as mine is mine. Once he gave up the condescendion and superiority and agreed that there was little if any objective reality, we could agree to disagree… as equals.
I can’t say how big this was and is for me.
So. We shall see.
This is all I can do for now. I’m going to go eat dinner, watch a movie, decompress.
THANK YOU for the good vibes so many of you 43T’ers were winging my way.
ff 8 years ago