Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I love Emily Gilmore

And I love my mother. They are both flawed and funny and sad and cruel and somewhat crazy. That doesn't mean that either one is easy to be around.

For those unenlightened souls, check out this information on Emily Gilmore. She is a character from what has sometimes been one of the best written shows on t.v., The Gilmore Girls, and one of the only reasons to watch the show through the rather dismal last season and the weirdness of this one. I totally get her and her daughter Lorelei's relationship and I adore how she is written. I get the relationship because even though my mother is not from blue-blood society and isn't as smart nor as deliberately cruel, the two of them bear remarkable similarities. I get it because I, too, have tried to handle my mother with humor and have had times when I've had to withdraw completely from her AND I've sometimes overreacted to something seemingly innocuous because it all piles up. And I adore how Emily is written because despite her cruelty, despite her focus on the all-importance of appearance (something my mother shares), she also is played so well and is a 3-dimensional character for whom your heart sometimes breaks. She is genuinely bewildered that her daughter doesn't want all she has to give and teach. She is trying to be the best mother (and grandmother) she can be. And that's all any of us do. So I appreciate the talent that went into this character.

There are differences though. It took me many years (decades really) to realize that my mother is truly ill. I don't think Emily is. My mother contends with paranoia, delusions and conspiracy theories and I often wonder how difficult that must be for her. At the same time it can be difficult to be patient because she can be cruel to those around her. As she ages, this is all becoming more pronounced. (Though I believe age-related dementia may be part of the problem now and I wish I could help her in this regard, all of these issues have been there for decades so they are not the result of age or physical illness.)

I know that, just as Emily loves Lorelei, my mother truly loves me. She just doesn't know how to show it without trying to control every aspect of my life. She loves me the only way she knows how. She gives to me the things she thinks I need and has, at times, been there at times when I did really need her. I cannot share any of her story without emphasizing all of that too.

Unlike Lorelei, I work hard at being kind to my mother (while keeping healthy boundaries). This is partly for her, because I do believe she is sick and therefore deserving of kindness and forgiveness. And it's also for me because I do not want her treatment of me to turn me into someone I am not. I don't want to give her that power.

Currently, my mother is punishing me in various ways, trying different tactics to ensure I feel the punishment. I am again screening my calls so I can talk to her only when I feel strong enough to do so. She has an ability to kick me when I'm down that I need to avoid for my own health. She is punishing me because I do not agree with her about some issues in my life she's decided are important and requiring change AND I won't let her give some things to me. Gifts from her are about what she feels I need, not what I actually need, and there are always strings attached so I decline most of the time. I understand her frustration at not being able to control things as she would like AND that she feels this as a rejection of love but I can't help that. I am and always will be a heavy disappointment to her.

Thank goodness for Emily Gilmore. The laughter provides me with needed perspective on my own mother and on myself.


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