Dysfunction Junction

The phone rings and I wait for it to go to voicemail.

I know it’s her because no one else calls my landline.

I know she’ll try calling again in a few minutes, first my landline, then my cell phone, then my landline again, then my husband’s cell phone.

She doesn’t “get” why her only daughter doesn’t want to speak to her.

It’s been almost 2 years since I moved away from the US. 2 years since I felt free. Free of her, free of my father, free of my brother, free of my dysfuntion.

I grew up in a house of cards.

Always waiting for some shit to fall, and then being blamed for it.

For 20 something years I grew up in a house, a miserable house, a house where the only escape is medication. Xanax, Prozac…

Often times, I say to myself that I’m just being a whiny little bitch. I was never abused, always fed and sheltered, had vacations to Disney world and abroad..  Holidays were celebrated, gifts were in abundance and yet… yet I can only remember the feeling of being an outsider in my own home. Always feeling like something was wrong with me,, because I was different, because I chose to speak up- because I refused to accept the dysfunction. I was always taught that it was my fault. It can’t be that 3 people are wrong, while 1 is right.

I guess I was the dysfunctional one then.

So I kept that locked away for years.

In my psyche it went.. hidden under old books and dreams.

But then my husband joined the picture- and finally I had a witness. A witness to it all. He often stares at me in wonder and says that he doesn’t know how I came out so functional in such a household.

My therapist once told me that she felt bad for the little girl that I was.. always crying out for normalcy. Much smarter than those around her. Not knowing that it’s not her fault.

I can’t be myself with my mother. She doesn’t like the person that I am. A strong willed woman, something she is not. “I don’t like how vocal you are” she said to me this past December while visiting. But mom, this is who I am.. and if after 30 years you can’t accept who I am then it’s now your problem.

The thing is for so many years, I was taught that I shouldn’t be who I was. A girl should be more gentle, less outspoken, less opinionated. Stop acting like a man, you’ll never get married that way…

My mother used to tell me that I should act more like so and so… never just “be yourself, Maya”

My father was hardly ever around. Always working. But it wasnt about the quantity, it was about the quality.

Once I reached a certain age, it’s like he just didn’t give a shit anymore. Threw me into the ocean without a lifeboat. He did his part, I was 18. But no, no he didn’t.

We never shared anything, it was always surface. Not a hug or a kiss. Not a “I’m proud of you”

But I tell myself he just wasnt raised that way.

I was always seeking approval.

approval that I never received.

I still do- To the point where it takes me over. It envelopes me.

And when I do receive some, I don’t believe it.

Here I am, a 30 year old woman and a mother of two, and I am scared to death that my kids will hate me one day.

I look at my beautiful little family, with the most amazing father I could have chosen for my girls and  I fear that they wont answer my calls because just the sound of the ringer will send them into panic attacks.

I can’t be the only one who still harbors so much hate for their childhood so many years later.

I just can’t be the only one.







15 thoughts on “Dysfunction Junction

  1. KJ and the Kids

    All I can say now is dysfunction junction what’s your function.
    If you get that…good….I won’t explain 🙂 You are a little young for school house rock, so I understand if you don’t.

    The best that you can do to ensure that your girls don’t feel the same is to be the example. (so they say)

    I’m sorry you have all of this baggage to deal with.
    It’s a good thing you are so outspoken and strong. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here to teach those girls how functional one can be.
    You rock !

  2. Candice

    You are not the only one. I cringe every single time I see my mother’s name on my caller id. She will hang up after I don’t answer and call 3-4 more times in a row.

    When I do answer all I hear is, “You never call, blah blah blah”. Yeah, I don’t want to. Ugh…my story is long but know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

  3. bakeonebuyone

    You are definitely not alone. I don’t pick up the phone and I only respond to letters if they aren’t bat shit crazy. But the difference between you and your mom is that you’re wiling to acknowledge if you make a mistake with your girls and then try to work to fix it. Mistakes are unavoidable. Taking responsibility for them is a choice. Those of us that don’t pick up the phone…our moms don’t think they made a mistake.

  4. insertwittytitleheremomstired

    I’m with bakeonebuyone here. The sheer fact that you’re afraid of this, to me, means you are very far from becoming your mother. You are aware to how your actions with your children can affect them. You can treat them, raise them, the way you would have wanted to be treated/raised.
    You’re not alone. Keep being yourself and your children will follow suit in being themselves.

  5. Lisa

    I am about to vomit on your comments. 🙂 You and I have lots in common in this dept. I am also very conscious of my relationship w/ my daughter because of my poor relationship w/ my mom. I have awesome parents that love me, but my mom is socially inept and doesn’t really like me. She doesn’t have any real friends, just casual ones. Not one girlfirend to call and gossip or share with. Just generic couple type friends that my parents will go to dinner with. My mom typically doesn’t get along with the other wives after a bit, but they all love my dad. 🙂 Hes a sweet heart. She is SO lucky he has never left her.

    My mom has always criticized my hair, my choice of friends, my weight, clothing, etc. She doesn’t think I am funny. If I complain about something, her response every single time is: “well just be grateful you have a job and dont have cancer”. Very uplifting, huh? I’ve always hid things from her because she really wasn’t interested anyway. So I felt she didn’t have the privilege of knowing all about my life. And prob from the time I was about 4 years old, I began to realize that she was nutty and controlling and annoying. And I told her so. We fought like *crazy* because I never backed down and always told her when she acting like a crazy bitch.

    I avoid her phone calls as well, I prefer to texting. Will pretty much avoid going over to my parents whenever I can so I dont have to deal with her. She favors my sister b/c she is more of the quiet/ dont rock the boat type. Where I am more of the I WILL SINK THAT DAMN BOAT type. So for example if we go over there for dinner, she is all “Lisa set the table” “Lisa get everyone a drink” “Lisa we need more napkins, can you get them?” (Im almost 38 yrs old btw!) She hardly ever asks my sis to do anything. And I laugh when she orders me around, and she is all “why are you laughing at me?” Just has no clue how she acts, and if I call her out on it, she truly has no idea what I am talking about. Does not and will not ever understand how she acts. It is so frustrating, I have tried, but it will never change. She waited until I was 8 mos pregnant and then took my sister on a European cruise. I have never been to Europe, would have loved to go. What perfect timing? I was so hurt over that. Still am. But she is a HUGE pain to travel with and drove my sister nuts.
    So prob better that I didn’t/ couldn’t go, but it still stung.

    You are already doing things differently than your parents did with you. You and your hubby are totally difft people than your parents are. I have no doubt that you will be very close w/ your girls because of the strong, opinionated woman you are. I want Ava to tell me everything, and I tell her that all the time. There is nothing she cant tell me, I wanna know it all. And she told me the other day that I am her best friend! I made her promise we will always be bff’s, and we will. I will always encourage her to be the outgoing, strong, tough ass little girl she is. She is following in my footsteps for sure (except maybe the outgoing thing, but I love that she is like that!)

    But our moms make us doubt ourselves. I get that. You are warm and fuzzy with them, while also strong and tough. You encourage them to be who they are and you embrace their differences. How could they not like you and ignore your calls? If they do, you can call me. Sorry for writing this book, jeesh, what a psycho! (its all my moms fault, i swear!)

  6. edenland

    Oh HON. Wow. You are not not alone, and the relationship with your daughters will be different … look at all of this self-awareness you have around it. Remarkable depth and strength of character. And you’re only goddamn thirty. You are ok. I swear.


  7. J

    My first comment disappeared so I’m trying to re-articulate myself…
    Echoing HARDCORE that you are NOT alone. I second what Edenland said above about self-awareness. That’s the biggest step; you’ve embraced it and now follow through. I don’t have children, but if I can; this is my biggest fear – causing severe damage as my own mother did to me. Some of it was out of her control but most of it was not. She, obviously, was not self-aware; I am so cognizant of what NOT to do. I don’t know about you but being from/in a Jewish family, it was like we were supposed to REALLY “have our shit together, ” like that doesn’t happen in “those” families. All my friend’s family could not just believe how dysfucntional my home was; that always made me feel even worse.

  8. amy

    I rarely read blogs anymore, and i think fate must have brought me to yours today. I just wanted to echo what the other ladies have already said…you are not alone. I’m in my 30’s, two great kids, and I am STILL dealing with issues and problems with my parents. I often look at my young boys and wonder, how could my parents have done X, Y, Z. Now that I’m a mom, some of what I recollect blows my mind. My biggest fear is your biggest fear. I don’t want my kids to EVER see me in the light that I see my parents. Maybe we’re ending the cycle, Maya. I truly hope we are. XOXO

  9. mel

    you are not the only one. I still sit with a therapist and ask for validation for the feelings of anxiety and resentment I have when I’m called by or in the presence of my family, primarily my mother.

    Always compared to everyone else. Never being told that I was perfect just the way I was. Whether it was measured by accomplishments, abilities or just the simple physical appearance/weight (whether skinny or overweight, dressed up or in sweats).

    I try to do the opposite for my 2 girls. I try to learn from my parents’ mistakes, but I also wonder if they will avoid my calls when they are on the other side of the phone with their own family. The thought is terrifying to me.

  10. Debbie in the UK

    I am on the opposite side of this. My daughter is grown and I think we have a great relationship. I love her with every fibre of my being and she and I do so much together. Just next weekend we are going on our annual bunfight to Egypt for a week, just the two of us. She is my heart and she knows it, although I try not to smother her, its so hard! I am sure that if you just let your girls grow and tell them all the time they are the best, then everything works out. Picking holes in someone you love is neve going to make them want to spend time with you x

  11. Katie

    I haven’t been to your blog in a long time, but it was just what I needed tonight. You are not alone. My relationship with my mother is also tenuous. You are brave for refusing to walk on eggshells. You are brave for speaking your mind. You are brave for being truthful. Don’t ever apologize for refusing to enable the dysfunction. It is a hard road to stay on, but be strong, fellow gemini!


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