I’ve never been gripped by fear in this way. Mum ambushed me with a secretive plan of hers that she’s had for months, which she demanded I comply with- threatened me in fact. And I effectively signed my death wish when I made up my mind that come hell or high water, I would not give into this. I’ve never provoked her in this way, so brazen and direct. I didn’t know that I feared her this much, nor did I know how brave I really am. I spent the past 48 hours alert, with tensed muscles, clenched jaws, adrenaline rush- I knew she’d pull all stops in her scary manipulative antics and it was going to be really bad before it would be good. I ran through the possible worst-case scenarios and what I would do in each. I was ready to die for this, although I knew the fear-mongering was a bluff that no one has called her on because no one has ever dared. Before me that is. When she speaks about how people fear her and her overwhelming methods in getting her ways, she does so with a smirk that suggests that she is proud of this.
I rattled the cage and all hell broke loose. When the time came and I refused to participate, she was stunned and shock flashed across her face for like a nanosecond, as she couldn’t comprehend the words I spoke- words she never expected from me. She quickly went into attack mode by upping her scary face and angry tone which I knew by now was all a farce. I braced myself for a punch or something drastic as I said ‘no‘. I’ve never seen her so clueless. This was not in her plans. She never had to think about a plan b in case instilling fear doesn’t work. My dad who is the peacekeeper in the family told her to leave me alone in a calm tone with a hint of tiredness. She tried another round, and I stood my ground. Nope. Sorry. No can do. I didn’t even think in that moment. The words came out jumbled. What was I doing? I had looked forward to this moment all my life – where I could speak with conviction- but it had always been in a fantasy where I also was Xena, the warrior princess, so I clearly didn’t believe the possibility of this. She left me alone in frustration but I knew it wasn’t the end of it.
She tried twice later that evening. She tried every trick in the book- guilt tripping,projecting blame,accusing me of doing this to upset her, yada yada. But I did not budge. It was a nightmare. It is a nightmare. I’m crushed. I spent years doubting myself because I did not want to believe that my mother was this person. Not my mother. Tonight that mother died. With that demise followed the bitter realization of what our family, if you can call it that, has become; a dictatorship. As she was spewed verbal lava, I tuned out. I could see her mouth moving, but I was very far away. I was sucked into a memory vortex, to revisit my childhood miseries. The anger and sadness that I have bottled up all my life fuelled my bravery.
The image of N.Korea kept coming back to me as I slowly accepted that this was our family. I knew the misery in each person’s heart- even dad. I knew that everyone was fed up. In fact, I had confronted her the other night when she used her scary threats to make my little sister who is 17 but treated like she’s 7 comply to her demands. I felt my childhood was repeating itself. I went all in and told her everything my siblings were too afraid to tell her, only to be told that I’m the only one with these sick ideas, and in fact I’ve perverted their minds with thoughts like that. She said that how come they haven’t told her anything? You kidding? They are scared of you! Why would they tell you?
I walked away from the very heated argument vowing to never stand up for someone who does not stand up for themselves. My siblings are still very scared and they need to process their fears in their own time and I realized that I overstepped a boundary by barging in like that. I might even have made it worse for them.
My other sister overheard mum having a conversation with a neighbour about me ( she’s fond of telling all and sundry the worst things about me, to make me out to be an out of control daughter) where she told the neighbour how I refused her. The neighbour egged her on; Threaten her! She’ll become afraid and cave in eventually. And mum replied; pff, she’s not afraid of me anymore. Nothing works on her. She doesn’t care anymore.
That admission is the saving grace in this mess. It’s an admission of her manipulation and that she was bluffing. But knowing her will made of steel, she will not give up easily. I’ve waged this war of individuation for 16 months now, and this was the biggest hurdle by far. It is the bravest thing I’ve ever done. Even my sister was shaking in her boots over my plans, and she told me afterwards that she was very proud of me and that she didn’t think I’d pull it through. Tbh, I didn’t either.
I spoke to dad in private and he agreed with me, to my surprise. He usually sides with mum to keep the peace ( to keep her from yelling, really) but when I sat him down and asked him if he agreed with how she is treating me and the stuff she’d threatened me with ( ‘ you either follow my rules, or move out’), he revealed how he finds the violation of one’s privacy and boundaries appalling and it’s against his principles to do so. He spoke to her a couple of times about not forcing me, but to her it’s a power struggle. She needs to gain the upper hand. Anyway, knowing that I had his support gave me strength and the hope that this family was not ruined after all. My sister asked why I didn’t just walk away from it all, when there was no hope. I said we only have one family and that’s it, and I was not going to give up because of one person. If dad hadn’t rallied behind me, then yes, I’d wash my hands off of this, but now it’s clear to me that my mum is the issue, and I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Not for me, but for them.