Friday, May 29, 2015

A warning to grandmothers

Here is a story related to me by too many women over the past fifteen years – possibly the most corrupt dialectic I’ve ever seen.  A girl is raised by a toxic mother who is a stillborn child bitter and needy and possibly hating, in her daughter, the girl she could never be.  The mother turns a blind eye to her child’s incest, commits some of the ugliest physical abuses I’ve ever heard of, is babyishly self-indulgent with boyfriends and drugs, Borderline and tears and sharp designer claws.  The young daughter grows up somehow.  She rejects actual respectful love because she’s had to defend against the starvation of it, but needing love she sleeps around or marries or shacks up with a man at sixteen.  As so often happens, the next generation improves slightly on the previous one, and when she has her own baby, it is not so abused, not so neglected.  There are problems, but more from the new mother’s hurt, less from hate.  And into this scene, the unsteady and barren graduation from “childhood,” swoops the Toxic One, the mother without portfolio, to materialize as the beneficent and loved grandmother to the child.  She is two-faced: smiling at the one, sneering at the other.  She gives her new possession – her golden hostage, in truth – expensive gifts, demands weekends and sleepover time which the mother, too punctured and needy to feel justice, allows.  In a special coup de grâce, grandmother, still and always made of vengeance hatred, will try to wrest custody of the child, spuriously calling Children Services to the home, conjuring up her daughter’s incompetence as a mother from her own whitewashed plane of reality.

I have never knowingly met any of these grandmothers, if memory serves, only the daughters fighting to keep their child.  If the older woman came to counseling, she would assuredly grieve about her sick daughter who carouses with men, lives ramshackle and irresponsibly dumps the child on her.  The contrast between them will indeed be exquisite, because these grande dames invariably live in nice houses, comfort, property, someone’s retirement money, a sham aura that adds to the maddening injustice.

This is a warning to those grandmothers.  What kind of warning?  That you are being exposed, that your daughter is in therapy and now has an ally in strength?  But the warning will fade like a shadow.  The dialectics of life that turn childhood pain into adult actors play on like endless Muzak.  A wronged child becomes fifty generations.  Each somewhat worse than the next one. 

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.