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  • My mother will be 100 in April and I will be 65. I always imagined that with time the issues that complicated our relationship over the years would change. We would finally accept one another and become mother and daughter. That never happened. If anything, as my mother grew older her paranoia and narcissism deepened to the point where being around her isn't safe for me emotionally. She is now in a home where there will be a large family celebration of her milestone, however, I won't be there. I read a quote that was surprisingly simple and that helped me to let go with love. "Sometimes the people we love can stay in our hearts just not in our lives." It's taken many years to see my mom's behavior as driven by her illness rather than deep seated feelings about me personally. As time has gone on, my "it's all about me" tendencies have softened and I recognize that my mother didn't treat me differently. She treated me the same way she treated everyone else, with suspicion and a concern for her own well-being. It's part of her narcissism. I can't fix it, I can't adapt to it, though I spent years trying, and I can't compartmentalize what parts of my life it effects. I think I've finally made peace with it and forgiven her for what she couldn't help. But I still struggle with the damage caused by her symptoms during my childhood. As with my father's abuse, there is a healing that comes with telling the stories. With each telling my parents become "right sized" rather than giant-sized ghosts looming over me. We are all finally released from the demon of expectation.

    When I woke from your womb
    you soothed me with the lyric of your lies
    then handed me your history,
    whittled me wise, twisted me tame
    and sent me out to erase your regrets.

    For years I stepped to the measure of your rule
    a hopeful hostage in a tapestry of tyranny
    but charity has chastened your legacy
    and living sweetened the soil of my past.
    Your memory is no longer my mirror.
    I can move beyond the shadow of your shame.
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