I Yelled At My Mom, And it Helped Us Reach a New Spiritual ConnectionNov 24, 2015
Here’s the deal: I’m nearly convinced my parents signed a contract with the divine, stipulating that they had to baby me for life. The other night over dinner, my girlfriends and I joked about growing up under the ever-watchful eyes of our parents who—of course—had the very best intentions. While it was fine (and expected) when we were teenagers, it gets less and less funny as we hedge farther and farther into our 30s and 40s. The word boundaries comes to mind, but even thinking about muttering that in front of my parents makes me want to sprint in the other direction and hide under a very large rock.
Ultimately, I’m finding that it’s pretty common for parents to dish out grief when you want to go away on vacay without your kids. Or scold you because you haven’t called them in a few days cause your life became catastrophically chaotic. Or to develop paranoia if they can’t locate you because you forgot the ringer on your phone was off. Or—maybe the most stressful—they chime in to tell you just how poorly you’re raising your kids, when you’re trying your damndest to be the best parent in the whole wide world.
But the one that really gets me the most is the ominous, “What are people going to say,” when you decide that the life you have is not the life you want. You’ll have to break through some pretty hefty cultural norms to reach the place you want to be, and your parents are standing on the sidelines, shouting, “Not allowed!” Obviously, needing to save face in the huge Indian community is a pretty prevalent personal pet peeve of mine.
I’ll always remember the moment this happened to me (namely because I’ve replayed it over and over again in my head like a movie rerun on steroids). It was a rainy, gloomy evening, and—to be totally transparent—I was really struggling to keep it all together.
Annoyance trigger #1: The kids were much younger, sitting in the back of my mommy van and bickering at each other loudly like it was their job.
Annoyance trigger #2: I was headed back home after a brutal counselling session by a psychologist who said all the wrongs things and pushed every last one of my buttons.
Annoyance trigger #3: I hadn’t slept in days, and barely had any appetite. Not sleeping and not eating generally equates to not being happy.
And then my mom called me for a “pleasant chit chat.” How timely. As I gripped onto the steering wheel for dear life, bracing myself for a lecture about my recent separation from my husband and scrambling for justifications, full-body nausea swept over me. I didn’t want to have the conversation, but it felt like the respectful thing to do, so I stayed on the phone.
Initially, it was fine. We were shooting the shit and talking about our days. And then the ball dropped. “So, what am I going to tell my friends, Dimple?” I was a force, possessed by anger and passion and self-preservation. In an out of body experience, I totally lost it. I told my mom exactly where she could go (use your imagination), and hung up, trying not to have a full-blown nervous breakdown.
Needless to say, my relationship with my mother hasn’t been the same since—but for the better. As it turns out, my brutal honesty and openness elevated our relationship to an entirely new level, and I couldn’t feel more blessed. She saw me. She felt me. She respected me. I think in that moment my mom realized that in addition to being her daughter, I was a grown, capable woman. I was hurting, and all I needed from her was pure, non-judgemental love. Thankfully, she understood.
Let’s face it. Being transparent with parents can totally backfire sometimes. That said, every relationship is an assignment, including the ones you have with your parents, and how you choose to do the homework is up to you. You can ignore it, blow it off, and postpone it, or you can really dig deep. (Hint: Digging deep can open up a lot of childhood wounds, but working through them are well worth it.) The rewards are priceless. And while I stumbled over roadblocks with my parents, hidden within the roadblocks were gems—these gorgeous, light-filled opportunities to reimagine and revamp my adult relationship with them.
If you look closely into your own life, there’ll be themes and patterns that’ll emerge, stemming from your younger years and giving you a clue as to what you want to change, because things can change.
When those patterns start to emerge, let me know what you’ve discovered by heading here, or leaving comfort for the community in the comments. After all, we’re all in this together.