Go To Therapy, Not My Problem.

Sa-LAAM Joonies.

We set the mood this week with that ka-BOOM of a post I know- but we’ll send you off to the weekend with some laughs, I promise. I’ll start right now by painting an image of how I usually write my blog posts: in really ugly PJ’s (that don’t match), Crest WhiteStrips, 90’s music, and now I’ve taken to wearing my “Man-Repeller”  glasses (as somebody called them). They’re actually the EXACT same glasses that Dwight wears from The Office. I’m not kidding. Glamorous, huh?

I really never understood those girls that always looked cute, even at home—

Don’t you sometimes just want to walk around like all the Golden Girls threw up on you?

Thank you for being a friend.

Ah, maybe it’ll be different if I live with someone I actually want to attract. Anyway, this post isn’t about my man-repelling ways.

It’s about my mother.

I love her, despite her overbearing, melodramatic, Persian ways.

And she loves me, despite my sarcasm, “anti-khanoom”ness, and hate for bows & ruffles.

But something weird started happening a little while ago. That love was mixed up with a lot of resentment—as in I really couldn’t stand her.

& I felt fucking guilty.

Cause here I have this Persian mom who would sacrifice anything for me (and has), and I’d rather bash my head against the wall than be around her. It was like the roles of Snow White and the Evil Mother were reversed.

There’s no question that I take her for granted, there are many people who take many valuable things for granted but I am very well aware, at this age, of the mortality of my parents and the lack of infinite time. So I couldn’t play the old teenager-with-attitude card, and keep “Whatever”-ing her until the feeling went away.

I owed her, and myself, more than that. And so the search began, for why I was rotten enough to be so mean to such a great mom.

Now let me lay this down for you, Persian-style:

My mother is more traditional than most, because “she loves and believes in tradition.”  She wanted to marry young, and she liked a more conservative, family-oriented lifestyle. So she turned down going to Belgium for school, and married my dad. Before she was 21, I popped out. She raised two kids, while going to school, and slowly but surely, she worked her way to a PhD.

She was an Iranian Housewife and Straight-A student. I NEVER had a nanny or a babysitter. There was never a night my mom didn’t put a hot meal on the table, and I mean—rice, khoresht, salad, and dessert. The house was always clean, she hosted great mehmoonis.

My dad would never have it any other way. He was a bit demanding (yet loving) Persian husband, and when my Mom asked him to watch us so she could take more classes, and finish her degree earlier—he said he couldn’t. And when my dad decided to follow his dream across the country and my mom asked him not to leave—he said he couldn’t.

Now that years have passed, the large amount of sacrificing my mom and the lack of appreciation she feels, weighs heavily on her psychological well being— in plain terms,

Along the way of being good mom and a good wife, my mom gave up her mental and emotional stability.

And I think I slightly resent my mom because I never want to be like her in that way—fragile, and unable to cope or stand up for myself – especially, to men.  Recent events have made her even more vulnerable and needy (I believe codependent is the professional term)—and I really did not know how to help her.

So I told her to go to therapy, because it wasn’t my problem.

image

And while I’m not proud of my wording (we’ll get to my issues in a minute)- it pushed my mom to go and do something for herself.

To go and take care of her, instead of worrying about what to cook for dinner when my dad gets home, or when to pick up my brother from practice. Her world needed to revolve around her for awhile.

I, on the other hand, also judge my mom too harshly. It’s true that she doesn’t handle conflict in the best manner, but she also has incredible persistence and motivation. Why I don’t weigh the good and the bad equally is beyond me …? Her flaws seem to be a reflection on me, even though she’s her own person, and I’m my own person—I can’t seem to separate the two.

I’m afraid somehow history will repeat itself, and I will become my mother.

But is that so bad?

I mean, she has a sex blogger as a daughter, right?

The best way to solve a problem, is to first realize you’re not alone. So I googled my problem. I found Aging Mothers and their Adult Daughters: A Study in Mixed Emotions by Karen Fingerman. And guess what? I wasn’t. And the people in Fingerman’s studies weren’t crazy, or on 16&Pregnant. They were regular mother and daughters, with lots of love between them, but a lot of strange emotional complexities:

There’s trouble reconciling “intimacy and intrusion”—a.k.a when my mom asks a million questions about my life, and when I don’t answer one—“you don’t tell me anyting anymore, look at Shadi and her mom, they talk about everything.”

— uh, no they don’t?

And the relationship changes with age:  when I have to start nurturing my mom and giving her attention, to make her feel loved—just as she did, most of my life. & I have a slight problem with this, because I couldn’t nurture a hamster even if I tried, let alone a person.

So there’s work on both ends, Ironically, she’s calling me as we speak—the 8th call of the day! How many times can you ask me if I ate fruit???

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

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“Best” Daugher Ever,

SAAGHI  ساقی
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  1. NoNakedLIght says:

    I completely understand where you are coming from. I, on the other hand have distanced myself from my mother in part because of the overbearing nature of her codependency coupled with the extreme form of daily emotional manipulation. It got to a point where I was denying my voice and the ability to control my life. I’ve told my mother many times to seek therapy. However, she feels that it would be a waste of money. Yet, my mother does not want to admit that we do not have a functional relationship. Incidentally, while working for an NGO in London that catered to elderly Persian parents, many told me that they had little to no contact with their children. In effect, they were essentially estranged from their children, and no wonder. Most were highly demanding and would lay on the guilt trip if I wasn’t around to assist them and take care of their needs. There was a lady at this NGO who was a psychotherapist and used her knowledge to help to rid these maman-borzorgs and pedar-borzorgs of unhealthy traits and hopefully re-establish healthy bonds between them and their adult children. I don’t know if she was ever successful, but I appreciated that she was venturing into this discussion and finding constructive means of introducing healthy behavior patterns. Many thanks for this post!

  2. OK, I think you and your mom have a healthy relationship without you knowing it. There are lots of times that I think I have become my mom and that scares me. yet again, there are lots of times that I see how wrongly I have judged my mom in the past. I think the more emotionally involved you are the more scared you get, the more emotionally evolved the more understanding you get. All mothers, regardless of their nationalily or traditions, sacrifice in their lives for the sake of their kids and their family life, but here’s the news, it does not make them unhappy or take their identitiy away from them. You should not think of the steps in life as some horrible events that ruin the mothers or fathers. these steps come with the job of parenting and spousing. the ones who constantly see their actions as sacrifices and give their kids guilt trips because they did whatever they had to do, I think, are confused and to a large extent selfishly confused. I think your mother was not of that type and that is why you and the rest of your family had a successful, harmoneous life. Do not belittle her achievements, she had accomplished a lot and those were her “me-times” too. so now, if she wants to find her new roles and her new goals, it is again so natural. she had finished the first phase and she will do the second phase successfully too. she can do it because she is family oriented and traditional, or co-dependant, or whatever. she is centered. you should not make her feel guilty about it or yourself feel guilty about it. when mothers are not centerd, children’s lives get disoriented. I hope you forgive me for my motherly advises:) I don’t know if mothers are allowed to read this post or not but I find it very interesting. great job!

  3. Ok, you joonies know I read your blog religiously — I mean, I was one of the first to discover you back in January (when I, mistakenly(!), thought you were capitalizing on the #shitpersiangirlssay trend) and your twitter handle was @sexandfessenjoo (haha) — but I never felt compelled to comment on a post. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got plenty of #persiangirlproblems as well, and oftentimes find myself laughing and/or crying along with you. However, this post really hit home for me, quite literally. As a professional Persian Khanum, living at home with the ‘rents, I know it is vaghte aroosie. And every day that passes, and there is no sign of Mr Khastegar ‘popping the question,’ beh gholeh amreekayeha, I feel as if it creates a riff between my mom and I. Similar to your situation, my mom sacrificed everything for her family and wants nothing but happiness and the best for her children. I am pretty sure what would make her the most happy is for me to get married and start my own family. Of course, this is something that I want as well, but it just hasn’t happened yet. To see it happening for all my friends puts pressure on me, and perhaps increases a resentment in me and I direct it towards my mom. I don’t want my mom to think she did something wrong since her daughter is now torshideh. This is, obvi, far from the truth, and we both need a little perspective. I was relieved to read your post and to know I am not the only one who has these feelings of anxiety. Although the issues you wrote on are a bit different, moms and daughters hold a special bond and there will always be ups and downs, growth and development in the relationship. I love my mom and I would love to be like her one day. She is selfless, humble, strong, encouraging, smart, compassionate, independent, and courageous. It seems like your mom is pretty cool as well :) I just hope that my worth is not determined by who or when I marry, and that no matter what, she is proud of me … and I am able to be proud of myself as well. Sorry for my dissertation on the subject. Keep on keeping on, I really haal with this blog :D

  4. Good post; I would be interested to hear y’all’s take on how Iranian-Americans see psychiatry and therapy in general. I ask because there are these sort of popular psychology figures in the Iranian diaspora like Farhang Holakouee and Mitra Babak and so on that seem quite loved, and yet I’ve more often than not encountered really cynical attitudes towards it among Iranian refugees. Even really close friends of mine, upon hearing that I was considering going, said things like, “khare, beri unja alaki puleto bede ke chi beshe, kheili saadei baba” and so on.

  5. ugh why does our culture have to be built on so much guilt??? I’m literally carrying around 23 years of guilt on my back

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