a new life, a new me


I'm coming up on the five-year anniversary of what I think of as my personal Independence Day. November 1, 2007 was the day that I simply said no to my mother, who was asking for unreasonable concessions from me, and when she went from sweet-innocent-asking-for-something lady to mom-in-a-rage, I stood my ground, calmly, self-assuredly, with the knowledge that I did not have to be angry or defensive or apologetic. I simply had to say "no."

I shook for two hours after I got off the phone. Did I really just do that? Did I defend my boundaries? Did I refuse to be sucked into a fight? Did I politely end the conversation because the other person could not engage in a polite, constructive manner?

Oh, yes I did.

In those five years I have mourned the loss of the mommy that I had wished for, seized control of my own life, discovered new skills and a new identity, launched a new career, and refused to take any bullshit. I have worked on being simultaneously more firm and more flexible, more compassionate and more detached.

I have also struggled with depression, anxiety, self-doubt, and weight gain. I've dealt with siblings who won't speak to me, cousins my children will probably never know well, and a sense of alienation from my childhood and family. It hasn't always been wonderful, but it has always been moving forward, no matter how slowly, toward a whole new way of interacting with the world.

Six months ago, I seized my life in a whole new way. I joined an exercise group, one of the "boot camp" types, because it seemed like exactly the sort of thing that I wouldn't like. It scared the everliving shit out of me. I hate waking up early. I hate exercise. I've never, ever gone jogging. But I want to have a strong body. I want to have muscles that feel the way my new psyche feels. And you know what? It has been AMAZING. I can run almost five miles, which is HUGE for me. I'm stronger than I have ever been in my life, and I'm much more energetic, and together with the other changes in my life, it's adding up to a fantastic total package and feels GREAT.

So great, that I hit a new milestone the other day - some unnamed person (but I'm sure you and I can guess who) sent flowers to me for my birthday. The type of flowers sent was a little too coincidental to be from anybody but la madre, and when I opened the FTD box and saw the unsigned card, I was annoyed. And to be honest, I wanted to throw them away or something. But I stuck them in a vase and left them on the counter to be dealt with later, while I went out and had a fantastic evening with people who like me for me, and felt very whole and healthy. The next morning, I decided to mix them with the flowers my husband gave me and put them on the table. My middle son adores this type of flower, and they really are beautiful, and together with my husband's flowers they represent lots of different things about my life, and isn't that kindof what a birthday is about, anyway?

I think I'm turning a new page. Sure, my mother is still stalking me by sending packages and cards. It's infrequent, and kindof annoying, but I think maybe I'm moving beyond feeling controlled by these things. I can decide for myself whether to keep or dispose of these things. I used to feel like there was some *right* way to handle her bombs, but now? Meh. Who cares? I can't change her. I can't make her not be a sad, dysfunctional, stalkery woman whose daughter doesn't love her. She can leave things at the door and it doesn't have to mean anything to me.

Let's hope I can hang on to this feeling. I think I probably will, though. The last five years have been the best of my life, and things just keep getting better.

Declaring my independence was the best thing I ever did for myself. I highly recommend it. 


  1. Yay! Congratulations on being good and true to yourself.

  2. Yay for independance! Yay for boundaries. And yay & happy birthday to YOU!!

  3. How wonderful!!! I'm only 10 months into NC and I do love it, but it feels like I have a lot more work to do - the heavy lifting is over, I hope, but like most of my life,I'm still having to think everything through instead of being able to act in a healthy way intuitively - it sounds like you're there! I envy you and I'm glad for you!

  4. There is not a thing I can add but a standing ovation.
    Congratulations to ANOTHER ONE who MADE IT OUT!

  5. Claire,
    Happy birthday and I love this from your post:
    "Declaring my independence was the best thing I ever did for myself. I highly recommend it."

    There is love and hope and freedom and serenity in those two sentences. Thanks for sharing your joy.


  6. "I used to feel like there was some *right* way to handle her bombs, but now? Meh. Who cares? I can't change her." "Meh. Who cares?" The new battle cry! I understand completely the annoyance at the unsigned coward. I HATE weak, wan gestures that are meant to trigger you into running, weeping, to fling yourself into NM's arms--'oh mom thanks for remembering I exist.' To not sign the card is coy, cowardly, childish, and as you said annoying. It deserves no comment. If she doesn't cop to the flowers, she gets no pro-forma thank you. How brilliant to mix them in with other flowers and enjoy them. This response is pretty close to what I did when my NM sent me a "musical" bday card that arrived with a dead battery. I never responded or said a word. Meh, who cares? I too am losing my sisters, because they are co-dependants and enablers of both my NP. A sad state of affairs but I have limited decades of life left, and my NP will not be at the center anymore. Or, frankly, even at the periphery. My life is mine. MINE. Great to read this post, Claire.

    1. Hah! I meant "unsigned card." Not "unsigned coward." But either works!!

  7. Wow...any choice is tough. I guess it's all about which is the least difficult. I did the same thing for almost ten years and I got the cards, flowers and even a couple tearful phone calls. Pretend tears, I'm sure.

  8. Congrats! Wonderful! xxT Reddy