Asshole Son

I think I might be an asshole son.

My mother and I have never really got on since I was 10 years old or so. She’s a manic depressive and was periodically institutionalised back then; there was no father figure around so I got sent to boarding school for 7 disastrous years. Everything personally significant seems to date back to that time.

By the end of school (which I left prematurely) I was a shy introverted depressed alcohol-dependent, and to an extent I still am, which is sad now I think of it. I just find it impossible to relate to people, even close family like her. There’s nothing to talk about!

For a variety of reasons I managed to get myself into a large financial hole. My own spending was not among them, having learnt frugality the hard way these past few years, but I still ended up owing the bank a largeish sum. For my 31st birthday (yesterday) my mum loaned me the amount to pay off the bank to repay her at a easily manageable rate over a couple of years. Obviously I was pathetically grateful at this generosity.

Just now (this morning) she rang to say she wanted to come over and stay the night at my flat. This is an absolute no-no! My flat is tiny. It’s the only space I have! Why ask that?

And now I feel like the world’s biggest wanker for telling her an emphatic NO. The thing is, she’s so desperate to make up for the lost years when I was 10 to 17 and thereafter… but I just don’t know how to start building that bridge. I feel uncomfortable around her (and, come to that, pretty much everyone else bar a tiny few) and honestly don’t know what to say to her.

And this fucked-up situation of silent awkwardness on my side and misery and guilt on hers has been pretty constant for over a decade now! Is this going to go on until one of us dies?! How do we move forwards out of this hole?

I’m just shit at personal relationships, always have been. I think I could have handled that last exchange a little better though. But, sheesh, what was she thinking??

You probably need the help of someone who knows your story better than I: however, for what it’s worth, I’d sugest that if you are interested in building a better relationship with your mother (and you aren’t obliged too) that the two of you find some activity you can share. Something short but regualar that involves doing something with your hands: grocery shopping once a week together, or volunteering at a soup kitchen once a week together, maintinaing a garden together, or taking a class together. This will give the two of you something to talk about, and something to fill up the space when you don’t want to talk so that you don’t feel awkward. See how it goes: a few months of that should give you some indight into what sort of relationship, if any, you can build with your mother.

I agree with Manda JO. I can’t think of anything worse than having someone who makes me uncomfortable stay in my apartment. The confines are just too tight.

Yeah, you’re much better off taking this project in small steps. Her spending the night at your place is just too much togetherness for two people who don’t have anything in common! Also, seconding what Manda JO said, don’t feel obliged to develop a relationship with her just because that’s what she wants! [armchair pshychistrist] Sounds to me like the loan was her attempt at assuaging the guilt she feels about the way you were raised. It’s not your job to make her feel better![/armchair psychiatrist].

But, yeah, if you want to rebuild the relationship (or just build it, maybe you didn’t have one to begin with), find something small the two of you would like to do together, and take it from there.