So, in the middle of a book I’m reading, I came across the phrase, “power people.” The author was speaking of people who want power in relationships to the exclusion of all else. They want to control everything, and constantly neglect the needs of the people around them in favor of having more power in the relationship.
Now, this book is one about marital relationships, and I know my husband is not a power person. However… my mother is definitely a power person. I think she’s mellowed out, maybe, but she definitely had that “I’m right, you’re wrong” sentiment when I was growing up, no matter what it was. I could be 100% in the right about something and she would insist that there was no way I could know more than she did. You might say, “Well, that’s how parents are,” and maybe you’d be right. Except she did the same thing to my dad.
Then there was that one time she did it to us both at once. I’ve always been a “daddy’s girl”, through and through, and my mom was threatened by that when I was younger. On the surface, she would encourage our relationship. She’d always try to undermine it, somehow, and I never realized. I don’t think my father realizes, still. Anyway, that one time… I was 16 years old and dad went out to run an errand.
It was just mom and me at home, and somehow we got on the subject of dad. I don’t remember it very clearly, but we must have been arguing (one of the very few times I got up the courage to argue with my mother when I was a teenager.) She intimated that dad would always believe her over me, and that she could make him believe whatever she wanted. I was flabbergasted. My father is more intelligent than that, I argued. I believed in him. I didn’t believe for a minute that my dad would just… believe my mom’s blatant lies over my truth. “I’ll prove it to you when he gets home,” mom said. I argued with her, telling her that that wasn’t fair to dad and asking her to please not do this.
When dad got home, I watched in complete despair as my mom cried – actual, literal tears – and told my father that we got into a fight and I called her names and was mean to her. No matter how much I protested, how much I insisted that I would never do that, my dad believed her. Even though that pattern of behavior – meanness and name-calling – was her standard M.O., he could not hear what I was telling him. He wanted to ground me, but my mom was “magnanimous” enough to insist I must just be having a bad day. When he hugged her, she grinned at me.
Can you imagine having that image of your dad shatter before your eyes? My knight in shining armor, the person I could count on who would understand when my mom lost her temper for little reason, the parent to whom I told everything… fallen to manipulation of the very worst kind. I didn’t argue with my mother again for the rest of my teen years. She’d won.
It’s been about 17 years now. My relationship with my mom is better, mostly because I’ve learned what not to discuss with her, and my dad and I never talked together the same again, but we don’t have a bad relationship. As an adult, I brought this instance up once to my mom when we were alone. She claims not to remember it. “That never happened, don’t be ridiculous.”
Right. Got it. Clearly, I’m crazy.