Christine, who lives in Los Angels, California, received an unexpected letter from her mom. It wasn't meant to congratulate her on getting her own place or to share in the joy of her beginning a new relationship.
The handwriting she knows so well told shocking things and brought back a rush of memories from the past. She hasn't received affection throughout her childhood, and she's used to pressure and a lot of tension every time she goes to see her mom.
What are the details?
"Since I'm gifted at translating my mother's language, I knew that getting a letter, instead of a kiss goodbye or a hug, was a sign I was in trouble; correspondence is when my mom is at her most blunt," Christine shared with Your Tango about the day when she got the letter.
She always wondered why her mom felt the need to give up old friends, acquaintances, or even family members.
"She didn't have a good reason and made it seem like letting things pass quietly wasn't one of her skills. She felt she must put it in writing. Most of her friends have passed away, so she doesn't have to end as many relationships as she once did, but that has not stopped her completely; it just slowed her down. I don't understand why she must announce when she isn't talking to someone. It seems so unnecessarily unkind. Why not let those relationships she isn't interested in slowly cease to be? She rarely picks up the phone anyway, and she should just stop answering it," the daughter said.
Unfortunately, her mom kept implying their relationship wasn't ok, and then she penned everything. The letter Christine got was long, and the words she used made her daughter feel unhappy.
"If my mother's finished with you, she wants you to know. I opened the envelope and then took the letter out. It was six pages at least. I glanced over the text and saw words like "disappointed," "behavior," and "finished." One of the things we argued about during my last visit was that I wouldn't give up my life in Los Angeles to move in with her and turn into her caregiver. She didn't give me much thought while I was growing up, so why should I have to take care of her?"
For a while, Christine had given the idea some thought, but her mother's words sealed the refusal when they met on her previous visit.
"I did consider it until she said, 'I've always depended on strangers during my life, so why shouldn't I when I'm gone?' It was a strange thing for anyone to say, especially someone with family members to help her," Christine recalls.
The two of them have different personalities, and they didn't really connect while doing their favorite activities while she was growing up. And her mom dislikes her being nice all the time.
"We have so little in common — she loves nature and walks but avoids having possessions. I enjoy pop culture and have lots of things. Beyond this, I'm not my mother's type of person; and she isn't mine. It annoys her I'm what she describes as 'nice.'"
Christine is bothered by the fact that she feels her own mom doesn't like her, but all her efforts haven't had any results so far.
"No matter how respectful and patient I try to be, we just don't get along. I don't have to read the letter carefully to know how she feels about me. I think she gradually forgets how to be kind, tolerant, and loving."
The daughter didn't have the heart to read all the details in the letter, but one sentence stood out to her from all the lines, "I want to discontinue our relationship."
Shocked and not quite knowing how to react, she'll let things be for a while. Christine is at a loss on how to respond to such a letter, but she knows there's no way they can become close or affectionate, no matter how much she wants it.
"I'm going to do what she should when she wants to end a friendship: ignore it and hope she'll forget about it. I'm lucky I'm not a child dependent on their mother, and I have other women in my life for when I need guidance or love."
The lack of compassion and care in those sentences had an impact on Christine, and the letter just seals the way she's always felt her mom didn't really hold much affection or genuine interest in her life.
"This was my first 'I don't want to love you anymore' letter. I doubt I'll ever pull it out when I need memories to comfort me. I want to forget I received this letter, but getting rid of it won't take away the feeling of receiving it in the first place."
Despite the hurtful words she read in the letter from her mom, Christine doesn't plan to isolate herself from her. She won't go visiting, but she will try to talk over the phone with her.
"I won't visit my mother any time soon, but I'll still call her occasionally. She likes talking about herself, so getting her to share her life stories is a way to avoid negativity and stay in touch. She's my closest relative, and I'm not quite ready to have her gone from my life. I could change our status from mother and daughter to something like a daughter and an emotionally distant relative and keep some connection," she concluded about the confusing relationship that she wished could have been filled with love and wonderful memories.