Still Angry

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I just got back from my great niece’s bat mitzvah, and sharing a motel
room with my sister and my mother. Neither of us has had an easy
relationship with her. She is controlling beyond all stereotypes, takes
90% of the time in any conversation, gets angry if you have any
opinion other than hers, even if it’s about your own life. We avoided
overt emotional collisions for three days, but then, on the ride to the
airport, she brought up something from fifty years ago! Plus wanted
me to admit I was wrong. She’s 85 and lost her second husband three
years ago. I want to be a good daughter for the rest of her life, but I
am angry at having to kowtow every time I see or talk to her. Also
deep down I would like to be able to feel okay about her after she dies
(not likely to be anytime soon).
Still Angry

Dear Angry:
I’m assuming this story does not involve abuse, merely over-control.
Write your mother a letter describing what you want your relationship
to be “from now on.” Have a glass of wine and think deeply about
every nice thing you can say. Not that she has been right about the
past, but that you love her and value her now. Say you know that she
has been frustrated about “issues” in the past. But that trying to rake
up stories that are not part of your current reality leads only to
sadness and disappointment. Say you want to enjoy “the rest of our
time together.” The implicit (note implicit not explicit) jangles of
mortality should get her attention.

Put your anger about her behavior to rest in honor of a greater goal:
trying to create a better relationship and allowing each of you, and
your sister, to cherish the time you can yet share. It may be
disingenuous, but that’s better than the alternative. Choose the high
road and you will be glad you did. PS – Wait a day to reread and mail
the letter. If it doesn’t feel just a little over the top, start over. You are                    stretching for her, and for your future feelings. A few white lies are