I woke up around six this morning. I was happy and upbeat, ready for my interview with Fisher Investments at eight-thirty. Then, I got into an argument with my mom. A very heated argument. My mom was in hysterics. She was irrational, even slightly crazy. I couldn’t believe it, not until I saw it with my own eyes.
“Good morning, mom,” I said cheerfully.
“Where did you go last night, so late?” Not even a return in greeting first.
“I went to the second family’s house.” I did not notice the accusing look my mother had, then. Going over to the stove, I looked at the covered pots. What was in the pots? Ah, it was the second family’s bun that they brought over for my dad last night.
“Leaving food in that aluminum pot,” she said sternly, “I would not be surprised if you guys get cancer from eating.” By “you guys,” she meant my father and I.
“We can throw it away.”
“Too late, now,” my mom said, louder. She was getting mad. Or, I think she was already mad and she was just building up to the point where she’ll have an excuse to explode. “The garbage man already left. You just don’t care about the family. All you care about is yourself – going out until late at night, leaving things around the house in a mess.”
Tired of hearing her criticism and angry voice, I said, “All right, stop. It’s too early for angry voices.” And, I went into the bathroom.
She continued to rant in the kitchen. “Oh, but when will I find time to criticize you all?” Once again, she is aggregating her frustrations with my dad and I into one entity.
As I was washing my face and brushing my teeth, I was thinking about the situation. I felt angry. Less than a minute ago, I was as happy as the birds chirping in the trees that see the dawn of a new day. In less than a minute, my happiness turned sour. It was reversed: all because of my mom! I was livid. I was trembling with the determination to let my mom know how her negative behavior had disfigured my positive demeanor. As I turned the faucet off, I set out to do just that.
“In less than a minute,” I began calmly, but still shaking from being upset. “My positive attitude was turned into anger due to your criticism. If I’m cheerful, you can easily ask me to throw away the bad food.”
“Too late to take out the trash! The garbage man already left!” She cut me off just to repeat what she said earlier. The volume of her voice already reached the level of being hysterical.
“Yet, your criticism” I continued with my anger barely under control and not realizing that I am without any hope of reasoning with her, “only made me angry – and so early in the morning, too!”
“Oh? And I’m not angry?” She yelled. “I’m furious! I’m turning into fire seeing what a mess you guys are leaving around the house!”
“Shut up! I’m trying to explain to you-”
“What are you telling me to shut up for?” I believe my second mistake occurred here. My first mistake, I learned later from my dad, was to argue with my mom in the first place. “I’m the one trying to explain to you and you come to me with your angry voice-”
“Angry?” Astounded, I was. “I was cheerful when I woke up! I’m trying to explain to you how you manage to make dad and me so furious when we are in a good mood.”
“If you’re not angry, then why the loud voice?”
“Because your attitude turned my good mood sour!”
“Oh! So, now it’s my fault? As if I’m not boiling because of you! But you’re correct. You’re always right. Yes, you’re so high-and-mighty, now! All your yelling – you never do anything wrong.”
“I’m not saying that.”
“You are never wrong. So, I should never criticize you, right?”
“I did not say that!”
Not listening, she continued, “Fine! From now on I’ll just keep my mouth shut!”
“No, wait! You can tell me to clean the pots, throw away the trash, mop the floor – whatever. Just don’t come to me with a negative attitude that would turn mine sour.”
“Yes, you’re a great man, now. You can tell me what to do! You’re never wrong!” My mother is not listening at this point, except to whatever she can use to twist and throw back at me. I needed to change the direction of where this was going… but where are we going?
“Let me tell you something about your thinking, mom. When you are mad, you cannot see your own faults.”
“And you have no faults?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“So, what am I supposed to do when I’m angry?”
Furious myself, now, I shouted, “I don’t know! Figure out why you’re angry. Calm yourself. Talk to Buddha or something!”
“Oh, now I don’t have anyone to talk to! I can’t talk to your dad. I can’t talk to you. So, you want me to talk to Buddha!”
“You are making yourself sound as if you’re a suffering victim.”
“I can neither talk to you nor your dad!”
“You can talk to me when you’re angry, just don’t approach me with your negative attitude.”
“How can I talk to you when you are always exploding at me with your anger?”
The arguing continued a little bit longer before my mom got up to go to her bedroom. I walked behind her, pursuing my main argument: when I am in a good mood, she can ask me to do things for her without needing to criticize or take an angry tone.
“Get out of my way! I don’t want to talk to you,” she shouted at me. By this time, I gained control of my anger and I wanted my mom to calm down so that I can reason with her. She believed I forcefully pushed her down into the kitchen chair when I put my hands on her shoulders to calm her down. I realized that my mother – at that moment when she thought I “attacked” her – my very own flesh-and-blood mother whom I so dearly love, was crazy. She was hysterical, irrational, and at the point of going insane. She slapped my hands away, shaking her head like a madwoman, believing every touch I gave her to calm her and show her some affection was an attempt to beat her and grapple her.
My dad, throughout this whole ordeal, witnessed. He tried to stop me from arguing with my mom. He knew better. I didn’t. I told him that I needed to explain to mom how she manages to make other people mad. When my mom believed I attacked her, my dad had to shout some sense into my mom. “He’s trying to calm you down, not push you!” my dad shouted. When my mom started to slap my hands and push me out of the way, my father physically intervened. He edged me out of the way, letting mom leave. He told me to stop, that she would not listen.
As my mom went to her bed to sob, my father then bestowed to me his years of wisdom from being married to my mom. For years, my father has suffered my mother’s hysterical behavior, her irrationality. He said that no matter what I say, no matter what reasons I try to give her, she would twist it. She would misconstrue the reasoning to make her sound like the victim. If she can’t do that, then she will say something that is very emotionally painful, like “you don’t care about the family” or “my fingertips are cracking from dryness and yet you leave these dishes here knowing that I will eventually wash them” or “you’re cheating on me [this was directed at my father, specifically]” or “you are as lazy as your dad” or “you are useless.” During the shouting match I had with mom, my dad said that she even threatened to call the police for the abuse that she’s taking. He said I probably didn’t hear. I heard, but I chose to ignore it.
Moreover, when I was younger and witnessed the heated verbal fights that my parents had, my mother was just as hysterical and irrational. My dad would try to reason with her, but she would attempt to twist any reasoning, or she would throw in a red herring. Failing those, she would use the above-described painfully emotional words as a last attack to get my father so mad that she would appear the victim. It is true that when my father and I get mad, we are very imposing and threatening. Our eyes bulge, our voices get extremely loud and our body language is very agitated. However, my dad has often been driven into such a fury. I believe that is the case. He’s still sensitive to criticism, just like anyone (including myself) would be. He may get angry from being criticized too often. Yet, this terrible fury I often thought he displayed at a snap of a finger was actually caused by my mother snapping his fuse. From my mother’s past hysteria, I have wronged my father. He was the reasonable one. My mother, as far as arguments and conflicts are concerned, was not.
So, there’s no use trying to reason with her, my dad continued. She gets hysterical; perhaps she’s even a bit crazy. Yet, she’s old. [Of course, I must remember she’s ten years younger than my father.] She has anxiety problems, physical problems from diabetes, such as a weak heart, nerve loss in the extremities, and numbness in her left arm. These are causes of her irritability.
To be a good son, I must not ever argue with my mom again. If she gets angry, concede to her arguments. Make her happy. “Do things that will keep her happy,” my father said. “She cannot be angered or pressured. There is no use arguing with her because that will only get her angry and then, inevitably, hysterical.” After many years of arguing with my mom, my father realizes that it is hopeless to reason with her, for she would, if all else fails, say things that are very painful to hear, that will hurt your heart. “Just keep her happy and suffer her occasional negative attitude. Keep her healthy.”
I have yet to examine how my mom’s hysterical-when-angry-personality affects my identity. How much of my being is like my mom? Already, I intuitively feel instances where I may be irrational: in love; from perceived injustices inflicted upon me, especially from loved ones; my ideals. How will this affect my choice in a life-partner?