One thing my sister and I have learned from having a parent without coping skills is that when you are able to do so, it is a good idea to neuter them.
Coping is ‘constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person.’ Coping is thus expending conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress or conflict.
Now as far as neutering people, I do not mean the actual operation, of course, but emotional and mental neutering. The neutering process takes away the power from the out of control person, in this case, Mother. Just like with animals, being neutered normally calms them down.
Now it was no surprise that Mother didn’t become calm from the neutering. But, more importantly, my sister and I did become calm. We were able to take away Mother’s power and move on. It was a learned behavior, and we learned the behavior very early in our lives.
As little girls, we would sometimes find ourselves trapped with Mother. We couldn’t drive and our resources were limited, so although we found the time spent with her often toxic, we learned to tune her out. I went to my “happy place” in my mind while Mother raged on about various wrongs she felt had been done to her.
As adults, we had wheels and if she began with one of her ugly episodes, we would leave. We were no longer a captive audience and learned that neutering someone put us in the driver’s seat, so to speak!
Over the years, there were many fast getaways from her abode in California, her habitat in Indiana and even from her apartment in Iowa. Mother never learned that the length of our visit was in direct correlation to her behavior. Our visits would normally start out reasonably nicely, but eventually and inevitably she would erupt.
Eventually, most people would get the hint or, after awhile, begin to assess the situation and attempt to determine what factors might be involved in the length of visits.
But Mother was never one for reflection. Either that or she was a slow learner.
Lesson learned: Neutering is not just for animals!