The change had been a long time coming. At first, I attempted to turn a blind eye to the things that *Maggie was doing and saying. I attributed it all to a phase, like a mid-life crisis. Now it is very plain to see that she will never be the person that she used to be.
Maggie had always been a sweet, caring, fun-loving person. She was a beyond loyal friend willing to lend a hand even when she wasn’t asked. As the years passed, Maggie slowly began to narrow her focus of the world onto one thing: herself.
Instead of being the vibrant, confident individual that I had known and loved, she suddenly turned into a narcissist. Maggie began needlessly comparing herself to others. I still cannot understand why.
She is blessed to call one of the most amazing men on the planet her husband. This man showers her with jewelry and flowers for every holiday and anniversary. Even the obscure holidays that really have nothing to do with love.
I received a call from Maggie last December. She was completely enraged. Imagine my shock when her complaint was that the Christmas flowers she received from her husband “were not the right ones.” Yes, she was whining about the size of the bouquet, the color of the flowers, the type of vase. I was blown away. What type of person complains about receiving flowers?
That is also about the time that Maggie became addicted to fashion and home decorating magazines. She would dreamily leaf through the glossy pages and decide that certain “upgrades” needed to be made to her home. And she even went so far as to have a custom piece of glass made to cover her dining room table to “prevent scratches.”
Suddenly, she was allowing the magazines to dictate her life. If “they” said that purple was the “it” color, she would immediately run to the mall and purchase a purple blouse, jacket, purse and shoes. So much for being an individual.
Her life had turned into a never ending episode of Keeping up with the Kardashian. She recently flaunted a new necklace that she found at an art show. Maggie then mentioned that *Janet, a fellow co-worker, had a similar one that was bigger. As if this was not bad enough, she attempted to push her snobby feelings off on me.
A visit to my house is now a critiquing session. She will point out “flaws” and give her expert opinion on how I can make things better. Of course, all of her ideas cost massive amounts of money, which we do not have.
She then hones her critical eye on me. Starting with my straight hair and ending with the comfortable Keds on my feet, I am made vividly aware of how off trend I am. Honestly, I cannot stand half of the clothes that Maggie wears. She has become obsessed with cheetah prints! But I understand that we both have different tastes.
What I find to be amusing is the fact that Maggie claims not to care what other people think about her, yet she appears to be desperately seeking the seal of approval from the world. And my eyeshadow that she absolutely loathes? I get complimented on every time that I wear it. Who’s the trend setter now?
Every conversation suddenly turns into a one-woman show. I had been telling Maggie for months that I was in the process of publishing my first children’s book, Priceless Penny (www.pricelesspennyp.com). When I brought up the subject a few weeks ago, she gave me a very smug reply: “Oh, you’re self publishing?”
More hurtful than her disbelief in me was the fact that she had been tuning me out for quite some time. I always gave her my undivided attention. Why was she not doing the same for me?
In the midst of trying to understand why Maggie was emulating a housewife from Atlanta, I made a huge discovery. She was not truly happy. Despite taking two vacations every year, shopping every weekend and going to restaurants almost every night of the week, something was still missing.
I believe that the greatest difference between myself and Maggie is that I am living in my truth. I love the person that I have become and I am not going to change just to “fit in.” Living the life of a social chameleon must be exhausting because you constantly have to change.
Something that Maggie told me at dinner one evening really opened my eyes. She said, “What happens when *Larry retires? I can’t see us meeting friends in a restaurant or having people over to the house.”
That is when it hit me. Maggie was living out a pattern instilled by her mother. Maggie’s mom was constantly worried that her house, furniture, dishware, etc. was never good enough, so she refused to have people over. Now Maggie does not feel that she is good enough.
By this point I am sure you are wondering why I have not simply cut her out of my life. How can you have a relationship with someone who is only focused on themselves? And who wants to deal with all of that baggage? The truth is that Maggie is my mother.
Shocking, isn’t it? The person that I have spent almost my entire life with now appears to have become a complete stranger. I have begun to wonder if I ever knew the real Maggie at all.
What terrifies me the most is the sheer idea that I will become like her. While my husband and I cannot afford to do half the things that my mother can, we are very much happy. We love the life that we have made together.
My self worth does not come from the opinions of others. It comes from inside of me. I have never placed great value on material things. Truthfully, I would rather spend my money (what little I have) on something meaningful, like donating items to animal shelters.
As crazy as it sounds, I am thankful that I have noticed my mother’s transformation. It has awakened something inside of me, making me more aware of the numerous blessings in my life. I have also become more vigilant about preventing her habits from influencing me and the decisions that I make.
It is my sincere hope that one day Maggie will be able to see beyond the mirror. There is a world filled with people who love her just the way that she is.
*Names have been changed