I kept waiting for the guilt, the remorse. But the feeling never came. Perhaps, I should be basking in the glory of triumph? But, I didn't feel victorious either. Instead, I just kept watching and laughing along as my favorite variety cast finished their missions.
It was ridiculously easy to push the whole incident to the back of my mind and keep acting as though it had never happened. That is, until the reality of it all caught up to me. I didn't feel anything. I was numb. Had I become a hollow shell of the person I supposedly am?
Maybe it's nothing. Maybe this is just how it's supposed to be. Maybe I just analyze too much. Maybe I should have had just let the memory slip away into the darkness until it was forgotten. But, it's too late now. The moment I realized my lack of reaction, I was done for. Doubt crept in. Guilt flooded my soul. But it is fear that reigns over my heart. Fear that came about because I. Felt. Nothing.
It was a huge argument. But every argument we have is huge. Still. I believe we provoked each other in the way that we always manage to do. It all went the way it usually does between us. She speaks her side. I defend myself. She disregards everything I say because, by birth, I will always be beneath her. I don't condone that notion and that will always be the barrier between us. She says her piece and believes that she has rightfully won. I speak up because I am an impetuous child who believes in respect for each other's opinion regardless of station. She thinks she wins by default. I think I win because of my impudent but totally logical defense. In the end, she leaves only to keep coming back to rain sermons about my manner of speech, my stance and my facial expressions.
The thing is, we love each other. We don't say it to each other. I can swear that she has never said those words to me before and I admit that I have only muttered them to her a handful of times. But, I know without a doubt that she loves me and that I love her. And, with that love comes my respect for her. I respect her even if she doesn't believe it. Love and respect are supposed to be universal languages. Except for us, apparently. I think it's because we have different understanding of the concept of love and respect. So, we have different expectations of how we should be to each other. And, we are two people who have difficulty with compromise. We stand rigid with our own principles and views of life.
So, in the end, she says I'm disrespectful, ungrateful and inconsiderate. I say, we have communication problems.
I love her. And we had an argument. And I felt nothing. Now, I feel scared like a child. Because, I'm not supposed to feel nothing. I'm scared because I don't want our constant disagreements and differences in opinions to change who I am. I don't want to be an empty husk, a shell. And, I'm scared. I'm scared. And, I'm suddenly sorry. Because I know that I hurt her. But I chose not to do anything about it. Because no matter how I deny it, I got hurt, too.
What have I become?
I've heard people say that no parent can ever win over their children. I've always snorted at them, half out of indignation, half out of envy. I never felt like she ever let me win. My mother is a strong, proud woman. And, it is very difficult, and often quite infuriating, to live with that kind of person. But then, I am as stubborn and proud as she is. And, so I must think that she finds me no less difficult and infuriating as I find her.
But all these analyses mean nothing. Because I know that, in the end, I will still choose to do nothing. Because I have already bent and bowed more times than I believed right. If I do it again, I'm afraid that I'll break. And, she... Well, she is a more rigid person than I am that bending is simply out of the question.
And, so we stand at an impasse. She'll lick her wounds and I'll lick mine. She'll eventually stop glaring at me and I'll continue to ignore my guilt, holding on to the fact that she hurt me, too. It's childish. On both sides. But I need time to forgive her for not being the kind of mother I expected. And I need time to forgive myself for being unable to be the child she wants me to be. And, we'll go back to our routine of saying barely five words to each other every day. Eventually, through the years, those five words might become a rarity even in a month. Or maybe we'll find a way to finally see each other in better light. But at the moment, I know that the best we can do is to tolerate each other. And, that is enough.
But, this thing I know. Between parent and child, there can be no winner. No side can walk away without a scar. No side can walk away without having to heave a heavy heart. I think that's what it means to be a family- to be bound by something that is thicker than water.