Line of Demarcation

Bernadette Judaea
8 min readJul 26, 2023

Miscommunication is a little different than deliberately withholding information.

Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

Whether its giving someone the cold shoulder or not providing all of the details for someone to make a decision, sometimes we can use silence to communicate a message. This is not miscommunication. Its intentional. Silences speaks very loudly.

Today my mom and I took the niblings to the waterpark. Luckily, we had already planned this trip in secret from the kids because my nephew left his headphones at home, which was not amounting to the best start to a morning. We used this as an opportunity to insert spontaneity to resolve a crisis. We went to the store to grab beach towels and the kids floats from their place before we made it to the waterpark. The kids left their toys and computers at their apartment because we wouldn’t need them where we were going. We arrived at the waterpark, established a rendezvous point if anyone got lost (elephant by the tree), put on sunblock, and positioned ourselves to see all angles of the park. Mom ended up having to leave after we were there for a couple of hours because my grandma needed food and was unable to get out of bed. Mom drove to get her something to eat and took that back to her while I kept watch of both kids.

When she returned to pick us all up, we discussed going home but it didn’t occur to me that she was talking about their home and not ours. When we got to their place, I asked her what we were doing there. “We’ll just wait here til 5 when your sister gets home.” I looked at my clock to see its 2:30. It was never expressed to me that I would be spending the rest of the day away, so I voiced my confusion. “I wasn’t prepared to be spending time over here” thinking about all the many tasks I could be doing on my day off. Now, I know I could’ve just gone with the flow but I didn’t because my mom didn’t give me any reason why we went there. In fact, she vehemently denied there even being a reason for being there at all, which further made me wonder what on Earth had she been thinking.

From an outsider perspective, one might wonder what the fuss was about? Well there didn’t have to be one at all but I could tell my mom was withholding something from me. I could tell she was lying and I just couldn’t figure out why or about what. So I pressed her. I have meltdowns like these with my mom pretty often. She is good at handling it but I just reach my wit’s end some times trying to get through to her. It's like she has surrounded herself with mirrors that face outward so that she is invisible and only reflects the images around with no way for me to see through. It feels like I am talking to a wall.

Her attention span has not been there. She will “squirrel!” every time I start talking unless its in this impassioned voice of my soap-box rants. Just another instance of me telling my mom what to do to fix her problems. “You NEED someone to talk to if you aren’t going to talk to me!” “Please, Mom at least tell me you can tell that I’m trying here!” I’m begging her to see that I want to be different. I don’t want to be this way. I don’t want to interrogate people. I just want to be told the truth and its like… I guess I am not nice enough to receive that or something… I mean that genuinely. I have family members that feel like they have to walk on eggshells and because I don’t feel that way, they feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me.

We stopped by KFC to get a bucket of chicken on the way home that came with two sides. I pointed out when we got them that they were size small but she didn’t seem to be bothered by it. Meanwhile, I am still giving my mother (a survivor of polio and tuberculosis, and the very woman that raised me) life advice. Which, I know, how arrogant. She isn’t here. That woman is underneath a big pile of everyone else’s garbage she has allowed them to pile on her. Myself included but this is why boundaries are necessary, and this is why we have to determine what they are on our own. For all I know, I could be completely wrong about my mom needing boundaries, but it was confirmed to me I was not wrong about a few things…

Like why we were at my sister’s place. See my mom had told my sister we were going back to her place, but she never mentioned it to me. She figured we would stay at the water park later and would just bring them home to their place right after. I didn’t get the memo. That was miscommunication. “Oops! I forgot to tell you.” That would’ve been an appropriate response. Even “Yes, I told your sister we were bringing them home to their house.” Just to give me an opportunity to say “Well, I would be happy to spend more time out with you!” or something more realistic like “okay, that’s fine with me, can we get some food first?” I did not have the opportunity to give either of those responses. It was not revealed to me that mom withheld information until we got back to our place. That was when the truth came out.

What I was sensing was correct. Mom was feeling uncomfortable about telling me something. When I asked her why she didn’t tell me the truth in the first place, she said she was scared I would get mad. I expressed to her how I might have had the opportunity, instead, to humble myself or see this as a gift of time… even something self-righteous like that. Something for me to work out on my own about pride, arrogance, ego. Instead, I became the mean person she thought I would become because she literally willed it into existence. That fear of me becoming angry was realized and I didn’t want to be angry. I felt it. I felt the discomfort and it aggravated something inside of me. That thing… that thing that is inside of me that gets aggravated…I’m still trying to figure out if we are in right relationship. It is a source of discomfort for me that I almost can’t help but be totally honest. I can sense people’s feelings. I usually have trouble identifying them but today was confirmation that I read the room properly. Fortunately, my mom was willing to come clean. I think my intuition has been thrown off by people that lie and tell me that what I am sensing is not real.

Its very important for humans to be able to trust intuition. ‘Sensing vibes’ is a skill that we continue to refine throughout our lives. Everyone has a layer they present and a layer they conceal. The layer I conceal is my anger and resentment. When we got home and after my mom revealed to me that she withheld information about the plan-at-large, we hugged it out and promised to do better in the future. Then my nephew enters the chat with a terrible attitude because he had nothing to do. “That is an interesting way to respond to today, isn’t it?” So, I immediately jumped into guilt and shame launching it at a 10-year-old. I made him feel bad for his ungrateful tone. I have to watch my hypermasculine side from lashing out when I see them being disrespectful. It doesn’t happen often but today my eyes turned red. Mom gave him the option to get on her computer. He didn’t respond so I said he could either say “thanks, but no thanks” or “yes, thank you” “Those are your two options.” I added, extra sternly. He nearly had a melt down but then agreed to just get on her computer “maybe later”.

I’m very procedural with our discussions. I tell him he can respond to me, I give him a stern look, and I try to scare the life out of him. It isn’t a good look. I don’t like it. Its similar to the one I have with my mom and yet I have no problem telling her like it is. But I scared him and I scared her. So I went to him and tried to make amends like I did with my mom. I asked him if he was hungry. He said he wasn’t. I asked if he wanted a pillow. He said he didn’t. I walked away. A little later my mom offered some books to my niece to keep her occupied. I asked my nephew if he wanted a book. He didn’t respond. He got up and walked to the computer. I asked him to give me a hug. “Lets hug it out.” He was not thrilled but humored me. He continued sulking at the computer.

Then my mom brought a book in for him JUSTICE LEAGUE written in all caps on a glossy colorful picture book. He did not acknowledge her. I called his name and he looked back at me. “Ooooooooh, you are so lucky I am not your mother right now.” I didn’t want to say it but the words fell out. “Be respectful to your elders!” I announced, as if just to hear myself say it. I was genuinely angry about how he was responding to my mom but I think really because I knew I’d already given her enough shit for the day. I admit, I often try to be my mom’s hero, too. This was just a little extra effort to make up for my contributions of earlier in the day.

Then I kneeled beside him because I could see he wanted to say something. “Tell me what you’re thinking, bud, it's okay.” “I guess I’ll have some chicken now.” I brought out chicken on a paper plate and he asked me for barbecue sauce. By the time I turned around, his face is red and he was visibly angry. “The sound isn’t working…” he said while growing in agitation, placing his head down on his arm on the table in rage. “No! I’m not playing this game! It’s time to focus on food! I am closing the laptop! Eat your food! I don’t want to be like this! I want to be the cool aunt that’s like ‘woohooo let’s eat some chicken!’ but I don’t get to be because you have an attitude!”

Real mature. I know. “I have apologized for leaving your things behind, grandma tried to bring you a book, she offered you her computer, and you are still mad! What can we do to make you happy??”

Oh shit. I stopped myself. One of the last room mates I had before moving back in with my folks tried to “make me happy”. She didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable, she said. I asserted that she had no control over my feelings, and this is true! Just as I had no control over my nephew’s feelings in this moment. He was just feeling them. I realized that. I thought, “What if he is sensing into resentment of mine just because I am in the room? What if he also has no idea how to deal with this energy and is just trying to process it?” I went to my mom and told her that I energetically could not be around the kids anymore. She heard me, thanked me, and wished me a good evening. She’s genuinely the most kind, compassionate, and caring mother. I am truly blessed. We all still gotta work on this pattern.