My mother is the most self-sacrificing, generous and amazing person I’ve ever met, but she has a very unpleasant personality. Not sure how I can keep her in my life.

I wouldn't say liberating. Definitely less emotionally exhausting, so now I can focus on my own shit rather than being drained by her.

It took me a while to deprogram myself from all the toxic shit she had been feeding me, and to even realize how not normal everything was in our household. I wasn't really allowed to have friends. Any time I made the mistake of inviting a kid over, it was obvious that I would never see them again. She, of course, blamed it on me.

Her standard was pretty much, you're not being physically abused, you have food to eat and a roof over your head. That should be good enough. Well, it's not.

I don't want to say that having cancer was the best thing that happened to me, because most of it was really shitty. Before my cancer diagnosis we had been estranged for ~7 years, and felt really guilty facing the very real possibility of dying and not doing my part to fix that relationship. Turns out there was nothing there to fix.

I read about how cancer destroys relationships, divorces, etc and I thought it was just arguments over money. But it's really not. My mom would be a toxic person even if she was rich. That's what I learned through cancer.

And for the record, we weren't dirt poor. Nobody who lives mortgage-free is poor in my book. I grew up in a small condo that was paid off by the time I was ~10. My paternal grandparents had their own condo paid off, which my dad inherited when they died. We immigrated and they decided that the condos wouldn't be sold. We lived in rental apartments, but money was tight because they weren't making very much, as is pretty common with immigrant families.

What happened to those condos, you wonder? Literally given for free to my cousins, to rent out or live in. They chose not to use them, and didn't bother to take care of them at all. A neighbor called my dad in our new country and told him that our apartment looks weird from the outside. Dad goes home, and is horrified after seeing what happened to both condos. Doors missing. Floors missing. Vagrants trashed the whole place. If the walls weren't concrete they would have ripped out the pipes to. Condo fees, property taxes, etc. not paid in years.

Dad is so horrified and sells both of them at 25% of their estimated value because he doesn't want to waste another second in the country to renovate them properly. My cousins provide zero explanation for any of this shit happened. Afterwards, one of them gets married and you guessed it, my mom pays for her wedding. Even has the balls to call my dad in the middle of the night (no consideration for time zones) to ask for an additional $7000 because she is behind on her rent while working abroad in Italy. Dad is bullied into giving her the money by my mom.

Best part of all this? My uncle and his wife hasn't spoken or communicated with me since we left, when I was 11. Not a fucking birthday card, Christmas card or anything. Zero. Not even a lousy card when my dad had a heart attack. If I needed anything, I don't even know my uncle's phone number or that he would answer my phone call. If my mom doesn't call them during the holidays, they don't call.

It's waayy too demented and dysfunctional even for a Woody Allen movie.

If nothing else, remember to get your boobs checked often, especially if you have dense breasts. Young women who are past puberty have the deadliest breast cancers, with a survival rate of about 55% beyond 5 years after diagnosis. Prostate cancer in young dudes is also an issue, so don't think you're off the hook if you're a guy.

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