Why I Can’t See August: Osage County

“She was a woman profoundly disappointed with life and
determined to make everyone around her suffer for it.”  – Meryl Streep

She nailed it in one sentence spoken in an interview with
the cast of the recently released August:
County.  An amazing cast of talent appearing in,
most likely, a quality production.  But,
one I just do not believe I can sit through. 
It would be too close to home…too soon after my mother’s passing.  Critics write the audience will love the
humor.  If you live it, there is nothing
funny about it.
My mother was deeply disappointed with life.  She never could find healing from the
alcoholism and abuse from my grandfather.  
She refused to even try….she only punished the rest of us day to day,
moment to moment for her past.  Her anger
was biting in jabs delivered…judgment served…and at times physical swipes. I
have attempted to process all of this for years upon years.
I longed to be one of those mother-daughter duos who
lunched, shopped, and went to movies together. Who loved to hear the other
laugh…who ran to wipe away the tears…who respected decisions made…
It was never to be.
After I ran from home as a college student, only to
occasionally return, I spent one hour every week on the phone listening to her
talk.   The extent of my conversation was
to say “Uh,huh,” every now and then. 
Most often, the conversation ended because she began a vicious attack
against someone in the family…and I could only take so much.  But, for some reason, I believed I had to at
least do this. If I wasn’t going to go visit, then I had to listen to
venom for one hour a week in order to feel
like I was a good daughter…that’s kind of sick in itself.
 Even more profound is
how the passing of someone who has made your life miserable continues to have
the ability to control emotions from the grave. 
For there are times I will feel immense sadness and a deep
responsibility we were not closer…then I feel guilt for past decisions…followed
at times by relief…more guilt…anger upon reliving moments when she hurt others…
Here comes the guilt again…how does she do that?
Of course, the good news is I found healing…I found joy…and
I have a wonderful relationship with my own daughter.  I am not profoundly disappointed with life…I
am choosing to enjoy each day…even the difficult ones.  I tried to share all of this with her…she
would not allow it.

No, I will not see August:
Osage County.
I hope all of you have a wonderful Saturday!! (Thank you for allowing me to process here)  Now, today’s post is part of a Saturday blog hop with the talented writers of Midlife Boulevard….just go HERE


  1. I can relate and hope that you can find acceptance and peace. By being the type of mother that you wished you had, you have broken the cycle of mental abuse. It won't be passed to your family. Blessings and happiness to you.

  2. I can understand that. I'm sorry you grew up in that environment, and am so impressed at how you've broken free from that cycle. Sometimes movies hit just too close to home. My mother was a bitter, critical narcissist and an alcoholic herself. Sometimes when I find myself getting critical, I realize that's her voice and not my own. In her later years we were able to have a cordial relationship, and we did visit her a couple of times (she was living in Ohio, where she grew up) but I never trusted her to really be there for anyone but herself.

  3. Good Morning Sweet Pam!
    I am there with you girlfriend! Your story is like my own. How wonderful you were able to change and continue to grow into the beautiful woman you are now. Praise God for giving us faith and hope that there is something better and we are worth the change!
    Have a beautiful Saturday in San Antonio!
    Judith Presgrove

  4. Thank you so much for sharing about your mother. Your story very closely mirrors my own, except that my mother was the alcoholic. I have felt guilty that I am so relieved that she died years ago, but my life is much healthier and peaceful without her venom.

    Thank you so much for having the courage to write today's post.

  5. Hi Pam
    thanks for writing this. What a powerful post. How sad that your mom spent her life this way-
    Kudos to you for rising above it. My friend Valerie wrote this and I share it with you. I refer to this to when I find myself reacting to past hurts. I have forgiven but I havent forgotten

    Climbing Out of the Pit of Despair

    Do you recall how Pooh Bear used to go downstairs – bumping his head on each one of the stairs behind Christopher Robin? Bump, bump, bump? Well, sometimes I feel like Pooh – except instead of Christopher Robin dragging me down, it is the world who is transporting me (poorly) to a bad space. Yes, even therapists fall into those spaces. I do, quite often.

    What do I do when I find myself there? First I name the space. Sometimes I call it “the pit of despair” and other times “the hole of loneliness or disappointment”. No matter what I call it, it’s a pretty painful place to be. There is no covering up feelings like this with swaths of sunshiny optimism or pretend rainbows.

    Which brings me to the second thing I do; I acknowledge all the crummy feelings I have. In acknowledging them, I accept them. I do not tell myself I should not feel that way or make any kind of excuses. I just accept them.

    My feelings are messengers – visiting me and relaying bits of information about my experience. I try to find out what caused the feelings. Sometimes I can figure this out and sometimes I can’t. Sometimes it’s simple, while other times it is beyond complex.

    The next thing I do is decide whether I want to continue to feel those feelings or if I want to let them go. If I want to continue to feel them, I do. I claim my right to stay stuck in the pit for as long as I want. However, if I want to release the emotions and feel something else, I look for my ladder.

    My ladder which can lead me out of the pit of despair has many rungs (usually because my pit is so darn deep). Sometimes the rungs are the same, sometimes they change. My first rung usually is sharing my feelings with an extremely supportive, nonjudgmental person. The next rung might be to reconnect with nature (e.g., watch the squirrels and birds or go for a walk). Another rung might be reaching out to spirit (e.g., via prayer or reading) or helping someone else in need. In easier times, I have worked hard to identify what things, actions, or people might help me transition from one feeling (like despair) to a more comfortable one (like hope). The rungs help me to climb up, up, up and out of whatever pit I might find myself in.

    I hope this helps you to find a way up and out too.

  6. I'm so glad you have a good relationship with your own daughter. We have four generations of women in our family and we love each other dearly. I couldn't imagine it any other way.

  7. I think our mothers' generation suffered from frustration. Really bright women who stayed home and subjugated their very good brains sometimes turned those brains into manipulative energy. I believe that was true of my mother, too. I did years of therapy revolving around my own dysfunctional family and while I still see a few ways it impacts me, for the most part I resolved those feelings. My parents were horrible at parenting, but I came to see that they did the best they could with what they had to work with–their own upbringings and situations. I've forgiven their flaws and moved on. It helped that I moved away and developed a very strong sense of self. I think I came in with some of it, but developed it further as I lived a very independent life. Now my sibs? A whole different story. Don't even get me started.

  8. I admire so much that you have been able to bring yourself out of a bad situation and move to a good place. I read your posts daily, and I am learning so much about fashion as well as trying to be better and make myself feel like I matter. Thank you so much for helping with that. Maggie Fieger

  9. Thank you for this, Pam. I can relate, and feel a lot of pain as well. I am not sure I want to sit through this movie either, as I too, have come out of the cloud to the sunshine. xoxo

  10. Dear Pam, I'm so happy that you have been able to create a joyous life and a positive attitude after dealing with such a difficult mother. I would never have thought you had this struggle in your life, with all of the good energy and generosity you share with the world. Sending you a big virtual hug. I know how really, really blessed I have been with a mother (and my late grandmother) who have been a source of comfort all my life. I wish everyone could have that, and I'm just so glad you have a loving relationship with your daughter.

  11. Hi Pam, Boy can I relate to your post. I've tried to hard to NOT be like my mother and I believe I've succeeded. My kids call me and we listen to each other – our joys and our sorrows. Not a one-way blah, blah, blah like I endured from her for year about my father. Thanks for the head up – I will NOT see this movie – I've made much too much progress to endure one more moment with an emotional vampiress. Thanks for this post.

  12. This is a powerful post and your writing does get the sorrow of your mother's life across to me. You are a strong person indeed Pam. The fact that you are so different than her is an act of courage. Many people just follow the same path. Plus your relationship with your daughter is an example that abuse doesn't have to be generational.

    blue hue wonerland

  13. Women of our mothers' generation had to have faced so many frustrations. They were reminded, regularly, that they didn't matter. My mum was one of twelve, children. She and her sisters were convent-educated, but that was as far as it went. University wasn't for girls – so she became an RN. There is much about my childhood that was good, and there was much I'd love to have experienced differently. My mother has dementia now, and she is sweet, gentle and completely accepting – in a way that she never was when I girl or a young mother. I love her, but we never had the sort of relationship that my daughter and I have. I remember that when my daughter was born I took on the word 'correct' and tucked it into the back of my mind so that if I began to sound like my mother I'd mentally correct myself. One thing I learned from growing up with my mother is that we don't need to say absolutely everything we think.

  14. I am living this right now with my mother who has been a bitter, disappointed female all her life. Being her only daughter I have heard every sorry, sordid story a thousand times over for years. And the guilt trip is immense. Now that she is 83 and alone, I am left with caring and seeing to her needs. She is suffering with dementia now making things that much more miserable. I have decided that I can make sure she is safe, warm, and healthy as possible, but I will never be able to make her happy. She gave up that possibility herself. I am going to see this movie eventually because I live in Osage County and it was filmed near me. I want to see the scenery of familar places. We'll see.

  15. Also wanted to mention that I have 2 daughters and 1 son and we have a very good relationship. I have managed to have a very optimistic personality. I love to smile and be happy. I'm going to say it's the grace of God too!

  16. Pam you're right. Do not see this movie. I think it is way to close to your home. You do not need more grief. I'm impressed at how you've picked yourself up!.

  17. I'm with you, I too will not be watching this film. Too close to home for me. If I want family dysfunction I'd have dinner with my own family (the one I came from, not the one I created) and no admission price but way more costly in emotional trauma.
    Thank you for writing this post you've help me a lot!

  18. i'm so sorry. When I met my birthmother I realized that I would have had a mother, worse than yours, had she kept me.

    I think it's so hard to write a post like yours. I admire your bravery.

  19. My girlfriend saw it this week and did not recommend it. She said it as deeply disturbing nod the family hugely dis functional

  20. What a brave post, Pam! I'm with you, I'm not seeing this movie. There's a few others this Oscar season that will be way too depressing for me to see. I admire how you listened to your mother complain for an hour a week. Wow! Plenty of people would not have been able to do even that. I love that you have had the will to make your life and your family so beautiful. You are a strong lady. XO, Jill

  21. So sad. I had a beautiful relationship with my mother. We were very close. Now that she is sick, cannot talk, and very weak, it is heartbreaking for me. You are blessed that you learned how to have a good relationship with your daughter. Some women just follow the bad example of their mothers and are never free. God bless you. Hugs! patsy

  22. I can empathise with this post , my mother is 80 and sits in her perfect castle spewing venom at all and sundry. I just strive to give my family what i never had. To love them unconditionally . pick them up and dust them down when they fall and always be there whatever they need

  23. Dearest Pam,
    I have a difficult time watching the commercials for that movie. I have no interest in seeing it for the same reasons you stated. I have tried very hard to live a life of gratefulness but I will always be sad that my mother could never see her blessings through her bitter eyes. Another Pam

  24. Glad that you were able to make the change, that is what is important and to fully enjoy your relationship with your daughter. Many of us go through similar situations, thank you for sharing.

  25. I certainly understand your decision not to see it. For most of my life having to buy a Mother's Day Card could reduce me to tears because none of them voiced sentiments that were true for me but I still wanted to be a good daughter. I am 65 now and my mother has not changed but I am able to not take it so personally any more. I remember when she was first diagnosed with bladder cancer 25 years ago, my thought was "You better not die on me before I work through all this." Well she is still kicking and we have an uneasy truce. I am glad you were able to parent your daughter differently. My son and I are also close.

  26. I did see the movie. It was intense and painful to watch, but my thought was, "Well, it could have been worse". All my life buying Mother's Day cards has brought me to tears because none of the sentiments ring true for me. I am glad we have not had to raise our children the same way. I'm 65 now and my mother and I have reached an uneasy truce but I will never feel close to her.

  27. My deepest respect to all of you, including you, Pam, for expressing your own feelings and past in this post. I, too, have felt the loneliness and abuse from a mother who was just not there for me. She was abusive, neglectful, and just an awful parent. I have spent many years doing introspection and counseling to try to understand this, and it has helped tremendously. It took years to understand that I am not my mother. I have a beautiful grown daughter of my own, and we enjoy a great relationship. Of course, mother daughter differences that I think we all experience, but, overall, a very good relationship, one I'm proud of. May all of us out there who have experienced this loss and neglect grow forever strong in our own hearts and souls. Thank you all for sharing your stories.

  28. It irritates me that the movie has been labeled a comedy and marketed as such. I saw the play on Broadway and was quite stunned they were marketing the movie in such a way. I did see the movie, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts do a wonderful job but no way would I label it a comedy. And, yes, I understand why you have no desire to see it. Sometimes, things just strike close to our real life and it is hard to watch. May you continue to heal and find forgiveness for your mother and peace in your heart 🙂

  29. My mom is a good good person, but growing up as her daughter, she did not involve herself in my life (or in any of her kids really – not sure why), therefore we never developed a solid mother/daughter relationship – yet, I do have deep affection for her. And, Like you, I made it up with my own daughter… we are pals, who enjoy each others company and appreciate our loyalty towards one another.

  30. Pam–a very powerful post–and very brave. I avoid things too that are just too close to home; sometimes there is nothing to be gained by feeling sadness. Xoxo

  31. I could have written this. In a strange twist of fate my mother now lives in an assisted living facility near my home. It was a necessity after my father's passing and the "job" fell to me. As she progresses in age and her memory begins to fail, she is happier. We now have the type of relationship I had always wished for but could not have because of her anger. I just wish my father could have seen this happiness. It was the one thing he would tell me over and over– "I only want your mother to be happy."

  32. Sorry, coming late to this party. My own mother imparted some wisdom on this subject — "Sometimes the wound is so deep, it takes generations to truly heal." GENERATIONS. From what my mother has told me, my grandmother was a mean, spiteful, cruel woman. So my mother carried some of that with her, but she knew she had baggage and tried her best to over come it. She did so with some success, meaning that I carry less baggage than she did. I have no daughters, but I hope that I would have been able to carry that healing into another generation. You situation sounds like you have done that. Perhaps your daughter's daughter will have no baggage at all — only a profound sense of love, joy, and peace. A healing generations in the making.

  33. I want to see it because it's got Margo Martindale, she played in "Justified" a TV series we've been watching on DVD. I've been reading the reviews and it looks like something that my husband would not want to see so I'm putting it on my rent it for .99 at Redbox list.

    I totally get why you have decided to skip it. I think we need time after the parting of a parent to redefine our relationship with them and your mother is only recently passed. My Dad has been gone several years and in the past year I find myself cussing, "ah hell!" like he used to. When I was little I was a bit frightened of his cussing, but my mother told me not to mind him, so I learned to put that aside. Still, when I say that, usually silently to myself, I get a smile on my face.

    I hope someday you'll be able to relate to your mother with a smile, even if it's a little snarky.

  34. Pam … this is my favorite post of yours thus far. Thank you for sharing. I believe sharing your heartache … speaks volumes. To see the joy and optimism … and celebration of the aging process … you demonstrate daily, here on your blog … juxtaposed with your past …Demonstrates such success in your life. You show how we can choose each day … how we are going to respond to the hand we are given.

    My dear … you inspire.


  35. Pam, your post sounds like my story. Thankfully we have broken that cycle with our own daughters. I as well have chosen not to see the movie.
    Thank you for sharing.

  36. Thank – you for posting! I just found this, as I have ended the once a week calls, and vacillate between relief and guilt. They were very bad. I saw the movie, and was actually relieved by it, thinking, dang, they nailed it. It is comforting to know there are others out there who walk a similar road!

  37. Same here – I do have a narcissistic mother too and I can tell you it is really a good idea to watch the movie – especially if you want to understand how the guilt-trap works. I also recommend the book of dr karyl mcbride

  38. Is this movie even supposed to be funny? I found almost everything said and happening cringeworthy and sad. The house is dark and depressing and I bet it stinks there. Some scenes were hard to watch because they seemed so real. Not only the mother's scenes, almost everything actually was rather depressing and hard to watch. Just like life is. I failed to discover humor in there. It wasn't funny at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.