That scene from What About Bob?
“You’re the one drawing all the dirty pictures!”
Feeling pretty sick when I think of me and Mom’s relationship. In general, I think I take too much responsibility for the success or workability of relationships. I mean, with Amy, Suzanne, Dad..maybe this is sociopathically simple, but..I feel bad when I’m in communication with them, so I stopped communicating with them. ? That’s a reasonable, self-loving thing to do, right? It’s not like I didn’t give them advance warning things were wrong between us — and it’s not like they’ve tried to patch things up with me. They’re not knocking down my door! But still, with Mom and me, for what should be a simple loving relationship to fail so miserably, it does literally make me sick — like feel physically nauseated.
But when I take a break from her — tell her the conversation is over and keep my door closed for a day — I start to feel better, and ultimately I feel my joy again, listening to Regina Spektor and communicating with spiritual people on YouTube, reflecting and writing and doing my thing. It’s key that I feel that joy. That joy is the meaning of life for me. It is the form I need my life to take. And I have it with some people and I have it by myself. We all have faults, but my mom’s family, my dad’s family, and my family — we are really sick. There are tiny little pockets of health here and there, but, man, I don’t think anybody self-aware could get along happily among my mother and her siblings. I think that’s a pretty safe statement. No judgment. But they are chipmunk fucking nuts. A true sentence in that family is like a hand grenade.
I don’t want to assume what my Mom feels, but I can point to a couple of disturbing events of the last few days, with as little interpretation as I can apply, that seriously make me want to erect a wall between me and her.
- She and my old psychiatrist were worried about my mental state. They suggested I see a Vanderbilt psychiatric evaluator. I did. The evaluator and I loved each other, cracked up laughing, talked candidly, forthcomingly, in detail — I can’t help but remember the scene in What About Bob? where his doctor takes him to a psych hospital and then they cut to a shot of all the staff in a semicircle around Bob and he’s telling them jokes. So, back in reality, the Vanderbilt psych evaluator determines that I’m fine and don’t need psychiatric help at this time. We decide I’ll proceed with outpatient psychiatric services. She said there was a wait to see a psychiatrist and she wasn’t worried about the gap in care for me — she was comfortable with me making it across that gap, and we discussed contingencies for emergencies. When I reported this to my mom, she disbelieved the Vanderbilt Medical Center psychiatric evaluator and continued to maintain that I was in danger, in rough shape, in need of immediate care, etc. There is something not right there.
- Later, Mom said she felt “vindicated” that I “still [didn’t] have a psychiatrist” when it was two days after my old psychiatrist discontinued my care and I did not yet have a Vanderbilt psychiatrist. I said I wasn’t going to assume what Mom feels — and I’m trying to stick to that — but her use of the word “vindicated” there makes me question her priorities and her motivation and her realism, actually. What’s more important, being vindicated (or right) about my inability to acquire a new psychiatrist in two days, or the fact that I have been given a clean bill of health and that my finding a new psychiatrist is in the works? To me that’s a positive state of affairs for her, for me, for society at large — not a negative one that justifies her feeling vindicated about being right about..what, exactly? Why not enjoy that things are going well? What is her motivation? To be right about my “failure” to obtain a new psychiatrist in two days, or to be a part of me being well? And her realism: no one finds a new psychiatrist in two days. That’s not a realistic idea. That she expected that makes me worry about her aging, actually — but with my own illness I doubt I will ever be able to take care of her in her old age. I am not physically able. I may not be mentally able.
Anyway I’m left with that scene from What About Bob? — happily, sadly. I don’t take any joy from seeing my mom in the Dr. Marvin position. But the dynamic fits us now — and not just metaphorically — bone-dry literally: She is convinced I’m in dire straits, but when she takes me to a mental hospital, I’m cracking jokes with the staff and they turn me away at the door saying I don’t need to be there.