I haven’t spoken to my mother since the day before Easter. The story doesn’t need to be rehashed at this point. Suffice it to say, that in the midst of a conversation in which I was trying to convince her that two hospitalizable manic episodes in two years meant she should really take better care of herself, and that she should listen to her kids when we recommend courses of action, she told me I had no idea what it meant to be depressed, and to suffer.
I wasn’t angry at her for saying it– she was coming down, still, from a manic episode, and couldn’t be held fully responsible for her words. But I was heartbroken, because it brought home to me that her underlying narcisissm is so strong that she would likely refuse to fully accept her bipolar (1) illness, and refuse to take all the medication, therapeutic and other steps necessary to assure that her illness was (more) under control– because doing so would mean having to admit in the first place that there was something wrong with her. She couldn’t focus on anything beyond her conception of self, and that necessarily impairs (fatally impairs?) her ability to manage the overlying illness. And that? It’s just bad for my own mental health, so bad it’s almost like I’m anaphylactic allergic. I feel my throat start to close around her, sometimes.
The fact that she gave me the damned genetic craziness that makes me more than qualified to say what it means to suffer from depression is in most ways beside the point. The point is, the genetic relation isn’t enough to bring her focus outside herself. She’s always on Planet Mom. Not Planet Earth, which is shared with everyone else, including her kids. So I decided that if I was not going to keep getting pushed off Earth and back onto Planet BLC, I needed to shut her off.
It’s been mostly great. I wish I could say I missed talking to her, but I don’t. Instead, I have enjoyed speaking with friends and with family who understand was social interaction is. Inter-action. Not lecturing, or talking non-stop. I have always known I would need to resume some kind of relationship with her, because I would feel guilty not at least doing what’s feasible to assure her health and well-being as she gets older. But I have not looked forward to speaking to her, because I knew, I just knew, in my heart, that when we spoke to each other again, her interpretation of why we hadn’t spoken would be totally from Mom, and not Earth.
– – – –
I picked up the phone tonight, and it was her. She’d called a few weeks ago, late, while I still was at work, and the BH spoke to her, then told me what he thought about all of it. He was right, and I was right, too. Her interpretation of why we hadn’t spoken had nothing to do with what really happened, and instead, was based utterly on some other interpretation of things– that never happened. She didn’t even remember the reality of our last conversation. So I let her talk, as she told me all about all the things that had changed since last we spoke, all her new activities and medications and new grand schemes to rule the world. She spoke for twenty minutes, telling me all about herself, trying to prove to me why I should talk to her again, I guess.
But it didn’t. Because in those twenty minutes, there was one thing she didn’t say.
“How are you?”
I’ll deal with her again– it has to be done, and she’s too sick, or too old, or too… something to change. But in turning the other cheek, I’m just allowing myself to be slapped again. I hope my time off has allowed me to grow some cast iron cheeks and a cast iron heart, though I know that it hasn’t, since I’m writing this ‘oh poor me’ post to myself.
I’m breathing, Mom. Thank you for asking.
– – – – –
Nobody’s perfect. When I’m inside my hypomania, I withdraw and ignore my loved ones, especially my poor, patient, beloved Better Half, because I’m so intent on what (often legitimately creative) obsession is at work inside my brain. But when I snap out of it, or slip on the mushy banana peel that’s all that’s left of my brain when I’m done, I try to come to awareness again, and make amends, apologize, reach out and socialize, inter-act again. I try to say, “I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch. I apologize. It had nothing to do with you, I was just stuck in my head again. Please, tell me what’s going on with you.”
– – – –
So, here goes. I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch. I apologize. It had nothing to do with you, I was just stuck in my head again. Please, tell me what’s going on with you.