I feel like this is the lesson life’s going to keep hitting me in the head with until I really, really learn it.
I absolutely don’t blame the people I still count my friends who’ve decided that I’ve been too self-absorbed with the oh-wah-I-am-changing-my-whole-goddamned-life separation and career change(s) and general emotional thrashing and drama that comes with me trying to work through this (and clearly not very well), and while I grieve that I’ve hurt those peoples’ feelings and really wish I could fix things, if it’s clear they think I’m bad news, I’ll step off.
But just when I feel like I’m done grieving one thing and can finally celebrate something else, fate or just the shitty luck of the draw or my lack of planning comes along and slaps me in the side of the head. I’ve had some tension with my therapist for a while, and she, a solo practitioner, has some weird billing practices that make it very hard for me to keep up with everything (which is saying something, since I did insurance law for how long?)– between her pushing my money/shame/payment buttons (during sessions I paid her for, ostensibly for the purpose of discussing my mental health, and not her accountant’s inability to pick up the goddamned phone and call the
fucking insurance company) and her disagreement (without having any kind of dialogue about what she’s thinking, even when I tell her that Socratic questioning drives me batshit because it triggers all the ways my Dad’s been a critical jerk in times past) that I a) need medication b) am bipolar c) another laundry list of shit– anyway, it all came to a dramatic head during a session where I really wanted to talk about 1) how my dad drove me nuts in Italy and how part of it ended up him just being old and how that was distressing for lots of reasons, including the fact that I can barely take care of myself 2) how my mother was coming to town and I didn’t want to deal with her and her obtuseness and feebleness and passive-aggression and 3) how my whole fucking family is so passive about planning my birthday, that even though I’d already said I wasn’t going to do it and why, now everyone was asking me what we were going to do, so that I was ready to knife the first person to bring it up again (I REALLY hate my birthday, holidays in general, I end up being in charge and I hate it)– and I never got talk about any of it because it was all a giant confrontation about when she was going to get paid, the answer to which was– I don’t know, and I’ve already called them three times in the last two weeks, why don’t you try?, which she didn’t like. After about 20 minutes I just decided– fuck it. She cares more about getting paid than about the fact that I had to email her during my vacation because I was having a crisis– so I wrote my copay check and walked out.
It sucked. Big time. This is the person who has listened to me, even if I’m not really sure she’s been all that helpful, while I have attempted to get over all the major shit of being ashamed at giving up law, getting a “real” job where I feel appreciated, leaving my husband, and otherwise deciding that I was going to do what I thought was important, and fuck waiting around for other people to tell me that no, I wasn’t capable of it because they needed to feel superior, or they were ableist
shitheads, or they had no concept of who I really was or… whatever. So even though I am furious with her, I am also really, really sad and angry at the same time– it’s really hard for me to talk in person with people about my feelings without completely falling apart, and I had at least gotten to the part of telling her things voluntarily sometimes, even if it could take the whole session to wind up to one real confession amidst a whole lot of venting. (But venting’s important, and having an outlet is too, and now I don’t have that, either, and where am I going to put my getting too worked up about stuff I know I need perspective about, but first I need to be a blowhard about it in private, because that is how I process?) I feel betrayed because she couldn’t be a grown up therapist with a grown up billing agent who could focus her energies on therapy, not payment. And I feel really fucking manipulated because I think she took advantage of my anxieties about money to wind me up about getting her paid by the insurance company so that I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else. I really, really, am so furious that I feel like writing a complaint to the licensing board.
And then, of course, my mother was here. She was mostly here to see the grandchild. Now, this is the important part. I love my niece– she is awesome, wonderful, unequivocally so, and I think it is darling how my brother relates to her, how my dad is besotted with her, how she and her Mom grin at each other. I don’t spend too much time thinking about kids of my own. I am not jealous of her, and I don’t particularly regret not having kids. Like I said. I have a hard enough time taking care of myself. And I get a lot out of helping the folks at work. Three hundred employees is a nice round number of people with shit to sort through and make me feel useful.
But I will never forgive– I’ve decided this much is true, I guess– my mother for telling me, outright, that she was moving to California because I wasn’t giving her grandchildren, and I really, really don’t want to forgive her for the fact that I have had a hell of a lot of shit going on that a caring mother theoretically might want to come visit a daughter and be supportive about. The fact that I don’t want her to try to be my mother, nor do I want her to come visit, because she is a narcissist and can’t be trusted with the kind of confidences you’d tell a mother is beside the point, somehow, in my illogical, adult child brain. Add on top of that her entitlement around the trip, and her shock and surprise when she learned that I wouldn’t be squiring her around in the car I no longer owned (which she didn’t know about because she doesn’t call me because that would be putting out for long distance, and that would mean spending money), nor would I be renting a car on my own dime to squire her around, her incredulity that I just wouldn’t give her a handout so she could do that, her huffed “well,” when I told her that it was her trip, and that she should plan it, not call me and leave passive aggressive voice mails on my machine expecting me to be the cruise director about when and how long she should come, blah blah blah (yeah, I got mad and used those words, more or less).
Well. I should know a thousand times over by now that she will never be capable of comprehending how much I resent her and how there’s a part of me that would be perfectly thrilled, really, to never speak to her ever again, because she winds me up, all the time, and I am incapable of building walls high enough to withstand her. I know she will never change. Will never comprehend the need to. Will always think I am being mean and unreasonable for criticizing her, because don’t I understand that people were mean to her as a child, or as a young woman, or 36 years ago and she’s forever scarred?
And yet a part of me still manages to feel heartbroken when she and my brother sit around like bumps on fucking logs and want me to plan what I should do on my own birthday when 1) I have to work 2) they’ve vetoed all my ideas and not suggested anything else 3) I told my brother, beforehand, that I HATE my birthday for this very reason, and yet he let it happen anyway, because to do otherwise would involve confrontation and feelings. I want them to know me well enough to know that I am sick of being the mom to us all. (Pro-tip: they don’t know me, and they don’t care to.)
Somehow, they were both surprised when I just walked out right before supper the other day rather than start punching my brother in the damned neck. Somehow, my brother still managed to be a condescending
bag of dicks jerk who was “sorry I felt upset.” You know what? FUCK YOU, stop being faux-clinical, you pretentious-not-a-doctor-yet ass, and either make a commitment to this family or stop pretending to be so goddamned polite and doing all the family stuff out of mere obligation. Do the real thing that you feel– be honest and say– nope, you know what, y’all drive me batshit, I’m out. Instead, of all things, he called me to try to guilt me into seeing my noncomprehending mother and pretended to be sorry using faux-clinical language that was about as sincere as a Tea-Partier at a Teamsters meeting. But my mother did want to see me.
I spent a painful hourlong dinner with her tonight as a result, wherein it was abundantly clear, yet again, that she has no idea, whatsoever, why I decided to leave my nice husband, or my nice legal career, (she’s still stuck on this, really, it has been years, 2009 and 2011, and still, still…) so I rerouted it so the conversation revolved around her and her physical ills. She was just so baffled in the face of my rage at my brother, who I had TOLD to come up with a plan– and instead, he’d let her mope around the house the whole weekend because he had consulting work to do and that was more of a priority than either getting the work done ahead of time or after she’d gone back to the hotel, or just saying– you know what, now’s not a good time to come. Because why would we ever stand up for ourselves, even to blood relatives?
Not because you don’t care (even though you probably shouldn’t) but because they don’t.
So. Yeah. No more blood relatives whose only claim to closeness anymore is mere blood. And adieu again to husbands and college best friends and alleged good friends who want advice they won’t heed. Therapists I’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of my life on can go fuck themselves when money is more important than their clinical duty. If they can’t be brave enough to have real feelings and express them around me, or respond to the ones I’m having (ooooh, feelings are scary? No shit.)– they don’t care enough to make up their minds, and they’re not worth my time, not anymore.
Today, I turned 39. What I really wanted for my birthday was someone, anyone, to curl up with me in bed and let me sob into their shoulder because I am tired from all the good work I’m doing at work and at paying back all my debts (OOH, I’m paying back money, someone give me an award!!!), I’m tired of fighting with people I love and who don’t love me enough to pay any attention at all, I’m tired and just needing some time to cry and grieve because sometimes you need to do that.
Instead, I got newfound resolution to not waste my time on anyone who can’t handle my request that they participate in a little thinking, a little interested interaction, a little making of decisions that would indicate some human interest, brother, mother, therapist, whomever
the fuck they may be.
I did get some lovely facebook and text messages from internet and real life friends and cousins and even my stupid, oblivious ex (who means well but doesn’t seem to understand I partially loathe him for his oblivious cost-consicous asshole health insurance shenanigans, since I’ve paid over 7000.00 this year for insurance between all the job changes, deductibles and COBRA), as well as a few people at work who knew I didn’t want people to know and who instead just stuck their heads in to say hi, and then left. I got some people who knew enough to say hi, and reach out– thank you.
And my dad, though he may drive me nuts, made me my favorite supper after I’d gotten home from the mom supper of akward-ish heck, plus cake and ice cream. And warm boiled wool slippers, that he saw me dogear once in a catalog, then knew me enough to order and guess at the right color. (They were the right color.)
We all make our choices. Sometimes hanging in there isn’t the right one. Sometimes, even if it’s only one person, it is. But you have to decide.