On Mom

I love my mother, I love the way she raised me (the lassez-faire approach to parenting). We are great friends. BUT I cannot tell her about my problems in this field.

When I’m feeling more gracious toward her, I can understand, sort of (I don’t have kids), how it might be hard to know your kid is so miserable, especially in something that people blame on parents, like psych problems. But a lot of the time, she makes me feel horrible.

When I was a teen, she first really wanted me on meds. That’s ok, but the problem was, she wanted me on them not so I’d feel better, but rather so I’d be less irritable, less prickly, easier for her to deal with. The first meds I took were horrible, blunting me, leaving me years of zombie-life in which I accomplished nothing and felt even less. And that was fine with her.

One of the most hurtful things she does is, when I am upset about something – usually legitimate – she will ask, “Are you taking your meds?” She would consider the med I’m on now as less effective, because it allows me to still feel stuff and even to cycle, just without it being quite so extreme, which lets me still do the things that make my life worth living, like write, study, and work.

I can talk to Mom about anything. About sex, life, whatever. Except this kind of stuff. She does not know my diagnosis. She does not want to. She knows I get very sick. She knows that my father’s family is loaded with these kind of illnesses. Yet whenever I bring up any of this stuff, she shuts me up fast. “Oh, stop being so dramatic.” Yet she also always is pushing meds on me. Such is the power of denial.

During that time I was working out of town, she came to visit, partly to see me (we live far apart, though we talk several times a day), and partly because the city I was in is a big tourist draw.

I was in a horrible manic state (for me – I don’t get psychotic or lose control totally, it’s just that I’m up all the time, start a million things, etc). I literally could not stop talking for two minutes and listen to her (unlike me at all). Words and chatter kept flying out of my mouth; I was all over the place – plans, stories, anecdotes, ideas. I could not shut up. At the time, not realizing how high I was, I just couldn’t figure it out, why I couldn’t stop talking and moving around. I couldn’t listen to her talking about some things or projects in her life without being distracted. I knew I was being rude, but I just was in so many places at once. I was irritable; every little thing she did annoyed me (i.e. borrowing some clothing sent me apeshit – which is totally ridiculous). We shared a regular hotel room, and I slept perhaps 3 hours every night, the rest of the time roaming between the sofa and the kitchenette.

And yet, she denied there was anything unusual. She said to my aunt, who also visited, “She has such a good way with clients and at work usually, I don’t know why she’s like this at home.”

I don’t know if I have a point with this story. It makes me sad that she can’t accept that there might be something wrong with me, that something is broken. When she rushes to deny, to change the subject, to ignore, I feel rejected…just like with everyone else, this is a part of me that no one wants to see. I end up feeling used: I exist as a daughter she is proud of as long as it’s the accomplishments, the good stuff. As soon as something bad pops up, she’s gone, just does not want to hear it. I exist only to validate her ego. (It’s ten million times worse with my father, so it’s sort of mean to complain about her…but he’s so fucked up it’s not even worth complaining anyway.)

And yet, it also hurts when she asks me if I’m taking medications regularly – like she’s implying that something is so wrong with me, that I’m so unbearable when I’m not. That any time I’m not a “merry sunshine” it is because I’m not taking medications. It is a strange dance she dances.

Again, Real Sara ends up alone. And Super Sara smiles on.


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