11.29.2006

Is there such a thing as justifiable matricide?

Any criminal defense attorneys out there I can put on retainer, just in case I am forced to kill my mom the next time I see her? I'm not planning anything, mind you (noting that to do so and talk about it would strip our conversations of privilege, under the crime/fraud exception), but I'm just wondering whether putting someone on retainer counts as a declaration of intent....

Seriously, though, I really don't wish my mom any harm, I don't. I'm just not sure that I'm going to be able to maintain a civil relationship with her if she doesn't get back on her prescribed anti-depressants and get her shit to a therapist, stat. It's incredibly wearying, and more than a little annoying, to deal with someone as manipulative and determined-to-madden-me as she is. The breakdown of our relationship is especially baffling because until I left for college, we got along like an absolute house on fire: I loved spending time with her so much that I sometimes (ok, not often, but sometimes) would hang out with my mom and friends I invited over, rather than going out and getting into trouble.

We picked her up Thursday morning at LAX on our way to Goleta to spend Thanksgiving with B's mom, her husband, and B's youngest brother. The 2-hour drive was relatively uneventful, apart from having to hear the same stories/questions/ musings 4 times, and the fact that she seems constitutionally incapable of shutting. the. fuck. up. I mean, come on, woman, zip it!! Five minutes of pleasant silence was a dream we didn't realize until she left yesterday afternoon. (I'm sure I was a surly bitch to everyone I met at LAX yesterday on my way to Toronto, and it's ALL HER FAULT! I am normally -- can you tell? -- very gregarious myself, a quality I inherited from her, by the way, but all I wanted was a little peace and quiet, by that time!!!)

Apart from her snide and entirely-too-audible comments about someone's [admittedly atrocious] table manners, the Turkey Day festivities passed without too much fuss and folderol, except that she glared daggers at me for sitting next to B and not her at the table -- "Hey, Mom, here's a newsflash: I married this guy. You were there, remember? And I try to do a good job cleaving only unto him -- not that we're attached at the hip or anything, but at a holiday table, I'm going to sit next to him and not you." -- and kept doing so throughout the meal. After the meal, everyone was sitting around watching football, save my brother-in-law, who'd gone into the guest room (a.k.a. Mom's room) to sleep, which I agree was rude and inappropriate since that was someone's bedroom, but this is his childhood home after all. Well, my mother kept looking at me with what I imagine she thought was a speaking look in her eyes, and making the "ntch" sound popular with pre-teens when told to be social, and sighing heavily. I said to her once or twice, "Is there something wrong?" and got "No. [sigh] Nothing." both times, so I dropped it. Here's the thing about me, which you know if you've known me for longer than a month, and certainly if you gave birth to me: if you're pissed at me, especially if I don't think I have done anything to merit your ire, you'd better speak up, 'cause what's not gonna happen is me sitting around pursuing it or trying to guess. Fuck it: if you're irked, pipe up or shut up. Don't sit and laser me with your eyes, sighing and tsking. I will not respond. Which she knows. Which is what makes it all the more irritating. Which she knows. Which is what makes it ALL. The. MORE. IRRITATING.

Ok, so, anyway, we came home Friday night, because she kept asking me "When are we leaving?" like a fucking 4-year-old forced to be pleasant in company, and I couldn't take it anymore. We get to our house and go to Costco and get some stuff for dinners while she's here (and buy me an awesome digital camera "from Bryan" for Hanumas, incidentally), and come home and I show her around, and get some dinner ready. We all turn in early, after she's told the same stories we heard Thursday several more times -- and exhibited more of the same inability to let silence fall. By the way, I guess I should note that my mother is only 64, and is not senile -- she's been tested for recent memory lapses and told they're "stress-related" -- although to talk to her, she's 85 and fading fast, which is just bullshit.

Saturday and Sunday we did a bunch of shopping (for stuff for her) and I brought her to the Red Bee to meet some of the girls from YYS, and whatever. Just putzing around. But everywhere we went, she wanted to leave. And behaved, again, like the afore-mentioned 4-year-old: "When are we going home?" The whole point of all this activity was that we were spending time together -- albeit in public -- but it apparently wasn't enough, since she kept sighing and tsking and shooting me "speaking looks" as before. I must have asked her ten times (which is ten times past my limit, mind you) what was wrong, getting "[sigh] Nothing.... [sigh]" ten times. Hey, if it's "nothing," honey, then it's NOTHING, and I'm not going fishing. As previously noted.

Saturday night. Late. She comes downstairs. Says, "Can I talk to you?"
"Sure."
"I've been upstairs trying to sleep, and I can't."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Can I get you anything?"
"No... It's just that I have a pain [indicates] in my heart [sigh] and in my stomach [sigh], and it's not a physical pain...."
"Oh?"
"...it's that I don't feel that you love me or respect me...."
"Well, you're wrong on both counts, Mom, but if you think re-enacting the death scene from Camille is going to get me to be sympathetic to your internal drama, you're wrong."
We then embark on an hour-long conversation (mind you, this conversation started at 11:45) about how she thinks she can't say anything without me attacking her and that she can't help "who she is" and wants me to just accept her without murmur. I respond, not unreasonably, that it's not that I'm waiting for her to annoy me, but that I feel like she's trying to do so, with her complaining, and repetitiveness, and citing the birthday of everyone she talks about (an incredibly unnecessary tic she's developed in the past few years which I cannot stand), and negativity about everything. And furthermore, I'm specifically not asking her to be someone she's not, but rather, the person she used to be, who was so fun and funny and smart, etc etc, and who, by the way, vanished during my mother's struggle with menopause (she did it drug-free, a HUGE mistake), which left her clinically depressed.

She acknowledged that she had broken her promise to me (extracted after a similarly painful long weekend in NYC almost 5 years ago during which she confessed that she'd been given a prescription for Paxil which worked great -- made her feel like her old self! -- but that she didn't take it because she had to limit her diet to less rich and fatty foods than she likes!!!) to start seeing a therapist to get over the low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness engendered by her inability (or in my opinion, unwillingness) to get over the abusive childhood and adolescence she suffered at the hands of her late mother -- who has been dead, mind you, since 1990, and with whom she hasn't lived since 1961. Turns out she has skipped more appointments than she's kept with the psychopharmacologist she found to go through therapy with, which infuriates me. Everyone knows that therapy, especially if it's for dysfunction you've carried with you for 64 fucking years, is a process, and you can't just drop in and drop out. In order to get better, you've got to stick it out and do the work. I made it clear to her, once again, that I expect her to get her ass back on the couch, and make an effort, because it's been forty-five years since she left her parents' house, and it's about time to make some choices and get over that shit. Not least because she successfully sublimated it for the first 20 years of my life, and didn't really give in to it until the last 10 years, I am convinced that with her brains and her will, she can make progress, and must. Not only on my account (although I would be heartbroken to do it, I'm not going to maintain a relationship with someone who saps my will to live), but on her own. I want her to be the person she was, and to throw off this mantle of darkness and negativity and get well.

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