TRIGGER WARNING: If you are one of the dear ones who find my dysthymic downs alarming, you should skip this entry.
I’ve been berating myself A LOT lately about how I have failed in life. I’ve been trying to figure out why.
Why was I always afraid to really try to go for the things I wanted? Why did I spend decades listening to someone who always thought I fell short, was not enough, was doing me a favor tolerating me and putting up with my flaws? Why was I always drawn to people who I was convinced were better than me, would be rid of me as soon as they realized what a loser I really was, how stupid I was, how less than, less than, less than.
Today was a Mom-day. My second this week. Long-short, I’ve not been feeling physically well for quite a while, struggling with a digestive disorder which comes and goes, without warning, at varying intensities, and seems — after two-plus years — to defy diagnosis. Tuesday morning I had my third follow-up appointment for the latest episodes, an appointment where it was finally suggested (probably because I was quite literally sobbing in the office when told I should go back to the GI doctor who’d done nothing on the last visit and who usually can’t schedule an appointment for six months) that due to my lousy insurance, I was probably going to keep being shuffled around, untreated, and ought wait until I got really sick again and head to the emergency room where I might actually get the tests that would lead to a diagnosis for the mystery disease.
I wasn’t feeling so hot after that. So, when I got a message from my Mom that she had somehow hurt her back and the staff where she lived wanted her to see the in-house doctor the next morning, thus, she had rescheduled her hair appointment for THAT VERY AFTERNOON and where was I? Why wasn’t I answering? I needed to come get her! I did. We went, despite the fact she could barely walk and getting her to and from car, not to mention her walker, was four times the usual chore, and then, to make it even better, on the way back from her beautician located up a damn highway in a town best known for its KKK rallies, we were caught in horrifying thunderstorms which brought traffic to a full-stop, after which, she didn’t want to get out of the car unless I could find an umbrella to protect her hairdo.
I did all that, Tuesday, with cramps. And diarrhea. I know. TMI. I know. Lots of people deal with much worse pain all the time. I should not whine.
I went to pick Mommy up for today’s adventure which was just going to be lunch and she needed “a few things” from a grocer. I rested most of Wednesday — with minimal cramps, and I was ready today to smile and be perky and be the son she deserved, happy and ready to do anything.
First of all, she didn’t come outside when I got there. I waited. I get there about 15 minutes early (or more) so she never has to wait. She comes out early, knowing I’ll be early. Not today. At the appointed time, she still was not out. I guess this is the place to mention that my illness also seems to have insomnia and interrupted sleep as symptom, with feverish night terror/dreams, and all last night I’d been having them about Mom, thinking something was wrong. So bad, I almost called the place where she lives at 2a.m. So, when she didn’t come out, I panicked.
No need. For the second time in the past few weeks, she had fallen asleep in her chair. She is getting more tired. She is getting crankier. She is getting — understandably at 89 — older.
The thing, though, everything I did today was wrong. She didn’t want to decide where to go for lunch. I made a suggestion and she said fine. I started driving there and she said she didn’t really want to go there, wouldn’t it be better if. I re-directed. I drove in the wrong lane. I didn’t park in the better spot. I was eating too slowly. The store didn’t have what she wanted. I offered to go to another store, but no, she wouldn’t. She’d just get what she didn’t want and then mention it three times on the way home.
Listen, I love my Mom and she does NOT mean to do any of this. She loves me. A lot. And I was a horrifyingly awful teen/twenties (well, some would say teen-to-now) son. But having everything I did be not enough pushed all my buttons, every button, because I was already having one of those rejection days (not worth going into) and as she criticized me I couldn’t help but think, “Is this why when they wanted to skip me two grades you wouldn’t let them? Is this why when they wanted to send me away to private school you wouldn’t let them? Is this why when I wanted to be an actor and a writer and someone who didn’t live in Frederick, someone really special you said, ‘Charlie, people like us don’t do things like that.'”
No. It isn’t. She didn’t want me to be hurt by the world. Like she had been. She wanted to protect me and that was how she knew to do so. She loved me. Loves me. And I am responsible for my choices and my life and its being a fucking mess is my doing, no one else to blame.
But today, after having gotten her back there, and helping the staff carry in a week’s worth of groceries because, you know, they were doing it when I got there, and feeling my cramps again, I couldn’t help wondering if maybe I had heard a different tape when I was young, if just maybe, instead of looking at beautiful photos of New York City on Twitter, and reading other people’s books, I might be in New York, writing my own books, having done what I wanted, less afraid, rather than spending the majority of my life trying to please a long line of sociopathic, self-centered people who only wanted me to fill a role they’d already written, who never gave one damn whether or not I got what I needed or wanted, who told me when I finally stood up for myself that I’d never really added anything to our lives anyway, that I wasn’t that much in the first place, that I was crazy, a liar, worthless —
— maybe if I had heard something other than “not for people like us Charlie” —
— then maybe I wouldn’t feel like doing just what my father did and driving into the nearest fucking telephone pole.
I’ve turned everything off again. I’ll get over this — and back to being grateful for what is beautiful in my life, but today, damn, today. Fuck today. Fuck those nasty YOU ARE NOTHING tapes I keep hearing.