Chaos Attraction

Dangerous Animals

2004-12-16, 4:09 p.m.

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"Your children are not here to fill the void left by marital dissatisfaction and disengagement. They are not to be utilized as a substitute for adult-adult intimacy. They are not in this world in order to satisfy a wife's or a husband's need for love, closeness or a sense of worth. A child's task is to fully develop his/her emerging self. When we place our children in the position of satisfying our needs, we rob them of their childhood." - Aaron Hess, The Gift of Fatherhood.

Dear god, I love that quote.

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who messaged me or e-mailed me about my last entry. Y'all are making me blush. But especially the Best of Holidailies panel for putting me in that category. WOW. I don't normally do/get the whole award thing, but I am way flattered.

I know I said I was going to do some holiday music posts, and I will try to, but that'll probably go up sometime later. First I have to mention a few things, and I'm hoping sometime in the next few days I can ahem, put up an amusing photo essay entry. We shall see- I don't think I'll be spending much time at home tonight except for packing, and then I'm gone for the weekend anyway, but if I can get pics downloaded, altered, and uploaded, there may be something.

Had my work shrink appointment today.

Man, have I missed going to one. This may be sick, but I rather enjoy going. But given the financials/insurance issues, I just can't swing going to one the rest of the time. Can't afford ones I can get to, can't get to the ones I can. Work offers a 5-shot freebie deal, so what the hell. I'll spread 'em out, but I'm still having #2 after the holidays.

My shrink is a very nice woman, though she also seems to be of the "mostly sits and nods" school. Is that something most/all of them do? Sometimes I think I'd just like to go to some sort of professional something-or-other and have them suggest something, like, "Here's a list of agencies you can call," or "Why not try this coping technique?" or whatever. I like to talk a lot (duh) so I'm pretty entertained just going, but I must say that the whole counseling thing usually makes me feel like I'm talking to a mirror. No wonder I'm not willing to pay $150/week to talk to a mirror when I could do it at home for free.

Anyway, I told her the ugly situation, and the conversation pretty much boiled down to the following, which is how my counseling sessions have gone before:

(a) "This is limited term, and are you sure you can't go to an official, covered-by-insurance, long-term, costs $150/week out of pocket person?" (I explain how my insurance only covers out-of-towners and I don't drive, and locals ain't cheap) "No? Well, this is all we can do then."
(b) "Wow, your life sucks. You just can't win in any scenario here, can you? Your parents really did a number on your self-esteem." Well, yes, no, and yes.
(c) "It's all going to keep sucking if you don't set boundaries with your mother." To which I have to say,
(d) Um, I've tried, and it really really really didn't work to do that. Refusing to call and go home without legitimate excuse, etc. has only made things a lot worse. Plus with Dying Handicapped Father Guilt, I can't exactly pull off being an immovable object to her irresistable force. So in the end,
(e) I just have to suck it up and take it because there really isn't another option that doesn't suck, there's no support system going on for Mom, guilt, and God knows I can't change the Crazy I got born into or find a new family.

I guess mainly I just wanted to hear something other than, "Well, you have to set some boundaries, and JUST NOT MOVE NO MATTER WHAT SHE DOES." Which is what really pissed me off in Toxic Parents- um, that's not a help to say "Well, you just can't budge, it's that simple," to people who have had to spend their entire lives budging, and have no clue how to "just not budge" and then have it work. To me, it is not that easy and simple.

And...I'm going to stop ranting there, because I desperately want to say more on this, but y'all have mostly heard it before, and it's more negative negative banging-against-a-brick-wall-speak.

Slightly altering the topic, at some point during the conversation I had to explain the whole relationships thing with regards to my parents going even nuttier if I have a boyfriend, and I said that I felt that I had to refrain from having one until my dad dies because I can't take the stress of juggling both opposing sides any more. And she was all, "It sounds like you'd really like a boyfriend." That sentence just gave me the wiggins. Don't need to go there, thanks. Then again, she also asked if I was "high strung" because I do a lot of activities, so who knows what she's interpreting from this.

Hm. I didn't realize I was so bothered by this until now. I came out of it feeling more cheerful than I am right now thinking it over. I wonder what that means.

And on a final note for today, since I need to wind this up and then head off to Jess's to play games and such, I was quite startled today to find this Since You Asked column. (Salon link, but I'm pasting the relevant bits). I've never seen ANYONE say such stuff about parents in that manner before, and it blew my mind.

"How can we learn to respond to our aging parents like the adults we are? The most success I've had -- and I admit that's not much success -- is to stop trying to be so darned reasonable and face the fact that parents are dangerous animals easily provoked.

It's the same thing with parents as it is with cops. Now that I don't look so much like a burglar with a dope problem driving a stolen car, they don't pull me over as often as they used to. But it used to be they pulled me over all the time. You have to smile and act deferential or they'll beat you about the head and face. Parents aren't much different from police that way: They're dangerous animals and they have all the power. So treat them that way. Stop pretending they're benign. They're not. They're deadly. Don't startle them. Don't arouse their fear response. Don't poke into the sensitive areas where they feel protective.

Not only do you have to avoid provoking them, but you have to remember that if you don't provoke them, they will attempt to provoke you. They like it when the claws come out. They live for those moments. It makes them feel alive. It makes them remember the war. It makes them feel like giving birth again, like they're not at the end of life at all, like they can still do battle with their loved yet hated progeny who mock them with their nimble ease in the slipstream of modernity.

So don't kid yourself. Be careful around them. Watch your back.

Not only do they seek out your buttons and push them just for entertainment; what's worse is that in their presence you become a child again and want so desperately what you can never have -- the closeness, the care, the dependency, the warmth. And that'll cause you to take fatal chances. So don't go there. Watch out for signs of yearning. Yearning will trip you up every time. You're never going to get it, whatever it is. Not from these folks. It's not there. They haven't sold that brand for years. Underneath that desire to make things right is the desire to return to a place that never was. You think: Ah, this time they're going to give me the candy. But they'll never give you the candy.

So stop wishing for it. Face it: The bus is not coming today. They're not picking you up from school. Daddy's not coming home from work; Mommy's not baking cookies. There is no lunch money. Your room really is full of monsters. The monsters are real.

Here's the bright side: Compared with the monsters in your room at night, Mom and Dad are nothing."

Perhaps that's the best advice I've ever seen as to how to mentally cope with difficult parents? Scary, but...accurate, I guess.

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