|There are always teddy bears who care|
My mom and I were recently involved in one of our less-than-pleasant but far from infrequent conversations in which she was attempting to use her professional skills (she holds doctorates in both clinical and education psychology) to fix what is broken with me. It is considered improper to the point of unethicality for a psychologist to practice on his or her relatives. Though she would normally be considered both a proper and an ethical psychologist and human being, the idea of impropriety and faulty ethics has never gotten in the way of her using her education and professional training to make whatever points she has wanted to make regarding what is lacking in my character. I'm accustomed to it by now, and I won't be making any reports or complaints to whatever associations govern the practice of the fields of educational or clinical psychology (in this case, it's just clinical psychology with which we're dealing; as critical as my mom typically is of me, even she is not going so far as to suggest I have any issues in the psychoeducational domain) at any time in the near future. She's my mother. It's her job, or so she thinks, even at this late stage in life, to transform me from the dysfunctional individual that I am to someone who functions as a proper adult in the real world, albeit as an adult who does everything her mother says to do and doesn't contemplate a significant action without consulting her mother. That, however, is a subject for another day's blog.
This conversation came up as a result of my father having casually shared with my mom something I had told him in an earlier conversation. I didn't obtain a sworn statement of confidentiality from my dad, which is something I should perhaps consider doing prior to future conversations with him. In any event, I'm confident that he had no ill will whatsoever in retelling what he did. For that matter, I'm exposing myself to a far greater degree by sharing parts of that conversation, of the ensuing conversation with my mom, and of my thoughts on the topic in general here, where people about whom I spoke with both of my parents might conceivably read about themselves. (Most of them read my blog from time to time.) I've considered the consequences of doing so and have decided to go ahead with it. They're my feelings that I'm expressing, and I don't think they're unjustified, and this is my blog in which I'm sharing them. My sane half of the family, including a block of people not technically related but considered in the greater category of "family," can usually be counted on to read something (if they happen to read it), to form an opinion pro-, anti-, neutral, or bits of all three, without turning something blogged by an opiod-influenced twenty-two-year-old (I cop to using Vicodin in my favor [besides the obvious need for pain relief] when I benefit from suggesting that it should be considered when otherwise considering my state of mind when I write or wrote something; at other times I will say I'm perfectly lucid whenever taking Vicodin in therapeutic levels as prescribed [which is the only way I take it; I'm admitting the duplicity so that no one need call me on it) and consider the source, thereby not allowing it to ruin they, the readers', days, weeks, months, or years. (Incidentally, I also cop to using my age inconsistently. At times, I am, at twenty-two years of age, an adult in every sense of the word. At other times, I'm just twenty-two, you surely understand. Poor little me, I'm not even old enough to run for congress. You all really need to cut me some slack. Again, I'm admitting to this so that no one else has to call me on it.) And in a way, I'm not being insincere in using my age in such a manner. I really would love to have it both ways. It would be nice to be a fully-empowered adult when it works in my favor, and to be a little girl when that works better. I understand, though, that I can't have it both ways, and that I am, for all intents and purposes, legal and otherwise, a big girl now.
Anyway, I shared with my mom, which I now recognize as my first mistake, that I hadn't received any acknowledgment of my recent illness from family. The form of my sharing with her was that I asked her if any of the relatives had called or emailed her to ask how I was recovering. (I recognize now that I had everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain by asking her, and I will never ask again.) I wouldn't have expected them to have pulled out all the stops the way they did the time I was a mere day past my third birthday and sliced my left ulnar artery when I broke a drinking glass and was trying to hide the evidence by burying it into the bottom of the kitchen trash receptacle because I feared my mother's wrath. An ambulance ride, a transfusion, and God knows how many stitches later, the visits and presents began arriving in droves, even though I'd just been gifted with birthday presents sent from all over the nation a day earlier. I'm certainly beyond the gift stage for hospitalization or surgery, but a card or two or a phone call would have been nice, I commented to my mom, especially since I personally am very good about acknowledging that side of the family's occasions, including illnesses and hospitalizations.
I'm generous beyond what would be expected considering my age and employment status, with the children of my cousins for birthdays, Christmases, and religious occasions. I acknowledge the adults' birthdays and anniversaries with cards at the very least. I send cards with personal notes for everything. And, lest anyone who read this suggest it as my mother did, I do this because i was taught that it is considered proper to do so. I don't do it because I expect the same in return, and I don't typically keep score in terms of what I have sent out and what I receive in return. I wouldn't know what the score is in reference to this particular illness, hospitalization, and surgery, except that it is such a very easy score to remember: zero.
My Internet friends have been wonderfully supportive, by the way. My co-workers as well have been thoughtful. it's just that segment of people we call family who seem to have deserted me in this particular time of need. Judge Alex, you have more kindness in your pinkie toe than the rest of my relatives have in their combined collective hearts and souls. I love you all.
And in regard to the 90+% of my dad's family who never acknowledges anything, none of this was in reference to them. They never cared before. There's no reason for them to start caring about me now.
My mom has suggested that the problem is that I've gotten sick one time too many and have worn out my welcome in that regard. She mentioned my just having dealt with myositis last month. I'd be inclined to agree with her except that they, the collective relatives, didn't acknowledge the myositis thing, either. The ones who were in Austria with me occasionally wandered into my room and asked, "When are you going to get over this thing?" or something similar, but that would have been the extent of the acknowledgment. They weren't exactly bringing me flowers, not that I even wanted them to do so.
I wondered aloud if they send cards and flowers and phone calls to each other or not, and if I'm the only person in the family observing this social custom, or if they extend the nicety to everyone but me. That was when my mother suggested I develop an awareness that I am not the Earth's axis around which the planet rotates, nor the sun around which the solar system revolves.
Do I continue to send nice gifts to Godchildren and children of cousins? Do I continue with cards and flowers, and with playing the organ for the rosaries of relatives of my Godparents I've sometimes never met no matter how inconvenient it is to me personally, just because it is the uncle of my Godfather and we do such things for people in our families? Do I scale the gifts down to cards and the cards to nothing? Do I still make the phone calls? Or do I continue on with business as usual because my reason for doing any of the things I did was never to receive anything in return?
Meanwhile, I'm recovering. I will return to work on a modified schedule on Monday. To all of the relatives, even though you didn't ask, I'm sure you wanted to know that about me.