Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What about the bond between mother and child?

So I took a long nap today, like three or four hours, and I woke up and wrote this. It's nice when that happens. Except this was really depressing and I cried for a bit. I've gotten really defensive about crying lately. I cry a lot. When I get emotional, I cry, and I'm a very emotional person. I have lots of good emotions too. Sometimes those make me cry as well. See? Look how defensive I am. But it's my blog, so I can say I cried all the fuck I want to. Any ways, this is nonfiction, and it's about stuff I don't talk about a lot because it makes me cry.

I didn’t talk about it, even though it might have gotten me out of something (another F in math, the fifth hole in my ear, my long sleeves). It seems strange to me now that I treated it so casually, though that might have been a response of my disgust. My mother was in detox. I did not know what she went there for (they told me valium, but this was a lie). Later she told me that it was nothing illegal, and I told her that I did not care about legality, dependence was dependence, a concept I understood so well (at that time I was not being driven by the normal teenage vices of marijuana and alcohol, but things much more taboo). Everyone, I thought, simply had their own vice, and society generally insisted on removing these things.
As usual, my brother and I were condescending.
“I can’t believe she’s in detox,” we scoffed.
“I can’t believe she expects me to take care of her dog,” my dad said.
We got Caramel when I was ten, when my parents were still married. My dad never liked her; she interrupted his yoga. Caramel belonged to my mother and I. Like most dogs, Caramel was tragically in love with us to the point where she would not eat when no one was home. Thus, while my mother was in detox, I stayed with her.
I don’t remember going to school during this period of time, but I must have. I was also in a school play: The Skin of our Teeth, but this too exists in separate memories, as if I was leading two different lives at the time. The only thing that exists in my memory of that week (or was it weeks?) is lying on the floor with Caramel. I must have watched television, but I don’t remember what, or even the TV being on. I just remember feeling lonely, and thinking that soon, someone would realize that I was fifteen years old, my mother was in detox, and I spent every night alone with my dog.
It was almost the optimal situation for me; an excuse to be alone and depressed. I preferred the word wallow. I didn’t talk about it, or if I did it was vague and joking. I did not eat, but this was not something I mentioned either. I vaguely recall in The Skin of our Teeth, I volunteered to try on a skirt suit that was too small for the rest of the cast. I got a dubious glance from the costume director: I never looked like a skinny girl, but when I tried on the suit, it fit, miraculously. There is a picture in the yearbook of me wearing that suit. I looked at it and thought, “My god, was I really that skinny?”
Caramel seemed to understand we were in mourning. She stopped eating as well, and we curled up together, a fleshy pile of bones and a golden mass of fur, until my mother came home from detox.
I expected, not unreasonably, that she would go back to work, and that I would return to my transitions between houses and my normal dramatic range of emotions, rather than the quiet loneliness that I had inhabited. But no, she was sick. I assumed this sickness was physical. She stayed in bed, she didn’t eat. Her voice sounded strange as if her throat was raw. Instead of going to school, I decided to act sick as well, claiming that I had caught her sickness. As usual, I stayed up late knowing that I didn’t have to get up early the next morning, so I was sleeping when my dad came over to get her.
My dad recounted this story later, never once questioning why I was home with the supposed illness my mother had. He took her to the hospital, and she just kept repeating how bad she felt, over and over again, but never specifying. Finally it came out that she was depressed and they admitted her to the psychiatric ward. This was the day that my brother became so angry with my mother; he thought she tried to kill herself.
This period of time doesn’t exist in my head besides the phone calls. She would call and talk about how everyone else was in group therapy and I wanted to ask why she wasn’t in group therapy as well. Otherwise, there is a void. I don’t know if I went to school, ate, slept, or cried. I just remember when she came home (that’s when the narcolepsy hit, that’s when my mother ceased to be herself, and became this bony, shaking woman), I did not want to be there anymore.
And so I made myself leave.

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