Wednesday, May 24, 2006

on the verge...

it's really a shame that one of my favorite movies ever, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, doesn't translate well to audiences that don't speak Spanish. The movie's fucking brilliant. It's a very campy, very 80's portrayal of 24 hours in the life of a woman on the brink of suicide by first finding out that her lover has unexplainably left her, and then that she's pregnant by him. What follows is so absurd, it almost circles back to being perfectly rational. And that's why I think it's brilliant.

My life has, on so many occasions, taken such ludicrous turns as to seem irrationally logical. My Godmother used to joke that the things that happened to me in real life always reminded her of the old Perils of Pauline serial. Living a cliffhanger-like existence isn't good for one's sanity, tho. I have found myself many times on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and have quite possibly experienced one or two "mild" ones. It's quite possible, for example, that I was in the middle of one when I became unmarried & pregnant at 21... didn't quite manage to dodge THAT bullet, did I?

The raison d' etre for this post is that I'm feeling "that way" again, feeling my neck muscles so tight that I'm afraid they're going to crack, feeling the pressure all over my head and that void in the pit of my stomach and the temptation to just. allow. myself. to step outside. for a bit. Into the twilight zone. Because the life my body is occupying right now just doesn't seem right. It's a bit too... OFF. And I don't know how to convey this to Mo in a way he can understand it. I'm the one prone to angst, not him. He really doesn't get why I care about half the shit I do, and when I care SO much that I can't stop crying... well, what can he do other than hold me?

The by-product of finding out the other day that my friend Joan died in Puerto Rico, was that my uncle left a message asking me to call him back. What's that line from The Godfather, the one where Don Corleone says something to the effect that no matter how he tries to get away [from the mob life], he always gets dragged back in? This uncle is my mother's brother, a man I used to love and respect, until he came to visit me four years ago -- on the pretext of going camping with Hyde and I -- and dropped the bomb after he arrived that he has a whole other family on the side that no one else in my family knew about. It was supposed to be our fucking little secret, he just needed someone to talk to about it because it was stressful for him. Ah, thanks for sharing! Then, a year later he came up with some lame excuse for not coming to my wedding (like I get married every day, right?), although he did finally show thanks to my other non-insane family members who talked him into it. But I digress from the point of this post, this particular phone call. The deal is that, since El Niño was born we've spoken four times, and the last two times I've cried for a looooooong time after hanging up. My uncle deals with his emotional baggage by being The Rescuer. He is currently taking care of my mother and this is what he wanted to update me on. If you've read any of my other posts, you know that I have serious issues with my parents, most especially my mother. She is mentally ill, has been forever and most likely undiagnosed for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But he doesn't get it, doesn't get that she needs to be institutionalized because she is a danger to herself and others, and so he insists instead on recounting for me in detail the "strange" things that she does and the way that she acts and lives. How much more weight she's gained, how she doesn't take care of her diabetes, how she appears to be developing symptoms that could signal the onset of Parkinson's. His parting comment to me on Monday night is that if she were to die in the apartment she lives in (an apartment he owns and provides free of charge to her, even tho she is verbally abusive to him every chance she gets), she wouldn't even be found because of the smell... there would be no smell. The apartment has excellent cross-ventilation and the smell would be dissipated away from the neigbors. None of her friends have a key to the place, and he's usually away on business. He wanted me to know this. And I have to ask myself, WHY? Why did he make a point to tell me this? And why does that thought, the thought of her slowly decomposing while no one knows, terrify me so much? Why does the image of her nearly choking to death in the bathroom of a Ponderosa Steakhouse two weeks ago freak me out?

All my life, I've been terrified not just of my mother but of becoming my mother. Every time someone said I looked just like her or I talked just like her, I wanted to scream. Did they not see the differences? how could they miss them? I have my father's coloring, his nose and his lips. As I've become a mother and an adult woman (in my case, they pretty much happened at the same time), I've strived to avoid any similarities between the two of us. But the fear, the irrational, blind panic that it's inevitable for me to become just like her has rarely left me. Now that I'm older, sometimes I see her looking back at me in the bathroom mirror. I do NOT want to be that woman, I do not want to be that mother.

So, this is where I'm at, today. I feel like I'm on the verge... I have a wonderful husband who struggles to support me through this. I have a teenage son who -- unfairly -- thinks I'm an awful mother. And I have a tantrummy toddler who's teething. Somehow, I'll get through the day, and tomorrow will be better than today, just like today was better than yesterday. I'm in a quiet panic. I'm fighting the urge to crawl into a corner of my bathroom in a fetal position and keep the world at bay for as long as possible. I never set out to make this an angst-filled record of my days, I wanted to be funny and clever like so many of the other bloggers I read. But this is my life, right now. My throat is constricted and I'm blinking back the tears, focusing on taking the next breath and hoping Mo will get home soon so I can bury myself in his arms.

And finally, a big thank you to all of you who have visited and left comments in the last week about my friend Joan. She really was an amazing woman and I'm sure she would've loved to read all your blogs. She would've adopted you all too.

5 comments:

mama without instructions said...

wow. i don't know what to say. it probably doesn't help but i know a number of people (including myself) who are having a rough time lately. you are clearly not your mom and your constant awareness will keep you from becoming what/who you do not want to be. i hope things are better already today and that they continue in that direction. hang in there. big hugs to you.

PBfish said...

Damn. I just typed a whole comment and lost it. Sorry if this ends up being a repeat.

I'm so sorry that you are feeling this way. I wish I could give you a hug.
I'm with Mama W/out Instructions,
biology is not destiny. I really belive that being aware of the mistakes our parents made and then making the effort not to repeat them is half the battle. You are wonderful, don't ever forget that.

bitemycookie said...

" Somehow, I'll get through the day, and tomorrow will be better than today, just like today was better than yesterday. I'm in a quiet panic. I'm fighting the urge to crawl into a corner of my bathroom in a fetal position and keep the world at bay for as long as possible. I never set out to make this an angst-filled record of my days, I wanted to be funny and clever like so many of the other bloggers I read. But this is my life, right now. My throat is constricted and I'm blinking back the tears, focusing on taking the next breath and hoping Mo will get home soon so I can bury myself in his arms."

every.single.word. i know them all. i am sosososososososo sorry. i am also waiting for my prince to come home soon and help me make believe it's not as ugh as it is.

if i'm misery, then you're company (but you can be misery if you want to). all i have to offer you is hugs, but you can have as many as you want. i am sorry you have so much ick in your life right now.

nonlineargirl said...

No need to be funny, sometimes life does not make that possible.

But - Woman on the Verge? Funny, even in translation. I have a distinct memory of watching it with my sister and being in hysterics.

HeatherJ said...

i am so sorry that you are dealing with such sadness. I agree with everyone,you are not your mother and even though you are her daughter it does not mean you will turn into her. You are a great mama and a great woman.