Nothing Like a Call From The Psych Ward

5 01 2011

To get your day going. But that’s exactly what awaited me after a rather depressing office meeting yesterday. It was news to me that my crazy mama was even taking her yearly vacation at the Nut House, but it didn’t come as a surprise. It WAS a pleasant surprise that one of her therapists actually wanted to talk to me. I’ve long suspected that mama is less than honest with the people charged with helping her. The conversation ended up focusing on my sister’s death. Mama is, understandably, more upset around holidays where my sister is concerned. The therapist asked me if I minded sharing with her the circumstances regarding her passing. I retold the story of  how she was in a car accident, on a particularly curvy mountain road, hit some black ice, and slid off the hillside to a tree below.

So she wasn’t murdered?”

“Oh, geez, is she back to that?”

“She relayed to me that your sister’s fiance had cut the brake lines to the car and was currently serving a life sentence for that crime.”

I set the doctor straight. This whole story, which I’d heard before, doesn’t even stand the test of common sense. Even if said fiance hadn’t had a rock solid alibi–he was in jail on a drug charge at the time!–the story isn’t at all plausible. The stretch of road the accident occurred on is notoriously bad in winter, and my sister had driven several hundred miles away to visit friends somewhat last minute. There’s no possible way the brakes worked fine on a four hour drive only to fail in a  hairpin curve coated in ice.

The therapist, attempting to ascertain what sort of support system mom had, told me a few key things. First, that mom doesn’t like going to family functions because “everyone acts as if nothing ever happened.” Now, I’m not exactly sure what she expects here, perhaps that we should all adorn our Christmas trees with ornaments bearing my sister’s likeness? Or join hands in a circle every holiday and chant her name? What mom really means, to those of us who know her, is that at family functions she isn’t the center of attention so she would just as soon not come because she thinks it makes more of an impression if she doesn’t. (And she usually doesn’t–always faking an illness hours before any planned event, it’s a running joke whether she will come down with a mysterious migraine or pretend to have diahrea.) While all of the family has urged mom to get a grip on the condition of her house, even offered numerous times to help, mom translated this to the therapist as “no one understands, they want me to get rid of any sign she was ever around” I explained to the therapist that mom’s house was like something out of “Buried Alive”–that there are quite literally rooms you can’t even walk into, and that mom insists on clinging to things that have nothing at all to do with my sister (dozens upon dozens of angel figurines, bottles of shampoo, boxes of cereal).

The truth of the matter is, mom is an attention whore. She feels that the world in general owes her something and that she isn’t required to give it anything in return. And while I’ve no doubt that her grief is real (though I suspect a good bit of it is GUILT because she was a terrible mother to my sister), it’s really just her latest means of working the system, getting the pity she so desperately craves, and excusing her own behavior.

The therapist told me she was going to confront mom about the imaginary murder. She gave me her phone number and urged me to call her back if I could think of anything else. Boy did I. I took notes, even. But, my call went unanswered, and I suspect Mom, having been called out on her bullshit, simply checked herself out of the hospital.




3 responses

5 01 2011

We’ll said, V V! I agree with everything except one little fact…not YEARLY vacay at nuthouse…more like quarterly. . She was in about 6-8 weeks ago, wasn’t she? Isn’t that when she managed to teach “insert name here” some of the finer points of working the psych system?
And, this is the first time that I’ve actually heard someone say that she was not all that great of a mother to L. You’re right…she wasn’t.
All I can say is….BLESS YOUR HEART! and I’m around if ya need me.

5 01 2011
The Vinyl Villager

oh thats right! I forgot about the blind date that ended at the Crisis Center! LOL!
well, if no one has said it before, they must have thought it. I think she was pretty good when we were little, but as soon as she got divorced, her number one priority was finding another husband, followed by finding some pills, followed by finding a government program to pay for it all. I really think in her heart she knows it, too, and the guilt is eating at her.

5 01 2011

What do I think? Well, I think that you are absolutely right!

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