April 5, 2013
Me and my chair buddy and my favorite t-shirt and all the lines on my face, and that thing I do where I pull one part of my mouth to the left and just kind of leave it there for the entirety of my public life.
And you know what? Maybe I DO want to talk about my dead mom all the time! DEAD MOM DEAD MOM DEAD MOM! I want to talk about it — her — the whole thing, and I don’t want to talk about anything else, so how about that?
Hey! For the last few years of her life, my mother was mentally ill, bankrupt, in poor physical health, and living in filth! How fucking horrible is that! REALLY FUCKING HORRIBLE, OKAY? And I knew she was going to die — I spent every fucking minute between 2009 and…now…worried every time the phone rang or even when it didn’t, thinking about the neglected animals suffering in their home that the ASPCA somehow couldn’t rescue,* in nigh-constant agony and guilt and shame and anger and grief and existential despair, unable to do a fucking thing. And I don’t think I realized that, until I looked back at my notebook from May, and saw how I’d been living day to day. This is the problem with journaling, and the problem with blogging, and the problem with therapy — your own words wind up confronting you with things you didn’t want to know, things you would take any amount of drug or sleep or spending to avoid knowing.
My mom died the day after Thanksgiving 2012. It was of course a Friday, and I had gone to the office for a few hours in the morning, where I started a document with the words, “I spoke to my mother the other night, for what may be the last time, for all I know.” I was trying to write about the last time I spoke to her, which was Thursday, November 9, when she hung up on me. I didn’t necessarily want to write about that call, but I knew that I had to get the dialogue and the details down on paper, for who knew what future use. I did not find out until the next day that she died while I was at the office writing about her, making those words come true.
I understand that, along with waterboarding, one of the most effective tactics of torture is forcing someone to watch a loved one suffer in front of them while they can do nothing. And that describes the last four years of my life. I know I’m not alone in this; I imagine that anyone who’s watched a loved one fight a fatal illness knows it well. I personally know people who have had it much worse than me on this score, and still, I’m going to crawl way out on this tree branch here and say mine was pretty fucking bad, and that sometimes I really don’t know how I’m functional at all, considering how incredibly, extremely ill my mother was for my entire life.**** And I’m really angry and really upset, and I feel like hell. I want to find someone to be nasty and mean and sarcastic to, and to scream at, and to blame — well, I already have the blame guy, but he’s so pathetic and mentally ill that being nasty and sarcastic to him would not even be fun. But if you know anybody who might be a good candidate for the verbal abuse and the screaming, like some asshole bully or something, I am on it. I should get myself a Sparring Bob.
I just looked for a full half hour for a gif of Lars Ulrich in the documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster screaming at James Hetfield, “When I think of you, I think FAAAAAAAAACK.”
(*ASPCA sucks for many reasons, and one is that it gets a Charity Watch rating of C+, which means that too much of the money does not go to programs or infrastructure but goes instead to sending me mail and purchasing ad time for their horrible, horrible ads which make everyone in the world want to kill themselves. I know the animal cops do the best they can in a heart-rending job, and they’re often hampered by state or town laws, but really, guys. You’re supposed to stop exactly this scenario from happening.**)
(** Adult Protective Services of New York can also go fucking die any old time, since that’s basically what they told me/my mother when I tried to get her some help. One of their operators actually said to me, “If he’s abusive, why hasn’t she tried to leave?” In a snotty tone of voice, too. If I owned a car that I knew how to drive, I would have shown up at her office that day and personally shown her what abuse looks like.***)
(*** OH YES I DID just retroactively threaten a municipal employee.)
(**** Lexapro, Wellbutrin, cannabinoids.)