I was talking to my mother the other day–by the way, I curse my brother for teaching her how to Zoom. Not because she’s using it, but because she hasn’t quite got the hang of Zoom etiquette. She called me and asked if Zoom was working. She had sent me an email with an invite, you see, and I hadn’t clicked on it. I had to explain to her that if I wasn’t expecting an email, I didn’t check it–especially not that one. She kept rambling about Zoom and making sure it worked and she had sent me an email, and I had to tell her to chill the fuck out (not in those words, obviously) as I was clicking on the link.
Side Note: My mom has always been an anxious talker, but it’s gotten worse in the past few years. My brother and I were talking about it how you literally have to talk over her because she just won’t stop.
Side Note to the Side Note: This is actually true of both my brother and me as well. Not the anxious talker part (though that’s me), but just the talking part in general. My mom has complained to me about my brother talking so much as well, and I know that once I get on a tear, it can be hard for me to shut my trap as well. The difference is that I’m aware of this. I am working on it. I am pretty sure that’s not the case with either my brother or my mother. Oh, and my father also likes to pontificate from time to time, and he definitely has no idea when he does it. I just don’t talk to him as often as I do to my mother and my brother.
Back to the first side note. My belief is that it’s because my father has retired. I have no proof of that except that the chattering started about the same time he retired. My hypothesis is based on the fact that her whole life revolves around him. Now that he’s home the whole time, she’s probably talking to him more than not. He needs attention all the time, and she’s the one who gives it to him. He’s a very cruel and exacting person in that he’s both overweeningly arrogant and excruciatingly thin-skinned. He’s suspicious to the point of paranoid about people talking about him, and he can find something to take offense at in anything anyone says. So, my mom has to walk softly and constantly couch what she says in a way that he won’t take offense. It doesn’t work, obviously, which means more talking and frantic explanations.
Anyway, I had to cut her off and loudly tell her I was connecting so she would stop incessantly chattering. I have enough anxiety on my own; I do not need to take hers on as well. The last time we talked on Zoom (with my brother and my father), she and my father were running over all the worries they had which were mostly for my brother and me. She’s been doing this since the start of the pandemic, and while I understand it, it’s not helping me at all. I understand she’s worried about me and my brother. The bottom line is that there’s nothing she and my father can do. I’m not saying that in a nasty way but in a matter-of-fact way. They are in Taiwan, and my brother and I are in Minnesota. I have money; I have food; Currently, I am going out once a week (grocery shopping. I do go out to smoke periodically, but that’s for five minutes five feet from my house). I am washing my hands so much, my skin hurts.
It’s not helpful to be freaked out about it all the time. My mom insists that she’s not in her day-to-day life, but when she talks to me, she dumps ALL her anxiety on me. It’s a steady stream of freak-out, and I just can’t handle it. It’s also strange because I’m not freaking out about it in general. I mean, I have a low-level anxiety coursing through me most of the time, but it’s equivalent to what I feel all the time, anyway. The only two times it actively comes into play is when I’m sleeping, which is also something I have issues with, though in a different way. Now, it means that the time I fall asleep is all over the map as is the amount of time I actually sleep.
Secondly, when I go grocery shopping. Which, as I said, is once a week now. Then, I freak out at every interaction and WHY THE HELL ARE YOU WALKING SO CLOSE TO ME?!? It’s strange. This week has been unusually mild in weather, so I had the windows down as I was driving. That’s not the unusual part as I drive with my windows down until the temp hits zero or so, but the unusual part was that it was nearly 50 degrees. There was less traffic than usual, but there was still some. It was the same, and yet, there was a sad feeling in the air. At the co-op, most of the workers were wearing at least gloves, and some were wearing gloves and masks. Only a few weren’t wearing either, and one of them was being weirdly invasive about walking by people. She wasn’t purposely getting in their faces, but she would walk too close to them as she was shelving things.
Anyway, as I was Zooming with my mom, she was doing the anxious chatter about the coronavirus. she’s bugged me about masks (Asians take their mask seriously), food, money, and just about everything else. Talking up the hand sanitizer. Then, I mentioned that I was washing my hands so much that the skin hurt, and she said, that I shouldn’t overwash my hands. Three times a day was enough. Excuse me? That goes against all conventional wisdom that hand-washing was the number two most important thing to do behind social distancing or maybe just slightly ahead of it), and here my mom was being all blase about it. She was pushing hand sanitizer so hard but shrugging at hand-washing?
It just emphasizes how we all have our own weird spots about things like this. Anxiety plays out differently in each of us, and this is her limit. Granted, it’s a really odd limit to have in this pandemic, but you know. Anxiety isn’t rational–WHY AREN’T YOU WASHING YOUR HANDS, MOM? Ok, I just don’t get this one. But, as I said, it illustrates the point that we’re all reacting to this in our own personalized way. My brother has been harping on the mask as well, mentioning more than once that he thinks I should wear a mask when I go out. Mind you, he’s still going out every day, sometimes more than once, and meeting with many many people. I’m going out once a week and meeting not so many people. I wash my hands compulsively when I get home, and that’s the end of that. We’re all doing our own risk assessment, and I’m trying to remember that we’re all doing what we think is best.
It doesn’t always help. I don’t want to think about the virus all the time. Before this, she would talk about my father and her issues with him for hours–I just realized that he’s not being paranoid when he thinks she’s talking about him. Maybe not in the moment, but she does talk about him an awful lot, and much of the time it’s to complain. In addition, when he was having health issues, she would talk about it to anyone and everyone who would listen–sometimes right in front of him. I would fucking hate that if it were me, so I can see his point to a certain extent.
My mom has to be anxious about something, and right now, it’s the covid-19. When this is all said and done, it’ll probably be my father again. Sigh. I’m not sure which I prefer less.