Mother’s Day brings up many complex feelings for me. I try to find the most anodyne and bland card I can find, one that is filled with platitudes. One that has flowers or animals or something equally generic. I pick out some Muzak, scribble a nice note in it, then email it to my mother. I do the same on Father’s Day for my father before calling it a day. I dread picking out a card and I try to do it as quickly as possible.
I know it’s just a meaningless card on a made-up day. I know that there’s no reason to put much energy into it or emotion around it. But, it just reminds me of the fractured family I exist in and how exceptionally dysfunctional we are. I Zoomed with my parents and my brother earlier tonight. My brother has decided that the best way to deal with my parents is to feed them a steady stream of trivial tidbits. This time, he showed them a bunch of pictures he had taken on his previous two trips to Taiwan (I went on one of them) , and I got bored about ten minutes in. Ten more minutes later, he mentioned that I looked really interested (sarcastically, but it’s surprising that he noticed), which made me snap that there were so many pictures. I get what he’s trying to do, but he was dragging it out for far too long. I should have just used my words and said something, but I revert to a petulant child when I’m around my parents.
I can’t forget what I discovered about our family during my health crisis–and how deep the dysfunction runs. Everything that we had all shoved to the very back of the closet came bursting out during my medical trauma, and I can’t unknow that.
Before the Zoom call, my mother called me to thank me for the card. My father mentioned something about a German study saying you should gargle with warm salt water to prevent COVID. Which, I mean….I didn’t even have to Google it to know that wasn’t true. I Googled it, anyway, and, yeah, that’s a lie. You will not be surprised to find out that there is no such study that says any such thing.
I thought about keeping it to myself, but I decided to tell my father. Why? I don’t know. Honestly, because shit like that annoys the hell out of me. But, there was really no point to tell him because he was going to do what he was going to do. Even if he believed me that it wasn’t true, he would just believe the next half-assed thing someone in his network sent him. But I told him. And I told my mother. She asked if I had told my father and sounded…disappointed? Disapproving? Dis-something when I told her. Apparently, he was already doing it.
I knew it was pointless, but I told him that there wasn’t anything he could do other than the common sense protocol. Stay inside as much as possible, wear an N-95 when you go out, keep as far away from other people as possible, and wash your hands when you go home.
I get it. They’re up to 25,000 cases per day. My brother predicted this would happen–and he’s right. Just a year after he predicted it. So I understand why they would want to believe there was one miracle trick that would protect them, but there just isn’t. My father said at least it wouldn’t hurt. Which, fair. It wasn’t going to harm him to gargle warm salt water. But it wasn1’t going to protect him from COVID.
The thing is, I should have just let it go. It was no skin off my nose if he believed it, but I couldn’t. And it wasn’t even for the lofty purpose of concern that it might harm him. It was because it upsets me when he spouts off untruths even when they don’t affect me at all. He’s done it my entire life, and it’s taken its toll on me.
I’ve talked about all the positives that have come from my medical trauma. The one big negative is–well, not realizing the hard truth about my family. That’s been a long time coming and probably for the best to be out in the open. But, it’s how bitter I am about it when I used to just be resigned. That was just the way my family was and there was nothing to be said about it. Which is still how I feel, but it’s really hard to unsee what I’ve already seen.
There is so much subtext, I’m nearly choking on it. The lies are getting bolder and brazen, which is why something as simple as this fake German study can piss me off so much. It’s a displacement for what it actually annoying me–the dysfunction in my family. I wish I could go back to resigned, but I don’t seem capable of it. No matter how much I tell myself to CTFO, I get so mad at the stupid shit my parents say. And again, for the most part, it’s the same stupid shit they’ve always said. It’s just that I’m much less tolerant of it.
I don’t know what to do about it, honestly. I need therapy, I know, but I’m not sure if I want to do it now. Or rather, I don’t want to do it now, but I know I should. I know that it would be better in the long run if I dealt with the family issues, but something inside me resists it. Mostly because there doesn’t really seem to be any point. They are not going to change, which means the onus is on me. That makes me resentful, not going to lie. But I know that you can’t change other people, not even in the best of times. So I have to get over that and focus on what I can change–which is my attitude.