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May 5, 2008 by 8junebugs

Would the real “good children” please stand up?

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you have placed a moratorium of indefinite duration on communication with a parent to protect your own tenuous grip on sanity. This is not a decision said parent will support — it’s not how The Family works, generally, and that probably explains a lot.

Because crazy is totally contagious.

But you’ve finally, finally realized that your life and interactions with your peers and loved ones suffer significantly when you talk to your parent more often than, say, once a month. In fact, the only way you were able to make and trust a recent important decision was to not let the parent in on it until it was over.

The last thing you needed was input from the crazy.

So now that parent is sick. Sort of. Maybe. There’s a lot of coughing over the phone and talk of stress tests put off because of allergic reactions to medication and a “blockage” of some kind that will result in angioplasty.

This parent is known to lie. A lot. Also, this parent’s blood pressure and cholesterol have remained steadily at two clicks above “legally dead” for 50+ years. So you have to wonder what might be causing a “blockage” that would result in angioplasty. And why someone with such low blood pressure would be given a blood thinner. Which would, of course, cause an allergic reaction that makes breathing difficult to impossible.

Strangely, this ailment kicked in at exactly the time you said, “I will call if anything important happens, good or bad, but otherwise, I need to be on my own for a while.”

So what do you do? Call and check in every other day, which is exactly what you’re trying not to do? Tell the parent to keep you posted about test results and surgery dates? Ignore the whole goddam thing? Your sibling, who tends to be softer-hearted than you most of the time, still wants to give the parent the benefit of the doubt. You could call your uncle, but who wants to be called on the carpet for not trusting reports of serious health problems? What a rotten kid you must be, right?

Wrong. I have no idea yet what I’m going to do about this, if anything. I’m starting over in my own life after trying to start a life with someone. At my age, my parents owned property and had a kid, but that’s not how it’s playing out for me. On that side of the family, I am the only one who “got away.” I was the first (and still only) to finish a four-year degree, and that will be true of my grad degree as well. I went back there for less than a year before coming to DC and was kept sane only by regular trips to Manhattan (my boyfriend was at Columbia) and huge-ass phone bills.

And overtime. I worked a lot of overtime.

I’m never moving back “home.” As much as my family says they’ve come to terms with that and understand, this parent just changed to sneakier tactics. Home is where I’m happy and surrounded by people who love me for who I am. Odd that that’s not around my family, but there you have it.

(I sometimes wonder if, after Jay broke up with me, things would have gone differently if I had not agreed to the immediate suggestion to “come back home” for almost three weeks. It sure as hell didn’t help. But things would likely have gone in the same direction, considering where I ended up…and I’m quite okay with that. Somehow, all roads lead back to the beginning.)

So, what ya got? Do I assume the role of prodigal daughter and play along, or do I call bullshit when necessary and try to focus on my own life? What would you do?


Additional: Fortunately, I’ve developed some really great relationships with friends’ parents. Unfortunately, some of them have significant health issues and my parent is fully aware that I would be on a plane ASAP if one of those people (who didn’t carry me for nine months) took a turn for the worse. I’d be there to support my friend, but also out of respect for the people who parented me when they didn’t have to.


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