I was there, at my mother’s house, not at all enjoying my spring break, tending to her after her knee replacement surgery, when I discovered she’d been lying to me to get me up there.
Her cats had tapeworms again. After I had taken them to the vet in January, two months before. This was one of the few things I told her I needed her to do for me to come up there. I just needed her to treat them for fleas consistently so I could be in her house without parasites. She said she would
I felt manipulated. Used.
At this point, I don’t trust her anymore. She’ll do whatever she feels she has to and will say whatever she feels she has to in order to get whatever she wants. My needs, comfort, health and safety don’t matter.
That’s not at all to speak of her cats’ health. I asked a couple of people if I should get them treated again and they told me the same thing: if you treated them two months ago, and they’re sick again, they’ll just keep getting infected. There’s nothing you can do for them.
Unfortunately, I think they’re right.
Then I came back here and tried to get work done. I didn’t get anything done up there. Yes, poor me! I have the privilege of being one of the elite few in the world who can earn an advanced degree full-time. I have no illusions about where I am in the world. This is the top, really. I have clean water, a safe place to lay my head, an automobile–this is great. I do get anxiety, though. I’m behind in my work.
And I churned out a book for a contest just now. I’m proud of it, and proud of myself. It’s good work. Poems. No one would read it except for my boyfriend. They’re too depressing. Everyone said to send them some, but they didn’t really want to read them because they’re too down. I understand; they’re all about death. That’s not something people really want to read.
My habit has been to wait for the muse to come to me and then work off of inspiration, and I didn’t do that this time. I just worked through the time I had allotted. There was only so much time, so that’s the amount of time I had to work on it. It’s still work I’m proud of. This means I can do this always–it’s a new skill for me. I feel like I should have had this sooner (I’ve been writing for twenty years! I should be here by now!), but I’m at where I’m at and it’s here.
I also feel bad today because I set a boundary that was the right thing for me, but I don’t think the other person saw it that way. I can justify and explain and make a case to you, but I don’t have to. I know what was the right thing for me to do. I can’t hurt myself today because that’s what I think other people want and need. I have to put my own oxygen mask on first. Besides, I don’t know what they need! I’ve never been that good at figuring that out. I destroyed my own life and showed up somewhere with a shoebox full of most of the pieces and needed help putting them together. What do I know from life coaching?
Boundaries are tough, y’all. But living without them? Way fucking worse. You can take that to the motherfucking bank.
My mother is an artist. Her medium is reality. You know how some people work with oils, or clay? She shapes facts, events and time. It’s folk art more than a trained thing.
She’s a liar, is what I’m saying.
The world isn’t what she wants it to be, so she makes it up to be more comfortable for herself. But when she lies about me? Oh no. Fuck that shit.
Here’s the nasty truth of this particular matter: one of her cats is obese. Morbidly so. He’s a nice cat, sure. (He keeps tapping me on the shoulder while I’m typing, asking politely if I haven’t forgotten to give him some extra calories. Oh, he has as much kibble as he wants. But lardito wants gravy.) But he’s gotten too fat to wash his own ass. That’s disgusting. Today, on his normal sleeping blanket, there was cat shit. That is so far from okay I can’t. So I washed his blanket. I told Moms about this, because I will not be giving him treats or extra food. He does not need to weigh seventeen pounds. He needs to wash his own ass. I’d get him a rag on a stick and be done with the matter, but he doesn’t have thumbs and can’t use that, so he needs to shed the three or so pounds.
I found him sleeping on something else today while my mother was talking on the phone. (Mom has weird phone manners. Relevant, as she will talk about me while I’m present.)
Here’s what happened:
- Fat ass cat was sleeping on something.
- I picked him up. He was resistant. He had been asleep. He wasn’t angry, just sleepy and confused. He held onto the pillows he was sleeping on with his claws. (Who wouldn’t be a bit or a bunch upset? I don’t like it when people bother my sleeping body either. Apparently, I just wail, Why? in a sad and small and broken way. Unfortunately for me, my lover thinks this is adorable. Fortunately, he is not a sadist and has impulse control and doesn’t do this on purpose since the first time when he tried to smooth the furrow out of my brow while I slept. “You looked so sad, so upset! I was just trying to help. You sounded like you were channeling the ghost of a wounded bagpipe.”)
- I put fat’n’fur’n’browneye on the floor.
- I put a protective blanket on what gingery bacon had been sleeping on. He hopped up on it and went back to sleep.
Here’s what my mom said to her friend on the phone:
“Oh, Seer’s waking George up. Yes, she doesn’t want him sleeping on the chair. She wants him sleeping on a blanket. She’s waking him up because…because she thinks he’s too fat. Yes, she thinks he’s too fat.”
On what planet does that make sense? There are lots of fat people and creatures in this world. I don’t have an air horn in my hand waking them all the time. NO…SLEEP…FOR FATTIES! All god’s children deserve forty winks. I’ve been a big girl too, you know. I used to weigh about seventy more pounds than I do right now. That’s why my belt has thirteen extra inches on it. Because it used to fit me. Never forget. But why judge the obese? Not my steez. It was hard being fat. And everyone has their own issues with their own weight, good, bad, and indifferent, no matter what they weigh. I have mine, you have yours.
When Moms lies about shit like this, here’s what happens: her friends come over and ask me about these things and will hammer on me for harassing a poor fat cat. I can either put up with their wheedling or I can tell them there was cat shit on the furniture. Either way, I’m a horrible person. Either for being irrational or busting Moms on her disgustingness.
I told her today not to lie about what I’m doing. I told her it wasn’t fair. That it gave me no space to defend myself. She looked blank, as if she didn’t understand what she had done to wrong me. I explained again: I tell them nothing, I’m an asshole who hates him; I say there’s cat shit on your furniture, I’m an asshole and the house is filthy. She said the clipped, “Okay,” the one that really says, Stop picking on me. I am defenseless. I didn’t watch her to see if she started wiping her eyes later. She’ll cry over that. In my experience, those with no boundaries can’t stand having one set.
Later, I realized I got triggered by the whole thing. It happened in the moment, the triggering, but the knowledge didn’t surface until later. Because this has all happened before. More than once.
The worst instance that I can specifically remember was a long time ago. I was having terrible symptoms about twelve years ago before my medications got straight, and I couldn’t stand to go out and harvest the tomatoes in the backyard. Every time I saw a tomato hornworm I felt them crawling on me for hours (I have tactile hallucinations when I’m really ill). She told all her friends I was afraid of insects–they never asked, she would just bring it up, Guess what’s wrong with Seer now, the princess–and they would mention it. So I could either tell them I had psychotic symptoms as a result of my thought disorder or be teased by her friends. (Yes, grown adults in their fifties would tease a grown woman in her twenties who was for some reason now living at home. Some people are assholes.)
She folds my life around hers in ways that makes her feel more comfortable. I understand this behavior is one of her coping mechanisms. I understand this logically. Emotionally, it fucks me up. I feel manipulated. I feel used. I feel angry. I feel things I am not able to process or name or aware of yet because I am not an especially emotionally awake person. I’m learning the language, but I live in my body. I dissociate from my mind and I am not fluent in heartspeak. I’m learning to sit in both without flinching, but I still fidget.
I doubt she’ll ever stop doing it, the lying. And I know it’s not my job to control her.
It is my job to learn to stand up for myself and act appropriately. I’m getting there. Slowly. Fifteen years in almost, and getting there.
But it is hard. I don’t like it, and in no small part because of this: I don’t like remembering the person who gave birth to me does not or cannot or will not take care of me. I don’t like that at all.
And now, a short play for Quink. I have posted it on Craigslist before, if you’ve seen it there or someone else. I’m quite flattered if someone took the time to take my content if they thought it was worth the stealin’! The responses I got from it were quite varied. Some people took it very literally, which is strange. After you read it, you’ll see why that’s so strange.