Monday, 22 June 2009

The Mother

I have written about J's mother more extensively than I'd like to consider, in previous editions of this blog. However, never before have I had to endure her presence in my own house. This is largely because I have never owned my own home before, but also because we try to avoid her as much as possible.

This time, however, there was no mercy. I had snatched J away to a foreign land (as she would soon let me know), ruined his carreer and cruelly left her behind (as she would soon let him know), so we figured the least we could do was invite her over.

She wanted to come for ten days, but we managed to limit it to a week, and I also arranged to go and see my parents for the weekend, which cut back on the time I had to cope with her actually in my own home.

Of course, it was a disaster. For a closer description of J's mum, read either my previous posts on her, or the DSM-IV R diagnostic criteria for histrionic and OC personality disorders in a merry marriage.

When she landed, she was all smiles, saying how she loved my flat, the view from it, etc. etc. The next morning, however, her self-control had been stretched beyond its limits and the poison started seeping out from the crack of her tightly shut lips. Over the next few days she complained about:

The lack of comfort of our sofa bed
The fact that we didn't have a special piece of furniture for her suitcase to rest on
The price of food
The selection of vegetables in the shop
Quality of the town's museums and exhibitions
The fact that I wasted £13 on a wall decoration
That J and I speak English togehter, which impairs his language learning
Quality of the ice cream in the country (which she of course had not actually tasted)
The quality of the antiques displayed in a nearby shop
The bumpiness of the roads in the mountains
How her sightseeing tour was boring
Quality of the guiding on another tour

Before you think this was cancelled out by words of praise re. other things, this was not the case. She liked nothing. She did not want to eat out with us, she did not want to have coffee, and she actually didn't spend a penny on us the whole time she was here, until J pressed her to pay for a ticket to a sight she insisted we take her to see, so she could complain of how overrated it was. I am not saying that parents are money banks, but yes, actually they are.

My parents, in addition to kindly providing me with the funds to allow me to have a mortgage size compatible with full-time study, have also lovingly helped furnish my flat, and they have enjoyed being part of J and I building our home together, because they want us to be together, and this is one way of expressing that.

She brought some chocolate with her, though she probably knows perfectly well that I don't eat chocolate, but nothing for the house. She bought us not as much as a coaster, nor did she at any point express being happy because we are living together (when she arrived, it was the flat she liked, not how we have decorated it).

On top of this of course, she started several blazing rows with J, and I had to calm her down afterward, amid thinly veiled accusations that I have turned J against her. She called her son "a monster" and her young nieces "selfish and manipulative".

Of course, nothing is wrong with her, because, as she says, she did everything in his best interests. Unfortunately, doing one's best as a parent one can still damage a child beyond repair. I am of course hoping that J is at least partly repairable.

Then we travelled to see my parents. She first threatened not to come at all as J was being such a monster (his cardinal sin was to tell her that she was being very negative towards me), but I pointed out to her that my parents had made preparations and would be very sad not to see her (a total lie, but I wanted them to see what she is really like).

She then repeated her complaints there. My mother was gutted, convinced that they had been horrible hosts, as she doesn't have the expertise in dealing with personality disordered guests as I do. She asked me if she was being awful for not inviting J's mum back, as one normally does when a guest leaves. Naturally, I told her not.

So then it took me two weeks to piece J together after having been told he is a worthless monster who dares to oppose his mother. He is currently looking for a psychologist. I am tempted to write to her and ask that she covers the £70 per session bill. What does it help that he demonstrates being a loving partner, a dutiful and capable employee, a supportive friend, when those words ring in his ears every morning when he wakes.

But at least it is over for now, and we won't have to see her again for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The one I'm not

I live by the rules, she lives by her principles. Quite often they overlap, most of the time they don't.

I have gotten a grip of myself, I think.

And then something happens, something small, and I start dreaming of him again. Though the dreams have changed, too. Last night, we were sitting next to each other at a wooden table, his daughter playing on the floor in front of us, showing me things, looking up countries in a Times atlas. He is proud of her. He put two fingers over my hand, casually, and somehow I was contented, but there is still the longing.

Of course there is longing for pleasure, the kind of pleasure that fries your brain and makes you sit in the bushes outside someone's house for five days just to catch a glimpse of them. But that pleasure, I think I'm too old for it. I don't think my body could take it. Even these emaciated flashes of longing I get when I see him now, they stretch my comfort limits.

Longing for what? I know that the person I am longing for is not really him, it is the person he lets me feel that I am. She is beautiful, creative, she speaks in poetry and moves in mysterious ways, disappearing and reappearing like the hallucination of an oasis in the desert.

I am beautiful, and I write my poetry alone, though I sometimes hear his voice in my ear and turn around to see his shadow disappearing around the corner.

But also, when he speaks to me, of me, at me, I know I can do anything. When I'm on my own, I am not so sure. He makes suggestions I don't always follow, but they are suggested with such undying conviction. When he is there, I have to do that for myself, and it's hard.

My parents, of course, also think I could do anything I put my mind to. But they have no idea what I do all day. He does, and he still thinks I can do it. That really means something to me. Should I be able to do that for myself, is that an impossible demand to place on someone?

I long to be that girl again, because she is a girl, she is 19, and likes to spend her evenings curled up on a salvation army couch, reading long-lost old comics and drinking very milky tea with honey, and he whispers to her and looks up from his book and shares a quote, and he says how he loves it when she is enjoying something, because he thinks she has passion.

And that's it, too. I think I lack passion. My life is passionless. I know that I don't feel this intense desire and appreciation for many things in life, but I do feel them about words, words dancing with each other on the page, him the commentator relaying the highlights from the event.

J does not understand words. He counts their letters and remembers their meanings, but he has no appreciation of the way they move on the page, like loves, like the ocean, like fragments of a memory. And therefore, though he loves me more than he has ever loved another woman, he does not see that part of me, that longs to speak poetry and live an enchanted life.

No woman can go through her life being a princess, unless, of course, she is one. And when I look at her, the one I'm not, I know that the only way I can stay that way, kittenish, unflawed, sensual, is for someone who sees me once a month and doesn't see that I never tidy the living room, though I don't think he would much care.

And here's the rub. I want to be that girl, but I don't want the life I would have to lead being with him. I am not like the other woman. I have principles, yes, but intrinsically, I live by the rules and I like it that way. I want to have a nice house by the sea, where I can open the window and feel the sea air rush in, sit in a quiet place drinking iced tea with my top off, writing my poetry, putting toenail polish on my toes. I am not a rebel.

So I have to work even harder to find that 19-year old within myself, to nurse her, quell her insecurities on my own. Every morning, I must tell myself I am beautiful, and poetry will run from my fingertips.

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