CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Monday, 7 July 2008

My mother and other madness

Having come back to the UK, because I really had no option, I've intimated to friends that things are much worse than I envisaged - and I was expecting it to be really, really awful. Now I've had a few weeks to assess the situation, I can only conclude that my mother is no longer mentally capacitated (if she ever was.) Partly, I need to rant for my own psychological well being, but secondly, I'll take suggestions on how to deal with this impossible situation.

In public, she does a wonderful job of disseminating. Ask anyone who's met her: she's perfectly amiable. This makes it look like I'm making stuff up. She's told everyone she wished I would come to England, or that she couldn't wait for me to arrive, but now I'm here and in private, the story is very different.

She also appears convinced - i.e. has convinced herself, by nothing more than "wishful thinking" (or fantasy) - that I'm here simply by my own choice.

With the best will in the world, the problem is not one I can just ignore, nor decide not to let it bother me, because it impacts on every single thing one needs to do on a day to day basis, both large and - particularly - small.

That means it has a constant, nagging quality, akin to Chinese torture.

To begin, let's just take the latest example, concerning food: Last week, we managed to place an order and have some large and heavy groceries delivered by Tesco. This was a bloody miracle, because previously, she'd come up with 1001 reasons why we could not do that. Given that there is a delivery charge, however, this is only viable once a month or so for non-perishables. We couldn't have them frequently deliver fresh produce.

Getting out to buy fresh food is a real problem though. Because of exorbitant bus fares, delivery is cheaper than if I went to the shops so she'd already decided that I am not to go shopping, because she has a free bus pass.

However, a combination of poor quality; all the fruit and vegetables here seem to be already overripe and things will not keep, even in the fridge, for more than a couple of days - things kept better and longer in my fridge in Tenerife's heat, which leads me to conclude that the approx. 25 year old fridge is passed it too - means we can only buy for a couple of days at a time.

Or, her answer: buy everything in packets and frozen.

She gobbles packaged cakes, biscuits and sweets (while maintaining that she can't eat large meals.) That's her problem, of course, but she refuses to eat (and therefore buy) healthy food that I can eat. Her bird-like portions are not enough. I'm also lucky to get one piece of fruit a day, so my system is "blocked", but I'm so hungry, I'm dizzy and shaking half the time. Today, however, she wanted me to go shopping too, because she wants me to check an item in-store before we do another online order next month. There's no hurry for it. In fact, I can probably check it online (given more time to do so), or by phone, but I'd said I would go, if the weather permitted.

This morning was cold and raining - remember I've come from 16 years in a sub-tropical climate, I suffer all the symptoms of fibromyalgia and only have summer clothes with me because of the baggage limit, so I believe I said that as a wise precaution, not a silly whim - but no, none of that matters.

She wanted her own way and by golly, she was going to have her tantrum.

So, this morning she provoked a carbon copy of a venomous argument that we'd already had once a couple of weeks ago. Almost everything (healthy food) I eat, she deigns to be too expensive, or claims (unfounded) doesn't agree with her, so there seems little point in her standing at the door of my room, demanding in curt phrases and in an antagonistic, snarky tone, "And?", "What else then?", etc., for me to tell her what to buy, because whatever I say, she'll have an argument against it.

Just to give you an example of the impossible logic one is up against, she simply won't hear that things like fishfingers are not healthy, real food. Those, she "compliments" as being really nice, whilst a stew I made with all absolutely fresh, healthy ingredients, was (deliberately) criticized. The fishfingers were in the freezer already, with coatings so orange and glowing they look like they were made in the Sellafield nuclear reactor. If you gave those to kids, they'd be hyper for weeks! As soon as I ate some, my stomach blew up, painfully. The rest of the packet should go in the bin, in my opinion, but she won't hear of it: they must be used up.

And today, she gleefully - with a wild look, an evil cackle and glowing eyes of a madwoman - announced "Oh good, they'll make you nice and ill."

Another prime example: she has "Smash" potato in the cupboard and she defends it, pouting and shouting, saying it's made from "real potato". She absolutely refuses to accept that there is any difference, nutritionally or otherwise, between this powdered, processed and packaged, obesity provoking junk and the muddy things you dig up from fields.

The freezer is laden with other gross things in a bag pretending to be ready-to-roast potatoes. She thinks frozen vegetables are perfectly adequate too. Well, yes, some are acceptable, but not as one's only source.

She will buy what she damn well likes (she announced) - and I will continue to be hungry and unwell as a consequence (which she appears not to believe and disregards anyway) - but, instead of acceding to my request that she drop the subject before it turned into an argument, she just kept pushing the issue, defending her junk food choices and when that didn't work, insulting me, then starts telling me my behaviour needs to change, puts on her "superior, holier than thou voice" and booms for me to "get down the doctor then."

I'd have gladly walked away, but I couldn't, because she was in my room and, no matter what I said, would not leave and had to have "the last word".

Eventually she did storm off (still indignant that she was the injured party), then she just had to come back to dig the knife in again and, finally went out off to the shops, childishly, without saying a word; not that she was going, nor goodbye nor anything (not that I wanted her to by that point.)

The other day, she was cackling with her madwoman face on, telling me to get out of her house and go back to ... The irony was that she had wound herself up so much, she couldn't even remember where it was that I'd lived previously.

She wanted to be "left alone to die".

(You don't detect just a little melodrama here?)

Then she cackled even more saying that "they" can take her house, because then - even more evil looks and crazy cackling - she'd be glad I'd be left with nothing. And, at this point, quite rightly, you're asking yourself what the hell I've done to surely deserve such deliberate, nasty, venomously cruel treatment - from my own mother too. So am I and I know I can only give you my side of the story, but I promise you that I've never done anything so bad as to merit this.

And this is how it goes on, day after day.

Pamela is a former accountant, recovering journalist and international cat herder, disabled and chronically sick with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Fibromyalgia and Cervical spondylosis, fluent in three languages; English, Spanish and Rubbish. Mostly writes in the latter. She likes Genealogy, Model Railways and Cats.

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