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My Staring Contest With Mars

I spent a big chunk of yesterday channeling my mother.

My mother was a borderline personality with three basic behavior settings: narcissism, screaming rage, and suicidal depression.

Channeling my mother is never fun.

I seemed to be stuck in my mother’s rage setting. I wanted to scream at people and lash out. I wanted say to say unforgivable things that would wound them to their deepest cores.

I had absolutely no idea what had brought this on, but I handled it as I usually handle it, which is to say I isolated myself in the Patrizia-torium, and when I ventured out, I plastered a big smile on my face, which to me felt exactly like a skeleton’s grin but hey! it passed for pleasant.

There’s no justification whatsoever for taking one’s toxic emotional states out on innocent bystanders.

In the evening, I went down to the kitchen to make dinner (pesto!) and ran into Little Megan who is dealing with a family crisis straight out of Switched At Birth or one of those other TV shows on the Family Network that 14-year-old girls keep on in the background when they’re sharing makeup and blowjob tips with their friends on SnapChat.

I’m more favorably impressed by Little Megan every time I talk to her. In fact, I would love to meet her parents so I could congratulate them on having raised a singularly beautiful, accomplished, smart, well-balanced daughter. How did they do it?

Little Megan actually asked me for advice! I can’t tell you how moved I was by this! I give good advice as a matter of fact since I think strategically, and it’s always made me sad that my own kids don’t value my counsel in the slightest.

Little Megan recounted the crisis gravely: Younger sister! Pool party! Vodka! Alcohol poisoning! 911! Girl taken away on stretcher.

“Get out of my way!” the paramedic snapped at the girls in their bikinis. He didn’t add, “You stupid bitches,” but it was in the big thought balloon looming over his head.

“See, Caroline confides in me,” Megan said. “She doesn’t confide in my mother at all. They get into it a lot. My mother can be… blunt. And I read Caroline the riot act; she was crying on the phone. ‘You are making bad choices,’ I told her. She’d never heard me speak to her like that before. But now, I think I need to talk to my mother. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to betray Caroline’s confidences. But…”

“Well, first of all, your mother knows what happened,” I said. “Because the mother of the girl who OD’d will have called the parent of every girl at that party. That you can be sure of.”

“I don’t want my mother to go off on Caroline! My mother can be so mean! I want to tell her, ‘You need to back off—‘”

“No, don’t do that,” I said. “Don’t interfere with your mother’s parenting. She’ll resent it. In big families, there’s often a delegation of the roles traditionally associated with parenting. I get that. But still: She’s the parent. I would frame the conversation more as, If Caroline stops trusting me, we lose this information conduit into what she’s doing and feeling. Your mother will see the sense of that. I would also emphasize that Caroline did call 911.”

“Yeah. The one good thing she did.”

“And it was a big good thing. It may have saved that girl’s life. Point out to your mother that it would be most unwise to shame Caroline to the point where covering up might ever seem more important that doing the right thing.”

“Here’s the deal,” I continued. “Everybody makes mistakes. Making mistakes is a constant, never-ending process! Teenagers in particular make mistakes. What you want to do is keep the people you love from doing is making mistakes that are irretrievable.”

“That’s a really, really good point,” Megan said.

I felt so vindicated! I was Leah Thompson! I was Dr. Huxtable without the rufies and the rape!

I stepped outside to watch the last of the fireflies slowly circle and right there, in the sky’s southern quadrant, beaming malevolently down upon me was the red planet Mars. The brightest object in the sky!

Mars, my native planet. Mars, the planet of war, bellicosity, in-your-face-osity, are-you-talking-to-me?-osity. Mars, the pushy planet that takes offense at the blink of an eye.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been in this terrible mood all day, I thought to myself. Mars has challenged me to a staring contest.

I haven’t blinked, so I’d call it a draw.

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2018 11:53 pm (UTC)
I plastered a big smile on my face, which to me felt exactly like a skeleton’s grin but hey! it passed for pleasant. That brought to mind a mental picture of Nancy Pelosi. Scary :)
Aug. 8th, 2018 12:13 am (UTC)
That's too bad. I dislike Nancy Pelosi.
Aug. 8th, 2018 04:14 am (UTC)
It's nice when a younger person asks for advice. You gave her good advice.
Aug. 8th, 2018 06:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :-)

I often wonder what kind of a mother I would have been to a daughter. Hanging out with Megan gives me a little peek. :-)
Aug. 8th, 2018 06:44 am (UTC)
I like the advice you gave to that girl. And I like that she was able to talk with you about it.

I sometimes find myself giving similar advice to my students about mistakes--about how you're going to make them, so learn from them, so you don't make the mistake that kills someone.

When I lived down in Oakland, I worked in a clinic in an old brick warehouse along the railroad tracks in Emeryville. Back in the back of the storeroom, was a door, that led to the unused part of the old warehouse, which was huge, and dark, as there were no lights beyond the door. It was the perfect place to rage. I could go back there and yell, and no one would hear me. Sometimes I took an aluminum crutch and beat it against the brick wall. I imagine eventually when the building was renovated, someone probably wondered about all those deformed crutches lying in the dark.

Aug. 8th, 2018 06:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. You have changed! I can't imagine the person whose LJ I so enjoy reading ever screaming in an old warehouse. :-)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )