Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Analyse This and That and Those and Them

Does anyone remember the Oracle in The Matrix? She tells Neo that he is NOT the one, and then Morpheus tells him (and all of us) that what the Oracle said was for him, and him alone. It's all very confusing, until we see how cannily that Oracle had fixed it - "Would you still have broken the vase if i hadn't said anything?" This kind of mind-manipulation is what therapy is about. It doesn't matter what the facts of the case are - it's what you believe is the truth that needs to be battled, not the real demons but the imagined ones.

No, i'm not a shrink, nor seeing one. But a few days ago, i did seriously consider finding me an empathetic stranger whom i could spill my guts to. I was willing to do the whole "lie on the couch and tell me why you hate your mother" routine, if i could be guaranteed the answer to everything and everything (no, it's not 42) about my world and why i feel i'm messed up. I ultimately didn't find the shrink, but i did find a friend who gave me an assignment:

Question: "Write a letter to your father which you will never mail."

Dear B,
I wish i knew you. I wish you knew me. I wish that when we talked, i felt that you were family, and not just some stranger on the other end of the line that i'm paying lip-service to. I wish i could talk to you about the boys in my life, and be able to trust what you say because you have lived an honorable life. I wish you were the person i would consider calling if i was in trouble, and not scroll down my phone list to find a friend. I wish i could believe in you and not always feel that our interactions are a negotiation of truth. I wish i could explain the feeling of loss i felt when you walked out of my life with a "see you later". I wish i could explain the betrayal i felt when you blamed me for choosing my mother, and thus 'becoming' my mother. I wish i belonged somewhere, to someone, to something solid, enduring, and not be the footloose nomad who was a child of the world. I wish i felt unadulterated joy when i knew that "dad" was coming to visit. I wish i didn't feel indifferent to you.

"Write a letter to your mother which she will never read."

Dear M,
I wish you would let me go. Not make me the receptacle of your joys and sorrows, not make me feel like the one who has to make up for all the wrongs done to you by your mother, your brother, your husbands, your son, your friends, etc. I don't want to be the de-facto peace keeper of the family, i don't want to be the soothing voice of reason when all about me are losing their heads, i don't want to be made to feel guilty for not calling 'because you know i'll worry' (don't worry.) or not spending enough time with you when you visit (nothing is enough). I wish you wouldn't be so verbal about all your stresses because I tend to absorb your anguish, and it pisses me off that you couldn't find someone your own age to do this with. I wish between you and B, both of you could have taught me the basics of having a normal relationship, instead of haranguing me with "what's happening with your love life?" I wish i didn't have to bear the cross of the 'one good thing' in your life, paraded in front of all. I wish i didn't have to be your knight in shining armour.

Etc etc.

Now for the facts of the case:

A long time ago i had written something down in this very blog. At that time, it was about getting over a heartbreak, but the underlying emotion is the same. I have a choice - either blame my parents for everything wrong with me or accept that they're regular people just doing the best they can. The former leads me to a painful shut down of systems, wailing about the injustice of it all, while the latter leads me to the recognition of my parents as people and taking responsibility for how i let them affect me... in short, it leads me to adulthood.

Growing up is overrated.


ag said...

Oh searcher, I'm sorry.

I don't know if I've already written this to you before. But I come from a home where my parents fought like dogs. They are still married. I have grown up to be chickenshit in most aspects of life. Career included. No I don't blame them for everything. Specially the career part. I secretly wished they got a divorce I feel I am messed up in my relationships too. So 'not' getting a divorce is not always a good thing for a family.

That said, your pain is different. Grass is greener on the other side. And no one can ever understand what you are going through unless their circumstances were the same. Yeah my parents hated each other, but individually they loved me. I don't know how much more/or less messed up I would be had they gotten a divorce.

But I understand your pain is different. Its not only that you lived the hatred your parents had for each other, but you father left you for another woman. He chose his happiness over yours. I am so sorry searcher. Despite the ongoing debate about if divorce is better than being in a bad relationship, I am so happy that my parents never got a divorce. Now that we kids have left the house and they are alone, they are forced to like each other. They fight much less.They are happier now. Was this worth waiting for after 3 decades of marriage and misery-I don't know.

Searcher said...

Thanks Ag. I don't wish that my parents had not gotten divorced. I just wish that despite it, i could have been left with a "map" that atleast shows the path well-trod even though they chose the road less travelled (atleast at that time) :-)