May 04, 2007

Resolution of Disney Problem

I am of course following the “demands” of Lynnie and Dr O’Malley due to the threat of hospitalization as much as anything, but am also relieved to have the decision taken out of my hands, as I was pretty much dreading the trip. Joe is on the fence about going. I am not sure he wants to, but doesn’t want to disappoint Karen. Karen thinks he does want to go, and she certainly does. So unless Joe can be honest with himself and with Karen, and really decide one way or another, they will go whether or not he wants to, simply because he wouldn’t speak up. I wish I could do it for him, but except for telling Karen what Joe told me, that he was afraid he would lose her friendship if he cancelled the trip (what he’s really afraid of is that she’d be so angry she’d never drive him to the Clinic again, which he desperately depends on) there is not much more I can do. She wants to talk with him herself, and I know she will try to persuade him to go. So I asked her to please start the conversation with her reassurance that she would never drop him as a friend over his canceling the trip, even though she would be disappointed.

As for Karen and me, I don’t know what goes on between us, nor how much is deliberate or even real on her part, and how much is pure paranoia on mine. For example, for a while I was certain Karen secretly drove my car to avoid using up her own gasoline, because my gas seemed to be going down at an alarming rate (my homemaker drives me 65 miles to Fairfield every week and back to see Dr O...that was why it disappeared so fast). I had no reasonable reason to believe this. She has NEVER DONE ANYTHING remotely suspicious. I simply suspect her of nefarious motives and behavior...This is the problem: she NEVER turns out to feel or corroborate much of anything my mind accuses her of, either secretly or to Joe or in my blog. Sure, she is overly assertive, but that comes in handy when Joe needs something and people are disinclined to give it, or if I need help with a difficult phone call. And she uses her handicapped status shamelessly to get what she wants. I also happen to believe that she could work and certainly could have worked twenty years ago instead of being given SS disability, but somehow wrangled enough doctors into agreeing with her desire not to work such that she got it...But that’s her problem not mine.

With respect to me, I have to admit she never seems to harbor the ill will that I believe she does and when I sit down to talk with her, or more likely explode at her, she usually calmly explains to me what I don’t understand, and seems entirely bemused by my accusations. She doesn’t seem to know that I am jealous or upset with her...YET I still feel — possibly a paranoid feeling -- that she intentionally tries to make me so. At the same time, I make spiteful remarks about this and other perceived slights, and they honestly seem to go right over her head as if she hasn’t the faintest idea what I am being so nasty for. And of course, I never come right out and tell her I am jealous, that I feel like she is trying to take Joe away from me, do I? Well, once I actually did, and she said she never could steal Joe, even if she wanted to. But she didn’t. He was attached to me completely. She was merely good friends with him, and that was enough.

I wish I could simply accept Karen with her foibles and not get so upset about her and Joe, or her-with-Joe. She has stopped talking about Harvard this and Harvard that ever since I pointed out that it was unpleasant boasting on her part. (I’ve already told her, did the first time she mentioned it, that belonging to a Harvard-Yale-Brown family, I have no illusions about the Ivy league, nor believe it is the be all and end all of academia. In fact, I counseled one of my nieces not to apply to Brown, because I thought she’d be miserable there, and suggested a smaller, less well-known, less "prestigious" school instead. A school I would prefer and would apply to now not Brown if I were sixteen all over again.) Sorry about the digression, where was I?

Ah, Karen and her foibles. She's too assertive, not humble in the least. That's my biggest beef with her. And she can be selfish, though that is coupled with a real concern for others. See, she has good points too, which I consistently overlook when I’m upset or angry or paranoid. She is patient, very, and calm and very organized and rarely gets angry, even when I am angry. She is also quick to forgive me when I calm down again. She is, of course, very intelligent, which is nice, as I always enjoy having an equal in that department, even if our interests lie in different areas. She is much more interested in cultural affairs, both popular and not so. She can go to the opera in the afternoon then tell me all about a certain well known film personality whose ex-wife was at the theatre that day or some such. I, on the other hand, prefer the sciences and poetry, personal essays and natural history, and have eclectic non-fiction interests that pretty much exclude popular culture. Yet we manage to find common ground with jewelry making, which I learned at Adult Ed and taught her, and each of us fell in love with it. Now we regularly get together to “bead” -- inaccurate term as we don’t just string beads but use wire to connect beads — and talk while we are doing so. Sometimes I will still get angry, but she usually doesn’t respond with anger unless I go over the top, at which point she’ll insult me back, or more likely trade accusations, as baseless as what I accuse her of but hers clearly not believed, while I am thoroughly convinced of mine!

A lot of the trouble between the three of us is in fact just me, not Karen and not Karen-with-Joe, though I often believe and report that it is. I cannot tolerate being with people all day, so up at the Clinic I began to decompensate after 36 hours straight in their company and several more to go. I started yelling at Karen in the hotel restaurant about something Joe was going to ask the waiter for her, without even knowing what it was. I accused her of being a prima donna and a spoiled princess etc and ranted and raved about how demanding and inappropriate she was...and here I was, yelling in the restaurant. Who was the inappropriate one, you well might ask! I have trouble being in any threesome, unless it is Lynnie and Sal and me, and then it is okay, though even then I feel sort of left out or ganged up on, as if it’s two against one. With Karen and Joe it feels more like it’s Karen driving Joe to be against me, largely because she is the assertive one and Joe more passive. But he makes up his own mind and decides to side with her, she doesn’t demand it. Frankly, I am often wrong about something, simply have old info or haven’t been told something due to their forgetting to tell me, and so can’t know, or often I have assumed something that isn'[t true or jumped to the wrong conclusion or forgotten something. (I forget ALL the time, all sorts of things. In fact, I depend on Karen to remind me about everything, or I’d not remember to do much. I write notes to myself, but I lose them. Or set alarms to remind me, then forget what the alarm is for. So Karen tends to call me and tell me what to do or remind me we were going to do XYZ at such and such an hour. She doesn’t get at all upset it I say I will visit at a given time, and don’t turn up then. She simply assumes I’ve forgotten again, and calls me. She is right, of course. I would not NOT go, not without calling first.)

Whoops another long digression. Gotta watch out for those as they make me, and you no doubt, lose track of what I was getting at! BD

There is no real reason for me to be jealous of Karen and Joe. After all, Joe told me before the StoryCorps interview that he believed in Love at First Sight, and that he had a Love of His Life: Me. Even Karen acknolwedges that and seems FINE with it. She doesn't seem jealous of me, which she might if she were after Joe. So what is going on here? Joe has tried time after time to reassure me; and Karen in her own way, without knowing it, has done the same. But I can't seem to be reassured...And I can't seem to give Karen any quarter, not truly. I might seem friendly to her, but deep down I feel only a profound animosity. I act friendly only out of a desperate wish to find a way to become friends with her; you know, smile and you'll feel happy, so act friendly and you'll feel like a friend. It works in its own way, too, in that I do feel sociable when we bead or do errands, for the most part, though I get irritable at times, for no good reason except that I impute to Karen some nefarious purpose in doing what she is doing. But there's aome amount of fellow feeling, at least part of the time.

I dunno how to resolve this. Karen seems to like me. But I mistrust this and assume she actually hates me, only acts as if she likes me to keep the peace. When she comments on something I say to Joe or adds to what I say to the therapists or nurses who see him, whether RT or PT or OT etc I feel like she is telling me I'm no good, I'm worthless etc. But if one analyzed the words, and even the tone of voice, I have a feeling that NONE of this would be borne out.
But even if this were possible, I doubt it would convince me, because my certainty -- a thought or brain configuration -- comes not from any concrete evidence but from, well, my certainty itself.

Posted by pamwagg at May 4, 2007 03:05 AM


Dear Pam,

I'm relieved that you're not going to Disneyworld. It's just too much stress. As to your conflict with Karen, I think that the intensity of it is definitely linked to the fact that Joe's health is failing and the time to be with him is shortening. But I must commend you on your determination to be honest and fair despite your jealousy and impatience with her. Unfortunately, there will come a time when Joe is no longer with you. Do you think you and Karen will remain "friends"? It sounds as if Karen would want to because she likes you. I wish I could offer you an easy solution but relationships for most people seem to have their levels of discomfort. Hang in there!

Posted by: Kate K. at May 5, 2007 02:19 PM

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