May 15, 2007

Re Mother's Day

"They" are telling me I won't get published, my book of poems about illness, not even by Femto's Kalmia book series on chronic illness. Their usual selves, they call me names: fatso, lardass, and Satan's Spawn, Whore of Satan (the last two being, just as The Beast, and Babylon, and the Beast ruling Babylon are one and the same, synonyms for Satan him or herself). "Remember Sunday? Sunday? Sunday? Funday? Remember Funday? Funday? Funday Sunday?" I do remember, as clearly or at least snippets of it as clearly as they do and I'm duly ashamed and embarrassed that They know about it. They put the command in my head to burn myself. I refuse to pay attention! I can't afford to, even though I know it would make them go away...LATER: So far, so good, I resisted, ignored the implanted demand. I have to fight them.

I see I haven't explained about Sunday, Mother's Day, yet, so I will now. Saturday afternoon, Karen and I went to the little specialty market nearby and I bought four kinds of cold salad dishes: penne with peppers, peppered steak and vegetables, sweet wild rice salad and antipasto. Plus bread, macaroons and a small "I love Mom" cake. I refrigerated everything and put the bread in a special "Fresher Longer" box that was guaranteed to keep it absolutely fresh overnight. I got very little sleep once again Saturday night (as I have for the past two weeks, turning off the 4am phone alarm and not taking the 2nd Xyrem dose, though it was sitting right next to the phone) so Joe drove all of us to Madison to visit my parents. Now, I was very tired and distracted, hearing voices and thinking thoughts I couldn't share. So I wasn't saying much at all. And I forgot entirely to take my narcolepsy medication all day, which didn't help matters one iota. When we had lunch, which we'd brought with us, I remained pretty quiet, letting Dad carry the conversation instead of helping out and being scintillating and charming, the way I was expected to be. I feel bad for that, but there was nothing I could or can do about it. Joe, in any event, was perfectly happy, and said he quite enjoyed the "gentle" conversation at the table, did not want the high-powered quick-witted intellectual tennis match I was used to providing. Later on, I thought my mother was unhappy with the day, but he said today she'd seemed fine, and that she participated in the conversation that so pleased him. Anyhow, caught up as I was in my own small world, I only half realized a conversation was going on until my father asked me a question (about the Indian god, Ganesh...I knew the answer; it would have been embarrassment city if I hadn't...).

When I was finally aware of what was going on in front of me, I noticed that Mom must have been on a diet, because she took very small portions, almost as little as I did, though she enjoys food a great deal more. Karen, on the other hand, while heavy, very unself-consciously loaded up her plate with generous helpings of all four salads, and later took liberal amounts for seconds. What a contrast! Karen, a big woman, but completely unafraid to be big, and unafraid to admit that she appreciates fine dining and good meals out. Also, unafraid to buy clothes, nice clothes, sexy clothes, big size and all. And my mother, who equally loves food but hates her medium-size body and constantly mortifies it in order to look more like her estranged and hated sister, oh so petite and tiny B. Much as I am sometimes ambivalent about Karen in so many ways, including one that will be described later on in this entry, I wish my food-loving mother had Karen's open enjoyment of food and her nonchalant, even innocent appreciation of her body. Karen is able to relish buying good clothes and eating good food without the negative self-talk that my mother treats herself to: You horse! You tub! Look how fat you are! I must say that this about Karen, for all her faults, is a breath of fresh air.

But, but, but...what I have to relate has to do with a negative aspect of that very thing, at least for me:

I slept in the car on the way home, exhasted from trying not to show my distress or reveal that I was hearing things during the visit. When we got back to the building where we all live, I gave Joe the rest of the pureed carrot soup I had made, because it is one thing he can actually eat/drink, at least in small amounts, for pleasure. And collected the leftover salads my mother had given me and prepared to go upstairs. Karen, seeing that I was not offering HER the leftovers, spoke up. "Pam, could I come up and have some salads for supper later on?"

Now, I had not eaten very much at my parents'. I never do in front of people. But I wanted some salad for supper and thought there would be enough for the next day's supper too, which would keep me from having to go shopping for another day. In short, I did not want to share the leftovers. However, for lack of any other prepared response, I answered, somewhat piqued, "Probably..." Inside I was furious. I knew that she would finish off everything that I might want to make last a few days. That if I let her, she would stay there and eat with me and take three quarters of what was in the containers to my one quarter and insist on finishing them off even though I might want some for later on in the evening, as I tend to, staying up late the way I do. Oh, I just felt so resentful of her constant eating, her eating MY food, free food for her, never offering me any of hers, and eating too much of mine at that, that I panicked. I wasn't going to let her have those leftovers this time, not even if it took desperate measures. Ignoring her, I pushed my cart into the elevator and pressed the button. Upstairs, I locked my door against her, then methodically and with little real enjoyment, I ate one salad after another. Until they were gone. Every last morsel.

When I was through I felt nothing except relief from the panic because now Karen couldn't deprive me of the food in my apartment, because I had already eaten it! Also, and most important of all, I'd found a way to answer her honestly when she asked for the leftovers. Now I could say to her, "I'm sorry, there's no salad left," without lying and without having to throw anything away in order not to lie. I'd won, I felt, as if it were a competition to see who would get to eat the salads. She got everything most of the time, or most of everything, for instance when she persuaded me to "share" a dish at a restaurant, and I took 1/6th to her 5/6ths but of course paid for half, a great deal for her, as she knew well enough. Why, she had it made it the shade going to a restaurant with me! So while I may have later regretted all the calories involved in eating a pound of deli salads, there was also a general triuumphant feeling of HAH, this time you didn't get it all! I did!!!

Karen called about 3 hours later, asking for the salads, but I didn't hear her, being sound asleep. I only heard her when she then came knocking. "You said I could have some salad for supper," she called through the locked door. I didn't go to open it but just stood in my hallway. "They're all gone. I ate them all." Silence. Then, "Oh..." Then, "My key to your apartment doesn't work in your door." WHAT? Had she been planning on coming in without my permission???? (Was SHE, despite her steadfast denials, the one who ate my lemon curd?) Now wait just a golddarned second! But I didn't have the energy to get into it then and there. Her key didn't work, that was the important thing. Good. I was safe for now. "I'm sleeping--!" and I left the hallway and went back to bed without waiting to hear her reply. F--k her! I WON.

Posted by pamwagg at May 15, 2007 10:12 PM


Welcome back. Hope you continue to get better and feel better.

Posted by: A. Serandon at June 1, 2007 08:00 PM

Hello Everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that Pam's sister Carolyn let me know that Pam is safe in the hospital for now. So don't worry, she's being well taken care of and hopefully will return to us as soon as she can. If I hear anything else, I'll let you know.

Posted by: Kate K. at May 23, 2007 10:47 PM

Hi Pam,
This is Stuart. I met you and Joe, and Lynnie and Sal at the NAMI conference in CT last fall. (I am the one who does ballroom dancing and I did some dancing with your sister some years ago.) I had a big surprise in being out of a job at the end of 2006. I got another good job recently. I just got caught up in reading all of you blog up to now. I just want to say I hope you are OK. I can't imagine the stress you have had to deal with recently. I do hope to hear from you again, but most of all I hope you are able to rest and be well and enjoy your life.

Posted by: Stuart at May 22, 2007 05:30 PM

Dear Pam,

I'm not sure who the motherf**ker person is but what bad timing! Though I know if you are really feeling ill it could be you writing to a part of yourself. Anyway, try not to take it personally. I miss you and I'm worried about you so please tell us what's been happening and how you are. Did you get my email? You're in my thoughts and in my prayers.

Posted by: Kate K. at May 22, 2007 12:16 AM

Dear Pam,

I'm also glad that you're writing to us again and I'm glad you ate that salad! You made me laugh aloud. But I'm sorry Mother's Day was stressful with the voices badgering you. Still, you pulled it off. Now, how did your session with Dr. O go? Did she give you any helpful suggestions? Did you tell her you've been having difficulty sleeping? Has she raised the Haldol? Let us know. I think you're going to get through this Pam and yes, please do fight the voices. They are liars and manipulators but you are not. Don't follow their commands. Take care of yourself first.

From an Al-Anon book: "At the very time we most need to take good care of ourselves, we are likely to do the opposite. If we decide that our needs are unimportant or that we're too busy, we sabotage our own best interests. In times of crises, we need to be at our best. By making an extra effort to get nutritious food, sleep, Al-Anon support, relaxation, and quiet time with our Higher Power, we strengthen ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This can make a difficult situation a little easier." Okay, edit out Al-Anon (though I do think you should be a part of a support group for mental illness--NAMI?) and substitute writing for your HIgher Power and I think this is a recipe for success. It's hard to learn but essential: when the going gets rough, take extra good care of yourself as you would a sick loved one. You deserve it Pam.

Posted by: Kate K. at May 16, 2007 09:58 PM

Hi there, I'm not a professional health care worker or anything. But I wanted to say that maybe you're feeling a little stressed from not going to Florida, a little inwardly if not subconsciously disappointed, and the stress is making you hear the voices and get a little paranoid about the lock and who ate the lemon curd. I'm not saying you didn't hear the thing fall down, I'm pretty sure you did. But, some things do fall on their own and it's no one's fault, it might be that a gerry rigged (sp?) booby trap to catch a burglar just isn't the most stable of contraptions, so it could have just fallen by being a little off center with gravity working on it. A small vibration from someone walking down the hallway or someone shutting a door in an adjacent apartment might have caused the home made alarm to fall or go off. And, then it startled the cat. It's good to change the locks, it's good to be safe, but maybe someone wasn't trying to break in and harm you or steal the lemon curd after all. Take care.

Posted by: A. Serandon at May 16, 2007 07:13 PM

Pam, it is a big relief to see that you are back to writing, even though what you're writing about is disappointments and conflicts. Keep it up! Things will get better. Best wishes,

Posted by: Debbie at May 16, 2007 03:55 PM

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