Shaddup Already!



My father is in the hospital and has been since Friday. I'm not liking this. They initially thought he had pneumonia, but the x-rays didn't show any. Every time they take a step toward letting him go home, he has a setback. Yesterday they did a CAT scan of his lungs and some other tests. I'm scared. My dad has been a smoker most of his life.

The good news out of this is that he hasn't smoked since Friday. The bad news is that my mom is still a chimney.

Speaking of mom, she's mad at me. I'm not spending every waking moment at the hospital, so I'm a selfish, bad person. Could I go to visit dad more often? Yes. Do I have a reason not to? Yes.

See my dad and I are a lot alike when it comes to being around people. Every time I see my dad at the hospital, I think of how much I would HATE the non-stop stream of visitors. I mean, what are visitors supposed to do? They can't cure the illness. By being there, they can't hurry things along. All they can do is visit. That can be a lot, but when someone is sick, shouldn't they have some downtime without the intrusion of people? That's the way I feel, anyway.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe my dad would like me there more often. All I know is when I bring up the subject, he says non-committal things.

My mother is in all her glory right now. Juggling taking care of the home, her responsibilities with Al-anon and being the devoted wife at her husband's bedside in the hospital. Anyone who differs from her in her belief system is just wrong and they should be punished.

My mother is turning into my grandmother. But I know if I said that to her, she would get hurt and offended and defensive. It's just not worth it.

What I don't get is I'm the family member who hasn't bought into the whole 12-step thing. It's not that I think it's bad, I just don't choose to spend my time at Al-anon. However, between my mother and I, I'm the one who is practicing the steps more.

My mother has taken on Al-anon as her new dysfunctional family, which she needs to save. That was her role in my family and, now that my dad isn't drinking and her children are standing up for themselves, she has no one to help. So she brings in strays and adopts them into the family.

I swear, every person she brings into the house refers to her as "mom." It's getting old. The title of her children belong with the people who earned it, my sister and I. It hasn't been easy growing up with my mom. I don't need women, nearer to my mom's age than mine, calling me their sister.

Marta, the worst of the bunch, is a classic codependent. She spends "family" meals out of her seat, serving everyone, checking to make sure everything is just right. If you dare to utter a word at how she is behaving, she gets hurt. Then my mom gets hurt for her and it's this whole whiny, wounded, martyr-fest.

I can never live up to my mom's expectations. Not because I'm not perfect, but because I refuse her help more often than not. How dare I ignore her when she is just trying to help me out *sniff, sniff.*

Just the other day, she was listing all my faults. I said to her, "Mom, do you realize you're taking my inventory (an AA term for judging what is wrong with other people)?"

She was silent for a moment and said, "Yes. Just answer me, do you want me to help or not?"

I told her I didn't want her help at this time. She got hurt, turned into the classic martyr and probably crawled off somewhere to cry. Then she turned around, the very first opportunity she had, and did the very thing she offered to do that I declined.

Do you know how pissed off I was at that? Do you know how pissed off I still am at that?

I don't know where all this is going other than I will never measure up to my mom's standards of control. My sister chooses to go with the flow and be a caretaker as well, which only makes me more selfish in my mom's mind.

I have never been enough in my own mind and to realize that I'm not enough in my mom's mind is killing me. Now I have to go to the doctor and prove that I'm not enough in my doctor's mind and then I have to go to the dentist and prove that I'm not enough in my dentist's mind. When will it end?

And maybe visiting with my dad brings all this up even more. Maybe that's why I'm not going more often.

My theory is that it's a combination of not wanting to overwhelm my dad with visitors, gaining some sick control over my mother, not wanting to acknowledge my failures as a daughter and being so very afraid of what this hospital stay will mean for my dad.

Okay, I have to go calm down or else my doctor will put me on blood pressure meds along with the cholesterol meds she will probably prescribe. Keep my dad in your thoughts, please.

Help end world hunger