The Adult in the Room
There’s a lot of places to begin, where it seems easy to start talking about this stuff. I figure if I’m going this hard, I might as well begin with the clock struck midnight on December 31st and we rang in the New Year.
I was in Indiana with my Mom. She wasn’t doing great, in her words she was in a “Rut” and that rut was troubling to say the very least. She wasn’t taking some of her meds, she was skinny (too skinny for her BMI) and smoking cigarettes more often. She also said she wasn’t drinking wine anymore but conspicuously the vodka bottle kept getting lower whenever I checked it. I never drink hard alcohol.
I left Indiana a few days later, hopeful for a new year, a new start, and a possibility of getting a real job here in the next few months. I just graduated with a degree in History which I was assured wasn’t the dumbest fucking decision I’d made in my life. (The jury is still out on whether it was thinking a associates degree would even get me in the door or this. Seems like education just exposes me for being a shit head). Upon getting back to Kansas, I basically picked up where I left off, washing dishes and getting overpaid for it. Playing Magic the Gathering on the weekends, writing short stories when I could, contemplating streaming once again.
All the while, I’m noticing some changes in my parents. Maybe it’s the fact that I started holding myself to a very high standard. I took responsibility for my actions and blame for my in-actions and mistakes. I wanted to keep growing as a person, I wanted to learn more about the world around me. Experience the world through others experiences. I saw that I was slowly becoming not the child of my parents but the caretaker of them.
I was going to have to become the Adult in the Room (There’s your title.)
My Dad has done a pretty decent job of taking care of himself when I went to college. I openly told him if anything went wrong with him or Mom that I’d quit school and take care of him. It’s simple because I’m an only child and I have responsibilities. I also do not take care of myself or my mental health because typically my personal shit isn’t something I see as valuable. This is something I’m working on but it persists because I let it.
January was the warning light for a lot of horrible things. We don’t have to list them in detail but we all know 2020 is the uncomfortable silence at a dinner party after someone says something blatantly terrible and everyone heard it. In a simple summary, this year is six months in, exposed the United States as a fraudulent nation of haves and have nots, and that’s all that needs to be said. If you want to know more, just look at the news and stop pretending everything that upsets you is fake.
So why am I writing about this shit in the past? Because currently I’m sitting on a terrible twin mattress in my childhood room in Indiana once again. My Mom was due in for surgery on Tuesday for “Cancer”. First and foremost it’s not Cancer, it’s clogged ducts in her breast which “may” become cancerous. They call it Stage Zero, meaning it’s basically not “Cancer” Cancer.
She didn’t go into surgery Tuesday.
What happened was basically a realization that she had lied to me about taking care of herself. Her “Rut” was more or less a two year long decline in both physical and mental health. More cigarettes, less eating, (She claimed she hadn’t eaten any food the day before I arrived in Indiana), more lying to my face about everything. She’s lied the past and it’s nothing new, it runs in the family as thick as blood.
When I took her in for her surgery on Tuesday I knew there was an insanely high chance she wasn’t able to do it. She’d dropped from 115 pounds when they were vetting her a month ago to 106 at the day of surgery. She’s 5' 7" and looks like a victim of a famine. A self imposed famine? I can’t be sure, because she doesn’t eat any food and if she does it’s so little it wouldn’t satisfy a regular human being. The day of, she was so loopy and out of it from an incredibly low potassium level that the surgeons canceled the surgery outright an hour before she was supposed to go under the knife.
I knew one thing for certain though. She couldn’t come home. I wanted her in the hospital and I begged the surgeons and nurses to keep her there. They found a room, hooked up the IVs and basically did what they’re there for. She slept for well over six hours and went through two bags of fluids. The whole time I’m at home, basically wondering how pissed off she’s going to be at me for making the right call.
Flashing back to 2017, I made the same call in January when my Dad nearly died from an expired sleeping pill. Long story short, I saved his life and it was the catalyst for a lot of what I did from then on. Now I’m faced with the same situation but with an entirely different problem. My Dad never wanted to lie to me unless he had to and he never played games with me in terms of my attention or affection for him. Mom has always wanted to praise for basically not being there. She wanted me to thank her and say I loved her but she was pretty much telling me things like “You’re too kind.” and “Your friends are just people who haven’t let you down enough yet.” She taught me to lie and made it seems like it’s normal to do so.
In terms of parenting my mother is a shining beacon of bad behavior in a passive aggressive sense. She does things to irritate me accidentally on purpose. She’ll claim ignorance but always leave the door open to question whether it was calculated or not. If she’s upfront about something, it’s because she wants to be. There’s never a second where I assume everything she says is without reason in terms of getting what she wants.
She wants me to be with her all the time, she doesn’t care if I’m in college or employed. She wants to praise me endlessly but give me no room to be myself or have a life of my own. So when I had her in the hospital, I slept like a rock that night because for once I knew I had control of the situation. I was the Adult in the Room for the first time.
She’s out now though because she asked to get out of the hospital. She’s openly said “I should’ve stayed there probably but maybe it’s better I didn’t.” between smoking a cigarette. Once again leaving the door open, once again being passive aggressive. So here we are again, with me and her locked in yet another long battle of personal wits where ultimately all she wants is me with her like a dog by her side. All I want is to be left the fuck alone so I can try and salvage the rest of my thirties and remainder of my life getting a job and making a go of it.
I just want to be an Adult and I want my own room.
Since canceling the surgery I have no idea when they’re setting up a new one. I know if it isn’t by next week, I’m going back to Kansas. Going back to normalcy. It means I’ll once again be driving back to Indiana and the house where I spent seven years learning the worst lessons a kid can be taught. I hope that surgery is next week because it means I can once again not come back here and endure this shit. It runs against the grain of everything I uphold as a moral foundation. It’s self serving indulgence at the price of others, manipulation for the sole reason of controlling people through emotional manipulation. It’s basically are mirror darkly to virtue signalling if I’m using it correctly when she throws terms out like “I do everything for you and only you.” when I know that phrase was used to divorce my Dad, to get me to write nasty letters to him when I was young. It’s the phrase she uses when she tells me she works 60 hours a week and physically destroys herself just because she wants me to feel guilty for her actions.
The thing is, I don’t feel guilt anymore for her. I just feel pity that she thinks it works on me. It just further proves that everything I’m doing, will do, and everyone who knows me, is glad as shit I didn’t stay in this house. Glad I left when I was thirteen. Glad I made the decision to reject this environment and this type of mentality.
Now the question is, how many more times am I going to see this woman before the inevitable strikes. When is it going to be the final time? What gains will I have made? Hypotheticals I try not to waste time thinking about.
When will I be the last Adult in the Room?