(Not) Facing Reality

My day job is seeing things people can’t or choose not to see. In other words, I’m a psychiatrist… I make my living treating acute and sub-acute mental and behavioral health emergencies, which means people don’t end up on my radar unless they’ve comported themselves in ways that are generally determined to be unstable and unsafe. In some cases it’s florid psychosis, dementia, or mania, and in others it’s severe depression and suicidality, or unbridled poly substance abuse or personality disorder.

“I can’t help but be reminded of the numerous families that remain apprehensive and reluctant to agree to proactive measures, even in the face of the crisis that has befallen them. Despite the reality that no one’s gotten any sleep or peace, and their loved one is on a rampage destined for destruction, they hesitate to act and often inadvertently prolong everyone’s suffering in the process. They contain the dysfunction for as long as they can, rather than face hard truths about their new reality.

As far as I can tell, this is just what my FOO did when my mother went off the rails several months after my birth.  She deteriorated over time, things went from bad to worse, until there was some event that could not be ignored and which finally caused my father to get her medical help.

And I suppose it’s not that surprising that this non-action is similar to what they are doing now.  That they’ve chosen not to see, not to listen, not to act.  After all, it’s what they learned in their teen years about how to respond to a family crisis.  And from what this person writes, it’s not an unusual way for a family to react.

The difference between health and dysfunction, though, is that a healthy family would eventually face the new reality, after the initial shock and reaction.

Actually, I’m sure they think they have:  they’ve faced the “reality” that I’m the one who’s gone off the rails this time.  I’ve shunned them all, over one silly little incident that wasn’t even that bad, and it happened years ago, and I just can’t get past it like an adult.

(Of course, if you’ve read any of this blog, you’ll be aware that the current state of things is due to a lot more than just the Susan Incident, and the dysfunction goes a whole lot deeper, and my version, while more honest, sacrifices a couple of very sacred cows and therefore, is not very popular.)

It’s true that if you stop there, that’s a nice, comforting way to look at it.

It makes them the virtuous good guys, and me the bad guy, and they aren’t really responsible for any of the stuff that happened, even though THEY ARE THE ONES WHO DID IT.

Just like if you accept Mom’s assertion that she was the eternal victim, Dad was a bastard, and ignore the parts that don’t make sense.

…like why would Dad fight for custody of the younger kids when he didn’t have to?  Why didn’t he just walk away from the whole mess?

(Immediate & Ridiculous Answer:  he did it to “spite Mom” and deprive her of “her” children — in which case why didn’t he move away?  Why didn’t he at least move across town?  Why did he, in fact, MAKE us go over to her apartment on a regular basis?  Why did he so rarely badmouth her to us, if his goal was to turn us against her?   Why were we considered “her” children but never “his” children too?  The real answer to that last one lies in the fact that narcissists treat other people as things, as props, as possessions.)

(Second answer, because the first rationale has fallen apart:  he did it to “get the house”.  So if the house was so important to him, why did he turn around and sell it to the first person who made an offer, roughly a year after I, the last child, had left home for good?)

(Third answer:  it was about the money that the house was worth.  But if he wanted to save or make money, he could easily have sold that giant thing and bought something smaller for the four of us and saved a bundle.  I’ll grant you that he probably didn’t want her to gain financially from the sweat equity that he put into it, though — and frankly I think that’s fair, after everything she did to him, and for the amount of work that he put into it after she was no longer part of the household.)

Why, 20 years after The Divorce, did Mom STILL try to blame her bad behavior on Dad?

(Well, that one’s easy.  Because Mom was a narc and narcs can’t stand being called out on their bad behavior, and they need to shift the blame somewhere.)

If you don’t stop there, though, and you keep asking those inconvenient questions, and you keep pulling on the threads — you get a story that fits together a whole lot better.  This one, here, in this blog.

It’s got a few unpleasant plot twists and some role reversals, but I think it’s going to have a happier ending.