Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Onset - Pt 5

The revelations in Notebook 11 kept me up until 3 a.m. or so, particularly the entry in which I told Mom something was wrong with me and she blew me off. I talked about it today with my sister. Even before I broached this new information she said, “Do you ever feel that when we were growing up, nobody was really paying attention?” When I read her some of the entries I’d come across, she concurred that they did sound redolent of a mood disorder, and when I got to the entry about Mom she was not surprised. It seemed to us that Dad and Mom alike were determined that there would be just one designated patient in the family and Mom was it. By 1977 she had learned to exploit it—it was her main leverage on Dad, even more than her knowledge of his affair—and she pressed it for all it was worth. It was always very striking to me how courageously Mom dealt with her breast cancer and how craven she was about the manic depression.

Dad, for his part, resented the hell out of the fact that he had to pay Mom’s medical bills. I ran across an entry which reports that Dad had told their marriage counselor as much. I was surprised he’d admit it. As with a lot of the stuff I read, I had no memory of it, though it certainly sounded like Dad. My sister said she recalled the incident vividly. Moreover: “Do you remember,” she asked, “the expression ‘You get yours.’?” In Dad’s book, if he was paying for your medical bills (in the case of my Mom), or for ballet lessons (in the case of my sister) then they were getting theirs. The idea that a husband and a father owed his family things like time, energy, attention, and empathy was alien to him. Anything he did for you, he generally did so you’d get off his back.

Prologue - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

1 comment:

hellophotokitty said...

i am trying to read this entry without crying. So much of what you are talking about seems to be a page out of my history, right down to the
"Anything he did for you, he generally did so you’d get off his back".

I must take a break now, but will be back.

It's funny and it's sad that those who walk along this bumpy bipolar road instinctively know what it's like to be where you are, no matter how many miles there are between you.

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