I've been doing a lot of thinking lately in an attempt to figure out what's behind my funky state of mind and, given the amount of conflict between the essential elements of my self
, it's not hard to conclude that my depression most assuredly has a component of existential angst to it. In fact, it's highly probable that all the issues that appear to inhabit the shallow end of existence can ultimately be reduced to the existential level, as well. I haven't really thought that out yet, so I'll start with the current situation and work it out as I go, or at the end of the series --whatever seems natural to me.
I will begin at the shallow of the issues I've identified, starting with the basic elements of my (abnormal) day to day life, ultimately moving into deeper aspects of life and self as I go along. I will not attempt to do this in a single post. (You're welcome.)
#1. The Living Arrangement
-- I have not spent a night in my own house, in my own bed since the night of August 27, 2005. This has been incredibly difficult.
As I've mentioned before, we're ensconced with The Mom, a woman I love and admire with all of my being. She's also my very closest friend, as she has been for most of my adult life. But living here after 26 years out of the nest is a strain for all of us.
My dad died in March of 2003 and Mom has adjusted quite well to living alone since then. Her house is about half the size of mine and has three bedrooms: hers, a guest bedroom, and an office/media room with a trundle bed. Rachel and I share the guest room and Alex gets the office/media room. Mom has stuff in every nook and cranny of our room. There are decorative items on the dresser and chest, and the closet and drawers are filled. Things were moved around in order for Rachel and I to have one dresser drawer to share, plus two feet of hanging closet space and a total of 7 linear feet of one-foot-deep closet shelf space. Everything we have with us is expected to be stored in this space, including a portion of Rachel's toys, my books and notes for classes, and all my paperwork associated with normal life and insurance/ home repair stuff.
Needless to say, this space doesn't cut it and things end up stacked on the floor. I keep my laptop by the bed, but the desktop computer and printer that Alex uses for school work sits on a decorative end-table in the den, next to her big TV, which is pretty much always on. My guitar and bass sit on the other side of the TV. Alex has no closet space whatsoever and has two flimsy drawers in the thing that holds the TV in his room, so his stuff ends up on the floor and in other unnatural places as well. All this annoys mom to no end, but what can we do?
I have no place to work, so I sometimes take over the dining room table, which is used an average of twice a month, when Mom invites my brother and his family over for dinner. Because of the distractions of the nearby TV and other general household activity, I usually work late at night, but I don't always get everything done in one session, so I leave things as they are, in my little organized piles. Mom will often take them and stack them into one pile because the cluttered table understandably bugs her. Or she'll take random piles of things and move them somewhere else. Sometimes they'll end up in a box with other of our belongings (like Rachel's toys), which is then deposited in a corner of our room. She doesn't tell me she's moved some things, so I don't necessarily know the papers are under the toys in the box. I'll be going crazy looking for things and she'll say nothing if I don't ask her about them specifically. (Actually, she'll often swear that she didn't move anything, but then, at some point, remember, or she'll just let me figure it out on my own.
Can you spell P-A-S-S-I-V-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E?
So, after a few such incidents, I apologized (again) for my occasional invasion of the dining room table, reminded her that it was the only space I had to work, explained (again) that I needed to have things organized the way I had them, and asked her specifically not to move anything, and told that I'd clear it all up as quickly as I possibly could.
Late one Saturday evening, I came "home" (sadly defined as the place we're currently living rather than my own house) after having been out most of day, I found Mom in her room with the door closed and this in the dining room:Karen
has already pointed out (in a comment on my Flickr page) that this probably doesn't qualify as passive
. (Mom is extremely non-confrontational and this kind of thing is about as actively aggressive as I expect she'd ever get.)
So I didn't say anything that night, and I was deliberately silly and light-hearted when I responded with this note, which I left on the table for her to find the next morning:
I guess she didn't like my response because she turned my note faced-down and never said a word to me. When I brought it up later, she tried to dismiss it with some really feeble excuse like she just wanted to see how a different table cloth looked on the table. Right, Mom. And that's why you left the table cloth there, turned my note over and ignored the whole thing?
As I mentioned, she's very non-confrontational, not that a simple request to move my stuff or to find another place to work would be confrontational in the least. I'd just say, okay,
and do it. But she'd rather leave a less-than-subtle (albeit kind of mean, from my perspective) hint and ideally, I'd just comply, never saying a word about it.I do not do well with this kind of thing.
Passive-aggressive behavior does a real number on me. I need direct, honest
communication. Anything else does wacky things to my synapses and serotonin levels. And this is only one example of the kind of things my mother has been doing to communicate to us that certain aspects of our presence annoy her. I completely understand that. It's hard to share your space when you used to living alone. By the way, we are not living here for free. If I talk about renting a place closer to our neighborhood, she protests. To me, it feels like psychological warfare in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't
So, that's one thing.
(I've got a class to teach in a few minutes and I don't have time to proofread this. So please pardon any slip-ups.)