“It means I don’t care.” – Susanna, Girl Interrupted
I have written two blog-esque entries in the past…
We can laugh because it is a pleasant place to look back upon. Even in our most angst-y and trying times, the teenage years are those to be appreciated.
The movie, Girl, Interrupted is one of my all time favorites. The book is greatly intriguing and provides more detail of the very real events that Susanna Kayson experienced in that time of her life. I recommend reading it. The movie, though, is the reason for this post. It clarified some feelings I struggled with greatly as a teen as well as throughout my young adult life.
I was watching the movie one afternoon, feeling incredibly drawn to it. While I realize there are a great many lessons to take from this film for me, one scene in particular, proved to be more personal than the rest. A sense of truth hit me when Susanna spoke of ambivalence being her favorite word and continued, “It means I don’t care, that’s what it means.” Dr. Wick, corrects her and claims on the contrary, that the word ambivalent actually suggests strong feelings for both sides. Hearing this dialogue forced me to pause the movie immediately and move to my computer.
I began typing just as I am now, except to fill the page about my mother.
I felt ambivalent toward my mother. That was it! Conflicted feelings always swarmed her. No matter how I contemplated over it, now I finally had a word that described what ‘it’ was.
I love her because she is my mother, but I have also been so bothered by her existence because well, she rarely proved to be a nice person.
You may think that because I was a teenager, that is a common attitude to express about one’s parent(s).
My mother is different. While she had problems of her own, she always found a way to give them to me. Think of it this way; as though someone telling you they love you, and then punching you in the face. This was my relationship with her. This in turn caused me to develop habits of lashing out. When arguing with anyone, my only option was saying whatever I could to hurt them the most. This learned behavior allowed me to “win”. It was not until I was 23 years old that I realized I needed to step back; review. It was a long, emotional process, but I was able to clear my mind. To rid myself of the fog of uncertainty.
I am not my mother.
Many nights I would cry for her, for me. Unsure what to trust, but also uncertain about what it all meant. I can never explain the emotional ups and downs just right, but until I educated myself… I did not realize just how serious mental illness can be.
She always seems to find things that are not good for her. She may get the courage to leave, but she will always come back. Early on, this left me with less than an inspirational leader. I quickly learned how to detach. This would haunt me in the years to come, but while I wrote my first blog ever, I pondered over this feeling of detachment. It came to be that I actually felt so strongly for the relationship I wished to have with her, as well as the one that I accepted to be reality. Ambivalence.
I used to keep a journal, and I would write in it every time I felt my world in chaos. I am pretty certain I threw it out within the last five years. It was a catalyst for not so pleasant times and it was wise to be rid of it. I do think of it from time to time, wondering just how I overcame such an angry state of being . I dare say it is because I have grown up and acquired the ability to understand a great deal more than I could then.
She gave me life, and also a lifetime of conflicted feelings. Mostly about religion. Something happened a long the way and now I associate belief with something to do with great fear. Her, being diagnosed as having manic-depressive bipolar disorder could have had something to do with it. She demonstrated countless times that she was not a person to be counted on, trusted, or proud of. A shameful thing to say, I know…but I can only express things how I have experienced them. With that being said, I have struggled with how confidant I am in her. I want to believe and trust in what she taught me, but with how easily she can say the most hurtful words without thinking twice to her daughters(3) is a red flag that I must not take too many things seriously.
Within the last two years, I have decided that she was toxic to me. I stay heavily neutral when conversing with her, because holding in sadness and anger is exhausting. I simply view her now as someone who has a disability and feel terribly sorry for her.
I am thankful that I have found my own ways to battle my genetics, as anger and instability have shown their faces many a time throughout my life. I feel that though genetics to play a role in our being, we have a greater antidote; choice.
We can choose not to become like our parents. We can choose not to be vile. We can choose not to be treated less than what is deserved.
It takes bravery. Motivation. It is possible as I have experienced a great “mental cleanse”. I found a new path, new habits. I am a walking example of overcoming emotionally distressing situations.
Although recognizing these flaws, even if subconsciously it is important to our mental growth…
We can always choose which side to lean on.