Perhaps in through the looking glass.

  • June 4, 2020, 5:23 a.m.
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His mom is manic.

I wore a yellow dress on a group video call with his extended family. The weather was nice and I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to wear my dresses lately. She asked about it on the call, again in an email, again in a phone call with David, the simple explanation never enough. I can see that I’m becoming an object of fixation again, a focal point for judgement and blame.

Another day, another call while I worked. His parents demanded that we involve them in a weekly family ritual over video call, a request we had already directly but gently denied over email. His dad got aggressive. David still said no.

It makes me worry. I don’t want to be attacked again. He reminds me that we’re far away, that we’ve established boundaries and rules to protect ourselves, that we won’t be so utterly caught off guard this time.

We were so utterly caught off guard that first time. It seemed to come from nowhere, and has since just spiraled and spiraled. People don’t just develop personality disorders suddenly in their sixties. But how could we all have missed it for so long?

In the novel I’m reading now, there are vivid descriptions of a childhood with such a mother. I feel it viscerally, mull over scenes long after I’ve turned out the bedroom light. I know that childhood.

When we were teenagers, I thought theirs was the perfect picture of family life. Regular family dinners, interest in each other’s lives and little accomplishments. I longed to be a part of it. I still grieve that it is not to be. How much were we missing? How much was real?

Hidden as it was, I’ve been wondering lately if maybe the thing that really attracted the two of us to each other, the thing that really solidified our fervent connection, was this shared burden of trying to seek the affection and approval of a mother always slightly elsewhere.


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