The Ostrich Syndrome

I usually call my mother every alternate day while I walk to work. She always asks me what I ate for breakfast. When I say ‘banana and cereal’, she chides me for not eating something better. I tell her about new movies I’ve watched, she tells me what she did the previous day, what she’s cooked for dinner, who came over last evening, what she watched on TV.

Our conversations aren’t deep and that’s partially because I’ve had to keep myself at arms length from my parents because otherwise it’s just too painful. But there are days when this distance I maintain doesn’t protect me. Like this morning, when I called, she asked me why I was calling so late. I told her that TG had a blood test & so I was delayed.

Normally, if I tell my mother that someone is having a blood test her reaction, as a doctor, is to ask me why and give me advice to pass on to that person about how to feel better (if the blood tests are related to an illness.).

This morning, however, she just said ‘What did you eat for breakfast?’.

Pretending that my partner doesn’t exist has become a finely honed skill with both my parents. I keep trying to bring her up in conversations and they keep changing the subject. Depending on my mood, I react to this by going on with my day with a shrug or I sink into deep depression or I get really angry with them.

There are times when I wish I could just cut off ties and be ‘free’. I know that this is impossible because I love them too much. Then I have conversations in my head where I confront them and tell them how mean and hurtful they’re being. ‘Am I a drug dealer? Am I a prostitute? Am I a bum without a job or a future?’, I demand, in these imaginary confrontations. ‘Where is the unconditional love that a parent is meant to give their child?’, I follow up. All in my head.

In a few weeks time, I’ll be in India. A very tiny part of me worries about what I’ll do if they hide my passport and keep me captive so I can’t come back to this life that they so despise. The more rational part of me knows that they wouldn’t do that.

I do hope that we have some kind of confrontation that’s outside of my head, because I am sick and tired of being the parent in this relationship.

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