Stabbed In The Gut Again

“You wanna see a video?” she simpered.  “I don’t know, you might not want to see it.  Prietza.  She’s a prietza,” she repeated, for emphasis, directing this last to my father, who ignored it.  (“Prietza” is Yiddish for “whore,” although my mother thinks it means “princess” because that’s what her mother told her it meant, when her mother called her that.)

“I don’t know, what kind of video might I not want to see?” I was cautious, on edge.  “Some kind of porno flick?” I joked, trying to take the edge off of whatever was in the air.  I felt like a cleaver was about to come down from somewhere.  What kind of video might I not want to see?

She got her Kindle and fiddled with it, momentarily panicked as she couldn’t find what she sought.  Then she found it, and placed it under my nose triumphant.  I waited as the slow wireless cued up, and the video came to life.

It was a documentary on the success of a contemporary of mine, a daughter of one of the elite artist crowd my parents were part of when I was growing up, before I left, and everyone went their ways.  She was the one that everyone shook their heads about, muttered about her dubious I.Q. and her preoccupation with clothes and sewing.  Now she has followed in her father’s footsteps and is a fabulously successful artist.  I’m very glad for her.  Her parents would have been very proud to see her success, had they lived.

I knew why my mother made such a big deal about my possibly not wanting to see the video, although she was wrong:  I am very happy to see my old friend’s success, her happiness, her beautiful art.  She is someone to be spoken of with pride, a fifth generation artist, carrying on the tradition.

And I? I am nothing.  I am a failure.  I am grouped with the ones that ended up doing nothing, on the dole; and that is why I might not want to see a documentary film on my old friend, the one whom everyone clucked about, who didn’t show any creative promise, while I was busy racking up degree after degree, finally a doctor in the family.

This is why I might not want to see this documentary.

In truth, had the introduction been different:  “Oh, look what so-and-so sent me today!  Isn’t this fabulous?”  I would not be feeling suicidal right now.  In fact my present state of suicidality has absolutely nothing to do with my friend’s success.  I don’t compare myself with others.  I have been given what I have been given.  I had fantastic successes in my time, and now that time has passed; my successes must be different now: it’s just that I haven’t found them yet.

What stabs me in the gut is my mother’s blatant devaluation of my life, whatever it has been; and her assumption that I would not want to see the success of one of my contemporaries.  That is what triggers this intense desire to carry out my ultimate success.

During the darkest times, when I have had to put myself in the hospital to keep my hand from carrying it out, the ones in charge have always asked me if I have ever attempted suicide.  My response: I have not, and will never, attempt suicide.  If I decide to do it, it will not be an attempt.  I would not take the risk of failure of my exit strategy.  There will be no attempt.

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  1. I agree with you about suicide.I know enough about what works not ‘attempt’ it. If I decide to go, I’ll go. My worry is, with my mood swing sand impulsivity, I will act, and regret it – if you know what I mean. Keep posting. It is very meaningful to me to know I am not the only one with a toxic mother.

    • You have a family, so: Just. Don’t. Do. It. It’s not an option for you. This is the blessing of family: it keeps us on the planet.

      And it’s good for ME to know that I’m not the only one with a Mom-ster.


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