Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mom Means Well, But...

I had a bad day yesterday. I shall spare you the details; suffice it to say that it involved traffic and the Post Office and ended with me loathing humanity as a whole. It took me most of the evening, and several glasses of rum, to descalate from "I wish they were all dead" to "I suppose they can be allowed to live if they promise not to bother me ever again."

I had high hopes for today. However, the world managed to quite expertly dash them via the unexpected vector of My Mother.

Here are things you should know about my mother:
  • She is a mammal. 
  • She is easily frustrated. 
  • When in the grip of high emotion, she either yells, cries, or both. 
  • She doesn't understand how computers work, to the extent that I've stopped telling her how to attach a picture to an email* and I just stop whatever I'm doing and do it for her. 
Today, mom asked me to take her to Walgreens because they're running a special on photographs (75 for $10) and she wanted pictures that had been taken with the digital camera turned into hardcopy. I think it's a bit strange, because the last time I've ever seen her looking at a photo album was literally last century, but mom gets what mom wants because Happy Mom, Happy Home. She wants hardcopies? OK, let's get hardcopies. 

I figured I would have to put the pictures on the hard drive for her, because she's had trouble with that before, but she surprised me by saying that she'd picked out what she wanted and had put them on the drive. 
  • "The pictures you want are on the drive?" Yes. 
  • "ONLY the pictures you want?" Yes. 
  • "There's nothing else on there?" No. 
Well, color me shocked. I realize that sounds horribly dismissive of me, but again I point out that I'm the person called to attach a picture on the desktop to an email composed in Gmail. I was actually quite pleased that she'd done this on her own. The only thing I needed to do was come along and do whatever needed to be done to turn pictures on a thumb drive into photographs.

So we went, and either the Walgreens media computer has an interface that isn't as clear as it should be, or I'm getting old and newfangled technology is starting to confuse and frustrate me. But annoying as that was, it wasn't what ruined the day for me.

There was also the fact that mom told me she wanted two sets of prints -- one for me, one for her -- and therefore she'd duplicated every single picture on the thumb drive.  And then didn't understand when I told her that was unnecessary, that she could have just picked out the pictures and printed them twice. Nor did she understand that printing the entire thumb drive once was enough pictures for both of us, for reasons I cannot understand and which caused me to raise my voice (see below). But no, what ruined my day for me was that the photos she wanted me to look at, scroll through and select (why I couldn't have done this at home is beyond my comprehension) were pictures of the dog that attacked me and nearly bit my lip off.

Now, I want to phrase this next part very carefully:
  • I believe PTSD exists. 
  • I believe it is not a sign of weakness to have PTSD. 
  • I'm not certain that I have PTSD (having not been diagnosed with it), so I do not feel qualified to claim to have it.
That said... looking at pictures of a dog who attacked me, and whose death I still feel guilty for, really fucked me the fuck up. I really, REALLY wanted to be anywhere else but there. I doubly didn't want to be there with mom hovering over my shoulder, asking me questions that try my patience. I triply didn't want to be there while trying to figure out how to get the goddamned discount when there's no obvious way to enter it and feeling stupid for it the entire time. So I'm basically grinding my back teeth and trying to regulate like I'm in Iron Man 3, when I see a clerk walking by. I shout "Hey, I need some help with this thing" and he guides me through it. I pick 'print every goddamn thing on the drive now so I can get this over with', he shows me how to apply the discount, and we leave.

As we're walking to the car, mom worries about how she isn't sure if we're going to get enough copies for both of us, and I just lose it. I don't want to explain that I just saw two goddamn copies of every goddamn picture on that goddamn drive and so of fucking COURSE she's going to get enough. My brain decides "Fuck it, we'll do it live" and I shout/scream/yell  I DON'T WANT PICTURES OF THE DOG THAT BIT MY FACE OFF!!

I probably even stomped my feet for emphasis, because that's mature.

This promptly hurts mom's feelings, not just because I just yelled at her, but because she thought she was doing a nice thing for my. "I thought you'd want a reminder of your dog!" she cried. Yes, literally crying, because I wasn't feeling shitty enough today.

My reply of "He stopped being my dog when he attacked me, mom, and I'm going to have a reminder of his handiwork on my face for the rest of my life." probably didn't help much. And then we sat in awkward silence in the car as both of us cried, because she's hurt and I'm stressed.

The diarrhea icing on this shit cake was the fact that I couldn't just go home. No, I had to drive into town (15 minutes), get a bottle of prescription toothpaste from my dentist while dropping off a Hanukkah card (X minutes, see below), drive back from town (15 minutes), buy the pictures (variable) and then drive home... all while neither of us are talking to each other and mom is doing that noisy "I've just been crying" breathing.

At the dentist, I talked to the gregarious receptionist who is one of those sweet women who is genuinely happy to see you and wants to chat, and who told me that I "didn't look so bad."

Now I'm not sure if I can speak for other people, so I'm not going to tell you that you should never say this to someone who's suffered an injury like this. What I will tell you is that you should instead say something like "It's healing really well. I'll bet no one will be able to tell what happened once it's all better."

I say this because while I'm sure the sweet lady meant "It's healing well," what it actually sounded like was "Wow, from the way your parents were going on I expected it was SO much worse! This is practically nothing in comparison."  This makes me feel like they're saying I'm some kind of hysterical drama queen who is overreacting over a minor injury.

All of this, mind you, while they're gawking at the wreckage of my face. I literally do not know which is worse, the dismissal of it all or being looked at like I'm a sideshow freak. You'd think the two would be mutually exclusive, but apparently they aren't.

This sort of thing just really pushes my buttons, because my reaction to this kind of statement has been to silently open my phone, scroll through the photos, and show them the one from the day I came home. The shudders and looks of horror and disgust are wickedly soothing. I'm actually at the point where I want the pictures the plastic surgeon took before he began suturing, just so I can show people the torn, dangling flesh and say "TELL ME IT DOESN'T LOOK THAT BAD. I FUCKING DARE YOU."

These kinds of reactions are why I don't want to show my face for the next few months... and yet, I have to get through Christmas. I've already been invited to a party (I don't know if I'm going or not, because the person for whom I'm a plus one won't answer me) and then there's the church service on the 24th. The entire congregation has been asking about me, and I just know they're going to be gawking and telling me it doesn't look bad.

Fuck me running. 

* Because she will take laborious notes, ask questions like "Now when you say 'click and hold', do you mean right click or left click?", and it will take 10 goddamn minutes to explain a 30 second process. 

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