I saw my dad a couple times over the weekend. He's a lot stronger, and looks a lot more like my dad. He'd shaved. He's handsome. His color is good. His spirits are OK. Not fantastic, but OK.
I imagine that part of it is lack of activities. My dad is so incredibly bright. And being less than fully occupied makes him batshit crazy. Or whatever the DSM IV diagnosis might be.
He asked me how my life is going, about my weekend with my high school friend Jane (which was slightly hilariously insane, and will be the subject of a future post), about my blog. He asked if I'm blogging about what he's been up to.
I said I was. And that a lot of people were praying for him. He was thankful about the prayer. I didn't ask how he felt about my candor on the Internet. But truthfully, Betty reads it every day, and she is OK with what I'm saying. If she's ever not, I'll take it down.
I said that I was being very frank about what was going on in my life. We talked about the stigma of suicide, how it is actually quite common, and how people lie about it when it happens in their families.
I pointed out how we used to lie and cover up.
And my dad said, "It's easier that way."
And I said, "No. Oh, no. It's so much harder. It's so much easier to just tell the truth."
I don't know that he believes or agrees with me, but the fact is that I finally realized that it's my life too, not just his. It's my trauma to share, if I choose to. Lying exhausts me. Covering up exhausts me. This has turned my life completely upside down, every time. I just didn't used to realize it.
Like when I was in 6th grade? I stopped doing my homework. They knew I was smart, and I was a good kid. It's just that every day I forgot to do it. It got to the point that my teacher would write my assignments in a notebook that I took home and my mom had to initial it. Every day.
It was a mystery to everyone. How could Lisa forget to do her homework? Every single day?
And now I think, how the fuck did we hold it together and just pretend life was fine? Not do my homework? There are so many worse things I could've done. The fact that I got dressed and on the school bus and acted like a reasonably normal, if nerdy, 6th grader every damn day is pretty fucking astounding.
Same thing the first month of my freshman year of college. And we thought - we, including me - that I was falling apart that year because of culture shock. Because being dropped in NC from India was hugely traumatic, it really was.
But there was so much more going on. We just didn't talk about it. So it was like, huh, weirdest thing, Lisa's doing so terribly in school. What do you think is wrong with her?
And my brother? He was punching holes through walls. And we were thinking - and saying - "Wow, he's having such a hard time adjusting to 9th grade."
See how fucked up all this not talking about it was? It's actually kind of funny, in an appallingly twisted way, don't you think? How were we so astoundingly oblivious?
I'm not doing that again. I'm just not.
I know that some people are uncomfortable with my approach to this. It's not the kind of thing people talk about. I know. But I can't not. I simply can't.
There are also people who tell me they just don't know what to say. They want to say something, the right thing, they just don't know what. That I understand. It's awkward. I know. I appreciate the sentiment, I really do.
It's not all negative, all the time now though. I mean, the whole thing super sucks, that's for sure. But the thing is, my dad, when he's good, is just incredible. He's so bright, so interesting, so dynamic. When he's good, he's so full of life.
I do have this incredibly strong belief that things will be OK, that we will get back to good. We will get through it and we will be stronger. All of us. We will.
On a lighter note, I told the director of our film that my dad had been telling everyone about our movie and that it's very cute how enthused he is. He said that I can show it to him, and as it's short, my dad can easily show it to everyone he wants to.
Which led me to say that the idea of forcing a bunch of people in the psych ward to watch The QWERTY Kid over and over was supremely bizarre. He presented the visual of all these psych patients watching a continuous loop of a delusional typewriter that saves the world.
And we, we found this hilarious. In that wow, this is so fucked up, so wrong, we should definitely laugh about it kind of way.