Sunday, May 13, 2007

In which I talk about uncomfortable topics and use inappropriate humor and the F-word a whole lot

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.


  1. each of us copes in our own way...screw the other people that are uncomfortable with your approach! I bet they'd be more uncomfortable if you became a homicidal lunatic that couldn't cope instead.

  2. Haha. This is another of those terrible, but funny things. Yes, that would definitely make people more uncomfortable.

  3. It can seem to be such a fine line to walk, but I think you should be congratulated for dealing with what is really your situation in a way that works well for you. :o)

  4. I just think it's funny that you showed, in a psyche ward, a movie whose theme was 'fantasy.'

    Appropriate, in a completely inappropriate sort of way, no?

  5. Laughter is good!

  6. Lemon, this post hit home with me. I love it. In fact, I have no words. The acting out, the "what's wrong with *her*, all of that. Beautifully articulated.

  7. Dagny - Thank you. It's taken me a long time to figure out what works for me.

    WiB - Yes, totally appropriately inappropriate. I mistyped, though - we haven't actually done it.

    HKW - Absolutely! Laughter totally saves me.

    JN - Thank you. I'm glad/sad it resonated with you.

  8. I'm sorry that you've had to take this awful ride with your father. Whatever makes him do what he does is a terrible intruder on your family and its effects are deeply felt, if deeply hidden. I'm happy for you that you've found away to deal with it because I can only imagine what it does to a person who has to hide such hurt.

    I'm glad your dad is doing so much better and is taking an interest in your movie.

    He could become the hit of his floor if he shares it with his fellow patients!

  9. Lisa, I think that talking about it is the sanest thing you can do. So many people keep things bottled up, so many families have dark secrets, and it's these lies which end up destroying people.

  10. DCup - Thank you for the incredibly supportive words. And we'll see if he becomes a celebrity :).

    G&D - I believe you are exactly right. Those lies, and maintaining the pretense that everything is fine, completely destroys people's lives.


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