So, my mom’s sad today. Yesterday was my sister’s wedding. Today is my parents’ pseudo-fiftieth anniversary (they’re long divorced, but they really care about each other, so it seems worthy of celebration). My mom may have forgotten about the anniversary, but we celebrated it informally last week at the Cheesecake Factory with my mom’s boyfriend Mark. All three of them were exchanging stories from their alma mater, Earlham College. I had a few stories to add, as I’ve been on campus two or three times.
But anyway, I called Mommy to see if she enjoyed herself at the wedding, and she was sobbing hysterically. I felt bad for her. “Everyone kept telling me how pretty I looked,” she wailed, “but they were just being patronizing. I’m ugly. I’m old and haggard. People only say you’re pretty to reassure ugly people.”
Of course I tried to assure her that’s not the case. In truth, she does look old and haggard. But whenever I visit her, she beams when she sees me and I’m overtaken by her love for me. It’s like that whole concept of inner beauty.
“And then Mark accused me of being negative during the drive home,” she continued. “I know I’m negative! All my children have told me so. Oh! Oh! I think I need to end it with him. He deserves a better romantic partner than me.”
I asked her what he thought of that, but she was stuck in self-hatred mode.
“I have bad self-esteem,” she lamented. “I’m a horrible person.”
Honestly, I felt awful for her. This is different than her normal personality disorder and how it manifests. I’d guess she has depressive personality disorder, which I believe is NOS–not otherwise specified–meaning it’s not currently in the DSM, but it’s an unlisted way that your personality can be disordered.
See, with her normal personality disorder, she’s sort of snarky and passive-aggressive. But today it was more of a display of pure emotion.
I found these symptoms of depressive personality disorder at Wikipedia:
- Usual mood is dominated by dejection, gloominess, cheerlessness, joylessness and unhappiness
- Self-concept centres on beliefs of inadequacy, worthlessness and low self-esteem
- Is critical, blaming and derogatory towards the self
- Is brooding and given to worry
- Is negativistic, critical and judgmental toward others
- Is pessimistic
- Is prone to feeling guilty or remorseful
Check, check, check. But anyway. She’s always hated her looks. When she was my age, she was going through her TOFU period. She’d call herself tired, old, fat, and ugly.
I felt bad for her.
“I couldn’t take photos! I wanted photos of your dad with your sister, but my left hand doesn’t work anymore. I couldn’t maneuver my cellphone to get the shots.”
“Poor Mommy,” I crooned. “That’s terrible.”
“I hate being a burden to everyone.”
“You’re not a burden! Whenever I take you to the doctor, or whatever, you pay me,” I pointed out.
“Ohhhh, you know what I mean. Did your father enjoy the wedding?” she asked.
I recalled what he told me: they had to wait forty-five minutes in the heat to be fed. The sun was in everyone’s eyes, so they were given these little Oriental fans. My dad had a hard time finding a chair to sit in at one point and was tired. There were long periods of no activity, like waiting hours for the wedding to start. He was seated with my mom’s church friends, where gossippy tongues were wagging. But there was cake.
“He had a great time,” I gushed. “He really enjoyed himself.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful. Oh, I’m so glad.”
Well, then she had to get off the phone due to another incoming call. I was sad that I didn’t have more opportunity to lift her spirits. Oh well.