Lint-Trap 2/20/01: Home Sweet Home


Home Sweet Home


Well, Diana is home now, although she is attending an outpatient group for the next week or two.

On Mon., her ex and her eldest son Eson came to see her at the hospital. They proceeded to play 'blame the victim', bigtime. The whole thing was her fault, because she was such a terrible person. Blah, blah, and blah.

Some of what they said hit home. She would tell them to do a task, and then when they did it, she would criticize it and tell them to do it again, her way. If one of the kids finished a task, she would immediately give them another one. So there was no incentive to finish something.

A lot of what Diana had been doing in the hospital was preparing a plan for how to do things differently when she got out. She was aware that her kids, like much of the rest of her world, frustrated her by not living up to her standards. Things were massively unfair--her ex didn't help with the kids, her boss gave her more work, and less praise, than her co-workers, etc.

All these things are true. Dwelling on them made her very sick. All that negativity was a poison that leached pleasure and fun from her world, and made her increasingly anxious and fearful. She would focus on something to the point of a compulsion--if only she could do this or fix that, then she would feel better. But in fact she was doing to herself just what her kids were complaining about--the minute one worry was over, she made up a new one. It was this compulsiveness, this narrowing of attention and focus on the negative, that made me most concerned about her.

She was able, however, to give her ex and Eson some of the thoughts she had worked out in the hospital. About the ex paying some of the child support he owed. About her son's habit of saying "I'll do it later" and then not doing it, ever.

She is owning up to her previous habits. That is hard, but very good.

She actually left the hospital Tues. She says that they were not sure her plan was good enough, but she was having trouble sleeping (her roomate talked in her sleep, and the Life Flight heliport was right outside of her window). She thought she would sleep better at home.

I picked her up about dinner time, and we did paperwork for an hour. Then we needed to go to the pharmacy. While there, I ran next door for some Chinese take out. We finally got home after 7.

I should have expected what we found.

There was not a clean dish, or even a vacant square inch, on the kitchen table, counters, or sink. Trash covered the floor. I couldn't even put the Chinese food down until some clearing had gotten done.

I lost it a little. I'd skipped lunch, and I was hungry. And it was so depressing to come home to such a mess. So I said, in a deceptively mild tone of voice, "did you just throw this stuff on the floor so your mom would come home and clean it up?"

Eson got very defensive. He asked me to clarify my sentence, and when I did he stomped off in a huff, saying "it was Hell here when she was gone, just Hell, and we did the best we could."

I had expected that the kids would be angry, underneath that guilty, and underneath that scared.

So we sat down to dinner. Eson came back, and we talked about it. I said that it was important to realize how other people would see things, and that their mom would be upset and depressed by such a mess, and would naturally assume that they made the mess to upset and depress her. At that, Eson looked a little guilty, and Diana looked a little nonplussed. It turned into a good discussion.

In the middle of dinner, Diana got up, seemingly to go to the bathroom, but was gone for a bit longer than I would have expected. She came back, ate a bit more, and then left the table again when the kids were still eating. After a few minutes, I went looking for her.

Turns out she was looking for an insurance booklet. She wouldn't have been able to do anything with it until the next day anyway, but, sitting there at the table, she started to worry that it wasn't where she thought it should be.

We talked about it. She did see that this was a worry that was blown out of proportion. But it worried me--we aren't out of the woods yet.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2001 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.