Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Crossroads (or, God I Needed To Get Over Myself)

Some time back, my mom gave me a huge pile of letters I'd written to her over the years--from sleepaway camp, from college, from the year I lived in Scotland. Last night, for some reason, I just pulled one out of its envelope...and was immediately transported to a truly turbulent time in my life, a time I had nearly forgotten. It was the time when I was taking my first creative writing class, and deciding that I really didn't want to be a doctor, as I'd been sort of planning.

[A little background: When I was 16, my mother had taken me to a career counseling center affiliated with a Jewish women's group, and they had told me that I had the brains and ability to go beyond my then-dream of becoming a physical therapist (which was based on watching the rehabilitation of my half-sister after a near-death encounter with meningitis as a baby left her significantly disabled). Of course, looking back now, I have to laugh: Could that experience have been any more stereotypically Jewish? "Nu, you make your mama proud, become a doctah. OK?"]

What I had completely forgotten was that I'd written about that decision to my mother. And I'd also completely forgotten how angsty and riddled with doubt I was about the whole thing. When I think back to that time, I remember it all as a well-thought-out, carefully considered choice. This letter says otherwise.

This is what I wrote, embarrassingly naive and stilted writing and all (not to mention the cringe-inducing fact that, yes, I used to share WAY TOO MUCH with my poor mother, who undoubtedly wondered whether she could go back in time and undo a little of that "you can always come to me" stuff she'd instilled in me in childhood). Mom, you were a saint.

Dear Mom,

This is a letter just for you, 'cause I have some thing to say to you alone...

I just wanted to thank you for how understanding you are when it comes to me. I realize how hard it must be for you to stay objective when I start going on and on about the various men I get involved with, but it really helps me to be able to know I can come to you with all my problems, and not have to act when I'm bothered by something that is the least bit sexual. Most of my friends think that it is the greatest thing in the world to be able to talk to you like I talk to my friends. Not that I don't have the proper respect for you as my mother, but I do feel that I can tell you things and get an objective opinion, not a mother's opinion. And I respect your opinions, because you are my mother, but also because you have had a hell of alot more experience in this world than I have and have made many of hte mistakes that I seem destined to repeat. You have no idea how good it makes me feel that I can call you with any little or big problem and know that I am not going to be condemned, but always accepted...It may seem that I take you for granted, but I don't by any means. I've always known that we have a very special understanding between the two of us, because we are a lot alike, I guess, but also because we really like each other, and that makes it possible for us to have a friendship that goes beyond the required mother-daughter relationship.

I am rambling a little bit here, but I hope I am getting my message across. I love you very much.

[I must interrupt myself here to say that god I wish I could go back in time and know for sure if I was deliberately buttering her up for the next part, or if I was just being my usual-for-that-period-of-my-life dramatic, emotional self and needing to express my feelings. I fear it was the former.]

The other thing that I wanted to talk to you about without your being able to answer me immediately is my future. this is the big cloud hanging over my head at the present time. I don't really know if I really want to be a doctor, to devote my time, my life to this field. I kind of just got used to the idea, with everyone always making me feel as if I would be sinning if I wasted my brains and talent on a profession that was not as demanding. I kind of feel as if I owe it to you and [my stepfather] to be what you guys want me to be. I know if I was talking to you right now, you would be getting all pissed off and telling me that you don't want anything of the sort, that you just want me to do what will make me happy, but I think that if you're really honest you'll realize that it never really was me who wanted the doctor thing. I actually don't know what I want. I don't feel a total interest in anything. It always, all my life, has been a major source of depression that I really am not good at anything specific, besides for having a few brains. I'm not ambitious at all, actually I'm a really lazy person, and I really get upset that I can't think of anything I am good enough to do. I love to write, that is my new passion,

[Insert eerie foreshadowing music here.]

but even that, I never do it unless I am forced to, and I don't think I'm much good anyway. I really wouldn't care if I went into a profession in which I took orders from someone all the time, because I kind of really need to be forced to do things as often as possible. I don't really like having alot of responsibility heaped upon me, even if I sometimes get little bursts of energy where I'm all of a sudden going to go out and conquer the world. It never quite works out, and then my energy dissipates and I'm left doing nothing or very little.

[Oh, dear god. Could that be any more textbook hypomanic? This was, by the way, years and years before my father's bipolar diagnosis. Yikes.]

I'm not trying to be totally negative. And it's not the last batch of tests that did this to me. I've been thinking about things for a long time now. the midterms depressed me just because all my life, the only claim to fame that I ever had in the family is my brains, and now it has come to the point of realizing that I'm not as totally unique as everyone always made me feel. I get scared, it's babyish, but I don't have control over it, that once everyone else figures out the same thing, there won't be anything special left about me. [My sister] will always be beautiful, and have her special sense of humor and above average personality. It's always killed me that she is so jealous of me, while I am so jealous of her.

I don't mean to be so depressing. I always go through these patches of time when I get really introspective, but usually I write it down for no apparent reason, and don't sent it to anyone. This time, I guess I got carried away when I decided to sit down and write to you. The real reason that I wrote was to thank you for being so helpful, so THERE when I called the other night and was all upset about [then boyfriend]. It is strange that as I get older, the problems get more and more complex and I find myself in deeper and deeper trouble.

[Oh, please. I was 19, at best. I knew nada about complexity. I so want to smack myself.]

I keep forgetting that I am getting a little too old to still be playing games. I guess it's time I started to consider consequences rather than just trying to have a good time all the time. I just feel like if I don't be a little immature and run around and get all my restlessness out of me now, I'm going to have a lot of trouble in later times when it's required to stick things out and face up to your responsibilities. I am the most restless person I have ever met. I like to get around (not literally!!)

[That's a lie. I was a teen slut.]

but to get out and meet new people all the time. I always feel as if I am missing out on something that I want. I dno't know if I'm getting too deep for you to understand

[Really, she should have smacked my condescending little face right there, don't you think?]

but it is just the way I have been feeling lately. I guess I figure that you would have a better handle on me and my problems if you maybe understood what goes on in my head a little better.

I guess this is all a little unexpected and sudden, and if you're a little confused as to why I did this, well, so am I, so we aren't alone!!!

Speak to you soon.

Love you,


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