Sunday, May 11, 2008

The stakes

Sometimes I don't know why I wake up in the middle of the night, but tonight it's because of my mother. Because of this conversation where she's telling me that it's difficult for her to manage all her expenses on $11,500 a month, that's $10,000 from interest on her $4.5 million, plus $1500 a month widow’s benefits. She's been saying for a long time that she hadn't even started getting the $10,000 a month, but now she says she can't remember when it started. We're having this conversation because she wants me to cut down on my alternative healthcare, she pays for my healthcare I've already told her I need more healthcare, not less. That my father created the false sense that there was never enough money, but now he's dead and you don't have to think that anymore. That maybe you don't understand your finances, but I'm sure once you do you'll realize you have plenty.

That's all before, in the message responding to my mother's message. Now I'm asking her about the account she's supposed to create for me, the one she promised maybe two years ago -- for some reason I can't remember if it was before or after my father's death. I think it was before, because I don't remember having a conversation after. But after makes more sense, right? No, I think it was something my mother offered, offered when he was still alive, oh right because that's when money first entered the equation, right it was her idea -- that's when all of this entered the picture, this picture that now feels endless with the hopelessness of hope in the wrong place, the place where the hopelessness came from.

I want her to create this account, and I want her to create it for me. That's two different wants, but mostly I want her to create it, I want that security. She says things like I'll always take care of you -- how could I ever believe that? I keep bringing what I want back to the table, I want the account to be completely separate from her -- so that she doesn't have to worry about it, so that I don't have to worry about it. She's telling me that she's asked her investors to give her more money; somehow that's supposed to reassure me.

This is one of those moments when I'm thinking it's never going to happen -- my autonomy gives her nothing, what she wants is control, control in the same way my father exerted it, exerted it over her and me and my sister and probably other people we never even met. I keep repeating what I want, Jen calls this generosity -- I'm offering my mother the opportunity to actually do something to help me feel safe, such a small gesture really a small gesture to maybe undo a small part of the violence she created but I don't know why I think that’s something she wants.

When I get off the phone I think maybe I should start turning tricks again. Maybe it would be better now, because I have money so I wouldn't be relying on sex work for my basic needs it would just be income. Maybe it wouldn't feel so all-encompassing. I start thinking about taking out an ad that's just me, and whoever actually wants to meet someone like me would call and I wouldn't have to call back if I didn't want to but then every now and then there'd be an extra $200. I start thinking about who would call that ad, maybe they would actually be interesting, more interesting than some of the people I have sex with in my leisure time.

In the middle of the night is when I remember I stopped turning tricks because it was too hard on my body, too hard to tell someone who didn't really care about my comfort that actually that position was painful, every position really I could angle away and keep up the illusion sometimes I think I miss that concentration. But it's hard to do sex work when I don't feel like I have control over my body anyway, that's kind of a bad place to start.

Which is how I feel about my mother -- she doesn't want to think about my pain either, when I bring it up she changes the subject. The stakes are so much higher.


sulphur bottom said...

In Human, All Too Human, existential philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had this to say about hope:

Hope. Pandora brought the jar with the evils and opened it. It was the gods' gift to man, on the outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the "lucky jar." Then all the evils, those lively, winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time, they roam around and do harm to men by day and night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the top down and it remained inside. So now man has the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the world of the treasure. It is at his service; he reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not know that that jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good--it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment.

my parents always pretend to be poor too.... but then they changed that mentality for my sisters. so they get priveleges i never even thought of, and i'm still treated like it's possible the entire family is on the edge of poverty. i don't understand it.

keidy said...

Such a heartwarming mother's day story.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Sulphur, that's a great quote -- thanks for sharing it! And yes, the lies the lies the lies, they just go on and on, sometimes it's hard to imagine that "family" means anything else.

And Keidy, you're right -- it is Mother's Day, I didn't even think of that when I wrote this!

Love --