Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday's Child - Plain Spoken

From Saturday, October 13, 2007

She Nuts And Should be Locked Up

I never thought I’d be writing about mental illness, never mind posting it on a blog for the world to see. In fact, talking about it was something I avoided.
My parents avoided it, therefore I assumed it was the right thing to do. Even after I grew up and knew better not talking was so ingrained that it came naturally to me.
A few friends knew, and I suspect most of our relatives knew it. An open secret, I suppose.
After dad died last year I decided it was pointless to downplay it. With both parents gone it meant no one was around to studiously not talk about it.
I’m blunt. It’s my nature. I’d used kinder, socially acceptable ways of answering question about her up to that point.
No more of that sensitive nonsense.
Now when friends and relatives ask about her I look them straight in the eye and say, “She’s nuts and should be locked up.”
On the whole it’s gone over well. The only problem was with an elderly aunt who isn’t quite all there herself. She looked at me like one of those old-style cash registers where the numbers keep spinning, but no total ever comes up.“She’s all right, then?”“Yes, Aunt Redacted. She’s fine.”
What this has done is given everyone else a chance to talk about it, too. I suspect most people were relived to hear me be so open about it. After all these decades they finally got the blunt truth.

Granted some might have been taken aback, but they are used to how I speak so they got past it quickly. They understand if you don’t want the answer, then you should not ask me the question.
It’s helped because they know they can call me after she’s called them with one of her pity-poor-me almost-truths.
She’s gone through a few cousins in the past 10 months. Like many mentally ill people, she is very manipulative. She knows what to say and how to package it in order to get the maximum effect.
It worked, especially on mom. After she died my sister only had dad to emotionally bully. She took right to it. I don’t think dad fell for much of anything. Mostly he wanted to help her and did not know how.

Anyway, my cousins call after she’s whined to them about whatever perceived slight or invented trauma has befallen her.They tell me what she said, and then I tell them what is really going on. For example, she whined to one last winter about not receiving any inheritance yet. I wrote about it in The Calls Are Escalating
In short, she’d gotten the registered letter notifying her of the bank draft I’d sent, but she hadn’t gotten around to signing for it yet. She told the truth, but she wasn’t very honest about it.
This is what she does. The only recourse I have is to be open and honest and tell the truth.

Thoughts and speech should be plain and clear like water in a mountain stream.


Thomma Lyn said...

I love the video of the mountain stream. So peaceful. I love water. Streams, lakes, and ohhhh, waterfalls. :)

I agree with you -- plain talk is best. I get frustrated when people dance around a subject which clearly needs to be addressed. Family dysfunction is often like a white elephant in the living room to which everyone present is covering their eyes, trying desperately to pretend it isn't there.

I enjoy your insightful posts. You sound like such a grounded, wise person.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Very peaceful video!

And I agree--evasive half-truths are really destructive, especially when they're self-serving.

Leah J. Utas said...

TL - Dancing around serves no one and it wastes the energy we could be using to deal with the issue.
Thank you for your kind words.
I was thinking of you when I shot the video. I really like water and clear flowing streams.

Crabby - evasion makes matters worse. I say just blurt it out and get on with it.

Glad the video is being enjoyed.

the Bag Lady said...

dfLeah - love the video! Such clear water.
And you know honesty is best. It's such a shame that mental illness carried such a stigma over the years that the best policy was thought to be silence. Things are slowly improving, but that doesn't change the past.

Leah J. Utas said...

It is a shame about the silence, dfBag Lady. We can't undo that, but we can learn from it.
I say the best thing we can do is be open about it.

I was awfully fond of that stream. I love the shallow fast running water courses where you can see the bottom so easily. They are so peaceful.

Reb said...

Love the video Leah and the statement above it "Thoughts and speech should be plain and clear like water in a mountain stream." It would be so nice if the rest of the world thought that.

Leah J. Utas said...

Yes, Reb, it sure would.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Leah,

Another stirring post that gets us all thinking. How many things are there in life that we just don't mention?

Someone's mental illness, someone else's addiction, another persons abusive language and so on. If we all stepped up and said something before firestorms emerged, life would be easier for all concerned.


Leah J. Utas said...

dfTerrie - Thank you.
It might be difficult at first to talk about what we leave unspoken, but it would ultimately be for the better.
It's there, it exists (whatever it may be) and it must be dealt with because it won't go away on its own.

Clare2e said...

Beautiful babbling brook! I wish I could stick my toesies in right now.

My family has its own unacknowledged issues. People may not be ready to talk about them now (or ever), but they know not to try to blow the shinola and justifications past me. "No, (upset family member), it's not about (fill in the blank with latest outrage), it's mostly because (s)he's a (undiagnosed) whatever."

It's blunt and hard to hear sometimes, though I've also had people laugh with relief that I wasn't sugar-coating. I can't/won't be part of a perpetual, round-and-round drama and retaliation clockwork-machine when it's possible to see things both more simply and honestly. The latest brouhaha is just the same old thing: predictably awful behavior following well-established and identifiable patterns, stemming from often treatable, if neglected, physical and mental causes. What else is new? How are the sports teams/pets/kids/rain gutters?

People may think someone speaks brusquely because she's cold or callous, but playacting those worn old lies can grow too painful and taxing. To mix metaphors, truth feels like my life preserver. Or maybe an innertube carrying my down those cool, clear springs and, hopefully, over life's inevitable rapids.

Leah J. Utas said...

Clare2e - Some people are never ready to talk and that's fine. It's where they are. But don't expect me to play along.
Oh, I've been told I'm cold and/or callous. It has limited impact on me.
Good for you for not sugar-coating reality.