nature versus nurture

I've read all about the problems I have, trying to blame them on my mother. Her genes, the way she raised me. The little box of pills I have set out for the week is a color-coded plastic cage, seven little containers of things I never wanted to do. Smiling like a normal person, seven days at a time. And they work, too. I laugh and smile and act like nothing is wrong so long as I stick to the routine.

They've finally found a way to make me human, I guess. My mother didn't do a good enough job.

The thing is the doctors don't know what causes it. Not really. It turns out it's complicated. It seems like all their studies have been inconclusive. They don't know if it's environmental, they tell me. Maybe it's hereditary. Maybe it's something else entirely--some wires didn't develop right, or something like that.

I just know my mother tried her hardest and that wasn't good enough. She gave everything she had for me and she didn't have enough to give. And she hated me for it. She shouted at me, insulted me, did everything short of beating me--and maybe she even did that a few times, times I can't remember or don't want to. And all I ever wanted to do was get by. I wanted to make her happy. I never did. I never got a smile.

I haven't talked to her in years. I still get so angry just thinking of her. Sometimes I get letters. Sometimes she calls. "Hello?" she'll say, and she says my name. I tell her I don't live here anymore. I hang up.

I can't stand to let her see me the way she always hoped I'd be, all happy and well-adjusted and living a normal life, chained to these fucking pills.


Anonymous said...

sometimes I feel my life is like that. that's what I like about your posts, you seem to capture me, a stranger, in the words you dont say.

Rob said...

I am glad you enjoy! I write mostly to say "everything will be okay" to whoever wants to read. Hopefully I do all right.

Ian said...

Perhaps it's because I've never had any personal experience with psychiatry, but I can't help but feel that the motif of "the pills the doctors make me take to make me not crazy" is a little cliché and over-played, speaking from a literary perspective and in general.

I don't say this to demean your work, but simply as an observation and a question. I mean to ask, is it really that bad? Is the issue of taking anti-depressants and mood stabilizers serious enough to have warranted all the mentions like this one?

Rob said...

Criticism is always welcome!

It's probably been done to death but that is partly because we live in a culture where there's a pill for everything. This one was sort of a way of looking at my aversion to medicines and try to put it in the context of, well, if you're happy and well-adjusted and etc...

I know they are often necessary and helpful--but I think there's always that fear that you aren't actually fully human or you are broken, and you need external help to be real, or whatever.

This one was about more than just pills, I guess. It was about family, blaming your mother for not being able to raise you well enough or a mother blaming her children for being too hard to raise, and how all she wants is for her child to be happy and normal, and about being happy and normal and hating your mother for it anyways.

It came out a little fragmented, but I think maybe that's okay.

Rob said...

Which is to say: this is an issue about which I am unnaturally concerned despite not actually taking any pills for anything. It just frightens me on a visceral level, because identity is so fragile already, you know?