Went with my parents and sister to an art museum open day. I almost lost it I can’t see the road ahead in the new Subaru, as the head restraints are vast. So when I was telling my sister about this spot my father almost ran a red light and hit the brakes, hard.
We got back and I made the three of them dinner. I haven’t eaten with them in the last two weeks since my father’s aborted surgery, except for one dinner out where my mother told me to get the souvlaki plate so she could eat the Greek salad. Once, when I came up to check on them, my mother suggested I eat some, but beyond that, they haven’t mentioned it to me; no “thanks for dinner” or “it was good,” or even “we miss you at dinner.”
They have decided that they cannot change, and I have realized that without change the stress is unbearable. Now, they feel that pressure, so even when I relay a message of concern from his friend my father goes “yeah, yeah,” because to him it feels like nagging. This is what happens when you live in dysfunction and end up with a parental role; you are the one to be resisted, to be worn down, to be destroyed.
My sister came out after dinner and I tried to speak. “I get headaches when I am around them,” I said. “And I don’t know any way to make them more comfortable with me that wouldn’t be even more traitorous.”
Oh. There’s a word. “Traitorous.” I am a traitor to myself, a sell out, a rat. I have turned my back on myself, ruining my life. And I can’t see how I can be who they want me to be without being more traitorous.
They will soon dispose of my old minivan and the lilac Intrepid I have been driving to put me into my sister’s old Subaru. I hate the idea of driving that dog and boat stink car, which is a tight fit, but mostly the reason I hate it is because it feels like they are trying to make me more like them, driving the standard into my heart.
I drove Subarus, going through three or four of them in the early 1980s before I changed to Taurus. It feels like they are following me and I have to go backwards, rewinding my liberation, traitorous.
I even had to do the shopping, for dealers, for repairers, for my own coffin. Well, maybe it only feels that way.
Not far from here, just a few towns up the Hudson, is the Saratoga Battlefield. One of the oddest memorial stones there shows a boot, and praises a great officer who served with distinction in the battle, who was wounded in the leg. They just never mention the officer’s name: Benedict Arnold, later branded a traitor in a plot to sell the defenses at West Point.
Such a traitor to the cause.