One morning when I was 11, I walked into the living room just as an axe came through the front door. It was the fire department. My mother had swallowed a handful of pain pills and called 911 just before she lost consciousness.
This is one of those things that happened when I was young that I forget about and then, when I remember, forget is not normal. I don't know what normal is, but I assume it's not waking up to your mother's suicide attempts.
Maybe that morning is not indelibly marked on me because it wasn't the first time my mother had tried to abandon me. When I was a baby, she moved to San Diego and tried to kill herself. Then she came back and left again, came back and left again.
Having forgotten about this thing that happened when I was young, I thought of it last night, talking to my lover about my most recent attempt to get my mother to see a therapist. My mother is a therapist, but she refuses to see one.
I nudge, cajole, bully, beg. After years of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds and anti- everything, she's a moving shadow. She ignores me, goes to the White Horse, drinks tequila, dates rough women who beat her and put her in the hospital, ignores the ones with jobs and no substance abuse issues.
My 20 psych visits at the sliding-scale clinic are coming to a close. My therapist likes me, thinks I'd make a good therapist. I flinched when she said it, but now I'm researching grad schools, ordering transcripts, writing essays, begging for letters of recommendation.
I'd like to ask my therapist for a letter of recommendation. I'd like to ask my therapist for a clean bill of health. I'd like to ask her for a guarantee, a warranty, a promise that I won't be a moving shadow, that I won't abandon my children, that they won't see an axe coming through the living room door.