My parents. You wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

My sister called me last week. We don’t meet often, but our telephone calls are long and almost always end with stomach aches. Of laughter. Reminiscing the old day often has that effect on us. And that is a feat if I know one! Because our childhood days weren’t all that great. An abusive father, a mentally ill mother. Ooooh, I know, you’re probably thinking, “So what? You think mine were all paradise? Think again!” And you would probably be right. But this time my sister dropped a bomb: “Momma is thinking about euthanasia.” No, I definitely didn’t see that one coming!

There is no coming back from euthanasia. It is the ultimate medicine for a mental disease.

Welcome to my world! Ever since I can remember my mom was sick. She was always bed ridden and the housekeeping was done by the help. Or by my sister and me. She came to life only during the summer holidays. Because in those weeks, whatever ailed her was miraculously gone. She must have gone through the whole medical encyclopedia from A to Z. And remember, this is before the Google-era. I don’t dare contemplate what illnesses would have entered our household if my mother had been familiar with that medium. Name it and she had it. And got cured. By magic it seemed. I still don’t know why she didn’t make the Guinness Book of records with all her miraculous recoveries. Euthanasia is just the ultimate finale if you think about it. There is no coming back from that.

Munchausen syndrome is a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves.

But maybe she doesn’t want to come back. My parents are two individuals that can be handled well separately, but when together only emphasize their weaknesses. He keeps her ill, she keeps him on his pedestal. Doesn’t matter how many times he beats her. He will always be her hero. And I get it. How else can she justify staying with him and exposing her kids to that kind of violence? I can’t imagine her being a mother and actually take responsibility for her own life. And hence leave. Sometimes it is easier to hide behind a mask. To waste your life behind imaginary illnesses. And it helps if that kind of action creates attention.

The consequences of spousal abuse are enormous. Among the many related complaints are depression, panic attacks, post traumatic stress syndrome and drug or alcohol abuse. Personality disorder are often related to spousal abuse. Source:Ministerie van Welzijn, Gezondheid en Sport. 

And that is probably exactly how it all started with my mother: a means to get attention. Pity is a negative way to get attention. But it IS still attention. I totally understand that the illnesses my mother created are just that: attention seeking. But I also understand that at the same time the illnesses created a wall of protection. She was temporarily untouchable while ill. While I believe her illnesses sprouted out of some misguided form of attention seeking attitude, she must have realized quite soon that this was also a means to protect herself physically from my father. And it worked. So she ended up in a wheelchair years ago. Never, ever, did my sister or me get a straight answer if we wanted to know what was wrong with her. And always there was this miraculous cure.

There is something called the Munchausen syndrome. There is no official way to know for certain if someone is mentally ill by Munchausen. And to cure Munchausen you need lots and lots of years of therapy. But to do that you first have to acknowledge you HAVE a problem. And here is a woman that is in denial about her husband being abusive. We, the kids, had to keep our mouths shut about “the problem” because it would hurt him. How sick are you as a mother if you act like this? I remember people trying to reach out to us, help us sometimes, like parents of friends. It happened sporadically. But every time someone offered to help, my mother showed her talent for denial. She was an expert in manipulation and lying. You can’t help someone, who is in denial of the problem. Who doesn’t want to be helped.

munchausen syndromeFor years she told everyone she was paralyzed. Even though my sister and I suspected she was simulating. But how do you prove this? Family asked us about it, because they too had suspicions. But who in his right mind would act being paralyzed? There were moments we caught her doing something that would have been impossible if she would have been paralyzed. But even then it is hard to accuse someone of simulating. Because you can’t imagine someone faking being paralyzed. But the reality is of course, that if you are in a wheelchair for years on end, without any stimulation and no effort at all to make yourself stronger, your body will finally be too weak. And it doesn’t take any effort. All it needs is doing nothing. Just what my mother always wanted. Or needed. And if you never train your mind, never challenge your mind, it doesn’t take long to cripple your mind in the same way. You know the first thing my sister said to me when our mother started to show signs of memory loss? “Mark my words, if she gets even more crazy, she will forget she couldn’t walk.”

What is the acme of Alzheimer’s disease? Forgetting you’re telling everyone for years you can’t walk. 

It is a miracle! She can walk!It may seem a sick joke for someone not familiar with our background, but I laughed so hard when she told me this. Because this shows exactly how mad my family is. How bizarre. And what do you know? The miracle has happened! My mother walked again. She actually grew some legs! But sadly her mind only deteriorated further and now she is nothing but an empty vessel.  Again without a diagnosis. Because my father still didn’t tell us what is wrong with her. First it was Alzheimer’s disease, then dementia. And now it is some kind of unique brain disease. Very rare. He still won’t recognize that my mother made a career out of her illnesses. She knows how to play him, how to manipulate doctors apparently. But it cost her. It cost her her family, her children, her grand children. It cost her everything that should have brought joy in her life.

This may sound harsh, but I don’t feel anything for these people. No love. No anger even. I can’t call on any emotion if my father and my mother are the subject. I’m empty. It is quite confusing. Because I know I should at least feel sadness for not having a mother. Maybe a kind of mourning. And now I feel guilty for not feeling anything. People tell me: “They are your parents.!” but the truth is: they didn’t act like it. In what way were they my parents? Yes, they put my sister and me on this earth. But they also made it known, time and time again, we weren’t wanted. And now they need us? In their final days, or years? Because society tells you, you should take care of your parents? I know it gives me peace of mind if I never have to see them again. If I don’t have to force myself into interaction with them. There is one thing I regret in this whole thing: my kids will never know how great it is to have wonderful grandparents. Yeah, of course I would have loved to have a mother, but I would have loved it even more if my kids could have had fun with their grandparents. But who can blame me for protecting my kids against any kind of domestic violence. And I would have exposed my kids to possible abuse. So, if my father decides euthanasia is the best thing for my mother – because I don’t doubt that my mother isn’t sane enough to make this kind of decision- he will have to do this by himself. I won’t be there to support him.

TL;DR:  Euthanasia is the ultimate escape route from a violent marriage. 

3 thoughts on “My parents. You wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

  1. O jeetje, wat een heftig verhaal zeg. Wat een lastige jeugd zal je vaak (meestal) gehad hebben. Kan me voorstellen dat je hier lang over hebt getwijfeld om dit te schrijven, maar het zal vast opluchten… ergens. Fijn dat je er afstand van kunt doen, maar heel triest dat je geen gevoel meer hebt erbij, dat zegt wel hoe heftig het is/was.

    • `Het was. Toen. Maar nu niet meer hoor. Ik merk dat ik het los heb kunnen laten gelukkig. 🙂 Betekent niet dat dit een makkelijk stukje was om te schrijven. Ik heb heel lang getwijfeld of ik het wel moest publiceren

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