The Saint

I know someone who, under the guise of selflessness, manipulates everyone into doing as she wishes. Her “duties” to other people keep her from having to do anything about her own life, or lack thereof. She has “given up her life” to care for her elderly mother. I suspect there was not much life to give up. By doing whatever anyone else wants she never has to decide what she wants, let alone act on it. Going out to eat? You pick the restaurant. Planning a meal? You choose the entrée. Going shopping? Watching tv? You decide where, pick the show, what do YOU like? Of course, if you choose wrongly (ie something she actually doesn’t want or like) she will instantly develop an allergy or supply a logical reason why this cannot work out. It doesn’t seem to matter how nonsensical her “logical reason” is. Pointing out a fallacy will just produce more “logical reasons”. Not because SHE cares of course. SHE wants you to do what YOU want, it’s just that there happens to be some overriding principle of the universe that will be compromised of things are done that way. It’s not because she doesn’t want to. Oh no, it’s just that the store is closed today, the restaurant will be very crowded at that time, the tv station doesn’t come in, that food has started giving her terrible belly pain and uncontrollable gas, none of these things are in her power to alleviate you see. She is very sorry. Please pick something else. It takes awhile, but one eventually learns the acceptable alternatives.

No detail is too small to escape control. While putatively seeing after your comfort and “trying to plan her day” (around yours, of course) she attempts to control your every move up to and including when other people in the dwelling shower. You are, of course, asked when it is that you would like to shower. After you state what time that is (or guess, as most of us do) there will always and forever be some reason why that is an inconvenient time. There will be laundry going and horses to feed and places to go and a hundred other reasons. By and by you will figure out that she wants you to shower at night before you go to bed. It is truly passive/aggressive behavior raised to an art form. Before you decide I am an idiot for putting up with all this, let me say, it is my job. I am a paid care-giver for her elderly mother. When she is hostess to others, after exhaustive inquiries about what and when these poor souls eat, she will go to great (and very visible) effort to turn out extremely mediocre meals at slightly inconvenient times. She tries very hard you see. And make no mistake, you are meant to see. Her siblings are convinced that she tries very hard to please others.

She has a “social anxiety disorder”. It prevents her from driving on freeways, dealing with strangers or paperwork, cleaning the house, allowing others to clean the house, visiting relatives, handling new situations, flying and any other thing she doesn’t really care for. Decisions are impossible to make. The choosing of a paint color is too weighty. What if you choose wrong? Projects can almost never be completed. The fear of imperfect execution is paralyzing. None of this bothers her enough for her to take medication. She has some. She took it for a year, during which her symptoms improved so dramatically as to almost vanish. Now if you bring it up she maintains she is taking her meds and would not care to be without them. The bottle that she waves about to make her point is a 30 day supply. It was last filled 6 months ago, according to the date on the bottle. There are still pills in it.

I feel sorry for her, even though her imprisonment is self-inflicted. I wonder what happened, why she believes she should not be allowed freedom. Then I think, perhaps this is the life she wants. Safe and limited, with clear boundaries, complete control of the other members of her family and points given for selfless sainthood. I think it is easier than pushing herself to deal with the outside world and its uncontrollable vagaries. To try is risky. It might invite failure. Better a safe world, however foreshortened it is. I feel pity….and on bad days, a mild, benign disgust. And conflict, because all that said, I truly like this woman. She is bright and funny and caring and cheerful. I just wish she’d take her medicine!



  1. ittymac said,

    September 7, 2013 at 4:08 am

    She’s doing exactly what she wants to do. Sad, isn’t it? Really descriptive. I loved reading it.

  2. witchyluck said,

    September 8, 2013 at 5:20 am

    yes, I do think it’s sad. Seems kind of a waste really…and all because of fear. Thanks, I was afraid I sounded kind of mean.

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