(I’ve placed this under five minute fiction, but there’s a lot of truth which cuts close the bone in this short burst.)
“Are you okay?”
It was a question I’d been asked half a dozen times so far today, and each time I’d repeated the same simple response. “I’m okay.”
Except I probably wasn’t. My mother and I had a complicated relationship, fraught with emotion and difficult at the best of times. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t abusive, or based in hatred. It was a relationship based on love – but too much love. The fact of the matter was that she’d loved me too much, obsessively – and she had her own mental health problems. The diagnosis I’d come up with that she was most probably a narcissistic sociopath – but she didn’t believe there was anything wrong with her. With my own diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, a severe depressive disorder and numerous anxiety issues, we were almost destined to clash.
And we did, regularly, with fireworks and anger, and on my behalf, a healthy dose of hatred. She came close to driving me out of my mind, even though she didn’t intend to. She just couldn’t bear to let me go.
The cost of that obsession was high – instead of living out her twilight years with a strong, loving relationship with her daughter, we ended up in a tempestuous, argumentative battle, which ebbed and flowed, but never improved.
And I’ll admit, I often wished her dead. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it was a reliable indicator of how distressed she made me, because that love came with arguments; battles in which I would always be painted as the one ‘in the wrong’, with her a masterful twister of words, working on my weaknesses to bolster her arguments. No matter what happened, that was her main ammunition – preying on my weaknesses to further her own agenda.
So yes, my answer to the question of whether or not I’m okay is to say ‘I’m fine’.
But the answer is so much more complicated than that.