Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Intervention and Crazy Moms

There is a moment in this week's Intervention where the crazy drug addict (and this one was way crazier than most) turns to her mother during the intervention to try to get ONE person to agree with her that yes, the electricity in people's bodies, and azalea bushes, and cameras, does cause her joints to dislocate.
The family had spoken ahead of time to an expert joint doctor who had said, "No, that's all a lie, she is manipulating you to try to get you to keep supporting her."
The interventionist, Ken Seeley, had also told the mother, "You know she's going to try to get you to stick with her, but you have to be strong."
Sure enough, the girl turns to plead to her mother, saying, "Mom, Mom, you KNOW that the pain I am in is real! You know what the electricity does!"
The entire family looks at the mother, expecting her to say, "Even if you are in pain, the drug abuse has to stop." Instead, the mother hesitates and says, "I do think she's in real pain."
"Mom! NO!!!" the six other family members scream at her in unison. "We talked about this yesterday!!!"

The look on the mother's face at that moment really resonated with me. The look was- it's hard to describe- she looked dumbfounded, or dumb, or just- like a stone. Like the idea of the others just wasn't reaching her, even though the day before, the world's expert on joint dislocation disorder had spoken to the family and was at that moment right there also shouting at her, "That's not true." Even if a part of her brain knew the family was right, she absolutely could not go against her instinct to help her daughter. (Of course, the problem is, that help was allowing her to live rent-free and take painkillers all day.)

I can relate because I've been there on a tiny scale. I can't even give a real example. I have vague memories of my reactions, though, to some of my husband's parenting suggestions that I've disagreed with. I disagreed, and when he continued to try to discuss, I turned to stone. I just couldn't even picture myself doing something that felt instinctually wrong. I sort of have an example: recently my husband suggested giving some formula rather than breastmilk. We're trying to get Q to take a bottle for daycare, but I'm not really getting time to pump milk to give to him. So, intellectually, it might make sense to some people to use formula in the practice bottles. Well, I am a big breastmilk proponent, and I'm just not going to consider formula. If I have access to breastmilk, I'm not gonna give formula. I'm just not. I can't do it. I can't quite say why. But I bet that the look on my face, when my husband tried to discuss that with me, was just like that lady on intervention: complete incomprehension about the suggestion.

I just understood that look, whereas a year ago, I would have said, "God that lady is crazy!" about the mother. Now, I know it's not crazy, it's just, your brain goes to a different place when it's about your kid.

I know dads feel strongly about their kids too, but I don't think their brains do quite what the mothers' brains do.

I watched the episode with my husband again last night, and it was different than my memory of it.
The girl said, "Mom, MOM. You KNOW if I go away, and sleep on a bad bed, it will undo ALL of my progress. And you will REGRET it. You KNOW it, Mom."
The mom paused and said, "Maybe we could get a different bed."
That's when they all screamed at her.

You can watch the episode online. It was pretty awesome. It had my FAVORITE interventionist, Ken Seeley ("I want to write a love letter to Ken Seeley," I just said to my husband. "Oh my god what if I could meet Ken Seeley?!?") AND a runner- meaning the subject takes off and they all chase her. THE BEST!!! You cannot escape Ken Seeley!

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