"THE HISTORY OF VIOLENCE"
After seeing the movie, The History of Violence, and, of course, relating it to the issue of estrangements, I thought, "Some estrangements are better left alone. Why would anyone in their right mind want to get back together with that guy unless he wanted to get back together with you? You'd just leave him the heck alone!"
I can't tell you any more or I'll spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it.
"PROOF": THE ISSUES OF PROOFS
Then there is the movie Proof with Gwyneth Paltrow playing the daughter to the genius mathematician father played by Anthony Hopkins. A central issue is the fear of insanity having been passed down from father to daughter, a fear that is reinforced by the suspicions of the controlling straitlaced buttondowned sister.
Long ago I worried that I might have inherited the mental illnesses of my mother and grandmother. But the boogeyman of that serious a mental illness never materialized. I have suffered and been treated for clinical depression which is practically the common cold of mental illnesses.
Once upon a time in my twenties I voluntarily went for an appointment with one of my mother's psychiatrists. Because I wasn't as close to her as she wanted me to be, she was telling me that I was crazy. I was so fed up with her calling me crazy that I offered to go to her psychiatrist to see what the doctor thought. After interviewing me her doctor assured me that I was not crazy. I told my mother her doc's verdict and my mother said, "Oh, I knew it all along!" She is a strange woman.
I"m sure that I'm obsessive compulsive but at the low end of the range. Not sufficiently obsessive compulsive to take medication.
I know that my daughter has wondered if she has inherited something. She tends to exaggerate things. She has said things like, "Everyone on one side of my family is mentally ill going back for generations! No one has been treated!" Gasp, gasp!! Oh, the Horror!
The truth is that the two people in my family who had serious mental health issues are my grandmother and my mother but each had a different disorder. Both received treatment, my mother having received treatment for over 50 years. The only common thread between their conditions might be symptoms of depression but it's hard to say what my grandmother really had as she was so withdrawn that no one would know if she was depressed or what. I never had an actual conversation with her if you'd define a conversation as two people exchanging more than a handful of words. From the description of her behavior I could guess that she might have been Schizoid. She was institutionalized for a while but no one in the family knows what her official diagnosis was.
My mother has Borderline Personality Disorder which means that she rages and worries, rages, gets depressed, does self destructive things, sees everything in black and white terms and alternately demonizes and idealizes people, especially me. My grandmother was withdrawn. My mother was emotionally all over the place. Other than my mother and grandmother the only people who have been diagnosed and treated for mental illnesses are a couple of cousins who have Bipolar Disorder and their father who suffered from clinical depression.
I've asked relatives in Finland if there were others in the family who had had something seriously wrong mentally but they had no reports of others who had a problem.
Perhaps my daughter has experienced something personally that makes her wonder if she has inherited what she sees as the "Family Curse" although there isn't any Family Curse. Most of my relatives are productive, successful. creative people, even those who have been treated for Bipolar Disorder and clinical depression.
A friend gave me a good quote that she heard years ago when she took Psychology 101: "We are all abnormal on a continuum of abnormality." Makes sense to me! From what I've seen of people I believe that we all at one time or another in our lives experience a little bit of craziness.
In the movie Proof, the character played by Gwyneth Paltrow is almost convinced by her sister that she has inherited the "Family Curse" but finally she realizes that this is something that her sister needs to believe. It is not her own problem.
People can be like that, like the sister in Proof. They want to believe that someone else who is creative, intelligent, living a life that is different than theirs ... there must be something wrong with them. As though lifestyles are created in just one mold and any other mold is a flawed mold. A factory second.
Funny ... or not really funny ... but I thought recently that my daughter is like that sister in the movie Proof. She must be disappointed that I have never been self destructive as she predicted that I would be eight years ago. You might think she'd be relieved that I have never done anything harmful to myself or ever threatened doing anything harmful to myself. Even now when she makes a point of telling me that she doesn't love me and will never end our estrangement, if I had a truly suicidal bone in my body I'd be thinking of something along the lines of self destruction but I'm not. No way!
It might be that she hates to be wrong. She'd rather be right and have me being suicidal? Then she'd have been proved right in her prediction that I was going to be just like my mother. This would have made my daughter happy. She's like the sister in Proof who wanted to believe that her creative smart mathematician sister was ill just like their creative smart mentally ill mathematician father.
The Proof in the title of the movie was a mathematical proof and the proof of Paltrow's sanity. The only people in my life who would like to believe that I am crazy are my mentally ill mother, my bitter ex-husband, and my estranged daughter. All three undoubtedly suspect that each other is crazy too.
In the movie I began to wonder if the sister was the one with the problem. At the least she had a control issue. She wanted to control Gwyneth. Controlling Gwyneth seemed to be something that she was comfortable trying to do. Convincing Gwyneth that she was sick and needed looking after was her mission. I have to wonder what kind of relationship the sisters would have after Gwyneth took off on her own and took charge of her own life.
Why would someone be happy if someone was mentally ill but unhappy if the person turned out to be sane? Obstinately sane? Is sanity dangerous? Some kind of threat? Why would someone need to believe that another person is mentally ill when they aren't? The rest of the world that knows me on a day to day basis has no need to make me prove my sanity.