Saturday, April 18, 2015

Patri in Silentio

Yesterday my mom went to the emergency room.

She's home now, with antibiotics and pain meds. She has one more round of tests in a few days, but all the tests they ran at the hospital indicate that she is a very healthy 71-year-old woman. When I talked to her last night, shortly after she and my dad returned home, she said she was already feeling better. I'll talk to her again tomorrow to see how she's doing after a couple of days of antibiotics.

Knock wood, the next test won't uncover any major issues. She'll complete the antibiotics and be fine. Because she's very fit for a woman her age (more fit than me, probably), and she should have many years ahead of her, as long as she takes minimal care of her health.

And there's the rub.

My mom, God love her, is stoic to a fucking fault.

I should stitch her a sampler with the words "Patri in Silentio" on it, because "Suffer in Silence" is her personal motto.

She wouldn't have ended up in the ER if she had mentioned that she wasn't feeling well. If she had admitted to having pain in her side and shortness of breath. If she had simply answered honestly when my dad, noticing that she seemed less than 100%, asked her if she was OK.

But until it became an emergency, she didn't. Because "Suffer in Silence." That's how she's been for as long as I can remember.

And after I stitch those words for her, I should stitch a second one, because she passed that attitude down to me.

Except I'm done with that bullshit. Suffering in silence gets you nothing. It landed my mom in the hospital.

It destroyed my marriage.

If I've learned anything at all in my adult life, it's that communication is always better than silence. No matter how difficult or scary it is, it's always better. Because even if a conversation goes terribly, it gives you the precious gift of information. Maybe not the information you sought or expected, but the information you need to move forward.

Silence lies. Silence has no voice, so all it can convey is a false sense of security that requires you to pretend that the absence of bad news is good news. That a lack of discord is peace. That refusing to express sadness somehow manufactures happiness in the void.

All lies.

Suffering in silence doesn't tell the world you're strong. It tells the world you're afraid to be weak. And once fear has a hold of you, it rules your life and makes your decisions for you.

It endangers your health. Or ruins your relationships.

For no goddamn reason.

So I'm done. No more suffering in silence. And absolutely no teaching Precocious Daughter that toxic lesson by example.

It's difficult. And it's scary. And it will bring some sadness.

But because I want to be a good role model for my mom and my daughter, I'll deal with all that.

And maybe we'll all be stronger for it.


  1. Hiding your head in the sand and hoping it gets better on its own, right? Sometimes it does!

    I used to work in a law office, and it was common for people to come in and drop a pile of unopened envelopes form the IRS on the desk, saying, "Yeah, i think something is going on with my taxes."

    But they'd usually waited as the letters came in until their bank account got frozen.

    I try and take things head-on, which makes people uncomfortable...

    Hope your mom stays on the up and up...

    1. You ought to see the specimens who suspect they might have cancer. Especially if a doctor tells them they need to get a biopsy to test for cancer. They disappear and you never see them again.

      I'm glad to see you discovered Chuck, by the way. You two are among my favourite people, so you ought to get along fine.

  2. Like when my mechanic asked me how long my car had been making "that noise" -- when I responded "a day or two" he was surprised. "You mean you didn't just turn up the radio and hope it'd go away?"
    Don't just turn up the radio. Until you've solved the problem -- then turn up that sucker and DANCE!
    Hope your mom keeps getting better!


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