Think about it. How is it possible to make even the most benign of inquiries or statements into an attack on a person. That’s what she wondered about all the time. It wasn’t so disturbing that she was unable to get simple answers out of family members; it was that she became obsessed in a self-indulgent way about the fact that she never was able to hold a conversation that meant anything with any family member. This was their way, she thought, of keeping the wolves from the door.

And the most disturbing thing was that as the family aged (and members dropped off either in disgust or from disuse), this statement came up more and more.

For instance, a phone call to one of her sisters all of which lived out of the range of a casual visit. In fact, a visit engendered more stress than was warranted. In a simple phone call, which she would have to initiate, time and time again, to the point where she was the only one making such phone calls, there would be silence. She could feel the tension at the other end. It was palpable. It was as if she had taken an ice pick and began to chop at the target of her inquiry, sister, in some painful way. She could smell the blood dripping onto the others’ car seat, as she waited for a simple “how are you?”

The emotional toll is indescribable. She would say something like. “How do you think Mom sounds these days?” and get a response like “why how should she sound?” upon which she would respond with “I can’t answer that; that’s rhetorical. You can’t ask me a question before you answer my question.” It came down to a simple lack of social skills on the part of the other person. For instance, how would it be if the other party responded with “I guess she sounds okay. Did you notice anything else?” or some other normal rational adult response.

Yeah, there were issues. So the Why do you care sentence comes up a lot. It comes up when she points out that another driver has tried to move into the slow lane in front of your car, and you have to slow down suddenly. Maybe they are unsure of the route, or maybe you were a bit too close. Or if a person is standing in a passageway you had to traverse to get out of a store. A protest to knocking into them or not excusing yourself is simply “why do you care.”

It seems to absolve everything.

Categories family

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