When everything is suffering

“You want to be happy, and you’ve taken actions to make sure that you live a happy life,” a friend said to me this week over lunch. “You don’t want the same life your parents have, and that’s why you are cognizant of building a different life for yourself and not becoming them.”

I thought about this when I was thinking back to a week ago during my visit home. This time last week, I woke up on Saturday morning to pump in my parents’ house, and when entering the kitchen, my mom had a whole stove full of food she was preparing… at 6:30am. I had no idea why there was so much food and the need to get up so early for all this food.

“Why are you making all this food so early in the morning?” I asked her. “It’s so early.”

She had an angry look on her face, as though I was asking a stupid question. “Your aunt is having us upstairs for dinner tonight. Don’t you know?! You don’t just shove your way into a dinner like that. That’s not our custom! You have to bring something! You don’t come empty handed!”

That last part was basically like a snake hissing at me.

“I was planning to buy something today to bring it,” I responded simply. “There’s no need to make anything. I can just buy it today.”

“JUST DON’T! DON’T SAY ANYMORE!” My mom raised her voice, increasingly getting mad. “When I say something, just shut your mouth! I tell your dad this, too! Just STOP talking back! I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it! I can’t put up with it anymore! I suffer SO much!”

At that point, I left the kitchen. I wasn’t going to take any more verbal abuse that early in the morning. The whole conversation was just stupid and irrational. Plus, the tension could potentially hurt my milk output, which I didn’t need. She remained in the kitchen, “suffering” and cooking endless food that mostly would not get eaten, mumbling to herself about how she’s always suffering.

When I’ve gotten invited to meals or potlucks, I’ve always welcomed the opportunity to make a dish or bring something. I’ve never looked at it as “suffering” or “more work” that needed to be done. I suppose it’s because meals are social events, and I like both parts to them: I like the food (plus the opportunity to make something that would be fun for me to cook or bake), and I like socializing and being around people. But that’s the way my mom is: it seems like literally every single action she takes is “suffering” in her eyes. She sits in her room where everything in existence is all suffering and refuses to get out of it. She’s beyond help, and talking to her is of no use. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t have kids to support or a crappy day job to go to: everything is miserable to her.

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