17 February 2001
I can't even blame myself for setting the trap. Although I had the illusion of a choice to enter the trap, I had no real choice. Had I not moved in with her after my dad died, I honestly believe none of my siblings would have done so, and my mother would have have survived being alone these four years.
-- My friend JH
I got a letter from my old friend JH (I don't want to post his real name) yesterday, which set me to thinking about all sorts of matters. As background: JH is one of my best friends from the undergrad days. Several years ago, he moved to Houston from his native AR because of the possibilities (employment, educations, gay lifestyle) of Houston compared to rural redneck AR. Several months into his stay here, after he had found decent employment, JH's father passed away, and he made a fairly critical decision: to go back to rural AR and take care of his mother. Given that he had no real assets at the time, this was also sort of a decision to be at the whim of his mother financially (unless there was employment in this area -- which was the reason he left in the first place). They've recently moved from rural redneck AR to rural redneck MO, but there are the same employment problems there as well (exacerbated by my friend's back condition, which limits his ability to do any physical labor). Essentially, my friend is dependent upon his mother for all his needs -- yet his mother is also dependent upon him for virtually all her non-financial needs. It's become an apparently destructive situation, if the quote I've reproduced from the letter is any indication.
I usually can ask questions of my friends and try to point out possibilities to them, because I like to think there are always possibilities. In this case, I'm not sure what those possibilities are. JH made the decision essentially to give up any independence in order to take care of his mother. Was that a moral decision? Could JH have made any other decision, given that he believed his mother would suffer if he had? Should his mother have structured the relationship so that JH at least had some semblance of independence? Is it too late to restructure the relationship that way now? Is JH still under an obligation to stay in this self-destructive situation? Would he consider leaving it even though it may harm his mother?
I don't have any good answers. I don't even have very good questions. Thoughts, anyone?
[Posted @ 12:12 PM CST]