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Journal entry for April 5, 2007


After we saw the doctor, I took her into the restroom. I asked if I could use the toilet first, as I really needed to go. She waited. Then she was confused by the drawstring on her pants and that took awhile. No sooner did she sit down than someone knocked on the door. I tried to hurry her. She said, “I had to wait. They can wait for me!"


After what seemed like a long time, she stood up. She had poop-covered toilet paper in her hand, and poop-covered tissue stuck to her butt. I pulled off the stuff stuck to her butt and that made her mad. Then I tried to get the wad out of her hand and that made her even madder. She hit me. I said, "Mom, it's dirty. Throw it in the toilet." She yelled, "It is NOT! It's cleaner than you are!"


I thought that if I could get her to wash her hands, she'd let go of the wad. Didn’t work. Things spiraled out of control. She hit me again and told me she hated me. Her eyes became wild and angry. She lunged for the bathroom door, her diapers and pants still around her knees. I grabbed her pants and pulled them up. She swung around and landed a hard one on my shoulder. She kicked the door and yelled, "Let me out of here! Get me out!" I opened it and we tumbled into the waiting area. People looked shocked.


I grabbed her firmly by the arm and steered her towards the door. She was still clutching the toilet paper. People averted their eyes. When we reached the hallway, I let go of her and strode off a few steps ahead. Let her get herself to the elevator, I thought.


When she passed the trash can she stopped, looked at the toilet paper in her hand, grimaced, and threw it away as if to say, "Ugh. Why am I carrying this?"


We rode down in silence, both of us breathing hard. When we reached the ground floor I turned to her and said, "Do you know who I am? I'm your daughter. Do not hit me. Do you understand that? DO NOT HIT ME."


She sneered. "You deserved it. You were being nasty."


I hissed, "I was NOT being nasty. I was trying to get dirty toilet paper out of your hand. DO NOT HIT ME."


Now we were making people in the lobby uncomfortable. I didn't care.


The fight continued to the car. As I helped her into her seat, she called me stupid. I told her to shut up. She yelled something about how I couldn't be her daughter because I was mean and spiteful. I yelled back. “SHUT UP." I got behind the wheel. She opened her mouth to speak. I cut her off. "I SAID -- SHUT! UP! NOW!!"


This was not just fatigue and impatience. I needed her to stop talking. I needed her to stop spewing hateful demented stuff. I had wiped her butt, changed her diaper, cleaned her vomit off my feet, carefully discussed her health with her doctor, taken a couple of hard punches, and been called stupid and nasty. That was enough for one day.


When we arrived at the pharmacy, she was ready to reconcile. She wanted to walk in with me but the distance was too far and the wind too brisk. I steered her back to the car. I turned on the ignition so she could listen to the radio while she waited. Then I fell apart and began crying. Now she was confused, because she didn't remember anything of the fight. She kept asking what was wrong and what she could do to help. What was I going to tell her?




This photo and text appeared in the exhibition, "Two Belts," at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, January-March 2013.



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Taken on April 5, 2007