Everything in this post comes from a September 27th 2010, New Yorker article called Me and My Shadow by John Lahr. As with the previous post, this article is about a vastly more famous creative writer who endured a past similar to mine: Another misery memoirist.
Edward Albee described his family as “adoptive—we never got along.” Of his parents, he has said: “I was not what they bargained for, what they thought they had bought” and that there were “no touchies, no feelies.”
One of Albee’s headmasters supported Albee’s application to Choate, saying: “Very confidentially, he dislikes his mother with a cordial and eloquent dislike which I consider entirely justifiable. I can think of no other boy who, I believe, has been so fully the victim of an unsympathetic home background or who has exhibited so fully the psychological effects of feeling that he is not wanted.”
John Lahr’s article is a review of Albee’s play: Me, Myself and I. It concerns identical twins both named Otto (a palindrome), one of whom is loved by his mother, the other neglected. This conceit captures the horror I felt in the betrayal of my parents.
The horror is not simply the betrayal. It also lies in the realization that if you “do something” to reveal it you will wind up with nothing. I, and others children like me, get trapped in the psychology of bad parents being better than no parents. We feel we will be the bigger losers if we tell anyone in a position to help if we are taken from our homes.
John Lahr: “Albee once said of his double parental abandonment, “I used to care about it, but then I discovered that I was a writer…. I found out who I was through my plays.”
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