My Friend’s Agoraphobic Daughter

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Photo: Caridad

I got a call from a friend of mine whose oldest daughter had returned for a visit after having lived outside of Cuba for several years.

My friend said she was happy to see her daughter, but that she was very concerned because the younger woman was afraid to go outside, especially by herself.

Of course my friend didn’t want to leave her at home alone for a moment; rather, she preferred to be with the girl and enjoy her presence, especially since she didn’t know when she would see her again.

However there were times when she needed to check to see if the girl really didn’t want to leave the house, to the point of faking pain in her ovaries so as to get the girl to go to the pharmacy to buy painkillers.

Taking advantage of that time, my friend rummaged through the personal belongings of her daughter and found clear indications of her dependence on a sedative. She ultimately decided not to raise the issue; she wanted to avoid an undue confrontation for having gone through the girl’s things.

In later conversations, the daughter said anything she needed could be ordered online and that either a messenger would deliver it or it would come by mail. She almost never goes to restaurants, because she likes preparing food herself, which consists of vegetables, fruit and meat. She rarely eats rice and never has beans.

The daughter is a university graduate and also works in an administrative position of a company. She prefers to keep her relationships at work strictly professional, that’s why she doesn’t like going out for drinks with her colleagues on holidays.

Most of her time is spent on statistics or analyzing the economic performance of the company over the past month, and so on.

Each time she goes to an office or an agency for personnel matters, she thinks that the people who attend her are annoying…

“Those are symptoms of agoraphobia,” I told my friend. “It’s an intense, irrational fear of public places.”

But the daughter finally left Cuba to return to those long hours of being alone in her apartment, sequestered away from the world.

Without knowing it, the opportunity to overcome those fears was missed when she said goodbye to her mother, who was heartbroken over her leaving and who now makes futile efforts to communicate with her daughter.