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Surviving Crazy

Have you ever seen those mothers that seemingly live their lives through their children? The ones on the sidelines either wearing clothing that indicates they’re “the MOM”…or worse, the ones that actually try to dress like their child in an attempt to regain their youth. Those, in my eyes are your typical mothers. The ones that put their children first, perhaps to the extreme, but hey, who’s to judge? There are plenty of women out there that were too fat to be cheerleaders, or simply too ugly, and I say if you want to dress like Britney Spears in your surgery enhanced body at your child’s pep rally you go girl! You show off those enhancements!!

Yes, that’s always how I hoped my mother would be as I grew older. I wanted her to idolize my world and be desperate to be a part of it. Did she cooperate in my fantasy? Hell no. My mother was either too busy sleeping the year away or too hopped up on pharmaceuticals to make complete sentences. I should have had a clue, or really my dad should have had a clue what he was getting into when he met my grandmother. My mom was as carbon copied as you can get in comparison to her mother. Grandmother, although crippled with polio and tiny in frame was quite the force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, my grandma stories are rather disturbing and brutally honest. The facts of her mental illness were evident in every aspect of her life.

Being a child, exposed to craziness was pretty humorous for me. I didn’t understand why I would get off the bus and find grandma naked on our porch. All I knew was that I would from then on be getting off the bus around the corner. Just in case. The first time I approached her on this issue, she told me that she was madly in love with the mailman, and was quite sure the feeling was mutual due to the fact that he kept coming back day after day. Nudity to her was normal and natural. I remember having to help my dad when he locked himself in the bathroom. He had stumbled across naked grandma as he headed to the bathroom and refused to come out until someone could reassure him she had put her clothing back on. Convincing your bipolar grandmother on crutches that no one wants to see her in all her aging glory was always a hard task. My grandmother, the obsessive gambler, was usually persuaded to cover up if you laid a bet regarding something obscure and she was assured of making a profit. The bets could be anything from whether our over weight cat, which could barely walk, would catch one of the frisky squirrels in our yard to whether or not my brother could ingest a bottle of mustard. The cat bet was always a for sure thing, so in the bad episodes, that was my usual route. My grandmother was always sure that money was the route to anything. When I was younger, she would try to bribe my father into leaving my mother. Sad thing was, dad would have made a killing if he would have taken her up on those offers. Whether it be a new car, or a stack of cash, she was always constantly trying to run my father off. I question his intelligence level back then. Sheesh, as a 4th grader I made a killing off of her. You could get her to pay you for anything, if she wanted a bowl of corn flakes, sure thing, $5 please. My con artist skills started early, as you could tell who my mentor was. My poor grandmother also suffered from severe bouts of emphysema, yet insisted on smoking like a freight train. There would be times she’d need to be hospitalized and yet you’d find her smoking it up in her room because she had bribed one of the nurses to buy her cigarettes. She was a fearless little *****, oxygen cranked up puffing away. I always envied her sense of self. She never doubted her actions or her reasoning. My mother labeled her “crazy like a fox”. This was usually due to the fact that no matter how many times she would have her admitted to the psychiatric hospitals, grandma always found a way to talk herself into being released. Then, she’d do obscure things to punish my mother for admitting her into those places. Her usual tactic was to act out in public. I remember sitting in Perkins, a sort of Denny’s in California, and her telling a large biker in the next booth that he stunk. “You stink!” she yelled at him. Now, in situations like that, I personally would have left my grandmother to fend for herself. A good *** whooping would have helped her crippled little butt. But, my mother would always painfully apologize to the locals and explain to them that my grandmother was off her rocker. As if her actions weren’t evidence enough. I remember grandma driving us to odd places, like watermelon fields to steal things for her. She’d tell us to get out quick and get her a few things. Ironically enough, I don’t believe my grandmother ever had a driver’s license all those years. Yet, she was always able to buy a brand new car on a whim. It’s odd how people don’t question your motives when you have money. In the end, I guess she was right; you can buy anything at the right price. The sadder experiences that I remember of my grandmother were the times she’d be beaten by my grandfather. In all honesty, it takes two people to fight, and well, even if my grandmother was the size of his big toe, she was pretty damn good at dishing it out. Yet, she always seemed to be on the losing end. As she experimented with medication her moods were unstable and extreme. The times she did take her pills, she was a loving grandmother who made the effort to remember your favorite color and teach you to make things liked boxed macaroni. The times that she thought she was ok, a typical bipolar issue, there were no need for meds in her mind. Often, the consequences of such flawed thinking were random nudity and beatings. I miss that old battle ax.

My mother seemingly ignored all those years of her life. These days, you can find her throwing her husband’s clothing outside or annexing him to the shed she bought him that’s a miniature of her home, right down to the color. She seems to forget the years we’d find her high on her own meds trying to do the moon walk in the kitchen with the broom. A favorite memory of my mother was the day she was convinced an entire field of cattle were double jointed because she was hallucinating that their tails and ears were spinning in circles. To this day she defends that logic. As if we were all the oddballs because we didn’t see it. The joys of living with a mother in denial have been harsh and honest. My mom mimics so many of the same behaviors my grandmother had yet refuses to see her self as a bipolar. Even with both her daughters diagnosed with it, she still can’t see where it came from. In her world, everything has seemingly skipped a generation leaving her genetically perfect. If we could all be that far in denial, I bet we’d be seeing double jointed cows too.

I’d like to remember the fun times, when my mom would try to take medication and bake us cookies. She even sewed our clothing for a bit, making my sister and myself matching gay outfits. But, unfortunately there were too many bizarre and painful memories for me to label my mother as a success. My siblings and I were survivors. We survived a woman who would never see her flaws, a woman who often took her anger and pain out on the only objects that couldn’t run away from her. In an attempt to seem normal, she raised us as Jehovah’s Witnesses. It sucked going through school knowing you couldn’t participate in normal events such as holidays and school functions. When we’d complain to mom, she’d find an article or book to shove down our throats that explained why it was wrong for us to have that thinking, according to the Witnesses. It seems like they have an article for everything. Right down to ************ and how dirty and bad it should make you feel. Well, if anything, I learned all the things I wanted to do. I thought if the Jehovah’s Witnesses weren’t doing it, that it sounded like the exact thing I’d love to be doing. Dating was non existent with her. The day I showed up with a boyfriend at one of our spiritual “conventions”, she freaked. She made the poor guy go to dinner with us, and I guess she thought he had great manners because he walked behind me. Yet, I later found out the reason he did that was because he was trying to determine the color of my thong. I bet you could call him today and he could still tell you the exact color.

As I grew older, and got a clearer idea of what life was about, my mother and I came to more odds. In her last ditch effort to save me from my course of sinning, she narked on me to the congregation elders. I still remember that meeting. They called me in the to explain to me how I was becoming bad association for the congregation and that they were going to ask me to leave. Normally, that’d be a traumatic situation for any kid who’s been raised to believe that your entire existence is to serve a benign entity you can’t see and believe that everything taught to you by the overseers was the equivalent of God’s words himself. Yet, for me, the moment they told me I was no longer acceptable to them, I felt as if the largest burden had been lifted off my shoulder. I no longer had to believe my mother’s bullshit about how all her actions were ok because she was living her life in line with the standards of God. I mean seriously, the woman likes to drink beer and do donuts in her yard with her car in the winter. If God is telling her that’s ok, then I’d like to talk to the other voices she is listening to as well. Maybe they can explain to me why to this day she still puts random **** on my door step like books that teach you how to play pool or a baggy full of baby wipes. When I was pregnant with my first child, she made an attempt to be motherly, yet it was weird and unnatural. She decided she was going to try and rock me in the fetal position because she wanted to “rock her babies”. That’s when I realized she had decided to cut her pills in half to save money. Well, she did this on the days that she actually took the pills. Her excuse for the days she skipped was that she simply didn’t need them that day. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe psychiatric medication is meant to be taken on an “as needed” basis…and if so, then why let the crazy person decide?

It’s hard having an unstable parent. I do give her credit for constantly giving me the reminder of how I don’t want to be and thus keeping me taking my meds day to day. The “crazy like a fox” theory applies to her as well. Ironic but true. Her latest ploy is convincing her new husband that there’s nothing wrong with her kicking him out of the house on her whims, and that it’s truly him with the issue. He now believes that he is bipolar and is actively seeking mental help for it. My mom, “Doctor Katie”, has helped him come to this conclusion. With all her infinite wisdom and talks with Jehovah on a daily basis, the poor man is simply out numbered. The sucky part for him is he believes he can’t spiritually divorce her, so he’s screwed. That’s in one of those Jehovah’s Witness articles as well. Its funny how there’s always an article on what you can’t do…and never one on what you can. I guess that’s brain washing at its finest.

It’s been a rough road coming to the conclusion that I was raised in a cult by a psychotic mother and a weenie dad who refused to step up. I go to therapy for it, and I finally understand why people act as if they’re not home or as if they’re Satan worshippers when you get a knock on your door. I got a pamphlet in the door yesterday proclaiming “Do You Know the Truth?” All I could think was if that’s the truth than I like being ignorant. So I did the proper thing and filed it away in my garbage can.
m2extreme m2extreme 31-35, F 2 Responses Jun 21, 2011

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Thank you!

Interesting childhood you have there, do you find that with your own children that you consciously make an effort not to do to them that which was done to you?