You know, in some ways you're a lot like me.
You're just a prisoner, and you're trying to break free.
("Man in Motion" - John Parr)
life with a crazy parent
My mom shows a lot of the signs of being a paranoid schizophrenic. Her
version of reality is subject to change in a blink of an eye.
There is ONE difference, she's usually very careful of where and in front of
whom she loses control. It scares me to think that all that cruelity and
malice was actually something of her own choosing, but it explains the
totally evil being that would haunt my dreams. I still have nightmares about
As the oldest, it was my job to raise my brother and sisters, while my father escaped my mother's rages and nonsense by being a workaholic. During my childhood (if it can be properly called that), my mother has sat on me and pulled my hair for breaking a lid of a cookie jar (I was 5 and she was/is overweight), had broken one of my front teeth because I protested that the thing I was being spanked for wasn't my doing (she told me she didn't care, hit me in the mouth with the paddle and then made me come up with a story to tell the dentist). I've had her burst into the bathroom while I was taking a bath and beat my back with a metal spatula because I didn't finish a chore...etc.
You could never tell when Mom would go off. She could walked past a pile of junk for three months without saying a word, then one day she would lose it and go off the deep end. And once she started on one person, she would find something wrong with the rest of us....I guess it was her idea of fairness.
By the time I was 12, I was doing the laundry for our large family, while my 10 year-old sister took care of the kitchen. (Sometimes we would switch chores to get a break.) By the time my sister and I entered highschool, we were also cooking most of the family meals as well. I was also responsible for making sure my other siblings got their chores done. I was expected to put housework before homework, and when I tried hard my junior year in HS to make good grades in my classes (I was taking Physics, Latin II, Chemistry, and Trig.), my mother got jealous of my time and actually pulled me out of my Latin class because I had decided after cleaning almost the whole kitchen, that I would skip wiping down the appliances and do my Latin homework. Imagine being called to the principal's office and having your mom sneering at you, say that she was taking you home because you didn't do your chores. Imagine that you had actually done a better job on said chore than you normally do. It took me maybe 45 minutes to finish the task, because I was shaking so hard with frustration.
The rest of Latin was a bust. I couldn't concentrate in there to save my life. I spent a great deal of time pacing the front of the room, while my classmates worked on their translations. My teacher was cool, she let me pace since I wasn't really disturbing anything, and gave me a passing grade. I don't think she ever asked what was wrong, but she did know that I honestly was trying to learn the stuff.
I got my only two failings grade in HS that year: Physics and Grammar. The Grammer was because I didn't finish enough of my homework.
For the past several years I've been working on undoing the damage of the past. My mom rewrites the past all the time, and when more than one of us insists on staying with the truth, she sulks or gets violent. I am no more the family fix-it elf and my parents resent my abandoning of the duty they fostered on me, extremely. I hate going home, and have, from time to time, boycotted my own family. I only talk to my two middle sisters on a regular basis now.
It's hard, but I have found that sometimes you just have to cut yourself off from your family to get well. Usually, after a few months or so, they carefully get in touch with me and then act as if the fight or whatever never happened.
hehehe...One time I didn't talk to my mother for ten months, and in the middle of this, she told my youngest sister that she knew she was a great mother, because she was friends with all her children. My baby sister called me from another sister's home to tell me this. At the time, she and my brother were the only one's talking to Mom. She had to because Mom and Dad were stilling paying for her college, otherwise she wouldn't have had anything to do with Mom either. My brother was even avoiding her most of the time. In all honesty, when my mom made this remark, her children hated her. What can you do with denial like that?
This was written before I was forced to consider the possibility that my mother maybe just be an evil person. Now, I don't have a concrete explaination for her actions
Am I afraid of inheriting my mother's mental illness - YES! I've been worried about it since I was 12. When my little girl was born, I thought I was going nuts and got myself tested. I was told by THREE professionals that I was INDEED SANE, but I had grown up in a crazy family which had plunged me into clinical depression cause by severe anxiety. To this day, I have a dear friend who likes to joke that I'm "the only person (she) knows who was ever happy to find out (I) was depressed." ;)
What's more, 2 of my sisters have also got themselves checked for the possibility of schizophenia. Both were suffering from depression. One is now on medication for a chemical disorder in her brain, but she doesn't have schizophernia. She's such a neat person now. The other hasn't really gotten too much help yet, but with twins, it's only a matter of time. Our youngest sister hasn't reached the same age that the rest of us got ourselves checked....so maybe in another 3 or 4 years she'll do the same. I hope so.
The only 2 people in my family who refuse to seek any help are my mother and brother. That should read 3 - my father has done nothing about his codependency. My brother is now showing signs of being crazy too. Both of them insist it's the rest of the world and not them that have the problem. It's like they say, "If you think you maybe crazy, then you're probably not because you still have the capability to question your own acts."
The most frustrating thing about all of this is trying to get people to understand that you're not exaggerating. I mean most people believe I am a level headed and accurate person until they hear me talk about my mother. They just don't want to believe that someone they know could be related to a nutcase. Sometime ago, my mom sent me an abusive and highly hypocritical email. I forwarded it to a friend of mine, who I had been telling about my woes. The next time she talked to me, she very gently, with a great deal of worry in her voice, pointed out that I didn't have to have any contact with my mom, or the rest of my family for that matter. I started to laugh and told her not to worry. My sisters are still more or less sane. Whenever we get overwhelm, we talk to each other and remind ourselves of the truth and how hard it is for someone who hasn't lived through it to comprehend.
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