“Has she given NOT BEING CRAZY a try?!?!”

“And my mother began to go crazy. Not crazy in a let’s paint the kitchen bright red! sort of way. But crazy in a gas oven, toothpaste sandwich, I am God sort of way. Gone were the days when she would stand on the deck lighting lemon-scented candles without then having to eat the wax.” – Running with Scissors

When I was little, my mom chaperoned every field trip, even though she worked. She used to make a really big deal out of birthdays. She cooked pancakes with candles before school and made sure we had a gift to go with them. Small holidays were even special. She made heart-shaped pancakes on Valentine’s Day and put green food dye in the milk on St. Patrick’s Day. She even painted little green footprints all over the bathtub, where the leprechauns had been. She then made my brother, Bo, and I clean them up while the ten-year-old in the bathroom bawled his eyes out like a little bitch with a skinned knee, screaming “I HATE LEPRECHAUNS!”

screaming dean

Seriously, Bo believed in this shit waaaay too long. We had to sit him down the night before his wedding and explain why Santa wouldn’t come that year.*

* I’m lying.

“Why does she have to be so fucking crazy?!?!?! Has she… oh, I don’t know… given not being crazy a try?!?! It’s not that fucking hard! I’m doing it right the fuck now!!!

That’s generally how the conversation starts with Gail, these days…

“… and you know that in her twisted labyrinth of a brain, that’s exactly how it happened, the fucking lunatic! Hoggle is running around with a bracelet and a peach. David Bowie is somewhere in my mother’s brain wearing a completely inappropriate outfit for a children’s movie!”

… that’s where it leads…

::tearfully:: “Why does she have to be like this? Why does she do this to people? I don’t understand.”

… and that’s where it ends up.

God bless Gail for having been around for the past ten years and understanding, without explanation, that my mother is just abusive and crazy. We joke about being each other’s moms and raising each other from age fifteen. Gail wasn’t just the one to hear about every single high school crush, listen to me rant about my Sims characters and the latest Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode…

awesome
I interrupt this serious blog entry to say that I was a fucking awesome teenager.

… and get kicked out of a Wal-Mart with me for sword fighting in the craft section with dalrods. She was also the one to sleep in my car with me when I was too drunk to get up the stairs after I kicked my ex-husband out, taught me to put on eyeliner when I found myself 23 and single, and comfort me each and every time my mother went off the deep end.

When I was 13, I was going through a tough time, acting out because the only authority figure in the house had left. My mother wanted me to see a therapist and I refused. Through a series of events, the argument escalated and would’ve ended in a 911 call if she hadn’t grabbed me by the hair and thrown me away from the phone. It was a bad day. It was the day I started sucking my thumb again, though I hadn’t since I was 10. It was the day I threw out that dog leash and was relieved to find my toes weren’t broken.

When I was 14, my brother and I got into an argument and he stormed out, while I was painting the dining room. My mother screamed that it was my fault he left. The argument escalated and when she swung her purse at my head, she missed and hit the wet wall. She was furious, because I’d destroyed her purse and swung the step ladder next. I told everyone who asked about the scratch, that ran the length of my face, that I had a cat. It wasn’t technically a lie.

At 19, I told my mother to stop inviting people I didn’t know to my wedding. The argument escalated and she raised her hand to hit me across the face when I snapped “If you hit me, I will hit you back and then I will press charges.” She hasn’t raised a hand to me since, but she still plays her games.

Summer of 2011, Gail and I decided that a trip to New Mexico with my mother and her husband wouldn’t be a terrible idea, since we’d have a different room and drive a different car and it was on my mom’s tab. In hindsight, I’m kind of glad we went, because Gail understands my mommy issues on an entirely new level after hearing the woman scream at me for taking a quick trip to return something at Wal-Mart across the street since she was 30 minutes late… and watching me hyperventilate at Carlsbad Caverns because my mother was going to yell at me for getting separated from her and no one on this planet can make me regress to a frightened 14-year-old like my mother.

upset teen “Belle, calm down, sweetie. You’re not fifteen anymore. If she yells at you, we’ll leave, okay? We’ll go back to the hotel, we’ll get our stuff, and we’ll go home. Your Gramma will help with the gas. It’s okay.”

Those eleven days of being a psych major were far from wasted. That girl would be great at that.

All of this wouldn’t be so bad if my mother were consistent, but that’s just not how mental illness works. She’ll act crazy and yell at me about the lipgloss I told her I wouldn’t use, but she bought anyway. She’ll get upset that my background picture on my phone is of me and my Gramma. She’ll text me to tell me she doesn’t love me anymore, because she thinks I’m lying about having to work. I understand you don’t just stop being mentally ill, but she won’t even admit she has a problem or get help. She’s just certain the world is against her. Then, for six months, she’s my mom. She’s the woman who ate cookie dough with me while we watched Smallville. She’s slightly grating and has abysmal table manners, but she’s not cruel or abusive… so I let my guard down… like I have during these last six months.

Me: “It’s really going to suck when she starts eating the candle wax again.”
Gail: “Ugh. Yes… and I’m going to have to pick up the pieces. I hate your mother.”

The only other person Gail hates is the man who told her he couldn’t wait until their daughter got sexy.

free candy
I can’t believe he got the van in the divorce.

I once called my Gramma crying and referred to the fact that my mom was adopted when I said…

“Why did you even pick her?!? You could’ve chosen the baby to the left! What, were you approached by a man in a cloak? Did you make some kind of deal?!?!”

cloaked man
“I’m from the adoption agency.” Yeah… seems legit.

So, a couple of weeks ago, when I called and cried “You could’ve chosen the baby to the left!”, she responded with “Uh oh. What the hell has she done now?” My Gramma does not swear. My mother is threatened by no one as much as she is my Gramma, the woman who took me to spend the night with her the night my mother screamed at us both to fuck off and mooned my Gramma on the front lawn, when I was 15. According to my mother, she stole Bo and I away from her. So, when I was out with my mother and called my Gramma to tell her I was busy and that’s why I’d missed her calls, my mother was threatened and asked why I had to make the call when she was sitting right next to me. Not being 15 anymore, I was visibly pissed, because she hadn’t cared one bit about my constantly texting Gail. So, my mother has been texting and calling non-stop for the past week. The last text was to state that we were having Smithie’s barbecue for my Gramma’s birthday, Sunday at 11:30. I told my mother that my Gramma said she wanted Sim’s, not Smithie’s and she assured me that she’d just asked her.

Me: “Did you want Smithie’s or did mom?”
Gramma: “Well, I mentioned Sim’s and she said she thought that Smithie’s would be a better sit-down place…”

This led to a tearful rant on my part that I soon realized was only upsetting my Gramma, so I called Gail.

“Why does she have to be so fucking crazy?!?!?! Has she… oh, I don’t know… given not being crazy a try?!?! It’s not that fucking hard! I’m doing it right the fuck now!!!

There’s a cheap, sapphire necklace that came with a pancake and candle breakfast when I was eight. I put it away for safekeeping, because the woman who gave it to me is long gone… and I don’t know why.

pancakes with candles

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5 thoughts on ““Has she given NOT BEING CRAZY a try?!?!”

  1. I can relate. I was the adult. Always. There were no pancakes with candles unless I made them.

    Age takes away the bitterness…and death renders it meaningless.

    I was never able to be the person who could sympathize with my mother because she was my mother and was supposed to take care of me, but I am glad that there are people in this world who have a heart for the mentally ill. They do need sympathy and help.

    My solution was to live far away, though I eventually moved back nearer to my parents (who were divorced). Both of them are gone now and despite their faults, I miss them. Thankfully, my mother got an opportunity to be someone different for my daughter…to get to reinvent herself to some degree.

    For what it’s worth, if your mom is anything like mine was, she dwells on the negative and lets it consume her. Therefore, your relationship with your Grandma (though I’m sure you would have rather had that relationship with your mom) is a reminder to her that she failed as a mother (on some level) and she does not want to take ownership of it. Hang in there.

    • I fully agree with that statement. She can’t take responsibility for anything she’s done wrong, so she blames the people who stepped up. I’m thrilled they did and I’m happy with my life, but I’m disappointed the last few months of normal are gone. Thank you for the encouragement.

  2. Having a mother with volatile moods is so hard. I relate on that level, and I can’t imagine how you manage coping with her physical abuse on top of her general instability. When you can’t trust the one person who is supposed to love you unconditionally to show even basic affection, it hurts so, so much. My heart aches for you, as I have felt some of that pain myself, coupled with my mom’s inability to admit she is wrong or seek professional help.

    Thank goodness you have a friend like Gail. Sometimes true family is made up of the friends with whom we choose to develop the closest bonds. I’m also guessing your sense of humor helps you cope… me too.

    • Yeah, my sense of humor has forever been a coping mechanism. It’s great to have that one friend that gets it, because those who don’t say things that make you feel awful, like “Well, she’s still your mom.” Yeah. I know that. And it still sucks. My Gramma has always made me feel safe and loved unconditionally, though, and that’s made a HUGE difference. I’m sorry you went through similar trials. It’s always tough, but in a new way when you’re supposed to be an adult and “over it.”

  3. Pingback: The Amazon in My Corner | Belle of the Library

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