Am I crazy? I think I just might be. My mother was, so it would stand to reason that the Nutso might jump from her branch to mine in the ol’ family tree. (She wasn’t like, dangerous crazy. Not really. I mean, she might have been, given a weapon at the right time, but since that never happened, she was generally not physically harmful. Emotionally, however, is a different story… And that wasn’t intentional. She didn’t mean to be the way she was…)
I’ve wondered for years – since I was old enough to observe that other moms weren’t like mine, and that I wasn’t like other daughters -- if maybe, just maybe, I’m cracking up. Maybe my attic has a few leaks, if you know what I’m saying. The idea scares the ever living shit out of me, the thought of being out of control in the same ways that I witnessed for so many years, the very possibility of harboring that kind of beast inside my brain… Why, it’s enough to make me want to scratch my own face off.
You see, my mom was different. Very large Catholic family. Very, very religious. She thought she heard God’s voice as a child, and she may have. Having never heard it myself, I wouldn’t recognize it and have no reason to brush off her claims. (She was a lot of things, but never a liar.) She was her father’s favorite. They weren’t poor, but were rubbing elbows with it. She married a rich boy straight out of high school, he joined the military, they moved overseas to a small island. He became wildly abusive, attempting to kill her every chance he got. She had my oldest sister in a hospital in Germany, alone, when she was 20 years old. They all moved back to the states, and eventually back to the place my mother was born and her family still lived. Her father was diagnosed with cancer and died. Her husband mocked her pain, and in her rage she found the strength to leave him, although she was no longer… whole. The years of terror and pain and torture had left her already-fragile mind fractured. She was still beautiful, brilliant, vibrant and so brave, but there was something foreign in her mind after that, something that warped her view of herself, the world around her and the people in it... She met my ‘father,’ married him, had my other sister. I believe she then had an affair with a man she never identified to me let alone admitted to being with, and then I was born.
She loved us so much. More than I can even fathom. We were her entire world, my sisters and I, or at least everything in it that was good. That love didn’t keep her whole, though. In fact, it frequently acted as a bludgeon she used to break our hearts and her own. She had two major psychotic breaks that I know of, because I was there for them. I grew up idolizing her, and living in terror that I would become like her. She was everything to me- my fear, my love, my hate, my protector and the person I longed to escape. As I got older, she became one of my best friends, the person I loved more than life. She died three years ago. Cancer. Was diagnosed in January, died in June of the same year… It literally tore her apart. One of her obituaries said “died peacefully after a long battle with cancer.” What a fucking load of shit. It was a horrific, swift massacre. Nothing peaceful or long about that “battle.”
Oh! When she died? I was pregnant. My boyfriend of seven years and I were expecting a baby. A little girl. I was the exact same age my mother had been when she had my oldest sister. Did I mention that we were high school sweethearts, and that he joined the military? Or that he was stationed on an island overseas? And wouldn’t you know, he had this really odd habit of getting violent when I made him angry, which happened a lot. (His hurts were small potatoes next to the torture my mom lived with, but he was gearing up for the big stuff with shocking speed and enthusiasm. However, I’m sure we can all see the parallels between her life and mine.) Yeah… So, she died about 4 and a half months into my pregnancy. I turned to my boyfriend for comfort, he shoved me, I fell and went into early labor. Miscarried a few days later. That was three weeks before my 21st birthday. Four months later, I left him. (I know. Really long time, huh? Well, I probably AM crazy. So duh.)
Then I got together with a guy that was my best friend. He was happy, spiritual, beautiful. He was everything I’d ever wanted. He was more than I ever thought I’d get, given the fact that my stepfather and my mother’s psychosis pounded “you’re shit” into my brain for many, many years. Three years later, he wasn’t even a shadow of the man I’d met and I called our relationship off because I got tired of killing him. We ended up being really terrible for each other… I made him sad, and he made me angry. We both struggle with clinical depression, so… bad combination. I loved him so much, I never thought we’d be apart. Leaving him was the most terrible choice I’ve ever had to make.
Now, there’s this great guy. A guy that’s so peaceful, so mellow, so supportive. I have no idea how to be with him. I’m so far out of my depth that I can’t even see the shore, even though he’s right there with me, encouraging me to swim. You can do this, you can be this, it’s okay, I’m right here. After being on an emotional roller-coaster for nearly 25 years, I don’t know how to stand still. I don’t know how to be sane, or even how to fake it. I know he makes me wildly happy, and that he cares for me and understands my issues as much as he can, and is so loving. I know he quiets the static in my brain and eases the terrible grief in my soul. Yet… every day I find something to dissect, something to pick apart and sharpen and stab myself in the heart with. Something that tells me I’m not good enough, I’m fucking it all up, I’m ruining everything and the sky is about to fall in.
I can’t get out of my own head, I can’t stop the shockwaves that keep pounding me down into the terrible, dark hole I know is waiting just beneath this delicate net he’s woven for me, allowed me to weave for myself. It’s the hole my mother dug, the one she was trapped in for most of her life, the one she pushed me toward and shoved me away from. I see it there and know it like the back of the hands I inherited from her- every detail is etched into my mind. I’ve had a quarter of a century to stare at that hole, to slip into it and claw my way back out. I can’t stop staring at it now, from the corner of my eye, even as I try so hard to focus on this happiness in front of me, this reality that could so easily be mine if I could just fix what’s wrong in my head and heart and quiet the voices that scream out so much terror from the bottom of that pit.
I know that the next time I fall, when the net finally gives, that I’ll never get back out of that terrible darkness again.
I am so scared. I don’t want to be this way.