Personalizing

One of the books I read a while back, that really hit home with me and I felt the need to recently re-visit was “My Parents’ Keeper: Adult Children of the Emotionally Disturbed (Paperback)”.  I bought it shortly before I started this blog back in 2006…   and before that point, I never heard of an ACMIP (Adult Child of a Mentally Ill Parent).

Up until that point, I hadn’t really taken the time to look Read the rest of this entry »

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Positive Recollections – (a book tag…)

I’m it!  Here’s a fun little “tag” from Kate at “One More Thing“…

The game goes like this:
“Find the nearest book, turn to page 123, start at the fifth sentence and type out the next three sentences.”

Sounds easy enough….

I’m at my desk… in my little home office.. directly to my right, is a book shelf… full of old and new books of mine… ranging from “Calvin and Hobbes” to “Mark Twain collection” to gawd only knows what.  Nearest  at hand, though, is a book I read not too long ago… Read the rest of this entry »

To me… when I was 13…

Whelp… I’ve been tagged… by Rebecca from her “Fictional Reality” blog.   The idea is to write a letter to yourself when you were 13.  This was her post – “Tag! You’re it!, and is a good read that leaves one wondering… “what exactly happened at her cousin’s wedding anyway??”.  =)

It is funny that not too long ago, I wound up writing a post called “If I could go back in time… “.  In that post, I wound up writing about what I would tell myself if I could go back 6 years ago… when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, had a 5 year old son, and was taking care of my dieing father.

I didn’t plan to write it… it just rolled off…  and the really weird thing is that only a couple days later, I wound up face to face with a pregnant woman – pregnant with her 2nd son, and she has a 4 year old son, and she had just lost her mother.  I wound up in a deep conversation with her, even though we hardly knew each other… and, saying many of the same things to her that I had just written about.

Anyway – now, I’m faced with writing to my 13 year old self… Read the rest of this entry »

Forgiving Mom…

Linda Athis stumbled in here recently and commented on my blog… which led me to her blog called “Forgiving Mom” (http://forgivingmom.wordpress.com/).  I was amazed and intrigued by the many similarities she and I seem to have.  But, the one glaring difference, is that she has lost her mom… and she’s feeling the pain of that.  Still, she talks of coming to terms with things and forgiving her Mom before she died.  It made me wonder how I will feel when my mom is gone some day?  But, I still didn’t know if I felt the same “forgiveness and understanding” she wrote of…  

 But, between reading her blog… and all the soul searching  and reminiscing I’ve been doing this past year…  and talking to my good friend til the wee hours of the morning the other weekend…  and the post I wrote recently about Christmas and how BOTH my parents made sure we had good ones..  I realized something….

 I need to forgive my mom. 

I have said that I did, because I believe she is/was sick, so I could…  but… did I really?  I don’t think so. 

I know I have a lot of resentment bottled up in me towards her… I fight it all the time… She makes me angry… crazy…. hurt.  It’s hard to squeeze forgiveness in there. 

But… I think… I finally do.  I think I finally can. 

All this researching… reflecting… has taught me a lot.  Not only about myself… but also about my Mom.

 For years…  I’ve tried to make excuses for her… and tried to forgive her and love her in spite of so many things about her that still made me upset.   I wanted to but, I don’t think I really could.. or did.   

But, now… I see things differently for the first time.  I still think I had a right to feel the way I did towards her… but, I finally feel like I can start to let those angry and bitter feelings go. 

For years, I saw my father as the “good parent”… and the “martyr”.  I still see that… but, for the first time… I am really seeing that my mom not only TRIED her best to be a good parent too… but, that all in all… she really was a good mom.  It took two to make our family work at all… and my mother.. was also a “good parent” and “martyr”. 

She had her battles too.  When I think about just how much she was dealing with that I can probably never understand… and I think about my childhood and how she was… and still is with my brothers and our children…. I realize…  I was actually pretty damn lucky.  Some of the stories I’ve read about mentally ill parents were much MUCH worse than anything I had to deal with.  However, I bet my mother could relate to some of the worse case scenarios because of HER mother that was in and out of institutions her whole life.  What a rotten childhood SHE must have had.  I never really understood that as much as I do now. 

So, yeah… she was a religious nut and is a bit whacky at times.  But, you know what? She really did love me.  She really DOES love me.  And she tries her best to show it.  Looking back, I see that she really did everything she could to try to be a good mom and be there for us.  And she was.  Even with her illness and the religious BS… she was probably a better mother than a lot of women out there.  Losing touch with reality a little… and dealing with her past…. ??  That had to be hard for her.  No wonder she was/is a religious nut.  Maybe that was/is her saving grace?  Maybe without it, she’d be in much worse shape and need meds and hospitals too?  So, she didn’t always measure up.  So what?  Who does?  Ya know what?  I finally realize that she did damn good. 

Yes, I still look back at some things… and think, “that wasn’t right!”… “that shouldn’t have happened to me!”.   I still believe that.  I think I NEEDED to validate those feelings… and grieve a bit for myself…  but, I think more importantly I need to learn and deal with those feelings.  I feel like I finally can do that. 

When my parents fought (which they did a lot)… my dad always use to say he was only staying with her because of us kids.  She use to say she was only staying with him because her relgion didn’t believe in divorce.  Hearing this, use to make me wince and again think my Dad was doing something great for US…  but not her.  She was only there for religion….  

 But, looking back… I think I had this wrong.  Regardless of what she screamed at him…  she HAD to have stayed all those years for a number of reasons probably (as did he probably!)… and myself and my brothers just HAd to be one of her main reasons too.  I think, deep down, she knew my dad was a good father.  Maybe she didn’t want to admit it… because it was confusing to her since he was an atheist and all.  But she also didn’t want to deprive us of that.  I think she did want us to grow up with both parents… and that she DID have our best interests in mind.  Regardless of if she ever said it. 

Using “religion” as her excuse – was just that.  An excuse she could rationalize out and readily admit.   I mean, let’s face it… she has used religion for an excuse to support anything that she ever really did… or didn’t want to do.  I think, that had she REALLY wanted to get divorced and leave him… you can bet your bottem dollar that the Holy Spirit or God would have appeared to her and told her it was okay…. and that she SHOULD.  This never happened until we were all grown.  Why?  Because she didn’t really want to leave him!  Why am I just NOW figuring all this out?!

I am just now… at 41 years of age.. realizing that she also sacrificed for us kids… she also was a martyr for us… she also not only TRIED to be a good mom… but, WAS.  All things considered… she did pretty damn good by me…

And I’ve been a mean daughter…  Resentful.  Angry.  

I am so glad I am discovering these feelings before she’s dead and gone.  I am finally realizing how lucky I was/am to have her in my life.  I am finally realizing I need to let go of my anger and resentment towards her.  I am finally seeing her for the couragious person and loving mother she was/is…  

I need to tell her these things…  that she was a good mom.  I don’t think I’ve ever really told her that and meant it.  I really mean it now.  I need to tell her.

Strange Voices… ?

114636_red_i.jpgI was reading over at “de-conversion“, and saw a post by “Thinking Ape” where he mentioned that;  

“most schizophrenics don’t believe it is god talking to them, if anything, it is usually the devil”. 

Now, I’m sure this is his opinion… but, sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, and from what I have seen, I agree.  Schizophrenia runs on my mom’s side of the family.  I think she has some form of it, although she’s never been diagnosed.  Her mother, and her brother both were mostly institutionalized.   I’ve mentioned this before – and how she’s not like them… but, still… 

I use to visit my Mom’s mom, my grandmother, frequently.  Psychiatric wards and hospitals are some scary places, Man.  When I was a kid, she use to come to our house and visit for a day or two.    I always thought she was odd… but, I knew she was sick, and just accepted it.  I still loved her, and felt she loved me.  She use to want to come and live with us… she’d stay in my room and make comments, like “what a nice spare room you have here”.  And, I was like, “hey!?  That’s MY room!”.  LOL  As I grew older, I watched her go in and out of different homes, but, always wound up back at a more secure hospital.  Eventually, my mom stopped taking her out of those places for visits, and we would go see her there.  We, meaning myself and her… sometimes, my one brother.

My Grandmother’s behavior was unpredictable.  Sometimes funny.. like, she’d just start taking her clothes off anywhere… and, sometimes, confusing… where I just couldn’t tell what she was saying or doing.  It was difficult to understand what she was saying most of the time, but, when I could make it out, it was frequently something about Satan, Beelzebub and scary stuff.   She sometimes looked like she was possessed… or like she wanted to scare you. 

I think Grandma believed herself to be possessed by demons.  What a scary thought!!   I wonder, if my mother heard/hears voices like that sometimes??  That is scary too.  Maybe that is why she was convinced my dad was the devil himself??  Perhaps that is why she is so religious?  Perhaps, she NEEDS to be – to ward those evil voices off?  I don’t know?  I’m just “what if”-ing here…

In my Grandmother’s last several years on this earth, I visited her much more than my mother did.  I don’t think my mom could take it.  Then, my mom was out of the country, so she wasn’t even here when she died.  I think she was relieved to not be here to handle things.  I think my mother  really did believe that  she (her mother/my grandmother) was possessed by demons and would get very agitated around her.  Even when she was trying to do something nice for her birthday or something, my mom seemed mostly annoyed with her.  We never stayed long.  Almost like she thought my Grandmother was purposely being schizophrenic to make her life hell.   I’m sure it was difficult on her (my mom) too her whole life.  I’m sure I’ll never know just how difficult…

I felt bad for my Grandmother.  I saw her as a lonely old woman… sick… confused.  Not evil.  As an adult, I visited her regularly and brought my son.  She always  looked so happy to see us… and never wanted us to leave.  She always told me she loved me, and squeezed my hand.  Yeah… she still acted weird often.  But, I found that if I laughed off her weird behavior, or just acted like nothing and changed the subject – she usually snapped out of it.  I felt like I was the only good thing she had to look forward to.  

My uncle is a different story.  I hardly know him, and the few times I did visit him I felt very unsafe and awkward…  My Mom does visit him, though, and she doesn’t seem to have those same ill feelings towards him as she did her mother.  I guess, I can understand that..  he’s her kid brother.. she doesn’t blame him…. I think she does blame her mom for a lot… even though it was not her fault.  Sounds familiar… eh?

The more I recently am learning about growing up with a mentally ill parent, the better I not only understood myself, but also my mother.  Ok, now I’m reeeeealy feeling guilty – I still haven’t called her.  I will… right now!  LOLetinf!

~smj

Sometimes you just gotta laugh… (Mom reads my Diary)

So, when I was 17… I came home one day to find my diary on my bed.  Not burried in my closet where I left it… but, on my bed.  Worse yet, there was a long letter in it, written TO me, from my mother. 

YIKES!  Can you say, Panic??

I had kept this diary since I was about 11.  It had EVERYTHING in it.  I would write pages sometimes, and it was in a big 3 ring binder.  I later learned that it took my mom a week to read it… before letting on she had found it. 

 Now…  can I blame my mom for reading it?  Not according to her.  She said, I must have wanted her to.  But, the fact that I had it hidden in the deepest darkets corner of my closet didn’t seem to say that to me!?

The weeks immediatly following were a big turning point in my life.  It was when I finally had the guts to break out from my double image of a life…  but, not until going thru a bit of hell first. 

There were some pretty trying times…

First of all, I woke up in the middle of almost every night for several weeks, to find my mother praying over me in tongues, and anointing my forhead with oil (vegetable oil to be exact, and she’d be painting a cross of it on my forehead)…  accusing me of all kinds of outlandish things.  I was a nervous wreck for a while… couldn’t sleep… couldn’t eat… lost a lot of weight (the one GOOD thing!).

Yes,  mom had read my diary and found out I had lied, and had sneaked out my window, that I had been drinking a little, and heaven forbid – that I secretly did NOT like going to church anymore but was going because I felt like I HAD to. 

Really, there wasn’t anything that bad in my diary… I hadn’t even had sex yet…   but, you would’ve thought she read that I was in a Satan-worshiping-sex-and-drugs-cult or something.  ?? She wanted me  to go to the pastor with her and to repent, ask forgiveness, “drop all my worldly friends”, and basically admit I was the biggest f!#@-up on earth. 

For once, I stood up to her.  

I refused. 

The biggest thing that helped me to do this, was the “dropping my friends” part.  No way.  She called me a hypocrite, and I told her she was right… and that I HAD been going to church only for her sake and that I should not be going, and so… I wasn’t go to go anymore.   And, with that she…  well?… can you say “freaked out”?

She didn’t believe anything I said… and the fact that I got good grades, and didn’t get in trouble didn’t matter.  Yup –  my mom went on a mission to “save me” from my heathen friends, the brainwashing of my father, and all my sinful worldly ways.  

Ahhhh… well… 
Sometimes… you do have to laugh.  Here’s a good example of a such a time:

Ok – So, right around this time, I came home one day, and my Dad was sitting there, all serious… holding a little copper mug, and a little test-tube water bottle. 

I was scared.  Uh oh.  What had mom told him?  What was happening now??  She told me she wasn’t GOING to tell him anything she read in my diary, because she said “he couldn’t help me”.  So, I was confused for a moment…  what was up?

Dad said to me, “Do you know what this is?” in a very stern and serious voice -as he showed me the mug and test tube…

I said,  “yes
…. feeling relieved a little because this was something he DID know about… sort of… and it wasn’t anything bad. 

 “Well? what is it for??”, he demanded… “your mother found it in the basement.”
His tone was accusing… as if he had caught me red-handed at something really bad. 

Me: “Well… Remember when I “found” that hamster than I wanted to keep years ago when I was like 12, and you wouldn’t let me keep it?”

Dad: “yes??”

Me: “well?  remember, I told you that I hid it for a while under my nightstand and nobody ever knew? But then I finally gave it away… and you never knew about it until I told you about it years later??”…

Dad, looking a little more relaxed and a little confused himself now, “yes…?”

Me: “well, THAT was the little cup that I had in his home…  and the tube was part of his little water bottle.  See?  there’s still a piece of litter stuck in the cup.  I must’ve hid them in the rafters years ago after I gave him away”. 

I was still confused.  But, my father began laughing uncontrollably.  And, teasingly calling out to my mom  – who was lurking around the corner, eaves-dropping.  He asked her to come and  tell me what she had told him. 

My mom was not amused.  She had that glazed over crazy look in her eyes.  Her eyes darting back and forth.  I knew immediately she thought we must be ganging up on her.  She woulnd’t answer him and stood there looking like she was going to explode. 

My father didn’t care.  He was relieved… and laughing still…
and between laughs, he said,
“your mother told me she found this in the rafters in the basement, and that it belonged to one of you kids… and that it was for smoking some kind of dope.  She thought, you put stuff in the tube, heated it in the cup, and inhaled it when it came out the tube thing”.

With that, I also began laughing… hard.

 And, my mother did lose it.  She screamed at us, “Well, how was *I* suppose to know that!?!?!”

It never dawned on her that, perhaps, she could’ve asked before making up such a crazy thing.  I wondered how many people she had already told.  Then, I didn’t care.

 This was around the time I decided that I just didn’t care what she thought anymore or what the rest of the church thought either… of course, deep down, I did care… but, I began telling myself at that point that I didn’t… that I shouldn’t… and I tried real hard not to. 

For months I came home, wondering if she had told my Dad anything, and if so, WHAT she would tell him.  I was very bervous.  Eventually,  I realized that even if she DID tell him anything “bad” I did – that he would have to take my side.  He knew she made up things, I know he did.  I also figured he couldn’t ground me for something my friends did, or something I had done YEARS earlier.  So, eventually, I got over it…  and stopped worrying about it. 

 Years later, I told my Dad about what happened when she read my diary.  He was mad that I never told him when it was gonig on.  He said he would have “made her stop:.  

Hindsight…

====
 A few other pretty funny things my mom accused me of?

  •  snorting the butane refills that were for my cordless curling iron… (she kept stealing them from me and throwing them out).
  • being bulimic
    (I had lost weight… but, it was because she turned me into a nervous wreck and she made me feel sick all the time and I couldn’t eat much, not because I was bulemic.  I absolutely hate throwing up.)
  • going to meet my “connection” –
    when I had no idea what one was.  She obviously thought I was a drug addict, and I would have to show her receipts of clothes I bought for the prom to prove I hadn’t been buying drugs.  Usually this was in the middle of the night… when I could barely think.
  • being a whore that would never be satisfied by the touch of a man until I repented and became a child of God again. 

Okay – that last one wasn’t so funny…  especially since I had never even had sex when she said it.

So, maybe not so funny… but, still… ya gotta laugh…. at least I had to… and still do.  What are my other options? 

~smj

reason vs. evil

When I was a kid… my mom thought everything was “evil” or “disgusting”. Rock music. All my friends. My Dad. T.V. Anything. I didn’t believe her- but, I knew what she thought. 

She read my diary once when I was 17 and totally freaked out (even though I personally don’t think I had done anything THAT bad). She started praying over me in the middle of the night, anointing me with oil and speaking in tongues, and accusing me of ridiculous things that I had never done or that weren’t even possible to do that I knew of.

I never told my Dad at the time – but years later I did. He was mad when he found out and asked me why I didn’t tell him back then? He said he would’ve made her stop.And, he usually did “make her stop”. If she said we couldn’t go trick or treating – he said we could. If she said we couldn’t watch any TV (even the show “Happy Days” to her was “disgusting”) – he said we could. If she wanted us to go to church 5 times a week – he said we didn’t have to if we didn’t want to.

They fought a LOT. Screaming – and sometimes she would hit him. Of course, I didn’t like it. But, I felt sorry for her – she was always so sad… crying… it was so dramatic. I felt like I needed to take her side, even though, I didn’t believe my her and was glad my dad didn’t make us do all the things she wanted.

Well, when I was really young – I did believe her. I was in it.  I was scared and belieiving all the “evil” lurking around me.  But, it wasn’t too long before I started questioning things  –  like religious beliefs as well my mom’s personal beliefs/stories.  However, I went to churches that I didn’t like for years – just to make her happy.  I was afraid if I stopped going she would totally “lose it”.   She “lost it” a lot.

This went on for years and years… I stopped going to church finally at age 17, right after she read my diary and freaked out. She called me a hypocrite, and I told her she was right… and admitted I was only going for her and I stopped going. She freaked… but, she survived. It was a relief to me.

I guess I eventually hit a point where reason overpowered all the fear and “evil”. 

~smj