Archive for May, 2013

I love snakes and spiders. I find the dark to be comforting. But I have my fears just like anyone else.

1. Showering with the door unlocked.

I’m starting to conquer this fear. Mostly because at my dorm the door to the bathroom didn’t lock. But I still can’t do this at home without standing there petrified, listening for sounds.

The reason: When I was twelve or so my adventurous spirit often got the best of me. Between bike crashes and tunneling through thorn bushes on a whim to conquer, I came home that day looking like a war veteran. My knees and elbows were stripped of all skin and somehow I managed to bang up my shoulder as well. There was a small gash in my shin and my entire body was covered in cuts from the thorn bushes. I liked to think I had conquered them, but maybe they had gotten the best of me that day.

I trudged upstairs to clean off the mud and the blood, vaguely aware of my mother shouting at my dad in the background. They were always yelling. I hopped in the shower and started singing to myself.

I didn’t hear her coming. I didn’t hear her coming at all. I felt a heavy whack to my head. The next thing I know is pain. I’m on fire. Everything burns and my mind goes into overload trying not to feel.

My mother is shouting. Why is she shouting? I’m trying desperately not to cry as I slump on the floor of the shower, my hands running desperately over my skin. I wanted it to stop. I needed the pain to stop.

Her monologue goes on. She leaves after screaming at me to scrub the shower this instant.

A few minutes go by. I dont know how, but I managed to lessen the burning. I adjust my position and my hand bumps into something. I glance over and see a gallon sized bottle of bleach dripping onto the shower floor. The lid was lazily trying to fit down the drain.

My mother didn’t know and didn’t care, but she had literally poured a gallon of bleach into my wounds. I guess she thought the lid was on.

In the morning, she didn’t even remember being angry with me. I didn’t bother explaining. I just learned my lesson and moved on with life.

She can’t remember, but I can never forget the most physically excruciating experience of my life.

My dog died today. I wanted to cry a lot.

Pepper was like a sister to me and we grew up together, putting up with all the things my real little sister would do to us, like dress up and playing school. She never failed to brighten my day and is irreplaceable to me.

That is why I am angry. My bipolar mother always needs to be the one with the most pain. She always needs to be the victim, the one everyone pities.

And so even though I am mourning the loss of someone dear to me, I had to spend my time comforting her as she explained to me all the reasons why she thought my pain was lesser than hers. How she obviously loved and missed Pepper more. Quite the flair for dramatics this one has.

She spent the day belittling my pain as she indirectly reminded me yet again that in a household with a bipolar parent, you are not allowed to have feelings and pain of your own. In every moment in my life where I should have had strong feelings, either good or bad, I have been forced to set them aside to take care of whatever she was feeling that day.

Every homecoming, my prom, my graduation, junior olympic qualifiers for volleyball… every major moment in my life revolved around my mother’s feelings. Each homecoming she made me feel ugly before I left, and I had to take care of her because she was in a bad mood. My senior prom I suffered through the entire weekend with glass in my feet because I was too busy taking care of her to remove it.

She refused to come to my graduation and support me, her child, because she was too ‘ashamed’ of me and the school I was going to. She was ashamed I wasn’t in the top five percent anymore. Oh no! I was in the top six percent of a class of a thousand students in one of the toughest schools in the state instead! The horror! Yet every single parent of my friends came up to me and said how proud my parents must be of me, so I had to smile and agree. I had so many ropes and honors and decorations and I should have been proud and supported, but instead my mother’s feelings came first.

My dog died today. I wanted to cry a lot, but I didn’t have the freedom to.

My greatest fear is coming true. My bladder screams profanities at me as fear flicks my eyes in every direction, searching for an escape from this metal cage with ugly carpeting. Oh God, don’t let this happen. The help button has already been pressed and all I can do is wait… but I can’t help but stand on my tip toes and push on the ceiling. Wow! I’m stupid. I have definitely seen one too many action movies. I wouldn’t  know what to even do if I managed to get on top of the elevator, maybe take a leak up there so nobody will ever know my shame.

The scene plays itself in my head as I settle back onto my heels. It’s the same scene that plays in my head every time I step into an elevator, only this time it is a reality: The rescue crew finally opens the doors of the elevator after less than an hour. One grabs my hand to pull me to my feet, only I resist. After a moment, I realize it’s a futile effort and I give in and get to my feet. I see his eyes travel to the puddle I was quite literally sitting in. I see him pretend he didn’t notice, but we both know what just happened. And I am mortified. What sort of teenager is so incontinent that they piss themselves in public?

I hear a frustrated grunt and glance to my left, yanked out of my thoughts as I remember: I am not alone in this elevator. I eye the woman next to me. She is portly with red hair and her eyebrows are graying, putting her somewhere around fifty. Out of nowhere she lets out a frustrated shriek and kicks the wall of the elevator. I flinch slightly but don’t have time to recover as she turns to me.

“I can’t believe I’m stuck in this fucking elevator. When I get out of this I’m going right back upstairs to give my ungrateful bitch of a daughter a piece of my mind,” she shouts as if I’m the one she is angry with.

This was not what I was expecting from a stranger. I unconsciously take a step back only to find a cold wall blocking me in. Trapped.

“What do you think you’re looking at punk?” the stranger danger bellows in my ear, shooting a line of shock through my body. She’s gotten close. Much closer than I like. I murmur comforting words. Generic things. I know how to calm people down.

Her anger turns back to her daughter and I get more information than I ever would have wanted  about their relationship. Her daughter is allegedly a horrible person who wont even let this red-headed lady spend time with her grandchildren. Her daughter doesn’t appreciate everything her mother has done for her. She ruined her mother’s life. She is a waste of space. She makes her mother want to kill herself. She can’t do anything right.

I just keep murmuring comforting words.

Suddenly, this stranger is no longer a stranger. This stranger is my own bipolar mommy dearest telling me what she thinks. I close my eyes and try not to hear as it’s pounded into my head that I ruined my mother’s life. Trying not to think doesn’t block out the fact that I am an ungrateful bitch. I open my eyes and I’m trapped in my closet, mother standing in the doorway. My mother who knows me well enough to know what words hurt the most. I cringe as she throws it in my face that I’m the reason she wants to kill herself. I can’t do anything right. I’m a waste of space.

A waste of space who really has to pee. My twitching bladder gives my mind a reality check and I really open my eyes to look around me. I let out a long breath as I remind myself that I am in an elevator and this woman is a complete stranger. Though, she is a complete stranger who has not run out of breath even with all this shouting. I marvel at this feat as I inspect the ugly carpet once again. Would my pee stain this forever? Will I be forced to face my shame every single time I enter this elevator?

Thankfully this question remains unanswered. I hear noises from outside the elevator and feel thumps against the metal. Help is here. My bladder just might write them a thank you note. And best of all, that woman finally shut up.

A Fantastically Brilliant Read

Okay. I lied.

Hazel Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars did not say these words in relation to mental illness related memory loss. In my opinion though, she summed up my feelings more succinctly than I ever did in my last post.

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken away from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.” – John Greene in his novel The Fault in Our Stars

Today, my bipolar mother bawled when she asked why I had glass in my foot during my senior prom last year. I gave her the honest answer: her irrational anger resulted in a broken mirror and there was no time to remove it while taking care of her.

I wonder though, was this the right thing to do? In my hand, I often have the power to give my mother a better ‘truth’, to instill a pleasant memory where she wont agonize over pain she has caused me and the monster she often becomes. She has a clean slate and I have to fill it. Somehow, though, I always give her the honest, non-embellished breakdown as it happened (in a softened and vague manner). I don’t like lies. I don’t like manipulation.

But is this the RIGHT thing to do? Under the assumption that lying is wrong, we have to define the truth. Is it still the truth if her side of the story and her experiences don’t exist? Is it the truth if all she gets to know is how we saw the events? She does not have the chance to know her own pain and torment in that moment. For, even when she is aggressively turning us into victims, her very being is constantly at war with itself. So is it fair to hand her newfound guilt and pain in my blunt and plain chronology of events?

I can’t give her her truth. I cannot tell her the full truth of those times. They don’t exist. So is it a form of lying to omit all that and give her my half of the truth?

These memories only exist in my head. The other person who I shared them with doesn’t remember. It’s as if they didn’t happen. No matter what I cannot give her a real memory, so isn’t it better to give her a more pleasant memory no matter how lonely it is for me?

I’m stuck right now in a way I never have been before.

I’m in college.

I’m in college over three hours away.

I’m in college over three hours away from my mentally unstable and verbally abusive mother.

I should be free now. This should be when I discover who I am and test my limits with my newfound freedom.

 

But it’s a little hard to feel free when you’re chained to a house three hours away. In going to college I left behind my sister, my other half, my best friend, my baby. Despite my best efforts, I did not manage to find a better home for her before she found a boyfriend. Can y’all honestly think of any sixteen year old girl who would leave her first serious boyfriend?

So here I am, driving home every weekend to protect her and love her and agonizing over what I can’t protect her from every weekday. Though I get a fair amount still, I am not the one being verbally abused on a daily basis and it kills me. I am not the one who has to wonder if its safe to go to sleep. I am not the one who has to look our tormentor in the eye every day and say, “I love you.”

No, this is only my life on the weekends. Thankfully the weekends seem to be when our mother explodes more lately. Or the holidays.

But in being gone every weekend I havent been able to live the college life. I am strung out and tired all the time. Trying to cram a social life and schoolwork into the week is exhausting. I havent been able to join any clubs or hold on to a job.

One more year.

One more year till she is in college.

One more year till she is in college and I am free.

I can’t wait.