Posts Tagged ‘Optimism’

There we were, nowhere and everywhere. Literally nowhere, not that there was enough light to see the endless fields and trees and nothingness. We bumped along in a vacuum of darkness, cut loose and lost as we discussed our lives and explored any road we came across.

Our parents had fundamentally wronged us and abused us.

The continued to do so.

Our brothers were useless.

We were mentally fucked up.

We had no way to fix that.

Nobody would ever choose us first.

There was a rustling in the trunk.

Something was in there with us.

A murderer.

Oh. Shit. Here he comes.

Flashlight disproves murderer theory.

Culprit is crinkly wrapper on water bottle.

I love my sister.

Somewhere on our traditional, late-night drive, I glanced up at my right. In the window, my sister and I were reflected in the stars we had spent so much time admiring. Our little, trembling family of two had somehow become infinite.

Health. I’ve always been in tip top physical shape, but my life is beyond unhealthy.

Growing up, I lived for my mother. She lived for herself. I never earned her approval, and even worse, she convinced me that I was such a horrible person that she wanted to kill herself. So she did.

Although her suicide attempts weren’t successful, I fell into a never-ending trap of trying to become the daughter she dreamed of. I changed everything about myself, but it was never good enough. My looks were “atrocious”. My personality was “awkward” and “nerdy” and “selfish”. I was a “damn dyke” in her eyes before I even knew what the word meant. This was a nice day with mommy dearest, and I’ll not bore you with the nastier bits.

I learned how to hate myself and I did a damn good job of it.  I lived life as a teenage insomniac who squirmed in her bed at night with unbearable self hatred. My body literally couldn’t hold all of the disgusting feelings I kept. I eventually realized that all the parts I originally liked about myself were the “unacceptable” bits in my mothers eyes. As a freshman in high school, I couldn’t even recognize myself.

By the time I realized I wanted to be me, I was lost in a world of pleasing others. It was like using a shovel to dig yourself into a hole, then figuring out that a shovel wont help you climb out.

One of my main purposes in life had been to protect my little sister from feeling the way I did. As I transitioned away from living for my mother, I only tripped and fell into another hole, stuck living for another person again.

I threw myself into work and school and lived a full life. Essentially I avoided having time to think about who I was, to put aside the disgusting feelings. I was ugly and I knew it but I planned on doing the best I could with what I had. A pessimistic sort of optimism, huh?

I’m about to be a sophomore in college. This summer I am working as a lifeguard at the local Y. Every day my bikini line shaving job and uneven breasts are displayed to the world. My tan lines are horrific and my hair gets pool-frizzy.

At some point this summer, it just clicked. There was a ding in my mind that said “I’m pretty”. I felt confident and ready, without anything in particular to be ready for. I just felt pretty.

I know that looks aren’t what matters and so on. I know that many people think of words like “pretty” as objectifying. But to someone who has never felt that way in their life, it was more of an enlightening wake up call. I’m more confident with guys and people, not because they might like my looks, but because I like my looks. It’s easier to socialize when you don’t feel inferior to everyone around you.

I started to do more things for myself. I started to let my sister take care of herself more, since I spoil her too much anyways. I started reaching out for the things that made me happy, because I craved that pretty feeling. Living for myself, I think I’m on the verge of a healthier lifestyle.

Feeling pretty is the key to breaking out of my cage, because a good appearance proves that my mom is wrong about me and who I am.

 

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.

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I hate Christmas. I hate all holidays and I always dread their approach. Each winter, I stand in a field facing down an approaching army with nothing but the clothes on my back. Each winter, I lose this battle. Christmas will never be something to look forward to.

This year for instance, my mother called me and told me not to bother coming home. She screamed at me for a ridiculously long time about how I’m an awful person for not cutting off contact with my older brother. Because that is obviously something any reasonable parent should demand from their children – Don’t talk to your brother who you love or else you have no home.

Though the conversation over text was extremely calm compared to the phone calls I think it demonstrates her delusional self rather well. She is well spoken and very intelligent with strong, though twisted, logic skills. However, she is very… Bipolar. To her, I am only ever as good as what I can give her and what expectations I can meet. That is not a real mother.

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So she called me and disowned me…again. Unlike the past however I was not in an area I knew well. After being kicked out of my dorm for the next month, I didn’t want to curl up in a playground tunnel again because I didn’t feel safe. How about a kip in the woods? Well, I didn’t know where the drug dealing spots were. So I spent the day at a Barnes and Nobles waiting to hear back from my brother. I was there for 11 hours.

I read a book. Built a lego home.

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Talked to a handsome man who asked me out on the town with his friends. I declined, then regretted it due to extreme boredom. Eventually the store closed and I curled up and went to sleep in my car. I had an offer for somewhere to crash about two hours away but staying with that person would have included a whole host of social problems that I didn’t have the energy for. I’d prefer a playground tunnel.  About midnight my brother called me and told me his new address, telling me to come on over.

Somewhere in between, I mentioned my location to my best friend, H. She almost cried when I told her why I was lounging around in a book store. I didn’t mind, personally. The book store had controlled air temperature, free entertainment, clean restroom facilities and a small Starbucks. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why she was upset. I actually considered myself lucky right then.

Her pain was for the unconditional love I will never have. Her pain was for my constant rejection by the person who is supposed to accept me.

But, I accepted this fate a long time ago. And to be honest, if I were given the chance to change my life in any way… I wouldn’t. It would mean sacrificing all the small moments that mean so much to me… that my current happiness is based on. Those are my life. Changing the bad would mean changing the good and changing who I am. I happen to love my life, thank you very much.

I’d be lying if I told you I never got jealous of people with normal parents. I often sit there and dream of what life would be like if my mom were happy for me, proud of me, there for me. But she never has been and never will be. I dream of a world where my mother wasn’t too ashamed of me to attend my high school graduation. A world where she was actually proud of my good school ranking. I dream of a world where my mom was sitting there after my first day of my first job asking excitedly how it went…not attacking me for going in the first place. I dream of a world where I am loved.

So, yes. I do have pangs of jealousy when I see pictures on Facebook or Instagram of my friends getting care packages, cute text messages, or going home and being hugged because they were sorely missed. It’s all the little signs they over look… all those small indications of love that they are so used to, that they don’t have to earn… those are why I am jealous. So, sue me!

Posted: December 21, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

A moment of Bipolar education here… Jillian wrote this well and I believe it captures the experience from both sides of the spectrum as well as showing the effects of a strong support system.

My mom sobbed uncontrollably in my arms when I went home for the weekend. This is normal.

My mom started a food fight at the dinner table. This is normal.

My mom threw a tantrum because her favorite show wasn’t on. This is normal.

Or at least all this is normal for me. I read somewhere that children of bipolar parents often find themselves in the role of parent. It’s backwards and unfair, but just a fact of life. By the time I was nine, I was well used to comforting my crying mother and curbing the effects of her temper tantrums. I tucked her in to bed each night. I made her lunch every afternoon when I got home from school, otherwise she wouldn’t feed herself. I prevented her suicide countless times. I read her books when she was sad. I brushed her hair free of tangles every day. I raised my mother, my sister, and myself. My mother hasn’t been a parent for as long as I can remember.

If I put it this way, people understand to an extent. They understand that I never had a wiser adult to go to when I had a problem. People might get that when I had my first car crash I handled it on my own, as terrified as I was, because if I had called my mother, she would have made a scene in front of the police officers and I wasn’t old enough to bail her out of jail. They might know that I lacked guidance I needed. People can more easily comprehend neglect to a child than they can see the good that came out of it. When I explain how I grew up, I immediately see pity spring to people’s eyes.

I hate pity. I don’t pity myself so why should I take your damn pity? Concern and care is different; those I will gratefully accept.

There were good things about growing up the way I did. Yes, it wasn’t much of a childhood. Yes, it was emotionally traumatizing and scarring. Yes, it was HARD. But I found happiness.

Some days, my mother was my best friend. She movie hopped with me. We had food fights at the table. She put on crazy accents and threw water at me out of nowhere, claiming I had something in my eye. She would just get in the car with me and go, not knowing where we’d end up. We’d have pillow fights and movie marathons. We’d make mud pies and bake colorful cakes. We gushed about gorgeous movie stars and argued over which characters would win in a fight. We’d lie in the grass and find shapes in the clouds. She was spontaneous and fun.

Even in these positive situations I was still my mother’s mother. It always felt like I was humoring a willful child. I had to keep a constant eye on her emotions and behavior to make sure she didn’t get out of hand. Things often tipped in an instant from fun to fury; my mother was only pleasant to be around when she was in a partially manic state, but this all too easily slipped into a full on manic episode.

Even though sometimes the bad overshadows the good, one fact remains:

My mother is my beloved daughter.