I’m Not Crazy, I Was Just Raised That Way

Posted: June 4, 2013 in Life, Mom
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’ve been following me this long, you know that growing up I had very few “normal” touch stones to reality. Is it any surprise I had more than a few marbles rolling around in my head (and still do)? I had a lot of thoughts in my head that had to be totally re-examined when I abdicated my throne as Prince of Crazy Town. In fact, I went the opposite direction – everything was fact based and logical. If it was illogical, it was crazy. In geek parlance, I basically became a Vulcan. But in doing so, I think I may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater – lots of things aren’t logical. Spirituality. Art. The Soul. Intuition. Those things are crazy – or can be – but that doesn’t (necessarily) make them dangerous and wrong. Like I said before…I’m learning.

Aside from my OCD issues (mentioned in previous posts), I used to play games with myself. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’d play these games to “test” things – sometimes to push my own limits and sometimes in an attempt, sort of, to ascertain the future and put my worries at ease. I came to think of it as If/Then. Let me explain. I would decide at some point in the day that I had to come up with an idea for a song and write it within 30 minutes (“testing” myself). If I did so successfully, then x would happen (or wouldn’t happen). Let’s say I was worried about getting taken away to live with my Father. IF I successfully completed this task THEN, the worst (living with my Father) wouldn’t happen. If I failed (even by one minute – I did not give myself a break…I was a merciless game master) the worst would be an inevitability. I would end up torturing myself all day – worried about when the call would come, when my Dad would be at the door to tell me to pack my bags. Or maybe he’d just show up and kill us all. If I could successfully play a difficult song 7 times through with no mistakes or hesitations, then I would become immensely successful – the next John Lennon, let’s say. I put this type of weight on things, on almost everything I did. Outwardly, I might have been cool as a cucumber (maintaining what I saw as my professional demeanor was an absolute must) I was inwardly as twitchy as a chihuahua on its 14th cup of coffee. In private, I would pace and wring my hands, worrying over imagined threats or glorious possibilities. When I fell short of my own expectations – failed my own test, lost my own game – it was the equivalent of a nuclear Armageddon in my mind. I would withdraw. I would sweat. I would become so nervous that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Reading – my usual escape – became so burdensome that I would read pages, forgetting that I had already re-read them multiple times.  I gave one word answers (I was usually quite the talker). I could only focus on the inner struggle and essentially flog myself until my skin was flayed off. I suppose this, too, is some form of OCD, but it always felt a little different to me.

I refused to write down or record song ideas that came to me – I insisted that I remember all of them. I could not let myself rely on the crutch of a notebook. What if a pen was not there at the moment of inspiration? What if I had to go searching for a scrap of paper? No, far safer to rely only on memory. Every night I would recite the songs I had come up with during the day – up to and including the order they were conceived in. If I forgot, if I stumbled, I’d have to repeat the titles multiple times. I muttered to myself a lot.

My family – the ones I more or less let loose around (as much as I could let loose…which wasn’t much) – didn’t notice or care. I took this to mean that I was normal. Mom was normal. Everybody was peachy. Nope…everybody here is completely sane and stable. The one time I had something to compare my family life to absolutely rocked me. My Grandmother had a church friend with some kids my age – really sweet family…just good people. Anyway, she invited me to stay overnight at their house and go to church with them the next day. I ended up being extremely uncomfortable about staying over – afraid they’d accuse me of stealing something, or something would go horribly wrong – and insisted I be driven home. I fretted and obsessed over this – worried that the mom would flip out. She didn’t…she seemed very cool about the whole thing. I was suspicious, though. I still went to church with them the next morning – because of having to swing by and pick me up again, they were late. It was hectic – they were running around, grabbing stuff and jumping into the car. Supposedly, the kids weren’t supposed to eat in the car – the mom had set out cereal and milk or something. Instead, one of the kids grabbed a muffin. There I was, crunched in the middle of the back seat, staring at the offending party. I looked at the mom – I hoped to God I wasn’t about to be in the middle of an epic blowup. If this had been my mom, there would have been several freak outs and explosions before we got out of the driveway. I braced myself the entire ride to church. Everyone seemed oddly relaxed and happy, which made me even more nervous. This lady must be truly fucked up. I waited in trepidation. We finally pulled into the church parking lot about 15 minutes late. It as at this point that she noticed her kid eating the muffin. She just shook her head.

Friend’s Mom: Just don’t get crumbs everywhere, k?

I think I just sat there and looked at both of them. I could not believe what I was experiencing.

Friend’s Mom: We better get in there…we’re late.

We unbuckled and walked across the parking lot. No freak out. No screaming. No worrying that we would all die as a result of being late. No worrying that we were being judged by an invisible third party (given that we were going to church, the latter was a real possibility).

What.the.fuck.

I don’t remember the sermon, or anything else that happened that day. Besides, that one incident impacted me more than any words from a preacher could have. I’m not talking a religious or spiritual impact, I’m talking like experiencing color for the first time. I had been in the black and white part of the Wizard of Oz movie, and now I was in Munchkinland where all the witches were dead and people inexplicably burst into song. I wanted to shake this woman, to slap her kids. I wanted to scream “What in the hell is wrong with you!? Why aren’t you people freaking out?!”

The wheels had started to turn in my head though, and the conclusion was fairly easy to draw – one of these two groups of people is normal. The other one isn’t. I thought of nothing else for the entire day. Is this even normal? And if it is, does that mean Mom isn’t normal? What about me? Those kids didn’t seem jumpy and agitated…does that mean I’m fucked up? Oh God. I’m fucked up, aren’t I?

I began to reexamine everything in this new light. If it’s not normal to freak out about being late…is it normal to threaten suicide? Or think your kid’s music teacher is embroiled in the Mafia underworld, and that people dress up as him to come and teach? Mom believed all this, I had no doubt. Did that make her crazy, or just misinformed? And if I believed it, did that make me crazy too?

 

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