Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Journey Into Madness Sadness

I spoke with my mother last night- a normal occurence. I always check in with her when I get home from work. This week she has been a bit clearer than I've seen her in awhile. I'm used to her illness kind of going in cycles. She has a rough patch & then slowly comes out of it & seems fine. Almost like she doesn't even belong in Carmel Ridge. Her lucid weeks are spent with her inhaling every bit of reading material that she can get her hands on. It's almost as if she makes up for the time she lost while being sedated or heavily medicated. No matter how much I bring her to read, the next week she'll have moved onto a pile of stuff that other patients or nurses have given to her.

When I was a kid she'd get 3 newspapers every day. 2 obviously based in NYC but one was from upstate "where the winters are white and streets are lined with flowers once the weather warms". When I say upstate I mean, way up in the Adirondaks where the seasons are at full throttle. Now I can see that it was her daily escape. She wished for that normal life on a tree-lined street with a good husband & nice kids. Somehow she equated the idea of leaving the city as a way to maybe change what she already had, but for the better. One week every summer we would go up to Lake George where my grandparents had a cottage. Mom was always so happy to get away & dad, well he hated having to leave the city. His drinking buddies. His other women. There was always a lot of resentment coming from my father. Even before I was old enough to grasp what it was, I remember feeling it. My brother though, he never cut him a break ever. When i was maybe 5 or 6 I knew that dad didn't seem to like us much but it never really occured to me that it mattered because we had mom. Dad was always angry & loud so I just tried to stay out of his way. I don't even think I feared him at that age I was just already self-programed to cut out if he walked into the room and sat down.

The week before my 6th birthday we were returning from the Lake after what was a really explosive week. Dad was fighting with everyone & no one over everything & nothing. I couldn't wait to get home but the car ride back was just torture. It was dark by the time we were back in the city and my father had ranted most of the way home. As we hit the bridge my brother muttered, "Thank god.". Two simple words of relief. The nitemare was almost over. We'd be out of that car soon. My father, sensing the relief in my brother's voice, asked what he meant by the comment. I mean, it was self-explanatory really & a sentiment my mother & I both shared. I don't think my brother even managed to get a word out before my father pulled over to the side & started screaming at him. Running down the list of imagined things wrong with his son as he so often liked to do. He got out of the car & dragged my brother who was seated directly behind him out as well, dragging him over to the edge of the bridge. He was yelling something about throwing him over and my mother jumped out of the car screaming. I couldn't even look. That was the first moment that I remember realizing what my father was capable of. I was sure he was going to throw my brother & our mother both in the river. I was crunched in a ball on the floor behind the passengers seat hoping that he would simply forget about me. I was absolutely terrified for what seemed like hours. Eventually the door opened & my brother was literally thrown into the backseat but landed on top of me where he stayed the rest of the drive home. His face scared the hell out of me. Now I know that he went beyond terrified and probably had completely dissociated, luckily for him. But at the time I didn't understand. I also still believed that my mother was a safety net for us.

When I spoke with her last night she mentioned different things that she had read & finally she started to talk about the little boy whose father tossed him off the bridge last weekend. The conversation that I have dreaded all week- that I've half prayed would never come about. She was really upset when speaking of the boy and I knew that this was where her lines were blurring just a bit. This horrible thing gave her the chance to speak about what had happened with my brother without having to be direct & obvious. She projected a lot onto the little boy, things clearly she thought & felt for my brother but couldn't let herself say. If she showed fear to my father he reveled in it so she always had to take a smart approach. He wanted to scare her, panic her, provoke her & very rarely did she let him see it. I know he got her often but she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of seeing her fall apart. At least not until her illness completely overtook her. She told me last night that she had resisted taking meds when we were younger because she was afraid that she wouldn't be "sharp & alert" enough to protect us.

It was lose/lose though. It was him, not her. On her best days now at least she half believes that. He could have helped her and instead he tormented her & then terrified her children right in front of her.


Blogger Nomi said...

Your mother is an admirable woman, Bobby. Even with the illness closing in and clouding her mind, you were fortunate to have her in light of your father's attitude and behaviour.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Nicole Wallace said...

Your lighthouse on stormy seas..

Even I'm jealous of that, darling.

5:41 PM  
Blogger ann said...

So much is sacrificed when a mother becomes the referee (and/or punchbag) between a father and their children....

Your poor mother sacrificed her sanity.... what greater love could she have had for you and your brother. She's a wonderful woman and she suffered terribly and needlessly.

lotsa luv ann xxxxx

6:53 PM  
Blogger DebWalsh said...

This happens in many families of our generation and I am sure it is still happening today I know it did happen in my household on a few occasions that I can remember. My Father was an alcoholic and there were times when he could be just plain mean. To both my Mother and me. I do understand some of what you went through Bobby. I was lucky though my Father had has great times as well so I do have wonderful memories of him.

6:57 PM  
Blogger major malfunction said...

You were searching for "a singular touch of faith or grace", I guess it found you.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like the sperm donor who made me had a clone. I'm so sorry, Bobby.

7:27 PM  
Blogger VDOFan said...

Your mother was fine enough to be able to take care of you guys.. and most people with mmental illnesses cannot take care of their children.. I for one am lucky, that I can do everything plus taking care of my kid. Taking care of her will always be my utmost and most important responsibility.. and I always get praised for being able to take care of the "illness" and her as well.

If it wasn't for my kid, my life would be nothing. I wouldn't want to do anything. She helps me live and brightens my day each and every day.. There I think is a difference between Normal and sick people.. Even people with mental illness can be normal, they just ake medication for some things like depression for me for instance. I lead a completely normal life and you wouldn't be able to tell unless i told you which I did:)

Medication helps but it isn't always what it's cracked up to be. Trust me on that! I firmly believe, that you can fight it without medication depending on the severity of the disease and how dehabilitating it is. If you have someone like your children, which your mom had to do it.

I am soo sorry about your dad not helping her when he should have, he probably made your mother's illness worse.. and she could've probably went without medication.. She did what she was best for you kids, and I believe she did. There is no greater love than sacrificing one's health for their child. Or their life.

People are capable of anything, when money's thrown their way, it's amazing what people will do for that. I can't comprehend people's actions at time, garnt it I am not a saint, but I can't hurt people physically, the only way I can do that is with words, and I odon't do that very often.

God bless you, your brother and your mom.. She raised wonderful kids.

hugs Janice

(I apologize for going on and on, I will get off the soap box now, but I hope it helps some:)

8:04 PM  
Blogger Gorengyrl said...

Bobby, your mother is an angel and an admireable woman. I couldn't imagine having a husband like that, or a father. I feel bad for all of you. The main thing is, you remained strong and turned about to be a good man, maybe a better man because of it, because you learned something from it. I'm sorry to hear about it though Bobby, my heart goes out to you.

Hugs, Kara

10:32 PM  
Blogger Selena Marie said...

Bobby,I agree with what the Others said,that your Brother and You,Have a very Strong and Precious Mother!! It took a lot of Courage and Stamina,for your Mom to put up with your Father's Horrible Behavior! Both of you were Blessed to have someone who protected you from this terrible person. I must give credit for your Brother and Yourself, Love, for Surviving all this Miserable Chaos!You've become a sensitive,caring,loving person!Please remember this! xxxxx

11:22 PM  
Blogger R. said...

Hmm. You've done well enough despite it all. And you're going to keep that way. Long time reader, first time commenting since I just recently joined blogger. I always look forward to your updates.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Finn said...

Sometimes it takes the most horrific situations to make you realise what heroes other people are.

3:32 AM  
Blogger The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

From the outside looking in, we never really see all that goes on inside the lives of families. Such trauma, such heartache, and such great courage. It is so easy to judge by only what we see . . . your mother has fortitude and great strength of the soul, even though bruised by mental illness. Her great gift to you is not only her love, but her courage. You have been wounded by the struggle, but her courage has left you a compassionate man. It would have been easy for you to dissociate and to become disorganized and unable to attach (like Nicole), but her love has made you able to perservere and empowered you to make meaning as you could. Hold on to that as you wrestle with your stuff, and know it for the grace it is in your life and the lives of others. Keep faith with what your mother passed on to you.
Blessings to you and your Mom.

7:09 AM  
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9:28 PM  

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