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06 January, 2008

The Crazy One

I'm oddly contemplative after coming back from the crazed winterperiod visitation with the bloodkin and in-laws. Which included a few hours with my mother.

The thing that I constantly run aground on now that I have some distance, some rationality, some capacity for independence, is how much I feel that dealing with her turns me into The Crazy One.

She's so ordinary, so nice, so making my favorite holiday meal when she knows I'm coming to visit and setting it out with cookies. There's this part of me that responds to that, that ... aches ... with wanting to believe in it, to treat her like an ordinary mother I could have mother-daughter conversations with. That buys the illusion, wonders if there's something wrong with me for being on edge, tense, waiting to jump the wrong way, locking up and freezing when I see her doodled note not even written to me about grandchildren, not cutting the ordinary amount of slack for a preference forgotten, that sort of thing. That wonders if I'm The Crazy One, the one with the irrational, unreasoned, unfounded responses.

And then there are the edges, the things that catch the bits of the illusion and make the mask start to fray at the edges. The slick comment like glare ice that I seem to be doing well (when I have said that I've been wrestling with illness), leaving me wishing I'd put on less brave face when I left the in-laws. The little suggestive "I could go somewhere with that, but I am nice, I will refrain" comment to a self-aware remark on my part. The persistent memory of old chafing wounds, some of them scabbed over by this point, constantly niggled at by new edits to past stories, new discussions, new places I find myself suddenly up in arms because a new force has come over the hill at a previously unfortified border.

I despair of explaining why the militia is riding in my mind.

4 comments:

Annwyd said...

This...sums up a lot of how I feel about my father, and the way I feel about being around him.

It is somewhat comforting to know that other people have the experience too.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Do you also get the "Ah, they've taken all of their crazy and shoved it into me so now I am the stage on which their damage is enacted and they get to handwring about how awful it is, that kid just, tsk" thing?

Annwyd said...

No, no, I just get, "If I were being abusive I could understand, but I'm not being abusive at all, I'm just drunk!"

And occasionally, from my mother, some comment about how I'm oversensitive. It doesn't help.

little light said...

Annwyd, I get this way around my mother, too. It's not just you.

These days, making nice and playing house and ignoring the undercurrents so I can have something like a mother, it's really, really tempting to buy into her version of reality, where she's never done anything to hurt me and we have a mother-daughter relationship where we casually meet and greet and look after each other.

It's really easy, and really persuasive, to buy into her version of things--except it's a version where I must have pretended to nearly get disowned, ate garbage for lack of food because I wanted to, cried over no fights, begged her fruitlessly to let me back in the family I apparently chose to leave, and where, in short, I'm utterly perverse and insane, acting irrationally in reaction to events that never happened and harboring unfair resentments.

It really can make you crazy. And all the while, it's "What, if I were abusive, I could understand, but I'm just..." "...and I don't know what you're complaining about, while I've always supported worthless, crazy you."

Wariness is worth having, when it comes to pretty illusions like that.