9-9-14 Updates

Crazy Making
Some Disturbing Little Stories

I find it impossible to decipher my mother's thinking processes. What I define as "crazy making" were frequent episodes where she spoke or acted inappropriately or in a strange, even frightening manner that caused everyone around her to fall silent with confusion or disbelief. In my case I would often explode with rage and tears or conversely had no reaction whatsoever.
Sometimes her crazy making was subtle -- cruel manipulation; at other times it was so odd and intrusive it did indeed seem "crazy." Sometimes her words or actions appeared unintentional; at other times she seemed to purposely dissemble, terrorize, punish, confuse, or control. My therapists over the years have speculated in hindsight that some of these events almost sound psychotic.

The following are only a few examples as these episodes could occur on a daily basis or a few times a week. I don't think there was a day without some degree of crazy making that upset someone in her line of fire.


The Fingernail Incident

My father enraged my mother for various reasons -- some legitimate, some not; regardless her reactions to things were often exaggerated and disturbing.
He recalled that perhaps a year or two before I was born, my parents attended a very upscale black-tie event with hundreds of guests. During the evening my mother felt my father was flirting with other women there and became enraged. She began to attack him verbally -- loud enough that other guests could hear.

Before she stormed out of the building, she took her long, beautiful, freshly polished nails and dragged them down one side of my father's face. He was left standing in astonishment and humiliation, (along with a good number of other guests), as blood dripped down his face onto his tuxedo.

He noted this was neither the first nor last time my mother acted with such violence towards him both in public and in private. I never witnessed physical violence between them though there was endless bickering and my father would frequently leave the house hurt and enraged if goaded long enough.

He was once nearly totaled his car in a serious accident (from which all emerged unscathed) after one heated argument where he left the house in tears. I would often ask my mother in those early years, "Why don't you talk to Dad? Why do you yell at him first?" Her typical response -- "It's none of your damned business."

Return to Top

You Have A Little Brother

An extremely bizarre event stands out in my mind. This occurred when I was a child (I would guess around the age of ten.)

The toilet in the main bathroom had backed up and my mother was busy plunging and flushing. I walked into the room to observe. While plunging and examining the contents of the toilet my mother turned to me and said, "You know you had a little brother."

Since she had never mentioned this before, I was astonished and excited. Again it never occurred to me why she would have kept this a secret from me for so long.

She then proceeded to tell me of a miscarriage she had either before or after I was born. She said she has miscarried in the toilet and I imagined it was in the one she was plunging. Though I knew little about sex, I understood what a miscarriage was as my mother talked to me like an adult from early on. As usual I stood and listened to the story without questioning, taking in everything she said as the truth.

She claimed she "saw the fetus" in the toilet, and “it was a little boy that she then flushed away.” She described this without emotion and then continued plunging the toilet.

Incredible as this may sound, when I was 32 years old and my mother had begun to show the signs of early dementia, I was tracked down by a man in his 60's claiming to be my half-brother -- and he was. My mother had become pregnant at the age of 15 and had given him up for adoption.

What is incredible about this story is it so perfectly illustrates my mother's inability to tell the truth and to mask both truth and lies in the most bizarre ways that left me extremely confused. It seems I adapted to this by taking in the information as fact without challenge, and filing it away in my head without any emotion attached to it. I continue to do this; I accept comments by others as truth or agree with actions I disagree with. I fail to express my own doubts or opinions and only realize I have done this (with regret and anger) some time later.

Had I asked any questions I more than likely would have been attacked for “being nosey." I recall I walked out of the bathroom, returned to my bedroom and asked nothing about my "little brother" again until he literally appeared, quite alive and much older than I, some 22 years later.

Return to Top

The Blood In The Bed

This disturbing incident occurred when I was in 6th grade. It is an excellent example of my feeling emotionally numb when my mother was physically ill and thus particularly defensive about her "being weak." It is reminiscent of the incident when I first recall DP thoughts; this was on our trip to Tobago when my mother was ill and ignored my concerns that she would die from a tropical illness she contracted there. Again in that instance she remarked, "If you are worried I am going to die, then you must want me dead."

It was early in the morning and I was waiting for my carpool to pick me up for school. My mother was not in the kitchen; she usually rose at 6 a.m., regardless of her appointment schedule. I felt I should knock on her bedroom door to say goodbye before my ride came. When she didn't answer I opened the door.

My mother was awake, very pale, and lying on her bed in a pool of blood. The sheets, the blankets, were soaking wet and bright red. I was terrified and yelled out "What's wrong!?"

My mother's response was typical anytime she was in distress. "This is none of your business. I already called 'X' to pick me up. Get the Hell out of here and don't you dare miss your ride." I simply turned around, gathered my books, and waited outside for the station wagon. Once it arrived with other students on board I mentioned nothing to anyone.

At some point that day I was in art class. The school principal came up to me and spoke softly and calmly to comfort me; "Sandy, your mother is in the hospital for surgery, but she is going to be O.K. She has arranged for you to stay at Mrs. 'Y's house after school." -- (not even my best friend's house across the street); Mrs. "Y" who had no children would be discreet about the matter.

My friends at the work-table were concerned. "What happened, what's wrong. How's your Mom? Are you scared?" I only remember saying, "It's OK, she'll be OK." and returned to work on my project.

It turned out my mother had a hysterectomy for sudden hemorrhaging and was indeed all right after surgery. I went to visit her in the hospital once accompanied by AnnieBelle. My father may have been there as well, but I don't recall. My mother subsequently discharged herself AMA (against medical advice) and insisted on returning to work and her regular routine despite the fact that her surgical scar hadn't healed and one time bled through her dress when we went shopping.

We never talked about this incident again.

Return to Top

A Vacation In Hell

In 1972 or 1973, my maternal aunt "N" was diagnosed with breast cancer. I believe she waited too long to have it treated and it had metastasized; she was dying.
My aunt, as I observed her, was a sweet and gentle woman. One would never guess she was my mother's sister. I wish she were alive today to tell me more about my mother and about herself. I never really got to know her as my mother looked down on her; N was "only a secretary hence she was low class." I had to keep secrets from her as well.

Christmas of 1974 my mother had decided to buy a Mercedes Benz in Germany, tour with it there then have it shipped to the US from Le Havre. The money she saved was for a Christmas vacation in Germany, France, and Belgium. Since my aunt was dying my mother thought she could "kill two birds with one stone." N had never been out of the US and this would be a "farewell gift” from my mother.

I could go into great detail about the horrors of this trip as I kept a detailed journal, but I will mention only a few examples of my mother's viciousness that proved to me that no one, even my mother's own sister, was exempt from abuse.

The trip as usual was not relaxing despite my aunt's deteriorating condition. It was another "military exercise" wherein we had to see everything and needed to put a minimum of 500 miles on the Mercedes.

At some point all three of us contracted food poisoning from some tainted ice-cream. I had the worst case as I had eaten all of mine. My mother and N had only ingested a small amount and were mildly ill and thus we were all "well enough to move on" to our next destination.” Considering my aunt's frailty, I was astounded that we couldn't spend an extra day before getting back on the road, but my mother insisted there were too many things to see and “we
had to put more mileage on the car.”

The scenario the morning we left convinced me my mother's cruelty clearly included every person she knew -- even her dying sister. I was dizzy and vomiting. N felt weak and had no appetite. My mother was irritable as she was ill herself. We were in a tiny hotel room with a rather primitive bathroom; it was so small my mother and aunt had shared the bed and I slept on the floor. I was unable to wash up or even brush my teeth I was so sick. When my aunt, trying to make my mother's "deadline" to get on the road, asked if she might share the sink to brush her teeth my mother snapped, "use the water in the toilet, or the bidet!"

I kept a detailed journal of this trip. Misery outweighed any excitement at being in such a wonderful location. The following is directly from my journal -- another attack on my Aunt who was "only a secretary." Here my Aunt was four months from death and my mother wouldn't let up on the disappointment we all were to her.

December 28 [1974]
“I ache and I'm very tired and depressed. Only 2 more days and the 3rd on our way home. I can't wait. In the train station "N" talked about how dear Mum was jumping on her about [her son and son-in-law being unemployed]. Then "N" said she was proud of her $10,000 a year ... and how she made it on her own. She said she hasn't been well lately because of her sickness, but why retire, what would she do all day? In that instant I felt like crying, running like Hell.
I want to go Home!"

I was astounded by this and other abuse my aunt endured on this trip. I witnessed my mother attack her sister as "weak" and saw her make no compassionate effort to make her suffering any less.

My aunt died in April of 1975, four months after we returned from the trip. My mother was visibly upset at N's parting, but this made little sense to me considering the years of cruelty she heaped upon her. Again she left me dumbfounded and numb. It seemed if anything my mother was angry with my aunt for not getting diagnosed earlier than saddened by her death.

To add almost hilarious insult to injury (or injury to insult), the following day I broke my arm falling down the steps of the Louvre in Paris -- fortunately after we toured the museum.

At that point my mother was absolutely furious with me. She insisted I "did this on purpose so I wouldn't have to carry all of my own luggage.” She was reduced to tears at some point; I was "no help to her." I imagine now, she indeed felt helpless regarding N.'s impending death; yet as in many other instances I was being asked, as a child, to comfort

That night, laying in bed under the covers, I wrote a grim poem in my journal; I felt anxious, sad and helpless, and was in much physical pain from my broken arm. My mother grabbed the poem from me (certainly thinking I was "writing something nasty about her as I was such a little bitch"), read it to herself, and said, "You aren't
THAT depressed are you!" I said nothing. I had no idea how to respond.

It wasn't until September of 1975 that I was "permitted" to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed my depression, anxiety, and depersonalization within a few sessions. He also told me “depersonalization is incurable” and “your mother isn’t on trial here.” She hand-picked him well.


"Take that look of worry, I'm an ordinary man
They don't tell me nothing, so I find out all I can
There's a fire that's been burning right outside my door
I can't see but I feel it, and it helps to keep me warm
So I, I don't mind, no I, I don't mind.

Seems so long I've been waiting, still don't know what for
There's no point in escaping, I don't worry any more
I can't come out to find you, I don't like to go outside
They can turn off my feelings like they're turning off the light
But I, I don't mind. No, I, I, don't mind.

So take, take me home, 'cause I don't remember
Take, take me home, 'cause I don't remember
Take, take me home, oh Lord,
I've been a prisoner all my life
And I can say to you

Take that look of worry, mine's an ordinary life
Working when it's daylight, sleeping when it's night

I've got no far horizons, I don't wish upon a star
They don't think that I listen, oh but I know who they are
And I, I don't mind, no I, I don't mind
So, take, take me home, 'cause I don't remember
Take, take me home, 'cause I don't remember
Take, take me home, 'cause I don't remember
Take, take me home, oh Lord
Well I've been a prisoner all my life

And I can say to you,
but I don't remember ...
Take, take me home, 'cause I don't remember ... "

- Phil Collins -
"Take Me Home"

Return to Top