Am I crazy?
Like, am I an actual crazy person? I certainly have had my moments. Y’know, like being hospitalised twice. No, wait, three times. But just twice for proper in-patient brain-sick care as opposed to fix the physical harm care. And I have sheafs full of notes /diagnoses somewhere in a psychiatrist’s office. And I’ve taken medicines, and I’ve suffered delusions where what I knew to be true and what I believed I was experiencing fought with each other.
And I feel very odd a lot of the time.
I feel irritable and angry too. And I sometimes feel really really overwhelmed and like it’s all a bit much to cope with and then I just want to shut down for a while. Because I’ve learned well-enough that I can mostly wait it out – the crazy feelings.
See, I’m starting to think that the crazy is just in my feelings, and if all feelings are transitory, and I can learn to detach a bit from them, then am I crazy?
For a long time when I was lots lots younger (and a little less younger, and a little less than that again), I used to be afraid that I wasn’t crazy. Coz, at least if I was crazy there would be a “reason” or an explanation or something, something that would give a cause and effect to how misplaced I felt all the time. The scariest thing in the world to me was the thought that there was nothing wrong with me, because – I thought – a wrong thing could be fixed. So I listened to the things that I was told were wrong with me and took the appropriate steps to address them, because I am a huge believer in personal responsibility.
And I kept on walking through the world like a misaligned part, each step like Ariel’s excruciating ones on her impaired human legs.
I don’t know what I think now. I still feel like a piece of grit in an homogenous oyster world – but! But, I sometimes think now that that’s a hell of a lot more normal than we’re expected to believe.
It’s like this huge ridiculous masquerade that we’re all participating in, all having fooled ourselves that we’re the only ones wearing ridiculous masks and that everyone else is really showing their true face.
Social media has probably amplified this to an excruciating level, where the acceptable beats of people’s lives are all that is displayed in a disingenuously familiar and honest-sounding casual tone of friendliness. So intensifying the feelings of failure to achieve amongst the readers, whilst simultaneously providing the blueprint for what is acceptable to share.
Look! I’m no better in any way whatsoever. You’d easily believe my days are a bundle of sunshine and advertising-friendly moments of scripted and palatable “chaos” – the type of disorganisation that makes a person seem more approachable for being just the right amount of imperfect.
But the three times yesterday that I lost my temper and yelled at my son, reducing him to tears are not present. I want to explain straight away that I immediately comforted him and apologised and talked about it with him. But he’s four, and I made him really sad because I – the so-called adult in the room – didn’t have control over my reactions. Stuff that was probably about more than whatever irritating or physically painful trigger pushed me over the edge in each of those particular moments.
And as I held him and apologised and talked about my humanity and promised that I would try to breathe and not shout next time, all I could think of was that maybe I was like some kind of abuser. I think yelling is a pretty bad thing to do. It signifies a loss of control and I imagine, to kids, it reads as them having crossed past the limits of their parent’s love – because they have no idea how endless, how truly representative of infinity that land is.
I know it felt that way to me when I was a child.
So then I did the next worst thing I could do as an adult. I cried.
I added my tears and my shame and all my isolation and neediness into the mix, into a space that should have been about healing and being a safe and secure place for him.
I have kind of mixed feelings about this, because part of me thinks there’s way too much stigma placed on crying, and maybe it’s not so bad for kids to realise that grown-ups cry too, and maybe even let them see that it moves through and it can maybe just be part of life. You can come out the other side of a really difficult big feeling.
And it wasn’t just about the interactions of the day; I just felt overwhelmed and out of coping.
I guess I won’t know how bad of a parent I’ve been ’til he’s my age and going through his own therapy. Ha! That’s a lie, I would never share with my parents the stuff I talk about in therapy.
I just really felt like a bad mother yesterday. And a bit of a crazy one to boot.
So, I’d love to end this post on an upbeat note – I mean, everything’s okay today, we’re moving through the usual and affectionate orbits of life. But that’s more bow-wrapping of life. I think I’ll just leave this here. It’s been difficult for me to write this, but just, I think it was important to say. Maybe this is how I diffuse my shame, and then that’s how I get better. Coz I really really am trying to do better.
God I hope intent counts for something when it comes to parenting.