I'm trying. I'm trying to hold it together on Halloween but.......
I just don't like this season.
Most all of y'all know that Halloween is the anniversary of my mom's death. It's not like it's been recent. It's been TWENTY-ONE years!
Wow. I didn't think I would survive ONE year --- ONE MONTH --- ONE WEEK! --- without her.
But, for me, time really has lessened my grief. I don't think about my mom every minute. I don't see all of life's daily experiences through a dark lens of sadness. I know that I can live in this world without her physical presence. I didn't know that for a long time.
But..... inevitably this time of the year rolls around and I try to be happyHAPPYHAPPYISAIDBEHAPPYDAMNIT! all the time................. and I fail.
On top of it all, I'm tired. It was 11:00 before I got home from play rehearsal last night.
And I'm sick. Well, not really - but I can feel my body trying to fight off some upper respiratory thing that makes my mouth taste like doo-doo every time I cough.
And, tomorrow's Halloween.
This is how it affected me this year.
First, the background:
I've told you how I crazily thought I had to somehow keep my mother alive after my dad died. And it was crazy. My behavior included hiding in the backseat while she drove somewhere so I could jump to the front and take control of the car and save us if needed. The fact that I was nine didn't matter. I also had to wake her up repeatedly through the night to make sure she was still alive and hide in an empty bathtub when I couldn't find her.
Do you see why I became a counselor of children? I was fucked and nobody did anything about it.
Anyway, after my mom got sober, my insanity evolved into me being OK as long as I could get in touch with my mom whenever I tried to.
I don't know. Maybe this came from the fact that the sheriff couldn't find her when my dad died. Whatever the reason, it was how my insanity manifested while my mother was alive.
That's right. From the time she got sober when I was fifteen to when she died when I was thirty-seven.
My anxiety would go from zero to sixty-seven hundred if I tried to get in touch with her and couldn't.
If I drove by her house (which I did) and her car wasn't there when I thought it was supposed to be - I panicked.
If I called her and she didn't answer the phone when I thought she should - I panicked.
It's funny. I still dream that I can't find her. The dream is usually me either being in the house across the street from her, or me driving down her street, and her car not being there. Sometimes in my dream, there are other people living in her house. But I'm still waiting for her to show up. And I'm panicked that something's happened to her.
When I have anxiety - at least this kind of panicked anxiety (oh-god-i-just-made-up-a-new-psychological-term-me-and-freud-are-so-cool) - I perseverate. Do you know what that means? It means (thank you, Google) to repeat or prolong an action, thought, or utterance after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased.
In my case, it means I drive myself and everyone else crazy worryingworryingworrying and fretting and whining.
With my mom, it meant that I had to repeatedly drive by her house until she got home. Or I had to repeatedly call her until she answered.
And, let me tell you, that kind of behavior can be a bitch. It can mean you have to stay up all night to dial the same number over and over and over again.
So.... that's the history. This is how it affects me today:
I'd like to say it's not a problem anymore.
I'd like to say it affects me by me happily giving out candy on Halloween.
But, the real truth is --
I just transferred it all to Tyler. Now, he's the one that I worry about, perseverate about, panic about - when he's not where he's supposed to be (in my mind) or he doesn't answer his phone.
I'm so embarrassed to admit that. I can hear all my therapist friends (well, actually all my friends with any sense) saying "Jenny, that's not fair to Tyler.", "Jenny, that's sick.", "Jenny, just let go and let God.", "Jenny, Jenny, Jenny".
Believe me. Anything you could tell me, I've already been told by all my other wise friends. I've gone over this, ad nauseam, with countless therapists, psychologists, friends, family members, and pets.
It makes me and everyone else in my life (especially Tyler, I might add) feel like this:
And I don't do it all the time.
But today. Today is the day before Halloween. Today, I have on my orange shirt and my orange booties and my baby rattlesnake head earrings. Today-I'm-fucking-celebrating-Halloween!!!!!
And I went crazy. It didn't last long -- maybe half an hour at most -- but, shit, you wouldn't believe the emotional and physical angst it puts me through and the disappointment in myself/self loathing/wanting to kick myself in the butt - that lingers afterwards.
Here's what happened:
I tried to call Tyler last night about taking our cat to the vet. His phone was off.
I didn't happen to be crazy at the time so it was OK. I know that his phone loses charges quickly. I know that he sometimes forgets his phone. I know that he sometimes just doesn't want to talk to his mother.
The key is that I didn't happen to be crazy at the time.
This morning around 9:00, I tried to call him about the cat again. His phone was off but, I still didn't happen to be crazy at the time so it was OK. I assumed he was asleep as today is his day off.
At 11:00 this morning, I tried to call him again and his phone was still off.
Unbeknownst to me, some internal switch in my brain had been tripped and I was now in crazy mode.
I called him at 11:00. I called him at 11:10. I called him at 11:15. I called him at 11:20.
No longer did I see him ignoring my calls or having an uncharged phone or sweetly sleeping in his bed.
This is what I saw:
I saw him dead, with a needle in his arm.
That vision has been branded into my brain since 2005 when one of my group home girls - actually one that Charlie and I had considered adopting - was found that way in a field outside Las Cruces.
But today, in my head it became Tyler instead of Amy.
Once that vision took root in my brain, I was off. Off my butt, off my rocker, off to check up on Tyler.
I told my coworker some (actually true, but unnecessary) story about needing to go home to check my crockpot, and I raced to Tyler's house, doing my crazy Jenny prayer GodpleaseletitbeallrightGodpleaseletitbeallrightGodpleaseletitbeallright all the way over there.
I know where that prayer came from. I can still see my fifteen-year-old self running down the street in my jammies the day my mom had alcoholic convulsions praying that prayer like a mantra.
I got to Tyler's apartment. His car was in the parking lot. When you're crazy, that's not a good sign. I went in yelling "Tyler! Tyler! Tyler!". I could hear Nurdy in Tyler's room barking and trying to get out to greet me. Another bad sign. I threw open Tyler's bedroom door
find him sitting up in bed while trying to cover himself and hollering "MOM!, WHAT'S HAPPENING? WHAT'S WRONG?"
Shit. Thank God. Attempt self butt kick. All I could do was plop on his bed and say "I'm just crazy". And apologize for my craziness. Again.
Then I did go to my house and check the chicken in my crockpot.
Then, I came back to work where I am actually a successful, professional, sane person. I do good things here. I help people. I make people feel better. I make people happy.
But that thirty minutes of insanity has left a bad taste in my mouth. It's the taste of "shit, I did it again". It's the taste of shame.
But I have to remind myself that it's Halloween. My ghosts are out. My goblins are picking on me.
It's nearly Halloween.
My mom is gone.
And that makes me sad.
It reminds me that we can lose the people that we love.
And I forget that we can survive it.
Because it's nearly Halloween.
HFH! (A kiss to who guesses what that means first!)