Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Big Blah

I'm trying.  I'm trying to hold it together on Halloween but....... 

I'm tired.
I'm sick.
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!)

Crazy Jenny


  1. Happy F**king Halloween. to you too. Jen I am so sorry you have to have these what amounts to night terrors. You have gone through a lot in your life. I'm just now finding out just how bad it had been. I wish I could take your pain away, but I know that isn't possible, so instead I'll lift you up to God and ask him to give you a peace that surpasses all understanding in Christ Jesus. God is the only one that can give you that kind of peace.

    Next quit being so hard on yourself. You are doing pretty good in my eyes. Just say ok I did the crazies again and now I'm going to go back to life as usual "What ever that is ", and forgive myself. Forgive that little girl that resides inside you. She just needs to loved and held and reminded that no one is judging her but her. Give yourself a big hug for me and go out and have fun handing out candy to all those little ones tomorrow night.

  2. I think my Nena is going to feel that way about me. If someone could've helped you as a child, what would the help involve? I am sorry about the sadness and the crazies. And 8I am fighting off some stupid sickness too. Came on today in time for Sig's birthday and for my trip out of town on Friday. Hang in there, Jen.

    1. Thanks, Rita.... I'm so glad to reconnect/connect with you. Yay, 40th reunions!

  3. I think my Nena is going to feel that way about me. If someone could've helped you as a child, what would the help involve? I am sorry about the sadness and the crazies. And 8I am fighting off some stupid sickness too. Came on today in time for Sig's birthday and for my trip out of town on Friday. Hang in there, Jen.

    1. I ask myself that all the time - what would have helped? I think being able to talk about my fears rather than having all these adults say I was going to grow out of it. Helloooooo? I'm 58. Ya'd think I'd be done by now. Make sure that Nena knows that you can take care of yourself and that it's your job to take care of her. I'm sure you do that. What I needed, and what I try to be in the lives of the children I work with is someone who listens. And accepts. And loves. That's all. That's what I needed rather than these adults who tried to "TELL" me what to do or how to feel.

  4. You need have no shame for loving your son, for missing your mom, for mourning your dad. You are a sane, amazing, giving, helper. And you are there (here) for all of us and we just want to be here for you. Bad things happen. They have happened to you and your fears are justified. Tyler loves you because of not in spite of your love and concern for him. I know we can live through and get through the tough stuff but none of us wants it. That is why we worry and panic. Happy Halloween and know that you are loved and appreciated for each and every part of you.

  5. I would say given the history an hour or so of crazy was pretty darn good. You had your crazy, regrouped and picked up the pieces. We really should visit and compare our childhoods some time. Have a short pity party and then celebrate how well we REALLY DO most of the time! Know that a lot of folks really care about you and love you, even with the crazies sometimes. Hand out the candy and try not to eat too much yourself. I once ate all the smarties out of the bowl of treats. Took me all night to quit shaking from all that sugar. Hang in there and help some kiddo get past their crazy parents or lives, so they don't get the crazies when they are grown. Your an amazing person, have an amazing day tomorrow!

  6. Jen Please don't be so hard on yourself!!
    We all get crazy sometimes, I think most people I know show signs of OCD. I freak out sometimes when I can't get ahold of my Dad and think I should be able to- calling his numbers every 5 minutes and e-mailing after the 100th busy signal.......
    BTW I could see myself and Joseph in 15 years in your Tyler story. I have a theory that kids with crazy parents grow up to be strong, understanding, and interesting adults......
    Cut yourself slack!!!!
    Love you,

  7. Jennifer,
    Thank you for reminding me that when my best friend and barn partner died, I didn't know how I would survive one DAY...One WEEK...One MONTH without her. It's been almost 3 years since her death, and 3 years today since we got the fatal diagnosis. And time HAS lessened my grief. I no longer cry all the way out to the barn and back every Sunday. (I don't know why, Sundays were always the worst.)I occasionally laugh out loud--infrequently enough that it surprises me when it happens, but still, it DOES happen. I never would have thought that 3 years ago. Then my life with horses was one big question mark; I didn't know if I could ever enjoy them anymore without Ingrid, or if I should just get out of it and give it up. I didn't get on a horse again for two months after her last diagnosis. Now I have a new horse I like to ride and am excited about and want to take places. Ingrid and I had planned to dress up as dance hall girls at that last chemo appointment in Houston, as we had in horse parades; instead I ended up taking her to the emergency room because she was in so much pain, and we got the news that the cancer had spread to the bone. Today I can wear my dance hall outfit again for Halloween, with a tip of the black, three cornered, feathered dance hall hat to Ingrid, and to you for reminding me how far I've come.
    Love you,

    1. Jan, I will tip my hat to Ingrid, too. I wish I had known her. Love you.