Friday, July 8, 2011

A Shirley Story-the origin of my disease...

So it's been a while since I shared a Shirley Story. I've surpassed 4000 pageviews and now you shall be rewarded. Today I'm gonna open up on my mother and I's weird relationship. We're both messed up in very similar and different ways.

I've got to give her credit, because she did an excellent job training me to live bipolar. The earliest memory I have of this phenomenon is when I was 7 years old and starting my first year of 4H. (13 years total) The night before the county fair I was woken up at 2 am to start baking. My poor little 7 year old body couldn't stay awake, so my mother actually tied me to the one cleared chair next to the 3 foot square of cleared dining room table and forced me to stay awake and mix up the ingredients. I must have mixed up close to 3 dozen more cookies than necessary because they were not perfect enough. This was ridiculous, because my mother had to literally shove crap out of the way to even get to the oven.

I was raised on a double standard. Do what I tell you, but do it better than I expect...don't do what I do. Every night I went to bed in a room stuffed with random things that didn't fit anywhere else. And then my brother started woodworking. His final 4H project was this GINORMOUS oak desk, and it was meant to go in his room. He needed pictures of it in there for his 4H book, so Mom began "the great cleanup of 1996." And for all of four months (a record) there was a desk sized clean area in his room. I was jealous.  He had a space to DO something in. Mom never did that for me. I don't think she could mentally handle the thought of me wanting space. I cried for her to help me clean my room, and we tried. Every time I would pick something up, she would start crying about how that couldn't be thrown away, it was special. The thing is, when Mom starts to contemplate something that is complicated or over emotional, she falls apart. I once caught her crying because she lost her glasses somewhere in the massively over crowded and dirty living room. I found them by the bathroom sink.  Sometimes I wonder if maybe she has some weird mental tick that helps her completely ignore the giant issues right in front of her and makes her nag about the little things. Maybe she just can't handle facing adversity.

It's funny really, we all walk on eggshells around her, and we all resent her in some way or the other. Maybe she's better off not knowing our real feelings, and just knowing we love her anyway.

There was this one time when she was (as always) over-committed to a billion things, and hadn't taken the time to check the date.  Turns out my birthday had passed 3 or 4 days before, and she had forgotten it. (Dad told me this story...) She immediately dropped everything, ran out, got a cake, invited all the neighbors and made them promise to fake that it was June 2, not June 6. I was only 3, but she knew that someday I would hear the story and be disappointed. I'm not...I think it's funny, you know, the thought of 20 adults pretending it's actually my birthday, and glancing uncomfortably at each other wondering if she's always this scattered. (We had that birthday at the park.)

I only remember one time that anyone actually came to my house to celebrate anything. I'm pretty sure I was 10ish, and mom had hired a housekeeper to help her get the house under control (lasted 2 weeks) because she wanted to have a party for me there. I was completely surprised to see people in my house that didn't live there. To this day I still struggle with strangers in my house, even though I have nothing to hide. I never had anyone over to spend the night, but went to many friends houses instead. The older I got, the less I was at home.  I think it was less complicated for my mom to have me away, so she could concentrate on herself. (I know that sounds harsh, but it's true.)

I spend a lot of time now trying to analyze why I am the way I am, and there is really no other reason but the way I was raised. I'm glad though, it made me tough and smart. I know Shirley has a serious mental illness, and so do I. She'll probably never get help or take it seriously, but I do. I think I was put where I was so that I could share my story and help others who are in mentally unhealthy situations.  Just call me Dr. Kat

There is a purpose for everything, and there is a reason my mother exists. She is crazy, self centered, hypochondriac and a bit slow, but if she loves you she loves you with all her heart. I am pretty sure my life would be dead boring if she wasn't in it. So in some weird way, she's a blessing to me...if that makes sense.

To complicated mothers and fixing yourself,

Love and Laughter,
-Kat Lady