Crazy D Land

Monday, March 21, 2011

I knew she was angry. I knew she was angry when she pulled up to the house, late, to pick me up.

I knew she was angry when she threw my bags of clothes into the car. I knew she was angry and that there would be a price for me to pay at some point. Maybe not on the drive home. Maybe not for the next week. But it would come, usually when I least expected it and that it would hurt.

My crime? Not wanting to come home. In my mothers eyes, my choices to visit other people or stay away during vacation times were viewed as betrayals. Of Her.

The reason did not matter. I was punished if I asked her for 50 dollars to go to New York City and build housing with Habitat for Humanity. She had said no to that request so I lost my place in the group. That Spring Break I'd refused to come home and stayed, alone, in my dorm room.

It was the end of the semester of that same school year and I had no other choice but to come home. I had decided to stay a few extra days past the end of the semester to visit with my room mate's Aunt and Uncle.

My college room mate was a revelation in many ways. She was from New York. Italian. Her family was, well, kind of normal. Her Mom occasionally sent us boxes of food. Her Aunt and Uncle, who lived a couple of towns over from our University, would have us over for dinner a couple of times a week. Being juniors in college, who were we to refuse an actual home cooked meal?  And Free Laundry! And a computer with a printer!

(cough cough - this WAS 1990, folks. Computer labs were rare - even on campus, so the ability to go to their house and use their computer and print our work was Amazing. They may have been the very first people I knew who had a Home Computer. Of course, he DID work for IBM, so it does make sense.)

My room mate, Linda, had a family who welcomed me.

Coming from a family so closed and insular, it was unthinkable that people just Lived like this. I mean, I wasn't related to these people, and yet - I might as well have been their niece too.  "The Girls", they called us.
"Are you girls coming for dinner tonight?" "Do you girls want to stay over tonight, it's getting late."

I settled into this normalcy. Adults who acted like adults. Who cooked dinner, or made sure we had food and clean laundry and all of those things that we forget we need in our cocoon of the transition into adulthood.

Until the end of the semester when it was time to go home.

When my mother pulled up at the house, she was already in a froth. She had clearly been sputtering and spewing her way to Burlington, nearly two full hours of cursing and anger building. In these days before cell phones, there was no receiving end to this venom.

It was all saved for me.

My mother barely greeted my adopted Aunt. She snarled at her, in fact.

One part of me wanted to apologize for my mothers rudeness, the other part - the one steeped in 20 years of dedicated self preservation? That part knew better. "SHUT UP", that part screamed at me, "BAD THINGS ARE COMING."

I smiled, wanly, at Linda's Aunt as we drove away.  Goodbye Normalcy.  Goodbye adults who acted like adults. I was back in Crazy D land.

Since I never knew from what angle my mother would launch her attack, I stayed mentally nimble. I didn't mention what had just happened. That would have been an opening, you see.  My life long pattern of dodging and weaving around my mothers stories, accusations and conspiracy theories had made me extremely careful of my words. With my mother, anything you said Could and Would be held against you....Forever.

Content and Context didn't matter. Shit, if it had happened or Not didn't matter. It was going to be held against you. The question became When.

About 45 minutes into the drive home, she began screaming at me.

"You are a WHORE. A SLUT! I raised a SLUT and A WHORE."

This attack was somewhat new. I actually started to laugh, which was wholly the wrong reaction. Of course, the reason I was laughing was because my boyfriend of 5 years and I had broken up about 10 months before and I wasn't having sex with ANYBODY so the attack that I was sexually promiscuous was one that truly was unexpected.

"What?!", I said.

"You are a WHORE!", she yelled at me again.

OK, I thought, but at least give me some evidence. My vagina had seen NO action in nearly a year so I wasn't sure from where this accusation was based.

"What are you talking about?", I said again.

"You said you were going downtown to buy your step father a birthday gift and when you got back your hair was WET and I know that you just ran off to have SEX with your boyfriend. Your hair was wet because you took a shower before you came home. I can't believe that I have such a WHORE for a daughter! And don't tell me you weren't sneaking off to fuck him because we all saw your wet hair!"

I had to start scanning my memory banks. When I finally located the date in question, I had to go back nearly two years.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen. TWO YEARS.

"First of all", I started, "I am not exactly sure how having sex with your boyfriend of 5 years makes anyone a whore or a slut. Second, the day you are talking about? It was raining. We walked back from downtown and it was raining - since it was the end of February, it was one of those snowy/rain days and Yes, we were pretty wet when we got back. But as to having sex that day? No, we didn't. Not that it is any of your business."

I stopped. There was really nothing more to say. She screamed at me for a while longer - how slutty I was, how ungrateful I was, how I was a selfish bitch,  what a whore she had raised, you know the usual things.

There was really no counter argument. In her fantasy land, I was all of those things and much, much more. A year later, I would be the Selfish Whore who ran off with a black guy and  who "Didn't care what the neighbors would think of HER!" as she told me to get out of her house while throwing objects at me. I would go on to be one of the ungrateful, selfish, traitor children who abandoned her to suffer her encroaching old age.  

She tried to friend me on facebook a couple of weeks ago. I haven't spoken with her since my sisters suicide attempt in 2009, and that was after nearly a year embargo imposed by me after my sisters first suicide attempt that my mother flatly refused to acknowledge. She threw me out of her house then too.

After my initial panic and a check in with my sister ( who told me that mom said she was tied of "family grudges" and had decided to "friend" me), I stick with my decision to maintain radio silence.

Her need is not My need, nor can I offer her what she is looking for - reassurance that she is a Good Mother, that she is Right, that the stories that she has made up in her head to explain why people in her life have left her are true.

In Crazy D land, there are no rules except that Crazy D is Queen and her law must be obeyed.

At nearly 41 years of age, I can't paint her roses red.

15 Baleful Regards:

KBO said...

Just wanted to drop you a line to tell you how much I love your blog. And you. And the work you are doing for kids.

That's all, friend. Hope all is well up north.

amira said...

I have a friend who's experiences and relationship with her mother sounds a lot like yours. From what she's shared with me, it's some tough and imaginable shit.

You're a great story teller/ life experience sharer.

Never That Easy said...

Sometimes you have to keep the walls up. You do what's best for YOU: thanks for sharing it all with us.

Table4Five said...

Oh man. I can't even imagine how you got through that, year after year. That last line, that's sheer storytelling talent right there. xoxo

Bren said...

Just because someone birthed you doesn't mean they mothered you. Yeah, it sucks, totally. But think about it like this: you raised yourself, AGAINST the tide of shit, and you turned out AWESOME! What does that say about you? Only that you fucking ROCK.

Instead of maintaining the walls around you, build those bad boys up around HER. Stick your mental fingers in your ears, "lalalalalala" her to death all while you look down upon her from the pedestal you should be placing yourself on.

Respect. You got it from us fo sho!

Mary_Flashlight said...

In my house we call it "revisionist history" - when either my mom, or my husband's mom pretends that our lives were so great and NORMAL growing up. My mom pretends that there were no beatings, or stealing money from us kids, and that she loved us more than herself. Tim's mom pretends she wasn't a fall-down drunk. (She thinks she taught him to swim, for instance - my husband who had to take Survival Swimming in college so he could pass the mandatory swim test and graduate. He said he remembers being in a pool ONCE as a child.)

I still have contact with my parents - but there's a reason we live 4 hours away. Tim hasn't spoken to his mom in years now.

Sometimes it's what you have to do.

fellow crazy daughter said...

I haven't spoken to my mother in 4 years for similar reasons. One time I received a fb message from her that I ignored like I have ignored everything else. I only wish I had learned that ignoring the crazy person is the ONLY defense years ago. Also, it truly drives them crazier which is entertaining from a distance!

Karen Sugarpants said...

I can relate, as you know, all too well. Good for you. I know, without a doubt, that if my biological mother ever tries to come back, in any way, I will definitely issue the same radio silence. No one needs that kind of crazy in their life.

Dawn said...

Crap, I just wrote a whole thing and blogger ate it.

Unforgettable Jess said...

I know you know but I will tell you anyway. I think you are making the right choice.

No one needs that kind of toxic in their lives. No one deserves it.

Stay strong!

roo said...

I'm glad you escaped the rule of Crazy D.

fellow crazy daughter said...

would love for you to tell us about now. is she still as crazy? does she attempt to be a part of your life?

Dawn said...

She is still crazy.

Part of the problem is that she is a Narcissist. Therefore, even though she has been in therapy for Years, she never takes responsibility for her role in our family drama.

Plus, the older I get, the less I can tolerate her fantasy stories. Mainly because I know they just AREN'T true.

I think it was when, after my sisters first suicide attempt, that she told me, point blank, that she never threw me out of the house when I began dating Terrance that it all kind of clicked.

She will never admit to doing the things she has done. Therefore she will never take ownership of her part and why should I continue to insist that some things are True when she will tell me that the things I experienced simply didn't happen.

I do know that my sister now takes the brunt of the crazy since she is the only one of my mothers children who speaks to her. Apparently around Christmas, Mom called Jessie and began screaming that she was just as ungrateful and selfish as the rest of her good for nothing children.

My brother will get these calls every three years or so too - where she will call and scream at him that he is a failure as a son.

A few weeks ago, Terrance asked me if I would regret not having her in my life if she were to die. Of course I would regret it - but I can't see how it could happen without her fundamentally changing. And that is something I don't think is possible.

She used to forbid me to write about her because "What if my friends find your blog? What will they think about me?" she would say.

If I were to accept her friend request, I would be tacitly agreeing to sweep everything back under the carpet. I would be agreeing to be silent in the face of her insanity.

And I can't be silent.

monicac2 said...


It's terrible that her particular form of mental illness doesn't allow her to own up to her actions.

The abuse she inflicted on you is just terrible! I'm so sorry for all children who have had to (and who are currently) endure such treatment from their own mother.

Dawn said...

Moniac2...I think it is an essential part of being Narcissistic.

To admit that you have a role in what is happening in your life means also admitting that everything you have convinced yourself is real and true is Not.

That opens doors to worlds where you are human and forgivable, but also to worlds where you did terrible and truly shitty things to people who loved you.

There can be no apology from her, because she doesn't believe that she has ever done anything wrong. And believe me when I say that I don't really want an apology. I just can't tolerate the fantasy world and agree with her - which is all she wants. You to agree with her.

Sadly part of me having a relationship with her also means that I have to, implicitly, buy back into her version of the world.

When I am objective, I think about the little girl who had to emotionally and mentally create that world to get by and I feel compassion for her. Same as my father. I would love to know how each of them developed, what triggered this ...but I will never know.

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