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Monday, June 20, 2022

PS - And Today, 3 Good Things About My Mom

 

I was mostly away, on Mother's Day, so I didn't do this on here then, but in the interest of being fair to both parents - especially after I told a story last week that didn't showcase the best in my mom -  here are 3 good things about my mom :)


1)  She taught me from a very young age about slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the Civil Rights movement, as well as the holocaust and anti-semitism - that racism was evil, something that Christ would never condone (ideas which most likely came from her father, rather than her mother, because although he was a Christian and believed in Jesus, he didn't attend church because of such inequities).  

Unfortunately, she still kind of viewed them as something to be pitied, as inferior rather than equal- which is another cultural problem we have (which also came from her mother), as well as needing to be saved by Jesus (also from her mother) -  but at least she didn't believe them inferior in the sense that we should hate, fear, make fun of, and subjugate them like my father and most of my southern family? lol. 

Interestingly, he secretly loved R&B and soul music - just not around his friends or family from Harlan, around which he played only country.  

And his love for music created by people of color did not change his opinion about them overall -  yet another cultural problem.

 

2)  She loves music and singing - thus, my love of music and singing came from my mother (and her mother) :)

 

3)  We had the best Christmas mornings, every year, thanks only to my mother :) 

(My Dad, on the other hand, got very sullen, then increasingly irritable, aggressive, and just weird, which he apparently could only hold in for so long before he blew on the family, but at least he waited until we'd unwrapped all the presents and at breakfast first? ) lol

 

Also, speaking of that post last week  that perhaps didn't showcase the best parts of my mom - I want to tell a story about the single time she realized what she had done, very briefly, then promptly forgot it again lol.

However, that one shining moment was absolutely beautiful and I hold onto it today :)


So by the 1990s, some people started to realize maybe this wasn't God, maybe this was mental illness, and realizing her issues were not just trauma from my Dad's abuse (which did play a part) -   and her new psychiatrist finally figured out she also had bipolar and personality-disorder issues in addition to trauma issues.

However, she had stopped taking her meds because she "couldn't feel" on them (a common complaint and problem with bipolar medications, especially back then, and an unfortunate side effect of bipolar medication is they don't balance out the extremes so much as  numb you out - but they ARE getting better and better).

I know her diagnosis due to the medication she was on - or supposed to be taking but often didn't -  as well as her psychiatrist calling me once and asking me to make sure she took her meds and was eating.

(My mom would tell you she just has "insomnia," but she was supposed to be taking a bipolar medication and and anti-psychotic, so way more than insomnia.)


Sometimes my mom could fake an episode to avoid getting out of doing things she didn't want to to, to get attention, or money from my grandmother, but sometimes they were VERY real - and I think I was the only one who could tell the difference, actually.

This particular time wasn't a manipulation - it was a very real, full blown, rapid-cycling, bipolar episode, because she had stopped taking all medication.


Now, without medication, when my mom is in mania, she has specific binge behaviors (usually spending/shopping) which she can't remember doing later, is euphoric (overly happy and positive), and  doesn't sleep for days.  

When she's in mania is also when she's the most in "prophet" mode, very grandiose, thinking she's hearing from God.

When the mania starts to subside, she starts to pace for hours, gets increasingly confused, still does not eat or sleep, is noncommunicative or says things that don't make sense - until , finally, she succumbs to sleep, after which comes catatonic depression.


But sometimes there was this small window in between the grandiosity and hyperactivity of mania and the catatonic depression, if you were lucky enough to be present for it and catch it - maybe just lasting an hour or so - when all the BS, all the grandiosity and "hearing from God," all the manipulative personality disorder behaviors and lack of personal accountability were gone, all the self-defenses just seemed to just momentarily disappear - and you got to see the real her - the person and mother she had meant to be - and she was beautiful :)


After the call from her psychiatrist, my grandmother was able to coax my mom out of holing herself up in her house to come and eat dinner and stay a few days - then finally, to take her meds.

During this time, I was staying with my grandmother and working from home as a medical transcriptionist.  

For whatever reason, my mom started doing her pacing thing in the living room, where I was  working.  

She wouldn't really say anything but ...


Mom"Mom? Mom? Is that you?"

Me: "No, no, it's Chrystal, Granny's asleep. Try and lay down there on the sofa and go to sleep, you're going to feel better really soon, just give the meds time to start working, okay? 
Mom:  "Mom? Mom? Where's my mom?"

So I took this as a sign she wanted her mother's comfort, who was fast asleep.


Me:  "She's sleeping, Mom, and M is sleeping, too, which you should be doing, it's late. I'm just up because I'm working when it's quiet.  Here, you want me to sing to you? 
"Let's lie down on the sofa and I'll sing to you, how will that be? Just for a little while because I have to work, but M says my typing puts her to sleep, it's comforting - maybe just listen to the clicking of my typing."


So I led her over to the sofa, sang her a few hymns until I thought she was asleep, then covered her with a blanket.

I went back to work with my headphones on, and about an hour later, there was a hand on my shoulder - my mom's - and I jumped - because when my mother put her hands on me while in an "episode," this was not usually a good thing - plus I thought she was sleeping.


Mom:  "Chrystal.  Chrystal!  I ... need to tell you something, right now, while I can!  I  ... I think I've misjudged you your whole life, honey.   The things I believed, that you were my enemy  ... the things I did , the things I said ... I remember now!   Oh God, I told people awful things about you, but maybe they weren't really true, were they?  OMG, what have I done?  What have I done to my child?!? WHY ?  What happened to me?" 

"Oh, precious girl, I'm so sorry, I am SO sorry.  I don't know why I did those things.   I  don't ... I never meant to.  Sometimes I can't think straight, I don't ... know, I don't  know why?"

 

Tears came to my eyes, immediately started streaming down my face, and I put my hands up to my mouth - it shocked me.

 

Me "OMG, Holy ... wow ...  I ... did not expect that.  It's not like I've been hoping to hear those words my whole, life, or anything Mom  lol ...  thank  you? :)" 

"Wow, so this is the real you underneath all that other stuff, huh? :) 

"I know you didn't mean to, Mom, and I'm okay! God's got me!  He forgives you and I forgive you, don't worry - even though I know you won't remember this moment, and will go back to believing I'm a witch or demon or whatever you think God is telling you lol." 

"I'm going to treasure this moment for the rest of my life because I know this is the real you - so honest, so humble, so real, true empathy, taking responsibility, no pretense - the real you is beautiful, Mom, you know that? Not just on the outside, which we already know - but the real you on the inside, underneath all that other stuff, is beautiful, too.  No need to hide her so much and pretend, no need to be a saint or prophet - no need to anything more than just our mom, it's okay :) 

"I love you.  Try not to beat yourself up, there have been enough beatings in this family to last a lifetime.  I think you sense the next phase coming, so we'll just wait for the meds to kick in, okay?  Help is on the way, Mom, just hold on.  Just try to rest now, rest your mind - you must be exhausted, you've been up for four days and haven't eaten much." 

 "Just trust that you're going to feel better soon. Hang on just a few more days and you'll be through it, it's almost over, it's going to be okay, you'll see.  Everything is okay, Mom, it's okay.  Shhh, it's okay, it's okay. You're forgiven, you are loved.  It's okay, you're okay :)" 

 

 We hugged for the longest time.

Then she went over to the sofa and laid down, I covered her with a blanket, kissed her forehead - and she finally went to sleep - and slept for about two days  :)


And sure enough, when she finally woke up - she didn't remember any of it. 

In fact, she went back to her usual -  which is blaming me for making her sick :(

 (No, that was caused by not taking her meds).

But that one, brief, small, beautiful window of time between the grandiosity of mania and catatonic depression, when off her meds, I got to see my true mom, the mom my mother had meant to be - which I will treasure forever :)


 






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