Dysfunctional Family: My Mom Married My High School Friend

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Ok, so in the past I already wrote a more serious post about the trauma I experienced when my mom ended up marrying the first guy I ever brought home (read it here). He was a friend of mine, two years older, going to the same high school. They got married on his 18th birthday, so there I was, 15-16, going to school WITH my new “step-dad”.

Yesterday, while my husband and I were out driving, I talked about how isolated I feel in dealing with the after-effects of this whole ordeal. I can find plenty of people who have experienced other things I have gone through or live with (autism, bipolar, chronic pain/illness, loss of a sibling to suicide, loss of a parent at a young age, physical and emotional abuse, etc.), but I have never ONCE found someone who understands the public humiliation and the just outright fucked-up-ness of their parent MARRYING a friend that they go to high school with (and even considered dating at one time)!

Maybe I would have to visit the Jerry Springer show to find something similar. I feel like no one understands how this whole event derailed my life severely at the time. I went from being a straight A, college bound honor student, to skipping school more than I went, and not caring about much of anything. It was a horrible time in my life. To make matters worse, when my mom’s messed up marriage finally blew up, it was shortly after I got married (at the age of 20), and since she had no resources of her own, I felt like I had to take her in, which was not an easy decision for a newlywed to make, especially given the messed up history between my mom and me.

I’m not sharing all this to look for pity, but more in the hopes that maybe someone, somewhere, has gone through something similar and could make me feel less alone. I think this whole ordeal made me feel like a real freak at the time it happened, and never finding anyone who could relate only reinforced that feeling.

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Hallucinations in Childhood

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Something I’ve been thinking about recently is hallucinations. As an adult, I haven’t really had a history of hallucinations. The closest things I can think of are a few times I have been awoken from my sleep by my husband or my mother’s voice loudly calling my name, only to find they are either not even at home or they swear they didn’t call for me. It is easy to assume this might be just weird remnants of a dream though, so I don’t consider it definitely a hallucination. There have also been a few times I hear a weird, high-pitched whining noise that no one else seems to hear. This could just be my autistic sensitivity though, picking up on something others don’t. It isn’t tinnitus, I have that as well, so I know the difference.

However, as a child I do have at least one vivid memory of a hallucination, maybe two. The first happened when I was around 5 or so, and it happened in the middle of a church service at my grandfather’s house (he was a pastor that ran his own church). In the middle of the service, this huge bird suddenly appeared next to my grandfather as he talked. It was a beautiful, rainbow colored bird, and I could physically see it, so it wasn’t like an imaginary friend (which I also had). I was excited by its appearance and made a bit of a fuss trying to tell my mom about it, but it became clear soon that she couldn’t see it and apparently no one else did either. I got in trouble for yelling out, so ended up sitting there staring at this huge bird and wondering what the heck was going on and why no one else could see it. To this day, I have no idea what happened that day or why. I wish I remembered what was going on in my life at the time, to see if I was under acute stress at the time, but I really don’t know.

The other possible hallucination happened when I was 12. It was soon after my father died and I was having the worst panic attack of my life up until that point. I was sitting on the bed, trying to breathe, feeling terrified and alone, when suddenly a bright figure appeared at the end of the bed. At first I was terrified, but the being told me not to be afraid and I immediately felt a calm I had never felt before in my life. The panic attack was gone and the bright figure somehow communicated to me that I was safe and protected before leaving. I assumed at the time it was my guardian angel, but now that I am no longer religious and not sure what I believe in, I wonder if it could have possibly been a hallucination brought on by grief and terror. I honestly don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a guardian angel, but if I do, why didn’t they protect me or show up during even more dangerous moments of my life, moments when my life was actually in danger?

These two experiences as a child makes me wonder if they were hallucinations, and if they were, is it normal for children to have hallucinations and then grow out of them? Or is this just a warning that if I am pushed too far emotionally or mentally, that something may break inside me and I could lose touch with reality? Could I someday have another hallucination out of nowhere? That is a scary thought. Has anyone else out there also had experiences like this as a kid and apparently grown out of them?

*Art by Maranda Russell

Matchbox 20 “Unwell” – Lyrics of My Life

If I had to choose a song to represent how I honestly feel about myself and my life most of the time these days, this song would definitely be near the top. It isn’t actually even my favorite Matchbox 20 song (which would be hard to narrow down anyhow, but would likely be something off their first or second album), but the lyrics hit home in a way that not a lot of songs do. I don’t hear voices (other than my own endlessly chattering inner monologues), but at this point, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if someday I started lol.

I think the saddest line in this entire song is “But soon enough, you’re gonna think of me and how I used to be…”, which also happens to be the line that hits home for me the hardest. A few years ago, this wasn’t me. Back then I had repressed so much that I was able to function at least, but when my sister committed suicide, it was like the floodgates opened and all the repressed memories came flooding in at the same time that all of my carefully crafted defenses came crashing down. My mental and physical health took a nosedive and has been sinking further and floundering since. Sometimes I’m almost angry at my sister for killing herself and thereby forcing me to face what I had always ran away from or purposefully pushed aside.

All Over the Place

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Lately I’ve been all over the place emotionally. I’ve especially been struggling with feelings of rage (I even stabbed an inflatable black cat to death), panic, and dread. Often I find myself laying in bed and these feelings come over me, settling like a heavy blanket around me, so that I feel like I can’t move or fight it off. During these times I truly believe that if it were possible to die from such misery, I would have been dead a hundred times over.

These storms of emotion definitely seem to be worse at night, when I try to go to bed, but even during the day I feel the remnants of these episodes wrap around me like tentacles. I’m honestly not sure what is causing it. Is it the PTSD? The bipolar? Autistic meltdowns? Is it a combination of my mental and physical conditions just wearing me down to an extent I can’t handle? Or am I just slowly slipping further into insanity?

* Art by Maranda Russell

How Crazy Am I?

Art by Maranda Russell

*I wrote this fun little poem while sitting at Burger King, eating my hamburger and onion rings. It just kind of “came” to me lol. It is meant to be cynically humorous, hopefully it is.

How Crazy Am I?

I don’t know
a 10?
Nah…
I ain’t THAT fucking
insane.

A 9?
Well, I’m not
quite drooling
on myself yet…
at least not
on a regular basis.

An 8?
That sounds about
right, but
over the years
I’ve learned
if something sounds right
it almost never is.

7?
Lucky seven?
I sure ain’t
been lucky
in this life,
or any other.

6?
Sure, let’s just
settle on six.
Because really,
who gives a shit
anyhow?
And I’m tired
of counting.

– Art and Poetry by Maranda Russell

Hypomanic Writing

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I wrote the following while I was pretty hypomanic. Thought I would share more as a glimpse into my life and hopefully educational about bipolar 2:

I AM bipolar, I’m officially crazy. I can’t seem to control myself, but on the medicine I feel SO much better, who cares if I’m hypomanic? Not sure I wanna tell the doctor the truth. Thank God I have my husband to keep me in check. I AM perpetuating the cycle. Thank God I never had kids. My muscles twitch and I can’t control them. I feel like I have Parkinson’s, but I’m good with that. I am stressed the fuck out, but I don’t care. I don’t want to sleep, but I have a magic bullet called Seroquel. I just worry I’ll get fat, but how fat can I get when I can’t sit still? Every dance in creation I think I’ve done today, even if it was spazzy. Some might look at me and say I’m a danger. I look at me and say I’m alive.

That Kind of Girl

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I’m the kind of girl
who is content to sit
on a dirty street curb,
eating chocolate
covered cherries
and pretending to smoke
while everyone else
prepares for work.

I’m the kind of girl
who will throw on
an old Pac-Man t-shirt,
leave without brushing
her hair and then
run full blast
through the neighbor’s
sprinklers.

I’m the kind of girl
who eavesdrops
on conversations,
corrects people
in her mind
and then laughs at
the absurdity of
human beings.

And lastly…
I’m the kind of girl
who doesn’t like
labels, taking
orders or being
stereotyped
as “that kind
of girl”.

~ Maranda Russell