I Cannot Write You a Happy Ending, Part One: By Slatewoman
HA notes: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Slatewoman” is a pseudonym.
Mental illness and addiction play a huge role in my life from childhood until now, and in the failure of my Homeschool Experience. (I wanted Homeschool Experience to sound like some kind of 70’s psychedelic progressive rock opera.)
My mom has been bi-polar for as long as I can remember, but she was diagnosed when I was 10. I remember when she started taking medication for it and things got bad. Real bad. This was back before many long-term studies had been done on the medications she was given, and she was given just about every one under the sun between then and now. Before she used to be unpredictable, she would stay in bed for days at a time and sometimes get a lot more angry than should have been expected for whatever the situation was.
I remember her staying up late with me when I was of pre-school age, teaching me how to read.
Those are the last positive memories I have of her.
Somewhere in 3rd grade, she dropped the ball and officially gave up on my homeschooling (my dad is out of this story almost completely because he was self-employed during most of my childhood and not involved in my schooling or as I’m starting to learn, not even aware of the things that went on when he was at work). I tried to keep it going on my own, with a card table set up in the back room of my grandma’s house where my family was currently living (we were in the process of a semi-long-distance move), dicking around with my multiplication flash cards and never really picking anything up.
Without guidance, I floundered and was unable to make any progress. I became frustrated and quickly gave up on learning and maintaining self-discipline. I just turned 30 and I’m still sketchy with multiplication and long division makes me cry. I’ve worked out some kind of bizarre system using fingers and break-downs to figure every day math, I can go grocery shopping and estimate almost to the dollar.
As a family, my mother’s mental issues… well, we are starting to suspect that she has borderline personality disorder, something I frequently dismiss as a thing to slap on unruly teens so they can be prescribed something to make them more docile and less annoying to their parents, but my mother is in her late 50s and has displayed the same behaviour her entire life. As far as I can tell (I’m an armchair psychologist, one of the few things I’ve studied seriously on my own time), she’s a “textbook case”. She self-medicated with marijuana which I believe is detrimental to her ability to learn to manage her issues.
My childhood is crammed full of memories of my parents fighting and what I now recognize as my mom manipulating me to turn against my father.
She thrives on conflict and wants everyone on her side. My younger sister and I have been enemies for most of her life. Recently we’ve reconciled and become good friends, we go out and do things together frequently. Mom sees this and is angry because a long time ago, she decided that I’m the Antichrist, his own bad self (in recent years she’s become hyper-christian and she knows I’m now an athiest, which doesn’t go over well) and that I’m going to turn my sister against her.
What our mom doesn’t know is how deeply she traumatized my sister and that she has been against her long before she and I ever became friends.
My mom is, as far as we know, dying of terminal cancer. She’s well outlived she life-expectancy and we’re beginning to wonder if the doctors are wrong in their diagnosis because she’s been stagnating at this low level of functionality for so long.
It may seem like I’m demonizing her when she’s actually a sick person, but there has to be a line drawn. I can’t think of any illness that would excuse the level of emotional trauma she has inflicted on my sister and I and the way she’s tried to tear the family apart. Ironically, it all backfired on her and the dynamic now is that my sister, my dad and myself have formed a protective, non-judgmental pod against her attacks.
I would assume that any regular reader of H.A would understand this highly dysfunctional dynamic and not blame me for writing unkind things about my dying mother.
As a result of a difficult childhood and bad genes, I’m also full of problems. I’ve had suicidal ideation since I was 12, been self-harming since I was 10 (which I’ve stopped in recent years because my mom started to do it herself, thereby ruining it for me.) and am almost unable to function in normal society.
When I was 16, I was taken to a psychologist and given one of those fill-in-the-bubble forms. I can’t recall how many pages it was, but it felt like I was taking one of those online tests to find out which elemental fairy best represents me. Well, turns out that this test said that I was clinically depressed, had an enormous problem with anxiety and was on the paranoia spectrum. Low, but on it nevertheless. I’ve been tracking my mentality for years now and I see definite patterns.
I will be at the end of my rope, ready to go take a fat OD out in the woods somewhere, and a job will appear! A place to live will appear! Everything will be ok! And eventually life will begin to wear on me again, I’ll rage-quit my job and have to move back into my family home which I both love and loathe.
See, my family is not religious, but we are old-fashioned and we want to look after one another.
I love my sister and my dad, I want to be with them. Last time I lived on my own, I was massively depressed because I was not with them and felt like I was being forced away by my mom. Unlike a lot of homeschoolers, that doesn’t manifest in a harmful manner and apart from my brain problems, I can get by fine in the outside world, I just don’t like it. I can have healthy relationships, both platonic and intimate, sometimes a mixture of both… the fact that I’m close to my family doesn’t make me the 30 year old creep living in the My Little Pony bedroom of their childhood.
I’m not a big fan of self-diagnosis, but after tracking things for so long, it’s fairly apparent that I’m bi-polar and that the paranoia (the paranoia, not my paranoia) has ramped up considerably. It’s not so much that the little green men are listening to my brain waves, but that everyone is turning on me and what many people consider conspiracy theories don’t sound so outlandish to me.
I can sense it.
Sometimes I know when i’m being irrational, sometimes I can’t tell because the things I worry about are so boring and every-day. My boss doesn’t like me. They’re all trying to push me out so I quit instead of them having to fire me. And you know, it’s worked. I’ve never been fired from a job because I’ve left before anyone had a chance to. Perhaps if I had just not listened to my own brain and my own senses, I would still have a job. Perhaps I might have moved up to a better position.
But see, I’m starting to rant a little bit and I’m trying to keep this concise.
I have no life skills because I never went to public school and learned how to play the weird games society plays and didn’t learn them anywhere else.
I don’t know how to deal with authority because neither of my parents are authoritarian types. In fact, I absolutely loathe any sort of authority and am a borderline anarchist. It’s just that I see that an anarchist reality would quickly collapse upon itself and hierarchies would become established, like it or not. Therefore, I mostly see myself as a nihilist, if you really want to know.
My inability to function in the big bad world has led me to do some stupid things.
Part Two >