I just want to be that happy owl.
I’ve always felt a little bit crazy.
When I was a kid, I thought I was “crazy” because I liked things that it seemed the majority of other kids around me didn’t like. I enjoyed reading, while they seemed to think it was a chore. I barely gave a thought to what my hair looked like. If it was clean? I was okay. I was more interested in climbing trees and building forts than making sure my hair smelled like Pantene. I didn’t always know what was “cool.” I didn’t always really care. I had a shirt that said, “Dare to be different.” I embraced that message. There was a tree branch on that shirt, and 4 owls perched from it. One was hanging upside down, and smiling. That was me.
In grade school, my friends told me I was “crazy” because I liked to act silly and question standards openly. If something funny occurred to me, I wanted to share it. I suppose it was already obvious back then that my “filter” had bigger holes than people thought it should. And my penchant for crass humor was already making itself known. Can’t imagine where I got that from. *shifts eyes to father* I cannot deny being called “the loud one.” Or even, “the annoying one.” Or maybe, “the OMG AVOID HER AT ALL COSTS one.”
In high school, I was always searching for something to make me feel right. All of a sudden, the “crazy” was more than just an oddity or a quirk. Something was missing. I asked myself often what it could possibly be. “Is it fun? Maybe I should not read so much anymore. Maybe I should do some smoking, some drinking, some partying. Maybe I should skip classes and flirt. Maybe it’s a boy that’s missing. I should get one of those, or two, or maybe three.” It all made me happy. Momentarily. But then none of it made me happy.
I pushed on into college and grad school. A young adult now, I was “crazy” silly to my friends, “crazy” ridiculous when I was drunk, and “crazy” bitchy and controlling to my boyfriend. Add in “crazy” anti-social during those times when I just wanted to be alone in my apartment. Which was often. I have always really enjoyed being alone. I think, maybe, because there is no pressure to hide exactly how one feels when alone.
No one is there to see how crazy you really are.
Over and over I’d have these periods when I felt that the “something” that would make me happy was always just a few steps ahead of me. And I kept chasing it, doing the things I thought I was supposed to do, following the plans that I was supposed to make and follow through with.
Every day, going through the motions. Hiding the anger I had at people as much as I could, pushing it down most of the time. Hiding the tears, hiding the sadness. Pushing on. Past the crazy.
My outward “crazy” was manageable. When the anger seeped, it was mostly rants that had a humorous edge. If they stung a little more sometimes than others, I could usually cover with follow-up humor. I never started fights, never hurt anyone physically. But the anger was always there. The sadness was always lingering just below the surface, too. Humor is often a cover for so many things, did you know?
“Just be funny. Just be ‘crazy.’ Then they won’t know you’re… well, crazy.”
Taking just a few more steps. To try to catch The Happy. And a few more, and a few more.
I put all my hopes into the things I thought would make me happy… my jobs, my studies, my boyfriend.
That was unfair of me.
No one can carry such a burdon for someone else.
That was unfair to me.
Because when you put all of your hopes for happiness into something else, or someone else, and then they fail you…
[And they WILL fail you because nothing can make you happy, and no-one is your perfect answer.]
… all you have left is the crazy. And you might try to get away from that, too, in the only way you know how.
Funny thing is, if you survive that, you might somehow still push it down and keep on taking a few more steps. Thinking that you can still chase down that happiness all by yourself.
I’ve denied to myself that I need help. I’ve told myself that I don’t really feel crazy. Not really.
I’ve kept telling myself that “The Happiness” is just. around. the. next. corner.
“I just need to take a few more steps!”
But for the first time in my life, now that I’ve been a mother for almost two years, I do feel like I’m actually crazy sometimes.
People: there’s this little person who’s running around in my house and he needs me all the time.
Even when I need to be alone with my crazy, he needs me. When I’m feeling distant, when I’m feeling weak… He’s there. And he needs me.
And he needs me to not be crazy. But he’s not giving me time to take a few. more. steps!
Somehow, that is making the crazy that wasn’t Really Crazy, you know, the one that I could just push down and ignore? It’s making that crazy grow. The angry crazy is leaking out when he needs me, and when he doesn’t, the quiet, sad crazy is taking over.
For myself, I’m afraid of the latter.
For him, I’m afraid of the former.
Why? Because every moment I need to myself, he is there. Every toy has to be slammed into my face. Abruptly, he will run up and scream right in my ear. For No Reason. He dances around because he has to pee, but when I put him on the toilet, he looks down at his penis, grins, and then shakes his head, “No-No-No-No.”
30 seconds later, he is peeing on my coffee table.
Some days, I am amused. This is what being a mother is about, right? This is what kids are supposed to do!
I know this. And some days, I cope with it all brilliantly. Some days.
But other days, I honest to goodness have to fight the urge to slam my fist through a window, fling dishes into the wall, or God Forbid, throw my son out the door or scream in his face.
And I’m not speaking in silly exaggerations. I am not trying to color my words so they will be interesting. I am not trying to spice up the page. I literally fight the Real Life Urge to ACTUALLY do those things.
So far, I’m winning, but it would only take one weak moment for me to lose something I may never get back. That frightens me in a way I don’t know how to express.
I cannot stress to you how much I would never, never, never want to hurt my son. I love him abundantly. I give all of myself to keep him safe and happy, every day. And still, I feel that I fail him repeatedly, because I have raged at him in my mind so many times. In my mind, I am a monster.
And sure, sometimes I raise my voice, even yell, and I’ve thrown a toy down or walked out of the room when I couldn’t take it anymore. Will those things hurt my son? It doesn’t seem like it, if you take any one of those instances by itself. But a lifetime of memories filled with those instances, for my son? I don’t want that.
I want him to remember me as the owl who hung upside down. Not the one who came screeching at his face with its claws out, or hid behind its tree and cried all the time.
It’s time for me to admit that I need more than prayers, extra sleep, or a place to write about my feelings. It’s time for me to admit that I need help, and seek it out.
I can’t keep chasing after a happiness that eludes me, always a few steps ahead of where I am. I cannot keep trying to hold inside an anger that makes my chest tight and often seeps and leaks out, hurting others. I cannot keep denying that I am exactly who I am, and that’s okay. It’s okay if I’m crazy. It’s okay if I need help.
I don’t know exactly what kind of help I need, but I’m hoping the doctor I make an appointment with will have some idea. I’m hoping I don’t just get dismissed again, like I have in the past. I’m hoping that with all my heart.
Do you think it just might work out?
I’m almost afraid to believe that.
It makes me feel a little bit crazy.