The summer leading into 7th grade was a rough one. This stage in life brought so much change. Mo had moved out leaving me at home as the only child. He and I weren’t super close, but I never realized until he left how his presence gave me a sense of consistency and familiarity. In addition, I had shot up in height officially making me a lanky, moody tween with bad acne who desperately wanted to fit in. Oh, how I wished I could confide in my mom about my teenage problems, but this was not an option.
Mom’s episodes had grown worse and more frequent with time. One particular summer night she was pacing in her bedroom. With bruised arms and frantic voice, she accused the unseen people of trying to kill her. As I sat in my room, I could feel the anger rising up inside me. I had grown SO weary and tired of hearing this repeatedly over the years. I wanted to shake her and make her snap out of this false reality. Storming into her room. I angrily lashed out in tears.
“MOM, NO ONE IS LISTENING TO YOU! NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU. NO ONE IS TRYING TO HURT YOU. STOP ACTING CRAZY.”
She screamed back, “You’re listening to them. You’re just doing what they say. They’re controlling you too!”
Great, now she thinks I am a part of her delusion.
This made was me mad and upset that I saw red. I felt betrayed. I screamed back at her for thinking I would ever hurt her. I yelled at her for being paranoid and for not believing me.
"Mom, how could you think I would hurt you? You're thinking crazy thoughts. WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE ME?"
But my words fell on deaf ears.
I couldn't understand the injustice of it all. I wanted a normal life and a normal mom SO BADLY. I wanted her to be a mom that made cookies and ordered pizza for sleepovers, who hugged and snuggled with me when I was down. I wanted a mom who wasn’t paranoid, delusional or had hallucinations. I wanted a mom who was consistently there for me physically and emotionally. I needed the mom I knew when I was a little girl.
I was tired of feeling out of control and unheard. All my emotions had reached a tipping point. The darkness was rising up and rearing its ugly head: You are responsible for her delusions. You are not good enough. You are a bad daughter. You are worthless. You can’t handle this. She will never get better. It will never get better. This will never end.
The last three statements kept repeating in my mind. Those words made their declaration of despair like a death chant. The words looped in my brain like a string of broken computer code. It was true. Things had not gotten better--only worse. I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel or a way out. I was filled with too much emotion. I had never known such deep dark pain.
"I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel or a way out."
My mother paced and shook her fists as she continued ranting at me and the people trying to kill her.
Bawling, I stumbled to the kitchen, the farthest I could get away from my mother and howled like a wounded animal. Her preoccupation with her delusions made her completely oblivious to my pain. This left me unseen and unloved. It made me feel so angry, lost and afraid. As I leaned my elbows on the counter to bury my head in my hands, I noticed a knife on the counter.
I could end the pain. I could make it stop. I had visions of doing the unthinkable.
The thought of ending the hurt was so tempting. With muffled sobs, I slowly picked up and held the knife in my hand. I stood there frozen for several moments not knowing what to do. I held my breath and closed my eyes.
In my darkest moment, something small and quiet was impressing on me. Not a voice, but this feeling of looking toward the future–that life had something better for me and there was something wonderful for me one day. I exhaled and gently placed the knife back on the counter. I am not exactly sure how, but I very slowly started to emerge from that dark place. I had nothing left but to hold on to this shred of hope and believe.
Thinking back, I believe it was God's presence with me. It wasn't from anything of my own power. This was a turning point in my life. I knew I had to make some choices to change my trajectory. Mom wasn't changing, yet I had no where else to go. My mind, heart and soul could not handle this constant trauma. So with God's presence, 12 year old me picked up the thousand little pieces of my broken heart. I told God I needed him and I couldn't do this alone.
Moving forward, call it what you want, denial, escapism, avoidance, coping, whatever. I'm sure it was a mix of all those things, but ultimately I believe God made a way to kept me alive and sane. All I knew in that kitchen that summer evening was I was going to survive one way or another--step-by-step, day-by-day, moment-to-moment I would make it. I could do this. I had to hope and believe. And not only did I want to survive, I wanted to live. There was nothing I could do for mom. So I had to save myself.