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Tore My Mind on a Jagged Sky

Woke up this mornin’ with the sundown shinin’ in
Found my mind in a brown paper bag again
Tripped on a cloud and fell eight miles high
Tore my mind on a jagged sky
Just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in
Mickey Newbury

If you are one of the lucky ones that lives cradled in the ample bosom of “normal” family, I envy you. Get down on your knees and thank every deity that you can think of. Take a coffee break and then do it some more.

To the average family, a phone call in the middle of the night means a wrong number or somebody died. In a family riddled and tortured with mental illness it means 1) someone is off their meds…again, 2) they are drunk and/or stoned, and 3) want money and for you to feel sorry for them for whatever cliff they have driven off, yet again. You’re also required to at least pretend to believe their bull shyte version of why they are in this mess. Any hint that their actions might have caused this situation is met with extreme anger, usually coupled with tantrums and lavish desert topping of profanity.

If you have a large family and the majority of them are not even close to the bell curve called normal than you have my deepest condolences. I have a large extended family and there is not a day that goes by that someone isn’t in a crisis about something or other. If there is not a concrete crisis at the moment than manufacturing one is fair game.

There are a multitude of quacks out there to help crisis addicts along the melodrama super highway. Awww, you poor widdle dumpling, nothing bothering you at the moment? “Well sit right back my friend, let me help you remember something that happened 3 decades ago so you have something concrete to blame for every poor decision and disaster in your life since then.” We’ll focus on that instead of what you’re doing right here right now to screw up your life.

I do not intend to imply that my family is a “wretched hive of scum and villianry.” No at all. What they are is fascinating and frequently frustrating hive of highly intelligent and loving people who are much more creative than the average Joe. Unfortunately this enables them to come up with absolutely amazing and astounding explanations as to why they are in their disaster D’Jour. The one overriding theme in all the stories is that it is “not my fault.” Nothing that they did or failed ever even remotely has anything to do with the current travail.

I got a midnight call last night from a family member last night. They want to suck me in by demanding that I remember the name and location of a baby sitter from 35 years ago, so they can press charges and sue them. Say what? I don’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. If they fail to track this person down then it will be MY fault. ***sigh*** This was not implied but I know how this goes. Been there, done it….a thousand times.

After ending the call I got out of bed and staggered around the house asking questions like “could I just divorce my family altogether?” That would be a negatory and also throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I love my family too much to do that. I slept poorly when I finally went back to bed and had nightmares.

Woke up this morning with a headache from a broken brain and filled with rage. But my body has decided to imitate a giant dead log. My legs feel like they are filled with lead. Yep I’m doing the slow-mo shuffle today.

The coping mechanism I’ve developed for times like this is straight out of the movie “The Godfather.” I go to the mattresses. What this means is that I screen my calls. I do not answer the phone period. If someone is sane enough to leave a voice mail and they sound fairly OK, then I call them back. If they can’t even do that, then they’re in such a shape that I just can’t handle it….today. Maybe tomorrow I can. I’m taking it one day at a time here. The Hubman has standing orders that I am not home. Depending on who called I will call them right back… or not.

This may sound drastic. But I have accepted the fact that I am not the Rock of Gibraltar. Enough hard waves hit me and I will crumble. It feels like failure and weakness, and it sucks. But, my job at the moment is to take care of myself and accept the fact that if I’m not emotionally stable, then I am in no condition to shoulder the burdens of others. No matter how much I love them.

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