Monthly Archives: October 2017

True Tales of Horror

So I hide. I start sleeping odd hours and staying locked up in my room trying to avoid my childhood monster. Monsters are real, you know this. They don’t look like giant men wearing masks and wielding chainsaws, Hollywood is wrong about that. Real monsters are short and skinny, they frown a lot and love to talk about other people. They’re those fat people who smile and laugh at inappropriate times and have dead eyes that twinkle when they think of death and murder.

Real monsters are people you know. They hide in plain sight and rarely get a second glance until you see them doing something strange but they always have some justification for what they do right on the tips of their tongues. On the other hand; the victims of bullying and abuse act strange as well. Victims are usually nervous, avoid social situations and end up alone in crowded places. Victims sometimes become monsters themselves.

Of course hiding doesn’t work. Whatever need my mother has to bully me builds up in her like steam in tea kettle until she’s pounding on my door or shouting to wake me from the sleep I start needing just as an escape. Recently she cranked up the volume on the television set so I couldn’t avoid her. She doesn’t know how to use the only television she owns so I had to go out to fix it for her.

This might not seem so bad to you, she just wants a little attention, to know that I’m all right and not a moldering corpse. Noise is one of the triggers of my condition. When people talk over other people talking the world starts turning to static for me. I can hold on for a little while, keep my memories active and working but I start shaking and then I’ll wake up somewhere else with no idea how I got there.

This might sound terrifying to you. Let me assure you, it is. It happens a lot. When I was first regaining my memories I used to seek out this exact situation. I knew I’d have to get used to it and I wanted to “train” myself not to be freaked out, to stop being terrified of the world in general and to try to gain a measure of control over this condition before it drove me crazy.

So I’d go to dance clubs on busy nights when I could. I’ve been told by people I trust that I just become a little disoriented but I’m still me, still jovial and pleasant but I’ll forget things easily and be scattered. I’ve been told by people I don’t trust that I’m a real blast.

From my perspective this is what happens: I’ll walk up to the door of the club, usually there’s some music playing that leaks outside. There are usually people talking outside the door or just inside of it and that’s when the world starts fuzzing out. I’ll regain my senses somewhere inside, usually on the dance floor where the music is loud enough to drown out everything else. Then I’ll fuzz out again until I’m on the street walking away, hopefully alone.

This is the primary reason I became a writer. I can keep the room I’m in nice and quiet and darkly lit. In this situation I can think just fine, the pain is the least I can manage without actually being asleep. Of course I had to relearn how to write, how to tell a story that might compel a reader to keep reading and that took years of practice and feedback in a highly competitive field that rarely makes anyone any money at all.

I’m living the dream. You know I used to be an engineer? Then I was a massage therapist. Now I’m a writer.

Where was I? Oh yes, my mother was playing a television loudly outside the walls of my self-imposed prison and talking over it. I managed to fix her television so something was playing and then I left all without saying a word because my jaw was clenched tightly enough to crack teeth.

I came back from the store and she’s still there watching something loud that she didn’t care about so I stayed outside in the bright sunlight trying to read a book. Eventually I try to go back to my room and she says; “why do you hate me?”. The next thing I remember is walking outside again with her following screaming at me.

In case you’re wondering my mother knows about this condition. I tell her about it almost constantly because she chooses not to remember it. She won’t talk in the car unless the radio is on. She’ll interrupt every single thing I say. Even before the brain damage she was a real treat to be around but once I got this it became painful.

And she just loves playing the victim. It’ll do a number on your head when you’re being bullied and abused and blamed for this by the person abusing you. Passive aggressive doesn’t even begin to cover it. Aggressively passive aggressive? Just plain aggressive?

People in public used to see her denigrating me and give me sympathetic looks. There’s nothing quite like being insulted snidely in front of someone else to make you learn to hate sympathy. Now they just look frightened, probably because they know that this is how serial killers are born and I am a tall, muscly man who wears sunglasses a lot. I can’t walk through a hardware store without getting strange looks and I’m not even fondling the chainsaws.

 

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Suicide is Painless

The story I’m about to tell you will make you mad, you might even cry. I’m going to ask you to reserve judgement and try to read it emotionlessly until the very end. Every part of this story is true.

About fourteen years ago I was in an accident at work: I slipped on some ice while carrying a large bucket filled with ice and hit my head on the way down. I went into a coma for a little while and when I came out of it I had full retrograde amnesia. I also had a great deal of pain and a considerably lower I.Q. because these things go along with brain damage and the kind of damage that causes amnesia is pretty profound.

Eventually I recovered my memories, most of them I think but there’s really no way of knowing, after about two years. Now let’s fast forward to today. I am recently divorced, which shouldn’t surprise you since I often forget what I’m saying while I’m saying it and my ex-wife seems finally to have given up on our relationship after I spent three hours being lost in a mall. In case you’re wondering I’m disabled, I’m also applying for disability through social security but that often takes years.

Currently I’m living with my mother because I can’t really get a job or, at least, I can’t work one for very long without seriously nasty things happening. Things like my blood pressure rising to dangerous levels. Now, because of the nature of my disability I can’t take drugs; I’ll forget that I’ve taken them or I’ll forget to take them and most drugs nowadays need to be taken according to a schedule. I know this because while I was still being treated during those two years I almost overdosed on the drugs my physician prescribed for me until he and a bunch of other doctors finally gave up and told me not to take drugs ever, at all.

Last week my mother, over the course of several days, told me to try some macaroni and cheese she’d made. She would say; “you need to try this.” “just taste this” like that. I don’t like macaroni and cheese so I kept saying no. No, I don’t want to eat this, please stop telling me to eat this, please respect this boundary I’ve laid down. Finally during a visit by her friend Angie she blocks me into the kitchen and tells me, again, to try this macaroni and cheese she’d bought from a restaurant. I told her no, then I said; I think I’m going to eat downstairs while walking past her.

She called me a shithead and went to eat her macaroni and cheese. When I confronted her about it hours later I told her that she needs to stop bullying me and abusing me. She said she didn’t remember that so I reminded her of these events that had occurred just hours before. During the course of that exchange she told me that the reason she wanted me to try this dish that I clearly don’t like is that she wanted me to help her recreate it since I am a fairly good cook. You see? It’s not that she’s an abusive bully it’s that I wouldn’t accede to her continued demands to perform a simple service. Except that was the first I’d heard of it.

After Angie left I texted her this message; “why does my mother become more abusive and bullying when you’re around?” She replied that my mother is the least bullying person she knows. I sent back “she does it while you’re not around but she does bully and abuse me just ask susan or jane”. Susan and Jane are my older sisters. Angie then sends me a sprawling text message in which she tells me that I should be down on my knees kissing my mother’s feet for letting me live with her and she wouldn’t let her children come back to live with her at my age and then she told me not to text her ever again. Then her husband texts me saying that if I ever text his wife again I’ll be dealing with him.

First; this is not a reasonable response to someone telling you they’re being abused and bullied. Second, my mother never told Angie I was disabled. She was laughing when she told me that. I’ve been disabled for fourteen years and she never told her only friend in town that simple fact. Angie thought I was just some worthless bum who refused to get a job and was sponging off my mother.

By now you should be seeing a pattern emerge so let me make it very clear. While I was growing up my mother’s favorite game was to pick at you, pick and pick and pick until you reacted usually by shouting at her. Then she’d play the victim, -she- didn’t do anything wrong why were you yelling at her? All the while she’s smiling.

During my recovery, before I regained my memories, my sister Susan called me. She had recently had a dermal biopsy which was tested for cancer. Let me rephrase that; she had a mole removed. It was benign by the way. Our conversation went something like this; “Hi gus this is your sister, I hear you’ve had some kind of an accident?” So I started to explain about the amnesia and the pain and … then she interrupted me to talk about having this mole removed and how terrified she was during the whole process. My sister compared a traumatic brain injury and the loss of all personal information to having a mole removed and the mole was scarier.

The less said about my other sister, Jane, the better.

When I was a freshman in high school I started coughing really bad. One day in the halls I was coughing so long and hard that I couldn’t breathe. It finally subsided so I just went to class. Soon after that I woke up coughing. It was so bad I started seeing spots and a ring of darkness began encroaching my vision. I was literally coughing so hard that I wasn’t able to breathe and had begun to pass out.

I managed to crawl into the hallway with a blanket wrapped around me and, between coughing fits, told my mother I needed to go to the hospital. She told me to quit faking it and go to school. I think I eventually ended up sobbing and begging and pleading with her because she did take me to the hospital although I seem to recall that she threatened to send me to military school if I was faking it and she’d better not be missing work for my bullshit.

I had walking pneumonia, bronchitis and some other lung-related illness that I can’t remember. I had to spend the last month of my freshman year at home and almost didn’t graduate because I’d failed phys ed which was the only class I couldn’t do the homework for and pass. I ended up taking phys ed for two class periods my senior year. It got me into great shape.

I was twenty years old before I found out that being terrified of your mother isn’t normal. I was also well on my way to becoming a maladjusted psychopath so I’m fairly lucky that I had an older girlfriend with issues involving sex. I convinced her to see a shrink and then I wanted to know what she was saying about me so I went to the same shrink. I’m also lucky to have had that brain injury.

That sounds weird doesn’t it? I’m lucky to have been injured with a painful, crippling disability that still screws me up to this day. The amnesia let me look at my life from an outsider’s perspective. To discover who I was in a way that very few people ever get the chance to do. I also figured out who I wanted to be and the therapies brain injured people get helped me change myself. So, yes, I was lucky to get a brain injury.

Are you angry yet? Maybe even a little sad? Keep reading, it gets worse.

I recently found out that my mother was abused as a child. She doesn’t remember most of it but there is one story that she told me. When she was young she lived on a farm and they kept rabbits. As a food source. My grandmother got tired of keeping them so she told my mother to go and kill all the baby rabbits. My mother had an older brother and an older sister as well as a younger sister.

This is the abuse she remembers. She also remembers helping her brother hide the ‘whuppin’ stick’ so there was likely some physical abuse as well but she doesn’t remember any of it. I’m going to guess that the stuff she’s repressing is a whole lot worse than being forced, as a child, to kill a bunch of baby rabbits.

It would be very easy for me to hate my mother. She is an abusive bully who still plays head games and seems to enjoy torturing me. Most of her family won’t talk to her, obviously, and she blames them for that. She’s also a little girl who was brutally abused by her own mother.

I named this entry after the theme song to the television show and movie M*A*S*H. It seemed appropriate since brain damage often comes with depression for which I cannot take drugs. I have to keep myself sane the old fashioned way, by keeping a positive outlook, talking to friends and writing. It’s very difficult to fight depression when someone is abusing and bullying you. There is a very real possibility that I won’t be able to keep it up for the years ahead while I’m trying to get disability, if I even can get disability.

I keep trying to get my mother to go get some counseling, some psychotherapy but she doesn’t want to. Even when she agrees to go she comes up with excuses not to. Who can blame her? If that’s the abuse she remembers there’s probably good reason for repressing the other stuff.

You are probably getting the urge to offer heartfelt thoughts and advice. To track down my mother on social media and try to get her to stop. Please don’t. You’ll only make it worse. Her bullying is bad enough without her blaming me for letting other people know she’s doing it and I can only hear “you need to get out of there” so many times without any actual advice as to how I’m supposed to achieve this. I know I need to leave, if I had any method of doing that at all there would be a me-shaped hole in the wall.

Thank you for listening to a few stories of my thoroughly awful life, just knowing that someone else is there making the effort to understand is more than enough to keep me going and I appreciate it more than I can say. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you an uplifting story, or even one with a few jokes in it but this is what I needed to get out of me today so I can write those stories tomorrow. Stay groovy you awesome person.

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