Trigger Alert … Trigger Alert … Trigger Alert
“Don’t hide the madness.” Even considering that this is only part of a larger quote (see Rideo, Ergo Supero’s response to this prompt), it touches something deep inside me.
As a teenager I was part of the untouchables in our school. There was a whole cadre of us – we didn’t fit in any of the other groups so we sort of melded together as a result. We were intelligent, if unmotivated; not quite the nerds of our time. Existing on the periphery of the class, we excelled at very little. I’m not sure where I’m going with this or how this prompt got me here of all places but bear with me, maybe there will eventually be a point.
Even with my posse (is that still a thing?) I remember feeling lost and alone. My mother was on stepfather number five or six, and between working full time and giving him the attention he craved she had little time for mothering and less inclination. My brothers were six and 12 years younger than I so we had very little in common socially. Being the eldest, I had a lot of responsibility at home when the ‘rents were at work. That made it difficult to do anything beyond going to school, coming back and keeping up with homework and chores.
I don’t remember how old I was the first time I tried to end my life, probably around 16. It was quite humiliating; not only did it fail, but no one even realized I’d tried. I did get a great night’s sleep though!
It was around this time that Cody came into my life. I’d gone so far off the deep end in my loneliness that I created this imaginary friend based on a character in a book I’d read. I don’t even remember what book it was. Looking back, I think Cody became more than a friend to me; he was my constant companion, my partner in crime (so to speak; I was too afraid of my own shadow to even think about stepping over the line); my phantom boyfriend. I hid the madness then, even from myself.
I don’t know what it was that snapped me out of it. Perhaps it was the next suicide attempt where I tried to bleed out in my own bathtub. Again, it was an embarrassing failure accompanied by heartbreaking guilt that my little brother was the one who found me. Hospitalization didn’t heal anything but the body. Mandated group therapy was worthless to a reclusive teenager with no communication skills.
And yet, I survived. Here I am approximately 40 years later, mostly-happily married with six children, nine grandchildren and a few very real, very loving and deeply loved friends. I still feel mad at times, who doesn’t? Often I still hide it. Except here. Here I’m safe. Here I can unleash the crazy and let her run a little wild. Appropriately, my best friend’s avatar quotes the Cheshire Cat, “We’re all mad here.”
Some of us just admit it. 😀