Swimming in a Sea Of Insanity


“It hurts to look at the clouds, but it also helps, like most things that cause pain.”
Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook

When my middle son was a toddler he would ask me questions.  A lot of questions.  Questions I couldn’t answer.  He didn’t ask the usual unanswerable questions, like “why is the sky blue”.   He asked questions I literally didn’t understand.  How I wish I had written some down.  He had excellent verbal skills, and he saw the world differently than I did.  He went on to teach himself 5 different programming languages in 1 summer – a thought process I can’t begin to understand.  Suffice it to say, he and I are on different wavelengths.

I remember feeling very frustrated listening to his questions.  It was during his early years that I came to the conclusion that there is such thing as a stupid question.  As I look back, I wonder if his questions weren’t stupid at all.  Maybe they were simply out of my concept of reality.  Does that make sense?

I think of this now because I am starting to understand that many of the crazy things people say to me are demonstrative of their different reality.   The things they say, the words they choose, the ideas they put forth are examples of their own pain and suffering, their own unexamined clouds.  More importantly, while they might say crappy words to me, I usually have nothing to do with the words they’ve spoken.

Here’s an example.

Yesterday my father called me to request my son’s email address.  I texted it to my mother and got back the following text:

“Do not pick on our handsome talented grandson.  Thanks for the info.  Mom”

This is literally the whole story.  I text her an email address and get back an accusatory text.  WTF?

I had a rough day yesterday, and I had no patience for insanity.  Normally I would have let that go, chalked it up to another example of her craziness, but yesterday I just couldn’t.  I texted back “was that comment meant for me?”  to which she replied “what comment?”.  When I reminded her of what she said she replied “was that offensive?”.

To be precise with my words I have to say no, it was not offensive.  It was Crazy.

It reminded me of a recent issue I’ve had with my ex.  We’re working on getting a mortgage modification, and it has been a mess.  I was trying to get some information in writing but couldn’t because he is listed as the primary on our account.  I sent him an email explaining what the issues were.  I told him I’d spent hours on the phone, that each different representative told me different things, and that only our case manager could give us accurate information.  I also told him that all he needed to do was log onto the portal and he could get written answers from our actual case manager.  Long story short, he reset the process, meaning we were set back by 3 months.  He wrote to me “I didn’t do things the way you wanted them done, but I got what we needed”.  Except that…..he didn’t – he made the situation worse.

When I 1st read his email, claiming that he had achieved what we needed “his way” I took it very personally.  I was pissed that he was refusing to do the right thing because I had suggested it.  I was furious that he restarted the modification process, and I couldn’t believe we’re still swaying to this same dance of insanity.

When my mind cleared I realized that these 2 crazy responses have nothing to do with me.

My mother lives in her own world.  It is an ugly, scary, world that she created from the chaos of her childhood.  She has never escaped the chains of her youth.  She has never even challenged them.  She has allowed the craziness of her childhood to take over the logic center of her brain. Unfortunately, crazy is not logical, so she has lived an illogical life.  My brother believes that in that text she thought she was simply giving me “advice”.  Unsolicited, out of context, and ultimately rude advice.  In this way we are living 2 different realities.  It’s as if I said to her “what is the weather today” and she responded “I hate that sofa”.  There is no rhyme or reason.  She can’t stand the pain of looking at her own clouds, so she lives in a different place.  Her reality is different than mine.

The same happens with my ex.  Regardless of how I phrased my email to him, all he was going to read was “you are an asshole, you fucked this up, you have to fix it and you have to fix it the way I tell you to”.  It’s sad, really.

I understand this.  It has taken me 55 years to honestly experience my own pain.  The past 3 years, during which I’ve felt every moment of hurt, anger and despair, have been really hard.   And I won’t pretend I embarked on this journey voluntarily.  I didn’t.  Had it not been for cancer I would still be looking down, ignoring my clouds, glossing over my pain.

I apologize if this is scattered.  I’m struggling to figure out how to live in this world that I now see is really freaking crazy.  Crazy is my comfort zone, so I’m surrounded with crazy people.  I’ve gotten to the point in my recovery in which I recognize the crazy.  I know what it feels like, when someone is being insane.  I know what it feels like, and I know it has nothing to do with me.  Two great steps.

What I don’t know is how to do anything other than swim in this sea of insanity.

What I really want is to get out of the pool.  I don’t want to swim in this bullshit anymore.  I have no idea how to do that.

Any suggestions are welcomed!

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