It was a beautiful sunny day. I had just spent hours on the beach with my children and was resting on the bench watching them chase each other around the playground. My phone began buzzing away in my pocket and I pulled it out to see who it was. It was a text from my ex-husband,
“I hate to be the one to tell you this, hun, but Michael Jackson just had a heart attack. He didn’t make it.”
My heart sank as I stared at the words on the screen. Like a switch the tears started streaming down my face… How can this be possible? He can’t be dead… he’s Michael Jackson… How can there not be a Michael Jackson? That’s just absurd!
I was sad… I was angry… I was confused. Now don’t get me wrong, I am full of compassion and love, so any sad news can easily pull at my heart strings. But this was different. It was personal. The ache in my chest was real and intense, a pain that far exceeded the usual reaction at the news that a celebrity had passed… a simple “awe..that’s sad” and then a movement forward. This was real… I felt a loss. So why is the loss of Michael Jackson affecting me…and so many others…on such a powerful level? What is this overwhelmed sadness and feeling of denial really about?
Let’s just think about the level of fame Michael Jackson had reached. He was a global icon. Michael Jackson was extraordinary… and the whole world agreed. There are those who LOVE him… those who really like him…and those who like him. But who doesn’t like Michael Jackson? Who doesn’t appreciate his music or enjoy his talent? Who doesn’t think Michael Jackson was an extremely talented musician whose contribution to our culture goes unprecedented…only to be compared to the greatness of Elvis Presley. That’s one thing the world had in common… we all loved Michael Jackson.
Now to get back to understanding the intensity of our sadness…the reason is this:
It’s the memories. If I were to discuss the details of my childhood…the turning points and memorable moments…I would have to discuss the impact of Michael Jackson in my life. I was the little third grader running around with the Beat It Jacket and the white glove. I was Michael Jackson for Halloween. I was the lunatic crying at the concert because the euphoria of being in the same room with him was too much to handle. And what was my very first concert by the way? It was Michael Jackson…the Thriller Tour. When I was in fourth grade I told my parents that when I grow up I wanna be Michael Jackson’s maid because then I get to be around him. (My parents were so proud…;) ) Then when I was in fifth grade I decided I just wanted to marry him. I was the kid who loved Michael Jackson…his number one fan…or at least I believed I was. For years, my admiration for Michael Jackson and his music defined who I was. It is an integral piece of my childhood that cannot go without recognition. It is, and always will be, a part of who I am.
It goes without saying, that I am one of millions of people who feel that Michael Jackson and his music is also an extension of themselves. Who doesn’t have at least one amazing memory of their past that involves Michael Jackson? He was everywhere…and has become a part of us as a society. So the sadness of his death triggers a personal walk through our own lives…our past…our memories…our old friendships. I feel sad for the little girl that still dwells within my psyche…the little girl with the Beat It Jacket, Thriller Doll, and white glove. The little girl watching MTV all day long hoping to see the Thriller video. And I feel sad for the opportunity lost. The music he would have written that the world will never hear…and the performances we will never see.
The one thing that won’t be missed is the infamous Michael Jackson Controversy. I will only say this…and this is just my opinion… The world needs to stop judging. Imagine a life where you can’t leave your home, go anywhere, do anything without an entourage of bodyguards and being surrounded by the insanity of crazed fans wanting to get near you. Imagine not being able to take a walk through the park, go on a family vacation, or even know what it’s like to just go to a store and buy something. The world would not allow him to live a normal life…so how can we sit in judgement of what he did to cope with that? He was just a normal person building up his defenses to adjust to the enormity of the fame he had derived. He was trapped in the name he had made for himself. He was Michael Jackson… and the world owned him. He could never just be Michael. Imagine that.
That being said, I will end this piece with a farewell to Michael Jackson. The dedication and love his fans have for him will keep him alive in our world.
Definition of Chemical imbalance on the Web:
Generic term for the idea that chemical in the brain are either too scarce or too abundant resulting in or contributing to a mental disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
I’ve done my research on this term and bipolar disorder. I’ve searched the Internet and read numerous books. But, I still need more information. I crave it like a kid that had it’s first taste of sugar. I want more, more and more. You see my biological mother suffers from bipolar disorder. I want to have patience and understanding about the condition she suffers from. When in reality I am just angry and bitter. I’m angry that she can’t just be normal and that I feel robbed of experiencing a mother-daughter relationship with her. I know that I need to work on this. I’m finally open to discussing this in more detail. To give a little history on me…My parents divorced when I was 6 and my dad got full custody of me and my sister who is 2 years younger than me. I was raised by my dad. My mom had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized after the divorce. When she recovered she moved on with her life. She got remarried and had 2 more daughters. My mom was in and out of my life over the next few years. I visited her for a few years than just stopped wanting to go. The last time I saw her I was 11 years old. Over the years she made no effort to contact me. I didn’t hear from her on my b-day or any Holiday’s for that matter. The next time I saw her I was in my early 20′s b/c I contacted her. As I grew up I wanted to try to reconnect with her and have some kind of relationship. Now I’m 35 years old and see her maybe every 2 years if I pay for her to come visit me. It’s still the same song and dance with her. She always and still plays the blame game…blames my dad for keeping me from her and blames him b/c he was never there for her….blames my step mother for keeping me from her……(not the case at all) blames her second husband…blames her mother & father for all her issues….blames her family. She does not take any responsibility for the decisions she has made in her life. My childhood memories of her when my parents were together consists of episodes where she would fly off the handle, scream, throw things, and hit my dad. I remember not wanting to be around her and always feeling more connected to my dad. And, I’m thankful for having such a loving and amazing father in my life…. I’m not looking for sympathy by sharing all of this. My hope is that it by putting this out there it will help people that know someone that suffers from a chemical imbalance or people that suffer from it themselves. I don’t wallow in self pity….I know that you create your own life. I have my own family now and get to experience a mother-daughter relationship with my own daughter (I treasure every second of it) Yet, I still have so many questions….What causes a chemical imbalance? Is it hereditary? Is it caused from the environment you grow up in? How can I have more patience and understanding with this situation? I’m also thankful that my best friend is a Therapist and can answer my questions.
Jen.. I’m so proud of you..look at your self awareness! You are trying to look at this situation with your mom as a rational adult would, but what’s happening to you is that the hurt little girl who didn’t understand that mom was mentally ill creeps into your brain and takes over when your mom acts in a way that is hurtful. You see as a child you didn’t understand… you needed your mother to be a mother. She wasn’t capable of that and then you were pretty much abandoned by her at the age of 6. You had to be angry at her as to not be sad about what you were missing all along. So now as an adult you want to understand her illness and forgive her behavior…but the little six year takes over and vents her rage because that is her defense mechanism against the pain her illness has caused.
Bipolar Disorder can be genetic. It is often passed down through generations and is caused by the chemical imbalance you refer to. It has many different severities and 2 cases with the same diagnosis can appear to be so different. Generally speaking, Bipolar means the person switches from depressed to manic behavior. Manic behavior is the behavior that seems so crazy to you. The impulsive behavior, the delusions of grandior, risk taking, psychotic episodes, rage, stealing, and so on… It is very difficult to deal with someone close you with this disorder because they seem so irrational much of the time. They live in their own reality…free from consequence… and it’s frustrating. Imagine how a little girl interprets a mother who behaves this way?
Sometimes Bipolar Disorder is not inherited. Sometimes it is actually a defense mechanism created over time due to a history of abuse and dysfuncyion. People can sometimes have what is called a “manic defense” where they will slip into a manic episode as a defense mechanism against depression. Regardless of where it comes from, it is what it is.
Please give yourself some credit. Understand what your mother’s illness is about, but also understand the pain of the lost little girl dwelling in your psyche. Soothe her, comfort her, and tell her all the things that might have made a difference when this was all really happening. But most important… allow her the feelings she was never really able to have.. validate them. Don’t feel guilt…none of this is your fault. You are just a human being having normal human being responses to a situation that is emotionally draining.
You are strong and you will come through this with self awareness and understanding that will help you let go of the pain.
Happy Thursday! Enjoy a good laugh today!
To Be 6 Again… A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, observing his wife, looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off he asked what she’d like to have for her Birthday. ‘I’d like to be six again’, she replied, still looking in the mirror. On the morning of her Birthday, he arose early, made her a nice bigbowl of Lucky Charms, and then took her to Six Flags theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Monster Roller Coaster, everything there was. Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. He then took her to a Mc Donald’s where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake. Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M’s. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted. He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, ‘Well Dear, what was it like being six again?’ Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed. ’I meant my dress size!!!!!
The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he is gonna get it wrong.
I hope all Mom’s everywhere had a great Mother’s Day. Here are some of my favorite Mother’s Day quotes: Read and Enjoy!
A mother’s love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. ~Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul
When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. ~Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty
Mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan
Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs… since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. VermotT
All mothers are working mothers. ~Author Unknown
The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh
God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers. ~Jewish Proverb
Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. ~Ambrose Bierce
We seemed to have skipped Spring and went right to summer. It was 94 degrees in VA today. In other words it was hot as hell. My kids enjoyed a weekend of fun outdoors. I’m so tired as I sit here and write this blog post. I’m ready to go to bed but, had to share this…. My husband has taught my 3 year old son that’s it’s OK to pee outside. I’m on the fence with this one. We do live in a neighborhood where our house sits on 3 acres. If he pees outside in the backyard nobody can see him. I’ve walked in the back yard on more than once occasion and saw my son standing by a tree hanging it out in the wind. Of course I can over analyze any situation and this one is no exception. What if he is playing outside at his daycare and pees outside? What if we are on a play date and he drops his pants and hangs it out at his little friends house? Is he old enough to understand that he can only pee in the woods or in the backyard of our house? I tried talking to him about it and he seems to understand…but, he is 3! I tell him not to throw a ball in the house and he hums it across the room! My husband tells me it’s every man’s god given right to pee outside. Really? That’s news to me. So, yesterday afternoon I was inside making lunch for the kids….the kids were outside playing while dad was trying to clean up the garage. I came out to get the kids and my daughter was riding her bike. My husband said that our son was out back peeing. I went in the backyard and could not find him. I called for him…no answer…As I walked towards the front of the house I saw a car slowing down in front of our house…..then another car…..I looked in front of the house…and saw my son. He was squatting on the front lawn…he was not standing next to a tree peeing….He was doing #2. I analyzed this whole peeing outside and thought of every situation that could come of this…..ha ha ha ha ha ha….I didn’t see this one coming….
Hahahahahahahaha…… well, if nothing else it makes for a great story you can share with his girlfriends 12-15 years from now… But you are totally right in everything you are saying. He is too young to understand that it’s only okay here or there, but not there…or there… it’s a concept his little brain isn’t quite developed enough for. At his age, things are still somewhat black and white. In his mind if going to the bathroom outside is okay then it’s okay. He hasn’t even been potty trained that long and he is already being taught potty alternatives. You can’t really expect him to get the difference…it’s way too abstract a concept. You gotta just tell your Husband that until he is old enough to use proper judgement he needs to be taught that bathroom activities need to be done in the bathroom…. poor kid must be so confused!
A co-worker of mine sent me this to me via email. Unbelievable! She could not have timed sending this to me any better…my morning at work has been stressful….This helped snap me back into a better perspective! I hope it helps you too…
WORKER DEAD AT DESK FOR 5 DAYS New York Times:
Bosses of a publishing firm are trying to work out why no one noticed
that one of their employees had been sitting dead at his desk for FIVE
DAYS before anyone asked if he was feeling okay. George Turklebaum, 51, who had been employed as a proof-reader at a New York firm for 30 years, had a heart attack in the open-plan office he shared with 23 other workers.
He quietly passed away on Monday, but nobody noticed until Saturday
morning when an office cleaner asked why he was still working during the
His boss Elliot Wachiaski said: “George was always the first guy in
each morning and the last to leave at night, so no one found it unusual
that he was in the same position all that time and didn’t say anything. He
was always absorbed in his work and kept much to himself. ” A post mortem
examination revealed that he had been dead for five days after suffering
a coronary. Ironically, George was proofreading manuscripts of medical
textbooks when he died. You may want to give your co-workers a nudge
Things Got Ya Down? Well Then, Consider These:
In a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, patients always died in the same bed, on Sunday morning, at about 11:00 am , regardless of their medical condition. This puzzled the doctors and some even thought it had something to do with the supernatural. No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths occurred around 11:00 am Sunday, so a worldwide team of experts was assembled to investigate the cause of the incidents. The next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11:00 am all of the doctors and nurses nervously waited outside the ward to see for themselves what the terrible phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books, and other holy objects to ward off the evil spirits. Just when the clock struck 11:00 , Pookie Johnson, the part-time Sunday sweeper , entered the ward and unp lugged the life support system so he could use the vacuum cleaner.
Still Having a Bad Day????
The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez Oil spill in Alaskawas $80,000.00. At a special ceremony, two of the most expensively saved animals were being released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later, in full view, a killer whale ate them both.
Still think you are having a Bad Day????
A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen shaking frantically, almost in a dancing frenzy, with some kind of wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current, she whacked him with a handy plank of wood, breaking his arm in two places. Up to that moment, he had been happily listening to his Walkman.
Are Ya OK Now? – No?
Two animal rights defenders were protesting the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn , Germany . Suddenly, all two thousand pigs broke loose and escaped through a broken fence, stampeding madly. The two helpless protesters were trampled to death.
What?!? STILL having a Bad Day????
Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet didn’t pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with ‘Return to Sender’ stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb, he opened it and was blown to bits. God is Good!
There now, Feeling Better?
This week has been a long exhausting week for me. My mother who lives in Buffalo, NY has been staying with me since Sunday. I’ve been debating on whether or not I should blog about any of this. But, maybe I’m not alone and other people have a parent that is mentally ill. It’s become apparent to me just how worse she has become. I took her to my daughter’s gymnastics class the other night. My son plays in the waiting area which is filled with toys and books. My mother was sitting with my son and reading him books. He was loving every second of it and belly laughing….it was really cute. We left gymnastics and were about to pull out of the parking lot when my mother turns to my son and says look what Granny has for you… It was the books she was reading to him inside of gymnastics. I asked her if she took the books. She said…yes… ..then said to me….haven’t you ever stole something before?….ummmm….yes…when I was 8….a pack of gum from the candy store and I got in caught and it taught me a lesson….your a 58 year old woman!…..this is totally unacceptable. Before I proceeded to lecture her like she was a child I turned the DVD player on in the car so my kids would focus on the TV and not what I was about to say to my mother…..first of all this is not the kind of example that I want for my kids…to show them it’s OK to take things that don’t belong to them. Second..I come here every week with my kids…My kids enjoy coming here….why would you try to infringe on that? I asked her to bring the books back inside. She told me No…the books were special to her b/c she read them to my son and he enjoyed them…someday when I’m a grandma I would understand. I told her if she didn’t bring the books back in right now I would change her plane ticket and send her back to Buffalo the next day. She got out of the car and brought the books back into gymnastics. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. My mother had a nervous breakdown and went into a hospital for over a month. My father got full custody of me and my sister who is 2 years younger than me. Over the next few years she was in and out of my life. I was too young to understand mental illness, but I understood that something was not right with my mother. Eventually she remarried and had 2 more daughters. After awhile I did not want to go visit her anymore. Her mood swings were too much to handle….major crying spells…followed by a deep depression…she would just want to sleep…then the next day..she would be bouncing off the walls. I’m just touching on this subject…It’s very personal….you see… my mother is bi-polar and has manic mood swings. The last time she was here visiting was 2 years ago..my kids don’t really know her and don’t understand what is going on. I know I can’t shield them forever but, how do you explain it to them? I struggle with my relationship with her….it’s my mom…But, I can only take her in small doses…then I feel guilty…How do you handle a parent that is mentally ill?
Hun, the one thing I always tell you is to accept the way you feel, validate it, and allow it. The way you feel about her and the distance you keep from her is normal and a direct reaction to her behavior. You learned when you were small to shield yourself from her in order to protect yourself from what would have been to confusing and painful as a child. It continues to be painful as an adult, but you have a right to how you feel. You never really got to experience a fundamental mother/daughter relationship with her because of her illness and her illness is not controlled. You don’t really know the real her..only her illness. It isn’t your mother that you are rejecting…just the symptoms of what she has. Her manic, and juvenile behavior triggers alot of negative feelings for you which is completely understandable. You wouldn’t be a normal person if you did not feel this way. So..that being said…. #1..GET RID OF THE GUILT! It is not your fault you feel this way about her… you are simply protecting yourself. And that’s normal, understandable, and okay! #2… Try and accept in your mind that your mother does have this illness…don’t expect her to have the same social skills and coping mechanisms you have..because she doesn’t. Expect her to be who she is and you will find yourself less frustrated and dissappointed when you do see her. #3…as your children get older, when they do see her it is okay to explain to them that sometimes she does things that are innappropriate…and it doesn’t make it right, but that’s just the way she is.
Jen…don’t take her behavior personally…don’t feel guilty…and don’t expect more than she is capable of. Seeing her every two years in small doses is okay if that’s all you want to give. Forgive yourself and validate that you are just a normal person reacting the way any normal person would in your shoes. But remember sometimes when we expect less of someone in this type of situation we actually get more out of that. Release the guilt! You are human my friend!