For the past few days the following phrase has been floating around in my head, bumping into my consciousness at the most inconvenient times. “Crazy doesn’t live here anymore.” Ideas about creating a meme for Facebook or making it my cover photo keeps poking at my psyche.
In a moment of introspection I decided “Crazy doesn’t live here anymore” was going to be my next blog post. In order, to understand the importance of this phrase it helps to define crazy.
Crazy can mean mental illness. Crazy can refer to outrageous behavior. It has not been unusual to hear “Cristi, you are so crazy.” This was often in response to my ability to be a little naive, and walk into situations that highlight this. Driving home late at night from Pine Ridge one night, I was worried about hitting a deer on miles of desolate roads with no assistance for miles. A Native American friend of mind told me “To throw an offering of tobacco (cigarette) out the passenger side of the car window.” My response was, with a perfectly serious tone and straight face, “Should I light it first?” Everyone stared at me waiting for the punch line. I am waiting for an answer. The answer was “Only if you want to start the reservation on fire.” Then, everyone laughed while saying “Cristi, you are so crazy.” The phrase “Crazy doesn’t live here anymore” didn’t fit here either. I rather like that type of crazy.
I knew what crazy that phrase was referring too. In my family of origin and extended family the phrase, ” You are just like your mother”, was enough to strike terror in a young girl’s heart. When someone referred to my mother it was not her beauty they were talking about. She is a beautiful women even now in her late 60’s. It was the crazy, out control behavior she exhibited that was known to make grown men cry, and little babies run in terror. In her moments of crazy she was like a possessed demon. Curse words would fly, objects were known to levitate. Well, not quite levitate because she would throw them, but at times it did seem as if something supernatural was at work.
The problem with being a daughter of a crazy, she devil, was that extended family could not separate my behavior from my mother’s behavior. They were always on the look out for signs of the crazy she devil. If for a second, they thought a behavior was similar to her behavior out came the phrase, “That’s just like your mother.” “You don’t want to be like your mother now.” Hearing this was worse than being called any sailor curse word known to man.
As a child I had no option except to bear silent witness to her very public acting out. Silent prayers to an unknown deity often took place inside of my head asking for help to shut her up, to have her not be so embarrassing, and to please not let me be like her. Most of my adult life I have feared that the tragedy, which was my mother’s mental illness would some how become my burden to bear. I became educated, went to counseling, and I still couldn’t come out from under this fear of being crazy like mother. I spent years fighting with every inch of my being to remove the curse of being crazy.
It wasn’t just me that kept me in the fear. It was my cousins, who often stated “You are going to be just like your mother.” It was my siblings, who won’t take my calls because the she devil might find out. Their fear of crazy keeps them solidly in line. It is the extended family, who had too often experienced the she devil crazy to even take a chance on getting to know me, that kept me in the fear. During a Somatic Archaeology training recently, I was able to come out of that fear of being crazy, which had been carried through my female generational line. Finally this weight of seven rocks I had carried for 50 years was taken away from me. I no longer fear crazy. I can’t be crazy like her. I won’t be crazy like her. I am no longer a prisoner of fear. “Crazy doesn’t live here anymore.”