Calming Down

[Love] is not easily angered. (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)

Everyday, I receive a daily devotional from the church that a few of my family members attend. Today’s was based around the above scripture from the Bible, and it got me to reflecting on how I’ve been so angry all week long. I can’t tell you how many times I receive one of those devotionals, and it reflects what I’m going through at the time. But, this one hit me on a stronger level due to just how much anger I have had inside of me this week. And, it’s not just anger, but anger toward someone whom I love a great deal.

I’m sure from my last couple of posts, it has seemed as if I loathe this family member, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. I love him dearly, which is why what he does to me hurts so much. When he disrespects my feelings, and me, only to focus on his own, it makes me feel worthless. I feel as if I’m not worth anything more than someone to call at night while drunk. That is when the anger rages inside of me even more strongly.

I’m still upset, but trying so hard to not let it pull me as down as I know it’s trying to do. And, it doesn’t help that it’s pushed me into a depression. I can feel myself in a tug-o-war with my emotions right now. The gravity of depression is so much stronger than natural gravity itself. And, when it finally wins the battle, I don’t just fall down, but I stay down. It won’t let me get back up. So, trying to prevent that is exhausting. I’m spent right now, and I’m turning to caffeine for relief. Not to wake me up, but to make me feel happy. Caffeine is my drug for soothing my emotions. I’m not supposed to drink it often due to my meds that I take. One of them states that I shouldn’t really drink it at all, but if I do, then just very little. But, it makes me feel so good.

For my family member it’s alcohol, but for me it’s caffeine. I don’t handle caffeine well. In addition to making my heart race and making me jittery if I drink too much, it also can also push me into hypomania. However, that is why I drink it. It pushes me toward those good feelings that I so desperately want to feel right now. When I’m more balanced, then I’m at a greater risk of becoming hypomanic from drinking too much. And, if I’m already hypomanic, it’s not a pretty scene. But, when I’m on the depressed end of the spectrum, then it just makes me feel good. It numbs what I feel. I’m not sure why caffeine affects me in this way, but I’m so happy it does. I don’t want to drink alcohol, but this allows me to feel somewhat better.

So, although it’s not removing my anger, it is soothing it a bit. I’m hoping it will help me de-stress enough so that the ringing in my ears stops too. My allergies have triggered both congestion and a bit of tinnitus in my ears (mostly the right one), and the stress and anxiety I’ve been feeling have just made it worse. I’ve read that those factors will aggravate tinnitus when they’re experienced, so I really need to bring myself down in those regards, ‘cause the ringing and clicking have been annoying me since last night. It’s hard to focus with that. I’ve always been sensitive about my ears, so it’s driving me nuts.

I was able to see my therapist today and she helped me to calm down a little. It helped to be able to cry and express what I feel with her. But, a session never seems to be long enough. I ache to get to see her, only to be in and out of her office before I know it.

So, I came home and was in a “don’t talk to me” mood. Sometimes I come home feeling really great after a session. I always want to be left alone for a while as I process my feelings from the session, but I will sometimes feel really good so I become talkative more quickly. But, today that’s not the case. I just want to sit here by myself. I want to lie down, but wouldn’t be able to relax well anyway due to the tinnitus, so I’m just listening to music as that drowns out the sound a little. I know when I’m not feeling great, though, when I’ve had caffeine and I still feel like I want to knock out right after I finish it. I feel better, but not good enough. Still tired too. But, the anger I feel has subsided a bit, thanks to therapy and the love and support from people who care.

Then, when I read today’s devotional that was written by Rick Warren, I couldn’t help but think about how it relates to what I’m going through lately. As you can see from the scripture itself, it was about love and anger. It discussed how the ones we love are usually the ones that make us the angriest. That’s not really news, though. They are the ones whom we care about and whom we love so much. We also hope – and somewhat expect – that they will not do anything to hurt us. However, when they do indeed hurt us, that hurt turns into anger and we release it… whether back at them or others.

What I found to be quite comforting was how Warren stated that anger is ok, though. God expects us to get angry and that it is not a sin to do so. According to Warren, “God placed the capacity to get angry in the biological makeup.” So, if that’s the case – as Warren goes on to explain – then we cannot avoid getting angry, but rather learn to control it. As the devotional states, Jesus got angry in the temple when he saw that it was being used improperly. It was not being used in the way that God intended, and that made Jesus angry. That makes me feel good to know that Jesus, a sinless man with so much love, got angry too. I tend to forget that, even though it’s something that I learned as a kid.

I liked what Warren wrote, however then he stated something with which I did not completely agree. He said that anger can be controlled, and basically that there is “no reason” not to be able to do so. I agree that this is the case with ‘normal’ anger, but as someone who has an impulse control problem due to dysfunctional wiring in my brain, I know that there is sometimes a real reason for not being able to control it. After reflecting a bit more on what he said, though, I realized that he is partly right. Although, my reason for being unable to control my anger has lead to me burning my hands in the past, that doesn’t mean that I cannot still do something about it now. After all, I’m on medication specifically for it, so that right there is proof that I can try to control it. So, in the eyes of God, that is my responsibility… to try to control it so that I don’t do something inappropriate with my anger. Although, God does not see anger itself as a sin, He does find it sinful if we allow it to turn into “destructive behavior”.

So, each night when I take that pill at bedtime – or midnight, whichever comes first (usually the latter) – that is what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to control an aspect of my illness that I do not like, and which scares me greatly. I may not have control over that kind of anger (the frontal lobe produced), but I do have the ability to try and control it. It’s helping me, because I’m allowing it to help me. No matter how much medication I take, though, the anger is still there. It’s just merely being pushed back from releasing.

So, although I disagree with Warren and know that there very well can be a reason for someone not to be able to control his or her anger, I do agree with him that there is “no reason” for not at least trying to do so. Maybe that is what he meant in the first place, but I interpreted it in the way that I did. If anyone has an interpretation of what he said, then please sound off in the comments. I’m always willing to listen and learn.

The devotional ends with a final thought, that reflects three words… “Talk about it.”

According to what I read, the key to working through anger is that it is talked about. It is not kept hidden away. It is rather let out so that it can escape from our bodies and be set free to dissipate into the God-given air we breathe.

That’s so much easier said than done, though. But, I’ve figured, if I keep posting, as I’ve been encouraged, then maybe that would keep helping me.

Blogging is helping to at least release some of my anger. I just wish I could say to my family member’s face, what I say here. I’m trying to deal with this as best as I can, though. I’m also trying hard not to fall any deeper into this depression. I keep doing what I need to do, so I haven’t lost my ability to function. But, I want to just give in and sleep more than anything. It’s like part of me wants to keep functioning, while the rest does not. I’m not sure if constantly taking on projects (no matter how small) is going to help me completely, but it at least gives me a sense of purpose… something that I’ve been slowly losing these last couple of weeks. As my good friend L said, though, I need to keep up with my therapy and meds. She’s right, ‘cause I know if I let those go, then I’m essentially screwed. I guess the fact that I can accept that still, is a good sign?

At least now the anger is finally calming down, though. That is until the next drunken call. But, as has been my life since I was a kid, I will just wait until that time comes. Or, maybe, until I can finally pick up that phone and speak my mind. I think in the end, though, that it doesn’t matter. I think I will always be powerless to help him in his situation.

 

 

The Anger Continues

Well, today the crap hit the fan. Those forms that were originally supposed to be brought three days ago were finally brought today. I was not expecting their arrival at that moment, and especially not expecting the fact that I was to fill them out right then and there.

I’ve been slipping lower and lower since last week, and this is just pushing me further down. I pulled out the pen and started filling out what I could, and I was feeling myself lose it. I did not know the information that I was supposed to be writing. It was all personal details about this person, and I didn’t know most of it. Then, I screwed up and put information in the wrong field, which was designated for a completely different set of material. That’s when I started crying and just getting angry with myself. He was outside at the time, waiting for me to finish, and so I went to my mom who was in the kitchen at the time. I was freaking out ‘cause I messed up the information and wasn’t sure if I could white out a form like that. She said it was ok to do so, though, and helped me to cover it up. But, it was too late. I screwed up and that’s all I that could focus on.

In addition, my mom now knew the reason for this form, as I had told her, as ordered by my family member. As the stress built up inside of her, she began to feel like she was going to vomit. My mom hasn’t been feeling well lately due to medical issues, and all of this is the last thing that she needs. So, this just adds to my worries about her. My stomach has been hurting all day long, and I knew that when my dad got home from work that things were only going to get worse.

So, back to the form… I was only able to fill out a fourth of it, as the rest were questions that I had no idea how to answer. As I walked into the kitchen to leave the form on the table until my family member came back inside, I realized that there was a huge fly in the house. Stupid things, I don’t know why they have to come inside.

Now, I’m trying to fight with this bug that is too dumb to realize that he’s headed for death if he doesn’t leave. I was trying to get it outside safely and it just didn’t leave. So, finally I had enough. I cornered the fly in one of our bathrooms where it had travelled. I started spraying it like crazy to get it to just die already. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was taking my anger and frustration on that poor little fly who was probably so frightened. I finally killed the thing, and that’s when the guilt set in. I mean I just killed a living thing. It’s not as if I’ve never killed a bug before, but if I’ve been able to, I have always tried to get them out of the house safely first. But this thing just wouldn’t follow my clues. So, I had no other choice but to kill it. Flies are dirty (we all know on what they like to feast), and I couldn’t have the flying pack of germs landing all over everything.

As I was cleaning up the mess that I had made with the spray, I heard my family member come back inside to get the form. I was busy, though, and didn’t want anyone to slip on the floor that had gotten wet from the spray. I could hear my mom talking to him, so I figured he would wait for me. I knew he wasn’t going to like the fact that I didn’t finish the form for him. I felt bad about it too. I had hoped that I could at least do this for him successfully, but I should have known that nothing ever goes the way I hope. I was barely able to do anything with the form, and he was outside working on something while I filled it out, so he wasn’t there to answer questions. I thought for sure he would wait for that reason, but he did not. I could hear him walk outside of the house and my mom yelling at him out the door, “She’s in the bathroom cleaning!” Then, after a brief moment coming back inside of the house, he slammed the door, stormed off and left.

So, not only did he not thank me for the little bit I was able to do for him (I don’t blame him for that I guess, since I was pretty useless), but also he was angry because I didn’t finish the form. My mom kept trying to tell me that it was something else that caused him to be upset, but I’m not stupid. I heard her tone as she yelled at him that I was cleaning. It wasn’t a yelling of anger on her part, but rather trying to clarify a fact. And, then, I heard that door slam in a force, of what can only be interpreted as anger.

Shortly after, my dad arrived home from work. He was exhausted and was trying to hurry because he had a haircut appointment. And, when he learnt of the form and its purpose, he blew up. He was furious and started yelling. Basically, he was exactly as I had expected. I don’t blame him one bit, though. This isn’t just bad news, but this is something that is going to affect my parents in a negative way. I can’t go into details, but it’s just not going to be an easy thing for any of us to deal with, both emotionally and otherwise.

Upset, my dad slammed the door and left to his appointment. My mom and I just looked at each other. As usual, we were the two left with the aftermath.

The end result… My family member is angry with me. My mom told me outright that she can’t take this. She said she feels she will get sick, if she is thrown into the middle of this. All that does is put me into a worse state than I am already. My dad is furious and badly stressed out from both this and other issues. I’m worrying so much about the health of both of my parents right now. They don’t need this stress.

I am continuing to drop lower with each of these events, and I’m starting to lay down a lot. I’m struggling getting to sleep at night, only to finally fall asleep early in the morning (4-5am-ish) and sleeping into the afternoon. Yet, even after that sleep, I feel myself just laying on the couch more and more as things get to me. It’s like why even bother getting up. That alone is one of my first signs of heading into a depression. I see my therapist tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to talking through all of this with her, but it’s a lot for a session that lasts less than an hour. But, I’m trying. I’m trying hard not to let myself lose control, and working to keep myself functioning. It’s getting harder, though. I’m just so tired.

So, to sum it all up… Today the crap hit the fan and it’s now all over the house, my parents and me.

 

 

I’m Angry At Myself

Well, tonight I did something that I hadn’t done in quite some time. I slipped into a binging episode thanks to stress and frustration. I was angry at something that happened earlier tonight and I responded in a way that I thought I had gotten control over, but apparently I was wrong.

Earlier this evening, I received a call from a family member. It’s the same family member whom I mentioned in my post, Will You Be My Friend Again? This is the third night since my birthday that this family member has called me, and finally tonight it got me to a point where I turned to the food. Turning to food is something that has happened often for me, as I’ve discussed in posts such as The Overweight Moon. But, turning to a binge on that food is something that I haven’t done in a while. I thought I finally had it under control, after almost a year of not resorting to that comforting behavior.

My birthday turned out to be a very nice one last week. I enjoyed my day. However, all day long, there was a strong urge for me to break down into tears. It was the same urge that had been present the week leading up to it, due to my therapist being away. But, I didn’t want my birthday to be ruined, so I kept trying my best to ignore what I was feeling. However, by the time the evening came along, I was barely holding it together. Then, I got the phone call.

This person had called me twice earlier in the day, and left a voicemail each time. After hearing both of his messages, I sent a text message back to this person. This family member knows that texting and email is easier for me, due to my anxiety. He does not email, but he does text. He just does not like texting. So, what did he do when he received my text? He called me back and left another message. That was completely fine and I assumed (yep, I know I shouldn’t have assumed) that this person was still completely sober. Well, it turned out that he wasn’t. He was drunk, and as he often does when he’s drunk, he called me and left me one of his dreaded messages.

I won’t go into the personal details of what was said in the message, but I’ll just say that it was filled with loud depressing music, slurred words, crying and foul language regarding what he’s dealing with at home right now. It had absolutely nothing to do with my “thank you and love you” text I had sent him.

Happy Birthday to me! That was the last phone call that I received that day. I sat there with the phone in my hand and was blown away by the fact that he left me this message. It’s not unusual. He does it all of the time. But, I thought for sure after the nice messages that I received earlier that day that the last one would have been just as nice. It was my birthday, and I had hoped that he would respect at least that one day for me, since the rest of the year he treats me to his tempestuous buffet.

I got up from the couch in the family room where I had been sitting, and walked into the living room. I was on the verge of tears, but was still trying to preserve my day and end it without any need for the Kleenex. It was then that I saw that I had two more gifts waiting for me. I hadn’t noticed these before, so decided that I should open them. I wasn’t happy anymore. I was sad, and wanted to fall asleep already and just forget the phone call. But, I opened the first gift, and then the second. My mom and dad had already given me my gift earlier in the day, but these were different. These were from my mom. I prefer to keep the gift private, but I’ll just say that it was one that showed me how much she loves me. And, that was all it took.

I had many thoughts going on in my head. But, it was the phone call that pushed me to the edge. And, it was my mom’s gift that pushed me over.

The tears that I had been holding back all week, and especially that day, finally came rushing out and there was no stopping them. Before I knew it, I was crying those gasping for air tears that lead to me plugging up my ears from swallowing with everything stuffed up. I went into the kitchen where my mom was, and I hugged her. Then, as hard as I was already crying, I burst into even louder and hysterical cries. She kept telling me to calm down as I was going to wake up my dad. But, I couldn’t stop. So, she walked me back into the family room, and held me as I lost control of every bit of emotion that I had tried so hard to hold back that week. And, as the waterworks gushed out, my mom also cried. I hurt so much inside, and I didn’t even know why. I knew what was going on in my head, but I couldn’t understand which thing was making me hurt. Maybe it was everything. At that point, it didn’t matter, though. I was in pain and all that I could do was let it out.

Eventually, I was able to regain my composure. I sat there with my mom, and we talked a while, as I finally calmed down. The sadness was still there, but I had let the tears out, and it helped to release some of the pressure that had been building all week.

When my mom went to sleep that night, she held me extra long, as she gave me my goodnight hug. I stood strong, trying not to burst into tears again. I waited until I was alone, and then the tears once again began to flow. I was tired and I was ready to fall asleep.

As the days passed, the intensity of what I was feeling that night lifted a bit, but it still remains to a degree. I’m not trying to ignore it completely, but I am trying to push it aside as much as I can so that I can continue to function. Unfortunately, these more recent phone calls I’ve received in the last couple of nights have not been helping me.

My family member called me again last night. He was drinking and left me a message as always. It was short and to the point, and it pissed me off. It was bad enough that I was just about to sit down to eat my late dinner and now had it ruined. But, now, he was also essentially telling me to do something for him. Not asking… just telling me. I don’t know about you, but I ask when I need something. But, I guess I’m not worth that in his eyes… when he’s drunk, that is.

The task he wanted done was not difficult, but it was not easy either. It involved him dropping off a form in the morning that I needed to fill out for him. Again, I’m being told that I’m to fill out this form for him. Someone who can fill out his own damn forms. But, no, I’m being told to do it. That probably does not sound like a huge deal to most people, but for me it was anxiety inducing, because I had no idea how to even do what he was telling me. It is a form (and a complicated one from what I hear) in which I have zero experience. I wasn’t even sure why he tasked me – of all people – with it. He knows others who can help him, and who know what they’re doing. But, no! He puts it on me.

To make matters worse, I was to give my parents the details of this form and why he needed it. So, not only was I to fill out the form, but now I was also to deal with the stress and multiple questions that come with giving my parents the undesirable information that was related to the form. He said he would talk with them more about it in the morning, but that he wanted me to tell them first.

Why??? Why is it that I’m the one that he always pushes into these corners? Ever since I was a little kid, he has done this… both figurative and literally. I’m sick of it! He takes advantage of who I am. He knows I don’t speak up for myself. He knows that I’ve always just did what he said, as he was a father figure for me. He takes advantage of my personality and the relationship we have.

But, oh, this was not the end of it. I received a second voicemail from him last night. This one was of him in tears, almost begging me to do what he was telling me. Somehow, he went from this strong, but drunk, voice telling me what to do, to this voice of someone in despair. But, as what happens all of the time with this family member, his message made me feel sorry for him. I felt horrible. He sounded so alone, as he always does in the voicemails that he leaves me. I know that feeling. I know that pain. I didn’t want to think about what he’d feel if I had responded back saying that I wouldn’t do it. I wanted him to know that he’s loved and that people care about him. But, most importantly, I wanted him to know that he’s not alone. So, I sent him a text telling him I’d do the favor for him. I tried my best to just move on with my night and not focus on the coming task, but it kept looming over me.

Well, today came and he never brought the form. After all of that, he never brought it. I figured that he must have been so drunk that he didn’t even remember that he asked me. I felt more relaxed again, as I wasn’t worrying about it anymore. I was relieved, actually. But, that relief was short lived. I received another phone call and voicemail tonight.

He was drunk again. He said that he wasn’t able to make it by to bring the forms, but that he’ll be by tomorrow instead. However, now he’s going to bring two forms for me to fill out. Um… what??? Two? How did we get from being guilt-tripped into one form, and go straight to two forms? Forget the, “Hey, can you do this?” Nope! It’s just expected that I’ll do it. And, even worse, it’s at his convenience. Not mine… his!!! He left me waiting for a form that never arrived, and didn’t even bother telling me that he wasn’t going to bring it. Instead, he waits for the nighttime to tell me he’s bringing it the next day… along with another one! Once again, my stress and anxiety returned. I was furious, and since I once again ate a late dinner, my food was not going down well. It’s no wonder I get so many stomachaches now. I never used to be someone who came down with stomachaches often, but in recent months, they are paining me more often. It’s probably just related to my meds, but it can’t help to have this thrown on top of them.

So, not only am I angry at this family member, but I’m now also angry at myself. As I sat here thinking about all of this, I was trying to calm myself down. I just couldn’t take it, though. I walked into the kitchen and pulled out cake, pumpkin seeds and a bag of candy. I gave in, sat down, and ate away. I had one voice in my head saying, “Stop!” But, it wasn’t a match for the other one that was screaming, “Give me more!” I would have eaten much more, but the feeling of my stomach wanting to explode was enough for me to make myself finally stop.

It was then that my anger and disgust for myself set in. It was times like these in the past when I’d binge, and then head to the cabinet to get laxatives or prune juice, and let nature take its course. I would try to get it all out of me. However, we don’t have laxatives at the moment, and I’m too stuffed to drink prune juice. At this point, I know I will just vomit it up. As much as I would like to vomit what I ate back up, the thought of semi-digested prune juice in my nose, ears and mouth is something that I just can’t handle. Besides, as much as I hate myself right now, I couldn’t really care less about any weight I might have put on with that food.

Although it was my family member’s calls that triggered my binging, I don’t blame him. It’s my fault. I’m the one that chose to open that fridge and pull out that junk food. I’m the one that chose to eat until I felt physically exhausted and a bit ill. He didn’t force that food down my throat. That was all me.

However, with that said, I’m tired. I’m tired of him calling me when he’s drunk so that he can wail into the phone, and blast inappropriate songs into the receiver so that I can hear what I mean to him. I’m tired of only being worth his calls when he’s drunk and ready to curse about his life. I’m exhausted by his calls where he tells me how I may never see him again, so he just wanted to tell me that he loves me. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I’m drained, dammit!!!!

I don’t know when it happened, but it was somewhere after I turned thirteen years old. It was then that it all started. He was a grown man, but when he was drunk, he changed. He became Mr. Hyde. He saw me as someone who he wanted to force into submission, while he unloaded his problems on me. It didn’t matter that it was against my will. It didn’t matter that I was a little girl. It didn’t matter at all, because he was drunk. He’s not like this when he’s sober, only when drunk. But, that’s when it started. I was thirteen when I got the job that I still have to this day. My hours of service have always been his drinking hours.

My occupation? I’m his toilet, into which he takes an emotional dump whenever he pleases.

 

People in the Sky

As I sit here in the middle of the night, an experience from my childhood has entered my mind. So, I decided to write about it. It took place when I was a four-year-old toddler, and I’ve been told this story time and again ever since.

I was not like most four-year-olds. I rarely slept more than a few hours every night, and sometimes not even that much. I was full of energy, going on small amounts of sleep, and that one particular night was no exception. It was 4am and my mom was trying to do all she could to stay awake and keep an eye on her freakishly active little girl. To make her time productive, she would often go outside to do laundry. Back then, our laundry room was outside. She felt safe to do so with our trusted dog by her side. He was half collie and half german sheperd. Oh, what a beautiful, loving dog he was, and such a wonderful protector. For this reason only, my mom felt comfortable going out to wash at that late hour.

I would usually stay inside playing while she went outside to wash, but this one night I followed her outside. She said that I was just staring up at the sky. My mom could tell that my attention was fixed upon something, but figured it was just the moon or the stars. I always admired the moon and it would often be the source of my gazing as a child. So, she didn’t pay any further attention to my distraction.

Finally, she finished putting the clothes in the washer, and began to head back toward the house. It was then when I spoke the very words that I have heard repeated back to me ever since. “Mama, there are people in the sky.” My mom said that she turned to look at me and asked, “What?” I responded once again, “There are people in the sky, look mama!” It was at that moment that fear took hold of my mom. At the time, we had particularly tall hedges in our back yard. So, the first thought that went through my mom’s head was that an intruder must be jumping over the hedges into our yard. My mom, trying to keep her composure as not to scare me, just said, “Okay, let’s hurry inside, now.” I went inside very calmly, not sensing my mom’s worry, and not noticing her looking out the window once we were safe inside. My mom has always said that she never saw any sign of an intruder while looking out, and that our very good watch dog, who was sitting quite contently, never barked once. She figured that it must have just been a figment of her little girl’s imagination, and never spoke of it again for the next week.

All seemed to be forgotten about the incident that night, until one day my mom was reading her Bible that had some illustrations on some of the pages. As she read, I came into the room and stood by her side. She continued to read and then turned the page. It was then that I said, “Mama, that’s it.” My mom just looked at me, not knowing to what I was referring. She asked, “What are you talking about?” My mom has always said, that at that moment I pointed my four-year-old finger at a picture of an angel in the Bible and said, “That was the people in the sky.” My mom has told me that she stood silent for a moment, and then asked, “What did you see that night, Summer?” It was then, that my mom said I raised my arms into the praise position, looked up into the air and smiled. I then, looked back at her, and said, “That’s what the people were doing in the sky.” My mom knew that my knowledge of my faith, were limited at that point. I was four, and I knew only the bare basics about angels, Jesus, and other information that she had taught me. She also knew that the image in the Bible was one that I had not seen prior to that day.

My mom did not know what to think, but she did know that something was different about what I displayed for her in my description. She’s told me that I was serious as I repeated what I had seen, as if I was truly recalling something, and it wasn’t just my toddler mind creating it. She began telling several people the story, and all but my dad were convinced that I saw an angel. My dad is a man with deep faith, but he also has a analytical mindset. He prefers to rule out all possibliities, before placing his opinion or answer into the discussion. So, when he heard what I had told my mom, he began trying to figure it out. His final theory was in regard to our neighbor’s tree. They had a huge tree in their backyard, which I could see clearly that night. My dad figured that the branches and leaves, as well as the gaps in between them, were what formed an angel in my four year old mind.

Others had different theories. The mother of one of my sister’s friends told her that she believed it was definitely an angel. She said that it is known for children to see angels at such a young age. It’s an age of innocence, and a time when angels appear to them. Good points were made too about our dog. He was a great watch dog. He would bark and growl at the slightest sense of danger. That night, he was next to me while I stood outside by the door, and he never flinched. In addition, at that young age, I was frightened of the dark. I was near my mom and our dog at the time, so that is why I was calm. But, for me to see something in the sky, and remain calm and not get frightened, was another point that was brought up. My mom said that I was relaxed and content with what I saw. I didn’t cry, or show any signs of fear. I was just telling her about the people that I saw in the sky.

I wish that I couuld dig deep into my memories and remember that night. I want to know what I saw. My dad’s point is a good one, and I do think it is possible that it was merely our neighbor’s tree. But, at the same time, my mom said that I saw details in the angel. I saw the angel smiling, and she said that the look on my face as I showed her what I saw that night, was one of such peace.

I’ll never know what I really saw that night, but I’d like to think that it was indeed an angel. I mean how awesome is that? I believe God watches over me always, and my mom has often said that she feels it might have been a sign for her. She had become quite content with going out in the middle of the night to do laundry while I kept her awake. She had become so content that she didn’t even pay attention to her surroundings much anymore. After all, it was our backyard, in a nice and safe neighborhood, and we had our trusted dog who would attack anyone who tried to hurt us. However, after that experience, my mom no longer went outside that late at night again. She took it as a sign that God was saying, “No more. It’s not safe.” She saw the angel as a guardian angel, and she wasn’t going to ignore Him.

Maybe I saw an angel back then, or maybe I did not. However, what is certain is that my mom was safer each night after that experience. That is the only fact that I have from that night, but that is fact enough.

Besides, angel or not, I know that God is still watching over me, and that’s all that really matters in the end.

 

The Boogeyman

Beware of The Blob!

It creeps, and leaps,
And glides and slides across the floor…
Right through the door.
And all around the wall…
A splotch, a blotch!

Be careful of The Blob.

~ The Metrolites

Those words will forever be ingrained in my memory. They are the lyrics for the opening credits of 1958’s The Blob, starring Steven McQueen (his first starring role).

For anyone who has not been fortunate enough to have their brain engrossed in this masterpiece of a horror film, let me give you a quick summary of it.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

It’s a movie about a huge ball of Jell-O taking its gooey revenge on a bunch of people in a small town one night. And, what is the reason for the vengeance it seeks? Well, because some old man pokes the blob with a stick at the beginning of the film, and watches it slowly slither down said stick, only to have it eventually grab his arm. Eh, gravity… you just never know what it’s going to do.

With each victim, the ball of Jell-O grows larger and larger, as it travels throughout the town. Who is going to save the people? Well, of course, it’s none other than 27-year-old Steve McQueen, who is already looking as if he’s in his early forties. But that’s ok, ‘cause he’s not playing a 27-year-old. Nope, he’s playing a 17-year-old. So, it is up to our hero (who also happens to be named Steve) to save the night.

However, no one believes Steve as he tries to tell them that some Jell-O killed the town doctor. His nurse was killed too. She could have escaped, but tripped over a tall lamp that was directly in front of her. She must have been great with needles. I mean, it was right in front of her… Come on!

But, you know… they needed to increase the number of deaths.

After Steve, his girlfriend, and his friends successfully wake up the entire town by blaring their car horns, the authorities finally begin to take him seriously. However, it is not until the theater showing a midnight movie special is overrun by the blob, that people realize that the gobbily goo really means business. The blob makes its way onto the street, where a little 5 or 6 year old boy is trying to kill it with his toy pistol. It’s Steve’s girlfriend’s little brother. I don’t know how he got out of the house in the middle of the night, but I think we’re supposed to just ignore that. As the kid realizes that he can’t kill the blob with fake bullets, he runs into a diner car behind him. As Steve and his girlfriend run in to get him, they realize that they are trapped. This is shown to the audience quite horrifyingly as the Jello is thrust onto a cardboard picture of the diner. Bam! Aw, it got them. Oh, but it didn’t get them! After all, Steve Mcqueen is the star and must not die. Instead he saves the day by realizing that the blob cannot stand cold.

So, the movie ends with a helicopter dropping the blob into the Antarctic, ‘cause the government figures it would be safe there. After all, the Antarctic is freezing. The last line in the film comes from McQueen, “Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold.” Let’s not think about global warming.

So, that is The Blob. That is the movie that terrified me so many nights during my childhood. It is the movie that kept me awake from nightmares, and crying at all hours of the night sometimes, because I thought I saw the blob coming through the crack under the bedroom door. And, it is for that reason that I still love the movie today. I may joke about it from time-to-time, but I enjoy the film and watch it often.

The movie is cheesy and so horrible. Technically, the only great thing about it should be Steve McQueen. It’s a classic B-movie, yet that is its appeal to me. It’s not some gory movie. It’s an innocent horror flick that struck terror into my mind as a child. I have respect for it, and as more than just a classic Hollywood film. I have grown both with and beyond it, and for that reason I now have enjoyment watching it. But, I will never forget the fear I had from it as a child.

It All Has To Do With Fear

Laurie, What’s the Boogeyman?

Does that question sound familiar? It’s asked by Tommy Doyle, in the first – and in my opinion, the best – horror film ever… Halloween (1978). Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, is babysitting Tommy. He is quite frightened of the boogeyman, as he has heard from kids at school that he is real and is coming for him. Laurie tells him that there is no such thing as the boogeyman. However, by the end of the film she has a change of heart after almost being killed by Michael Myers… one of the most frightening characters of horror movies past. He is the source of many nightmares for people of all ages, but is he the boogeyman?

Tommy asks an interesting question in the film, because I think it’s something that we all have asked ourselves at some point of our childhood, or maybe even into adulthood. Just what is the boogeyman?

Earlier today, I was watching a show called, Primal Fear. It was on one of the History Channels, and it discussed various primal fears that human beings have had since the dawn of man. One of those fears was the boogeyman. The primal fears discussed are those that helped our ancestors to survive in a violent and dangerous world. And, although many of our situations have changed quite dramatically from those times, we still hold on to primal fears, as they are our brain’s way of keeping us safe, alive, and/or functioning positively in society.

One of the segments of the show was on hell, and how the fear of it has kept people terrified for ages. An expert on the issue, whose name I cannot recall, was discussing the topic of hell and how it has been described over the centuries. The focus of the discussion was how it has been a way to keep civilizations in line, through the horrifying imagery that has always been illustrated. She then made a comment about societies of the past. She stated that in ages past, prior to the discovery of accurate medical descriptions and explanations, that the mentally ill were seen as demon possessed. If a mentally ill individual showed any signs of their illness, then they were essentially tortured as a way to draw the demon out of them. And, if that lead to their death, it was just the way it turned out.

Hearing such a fact was just awful. We still have a long way to go in ending the stigma of mental illness and gaining better acceptance and compassion in the world. However with that said, I am so thankful that I was not alive during the time of such primitive thinking. We have a long way to go, but we have also come a long way too. This all comes down to fear, though. People were frightened by what they did not understand, and it is the same in today’s world.

When the Fears Begin

It is during childhood that our fears begin to surface. The show talked about how by the age of 9 months, babies begin to form a general idea of what humans are supposed to look like. They know what a face and a body are supposed to look like for the most part. For this reason, they are frightened when they see something, which interferes with that knowledge and perception. If you’ve ever seen a young child burst into screams and tears at the sight of Goofy in his face at Disneyland, then you’ve witnessed this negatively affected perception first hand. It’s a life-sized monster in that child’s eyes, as they are aware of what a life-sized individual should look like. And well, a huge being that doesn’t look like a human, but doesn’t look like a normal dog either, is going to frighten a child who is still trying to understand the world around him. If that child could talk, he’d probably ask the same thing Vern did in ‘Stand By Me’. “That’s weird. What the hell is Goofy?”

So, what does this have to do with the boogeyman? Well, according to the expert on the show, a child’s mind is full of imagination. When he or she sees something that does not fit into the mold of what they know the real world to be, then the child’s mind will imagine that it must be a monster. If it doesn’t fit into what people look like, but it acts as if it’s a person, then it cannot be good in their eyes. It must be bad. And, if the child does not get an accurate explanation for what they are seeing, then it is at that point that it can become the boogeyman.

My Boogeyman

This is what makes me wonder what was going on in my head as a child. I can only remember so much from my childhood, but one thing that I do remember for certain is my boogeyman. As scared as I was of The Blob, it was surprisingly not my boogeyman. Mine was different. It was terrifying to me, and it existed in my mind all of the time. My boogeyman was nothing more than a shadow of a figure, a silhouette. Whenever I would think of the boogeyman, it was an image of a silhouette shaped like a man. It didn’t have eyes, or any other features. It was just darkness that engulfed its shape, from the inside and out. It was terrifying to me and I would think that I saw it standing in places in which I didn’t want to go alone. I remember as a child, crouching into a seated position with my arms wrapped around my legs, in which my head was buried. I would become frozen with fear when I thought I saw him.

So, as I watched the show today, I wondered why my boogeyman was not detailed. As the topic of boogeyman was discussed, it was stated that children will draw their boogeymen and they showed pictures of such drawings. I don’t recall every drawing mine as a child, although I hid many things back then, so I probably was afraid someone would see it. But, even if they would have, would anyone have noticed it was a bad guy? It would have just been a dark, shadowy shape of a man.

As a child, I was always afraid of my ‘bad’ thoughts. I always worried that I was a ‘bad’ person due to my OCD (which I didn’t even know existed yet). I saw darkness inside of me as a child, and was always too scared to talk about it, due to my fear of what people would think. Growing up within the Christian faith, I knew that my thoughts had to be evil, and would be seen as such.

Today, I have a better understanding of my OCD and how I am not evil. But as a child, I was terrified by what was going on inside of my brain.

Maybe that was my boogeyman. It was my fear of my own darkness. It was my fear of my own thoughts that I didn’t understand, and which didn’t fit into the mold of what I knew to be good Christian thoughts. My mind and its imagery haunted me since I was 5-years-old, and possibly younger. And, it still does to this day.

So, maybe that’s my answer to Tommy’s question. Maybe my boogeyman was not just a product of my mind, but rather my mind itself.

If that’s the case, then I was my own boogeyman, and I still am.