My Mother Was Crazy And That Isn’t A Metaphor

My mother had what she called her ‘little helpers’ which were, to be honest, the voices she heard in her head. See, my mother was crazy and I don’t mean crazy in like what gets said to me daily (‘Oh, you so crazy, Michael’) but in the sense that she was crazy. Literally. Mentally ill.

Being raised by a mother like that taught me two things: 1) I was going to go crazy all the way and 2) Hide your crazy no matter what. So that’s what I did. I hid the days and nights when I felt I was losing my mind. I didn’t talk about it. To talk about feeling like you’re going crazy would cause people to think of you as ‘less than’ and not capable or, worse, unstable. So I hid it.

About ten years ago I developed this odd rash on my body. My mother had one as well, but there was no correlation (I told myself). She was her; I was me. We we’re two separate people, right?

I went to doctor after doctor to see what the hell the red spots were. No one could tell. My lover at the time would look at the red spots on my arms and legs and say to me, “It’s so brave of you to show the spots on your arm in the summer. I couldn’t do that.” The spots were angry looking. Hurt. Red and swollen. Like I had some odd rash that wouldn’t go away.

After numerous doctors I ended up at Memorial Sloan Kettering where I was told after endless biopsies that I had a disease that could result into a bigger disease. Not good. Cue the endless nights of me smoking weed and cigarettes and freaking out. I asked the doctors what I could do. They rubbed their rich heads and their expensive haircuts and said to me, “We don’t know what causes it. We don’t know how to cure it. But good luck! Please make sure you pay your co-pay on the way out. And would you mind filling out this form saying how well we served you? Thanks!”

The Mother — Brooklyn — April 1997

It took me over 8 years to make sense of the red spots which I still have to a lesser degree. I’ve always been afraid to show the totality of me. I’ve always been afraid it would make me appear weird or freaky to people. I wrote a book called “Creepy Kid” which is the autobiography of my life. I had a fucked up and wonderful childhood. I had many friends read it and many couldn’t finish it. I took that as in indication it was too bare and that I had shared too much of myself with them. The project was a play and now a less-factual TV show I’ve been showing to lots of producers in Hollywood. But the book is still unseen and unknown because of one reason: I’m afraid if you read it you’ll think less of. You’ll think I’m fucked up and that I’m a mess. My therapist recently told me we live either in love or fear. Such a pedestrian thought, but it’s everything, isn’t it?

That’s why I have the skin things I do. I”m afraid to show you my skin. I’m afraid to show that to you, but here is the crazy part: I’m not crazy. What I get now is that yes, yes there is small part of me that goes off in the wiring, where I get anxious or depressed but the majority of my ‘crazy’ is how I learned to be being raised by a woman who was ravaged physically by a myriad of mental illness disorders. Do you have any idea how that fucks you up as a kid? Watching your mother act out in front of you your worst fears? Having your mother abuse you and abuse herself right before your very eyes? No child should ever see that and yet that was my childhood. It put me into a fucking tailspin for most of my life until I finally came to the realization while I have a bit of crazy in my body, the bigger crazy is the fear I’m going to go crazy like my poor, dear sweet mother did.

She could be so pretty, you know. When she would wear her hair up (it was so thick and white!) and when she’d put on her red lipstick and wear pants that were flattering or, her favorite, skirts with simple heels. Her sickness made her let herself go in the end. She was drinking and taking pills and when she killed herself she simply had had it. She was tired. She survived her mentally ill mother who would make her watch her make love to strange men (not her father) in front of her. Who would force her to do terrible things yet somehow my mother survived that for as long as she did. How, I don’t know. God bless her for it.

Me. The Mother. 1981. As my shirt clearly attests.

So this is where I am now. The skin spots come and go and they remind me I’m afraid to still show my skin for fear what you will think of me. That my showing the totality of my all is too much, too big, too bare. My whole life I’ve been told by so many people to ‘hold it down’ and ‘you’re too bare’ and blah, blah, blah about me being the bigness of me and well…can’t anymore. I don’t think any of us should.

Someday I hope my book will be read by many who will heal because of it. Or, will realize they’ve always been healed. It’s called Creepy Kid because that was the name my mother called me. She was a beautiful monster, yes, and she didn’t mean to hurt me but let me tell you, being called a Creepy Kid your entire life kinda makes you feel you deserve to have spots on your skin and are worthy of being made fun of and that you’re less than. So much less than.

Not anymore. Out the other side I’m shooting of all of that. Won’t you join me?

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