Tag Archives: childhood

The Crying Mirror


So when I was five we moved in with my mother’s parents.  I had already proven myself to be a difficult child at this point, but with my father in search of a job after leaving the navy the family decided it was best to move in with extended family while I finished kindergarten. 

            Now I mentioned I was a difficult child.  I suppose that this would be putting things rather lightly.  I was a horror.  I had temper tantrums that would scare a sane person out of ever thinking of having children of their own.  What made these tantrums particularly horrible when we lived with my grandparents was the mirror in my bedroom.

            In my room I had one of those closets with the sliding doors, and one of these doors was a full length mirror.  When I would be sent to my room, crying and in the full throws of a tantrum, I would sit on my bed and watch myself and the way I looked during these episodes.  I’m not sure what my fascination was with seeing my eyes red and puffy, or my face contorted with screaming and crying.  I do know however, that the mirror created for me a way to punish my family more by extending the tantrums well past the point where I should have calmed down.

            I think at times I was actually calm as I screamed and cried, watching myself in the mirror.  I would sit close to it on the floor, so I could see every detail in my face as I cried and screamed.  Other times I sat far against the opposite wall on my bed and looked to see what my tiny face looked like at a distance.  I tried different angles, and I would even at times sit where I could only see one half of my face while I continued my tantrum.

            Eventually, they figured out that the mirror was what continued these tantrums for longer than a few minutes, extending them well into time periods unhealthy to be carrying on with so much passion.  Then the mirror was put behind the other closet door.  Though, now I must admit that once they had left the room I would slide out the door just enough to see my face and continue my crying for just a little longer than I should have.  Then I would quietly replace the door and calm myself down.

            I’m not sure why I was so fascinated with how I looked as I cried.  I was not interested in how I looked not crying.  I did not practice making faces into that mirror which were happy, or scary.  For me that mirror held one purpose, and it was to cry into.  I never cared to check my outfits as other girls might have, instead I cried.  What’s more is that I never cried into another mirror, just that one closet door mirror at my grandparent’s house.  It was my crying mirror, and once we moved, I suppose I didn’t need one anymore.

What Did You Call Me?


             We use the word every day.  It usually is innocent enough and in a joking or playful sense.  In fact, most people would not recall the first time the word had been directed at them, or used to describe them.  We use this word when our children get out of hand, start acting silly, or find something totally ordinary to be hilarious.  We use it off-hand to dismiss ideas we don’t like or understand.  However, sometimes this word, seemingly innocent in most of its uses becomes part of a person’s identity, and when this happens that person is changed.

            The change is usually slow, unnoticed and completely unobserved by those which established it and the person living with this new existence.  At times it can happen before a person is old enough to stand up and object verbally that this word does not define them.  When this happens, by the time an individual knows or feels that they are being labeled they have already played the part for so long, that they aren’t sure if the label is true or not.  At this point people either choose to embrace the label or not.  When choosing the latter it becomes an uphill battle, not only against those who have imposed this word on them, but with themselves, in their heads every day.

            The word is crazy.

            We say it all the time, mostly not putting any importance on it, in the same way you get into the habit of telling someone that you love them when ending a phone call.  It’s a simple enough word and in many and most of its uses in everyday conversation and interaction almost meaningless.  However, there are those times that the word can become more.  Where it reaches out and cuts someone to their very core.  Am I crazy or are the actions I’ve taken crazy?  Did I choose this path, or is it a part I was given to play without previous knowledge I was accepting a role?

            For me both questions are ones I have often asked myself.  My family had decided there was something wrong with me by the age of three.  The most common theory was depression, but does this make a person crazy?  Night terrors and a nervous personality in a 3 year old could be crazy?  But I wasn’t nervous so much as paranoid.  Had my parents listened to my grandmother I would have been in therapy before I began school, however at 3 I became a big sister and the focus shifted.  Not to say that I was neglected, but more the state of my mental health then fell into the category of acting out to get attention, depression because my Dad was at sea. (This was when I went through my first black phase, during which I would only use a black crayon.  This phase was also the basis for my grandmother’s diagnosis.  A diagnosis I must admit remains in place 27 years later.)

            So at three years old not knowing what a word could truly do to a life, I became crazy.

            I’m not saying that I didn’t have my faults as a child, but I feel like I might not have had a chance to be anything else.  Being the oldest and strange meant that things were my fault, or so I felt.  This is also about the time I gained an invisible friend, so there is a good possibility I was actually depressed at three.  Perhaps therapy would have helped, but speculating what would have helped, when you didn’t know there was a problem, or even if there was a solution doesn’t do anyone any good.

            What’s important here is understanding the word.  What is crazy?  How can we define it?  How do we avoid it?  Can we avoid it?  Once labeled how do we escape it and can we?  These are the questions I now ask myself. 

            For most of my childhood the word didn’t bother me, and why would it?  It was the 80s and everything was crazy and coated in an obnoxious array of neon colors, who wasn’t crazy in the 80s?  As time passed and the 90s came on I started to notice more, a common side effect of aging, and I was only bothered if someone outside of my circle of friends and family used the word to describe me.

            When I asked my phone to tell me the definition of the word crazy there were six results.

  1. Noun- someone who is deranged and possibly dangerous.

I don’t feel deranged, and at the time of writing this, I certainly don’t feel dangerous.  But I have to wonder, if just because that’s not how I view myself, if it makes it a false statement.  I think at some point in everyone’s life they might fit this definition.  A drunk driver is dangerous, but does that make them crazy, or deranged?  Is it possible that they are just stupid?  And does stupidity equal crazy?

 

Additional facts about the word Crazy

  • It was first used as an adjective in 1566.
  • It was first used as a noun in 1867.
  • It was first used as an adverb in 1887.

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