HAIL SMM SMM!!!!
I have an interesting story to tell you. Well, quite frankly, all of my stories are interesting, but this one has to do with a recent event involving my mom and the curses that Chrissie and Nevaeh put on her to stop her from fully carrying out her plans to intimidate my partner and I. They also stopped her from intruding on our lives on a very personal level as well.
I want to write about this while it's still fresh in my mind. And, unlike some of the other stories on my blog that are still waiting to be finished, I fully intend to finish this one relatively quickly so as not to forget anything.
Here's what happened.
So, as embarrassed as I am to admit this, I am still in contact with my mom and grandma. Sometimes it feels good to talk to them, but many other times, it does not.
So, about three weeks ago, Mom called me sounding very happy.
Uh-oh, I thought glumly the second I heard the upbeat tone in her voice.
She's up to something and it isn't good. It's going to effect me somehow, I just know it.
Right away, I was filled with an impending sense of doom.
"Guess what?" chirped Jennifer in my right ear as I began pacing my apartment.
"What?" I asked, trying to keep calm. I didn't want her to notice my uneasiness. She thrives off of my discomfort and, on that particular day, I felt strong enough to not give her that kind of satisfaction.
"There's this convention happening in Olympia in September. It's from the fifteenth through the seventeenth, and it's being held at the Red Lion Hotel!"
I took a deep, calming breath, then grasped one of Bryan's branches with my left hand to center myself. After all, he is my tree of laziness. If anyone could help me, it would be him.
"What kind of convention is this?" I asked, hoping to sound genuinely interested. In a way, I was. I wanted/needed to gather as much information as I could from her to better prepare Chris and myself for her upcoming arrival.
"It's a NAMI convention. There are several conferences that I am interested in attending."
I'm not quite sure how long my mother has been working with NAMI, but it's been at least a year. NAMI, by the way, is an organization that is there to "help" the mentally ill. It stands for National Alliance On Mental Illness. I just looked it up on the computer before starting this story because I absolutely want to get all of my facts straight and documented.
Chris wasn't sure whether it would be a good idea for me to use the real name of the organization, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. He said that maybe they really do help people, and perhaps, he's right, but they also do their fair share of meddling in people's lives, too. Probably way more meddling than helping.
When I pointed this out to Chris, he agreed that I was most likely right.
"You can never be too trusting of an organization that says they are there to help the mentally ill," I told Chris last night.
"The people who are involved with NAMI are the type of people who probably voted in last year's ballot that the mentally ill shouldn't be allowed to own guns. This is to "protect" them, or so they say."
"Yeah, you're probably right," Chris agreed again.
So, I decided, with the help of all of my demons, of course, to use the real name of the organization, and so I am.
"So, where is this Red Lion Hotel?" I asked, praying to Satan that it was nowhere near downtown.
"According to the web site, it's on Evergreen Parkway," she answered brightly.
Evergreen Parkway? That couldn't be right. That is the road that leads to the Evergreen State College. There aren't any hotels there, are there?
Those were the thoughts that were spinning around in my head like clothes being violently spun around in a dryer.
I would soon later find out from Chris that she meant to say it was on Evergreen Park Drive, which wasn't anywhere near the college, nor was it too terribly close to downtown. It was closer than I wanted her to be, but at least she wouldn't be staying in the Governor Hotel, which is only a block or so from my house.
"It could be worse," the optimistic part of my brain told me. Only, it wasn't a silent, me thinking out loud sort of thing. It was an actual voice, a female voice, that sounded a lot like my mother, only slightly lower-pitched. It also spoke more slowly than my mother speaks, giving me the impression that maybe it's an older version of my mother, what she might sound like in another fifteen or twenty years down the line. No body, just a voice.
A very annoying voice that often tries to invalidate my feelings and make me feel stupid for feeling a particular way.
"Couldn't be much worse, though," the pessimistic part of my brain rattled back. This voice was the voice of an old man, the old and decrepit version of my Grandpa Greg, my mother's father, when he reaches the age of ninety or so.
Again, no body. Just another stupid voice fighting with another voice. Voices that come and go according to stress level. Voices that I've coped with for some time but that I still haven't quite gotten used to yet because they are so intrusive, especially when they don't go away for days on end.
"I'll email you the dates so you can mark them on your calendar," Jennifer continued.
"Maybe you can spare some time in your busy schedule to see me some, even if it's just for a bite to eat."
"Okay, I said.
"Email me and I'll see what I can do."
Because the convention was so far away, I didn't start to really panic right away. After all, there was nothing I could do about it. America is a free country. And, as much as I'd like to, I can't keep her from coming to the capital of Washington.
Maybe Chris will get a big order or I'll get some money from watching Denise's dog and we can skip town, I thought to myself whenever the uneasiness would start to creep up.
Don't panic, lots can happen in three weeks.
This particular thought is really my own thought, No voices. They'd gone away for the time being.
So, about a week goes by and Mom doesn't say anything about the convention and neither do I. I wanted to know more about what she was up to, like when she was planning on coming to Olympia, what time the convention started each day and what time it ended, etc. I considered attempting to look it up online for myself, but felt too lazy and, honestly, I was also ashamed of how afraid I felt.
It has been years since she physically assaulted me, and a lot has happened in those years to make her be more careful. As impulsive as she is, she also knows that I have the power to expose her if she ever tries anything, and she knows that I will do just that whenever she steps out of line.
She knows that I am no longer the helpless, defenseless child I once was, though I know she doesn't like to think about that fact much.
Still, knowing all of this, I still felt very much afraid and unsafe. I also felt violated, but then would switch from feeling violated to feeling idiotic for feeling that way. After all, conferences do take place here sometimes. One of the voices kept saying over and over again, "What if she really is coming here just for the conference and nothing else?
What if this really is just an innocent thing, and the location of the convention just happens to be in your town Ashlee?"
And yet another voice yelled, "What if this is all just another lie?
What if there is no convention at all here and she's just trying to scare you? Better to look it up online for yourself to find out for sure what you're up against.
And still, another voice said, while laughing at my growing discomfort, "You're making a mountain out of a mole hill. This is absolutely ridiculous. A part of you really does miss your mom and wants to see her. And what's the harm in a little bite to eat? Or, perhaps, some room service at her hotel. She says there's a hot tub. Wouldn't it be nice to soak?!"
Yes, it would be nice to soak in a jacuzzi. I haven't soaked in one for a very long time. The voice was right. I did want to see my mom.
But I also didn't want to see her either.
I felt very conflicted inside.
"Don't be ridiculous!" snapped Smm Smm.
"If you really want to soak that badly, you can always walk over to Radiance and use the hot tub there. It's right on our block! But you never go there, so obviously this isn't really about you wanting to soak."
Of course, Smm Smm was right. I said nothing in response, because, really, what was there to say? I had nothing to argue back.
"Yeah, and you really don't like soaking in hot tubs much, anyway!" yelled Chrissie impatiently.
"Every time we go soaking, you only stay in the jacuzzi for, like, five minutes, and then you're ready to get out because it's too hot. And, if you feel cold, there's always the bathtub."
"Yeah," Nevaeh piped up.
"Chrissie's right. But, let's just say you do really want to soak with your mom, so you go ahead and make plans to see her. You know what's going to happen as soon as she sees your naked body."
"We all know what'll happen," said Mary Meyers in a tone that clearly stated she, too, was fed up with me.
I nodded. They were right, of course. The moment I undressed and Jennifer saw my unshaved armpits and legs, she'd go off on a tangent.
"And, if you're in a vulnerable enough state where you do go through with it and see her, everything she says will make you feel bad. You won't be able to come back at her with equally insulting comments. And, that certainly won't be very lazy."
I'm sure you know who said all that.
"Don't you dare call her!" shouted Chrissie, bouncing up and down in front of me.
"If you do, I will seriously bite your nose! It will hurt for a week!"
As time went on, I could resist no longer. I asked Chris to look up the NAMI convention on his I-PAD to see whether there really was a convention going on in Olympia. Bryan told me that, if I must know, the laziest thing would be to have Chris look it up. Looking things like that up online is easier for him to do than it is for me to do. Some web sites, a lot of them, actually, are quite inaccessible with Jaws, my screen reading technology that is installed on my dinosaur computer.
And, as far as the braillenote is concerned, it, too, is as old as a dinosaur and won't even go online anymore.
Yes, Bryan was right. If I had to know, which I did, it would be lazier to have him look it up for me and report back to me.
Thankfully, he was willing to do it, and, sure enough, there really was to be a NAMI convention at the Red Lion Hotel. It was to be held from the fifteenth through the seventeenth of September, just as Jennifer had said it would be.
"What is the schedule like for it?" I asked him. For me, this was crucial information. If I knew the general schedule of the convention, I could plan my days accordingly so as to hopefully not run into her.
"It's from 8 to 5," he answered.
"On all three of those days?" I asked rather breathlessly. I needed to know everything. It felt like I might just die if I didn't.
I can't quite remember what he said, but I think he told me it got out earlier on Sunday. I'm going to try and find a link to the convention that I'm talking about and post it on the blog along with this story. I will need Chris's help finding and posting the link to it, and he's very busy and overwhelmed with taking care of our Smm Smm children (yes Daddy, I now have Smm Smm kids, and I'll tell you all about the newest addition to the family in another story), so I don't want to promise that there will be one because he is so tired lately, but I'll try. The reason why I'd like to have a link on my blog with the story is because it will, perhaps, make it more real for my audience if there's a link to it. Maybe it will give people an idea of how real and terrifying and confusing this whole experience was for me.
I thought that Chris would exit out of the site now that I had all my questions answered. A part of me hoped he would, for I felt quite embarrassed about asking him to look up those details for me. I didn't want him to see through the wall I was trying to create to hide how utterly terrified the notion of her coming to Olympia really was for me. I'm sure my effort was futile, though, for he has a rather annoying knack of being able to read me like a book, so, in hindsight, it was probably a waste of time and mental energy to try and hide it from him.
When I'm in the moment, though, overwhelmed and frightened, all I want to do is hide my true emotions. I don't want people to see my fragile side when I'm feeling vulnerable, not even Chris.
Heck, I realize now, that when I try to build that wall so no one can really know how I'm feeling, I'm also trying to hide from it myself because it's too much to bear all at once.
"What are you doing Smm Smm?" I asked Chris after he continued to stare silently at the screen.
He took a moment to answer, but, finally he said, "I have no idea why your mother is going to this. This conference is designed for social workers, not the general public. She is going to be so out of place there, and, if she says anything, she's going to sound so stupid to everyone else. It will be obvious right away that she doesn't know what she's talking about and that she shouldn't really be there."
"She's probably only going there with the hopes of maybe finding out a secret way to get me committed," I said in what I hoped was a neutral tone, though, in reality, I felt very disheartened, for, upon receiving that information, the voices started commenting again and I had just gotten a reprieve from them. I wasn't eager for them to start up again. Really, I didn't have the energy for them anymore. They hadn't shut up in days, and I felt drained on all levels. Even my appetite had vanished.
Right then, it felt like the voices had received some unseen signal to start speaking, or like some invisible button, that I could not control, nor had I pushed, had been pressed, activating the part of my brain that decided to place invisible headphones over my ears where different voices spoke in various degrees of pitch and loudness and there was no stopping it until they grew tired or the headphones got unplugged somehow. Until that happened, there would be no blissful silence.
Still, despite the return of the voices as well as the arrival of harsh reality coming to give me a nice, hard slap in the face now that I was certain she would be coming up and that this was not just a scare or prank, I was glad to know what I was in for. If I had it to do over again, I still would have asked Chris to look up the information about the convention. It was more torturous, in a way, not to know than it was to have all the facts splayed out in front of me.
"Maybe there's a magic word that she'll learn about in there to get me committed once and for all. Or, that's what she thinks anyway," I said, more to myself than to Chris or my imaginary friends.
On top of everything else, a new and unwanted seed in my mind had sprouted suddenly. What if there was a magic word or fraze that she would learn about at that wretched conference?
What if she gets what she wants in the end?
What if I do get committed?
When I voiced my fears about this to Chris, he immediately reassured me that she couldn't do that.
"This is reality, not the movies. If anything, psych hospitals want to get people out of them, not keep them. There aren't enough psych beds for everyone who needs them. Trust me, you have nothing to worry about."
I once read that very thing on a web site I frequently visit called Ask Reddit. Someone had made a post about psychiatric hospitals, and one of the things I remember very vividly reading on there was that mental hospitals are like restaurants in a way. People come and go quickly. Due to the shortage of beds for the mentally ill, hospitals like to free up the beds as quickly as possible in the same way that restaurants like to free up their tables when they are busy to keep the money and the customers flowing.
Too bad psych hospitals aren't as enjoyable to go to like restaurants are.
No, actually, scratch that thought. It's good that they aren't. If they were, there would be an even worse of a shortage in beds than there are now. Better to keep them sucky to encourage people to leave.
"She might still be lying to you," the voice that had previously yelled at me to just look it up to find out for myself whether a convention was really happening or not said. It was a boyish voice, sounding very much like my cousin, Alex, when we were both kids.
"She hates being out of place, so why would she go somewhere that will make her look and sound stupid? I'm right! She's lying about going to the convention. She's not going, she's not going, she's not GOING!!!!!"
"Yeah, she's just using it as an excuse to come here and stalk you," piped up the decrepit Grandpa Greg voice.
"Jesus Christ, SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU!" I shouted.
Lucky for me, I was at my own house with no one around to see or hear my angry outburst. This happened when I had left Chris's house, needing to be away from him and the kids so I could try and cope with the voices with no one around.
No one PHYSICALLY around, anyway
In my world, I am never alone. It's just that people who don't know me all that well have no way of knowing that.
When it's just me and my imaginary friends, life is good. It's when all the others start interfering that life really starts to suck.
Fortunately, the "bad company" isn't a constant thing. If it was, I would have put myself out of my misery a long time ago.
But Chris and the children need me, as do my "good" imaginary friends, so I live on. I couldn't do that to them, leave them behind forever. I love them too much to put them through that kind of pain. And, if I killed myself, I wouldn't be able to talk to Chris or my kiddos for a long, perhaps forever. Who knows whether there's really an afterlife like so many people believe.
Chris may be right. There may very well be nothing after death. I guess none of us will know until our time here on Earth is up.
"We're NOT good!" Chrissie is yelling in my ear right now.
Chrissie, what I mean by the word "good", is that you don't say mean things to me like the other "bad" demons do. Sure, you annoy me sometimes, but you don't make me feel bad and crazy and like dying the way they do.
Trust me, you are by no means "good" in the real sense. Go on now, go cause trouble. I need to finish this story.
Or, part of it anyway.
Okay, Chrissie seems pretty satisfied with that explanation. I wonder where her and Nevaeh are off to?
"Why," the Greg voice taunted.
"Why should we shut up? We're having so much FUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNN!"
More time passed, and, as the convention drew closer, the more panicky I was beginning to feel. Chrissie wasn't around much, and, when she was, her and Nevaeh sat in the corner of my living room, heads bent close together, whispering. I could never tell what they were whispering about, and that in itself was aggravating. I could hear them speaking, but I could never make any of their words out.
It was like listening to a conversation, or, rather, TRYING to listen to a conversation, only there was a thick, sound proof wall separating me from Chrissie and Nevaeh, making their words nothing more than very quiet mumbling. Only, this time, I could see them because they have bodies and don't hide from me like the coward voices.
Or, maybe the voices just don't HAVE bodies to reveal.
Maybe next time they come to pay me a visit, I'll challenge them by calling them cowards and commanding them to reveal themselves to me. If they don't, I'll ask them where their bodies are, and, if they still don't reveal themselves, I'll taunt them, just as they taunt me.
Sometimes, if I'm mean back, they go away.
But, only SOMETIMES.
When I would repeatedly ask Chrissie where she went and what her and Nevaeh were up to, she'd just yell, "Ha ha!" and run around the apartment like a crazy beanie baby demon.
Under less stressful circumstances, that would have made me laugh, but right then, it only added to my already humungous wall of frustration and desperation.
So, I turned to Nevaeh and pleaded to her to tell me what was going on.
"You'll see," she said, jumping up on my left shoulder to caress my cheek comfortingly.
"Just have faith in us, okay? We've got your back. And, oh yeah, don't do anything impulsive. PLEASE!"
Like Jennifer, I also have the unfortunate habit of being impulsive when super stressed.
DESTRUCTIVELY impulsive. Not so much in the way of damaging property or hurting people, but more in a self destructive way that causes me much regret when it's all over and there's no turning back.
When it's too late, when the damage has already been done.
There was a time when Chrissie was gone for a whole day and a half. I tried desperately to reach her on her walkie-talkie, the one that I had made for her, but there was no answer. When I confronted Nevaeh about Chrissie's whereabouts, she would only say, "You'll soon see, just be patient."
"I hate you Nevaeh!" I snapped at her.
"Go away! Get out of my face!"
Later on, after this whole fiasco was over, I did apologize to Nevaeh for being so mean. She said that she understood and that all was forgiven.
Finally, after what seemed a decade, Chrissie finally showed up. She was breathless but seemed very proud of herself.
"Where have you been?" I demanded the instant she came through the window of my bedroom.
"I've been worried sick! I've tried to reach you a THOUSAND times on your walkie-talkie!"
"I know," she said, unconcernedly.
"Well then, why the FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK didn't you ANSWER?!!!!!!!!!"
"Because I had to concentrate!" Chrissie hollered back.
"You'll thank me later, I promise."
I shivered. That was something Jennifer often said to me as a child when she did something that I didn't want her to do.
To this day, I can only remember thanking her later for ONE thing.
"I mean it," Chrissie said to me.
"This isn't your mother speaking to you, it's me! Chrissie! And you really WILL thank me later, I PROMISE! You just have to WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIT!"
Glumly, I turned my back on Chrissie and said nothing. Turning up the radio to my favorite station, 95.3 KGY, I got up and began to dance. Dancing to oldies music really helps me cope with difficult situations. And, sometimes, it even coaxes the voices into silence for a little while.
The next day, I talked to my mom. I can't remember if she called me or if I called her. I think I called her, though I hate admitting it.
"so," she said in a very businesslike tone that made me tense up immediately. I could tell she was going to ask me a serious question that I could not avoid. Unless, of course, I hung up on her.
But, I didn't. I just sat there, holding my breath, one of my habits when panic is immanent.
"Do you know if you can see me yet and when?"
I knew what she was talking about. The convention was only a week away at that point, and she meant business.
I squirmed uncomfortably on my bed. Ordering myself to relax, I said, "Nope, not yet. I'm very busy helping out with Rachel (that's the baby's name), and I never know what I'm doing from day to day. Why do you need to know right now anyway?"
"Well, somehow my hotel reservation got canceled or, maybe not even put in the system at all, so I don't have a room at the Red Lion after all."
My stomach did a flip-flop. My heart leapt with hope.
she won't be able to come down here anymore, I thought to myself excitedly.
"No, stupid," the Alex voice hissed in my ear.
"She's still coming! Why else would she be asking when you could see her?"
My heart immediately sank. My stomach followed suit by tightening. A huge, almost debilitating wave of nausea threatened to overtake me.
Swallowing hard and forcing myself to take a deep breath, I said, in what I prayed to Satan was a disappointed tone, "Well, I'm sorry to hear about that. Are you still planning on going to the convention?"
"Oh yes," she said without hesitation.
"I'm going to commute to Olympia and back. I'm only interested in attending some of the conferences anyway, not all of them."
I wasn't out of the woods then.
"Which conferences are you going to attend?"
I just HAD to know.
"Well, there's a morning and afternoon conference that I want to attend on Friday, but I'm not staying for the dinner afterward. As for Saturday, I'm interested in one of the afternoon conferences."
"What about Sunday?" I asked, hoping that I didn't sound too eager. If I did and if I asked too many questions, she would get suspicious. And I didn't want her to be mad at me OR suspicious.
I still receive some help from her financially, so I have to walk the find line between keeping her happy, or, at the very least appeased, and yet still enforcing my boundaries and keeping her at bay. It's a very hard, thin line to walk, and very draining physically and emotionally to do it.
I guess I don't HAVE to walk the fine line, but, I do because I'm scared.