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Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Legacy of My Mothers Neurotic Behavior

I am fully acquainted with psychological deviations having worked on and off in Emergency Rooms since the age of 17. I can tell you from experience that they come in many varieties. After studying the behavior of people for quite some time, I can tell you that most people show some form of defunct behavior. I would wager that 90 % of today’s population exhibits some degree of neurotic behavior, given the proper circumstances. The other 10% I attribute to psychosis. That said, perhaps I could share with my readers the remarkable fetishes of my family.

My mother, who is close to sainthood, in my mind, has some very unique compulsions. As a child, I can remember that for quite some time, I was she and my grandmother’s obsession. I often visited the Doctor for many reasons other than illness. I also frequented the dentist. My childhood was micro managed to the extent that almost every waking and sleeping moment, some one knew what I was doing. For the sake of my sister reading this, I will add that even my toilet behavior was closely monitored.
My grandmother was also quite obsessive. Whenever I asked to go for a walk, she would send me out with a cup full of pepper to throw into anyone’s eyes who might try to harm me. I was only allowed to walk about 2-3 cabins past our property. Then I had to come straight back.
When I was about 12 or 13, my mother “got saved”. She was a single mom, working full time to support us girls. She had been searching for quite some time. She sailed through many new interests prior to this conversion. At the time I thought it was one of her passing trends. After all, not long before this she had gotten into cooking with a wok, taking guitar lessons, and getting her green belt in karate. I still remember the time she said “when I die, bury me in my Ge”.
It is quite extra-ordinary how it all happened now that I think about it. One day my mother prayed the salvation prayer with a carpenter who was working on our house. After that, she suddenly took an interest in this church not far away from our home. It was not unusual for her to be excited about something new, but this new trend didn’t go away easily. My mother blared Christian Radio in the car. She started saying “praise the Lord” all the time. She even began making odd sounds with a new thing she called “praying in tongues”. She carried her bible all over the place with her. If ever there was an excited new convert, it was my mother.
I tolerated all these things for the most part. It was when some well meaning church person told her that she needed to instruct her children in these things that it really affected me. Suddenly, I was not only in school Monday through Friday and Dance Classes every entire Saturday, but we now had a place to be on Sundays. My grandmother rebelled at first, but when she saw that my mother was determined, she eventually gave in and started going along with her. For a while, when she was angry, she would shout on the top of her lungs “You call yourself and Christian and……..” to whatever behavior she didn’t approve of in my mother. We also quit our beloved tradition of going to the local eating establishment (which was a bar). My Grandmother would order a “Harvey Wall Banger” and my Mother would order a “Vodka Collins”. I would play video games, eat greasy food, and be entertained by drunk Minnesotans.
We were quite an amusing scene at the local church. In the morning, I would try to get out of going to church. Eventually I was forced to go. This was the first time ever that my mother made me do anything. My sister would happily go along. In the car, my mother would blast her Christian Radio station saying “praise the Lord” and I would try to change the station. My sister would narc on me. I would come to learn that I could never escape from Christian Radio stations in the years to follow. My grandmother would pack my little sister a container of butter, a knife and some crackers. Every Sunday, my sister would sit underneath the front pew buttering the crackers and happily munching on them. Lively music would play and people would get excited. Quiet music would play and people would raise their arms. The pastor would deliver a message. Some Chinese lady behind me would begin to loudly speak. I never did locate her as many times as I tried to.
This went on for quite some time. Every Sunday I could hear the pastor inviting us to come up and “get saved”. Every Sunday, this invisible force would compel me to the front. Even then, I was terrified of people and the idea of making a spectacle of myself in front of an entire church was enough to make me want to vomit.
I knew it was only a matter of time before this invisible force had its way with me. It never quit compelling me forward. Some times I would grip the sides of the pew to hold myself back. It didn’t just pursue me in the church. It began to follow me every where I went. It was there with me in the morning and at night constantly pursuing me. One day I couldn’t take it. It was an evening service at the church with a special speaker. I was particularly concerned about going up there because I was a 7th grader by then, and a 12th grade boy had taken it upon himself to begin hitting on me. We were sitting together in the back of the church. My mother was oblivious to these things because as a new Christian, everything was wonderful and all that mattered was God. I really wanted to impress this guy. Going up there would commit “cool” suicide. The pull became unbearable though, and up I went along with some others. “Welcome to the kingdom of God” my mother kept loudly telling us all after the service.
Once I said “yes” just once to that invisible force, my life would never be the same. It would pursue me to no end. Everything became fresh and new and I was constantly hungry for more of it. It was there when I woke up in the morning. It was there when I went to bed at night. Reading my Bible, I’d eventually curl up and sleep with it (though I hid this fact from my mother). Though I didn’t want anybody to know, this invisible force consumed me. It took me to places no one could ever understand. It was like having a supernatural best friend. One day all by myself I asked it if I could have that gift my mom had, and just like that, it gave it to me.
The problem was, it was jealous. It wouldn’t let my affections happily pursue much else. I was particularly most miserable trying to get drunk or high. It would loudly ask me “is this really making you happy?”. I couldn’t turn any direction without it being there, waiting for me. Once I gave it first place in my life again, there was a tremendous relief. Perhaps I am a bit neurotic or fixated on Him, but I can’t help myself. He continually demands my eyes fixed on Him. When I look elsewhere, misery is sure to follow. The cool thing about Him, is that He gives me supernatural insight. He tells me which way to go. He gives me vision, passion, and self worth.
As for my families other strange fixations, well there are many of them, though none anywhere near as purposeful. Just the other day my mother and I were discussing some of her fetishes. They involved a chiropractor, a naturopath and a furniture store. It seems there is no end to the experts she consults. She drives her mechanics close to insanity. She can spend many an hour discussing the inherent evils of msg, pork and acidic foods. She lives on goat cheese, organic cherry juice and chocolate. These trends come and go. I can’t remember her cooking with a wok since I was a child. She no longer pursues karate. She doesn’t play her guitar much. As for God, well that fetish has never passed.


Heather said...

Oh, Shirin, what a marvelous post! Such a strong ending. Wow.

It's amazing how much I don't remember about all these things--only the buttered crackers. :)

I'm so grateful that the Lord kept pursuing us, and still does.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post!
I haven't had much time to read very far back, being as I just popped in! Thank you so much for your comment! I had actually just been discussing with a friend how I blogged for THREE YEARS and never realy had any readers (differnet blog) and then I decided to check mine and there was a comment from you. God is funny that way isn't He?