I think I was in my twenties when I realized that my mother had a need to replay things in her mind until she came up with one thing which just didn’t sit well with her. I can remember as a child hearing her up late at night, the sound of ice cubes crushed loose from their trays as she prepared another drink.

She was the elephant in the room, with her unpredictable mood swings, her alcohol and drug use. Her unshakeable belief that our family was superior to everyone else in the neighborhood. This rendered friendships hard to sustain.

Unlike my older brother, who recalls mom’s drinking (how she would disappear into her room with her whiskey sour right after the dishes were done, reemerging only to whisk up refills), I recall the amphetamines most vividly. Her use of diet pills and diuretics were just accepted knowledge. We didn’t find anything odd about her friendship with the neighborhood pharmacists Bernie and Herb who were more than happy to front her black beauties before the feds clamped down on amphetamine distribution. It was no secret when she started sharing her stash with me when I was a young teen. And then later, when we would double down on our drug supply, taking turns visiting a doctor a few towns over who would give us small white boxes with green pills inside. No name or markings.

It wasn’t uncommon to go to bed at night content after an especially close and intimate conversation with my mother only to wake up the next morning to that other woman. She wouldn’t be talking to me. (I can recall it being referred to as “the cold shoulder.”) It was clear that in my mother’s eyes I had done something horribly wrong. But when would that have happened? Things were perfect the last time I saw her. We were bonded. I was safe.

It could be weeks before she would begin talking to me again. No one in the family would acknowledge the dynamic. I would spend a lot of time in my room.

I recall one incident most vividly. I had snuck across the street after my family was asleep to spend some time with my girlfriend Elise. Her family was going on vacation early the next morning. We sat in her room for hours, lost in a make believe world we created about us in the Beatles where she was George Harrison’s girlfriend and I was dating Paul McCartney. I think we were 10 and 12. The next morning when I came downstairs, my mother was furious.

“What’s this trash,” she asked. She handed me some pages torn from a Playboy magazine. I looked on the other side of the pages where there was a four page spread on McCartney. Elise had put this in my mailbox because she knew how much I would love it.

“I don’t want you hanging out with that girl anymore.” My mother rose from the table. “That family is disgusting. Having a magazine like that in the house. They are not our type of people.”

Elise came home a week or so later and ran over to see if I wanted to join her in the pool.

“I can’t. I’m not allowed to play with you anymore.”

I don’t recall if I told her why. I think not. I think I was just too embarrassed.

Of course, this wasn’t a permanent injunction against Elise, just as the ‘off limits’ for other neighborhood kids never were either. I could always count on her attention shifting elsewhere for a time, I could get a few months in with a friend, but I was always waiting for the ax to come down.

The worst incident, however, was my diary. I was in fifth grade. On the periphery of a group at school of the wild kids.

Usually the phrase is used to describe a tense and dysfunctional relationship with another person – as in “Mary walks on eggshells whenever Sam is around.”

Being in relationship with someone who has a Personality Disorder (PD), can result in a constant state of hyper-vigilance around that person.

Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses. They involve long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible. The behaviors cause serious problems with relationships and work. People with personality disorders have trouble dealing with everyday stresses and problems. They often have stormy relationships with other people. Medline Plus

The cause of personality disorders is unknown. However, genes and childhood experiences may play a role.

The symptoms of each personality disorder are different. They can mild or severe. People with personality disorders may have trouble realizing that they have a problem. To them, their thoughts are normal, and they often blame others for their problems. They may try to get help because of their problems with relationships and work. Treatment usually includes talk therapy and sometimes medicine.

Typically, the person in relationship with a PD:

  • is intently focused on what they say or do to avoid reaction
  • believe they are at fault when situation deteriorates
  • self blame is reinforced by the PD

These self-blaming attitudes are often vigorously reinforced by the PD in your life.

According to the PD, the fault never lies with them or their behavior – you are the only one that needs work!

“There is also a category of people who don’t have any Alpha waves and also have low amplitude brainwave activity across all bands. I see this in about 30-40% of the patients I treat. Neurologically, we refer to these people as hypervigilent. The definition of hypervigilence is someone who cannot turn off his or her mental activity for any length of time. They must always be thinking or focusing on something. They tend not to be able to let go of emotional issues but rather obsess relentlessly about them.”
The pain is now only a figment of the imagination residing as a cellular memory.” link

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