Maggie A's Meanderings

 
 

 

 

 Sep 21, 2014

Antics of a Crazy Woman - Part 2


Another true story about the woman I knew years ago...................

One day the same woman of the "Water Bottle Incident," was looking upset. No, that's an understatement. She looked distraught, panicked, scared. Something major must have happened. She told me that her husband had gone PSYCHO, COMPLETELY PSYCHO, on her. Knowing the husband had a gun, I had immediate visions of the husband trying to shoot her or of him chasing her around their home with a butcher knife.

It turns out they'd had an argument in the kitchen and he'd tossed a tomato at her --- not even a full size tomato, but a cherry tomato. 

This, to the woman, was COMPLETELY PSYCHO.

In full disclosure, I've tossed food at someone. An "Oh, shut up" accompanied by an eyeroll and a thrown roll. I live where an eatery is famous for its "throwed rolls." So tossing something harmless at someone like a cherry tomato or two is not something I'm sure I can come down against. To be fair to the husband, he says he didn't throw any cherry tomatoes; he says he got angry, slammed his hand on the counter hitting the edge of his plate and the cherry tomatoes flew into the air. I have my doubts about that. But I also have my doubts about the wife's version of events. A marriage that's falling apart can get damned ugly, and I knew this one was as I'd been forced to listen to too many of the arguments. So what really happened with the cherry tomato, I don't know. What I do know that the woman --- who I saw immediately after the cherry tomato incident --- had no tomato on her clothing or her body.

But even if I did come down on the "never toss a cherry tomato at someone" side, I couldn't equate tossing a cherry tomato as "COMPLETELY PSYCHO" --------- much less as what this woman then went on to equate it..........

Because then this woman told me that she wanted to disappear. She wanted to take her daughter and go to one of those groups that help women to get away from their husbands by putting them into hiding.

I'd heard of groups like that. But they're for physically abused women -- women whose partners had beaten them, broken their bones, put them in the hospital, maybe even tried to kill them and done this repeatedly over years. They're also for children who had been molested. They were groups dedicated to keeping women and children in danger safe. I have great respect for them because they put themselves between victims of domestic violence and sexual molestation and the people disturbed enough to do hideous acts like that.

Cherry tomatoes don't qualify. But, still concerned, I questioned the woman closely. I knew the daughter had never been molested or abused by the father. I'd never seen the woman with bruise marks, never heard any signs of a physical altercation. She'd never said anything and she been more than willing to tell me --- at length --- about all the bad stuff her husband did and all the reasons why she couldn't stand him and wished him dead. Still, I'd never asked about physical abuse, so now I did ask. And, it turned out, the husband had never hit the woman, had never even laid a violent hand on her --- not in all the years they'd been married, not in any of the arguments no matter how bad they'd gotten. Yet this woman thought of herself as a battered spouse entitled to take her child and disappear.

So I looked at the woman and told her very seriously that if she disappeared with their daughter she would lose custody of the girl and never be able to see her again. I wasn't positive about that, but I wanted to impress upon the woman the potential consequences of what she was thinking about doing. (And, with further reflection, I doubt that "no contact" with her daughter would have happened, but her contact with her daughter might have been limited only to supervised visitation which this woman also wouldn't have handled well.)

But the cherry tomato incident reminded me of another time with this woman..........

It was about one o'clock in the morning when I heard a knocking. Now I was up watching a late movie, but I'm not "at home" to company at one in the morning. You don't knock at someone's home at one in the morning unless there's an emergency or something extraordinary has happened.

So thinking there must be an emergency, I opened the door. Standing there was the woman holding ------- of all things ------- a letter she'd just written and wanted me to read...........a letter about her daughter's dance recital. I almost shut the door on her and told her to come back in the morning, but with a sigh, I let her in.

It's not like the woman hadn't already chewed my ear off about her daughter's dance recital. Her complaints about the recital amounted to
  1. Her daughter's costume wasn't pretty enough
  2. Her daughter wasn't getting to dance enough
So I read the letter. The dance school had been working on the recital for a while, maybe even months. I knew the costumes had been ordered quite some time ago because I'd heard about how much the woman liked the costume back when it had been ordered. Now she'd changed her mind and had written a letter on how she'd like the recital to be changed. I told her I didn't think the letter would do any good. (That was a mild version of what I thought of the letter which was it was likely to antagonize the dance studio owner.)

As the woman sat on my couch and went on and on about how horrible this was for her daughter and how much it would damage her daughter, I finally had to interrupt. Though I haven't really written about it because, unfortunately, it's too mundane and too commonplace, I had the kind of childhood that could get a kid put in foster care. The woman on my couch was aware of this. As she kept talking about how this dance recital would scar her daughter's childhood and damage her for life, I told her to stop and think about who she was talking to and what I'd been through in my childhood.

At this point, this woman sitting on my couch at one in the morning complaining about her daughter's dance recital actually said to me that the damage from this dance recital to her daughter's life would be every bit as terrible as anything I went through.

I don't know how I managed to contain myself, but I let her know I thought she was wrong, that not wearing a pretty enough costume and not getting to dance more don't compare to actual child abuse. Then she got offended and told me --- with great dignity --- that she had better leave before she lost her temper. One of us was more than entitled to lose our temper and it wasn't she. But I simply let her out and closed the door behind her.

With reflection, I came to understand that in this woman's mind having a cherry tomato tossed at her was the equivalent of being beaten, having bones broken, being hospitalized, almost killed, etc, of being an actual battered woman. And that a plain costume and lack of stage time in a local childrens' dance recital really was the equivalent of a child being neglected, molested, starved, abused, etc. To her way of thinking, one was just as bad as the other, and she was utterly incapable of distinguishing between them...........at least when it happened to her or her daughter. She could not recognize that they were fundamentally different --- that cherry tomato and dance recital are not actual abuse.

It's crazy. It's insane.

I eventually came to the conclusion that it was probably mental illness. Which didn't make it any easier to deal with the woman. I mean, how do you deal with someone whose mental map is so alien to yours? I described knowing her as a walk through a beautiful, grassy pasture that was actually a minefield -- in dealing with her you never knew when the next step would set off an explosion. But while knowing this about her didn't make it any easier to deal with the woman, it did make it easier to understand her reactions. After a while, I could put many of her actions into the symptom checklist of the personality disorder I (in my layman's opinion) believed she had. The saddest thing is if she did have a personality disorder, it was treatable. But first she would have to acknowledge that she had a problem, that there was something wrong with her --- that it wasn't just other people causing all her problems. And as I said in Part 1, crazy people are usually the last one to know they're crazy. Their actions seem perfectly reasonable and rational to them. So to this woman, cherry tomato would continue to equal battered spouse and dance recital to equal child abuse. And if any of us thought differently, then we were the crazy ones.




dancer's foot with a tomato


For more about dealing with crazy people, read "Antics of a Crazy Woman - Part 1," "The Mother Who Hated the Sound of Her Children's Laughter," "Why "Birthers" Are Idiots," or "Hollywood's Bizarre Take on Rape." 

For parenting, there's "When You Think God's Light Shines Out of Your Kid's Asshole.........You're Raising a Brat (And Why It's Not Doing Your Kid Any Favors)."

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