It's going well so far, but I never would have thought it would be like this.
My mother came back to stay with us last night.
This time she is accompanied by my dear son who just turned twenty-four.
He's back in Minneapolis to hopefully start graduate school in the Fall.
He's been accepted and has a teaching assistant position as well, but it may all be done on line which will certainly not be as much fun.
He went to visit his grandmother yesterday to help her get groceries.
The building manager asked to talk to him with my mother and she explained that my mother has been knocking on as many as five doors per night, in the middle of the night, waking her senior neighbors, telling them crazy stories.
She told some of them that a bomb was about to go off in the lower level parking garage, that was two nights ago.
It's a senior building, "for the active senior who wants a luxurious setting and a fun social life", something like that.
These people do not want to be woken up and frightened.
Or just annoyed.
If it happens enough times, they ask that my mother be evicted.
We called her doctor again and now he says to go to the full dosage...gradually...of the anti-psychotic drug she started taking recently.
But she's afraid to take the drug so now here we all are, watching her take her pill last night, half of it actually, because she won't take a whole one...yet.
It's 7am and we had no disturbances last night.
But we're on to her.
My valiant son took one for the team and is sleeping in the guest room with her, there are twin beds in there.
Nina has taken to the living room sofa, and interestingly, so has Tobi the puppy.
Rob and I are in the master bedroom, but that's a great turn of events as well because Rob had been spending more and more nights alone out in his new garage music studio working until four and then sleeping until ten on the sofa out there.
Last night was a family triumph.
A miracle for someone of my broken background.
The man I love and live with, kindly accepting two of my grown children and my currently psychotic mother, plus me and Tobi the big puppy, all in his one bathroom little old bungalow.
But it felt fun!
It takes this number of people to counter act the effects of my mother's evil.
Sorry, but it's true.
Her way of undercutting everything and everyone drags you down.
I used to say as a teenager that being around my mother made be feel like I was stuck in quicksand.
Your limbs get harder to move.
Your ideas for what to do next get stymied.
Your thoughts get jumbled.
Your chest feels tight and your lungs don't work right anymore.
If your mother was evil and crazy when you were growing up you almost assuredly have asthma.
I know it seems like I'm joking around but I'm mostly not.
But anyway, you get a big strong clear headed righteous male like Rob running the house and that helps a lot.
Other men have fallen for her tricks.
She says small undermining things to them like, "I don't have to tell you what she's like, you're living with her. You know how she is."
This is referring to me on a million different counts of me being impossible.
Many men have fallen under her spell and I've heard them respond, without their even being aware that they've been had, "Yeah, exactly, she's impossible."
Their eyes turn into cartoon twirling pinwheels, they're under my mother's spell, they are mine no more.
But not stalwart judicious Rob.
He has from the beginning stopped the spell and turned it back on her, like a cartoon guy with a shield that reflects the evil laser like a mirror and shoots it right back at the attacker.
He'll respond calmly and cooly with, "I can't let you talk that way about your daughter to me. Courtney is a very good person. She has her flaws but so do you and I."
The first time Rob responded that way to her she almost died right there.
She almost turned into the Wicked Witch of the West.
She almost started wailing, "I'm melting....".
Well, we don't want her to melt, we just want her to be her best self.
We don't want her to lose her beautiful apartment and have to sell all her beautiful things to go to the Memory Care Unit of a nursing home.
My mother can be very wonderful and I have a lot of great characteristics I got from her, to give credit where credit is due.
I also have some of her very bad traits from her that I am finally eradicating from my repertoire of possible responses in life.
Bringing my mother back here is a big effort, this time our plan includes five nights of pill dosage adjustment.
I'm not sure we saw her swallow the dose last night, but considering that she slept all night, she must have swallowed it.
Tonight I'm going to insist she take it in front of one of us, probably her grandson.
One of her things is she only likes men.
My daughter Nina and I are powerless to her because her insulting cruelty, turned on each of us, is too hard to bear.
We just can't get above it.
We both get really depressed by it.
We both just want to stay away from her.
My son said to me yesterday that he is enjoying have an opportunity to exert his new sense of strength as a twenty-four year old in the family.
He recognizes that he's in a unique position to exercise some authority because my mother loves him so much.
Also, she respects my ex-husband so much because he's a doctor and she loves doctors.
She used to be a radiology tech in a hospital for twenty-five years until she was almost seventy.
She's very sharp with things like that and she loves the medical profession.
So my son has access to his Dad and the two of them have been on the phone, even yesterday, with my mother's doctor.
She loves all of that.
She won't let me talk to her doctors.
Good. Fine. Better for me.
So my son is in a unique position to have my mother's respectful ear, and nobody else has that with her, not even Rob, certainly not me.
Why not me?
I've just always been the personification of everything she doesn't like.
Or maybe if I did it, whatever it was, that was the reason she didn't like it any more.
I have the wrong kind of figure and that's when she really turned on me was when I got very busty around the age of twelve.
After that she just hated me.
She has spent my whole life trying to convince me that women should be very thin with very small breasts.
That's how she's built.
As if convincing me could make a difference.
She convinced me for a long time that I should be ashamed.
That's hard to rise above.
It's hard to look in the mirror and switch your self hatred to self love.
It takes awareness and practice.
It takes will power and awareness.
It takes a strong determination to catch yourself, notice your thoughts, change your thoughts.
I've had to try hard to look at myself in the mirror and say, "Come on, you don't look huge and fat and disgusting. Come on, look again, it's not that bad."
People like the music artist Lizzo have helped me.
I look at the way she looks in her bike shorts and crop top, with a joyous smile on her pretty face, and then I look in the mirror at me in mine and I say, "Good enough, Girlfriend, good enough."
This morning, with my mother and two of my grown children in the house, and my big strong Rob to protect me, I'm going to put on my leopard print bike shorts.
I'm going to put on the leopard print bike shorts and the matching sports bra.
Nina already told me it looks great on me so I have some confidence.
I'm going to wear my zip up running jacket over this, but I'm going to have the courage to leave it unzipped when I go down for my coffee.
Why? Because I'm feeling good as hell!
I'm not sick with The Virus anymore!
I can go jogging with my big puppy Tobi!
I can rejoice in my healthy beautiful body!
With so many loving people in the house, we have brought down the Devil himself.
We have made the Witch melt.
We are better than one person's inner nightmare.
My mother slept all night.
My son just got up and said good morning happily to me.
Tobi is bounding around in the upper hall with his big brother.
Tobi thinks having five people in the house is the greatest thing ever.
I just heard my mother giggling as Tobi came in and probably licked her face while she's still in bed.
My son, chuckling, carried Tobi out of her room and shut the door.
A puppy is one of the best medicines in the world, a puppy can cast out evil, can take the darkness away.
Caring adult children are an immense gift to a family.
A man like Rob is worth his weight in gold.
And somebody like me, well, I'm pretty great too.
Just the way I am.
Courtney, signing off, happy to be alive.
God bless you.