Eight years ago I had "girlie parts" surgery in a last ditch attempt to correct my organs and make conception possible and at the very least, minimize the pain and discomfort of years of monthly issues. As I came out of the anesthesia in recovery, the nurse asked me if I would like some ginger ale. I replied with a slurred voice, still in a foggy stupor of drugs, "Yes, please and thank you."
The nurse paused and then asked, "Would you like it with some ice?"
"Ooo..." I cooed, "That would be nice!"
When the nurse brought me my drink, holding the straw so I could sip, she said, "You must be a very nice person."
I nodded my head. "Some people tell me that."
"No. I mean it," she persisted. "When people are on drugs and coming out of surgery, you learn the true character of that person. In all my years as a nurse, never once has a patient said 'please and thank you' like you did. It says a lot about you. If you are that nice after surgery, you must be an angel when you're fully alert."
I just smiled back at her and sipped some more. I thanked her and drifted in and out of sleep.
That conversation with the recovery room nurse has stuck with me. The fact that the essence and true character of an individual can be made evident when they are most vulnerable is intriguing. Sure, it's astounding to learn that my true character is what I hope it might be, as though I've really seen myself in a mirror, not just my reflection but who I am to the world. But I think it's more telling to learn that the more likely reality is that people are not as they seem.
Long before parenting challenged children, I had many opportunities to be connected with the lives of other challenged individuals. I was intrigued by the potential for such alarming alterations of the mind and body and that the human spirit always prevailed over every adversity. I was equally intrigued by the ability or inability of other individuals to support the less fortunate and in my ignorance concluded that the choice to be benevolent was based upon moral character and integrity. Ignorance is such bliss.
In my senior year of college, I came face to face with the truth of the crippling nature of mental illness as it pertains to the benevolence of others. An individual that was highly regarded by my college campus ministry and who was generally accepted as very gifted, kind and compassionate was a pathological liar that had evaded police, engaged in credit fraud, identity theft and was in fact, not even an enrolled student. Layer upon layer of lies was peeled away and with each layer removed, those of us that knew her were stunned anew. The depth of her manipulations was far reaching and injured many, many people. Just typing this, I have a pit in my stomach remembering how hurtful and damaging her machinations were. It brings tears to my eyes and makes me weep both for those she hurt and in pity for her soul. This experience was the first true encounter I had with the threat mental illness plays on the moral fiber and character of a person and by default, those whose lives they touched. Once you know the character and face of a pathological liar, you never forget it. Any other person you meet that is deceptive stands out like '67 VW van in a sea of BMWs. And it's extremely painful to watch others be duped by their deceptions time and time again despite my warnings.
Fast forward to present day, living with a pathological liar that is so convincing in her manipulations that she has completely snowed the staff at her school, I am again reminded of the limitless depths of psychoses and the havoc it wreaks on the innocent and benevolent. Sissy doesn't do it on purpose. She just does it. And I continue to be the punching bag when the ignorant individuals duped by her machinations refuse to accept that it is my CHILD who is mentally ill, the mental illness and the psychoses of the mind knows no bounds and is not a respecter of age.
Sissy apparently told my therapist in a private session how much she LOVES math. My therapist and I had a good chuckle about it because it's not true in the farthest stretch of the imagination. Yet Sissy, compelled to make herself look good, concocted the lie and convincingly so, I might add. Oh, she can lie without flinching, adding just the right flair of truth that it is easily accepted as such.
Directly after my session with my therapist, I bumped into a school professional that I presumed was very familiar with the true character of Sissy. Still tickled by her latest lie, I said, "you'll never believe this. Sissy told my therapist that she LOVES math!" *giggle, giggle, snort*
The professional said, "Oh yay! Finally we're getting through! I knew she'd come around."
O.o "No," I continued to giggle, "Sissy doesn't like math, she HATES it! it's a ruse, she would rather be in the hospital than do math. She was lying."
"oh, you never can tell what will come out of these kids' mouths. At least some of that must be truth."
*brick wall, deep sigh, realization that once again, I'm being assumed to be the idiot* I answered dumbly, "yeah," halfheartedly chuckling, "you never can tell what Sissy will say."
It infuriates me because I know the true character of Sissy. I've talked to her, metaphorically speaking, when she's in post-op recovery, still in a drug stupor. The true character of my child is to manipulate at all cost in an odd and convoluted attempt of self-preservation. It's called RADs. It has stolen my child's mind forever. Her psychoses continues to bring me pain and sorrow daily. And what of my true character?
Though I be stung, pricked, abused and blamed, I will always be a very nice person with integrity and the moral fiber of Christ whom I profess as my Savior. It would just be very nice if once in awhile, other people might get a true glimpse of the depth and the many layers of manipulations Sissy feels she must continue.
I asked her two nights ago as an off-handed thought, "Hey Sissy, what's your favorite subject. And don't say math."
"What? Why would I say math? I hate math."
"I know you do. I was just wondering why you would say you love it."
"When did I say I love math?"
"To my therapist in a private session."
"Huh? I don't even remember that. Why would I say that? That doesn't even make sense."
"I know. That's why I brought it up."
"I think I like science the best. Yeah. I like science. That's my favorite."
I laughed. "Yes. Yes it is."
Oh the mind games I have to play to get the truth from her. It's exhausting. But I believe always maintaining personal integrity despite the unending barrage of interrogations, disbelief and second-guessing I endure because Sissy is a pathological liar is more exhausting. Maybe one day I'll go psycho back on these people.
Nah. They'll just say, "see, I knew it all along. It really IS the mom that's whack, not Sissy."
I think I'd like some ginger ale with ice, please and thank you.