I just finished Tracey McMillan’s Why You’re Not Married…Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You Deserve. In the spirit of really understanding McMillan’s book, I will continue with the chapter analytical essays. They’ve helped me in further understanding the book.
I want to talk about when I read Chapter 4: You’re Crazy: Or, Deal with Your Inner Courtney Love.
You could not tell me five years ago that when Rupert told me…”you are acting crazy” I would have agreed upon it.
Now, since I’ve matured a lot more and realized it, yes, now, I understand all those times when he was calling me crazy.
McMillan explains it very well in this chapter when men call women crazy…it actually means what it does.
You are being crazy.
What is crazy when you are dating or in relationships?
Crazy is about intensity. It’s about being out of control emotionally; acting against your own best interests in your relationships; stoking lots of drama; being needy, easily hurt, jealous, insecure, and/or in other psychological states of being that men are not looking for in the mother of their children. It also includes eating disorders, crying after sex, and anything you can easily picture Courtney Love doing (68).
I remember when I first got into a relationship with Rupert, and the crazy spilled over. No, we aren’t talking about me acting like a murder psychopath, but all the deep stuff that was hidden in view came spewing out when we got together. I even remember telling him…I think that there is something wrong with me. He brushed it off. He thought I was overreacting…and being crazy for saying that something was wrong with me.
Come to find out, the OCD/severe depression I had come bubbling up from the surface. When I got into a relationship, it acted as the catalyst for other major shit that went on through my life to appear. I had to fully recognize and understand that I was in extreme duress.
Well, what was I in duress about? At the time, I couldn’t even scratch the surface, but now, I can. It was because I never had to answer to someone else. I never had to be intimate with someone else…and show them all of myself. Even though I thought I was ready to do it mentally, it wasn’t really ready to do it emotionally. It affected me and exposed the deep dark fears that I had been keeping away…and what was scary is that I didn’t even know that they were there.
Looking back at that time, geez, that was long ago when really it wasn’t. It was 9 years ago.
I think the reason why Rupert stayed with me because he knew there was a possible chance that I didn’t want any children. Besides that, he stayed probably because he has issues with his mom as well. Nevertheless, he stayed when he should have ran for the hills.
Did I say that? Yes, I did.
I agree with McMillan. Crazy is intense. When you are crazy, you cannot think straight at all. When I was having my episode, I could not think straight, and I was not myself. All that television I watch, the times I was in therapy when I had the opportunities when I was younger, and all the friendships I had could not compare to the outcome I would have concerning how I would act when I entered my first relationship.
However, I’ve went through my degree of crazy. McMillan defines the two degrees of crazy:
“Crazy comes in two basic flavors: major crazy and minor crazy. If you’re major crazy, you already know it, because you have been told so by at least three people who aren’t even among your exes. Major crazy involved major actions—like the girl I know who threw a Durafalme log into the front seat of her ex-boyfriend’s new car and set it on fire. Violence, self-harm, serious vandalism, and destroying someone’s reputation (even if it was your own) all fall into this category. Major crazy is never cute or dramatic if you’re a danger to yourself or others” (69).
I would say that I fit into a fluid degree of moderate crazy. First off, I never had anyone tell me that I was crazy outside of Rupert. And I still don’t have anyone tell me I am crazy and Rupert hardly calls me crazy because I’ve gotten myself together. Pretty much, 24 thru 29 was some difficult times for me to swallow. Now, I recognize that it was my crazy period, and I own it. I finally understand that I went berserk because I thought I had it together (and I held it together for so long….my mother’s emotional abuse, my guilt with leaving my family to finish my degree, not being close to my extended family anymore). That period has taught me so much about myself already. It has taught me that I needed to learn that I am not invincible…and that I have issues like everyone else. It is okay to be flawed as long as you put effort into changing…into your transformation.
But unlike my unusual situation, Rupert met me when I was fine. I didn’t realize that living alone and doing my own thing what was attractive about me. But I just couldn’t handle being with someone else and being vulnerable when it became long term.
Now, I can. That blue and yellow period was a time to really go through the fire and come out of the ashes. It was difficult, but I did it.
However, most guys aren’t going to stick with a woman when she has an explosion of crazy unless they got issues as well. McMillan is right; men want women who they believe will be able to take care of their children. Let me break this down for you. Basically, if a man thinks that you are crazy and you keep harassing him, stalking him, whining to him, acting like a complete fool, he is not going to think you will be responsible enough to take care of a family. And looking at this, I agree with it. Crazy people, typically, cannot take care of themselves because they aren’t in their right frame of mind. If you are crazy, it usually means you aren’t independent:
“If you look closely, the cray-cray comes out of an underlying belief that we are dependent on the outcome of what happens with a given man, and we’re not going to be okay unless things turn out a certain way (usually the way where we get what we want: the guy) (70).
How does this relate to dependency and being crazy?
Well, it is true. Reflecting on it, I wanted Rupert to act a certain way. I wanted an outcome with him to go the way I wanted. When it didn’t go the way I wanted it to, I started acting crazy. Minor crazy. I would accuse him of this or that…and letting my emotions run high and getting all agitated and overwhelmed. Showing my ass off. Showing my ass out. Basically, I wanted to run the show with certain situations, and I just needed to have them play out. Yet, all in all, it does return to my need of wanting to be in control. When I was hoarding, I thought I was in control of that. Once it got out of control in my tiny college apartment room, I was in denial about admitting I was out of control it (the collecting/hoarding). Denial is lying to yourself. I was lying to myself how I needed all these books…and they were there for me…but looking back, I had all these books covering my entire bedroom to where, I could hardly get inside my room. And I started sometimes sleeping outside of the bedroom. When I met Jonathan, I would spend the night in his room at his college apartment room. Looking back on it, I was practicing the crazy without even knowing I was doing it. That I was harming myself because I thought it was normal.
I grew up around a house filled with collectibles. I grew up in a household, actually, with a hoarding mother. So, to me, that was my normal. But when you start having to face the situation by engaging in another situation (like moving to another room…and a short amount of time), you realize that what you did was crazy.
Crazy + Crazy= Double Crazy. If you don’t get a handle on it, Double Crazy+Crazy=Triple Crazy…and so forth.
So, how do you put a stop to the crazy? Here are some of McMillan’s advice/application concerning this issue:
“You’re going to have to get help. Obviously I’m not a therapist, but I have spent thousands of dollars with one (or six). I’ve also read about seventy books hoping to unlock the mysteries of my own dysfunction, and I’m happy to say it worked! I now know that most of the insane bullshit I’ve been doing in relationships is related to my childhood. Talk about insight.
You can be pretty sure your insanity is related to your childhood, too. If your craziness is keeping the husbands away, the question is really one of degree: is your stuff major or minor?
If you’ve done major crazy stuff more than once in fairly recent past (say, one to three years), you have only one choice: get major help. You need to go to therapy immediately and start dealing with childhood trauma that almost surely underlies such acts. The part of your mind that tells you you’re not really that fucked up is lying to you. That doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does mean that as soon as you get into a relationship that triggers you in a specific way, all those feelings—and thus all that crazy behavior—will come roaring back like a yeast infection where you only took the medication for two days” (77-78).
As I said prior, when I told Rupert something was wrong (I had racing thoughts at the time), I got helped. I entered therapy, and I had very good therapists that were helping me. So, I agree with what Tracey McMillan says. You need to get help as soon as possible when you starting act the “cray cray.” Because we aren’t just talking about why you aren’t in a relationship or why you aren’t married, we are talking about how you need to resolve and move forward with your childhood issues.
After you starting attending your therapy sessions, McMillan also says you need hobbies which I whole heartedly agree with:
“And that’s when I realized that, after therapy (and all that it entails), what you need is hobbies. Lots of them. Hobbies may seem too simple to be worth talking about in a book about relationships, but they’re not. Because hobbies are all about you. They are about your passion. Who are you? What makes you you? How do you sepnd time with yourself and build your relationship with yourself? Your hobbies are special time between you and you. Like the Big Sister/Little Sister program, except that this time you’re both the pretty career lady and the disadvantaged girl with the big eyes and the pigtails” (79).
A part of reducing that crazy ass energy is finding healthy ways to release that energy. Hobbies are wonderful outlets to realize, control, and maintain balanced energy. Besides finding a full time job which help me realign my priorities, I’ve started to put in an effort to write on a daily basis and read books again. I also would like to start other types of hobbies as well. Hobbies help give us structure and self-esteem. If you someone with mental illness and dealing with childhood demons, you certainly do need hobbies.
And then, the most helpful advice that McMillan gives you out of each chapter: “Spiritual Stuff That Will Help You Change:”
“From a spiritual standpoint, your craziness is where your wounds are—whether they are wounds from childhood or those from past relationships. It’s where you don’t believe you will be supported. Where you fear that if you don’t do something, no one will. It’s where you store, or metabolize, your pain over life’s hurts and disappointments. The good news is that dealing with your craziness will set you free in all areas of your life.
The antidote to being crazy is to know that you have choices. As mentioned earlier, when you are being intense, dependent, and out of control, it’s a like a tantrum—you have reverted to a childhood state. There’s a saying that children who grow up in dysfunctional homes don’t have any power and know it, while adults who live in dysfunctional homes have power and don’t know it. Leaving the craziness behind is about understanding that you have power—you just need to exercise it in a way that works for you, not against you” (79-80).
Yes, there are people who have hurt you and me. But we do have choices to realize that those people cannot hold power over us anymore. We hold the power to make the choice not to let those people no longer have influential power over us. There is a time where we have to recognize that we are adults…and no longer children. We can’t just make up excuses that my mom, dad, whoever did us wrong.
I remember this poignant quote from Alice Walker’s The Third Life of Grange Copeland. It is a power quotation where Grange tells Ruth, his granddaughter, about Brownfield’s behavior:
“Your daddy’s done taught me something I didn’t know about blame and guilt,’ he said. ‘You see, I figured he could blame a good part of his life on me; I didn’t offer him no directions and, he thought, no love. But when he became a man himself, with his own opportunity to righten the wrong I done him by being good to his own children, he had a chance to become a real man, a daddy in his own right. That was the time he should of just forgot about what I do to him—and to his ma. But he messed up with his children, his wife and his home, and never yet blamed hisself. And never blaming hisself done made him weak. He no longer have to think beyond me and the white folks to get to the root of all his problems. Damn, if thinking like that ain’t made noodles out of his brains” (212).
It is unusual for me to hear a parent not only own what he has done but tell his child about himself. These powerful words being spoken is about how Brownfield has chosen the same road as his father instead of choosing a better road…and becoming a better man than his father. Brownfield is acting crazy because he still holds on to this huge resentment that his father did him wrong. No one is asking Brownfield to forget what his father has done. I am sure Grange bears enough of the emotional pain he has inflicted on his son. However, Brownfield can no longer excuse what his father did to him by continue to misbehave as he has. Grange is right. Brownfield is supposed to rise above his circumstances and have the kind of life that Grange took advantage of.
This is what happens when we don’t deal with our childhood demons. We choose to let them swallow us whole and become something twisted and ugly. And once the twisted and ugly are presented then we are unable to really see what we are made of. Who we want and need to become start being unclear, and as a result, we become monsters for it.
Pretty much, McMillan and Grange hit it on this head. Don’t let the cray cray screw you over. The cray cray will screw you out of a relationship…and good things. It will especially screw over your decision making. Instead of thinking clear and making logical or ration decisions to empower yourself, you are making decisions based on irrationality and fear. If I can recover from the cray cray, I know you can.