The star people lived in the light sockets. They were aliens from a small planet that orbits Sirius, the Dog Star. They established contact with select people on earth from their headquarters in Montpelier, Vermont. These people were to be their representatives in establishing a new level of consciousness in humans on earth. My mother was one of those chosen ones. One night when I was 12 she packed up her sky-blue VW bug and headed northeast.
The government is doing genetic experiments. They are trying to create a super race. This is why my sister and I are both tall, blonde and blue or green-eyed when both of our parents are average height with brown hair. It is also why we were good students without much effort. They have been tracking us all our lives, doing experiments on us and erasing our memories of being in their laboratories. Any problems we had growing up were in some way related to this undisputed fact.
One year, my mother went on a sojourn as a "bag lady" in the park system. She called it her year of walking with God. Eventually she got arrested climbing into a dumpster behind McDonald's to find some sandwiches that were still good.
If these memories sound strange to you, you were probably not raised with a schizophrenic parent. I have met a few people in my life who can relate. There are challenges involved in living with mental illness that make life very different from what most people consider normal.
My mother was an intellectual with an IQ above genius level. By the time she made her ill-fated journey to Vermont, she had two masters degrees and was a PhD candidate. She had a history of emotional and mental problems. She went to psychiatrists, participated in support groups, hypnosis, primal scream therapy, various New Age philosophies and took her medication—or not—as the mood took her. She had a drawer full of pills that she mixed and matched with alcohol.
We never knew who would meet us when we came home from school. Sometimes it was the librarian lady who would have endless conversations about books. Other times it would be someone who yelled in different voices and had what seemed like superhuman strength. Sometimes it was a timid, frightened person who told me that if I went to that particular movie theater with my friends, we would all be kidnapped and sold into white slavery in some country across the ocean. Sometimes she would turn in an instant and literally throw a friend off the porch or try to strangle someone I invited to a family picnic.
We lived in a nice middle-class neighborhood. Some people in school picked on me because my mother was the crazy lady who walked around the streets in long, flowing skirts talking to herself. Our house was unkempt, to put it mildly. When one is concerned with space aliens and government conspiracies, there just isn't much time left for housework. My sister and I had to fend for ourselves a lot. We came up with our own way of life.
I have learned that we get much of our perception of reality from our mothers. I was well into adulthood before I realized it is not normal for a 12-year-old to forge her mother's name on a check and take the little red wagon to the store to buy groceries. It is also not normal to walk around with a fractured kneecap until it heals by itself. In both cases, my reasoning told me that any discomfort or hardship on my part would be better than bothering my mother with my needs when she was in one of her delusions.
I often wondered whether I was the one who was crazy. She was so well educated and articulate. What if she was normal and I was the one with delusions? It is hard to find words to describe how hard it was for me to relate to people with conventional mothers.
After a few years of trying to make sense of my life, I heard a story that really sounded crazy. It was about the Creator of the universe having a plan to allow human beings to overcome their limitations and to be born into His family. This story went on to describe the Kingdom of God and a time when people will be able to think clearly and understand the truth. I was skeptical at first. It really sounded like one of my my mother's delusions, except on an even larger scale. As I studied more, I discovered that it felt different than a delusion. That is a poor way to describe it, but I cannot come up with a better one.
I began to understand that human misery and sin are results of a delusion. This delusion was promoted by Satan in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve fell for it, and so have all of us to varying degrees. The delusion is that we get to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong.
Satan was the first being to become deluded that he could do things his own way. He is superintelligent and sly. He infects us with his crazy thinking. We believe that we are thinking for ourselves or even getting messages through the light sockets from aliens.
The way to see clearly through the delusion is to start living God's way of life as described in the Bible. As I learned about God's laws, I saw that He did not leave out small details. He knew what challenges human beings would have to face.
This growth is a lifelong process. I am still working on seeing reality God's way. I have learned to forgive my mother for some very painful, destructive things she has done. She has no memory of them. If I tried to tell her some of the things she has done, she would be hurt. It would not be good for her to know all the ways she made our lives harder. My "real" mother is not someone who would do hurtful things.
I know that I cannot fix my mother. I can love her the way she is, while making every effort to understand her limitations and appreciate the many good things she has to offer.
I have worried about whether I or one of my children would inherit some variation of my mother's illness. I rejoiced when I reached the age of 35 because the first symptoms of schizophrenia almost always surface much earlier than that. When one of my children does something strange, my first thought is: "Oh no! This is the one that is going to go crazy." Then I remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
I know that if I stay close to God, and teach my children to do the same, if I do my best to give them a healthy upbringing, they will have a better chance to overcome any mental challenges they may have inherited. In my years in the Church, I have met people with various mental issues who have learned to cope with them by trusting God. (Sometimes trusting God includes professional counseling or carefully prescribed drugs, but that is a separate issue.)
I remember that while my grandmother was alive, my mother was better. She trusted my grandmother to be who she said she was and to tell the truth about any situation. She felt safe with my grandmother.
I know that as wonderful and honest as my grandmother was, there is someone who is even more wonderful and more honest. That is God. We can trust Him to be who He says He is and to tell us the truth about any situation. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
The apostle Paul said that now we see through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12). The picture in my mind is of someone trying to see into the backseat of my minivan with its tinted windows. (I'm glad those windows are tinted—sometimes it's a mess in there!) There is a time coming when God's windows will no longer be tinted. The backseat of His minivan is never a mess. Our perceptions of reality will be perfect. Whether we suffer from a mental illness, emotional problems caused by bad experiences or just our own inability to see past the proverbial end of our noses, we will be freed from that. It is a beautiful promise that has come to mean a lot to me. I am looking forward to its fulfillment.