I wonder if it’s possible to be crazy and not know it. I think I am a caring person, but considering all the arguments I’ve been getting in lately with my siblings, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the one who isn’t tracking on all synapses.

I don’t, of course, really think I’m crazy, evil, manipulative, contrary, witchy, or any of the other things people have accused me of being recently, but I have to concede the possibility. My theory has always been that people project their own characteristics onto others, and so whatever people tell me I am, it gives me an idea of who they are. And yet . . . how well do we really know ourselves?

witchI’ve been polling people to see if they think I could be certifiable, and of course, my friends think I’m wonderful. But family is something else again.

I’ve been trying to get my problem brother back to Colorado because the sister who has come to help with my father insists that he goes or she goes. I cannot take care of the elderly man by myself, and so I am conceding to her wishes that my brother leaves. Most of my family want him gone, not just out of this house but out of their lives. Some think he is the source of all the contention in the family, and perhaps it’s true. It’s also possible my brother holds us together because he is the universal scapegoat.

None of my siblings care that he is being forced back onto the street in this hellishly hot place. But I do. I know there will never be a good place for him, not here, not anywhere, but he should at least be with his things that are stored in Colorado. But he is resisting my efforts — he thinks I am manipulative and only want to see him dead.

I am under a deadline (not the lethal kind) to get him out of here before my sister puts a restraining order in place with the help of a social worker, and yet she claims I want him out of here for me, not her. I don’t get how she thinks, and so I wonder if I’m crazy. I suppose getting him back to Colorado is for me in a way — I cannot bear to simply throw him out like so much garbage. Despite his nastiness, schizophrenia, alcoholism, he is a person. Are we only to try to help those who are worthy of our help? I am tired of his abuse, but after fourteen months, I can wait another week or two or three. But she can’t.

And so tomorrow I pick up a rental car big enough for him and his stuff, though I have no real hope of his ever making the effort to finish packing and letting me take him to the cooler (yet no more comforting) streets of northern Colorado. It will be wasted money, and I will find no comfort in the thought that at least I tried.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

4 Responses to “Crazy?”

  1. Everyrosehasathorn Says:

    I think sanity is a figment of people’s desire to have a status in society above others. No one is completely sane, if we were there would be no sin in the world because we would be completely moral and rational. While I can’t say im certifiable, I definitely think outside the box and relish it! As to the issue with your brother, sometimes what we need isn’t really what we want. You have to do what is necessary and give him the push he isn’t willing to take himself. Tough love is sometimes necessary.

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Pat, I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re all under a lot of stress, and your brother isn’t helping it. But he should be gone, one way or another, for your health and your sister’s. And for his health as well!

  3. Wanda Says:

    Dear Pat, I doubt your sanity is really in question. Sounds like your sister wants things to be her way or the highway. Out on the street where you live would be hard on your brother and he would be close enough to still cause all the trouble he’s caused in the past. You’re doing your best. I’ve read your posts of late with interest but could think of nothing to say that would be of any help. Family is not easy even if there are no issues of mental illness, physical frailty or alcoholism. I wish you well. My heart goes out to you, whatever that means. Well, I guess it means I’ve had some of your burdens in my life and there usually seems to be no real answer. It would be nice to have your brother on meds, in a hospital or in some other way, better off. It would be great if your father would simply be well, much younger, not declining, that your sister would collaborate with you rather than lay down the ‘law’.But while time will solve some issues I wish you peace, dear. As you go about doing what you can to help your family…. remember time is on your side in many ways. This too, will pass and then it will be on to the next thing. I know there isn’t much anyone else can do for you but if there is, I hope you will remember you have my number.

    hugs and peace

  4. mickeyhoffman Says:

    If I learned one thing working with emotionally unstable people for 15 years, it is this: they are the only ones who can control their behavior. I was at times surprised to see how they forgot this truth. It’s rough, sometimes gut wrenching to watch another person be self-destructive as much as it is infuriating when the same person becomes aggressive. Like it’s a two sided coin, some anger out, some goes back in. And there’s also manipulation in play here. If you feel guilty and take on their issues as your own, they don’t have to own their behavior, they can use it to make you behave they way they want you to behave instead of changing their own behavior! You can’t do anything with a person who won’t cooperate. It’s their life and they ultimately have to work on making changes, no matter who helps or doesn’t help. Why load this burden on yourself?

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