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Breaking into My Life

Breaking Into My Life chronicles the impact that growing up with a mentally-ill mother had on author Michelle Dickinson-Moravek, and how she finally reclaimed herself and the life she deserved.

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Mom has been sick for the last few weeks. Our house has slipped from control into complete chaos. And I have moved from a sense of relief to a sense of burden.

When Mom began her downward slide, I felt like I’d been reprieved. For a brief moment she wasn’t watching my every move waiting for me to mess up so that she could hit me. I could breathe again and actually live my life. This freedom, however, it is very short lived. Before I know it, there is a new role for me play.

Morning comes and I cannot wait to escape to school. It is mentally and emotionally draining to be trapped in a house with someone that is always crying.

Today I have a brand-new outfit to wear. I am looking forward to seeing the reaction of the kids in my class. Finally, I am going to look as good as the other 7th graders. A new boy, Wesley, likes me so I can’t wait to see him today. I have to hurry. I am meeting my friend Katie, so that we can walk to school together.

I get dressed and go downstairs. Immediately, I can tell that Mom is in an even darker place.  Her moods have been erratic lately. I didn’t really think much about it until now. I should have been paying more attention. I should have seen this coming.

During the day when she is not crying, I notice that she has been rushing around the house at an incredibly fast pace. She has also been very busy doing small things like organizing the catch all drawer in the kitchen for hours and hours.

She hasn’t been sleeping at night either. When I get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom she is downstairs in the living room with the all the lights on crocheting or doing needlepoint, wide-awake. I wondered how she could go so many nights without sleeping.

This morning the large red bags below her blood shot eyes confirms for me that she was up all night crying once again. The pure sadness on her face overwhelms me. I try to ignore the all too familiar sense of despair and go about my morning routine.

As I make my bowl of cereal for breakfast I overhear my parents’ conversation.

“Please stay home with me,” Mom begs my dad with a whimper.

“I can’t stay home today – period. I have a very busy day and an important meeting with my boss,” Dad replies.

“Please,” she says as she starts to cry. “I don’t want to be all alone.”

Dad reluctantly turns to me. He has no other option at this point.

“Do you want to stay home with your mother today?” he asks.

I am already showered and dressed for school. I was really looking forward to seeing my friends today.

“Yes, I can stay home,” I say as I think about all that I will miss in school including that assembly that I was really looking forward to and seeing my friends. All that does not matter though. Mom needs me now and her needs come first.

“Michelle will stay home with you today,” Dad says to Mom.

I unpack my lunch and put it back into the refrigerator.

Oh crap! Not again! I say to myself with a sigh. We are heading down that dark road again.

Staying home for most kids is a gift. It’s not that for me. I know what this means and I know what is coming. . .

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