[WARNING: There are story “spoilers” in this article.]
A common reaction I get from readers of Tucker’s Way is how unbelievable a character her daughter, Maisy, is. “Nobody acts like that” is their comment.
So, let’s jump in and look more closely Maisy to see if we can “analyze” her and make sense of her behavior.
To understand Maisy we have to start with Tucker. As amazing a person as Tucker was we have to agree that she was also terribly flawed, especially when it came to parenting skills. Neither of Tucker’s parents equipped her to know how to be a good parent; quite the opposite is true. Between abuse and neglect Tucker essentially raised herself. So, when she became the parent of her father’s child, Maisy, when she was a teenager she for certain knew how not to parent but didn’t have a clue how to parent in a positive manner.
We have to assume that there were times that Tucker was both abusive and neglectful toward Maisy, hopefully not to the extent her parents were, but still she acted in a way that was familiar to her, however unhealthy it might have been. And it was in that environment that the seeds for Maisy’s personality were planted.
Maisy grew up to be what people often refer to as a “crazy maker.” But the proper designation for that type person is they have a Borderline Personality Disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition is the “bible” that mental health practitioners go to to find the diagnoses and symptoms of every type of mental illness. Here is the definition for Borderline Personality Disorder:
“A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days.).
Chronic feelings of emptiness.
Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms”
I think you’ll have to agree that Maisy had nearly all nine of the criteria, and within that context her behavior in the book was predictable.
And while some might judge her harshly for abandoning her three children to Tucker, I think they were better off than if they’d been raised by Maisy.
[Next up: The Story Behind the Story of “An Unexpected Frost”]