Narcissistic Inconvenience

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In 2001, my children were 2 and 4. I had suffered a massive stroke while pregnant with the 2 year old, leaving me extensively and noticeably physically weakened and unstable.

It wasn’t easy having 2 little toddlers to care for alone with such extensive physical handicaps, but I was grateful I had recovered enough to provide them a momma and could still attempt to manage a home for us at all.

We lived in rent-controlled subsidized housing as my only income was $500 per month disability plus whatever temporary jobs I could get that accommodated my disabilities. It was a very nice newer townhouse though and it was in a decent neighborhood where my kids were safe to play outside. My ex, their non-disabled father, was making around $800k or more a year. With his income bracket, I was entitled to a significant amount of child support, but because I feared angering him and I feared him resenting our children if he was forced to pay the several thousand dollars a month support to which we were legally entitled, I gratefully accepted the $200/month he chose to pay and I simply adjusted our lives to live the best I could manage for the 3 of us on the total of $700/month.

He lived about 3 hours away from us at the time and in addition to not taking him to court and demanding enforcement of reasonably appropriate child support, I also drove our children half way to his house for his visits to ease the travel burden on him.

I had an old beat up Honda that my dad had helped me purchase shortly after I’d left my children’s father. My ex had driven my prior car into the automobile graveyard in efforts to preserve his own car from too much wear and tear and when that car of mine died a few months before our first daughter was born, he went out and bought himself a new car, leaving me without a car- not even the old but dependable means of transportation I’d had before we met.

So this little beat up but dependable Honda my dad had helped me obtain was precious to me for our independence. It was how I got to work any jobs I was able for extra money to live on; it was how I, even with severe physical limitations, was able to occasionally safely take my two children under the age of 4 to the park or beach or for an ice cream treat; it was how I helped make their dad’s busy successful career life easier by driving them half way to his house for weekend visits whenever he requested. Sometimes if the fatigue was too great for me physically to safely make this drive with 2 little kids, my dad being a godsend of our lives (and our safety) would not hesitate to make that drive helping their dad out on my behalf.

This had been the practice for as long as I’d been split from my babies’ dad. We didn’t once deny him this extra consideration. We just made it happen every visit he wanted, no matter the burden or inconvenience for us. If I couldn’t do it, my dad did it for me. Period. Zero complaints and zero exceptions.

But once in 2001 when they were 2 and 4, I had serious car trouble. The tie rod on my car was worn bad. I had obtained a repair quote. The price to fix the tie rod was around $500.00! I didn’t have that kind of money obviously. And to make matters worse, the mechanic warned me that it was so close to snapping in half completely that he strongly urged me not to drive the car at all until it was repaired but that if I had to drive it prior to repair to make sure I not drive far, not exceed 35 miles per hour, or drive it on highways. He warned that if the car was going over 35 mph and hit any kind of bump at all, the tie rod would likely snap in half and it could cause an immediate and possibly fatal accident.

My dad helped my children and I so much already, I didn’t want to ask him for this repair money. So, I just didn’t drive with my children in the car around that time unless it was totally unavoidable and I could stay safely under 35 mph. During this time, my dad drove my kids and I mostly to important events. Of course, in this time, my dad did all the half-way to their dad’s house driving with my kids to meet their dad as the route half way to him was over an hour of highway driving.

One week while my dad was out of state on vacation, my ex wanted his weekend visit with the usual additional assistance of being met half way in the middle. He had informed me on a Wednesday that he wanted them that coming Friday for the weekend.

I panicked because my dad would be out of state that weekend. So I immediately went about calling several friends to ask them to drive us if I paid them gas money for the trip or asking if i could borrow their car. On Friday morning, I was still calling friends and acquaintances trying to secure the hour and a half one-way highway ride for my children and me to meet their dad.

Incidentally, their wealthy dad who paid less than one-eighth of the legal child support we were entitled to for his part in providing for our children- money I could have easily used to afford either the car repair I needed or possibly even a newer car altogether- had recently purchased a shiny reliably new SUV for himself.

Around noon on Friday, having been unable to secure any driving assistance for this 3 hour round trip jaunt to make my ex’s life a few hours easier, I called him to explain that I couldn’t meet him half way this time. I explained the tie rod, the mechanic’s warning, the money I didn’t have for the repairs, that my dad was out of town, and my many unsuccessful efforts to get a ride or borrow a safe car.

I’d explained the entire situation to him on the phone struggling to use my face and shoulder to hold the phone and my one hand/arm that still worked since my stroke to fix lunch for our two freshly napped and hungry toddlers. There was a long silent pause when I was finished explaining.

Finally after more than 30 seconds of uncomfortable silence on his part had passed, I simply said, So…. I’m really sorry I can’t meet you half way today. You’ll need to come here to pick them up or we’ll have to reschedule for next weekend when my dad can drive them to meet you half-way….

Still dead silence on the other end of the phone. I was getting frustrated at this continued total silence (an annoying trademark of his) because I had one working hand and could not finish getting my 2 and 4 year old their lunch while on the phone sitting and waiting for him to break this extensive silence in reply to my situation.

So finally after waiting forever again for him to reply and getting absolute silence, I finally spoke again and said, Mark, I’m really sorry I can’t meet you this time. I tried everything I could think of to manage it, but I can’t possibly drive our babies an hour and a half on a highway to meet you today. It’s not safe, but they’re also hungry right now and I need to hang up to finish getting them their lunches, so I really need you to speak and tell me if you want to come pick them up this time or reschedule for next weekend, ok?

Another 2-3 second pause passed. He finally spoke. He didn’t offer to help me with the repair money to fix my car; he didn’t say he’d drive this one time the whole way to pick up our children; and he didn’t say, okay let’s reschedule for next weekend when your dad can meet me.

Nope. When he finally replied, he screamed, JUST PUT THE KIDS IN THAT GODDAMN CAR AND FUCKING MEET ME HALFWAY NOW!!

I’d dealt with his terrifying fury while we had lived together and had literally spent the past 4 years sacrificing and accommodating anything he wanted just to avoid the terror of his anger even while living 3 hours away from him. So when he screamed this, I just started shaking from head to toe.

And after every narcissistic trait he’d shown me from the day I’d met him, I was still beyond shocked he would literally demand I put our two little babies’ lives in actual danger just to save himself a longer than usual drive. He was willing, no demanding, that I risk his 2 and 4 year old children’s lives for no reason at all except his added convenience.

But I feared him. And I constantly feared him holding these things – any little thing he didn’t get his way with- against our kids out of anger toward me. I feared he would resent our sweet little babies these things and their relationship with him might be compromised. I wanted better than that for my babies. I couldn’t stay in a relationship with their dad but I was committed to doing everything in my power to ensure they enjoyed a strong relationship with their dad like I was so grateful to have with my own dad.

So, I did what any well trained narcissistic and domestic violence abuse survivor does, I followed his irate demand and put my two little children in my death trap of a car and drove them the hour and a half to meet him.

It took me just over 3 hours to drive an hour and a half drive going 35 miles per hour all the way. I was a shaking nervous wreck the entire way scared to death of every unforeseeable possible bump in the road.

But I didn’t want my 2 little toddlers to know how terrified and panicked I was on this endless slow drive, so I popped in the Sarah Evans CD they loved so much and we sang at the top of our lungs, while I drove 35 mph on the highway and acted silly in the front seat making them laugh the whole slow ride through hell to make their dad’s life easier that day.

It seemed like forever getting there but I was never more relieved in my entire life than I was that day when we finally got to our destination.

I exchanged the children into their dad’s shiny, safe, brand-spanking-new SUV, and I turned right around and drove 35 mph the entire way for the 3 hour long (hour and a half drive) back home sobbing in enormous relief that I’d gotten them there safely and praying to God my dad would be back home in time on Sunday to meet him half way to pick them back up.

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Happy Girl

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I was the happy girl.

The unconditional love girl.

The forgive anything girl.

The bounce-back no matter how hard the punch girl.

The live and let live girl.

The this will not define me girl.

The lover of books girl.

The hug everyone girl.

The cry it out and this too shall pass girl.

The at least my daddy always loved me girl.

And now, I’m the none of those things at all woman.

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I was the happy girl.

The unconditional love girl.

The forgive anything girl.

The bounce-back no matter how hard the punch girl.

The live and let live girl.

The this will not define me girl.

The lover of books girl.

The hug everyone girl.

The cry it out and this too shall pass girl.

The at least my daddy always loved me girl.

And now, I’m the none of those things at all woman.

For love and goulash

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The weather is turning cooler and I’m making goulash for comfort food.

As I prepare the ingredients, I remember the first time I heard of that dish with the funny name “goulash”.

I was in the 7th grade and my dad had driven all the way up to where I lived with my mom.

It was just getting dark when he arrived. As usual, no one else was home except my sister and me.

I was so happy to see him. He didn’t often come the full way to our house. He and mom usually met half way, but this time he’d come the whole way to pick us up.

He asked if I’d eaten yet. I hadn’t. He rummaged about in the big fancy kitchen with all the best newfangled gadgets money could buy, looking for something to cook for us, he said, not much in here to work with, what do y’all usually eat?

I don’t know daddy. Whatever is there. Sometimes I sauté a can of mushrooms in butter or if there’s lunch meat, I might make a sandwich. Just whatever’s easy and available.

As he’s flipping through the plethora of cabinets and cupboards, “Your mom doesn’t cook for you?”

No, not very often. She and Jim are usually gone until around bedtime. Jim’s business is always busy, so they work a lot. We just usually cook for ourselves or eat whatever’s on hand.

He grins that big beloved grin of his. “Ohhhh, I see something with potential in here! Don’t you worry, I’ll whip up something you’ll love in a jiffy!”

What’re you gonna make daddy?

Goulash!

Goulash? What is that? That’s a weird word. Never heard of that before. Kinda makes me think of rain boots!

My dad laughing, “What? You’ve never had goulash? Don’t you worry, it’s gonna be good. Finish your homework and dinner will be ready in 20 minutes.”

In the living room with my school books, I kept glancing behind me into the big kitchen thinking how strange it looked to see my dad bustling about in my mom’s kitchen that my step-dad had built for her.

It felt comforting seeing him there and I was excited to have a real supper… actually cooked for me and everything. That didn’t happen often in this house.

He’d doctored up some leftover chili into goulash to stretch it to make it delicious and enough for all 3 of us.

He put onions and beans in it with pasta and tomatoes, spices, and the leftover chili.

I despised onions and was not a fan of beans, but I didn’t tell him that. I ate every single bite and gushed with praise over his magical cooking skills to transform a little bit of leftover chili into a fantastic meal.

I remember feeling so content, safe, loved, and happy as I ate my goulash, chatting with him about school and all things about being 12. I wished more than anything he lived closer.

And right in that minute, I couldn’t remember the last time someone had cooked for me. Even with the onions and beans I didn’t care for, that goulash tasted like a bowl of love itself to me.

I savored every minute and every bite.

And when I grew up to be a momma, I cooked dinner almost every night for my daughters. I fussed and fretted throughout many days about groceries and what i could fix them for dinner each night. I always wanted dinners to be a special time for them.

…because I’d never forgotten how much impromptu spontaneous goulash, even with yukky beans and onions, could taste like love.

The Scent of Insanity

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Lifehouse – From Where You Are

It’s that time again:  crisp air, clear blue sunny skies, scents of pumpkin flock the stores next to back-to-school paraphernalia.

Feeling down and lonely with my thoughts all over the goddamn place, I decide to take a jaunt to the nearby Dollar General and treat myself to a seasonally scented candle.  Candles are soothing and fill this house with nostalgic smells of impending autumns long past when life made some sort of sense.

Within 3 minutes of browsing the aisles, I realize I’ve overstepped.  All the cute Halloween decorations remind me of how thrilled I used to be decorating the house with cute Halloween stuff for my daughters and their friends.

Flashbacks like sporadic scenes from various movies start flipping through my mind…

Brain decides to pretend it’s any year at all prior to 2012: Oh, the girls would really love those sparkly sunflower yard ornaments. Those cute pumpkins would be perfect for the girls’ rooms…

The back-to school stuff reminds me of gathering supplies; browsing the aisles with two absolutely amazing children while discussing all the foreseeable fears, problems, and excitements of heading into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th grade….  Me, chatting along with them, trying to be totally nonchalant about my fears of having enough money for all the school supplies they need and silently praying I might have enough for at least one thing they each just want.

FUCK!  Now, I’m in the goddamn Dollar General crying.  Should have stayed home.  At least there, no one can see me be pathetic.

I keep my face turned toward and buried in the crowded shelves, away from any customers, mortified with the tears I can’t stop and hiding my face deeply engrossed in whatever the hell’s displayed on that shelf.

Ah…at last!  The candles! Hot tears still streaming down my face, I sniff the Pumpkin Pie, The Pecan Muffin, the Apple Currant…  Okay, so I smell all the fucking candles, desperately hoping the movie snippets playing in my head will stop so I can pull myself together enough to select one and face the cashier.

I am GOING TO TREAT MYSELF TO A CANDLE, DAMMIT!  Today, this time, I am NOT sneaking right back out the door empty handed and desperate to hide my crybaby face.

NO!

I select the Apple Currant candle since it carries the least agony of nostalgia.

I make it through the check out with what I tell myself are just curious odd looks from the cashier at my tear stained red face, probably scrunched in desperate focus to not start crying again.

I step outside the store with my little plastic yellow bag and suddenly out of nowhere, I smell the very distinct and ancient scent of – of all things – my elementary school cafeteria?  

Grainy pink soap and doughy pizza burgers, the scent almost seems speckled with tiny flecks of gold sparkles in the cafeteria’s linoleum floor.

For whatever reason, this olfactory nostalgia sets the ridiculous crybaby in me off again. Now, I’m walking to my car sobbing through the Dollar General parking lot.

Christ almighty, what the hell is wrong with me?  I’m a goddamn sloppy pathetic mess of obnoxious tears and inescapable agony.

In my car, I keep my head down, fervently hoping no one sees me pathetically bawling like this, like a pitiful, unstable, insane person  The pain tearing through my heart is UNBEARABLE!

I can’t.  I just can’t.

Maybe I should go back in and grab a bottle of that cheap wine they sell?  Maybe I could go home, light my lovely scented candle and treat myself to a glass or two of a mildly mind-numbing beverage?

No.  Then I’d just be plagued with guilt and frantic over whether that means I’m a raging alcoholic like the narcissists and my children accused when my dad died.  Wine won’t bring any real moments of relief anyway.  Forget it.

Nah, I’ll just bite down on the wooden spoon and hold my breath through this soul ripping agony au naturelle, no choice but to suffer through every damn pinch, stab, punch, and pull as usual.

There is no solution to this pain.  There is no fix, not temporary or permanent.

Keep a candle burning in the window til they come home. When they finally arrive home again, they’ll love the comforting smell in the house and remember the truth of all our years together, happy…  I can almost see the delighted smiles on their face as they say, Momma, it smells so good in here! as they realize I never really stopped waiting for them.

Once home, I immediately put the candle in the window, like I have since my children betrayed, attacked, and abandoned, and shunned me.

I no longer can remember how it feels to not hurt all the time.

I forget what my face feels like to smile.  I can’t remember the sound of my own laugh.  I don’t remember what I look like without the deep agony-bearing furrow in between my eyes.

But I can remember the smell of my elementary school cafeteria.

And I vaguely remember the delight of getting hugs from my children every day and every night.

I distantly…like looking way down a dark underground tunnel…squinting my eyes to see way to the tiny end… remember the security of hearing my dad’s voice on the other end of a phone call.

And, I can remember the sound of giggles and laughter being a part of every single day.  Then, I  suddenly feel the depth of pain to remember that we didn’t go one full day in 15 years without the sound of carefree laughter floating around our lives.

I remember the sound, but I can’t hear it anymore.

Anywhere.

Keep a candle burning in the window til they come home.

I think it’s now more like, keep a candle burning in the window til I get to go home Wherever home is, I’m not sure anymore, but it’s GOT to be somewhere — anywhere —  that makes this infuriating, unbearable, constant pain stop once and for all.

Now, I’ll keep a candle burning in the window til the day comes when I finally get to go home.

A Father’s Grace

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Awhile back, I was sharing memories of my dad with someone and they said something that deeply bothered me. She said, You just exaggerate your dad’s good qualities. No one is that perfect. You’re romanticizing him now because he’s dead. For fuck’s sake, no one’s perfect!

I’m not sure why that person was so frustrated with me sharing a few of my dad’s most admirable qualities, but this was out of line for so many reasons.

I admire and cherish so many things about my dad, but I’m fully aware that he was not perfect by any means.

He was wonderful in many ways, but he could be a real son of a bitch once in awhile too. He also could be a serious pain in the ass.

I choose not to share many of those stories. Yeah, partly because he’s dead and I prefer to focus and share the good stuff.

But also because I can count on one hand the times my dad was a jerk and I can say with complete honesty that not once did my dad act like a jerk or do something hurtful, or make a grievous mistake without apologizing. He fucked up like anyone does, but unlike narcissists like my mother and my ex, he always admitted when he was wrong, apologized and then always followed through on his apologies by not repeating that error.

Holding grudges and retaining anger are not natural states for me. By nature, I’m eager to forgive. Few people in my life have ever apologized or even admitted their mistakes or hurtful actions. So, in my world, when someone apologizes and deliberately doesn’t repeat the hurt, the wrong is corrected in my heart. I might still remember the hurt or disappointment of it all… and my dad did hurt me a few times in my life…. but I forgave him and I just don’t dwell on people’s mistakes.

God knows I’ve made enough mistakes of my own! And I’ve rarely been graced with true forgiveness…except from my dad.

I learned real forgiveness from my dad; because my dad showed me (and many others) such beautiful amazing grace

I confess, once in awhile, I recall a few hurtful things my dad did in my lifetime, and they still hurt a little, but then I only become immediately grateful that I had someone teach me the grace of true forgiveness and the integrity to honestly admit my mistakes and imperfections, face up to them… learn from them who and what I don’t want to be.

If not for this man as my father, his easy grace and natural integrity, I’d never have known anything but anger, blame, and infinite punishment for my own numerous flaws and imperfections. The narcissists in my life showed me plenty of that nasty, soul demeaning, perfection-demanding impossible shit.

How could I ever choose to be anything but eternally grateful? Even for the few hurtful things he did….?

How could I ever not embrace the beautiful qualities I learned and acquired from those very things?

And why would I ever? How could I be like a narcissist and bitterly spread his few imperfections and mistakes around? Why would I ever take a handful of this man’s imperfections and use them to slander and belittle him like narcissists do?

In my mind, every hurtful thing my dad did to me is truly irrelevant and unimportant. And it was irrelevant even before he died. In my heart, his beauty and grace that came directly from those things outshine any lingering hurt or resentment I could ever feel.

I’ve forgiven him the way he demonstrated forgiveness. Grace and integrity make true forgiveness easy.

I will forever focus on his beautiful qualities. I will forever honor this man’s memory. That’s not exaggerating. That’s not romanticizing?!

Dammit.

That’s truth.

The truth of my dad; who was amazing,

incredible,

imperfect,

and so very easy to forgive.

Hindsight Vomit

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When our dad died, I’d wanted to share little tidbits with my sister of who he was … who he’d become over the 25-some years she’d had very little to do with him at all.

He’d been the center of mine and my daughters’ world. Our rock, our saving grace, our everything that was hope and decency in our very challenging lives.

I bought into her exaggerated whispers of heartache dripping with excessive never before seen or heard compassion.

Hook, line, and sinker, I bought it. I assumed her pain had to come close to my own, although she’d barely acknowledged him for over 25 years.

Still, the loss had to be great for her too, right? Maybe even more so for her because she’d been so uncaring and uninvolved… who was I to assume our pain and loss ran the deepest? The most catastrophic?

So every opportunity I had to share some little story of his kindness, his beautiful heart, his selflessness and dedication, I jumped at because I wanted her to get the chance to see his last 25 years accurately. I wanted her to know our dad even though she’d chosen not to know him so well for many years.

When I told her the charming story of his new-ish lazy boy recliner he’d recently bought… how he’d struggled with the thought of spending that much on himself for a chair he loved, how proud of that chair he’d been, how much he’d enjoyed it after allowing himself such a much deserved simple luxury, she looked at me with vacant eyes and said, Do you think we can return it?

My dad’s rare luxurious indulgence : a leather recliner!

i thought to myself, RETURN IT?? After the story i just shared with you? Omg, this chair meant so much to him! He was so proud of it! Why would we ever try to return it?

When she scoured through his kitchen cabinets and came to the set of dishes he’d had since before we were born, I brought up memories of him cooking delicious meals for us and never looking my way at all, she simply said, Yeah…. these are so vintage they might actually be worth some money!

The priceless dishes of fond childhood meals

I thought to myself, SELL THEM? The memories that come with these dishes are quite literally countless and priceless to me. I will cherish them every time I even look at them. Every meal eaten in them will feel infinitely special for their memories. Why would we ever sell them?

When she filtered through his finances with prying greedy eyes, I told her how generous he’d been with my children and me, how I wasn’t sure how we’d have survived sometimes without his generosity. She scoffed and very snidely said, Gawdddd, he didn’t live on much, did he?

I thought to myself, yeah, he worked hard to be able to have some security but mostly he worked hard to help my children and I with basics and a few luxuries now and then to make us smile. He lived simply his entire life just to be able to do these things. Greed, extravagance, and excess just weren’t in his nature.

In the probate attorney’s office as the lawyer went through what our dad literally worked his entire life to save for retirement, as I felt I might vomit just thinking about spending a penny of his hard earned lifetime achievement, as I sobbed with every part of my body and soul, and said, I don’t really care about his money; he worked a lifetime for that and he never got to really enjoy it. She eagerly and quite brightly said, I care about the money! I wanna hear about the money!!

Yet, when I insisted we honor his last wishes and jointly be executors of his estate; when I said I felt like it was wrong to have her do it alone, no matter how much she manipulated me and feigned compassion to get me to give her that.. when I said, he’s done so much for me and my children, I want so much to honor his wishes and at the least, now help take care of resolving his entire life. I feel it’s the least I can do for him now.

She sneered in sheer undisguised disgust and said, You don’t want to do that for him. You only care about yourself. You only want to do it for yourself.

And, as usual, I felt confused. How could taking care of his estate and his belongings, wrapping up the final details of my dad’s entire life… How could doing that ever be all about me?  It actually was physically painful to me to be rifling through his entire life… handling the last pieces of everything he ever was, did, or had.  In it for myself??? That didn’t even make sense to me…

It never occurred to me then that her intentions were completely devious and so the thought of anyone wanting to do it just because it was his wish, just to feel like I’d honored his last wishes, just to feel that I’d finally be able to do something for him..one last thing….

Anything that sincere and noble in his honor was utterly foreign to someone so overwhelmed with the excitement of benefiting from his death in every possible way she could finagle.

What a filthy disgusting sociopath, so goddamn excited for how much she could gain from her dad’s sudden death  that she literally couldn’t even conceive of someone truly just desperate to honor his memory and cherish the last chance to ever take care of him in some way… even if it only was after he was dead.

The thought now of me treating her as if she genuinely hurt or as if she had even lost anything at all, makes me want to puke.

Yeah, our loss was definitely “equal”. I was definitely “in it for myself”…

Holy hell, hindsight is painfully 20/20.

Collecting Dust

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Head spinning

like a little girl twirling to lose her balance

In an empty world built of

lies and broken trust.

Wise words from long ago

slice through brain cells

both dead and alive

with a razor’s heartless precision.

Uncertain which weighs more true,

the scale shakes and

shivers like memories built on sand castles of betrayal

scattering… like dust in the wind…

What to do with a fully wasted life of

false love and true lies?

A life so riddled with bullets

it’s unrecognizable as a life at all.

It doesn’t pulsate with life.

Where nothing was real

not even hope

or faith

or trust

or friendship

or family

and especially not love…

Love was the ultimate lie

-a clever, cunning weapon of mass destruction.

Dust collecting rapidly on the

senseless scrambles of

memories that never were….

The Helpful Three

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YOU’RE A FUCKING SLUT WHO’S LIED TO ME MY WHOLE LIFE!

These were the last words I ever heard from my amazing beloved 15 year old firstborn and adored daughter before parental alienation syndrome took completely over my life.

It was about 8 days after I buried my father, I’d been lied to non-stop by my estranged mother and sister the entire time while I had attempted to juggle the emotional, mental, and physical shock of this sudden and totally unexpected grave loss.  The shock had manifested with mental confusion, emotional agony and had been accompanied by the severe immediate onset of various physical effects.

The nausea had hit first and had not ceased since that initial phone call from my sister who in a very purposeful soft and tender voice informed me my dad had dropped dead 5 hours earlier in Los Angeles, California and continued that gentle hushed dripping compassion tone while informing me of various probate laws she had apparently researched in the 5 hours waiting to inform me my dad had dropped dead.

Quite literally unable to eat, I had been existing on ginger ale and an occasional cracker since that day.  Interestingly enough, from the day before his funeral, I had also had sudden back pain so severe, I could not stand up straight and had walked hunched almost in half for 3 days.  The hotel shared a parking lot with an medi-center, I had hobbled to the morning of the funeral in desperation for help so I could make it to my dad’s funeral that day.  I did make it through the funeral with the assistance of the pain pills the medi-center had prescribed.

At the time, this back pain was confounding.  I had never in my life experienced back pain or had back issues. In hindsight, I find it fascinating that those days after arriving in Ohio where we buried my dad, while I was planning the funeral, my children had been spending time with my estranged mother, sister, and ex (my children’s father).  I had been excessively grateful to these people for spending this time with my children while I suffered through the physical hell which had settled in as well as the emotional agony of planning my dad’s funeral.  The irony is that my back pain set precisely simultaneous to these “helpful” people stabbing me in the back to my children with outrageous lies about me, their mother, as I thanked them graciously every day for helping me by spending quality time with my children.

I had watched Lexi grow more hostile and sarcastic to me each day we were in Ohio and it was hurtful as she had never in her life treated me with such bitter smoldering and random disdain ever in her 15 years.  I did not respond in kind to this sudden hatefulness or even acknowledge it, I simply assumed my daughter was rightfully angry at the sudden loss of her grandpa.  I had no one to offer me personal support, except my sister’s constant exaggerated over-the-top gentle “kindness” which was actually very thinly veiled manipulation that I grant her sole-executor of our dad’s estate.

I had no one.  I was surrounded by only the very people who had abandoned me 13 years earlier and my ex who had mentally abused me and our children and then stole our family home to punish me for not tolerating his cruelty to our children, specifically our youngest Savannah but Lexi hadn’t been totally excluded in that cruelty either.

These three snakes, plus my children, were who surrounded me as I hunch-backed my way through burying my dad.  So when Lexi suddenly started treating me with nothing but sneering hostile sarcasm, I did not respond.  I assumed she needed a safe place to vent her pain and anger over losing her grandpa and I was more than willing to be her target as long as she needed to be angry.

However, the night she screamed these words, YOU’RE A FUCKING SLUT WHO’S LIED TO ME MY WHOLE LIFE!, I was immediately more confused and discombobulated, but my instincts told me that the suddenly “so very helpful three” had created something pretty nasty in my devastated and vulnerable 15 year-old daughter while I had entrusted them to provide supporting love and compassion to my children while I planned their grandpa’s funeral. None of the “helpful three” had ever provided love, support, or compassion to me, but I had not ever expected them to be willing to take advantage of my hurting and heartbroken children.

So, I learned the hard way  how deep their hatred for me really ran.  They actually all three hated me enough to literally lie and manipulate my children during this moist vulnerable and painful life crisis.  I’ll never forgive myself for being so naive as to not assume they’d grab this opportunity to drench my children in poison.  I really should have known better.  They’d never shown any level of genuine conscience or authentic sincerity in my entire life.  In fact, as far as I had involvement with these “helpful three”, they’d acted as nothing better than greedy, punishing, hateful sociopathic insidiously evil snakes slithering around the wake of our devastation with greedy opportunistic delight.

I own that stupidity.  I take responsibility for it completely.  None of these three people had ever shown me they were anything but the snakes they were.  I don’t know why I assumed grabbing this rare and wonderful time of vulnerability to poison my children with their hate would ever be off-limits.  Bit, I did.  I suppose I looked at my amazing two daughters, so loving, so wonderful, so hurt by this loss, and never fathomed anyone could hate me enough to want to hurt them.  That was just unfathomable.

Oh my,  this was intended to be a post about my oldest being a confessed liar and even still, I can’t help but wander off to place the blame where it truly lies.  Even as my now adult daughter continues her lies and embraces treating me even worse than the “helpful three” ever did, I can’t bring myself to hold her responsible for this.

Is that more proof of my stupidity?  My desperate need to live in denial of sociopaths (the very kind of denial that made this possible at all)?  Or is it the depth of a mother’s love and willingness to love and try to protect her children at any personal cost?

I don’t know.  And, I know what it is doesn’t matter any more.

A few months ago in a very brief moment of acknowledging I exist, Lexi told me she had been lying to me for years prior to my dad’s death.  I guess she grasped this moment of my desperation to have any communication at all with my child, to blow my wounds up and take a nice directed stab deeper into them, claiming our entire relationship (the one I thought we had) had all been nothing but a lie….for years.

When she told me this, it had knocked the wind out of me.  I had no idea how to even reply to such a deep and permanent stab.  I immediately began sobbing and desperately trying not to let her hear my sobs and make her angry enough to end this communication ,albeit cruel stabs, it was still precious moments of hearing my child’s voice and her acknowledging I exist at all.

Beggars most definitely can’t be choosers, right?

And at this point, the “helpful three” had stolen my family, stolen my future, and stolen my childhood, but I held tightly to the 15 years I’d struggled through raising my children alone.  The memory of those precious 15 years of the heart-to-heart mother daughter chats I’d always dreamed of having as a child.  The 15 years of wild giggles and belly laughs I’d prayed for sharing with my mother as a child.  The studying together and making it fun I’d longed to have as a child. The environment of unconditional love and trust I’d always wished for as a child.  The heart-filled memories of desperately learning with my beloved two girls how to mother my children in all the ways I hadn’t ever known, but had dreamed of as a child.  In the 6 years since they were poisoned against me, I had held onto this.  Sure of only one last thing, these could never be taken from me.  They could steal my past, destroy my future, but I would always have those 15 years of truth and happiness (with struggle too, of course) that no one could never ever take from my children and me.

Lo and behold, in one statement, Lexi had taken even this.

So, stifling my sobs for a moment of silence after her claim that our entire relationship had been a lie, I finally very quietly (desperate she not hear my stifled sobbing, creaky begging voice and scream at or hang up on me) pleaded with her, Okay Lexi, may I please ask you something though? Without you getting mad?

Was anything ever true between us?  Did I do anything right?  Ever?  Were you ever actually as happy and full of love for me as you pretended?  Was anything ever actually true or good, Lexi?

Of course it was, Momma!  I have a million wonderful memories with you that I cherish!

(Still holding back my sobs) Oh, thank God it wasn’t all a lie then… Okay, may I ask you something else without making you mad?

When did it all become a lie?  Was our relationship when we lived in our house on Roosevelt which you once claimed was the happiest time of your life and most treasure memories, was that real?

Here, I was desperate to sort through my memories of our life together and needed to know what I could still believe was real because those memories were all I’d held onto for the six years my children had pretended I didn’t exist and made outrageous claims of enduring lifetimes of abuse.  All that had kept me going that someday my children would remember the truth, stop the cruelty, and let me back in their lives…

Oh, I dunno Momma…  I guess when I was really little?  I wasn’t lying when I was little and didn’t know any better…

Okay Lexi.  Well, thank you for being honest and not getting mad at me for asking.  I’m sorry you felt you had to lie to me most of your life.  I’m sorry we didn’t actually have the relationship I thought we had.  I’m sorry my best efforts to give you everything I didn’t have and never knew fell so drastically short.  I truly never knew.  I truly believed we had a wonderful open and honest, loving relationship.  I don’t know why you felt the need to start lying to me.  That’s exactly the opposite of what I’d tried to create and what I thought I’d done well.  I wish I’d known how to do it right.  I wish I’d known you felt this way.   I’d have done anything in my power to fix it, but I could never fix something I wasn’t even aware of.  I’m sorry.  I guess I should have just known.  I didn’t though.  I really didn’t know, Lexi.  I really thought we were happy, we were close, and we were honest.  I was literally clueless and I’m so sad because if only I’d known…  I would have done anything.  Anything.  This was my only goal in life from the day I knew you were growing in my body. I would have done anything.  Anything for you. 

At this point, I was openly sobbing and Lexi , clearly bored and possibly frustrated, had to go.

After we hung up, devastated and in utter shock and confusion, my whole body shaking, I, a grown woman who had endured gang rapes, many punches to the face, being strangled until I passed out, being slapped, having my face shoved into broken glass, being betrayed, a massive stroke, having my home stolen, being totally abandoned, and  overcome the lifelong confusing hatred of my own mother…. I just sobbed and wailed like an infant, staring at my phone in disbelief.

I suppose it’s better to know the truth, right?  As deeply as it stabs, as much as it doesn’t make any more sense than all the lies, as much as it goes against my every memory of reality, as much as it feels like it’s going to kill me with the worst pain I’ve ever known, it’s better to know the truth, I suppose….

In just one sentence, my beloved child, had literally severed my last lifeline.  Now, even my most treasured memories were poisoned and destroyed, labeled as nothing but more lies and betrayals, from the one of two people in the world I loved and trusted most; I’d have done (and did do) anything for.

The last thread of hope ripped away so nonchalantly, with as much care and concern and deliberation as a snake devouring its unknowing prey.

This is my beloved child.  This is my own heart outside my body.  This is the person I would take a bullet for, would give my dreams up for, would willingly give my last crumb, my last cent, my life, my love, my world.  This is she.

She also needed to take my last hope, my last memory of truth and happiness.  She’d had to have that too.  Nothing I’d ever had to give was good enough for her anyway.  Nothing I’d ever striven to give her even had come close to being good enough. I would do anything for this child of mine.  Anything.

Why did this hurt and shock me so much?  This was, quite literally, exactly the only “love” I’d ever been shown in my entire life except by my dead dad.  It’s exactly the way I’d always been “loved”.

So, I gave it to her.  And said, thank you.

ADELE – ‘Make You Feel My Love’