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Photo by Jean-Baptiste Mouton

Since it is Mommie Dearest’s birthday week, I’ve decided to focus on sharing some experiences of growing up with a Narcissistic Personality Disordered mother. 

I’ve fallen in love with the artwork of Jean-Baptiste Mouton. He is a talented genius! So many of his photos resonate deeply for me in depicting the sense of grace with horror in a way that makes me feel as though he can see the defining conflict and depth of misery of a life with a pathological narcissist. I get the sense of innocence defiled and a horrific mental hell that is the playground of  narcissistic sociopaths. I think of the innocence of children living in times of war where the very nature of it all goes against all things  childlike and sweet, portraying a definite contradiction that simply is no place an innocent mind and heart can function or survive in tact.

The need to breathe. The desperation for safety when the very air you must breathe every day is toxic with confusion and bitterness. 

For 16 years, I lived in toxicity, desperate for fresh air, love, and security to just be…. to be me.. to be silly…to be happy… to feel what I felt, whatever it was… to like whatever color I liked best in any given moment without snide comments about being a liar because yesterday I liked a different color best. 

Once around the age of 7, I had gotten in serious trouble for not closing the kitchen cabinets all the way. I had left them just barely open, as close to shut as I could get them without them making a clicking sound and waking up Mommie because the Saturday prior, I had gotten a pretty severe spanking for closing the cabinets after taking out cereal, a bowl, and a spoon to eat it with. I hadn’t tried to be noisy. The cabinets had magnetic closures which pulled them to shut when the door was at all close to the frame and the click they made was inevitable. 

Mommie always slept in so it was up to me to get my own breakfast in the mornings, I would never dare to wake her just because I was hungry!! So after getting a spanking for the sounds the cabinets made when the magnetic piece clicked against its frame, I was scared to close the cabinets all the way at all this morning.  I very carefully closed them as close as possible without getting in range for the magnet to pull it shut the rest of the way. This took some effort, but I was happy to do it and felt proud of myself  that I was being so quiet getting my breakfast for myself.

It backfired though. As I was finishing my  cereal, Mommie woke up anyway and came into the kitchen. Feeling confident I had been the perfect angel of quietness, I smiled my most cheerful smile and said, Good morning, mommy! 

Mommie was furious! You left every GOD DAMN cabinet in the kitchen open! What the hell is the matter with you?  And she yanked me up from the chair by my arm and started spanking me as she screamed this at me. At 7, I already knew better than to answer her furious questions. I knew that I never answered them right and somehow I always made it worse by trying. I said nothing about how I’d learned my lesson the Saturday prior about how noisy the magnetic cabinet closures were. 

I cried though. I wouldn’t learn not to cry at being spanked or being frustrated or being scared until I was exactly 14. I didn’t yet understand how my tears fed her fury like a steak thrown into a pit of ravenous wolves. So yes, I was 7 and I cried while she spanked me. 

A few hours later when she was back in her room applying her makeup and I had calmed down from crying, I ventured cautiously into her bedroom to ask if I could go for a walk outside in the woods behind our house.  Even as a very young child I was drawn to the serenity of nature and solitude. And I knew it was a good idea to reflect on the error of my existence and my every choice in order to try to understand and hopefully realize wisdoms and how to make good choices that might make Mommie smile and be happy with me.  Nature and solitude were like my gas masks of safety, the only place I knew where I could breathe easily.

This was my intent today now. To spend my Saturday quietly in nature, alone, where I couldn’t make mistakes or annoy Mommie  at all, so I bravely asked her even though I knew she was furious with me and my stupidity,  if I could go for a walk in the woods. 

Mommie flipped out again. Screaming at me that she WASN’T STUPID!, she HADN’T BEEN BORN YESTERDAY!, and she demanded to know WHAT BOY I WAS MEETING IN THE WOODS?!

These questions really scared me because I didn’t have any plans to meet any boys in the woods. And I also was wise enough to know that denying the accusation was equally dangerous because it would be considered the same as “calling her stupid”. 

There was no right answer to this line of accusatory questioning where she “already knew” the answer/the truth / whatever.  So I said, I’m not meeting a boy Mommie. I just want to go for a walk outside by myself because I’m sad that I didn’t close the cabinets this morning. 

Ohhhh the rage! I was not allowed to go for a walk, I would go “STRAIGHT TO MY ROOM “ because I was “giving attitude ” and “insulting her intelligence ” and she was just “tired of looking at my face already”. 

I went to my room and wished I could be like my older sister and sleep til noon so that I could have avoided making Mommie so mad twice already before 11 AM.  At least I didn’t usually provoke and infuriate her while I was sleeping… not usually at least. 

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