Sun Porches and Socrates

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On a good day, I can step onto this tiny sun porch in this old nostalgic house haunted with a million memories of laughter, love, and joy.

Closing my eyes, it’s August of 1993. There’s a young girl sitting on that tired bamboo sofa covered in sun-faded flowers, her long tanned legs curled up under her, messy sun-kissed blonde ponytail that wishes it were drenched in sand and sun whipping about on the beach.

I can see her so clearly, I almost can convince myself to reach out and touch her. Have a conversation with her. Advise her…. Warn her maybe?

I’m not sure if I should….

But she’s too deep in concentration, brow furrowed, nose buried in a heavy textbook absolutely determined to intelligently decipher these wise debates between Aristotle and Socrates. At least enough to make her own clear arguments on any essay question put to her in the near future.

It’s her first semester of college. Her daddy is 100 feet or so away, his feet propped up on his favorite old blue lazy-boy recliner. The soothing soft sounds of golf play on the television, he dozes in and out, having just returned home from 18 holes in the perfect Michigan sun.

It’s summer of 1993. Her whole life is ahead of her. Her daddy will live forever. She’s confident she will be deeply loved someday by a wonderful man and they will have a beautiful happy family after she’s an established attorney providing legal counsel for the poor and underrepresented.

Her only concerns in this world are getting an A- not a B- on her political science exam Thursday, who she’ll hang out with Friday night, how she’ll manage to pay for 4 years of college, and if the weather will be as nice on Saturday so she can go to the beach since she’s had to spend this perfect summer week studying to make certain her GPA remains high enough to qualify for the honors courses.

She’s hopeful that her mom will love her…someday. She doesn’t really worry about such things though. She’s too determined and far too optimistic to stress. All she has to do is work hard and be a good human being. She just instinctively knows that she’ll be the most amazing human being, lawyer, wife, and mother someday.

She believes without hesitation that all the worst life can do to her is behind her.

All the best is yet to come.

Any possibility of future failure and a life full of empty loneliness and agonizing daily terrors aren’t even glimmers of thoughts in her head.

She doesn’t know she’s beautiful and I want to convince her. She’s endless optimism, an infinite summer frolicking on the beach. She’s hope and faith. She’s trust and kindness. I want to bottle that up, wrap it in cashmere and keep it safely tucked away in a drawer for some day when she’ll desperately need to believe in such things again.

I’ve so much to tell her. Dammit, she’s right there… and she needs to know…

She’ll never know or understand how i envy her. Even if I could tell her, she’d just set about to debate with me on the silly futility of envy and compassionately tell me every beautiful thing she sees in me that I can’t see at all.

I like her so much but she’ll never know that either until it’s too late and everything that she is and all that she believes has been depleted… vanished.

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Your misuse — hijacked amygdala

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They can tell you Because you’re not going to back down You won’t sell your sisters for a side ways glance You won’t burn your bra, you may need it to strangle someone You have the same look All of you The ones with green hair and multiple piercings who say fuck off before you […]

via Your misuse — hijacked amygdala

How I Got Here. Part 1

Love is useless

As I am writing this I have fallen into the deepest hole in my life. I have been through so much in the last seven years, but more on that later. Right now I sit here heart broken, unemployed and working myself back up from a nervous breakdown. I have been seeing a therapist once a week and they have put me on antidepressants. One thing I have learned is these so called “happy pills” actually just make me numb and unable to cry. Do the thoughts of suicide still creep into my mind? Well of course but I have at least learned that these are negative thoughts that can be curbed and controlled.

How did I get here? Well, it all started with my divorce. I was married for twelve years and the marriage was slowly dying a slow death. I had been sleeping on the couch…

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Understanding the process with PERSPECTIVE! — After Narcissistic Abuse

With abuse we mourn the loss of reality in our life, along with dreams, memories, time together, small laughs and shared experiences. We mourn the loss of our life as if a part of us was suffocated or died from this hideous abuse. Our emotional/psychological scars cause us to doubt and question the truth of […]

via Understanding the process with PERSPECTIVE! — After Narcissistic Abuse

I Remember Her

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easter 1974 pic

I remember this day.  I remember that little girl.

She was newly 4 and her grandma made these beautiful Easter dresses!

She could not wait to wear it, even though her sister’s dress seemed so much prettier and more grown up than hers…  She knew she’d never be quite as big or smart or pretty as her older sister she adored, but she hoped someday when she got big she might be smart and pretty too.

She loved singing into the metal fan. The silly voice vibrations made her giggle so hard!

She was painfully conscious of being little…smaller and weaker than everyone else in her world.  Always aware that she wasn’t really like the others in her little family.  All she saw in the mirror was that ugly, unruly white hair and sickly pale skin.  And she stared a lot: stared at her sister’s beautiful soft brown skin and shiny, sleek, well-behaved hair which was just like Mom’s except shorter, hoping when she got big, her hair and skin and eyes would look beautiful like theirs. Hoping she would fit in better when she grew up.

She felt so much smaller and less than the world around her.  She tried hard to make up for this by being cute or silly or funny. It didn’t really work with her mom, but she could make her daddy laugh.

Laughing with Daddy was the best thing in the world!

Her beautiful mother, whom she thought of as a fairy tale goddess, never seemed pleased with her, but she’d never ever give up trying; telling herself, when I’m big and smart and pretty, she’ll love me so much!  Then, she will love me for sure! 

Not too long after this glorious day when she picked dandelions and wore the beautiful princess dress, mom had given she and her sister some money to walk to the store next door to buy ice cream for the 3 of them.  Ice cream bars were 25 cents next door. It looked like her sister had a handful of shiny quarters Mom had given to them to spend. YAY!

She loved going to the store for her mom.  It made her feel grown up and responsible.  Mom wanted an Eskimo Pie and she and her sister could each choose an ice cream too.

It was so exciting to get to go to the store with her sister and get to pick her own treat!  She had chosen an ice cream sandwich and her sister had chosen a treat and grabbed an Eskimo Pie for mom.

At the counter, she saw behind the clerk were Cracker Jacks.  She didn’t like the taste of Cracker Jacks very much, but she knew there was a surprise inside the box and she thought how happy her mom would be if she could give her a present. What if it was a beautiful ring or necklace?  Oh, Mom would be so happy!

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So she told her sister, they should get the Cracker Jacks instead of the Eskimo Pie so that they could surprise Mom with a beautiful present.  Her sister didn’t think this was a good idea at all.  Dawn said, Okay, but Mom’s gonna be really mad…

She didn’t understand this. Dawn must be confused. How could Mom ever be mad when we would be giving her a surprise present?  Probably a beautiful diamond ring or something better even.  There was no way Mom could ever be mad at that!  So, she begged and begged her sister to get the Cracker Jacks.  She wished she could see the prize inside before buying it to know what it was, but she’d seen the commercials on TV, she felt positive it would be something just beautiful that would make Mommy so happy!

Dawn relented and bought the Cracker Jacks.

Ohhhh… she was so excited, she could barely wait to get home to open the Cracker Jacks in secret and then run out and surprise her Mom with something beautiful!  She practically ran the few hundred feet home to her mom.

When they got home, Mom was sitting in the baby blue crushed velvet chair in the living room.  She ran straight up to her and thought she was clever to very nonchalantly say, Mommy, these Cracker Jacks are for you, but I’m going to take them upstairs for a minute and I’ll be right back down, okay? 

Before the whole sentence was even out of her mouth, Mommy backhanded her across the face, screaming furious words she didn’t understand.

She was stunned and shocked.    Maybe a surprise wasn’t a good idea after all.  So she explained, Mommy, please don’t be mad at me!?  I got you a surprise.  I bet it’s a beautiful diamond ring or necklace.  There’s a surprise in the box for you!  I got you a surprise!

Mommy backhanded her face again, even harder…or maybe it wasn’t harder than the first.  Her cheek was just still stinging hot from the first one and her nose still smarted a bit before the second one hit so maybe that’s why the second backhand felt harder even after she’d explained there was a beautiful surprise, she wasn’t sure.

She was utterly confused at the ferocity of this sudden and unexpected anger!  Why was Mommy mad?  She just wanted to surprise her with something beautiful.

Maybe Mommy still didn’t understand that the Cracker Jack’s had a beautiful surprise for her?  Maybe that’s why she was still mad?  She just didn’t know what I meant when I said we got it to give her a surprise?  Maybe she’s too mad to hear me over her screaming?  I’d better be quiet and go to my room for now like Mommy says.

I’ll try again to explain it later. Mommy will be so happy!

A Typical Death

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No one blinks an eye when a 75 year old man dies.  Why would they?  75 years is a long life.  Why would dropping dead from a heart attack be odd for a 75 year old man?  Albeit one who plays golf 3 times a week and has more energy than most 30 year olds.  Odd coincidence that it’s the very day he’s leaving to fly home from this vacation.  After all, he’s 75 years old and has battled his weight all his life.  Those 75 year olds drop dead; that’s just what they do.

I’ve been doing some research to find out exactly what really happened when my dad died.  I’m sure it’s all on the up-and-up, but something just sits funny with me regarding it all.  They can’t get their stories straight and being that my dad was on vacation 2,000 miles away from home, on a bizarre vacation with his ex-wife who screwed him over 100 ways from marriage and an oldest child who rarely even talked to him in his lifetime and most likely wasn’t even his blood child…

Nothing odd about that, 75 year olds drop dead.  That’s what they do.

Yet, when I talked to the Los Angeles detective, he was helpful but got quiet as I described my unease.   After listening, he said, those do seem odd coincidences, if it were my dad, I’d wonder too. Then he said, well, in 20 years with the Los Angeles police department, I can assure you of one thing, no one just “drops dead” on the street of Los Angeles…

My sister, who couldn’t wait to cremate him, who was obviously manipulative in her attempts to persuade me not to bother myself with the legalities during this tragically difficult time…this sister who hadn’t cared about me, my children, our lives, and had had nothing to say to me for 16 years, was suddenly so deeply concerned about my sensitivity and my love for my dad.  As was my mother, his ex-wife.  Suddenly so very caring to me after 16 years of total silence as I had struggled through handicaps, near-death, and overcoming an abusive relationship with my children’s father, while I raised two beautiful children all alone with only the help of my amazing dad.  Suddenly, they cared deeply about my sensitivity and how very hard this would be on me!

He should be cremated in Los Angeles!  You don’t want to see him this way….  You wouldn’t be able to handle it.  You  want to remember him lively and happy as he was in life. Trust me, you want him cremated in Los Angeles and then shipped home for burial. YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO SEE HIM THIS WAY!

No.  No, I’m sure I don’t want him cremated across the country before he’s sent home to be buried.  I need to see him before he’s buried. He was my daughter’s and my whole world. We need to see him.

No, no!  It’s going to be terrible for you!  You don’t want to see the father you loved so much this way, trust me.  It’ll be much better for your children and you to just cremate him here!

But, he never wanted to be cremated.  He wanted to be buried next to his mother in Kentucky!  He’s told me that all my life for as long as I can remember.  And I need to see him again.  He can’t just go on vacation then never ever come home again.  That doesn’t feel right. No.  We’ll need to see him before he’s cremated or buried.  And, he really didn’t want to be cremated at all…. He was very clear about that.

No! You’re distraught.  This will be too hard for you .  I promise you, it will be better for you and your daughters this way.

No. No, it won’t.  This doesn’t even come close to what he wanted or what sits well with me. No.

Okay… Well, oddly enough Dad was telling me just last night where his will is.  But you don’t have to go get it.  Mom will fly in straight from our vacation before even going home and go to his house for you to be there for you and your kids.  We don’t want you to have to go through that.  His will is pretty straightforward.  Split down the middle between you and I , his only children. The only thing is, he never signed it.

You two haven’t cared about or spoken to me at all me for 16 years….Really?  That’s so kind of you!  I think it would devastate my daughters and I to have to go to his home without him there now, but our dad is dead.   I’m sure you wouldn’t lie about his will.  How could money matter to anyone now?  He wasn’t rich and he’s dead now.

My mother and sister currently on vacation in California with my dead dad, who neither live with him or near us, nor care one whit about him except to use him to their advantage in screwing me over suddenly cared so much about my “sensitive” feelings and how hard this death would be on me and my children.

And, coincidentally, they also know every detail about his will, as “just last night” he told my sister where it was in Michigan.  Not only did he tell his cheating, lying ex-wife who lives in Ohio and his apathetic daughter who lives in Seattle where his will in Michigan was precisely located the night before he suddenly keeled over dead, he also just happened to mention literally just hours before dropping dead that it wasn’t signed!

I can hear the conversation now.  We’ve had a great 6 days of vacation here in California, but I’m 75 you know, and my youngest daughter and her kids are my entire life, I’m healthy and happy, but my will is in the second drawer down on my desk that sits on my porch in Michigan.  Oh and, I didn’t sign it. I went to all the trouble to make a will.  I spent $500 on will software to be sure it was perfectly done and absolutely to the letter of Michigan probate law, but I never bothered to sign it. It’s not signed.

I’m going to drop dead within 6 hours of telling you this.  I’ll never make it home to my daughter or her children, but you should know where that will is and that it’s not signed.   This is very important information for you to have, although I’m healthy and happy and have enjoyed a wonderland 6 days of vacation with you two.

Also, Darlene, my beloved ex-wife, although you screwed every man imaginable while we were married…although you led me on for 30 years after you left me that you’d leave the man you left me for, and we’d be together, so I never moved on from our marriage, I want you to know I’m sorry for all I did to hurt you.  I am sorry to you. 

And you both should know that my will is sitting unsigned  in a desk drawer in Michigan. I, an OCD riddled with precision and perfection no-stone-unturned type A personality, purchased very expensive will making software to make my will perfect and legal, but I did not sign it.

Then drops dead.

Nothing odd at all that my dad’s sister, when outraged at how long it was taking Los Angeles to deliver the body,  my mother said, I’m just so hurt that your aunt would think I actually did something to hurt your dad… or kill him… (sob, sob) Baby, I would NEVER do such a thing!

And I, in my stupid innocence, said, OH MY GOD, WHAT? No one thinks that, Mom!  She just doesn’t understand why it’s taking so long to ship his body home from California. No one is saying you hurt him!  That’s silly!  Don’t cry!  No one would ever think such a thing!

They each tell different stories to different people about where he suddenly dropped dead.  Well gosh, that’s understandable! It must be very difficult to remember the precise place where you stood with your dad when he dropped dead.

My mother brags throughout the funeral about how it’s her “60 years total married  anniversary” and brings her first husband and current husband to her second husband’s funeral.  And laughs the entire time about the bandaged scrapes over her eye which she’d somehow gotten while helping him when he dropped dead.  Mother thought it was just adorable to tell everyone at the funeral, John made sure he got the last punch in (giggle, giggle)!

I’m still waiting for the EMS incident report with the exact details of this dropping instantly and suddenly dead, but I’ve since learned that EMS services were already there caring for him when he dropped dead.  (Some how this was never mentioned in any way to me when telling me how he died) The EMS team were there caring for my dad when he dropped, but somehow, he took my mother down with him, not one of the EMS technicians helping him, which strangely enough, doesn’t match their tale whatsoever.

My sister very specifically told me he had gotten suddenly dizzy after they were leaving from having a “nice lunch”, had had to sit down for a minute, then said he felt fine, stood up, and “keeled over dead before he even got all the way up”, taking mother (who’d been sitting with him to help) down with him as he’d tried to stand back up.  Her story directly implied that there was no cause or time to call 911 between feeling dizzy and dropping dead.  Yet, now I find out from the hospital report, that the EMT technicians were already there when he died.  They witnessed the death, but no word to me about having called 911 at all.  It was simply, he was dizzy one second and then just immediately dropped dead right there, that second

So apparently, if their story of my mother’s injuries at my dad’s death is true, rather than the EMS technicians helping him stand up after feeling ill enough to call 911 for help, it was my tiny mother who helped him to his feet while the technicians just watched her help him and both dropping as he dropped dead.  Watching him take her down with him and get her face scratched and scraped from the fall as he died…

In addition, neither of them accompanied my dad to the hospital.  I understand he was already dead at that point, but if you love someone enough to take a week’s vacation with them and they suddenly drop dead, wouldn’t you go to the hospital with them?

Nah, why go to the hospital with his body? Makes more sense to just immediately start researching Michigan probate law so you can wait 6 more hours to call his other daughter to even tell her he’s dead, but have yourself fully informed of Michigan law before you inform her he’s dead and then specifically misinform her of the very state laws you researched surrounding his will, rather than having wasted your time going with the body to the hospital, right?

My sister started lying and manipulating me from the first phone call to tell me he’d died and her lies didn’t stop until after the funeral when I refused to grant her sole executor of his estate, at which time she immediately went back to not speaking to me at all, just like mother.  Her lies didn’t stop until she stopped talking to me at all.

She even lied about his military records.  My dad’s time in the Air Force was so important and meaningful to him.  He deserved a veteran’s burial. I knew how important this would have been to him.  He’d proudly earned that privilege. Yet, she told me, she’d contacted the Air Force for his records to secure a veteran’s burial for him and the Air Force could find no record of his service.  He’d been receiving veteran’s medical care since his retirement, but they had no record of his service?  I thought it strange that he was receiving veteran’s medical benefits for 10 years without the Air Force having any records that he’d served, but I didn’t bother to check myself because it never occurred to me my sister would ever feel the need to lie about such a thing.  Strangely enough, as I was sorting through his files yesterday, I discovered an envelope labeled “Air Force Info Discharge Papers” clearly written in my sister’s very unique handwriting.  Yet, she specifically had told me no one could find any record of his military service, not even the Air Force itself!?  And here were the very records of his service, labeled in her own handwriting?

WHY LIE ABOUT THAT?

They waited 6 hours after his death to inform me he’d died because they “didn’t want to upset me at work”. So even though I was out of work at 5 PM, they waited till  9 PM to let me know.  In the interim of waiting to inform me, they researched the various legalities of Michigan probate law. Then for some unknown reason, promptly and intentionally lied to me about those Michigan probate laws when they called at 9 PM to tell me he was dead.

My sister after begging (literally pleading) with me for an entire week not to go to the probate lawyer’s office with her; to leave all that legal stuff to her because it would just be too hard on me to go through all that, was busted out on her lie about Michigan probate laws within the first 5 minutes with the attorney.  I looked directly at her when the attorney busted her direct lie wide open, she stared straight ahead at the lawyer, refusing to look me in the eye.  When I stopped the lawyer’s talking to say, wait a minutebut Dawn, you said….  Dawn, never meeting my eyes, still starting straight at the attorney, simply said, Oh, I guess I got it confused.

Yeah, I suppose when you’re busy researching probate laws and local crematories for your dad’s sudden and instantaneous death, before his body is even cold and hours before informing your sister he’s dead at all,  it must be easy to get those laws totally twisted and confused… the exact probate laws you felt were so important to immediately know before telling anyone he was dead.  The exact law you told your sister you’d researched so you’d have the important information to give her when informing her he was dead.

So easy to see how confused you might get during such a difficult time. So confused and twisted that you actually mistake the law for its literal opposite when informing your sister, Dad dropped dead….but I know where his unsigned will is and oh, by the way, Michigan probate law says…

Oops.  Did I accidentally get that all directly flipped around?  See, I told you a million times you didn’t need to bother yourself with talking to the probate attorney.  You should have just left all of this to me like I’ve insistently begged you to for the entire week we were burying him and you were trying to comfort your devastated children…

Now here you are still sobbing uncontrollably about your dead dad with me in the lawyer’s office with  and all I want to know is, WHEN DO I GET MY GODDAMNED MONEY?

 

Impossible Cravings

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Skyline

Since this nightmare began in 2012, I’m plagued with flashbacks of memories I’d long ago forced back into hidden places in my naive and desperate attempts to believe the best of people I loved.

Many of these flashbacks seem so silly and superficially innocuous.  Hindsight with research and education of malignant narcissists, make it clear how easily this method of abuse was inflicted and how many years it went on, slowly, quietly, chipping away at my sense of self, my faith in my own perception, even my belief that I was intelligent and sensible enough to comprehend reality itself.

Much of it was never as clear as a punch in the face (although there were a few of these, but I typically blamed myself as deserving of those too) and thus, was so simple for me to deny even to myself and explaining it to others just made me look nit-picky, so I took those little vague but incessant yukky feelings as more evidence that I was just imagining they hurt.  It had to be my over-sensitivity.  Surely, no one intentionally did and said these things to a daughter or a lover!  Surely….?!?

Being alone in a state far away from home, sick with pregnancy complications, starving for days, begging your mother to send a few dollars for groceries, does something strange to someone’s mind as your mother refuses to help and instead insults you, all the while saying, I love you.  It’s difficult to describe the mind-fuck of this level and impossible to accurately define how it seems to actually erase your humanity itself.  Obliterating those little pieces inside that believe you deserve even the basics to live, food, water, shelter; twisting one’s understanding of love into something less even than the very basic necessities. Which leaves a person with the understanding that love and compassion, kindness, and consideration are massive luxuries you could never have, much less deserve, as a human being.

Somewhere among going so long without food while carrying my firstborn, Lexi in the midst of narcissistic abuse from my boyfriend after spending my childhood with the exact same treatment from my mother, I stopped believing I deserved anything good at all and my highest hopes of relationship transformed into nothing beyond wishing for merely the lack of bad.  There was no such thing as hoping for happiness or joy or love or kindness, I literally only wished not to have pain intentionally inflicted on me.

After the period of starving was over and my mother had helped me understand that I was too disgustingly pathetic to deserve even food for my gestating baby, my boyfriend and I had moved again to another state where I had no friends or family at all.  I still called my mom regularly, lonely and abused in a strange place and utterly dependent on my narcissist. I desperately wanted a mother- not to save me from the daily abuse for she had taught me well that I deserved that infinitely- but for comfort in my loneliness and general fears of a first pregnancy.

I lived in fear and loneliness, but I was grateful when my mother took a few minutes to talk to me at all.  I was grateful when I had food to eat.  I was grateful my boyfriend provided a roof over my head, utilities, and those occasional pathetic long distance phone calls still begging for my mother’s love.  I craved two foods while pregnant:  Caesar salad and a childhood favorite-Skyline Chili which was only available back in Ohio.  I would wake in the night with a longing so fierce for Skyline Chili it seemed almost tangible.

A few times in those desperate calls to my mother, I laughed with her about my cravings.  I was excited that three times while pregnant, my dad had sent me money and I was able to use it to go to Perkins for their lemon chicken Caesar salad, which I shared all three times with my boyfriend of course.  I wouldn’t want to be selfish and think I deserved to spend that money all on myself or that I deserved an entire  salad for just myself.  And I laughed with my mother about how silly it was for me to crave Skyline Chili so badly – a food I knew was utterly unobtainable from this state, even if I’d had the money to spend.  I laughed at myself with her for being that pregnant woman who had to crave something impossible!  Of course, I’d be that ridiculous kind who’d have craving for something hundreds of miles away…

A few days before  Christmas when my mother actually called me (yes, she called ME for once!) and my baby girl was due early January to discuss her Christmas shopping, family gatherings, and general holiday stuff, I was beyond delighted to have received a call from her.  My fears for a healthy baby and giving birth grew exponentially each day her due date gained momentum and I felt like maybe mother did care about me.  After all, the day was getting closer and she called me!  She had actually picked up the phone to dial my phone number and talk to me about her holiday stuff.

I floated with joy just to be on the phone with her as she discussed how impossible it was to shop for my step-dad-what DO you buy the man who has everything?! and her various thoughts on her struggles choosing for my sister and her husband in Florida-Dawn has such eclectic tastes, you know?…

I was giddy to think of family and to be included just to get to hear about these things, not to mention it was a welcome distraction from the impending delivery day fears I battled every day alone in my head because my boyfriend’s work stuff and his fears over the upcoming birth were far greater and more important than mine, so I didn’t dare try to tell him of my silly pregnancy fears, or my loneliness, or how I could never stop worrying that the time I went without food might have damaged her somehow.

So, this lovely conversation with my mother about these general holiday woes were a welcome distraction as well as a flattering gift of attention.

As our conversation came to a close, mother tells me that after all the inner debate and frustration, she finally had decided to get everyone the same thing for Christmas.  She had found a way to order Skyline Chili for the entire family and have it shipped cross-country even to my sister and her husband.

Oh my gosh, I was deliriously excited…  I WOULD ACTUALLY GET TO HAVE SOME SKYLINE CHILI!  MY MOTHER HAD FOUND A WAY THAT EVEN LIVING OUT OF STATE, I COULD HAVE MY INSANELY IMPOSSIBLE PREGNANCY CRAVING FOR SKYLINE CHILI! AND I WOULD HAVE IT FINALLY JUST WEEKS BEFORE MY BABY WAS DUE EVEN!

I said, Oh mom, that is the best idea ever!  After all that turmoil deciding, as usual, you thought of the most perfect  gift idea of all!  I’m so excited to have some Skyline Chili!

The line got quiet for just a moment.  I thought perhaps the call had dropped.  I said, Mom?  Mom?  Are you still there?

And I hear her.  She’s still there.  She says, Oh… I didn’t get any Skyline Chili for you and Mark.  I thought I might, but then I remembered you’re a vegetarian, so I knew you wouldn’t want that for Christmas!

As massive as my disappointment was, my confusion actually overrode it.  I said, What?  A vegetarian? I’m not a vegetarian…  I’ve been craving Skyline Chili my entire pregnancy, Mommy!!  Were you maybe thinking of six years ago when I challenged myself to eat vegetarian for a month just to see if I could?

Oh, you’re not a vegetarian?  Oh my, I’m so sorry!  I thought you were!  If I’d known you weren’t a vegetarian, I would have ordered some for you too!  I ordered it for the entire family except you.  I don’t know why I thought you were a vegetarian?! What a shame it’s too late to order any now.

That’s okay, Mommy.  It’s the perfect gift idea, I’m sure everyone will love it. 

I hung up the phone feeling sad I would miss out on the perfect gift and wondering how I’d been so impossibly crazy as to mislead my mother for six years into thinking I was a vegetarian.

What a silly misunderstanding!  Hmmm…!?  So very strange that she didn’t know I’m not a vegetarian!  It’s my own fault, though.  Somehow, I mislead her into thinking that month challenge six years ago was a permanent decision.   My lack of clarity has now led to me not  getting Skyline Chili, my most fervent 9 month craving,  for Christmas.

I’ll have to work harder on being more clear in the future. If I weren’t so confusing, I’m sure this misunderstanding would never have been possible!

And I couldn’t help thinking of all the meals we’d shared in those six years; dinners where I’d ordered- and eaten- meat.

What a strange and unfortunate misunderstanding, indeed…

Olfactory Dreaming

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sawdust

I don’t recall my dreams often any more and that’s a grace considering the depth of horror most of them entail, encapsulating my real life horrors so that even sleep doesn’t provide a moment’s respite.

This dream was different, though.  I’m grateful for it and yet it leaves me trying to analyze what most likely was just a dream.

In this dream, my neighbor, Juanita, was visiting.  We were chatting in front of my big built-in bookshelves when she accidentally knocked something over and most of the books on the shelves fell behind the case.   I was dismayed and assumed they’d be lost back there forever with no way of retrieving them and putting them back in their rightful position on the shelves.

I tried to move the built-in shelves out to see if it was even possible and surprisingly, it moved easily!  Effortlessly, I pulled it out far enough to squeeze behind.  My first thought was, oh my, I’d better vacuum back here before I slide it back.  It’s a dusty mess back here!

The strong odor of sawdust and that distinctive scent of  fresh new remodeling hit fast and heavy.  That wasn’t dust!  It was remnants from remodeling or building the bookcase that had not been swept up.  Fresh and crisp, preserved in time back there as if the bookcase had been built just earlier this very day. My dad did not install the bookcase, it was here when he bought this 1896 house so I can’t possibly know when that mess was made and left behind.

But I am taken aback in my dream with the surprising joy of this unexpected olfactory treasure.  In my dream, as I stand there behind this built-in bookcase, I’m flashing back in time.  It’s summer of 1988 and my dad and I are touring this house for the first time…me, giddy with adoration at the historical element as well as the little secret idiosyncratic treasures massive ancient homes often display. I’m looking at my dad, gushing about that beautiful library! Then, I’m coming home to construction guys working in our house, the smell of fresh, clean paint, and my dad in the kitchen hollering out as I toss my book bag on the dining room table, I made some supper, baby! How do you like that color in the living room? 

I’m transferred back to 1988 when my dad was alive and well, my whole life was before me, and I still believed in love and that children would never betray a momma who loves and cherishes them; transported to an innocent time when my dad could protect me from everything and I knew I’d marry a wonderful man who loved me and be the best momma ever someday.

In my dream, I breathed in that smell so deeply over and over… and resolved to never vacuum or sweep back there, just so I could pull out the shelves once in awhile and visit this pristinely fragranced land of nostalgia.

I woke up confused.  I’ve never smelled a nonexistent smell in a dream before.  There’s no remodeling going on here today and that was a million years ago; there’s no sawdust in this house.  And this was so distinct and strong a smell which came from such a random, trifle of a dream.

I googled “smells in dreams” and it turns out the research is limited, but it’s not a very common occurrence. I did find an analysis of the sawdust though:  to see sawdust in a dream suggests that you need to clear up an emotional wound that has recently opened.

What an astute analysis for- of all things- sawdust!  Yet, I have no recently opened wounds.  Just  the same ones I’ve carried for six years now that refuse to heal at all.

I can’t imagine it says much for my sad, empty, meaningless existence that even in my dreams- a place where my fantasies could run rampant and I could be drenched in the joy and happiness of my children again, my dad could still be alive and laughing that infectious larger-than-life belly laugh and I could be living life as I once did, that even in that realm of limitless fantastic world of impossibility,  my greatest imaginable joy is reflecting on the nostalgia of a time before I ever imagined this could ( much less would) be how my life turned out, rather than dare to dream of some new wondrously alive or happy occurrence.

The only remote possibility of feeling joy, even in my dreams, has become the same nostalgia I feel in my waking hours.  My vast imagination is even limited now to believing the only joy possible is revisiting times before I could have imagined the things done to me since were even possible, much less inevitable.

A time when I truly believed a boyfriend slamming my face repeatedly into a glass door or a mother’s inescapable incessant cruelty was the worst my life would ever be…

I long for those days now.

I can’t quite put my finger on what that all means, but it strikes me at my core to realize  how nonexistent any hope for happiness or belief that it even exists for me at all has become.

It was delightful to just dream of having the sweet nostalgia of sawdust scented innocence and faith.

 

Memory Lane

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I had a sudden wonderful memory the other day.  I smiled to myself just recalling that delightful day in my life.  I’ve no one to share it with, so I suppose it belongs here.

Daddy used to love going to our family reunions in Kentucky every summer.  I looked forward to it because it was time with my dad, time free from my mother, and time with extended family who were friendly and loving to me.  His family is from way out in the hills of eastern Kentucky; a tiny little town called Hyden, where most everyone in the town is related by either blood or marriage.  So, the family reunion was like a holiday for that little town as most everyone who lived there attended.

I think I was maybe 10 this particular year.  It was an especially wild reunion this year, it seemed to me from a child’s eyes who didn’t get out in the world much living as a virtual prisoner at my mother’s.  The reunion lasted around 3 days in various forms with the big shindig on Saturday night.

The first day we arrived, I went wading in little creeks and stomping through the woods with various cousins and kin related to me in ways I didn’t know around my age.  We crossed an ancient swinging bridge and I remember being terrified to cross it!  It was so high up and rickety and swayed.  I was so terrified, I crawled across through the middle part where it was most swingy-y!

We made it across though, then climbed down that mountain and splashed around in that icy cold creek below the bridge.  The water was so clear, crisp and cold on that steamy summer day.  It felt especially great after huffing down the rocky mountain and the sweaty terror I’d had crossing that swinging bridge! I remember my dad ducking his head under and coming up shaking the drops off laughing with delight almost like a little boy.

I remember watching him laugh that big belly laugh, shaking off the droplets of water, and giggling out loud at my dad while thinking I had the happiest, kindest, most fun and loving, greatest daddy in the world!  I was absolutely certain no one’s father could ever be as amazing as mine and there was nothing anyone in the whole wide world could have said that might have ever convinced me otherwise.

The next day was the big old party!  There was so much delicious food- deviled eggs, fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, fish, hamburgers, hot dogs, and every kind a pie table that went for miles.  I ate nonstop all day.  The older boys and men played horseshoes in the field, drinking beer while the women mostly cooked, talked, and organized everything, and the younger kids like me just ran wild in the fields playing tag, investigating interesting bugs, just being as free and delighted in the simple things of this world as kids often are.

One distant cousin lady there that year had a brand new baby, as tiny as a doll.  I was torn all day long between playing like a hooligan with the kids, standing around the horseshoes with my dad, and holding that little baby.  I wanted to do all three all at one time and didn’t want to miss a second of any one of those delights.

When it got dark, there was a band that played.  It even had a fiddler and a guy picking a banjo!  Everyone danced and the band called for a dance contest.  I watched this with particular interest because I had only danced to records alone in the downstairs of my mother’s house.  I’d never seen so many people dancing in my life!  I wanted to watch and learn how to actually dance.  My amazing dad won the dance contest and they gave him a family reunion t-shirt that said he was the best dancer or something.  I was so excited when he handed it to me and said I could wear it!  I put it on over my shorts and tank top, like a nightgown, and wore it with pride at having the best daddy who I was now certain was also the best dancer in the world on top of all other matters of excellence my dad was!

After the dance contest, wearing my dad’s trophy t-shirt, it was getting dark and I asked the woman with that little baby if I could hold her again.  The baby was tired and fussy and I could tell her momma needed a break.  I took the little doll outside the big noisy room onto the porch and rocked her while singing Rock-a-bye Baby, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and all other little songs I thought would soothe and comfort a tiny baby.  I sang all the songs I sang to my doll at home, but this time to a real live teeny little baby!

She fell sound asleep in my arms almost instantly and I couldn’t stop just staring at her tiny little mouth, her delicate eyelashes, her miniature fingers, and her soft little curls.  I fell madly in love with this precious little creature!  I never ever wanted to put her down!  This was the first time I’d ever held an infant all by myself before with no grown-ups even watching me, like they trusted me with this perfect tiny little human being.  I felt so much love and joy in those hours, I could hardly stand it.  I didn’t even care that I was missing the party or was away from my dad all alone outside.

She made little sounds as she slept and I was fascinated.  Her name was Lexi and I was so sure she was the most beautiful living thing in this world, I vowed that night as I rocked her and watched her sleeping to name my child after her someday because I knew there could be no more precious or perfect baby in the world as this one except the one I would have someday just like her.

We had to make that long drive home the next day and I talked to my daddy about Lexi the whole way home.  I told him how perfect she was, how much I loved her, how much I missed her already, and that some day,  when I was a momma, I would have a Lexi just as perfect.  A baby Lexi just like her, only my very own, who I would never have to let go of and would get to rock to sleep every night, not just one perfect hot summer night in Kentucky.  And I knew all my days would be perfect then- when I was a grown-up who could love and adore my own Lexi forever.

My daddy laughed at how smitten I was that day driving home from Kentucky, but 13 years later when I had a little girl, he knew before I told him even what her name would be.

Lexi.

And so it was.

The depth of parental alienation syndrome and/or NPD by association

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My daughter, Lexi,  called a few weeks ago. I knew why she was calling before I even spoke to her as I had dreamed she was pregnant only a few weeks earlier, but had convinced myself “it was only a dream”.

She said, “we’re not telling anyone yet”, so don’t tell anyone. Which of course meant everyone already knew, but that she didn’t want me to tell anyone since after a long discussion it turned out her dad, sister, friends, etc. all already knew….  not sure who else  she feared I might “tell”, but oh well.  Of course I’ll not tell anyone.

Who would I even tell anyway?

She cried because she felt her dad was ashamed of her.  She cried really hard about that actually.  I can’t know if that was a manipulative set-up or the truth…  Regardless, I responded only that I was sure her dad was not ashamed, but was simply worried for her and not expressing that well because of his fears.  I’m sure he is ashamed, but I’d never tell her that because he has no business or right to be ashamed of her for that!  He’s a malignant narcissist, of course he’s ashamed of anything less than perfection as  he fears it’ll reflect poorly on him. I wasn’t going to tell her he probably was ashamed though.  As even if she’s sobbing over how much he’s hurting her, I still know that if I even hint of anything negative about him she’ll start screaming at me, tell me how horrible I am, how WONDERFUL HER DAD IS, and hang up and “shun” me again.

So I carefully encouraged her that her dad was just not expressing his feelings about this well and that he’d be fine once some time passed.

As this conversation was happening, I went into my kitchen to grab an iced tea and as I put ice cubes in my glass, I felt sick thinking she’d hear that I was getting something to drink, so I felt compelled to say, I’m just getting a glass of tea.  I can’t know if she might hear me putting ice in a glass and later tell her dad, sister, boyfriend, friends, grandmother, coworkers, whoever, that she could “hear her mom was drinking” if I didn’t clarify that I was getting myself a glass of tea.  And sadly enough, even as I told her I’m getting a glass of tea, I knew that it didn’t matter that I clarified it; she’d still go and say whatever she thought would be more interesting or ugly about me to tell anyone else anyway.

And I just felt sick…physically sick that I am frantically fearful of my own child, her temper tantrums, her lies, her false accusations, her eagerness to talk, think, and believe badly about me…

Being literally petrified of your own child is terrifying.  Most people I’ve feared in my life, I just broke away from and eventually ceased all contact to protect myself from their physical, mental, and emotional abuse.  I’ve still not figured out a way to tear my heart away from loving this child and thinking of her as the incredible, delightful, kind child she once was.  I suppose my heart and my brain refuse to accept she’s what she is today in spite of 6 years of nonstop evidence that she’s in no way that child anymore.  Even though she’s admitted to me she lied all the time to me growing up, I can’t force myself to accept that totally.

So, we had a nice talk because fortunately I walked the eggshells well enough and didn’t say the wrong thing the wrong way, I guess.  I told her I supported her no matter what, whether she moved back here to “be by her boyfriend’s family” or stayed out there, I would do anything I could for her.

The next day I texted her some home remedies for the nausea she said she’d been having and that went okay.

Then the next day, after 2 days of being excited and scared to death to have her maybe back in my life,  I decided to text her a very lengthy text saying she had my full support in everything in her life just as she’d always had, but that I was very scared to be hurt more because I really didn’t believe I could handle much more hurt.  And I said that whatever she feared her dad felt didn’t matter because in my opinion the only shame we should ever carry in this world is how we treat other people – that things like having sex, experimenting with drugs drinking wine, not doing well in school, getting pregnant, whatever it may be – none of that was anything to be ashamed of as long as we treat people well.

She went off on me in an ugly reply text saying that she “just doesn’t text” and she “wouldn’t change that for me” (not sure what that was about?), that I was a “horrible manipulative passive aggressive person who needed to do some yoga and just forgive myself”, and that she’d “never say mean things to HER child like I do”, and then ended it with “no need to reply because I’m blocking you again”.

So, that was that.  I guess telling your 21 year old daughter (who hasn’t acknowledged you exist in over 2 years) that you support her but you’re also afraid to be hurt any further and that getting pregnant isn’t something to be ashamed of, that the only actions in the world that should carry shame are treating people badly is all just too vile and passive aggressive to say to your pregnant child.

So incredibly interesting but sad that that’s exactly- and I mean exactly – how her father would respond to me saying, I’m afraid you’ll cheat, lie, be cruel, abuse, me again to him 21 years ago.  Fury and flip it back on me for being afraid, but never ever taking responsibility or instead choosing to reassure that he wouldn’t hurt me; just beating me up with my fear until I apologized to him for saying I was afraid.

My daughter has one upped him though being 2000 miles away with new technology.  She just analyzes my every word – twisting and turning what I said – then because of her own guilt and responsibility in it all, she flips that on me too, then refuses to communicate at all with me, much less allow me tell her that her hateful interpretations were way off the mark.

Fuck, she doesn’t even give me the chance to apologize for being scared.

I’m broken all over again, but seeing how she replied, I know my fears were valid and can safely assume the entire phone call was to manipulate me and just to see if she still could manipulate me and use me if she ever needed me.  Maybe she was hoping I’d put her dad down or something while she sobbed how badly he was treating her and then she’d have another reason to say I’m a terrible mom.  I didn’t though, so then she had to get mad because I’m afraid of being hurt.

It’s fairly clear her next tactic would be to manipulate, use, and terrorize me through my coming grandchild now.

Lovely.  Just what I need, as if she and her sister haven’t ripped my heart and soul to pieces enough already.