So after wrapping up my post yesterday I went on to do a shit load of work around the house. By 5pm I was dragging my ass, barely able to get up for some water. Dinner, two cups of evening caramel coffee. Almost asleep, fighting it, fighting it….And then 10 pm came and my eyes were wide open without a hint of the exhaustion I’d been feeling. Yippee fucking ka yay.
Good news: I’ve been uncovering my treasures. Yesterday I found BumBee, a stuffed bumble bee with a little bell inside that jangles when you move him. He was a give away at a bank, and became my best friend as a toddler. I carried him EVERYWHERE. One terrible summer after camping we couldn’t find BumBee and I cried and cried. Mom had actually got 2 BumBees and tried to give me the one she’d been saving. It was new and perfect and not BumBee at all. MY BumBee had been with me through everything. He was missing one of his antennae and a wing was torn. His stripes were worn and kind of dirty. But he was mine, all mine, and he never judged me or made me feel wrong. The new BumBee didn’t cut it, and mom and dad heard all about it in a night of heart felt sobbing. We found my original BumBee a few months afterwards: he’d hitched a ride back home in my sleeping bag. In the long run he did not survive, of course. He lived and loved and stayed with me until he fell apart. The BumBee I have is that secondary BumBee I didn’t want as a kid. He’s still colorful, still has both his antennae and wings. And I just love having him up on my shelf. I smile every time I see him. Hey – chalk one up for mom for getting the back up.
Last night I fell asleep seeing not just BumBee but so many other things I remember; the pretty flower plate I always loved, and the set of the most beautiful wine goblets ever (when I finally uncover my camera I’ll take a pic to share). I’d spent hours in the day unwrapping things, like Christmas. At first when I picked something up out of a shipping box I didn’t know what it was. As the bubble wrap unfolded recognition came. Then a gasp. Then a grin. I was surrounded by the ghosts of my mother and grandmother yesterday, telling me the history of each piece anew as my eyes saw some of them for the first time in 20 years. All of it made me think of family, think of the past, think of everything I’d heard and seen and sometimes not understood as a kid.
Two thoughts are difficult for me to even begin approaching. My head keeps skipping back to them, saying ‘yes that fits, that’s right’ and then runs back away to forgetfulness. The first is the highly probable idea that my mother suffered from narcissistic personality disorder. The second is the cold hard fact that there was physical abuse in my mother’s family.
Mom…will I ever be rid of dealing with mom? I sure as hell hope so. As far as evidence for her suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, just about everything I’ve read so far fits both for her and for me as a survivor. I’m beginning to understand WHY the first emotion I remember feeling is GUILT. You know, there’s an episode of Ab Fab I have problems watching. Usually I love Jennifer Saunders, but in Birth she pulls a face that triggers me like nothing else, ever. It’s just a second or two on screen, and the first time I saw it I cringed. I still cringe. I cringe just THINKING about the face. It’s my mother’s face. It’s a sarcastic, mean face: her lips are tight and pulled down in a grimace. I hate it. I can’t remember ANY time when I clearly remember seeing my mother’s face like that but it is SO my mother’s face. Even when I know it’s coming it stops up my breath. She MUST have done that to me and I don’t want to see it in memory. Otherwise, I don’t understand my extreme reaction to it. Mom was a fucking martyr; oh poor her for ever having fucking children to fuck up her fucking perfect fucking life! I remember a lot of sighs. Sighs when you asked mom to do something for you. Sighs when you confided a secret to her. Sighs when you told her what you were really thinking. I remember feeling punished for no reason: mom ONLY slapped me as a teen in her final moments of frustration. She did not hit me as a young child at all. Dad did the spanking/swatting across the bottom. But mom did hurt me in a lot of other ways. The day I was allowed to wash my own hair was one of the best days of my youth. Before then, mom did it. And mom filed her nails down to points. And she’d scrub, and scrub, and scrub until I was SURE she was making my scalp bleed. I’d protest and she’d tell me it was necessary; a horrible echo of what she said to me when I was very, very young and had pimples on my butt she’d pop with those same, razor sharp nails. All I kept thinking was that I must have done something WRONG to merit such treatment. It hurt and I’d cry and she wouldn’t stop because she’d say it was for my OWN GOOD.
My mother’s family was always BIG into family. There were many family reunions and reasons for everyone to drag their families out to some place for a big summer event. At these gatherings I loved to hang with my aunts and uncles for a time. They were funny people, and always telling jokes and stories about when they were growing up. “Getting the belt” became a phrase I heard and understood as a child, and in my childish understanding I equated it with the rare but memorable swats on the bottom I’d received. Now I see it differently: I see my grandfather meting out the punishment with an iron hand. My uncles and aunts never talked about how MANY hits they’d get with the belt. I always ASSUMED it was one or two. It could have been a lot more. And even if it wasn’t, how fucking BARBARIC to hit a child with a belt! Mom never joined in on the stories about the belt. Did she get more than the rest? She was the first child. I never saw any scars, and she did wear swim suits that showed her back and legs. She never had plastic surgery, either, so ergo: she was never whipped enough to leave permanent physical marks. But what about her mind?
Did mom make dad spank me as a young child because she didn’t think she’d be able to hold back and not really HURT me? I’m beginning to think that’s the case, especially since she was so physically brutal in other aspects of my life.
*sigh* It’s not like I can ask any of my aunts and uncles, either. Like they’d fucking tell me the truth! HA! I don’t believe any of them are able to handle the truth. I haven’t heard any of THEM seeking out counseling for what’s obviously a FAMILY fucking problem.
….You know, amongst the treasures I’m uncovering I’m also finding a lot of framed photos. There’s one of my grandparents before they died. I WAS going to hang it up. I don’t think I will, now. I don’t think I want to see their faces right now, just like I won’t hang any picture of my mother up. My dad, yes. Absolutely. Not my mom. Not right now. Maybe some day. But not now.