It’s April 22, 2021. I have recently learned that I have been the victim of Narcissistic abuse for many years by several different people; some refer to this as Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. I call it PTSD. Regardless of the actual name for this, I feel stuck in a redundant cycle of OCD ruminations (yet another new word I have learned recently that most definitely refers to me). I can’t seem to get out of my head for hours, days or weeks at a time certain aspects of my life and it controls me, my thoughts and often is so bad it prevents me from being productive at work and even keeps me from doing other things that I’d really rather be doing. I waste so much time thinking about, planning a way to fix that thing that I just can’t get it out of my head. I actually desire to run and hide, to live the life of a homeless nomad so that I can just get some peace, but deep down I know that running away will only take away those things from my life that are actually good, my husband especially. I love him so deeply, I just wonder when he will wake up and realize that he’s married to a crazy person and then leave. He has never once hinted that I’m nuts. He seems to love me unconditionally, I’m just terrified that the me inside my head will come bursting out one day and he will simply walk away. I don’t think he has ever walked away from anyone before, he had girlfriends and other friends before I knew him and there are some that he doesn’t stay in contact with, the unhealthy relationships, but he keeps in touch with 90% of his old buddies from Highschool and former jobs. He’s crazy good that way. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, he will sit on our porch, smoke a cigar and call old buddies (men and women) and just catch up, shoot the breeze and laugh. I don’t know anyone else who does this. I don’t know why I have such a fear of him changing (for the worse) and wanting to be rid of me; I suppose it’s because I’ve been so terribly abandoned by pretty much everyone I ever cared about in my life that I just can’t believe wonderful people like my husband actually exist and that they have no ulterior motive for loving me other than they simply DO. I have such a hard time with this concept and I feel guilty that I even have these feelings that he might go away. Again, he has NEVER done anything to cause me to think that this is even in his wheelhouse, but I think it all the same. Most days I believe him.
So, let’s back up, way before my current husband. Lets begin with my childhood.
I was born in the “dog days” of summer back in 1962. I have an older brother who was 3 at the time. We lived on Mandalay Street in Memphis. My dad worked for a construction company and they were moving their offices into a new building on some particular day near my mom’s due date. My dad tells me over and over again that he told her that she could have the baby any time she wanted as long as it wasn’t THAT day, moving day. Well, I, apparently didn’t give a rip about moving day, I decided to come and that was that. How can a person experience guilt over something they are 100% not in control over, yet, today I have guilt that I came into this world on moving day. But this guilt is really the least of my worries.
I don’t remember many things of my early childhood, but I do remember some important things. I remember we moved to the country. We had lived in a subdivision tract when I was born, then my dad purchased 20 acres of land in Byhalia Mississippi to build a house on. He was going to build it in phases. This house, a twenty-four foot by twenty-four foot, two-story box was about seven miles from town. The living room and staircase to the second floor were on the front half of the house downstairs. There was a storage and laundry room, kitchen and dining room along the back half of the first floor. Upstairs there was a bathroom at the top of the stairs, directly over the laundry room, I have learned that back then designers and builders would stack water to make plumbing easier, my dad being a residential home designer did a great job here. I don’t remember the bathroom being large, but the storage room below seemed huge to me. Beside the bathroom was my parent’s room. I’m sure they probably had a double bed, maybe a queen size bed at the most and a HUGE homemade dresser that my dad had made in college or shortly thereafter. I do remember that there was enough room in their bedroom for me to jump rope, but then again, I was really small, so there probably wasn’t more than about a three foot walkway between the bed and the dresser. The dresser was so huge, it was probably four or five feet wide and at least four feet tall with four huge drawers, I couldn’t begin to open the drawers. I was sad, but my parents would hide things in them. I longed to see what was in the top drawer especially. Across the little short hallway was my and my brother’s room. Our closet sat up above the staircase, so there was this big raised area in part of the closet (which allowed for head height at the stairs below). We kept all our books on this giant shelf. They would get so messy. I would climb up there from time to time to straighten them out, and as I tried to line them up, who knows in what order, probably small ones on the left and big ones on the right, I would be mesmerized by the books themselves and long to be able to read them as no one read to me that I recall. These were probably second hand books as they were well loved, but I just don’t remember being the one to give them any love. I do remember getting a new book once during my early years, a Dr. Seuss book, which was later given away without my permission. I don’t even remember which one it was, though that same year my brother got Yertle the Turtle.
We must have moved into this house in the country when I was one or two years old. Soon after we moved my dad began to build things about the property so that we could have animals. He built a barn (really small) so that we could raise a cow. Not cows, plural, just one at a time to be slaughtered later for food. The place must have already had a fence, or maybe he hired that out, but across the front part of our property between the house and the backyard, my dad put up an electric wire to hold the cow in. It apparently got out a lot. Then one day, the cow would be gone and we’d have a new calf, this time two calves, in its place. I was apparently old enough, or so they thought to help feed these calves with a bottle. I remember the bottle was so huge I had to use my entire arm to hold onto it (think a football hold), and the other hand to keep it steady as the calf would pull us toward the electrified wire. My parents would turn off the electricity while we fed the calves, but on occasion they would forget and my belly got a jolt of electricity from time to time which would make me drop the bottle and the calf would jerk it around wildly trying to get the milk out. I’m sure I was only allowed to feed the calves a few times because I was so small, but I thought this was grand fun as long as the electricity was turned off.
I, apparently, burned my backside one day by sitting in a bucket filled with bleach that my mom was using to mop the floor. I was just in a diaper, a cloth diaper since disposable hadn’t yet been invented, so it took some time to get the diaper off of my poor blistered derriere. But all the doctor told my parents to do was to wash it off, pat it dry and let it get lots of fresh air. I probably went the better part of a week naked as a jaybird. It didn’t matter much, we were way out in the country and never saw anyone except when we went out, like to shop or to church.
I also remember getting a new pair of galoshes. These were simple rubber over-shoes or boots that fit over your normal shoes and came up your ankle just a bit. There was a piece of elastic at the top with a button around the side where you could synch them up so that they wouldn’t fall off. I remember they looked like red jelly boots. I was so excited to wear them out, I just had to wait for rain. It rained often, and one morning my mother told me it had rained so if I wanted to try out my new boots, I could slip them on and go try. Well, of course I wasn’t dressed and I didn’t have any shoes on, but I stuck my feet into those boots and immediately went outside to splash around in the puddles. Keep in mind, we lived out in the country. Our driveway had some gravel on it, but it was more dirt than gravel. The parking pad had the most gravel, but was difficult to walk on being such a little kid. So, I ventured off the front porch, onto the weed covered lawn. It was sparsely covered, so lots of mud. I splashed around a bit in the puddles, then something attracted my eye, or someone said something to me so I stopped for a minute and stood still. When I started to walk again, it was really difficult to take my first step because my boot had sunk into the mud. I was only able to take the one step and the other boot I discovered as I looked down, was about half way covered in mud, the entire shoe portion had disappeared. I screamed bloody murder (don’t ask me where this saying comes from, all I know is no one liked it when I screamed bloody murder though those words never came out of my mouth). My mother came running but it seemed like it took her forever. In hindsight, I realize she probably had to put on shoes herself, and a rain coat and a hair bonnet, before she could run out into the yard into all that mud. I remember she picked me up and my foot immediately came out of the boot, leaving it to be eaten by the earth. I screamed and screamed about losing my boot and the fact that the earth would swallow it up all the way. I think I had already watched a few too many Tarzan movies and I was terrified of falling into quicksand by this time, so my imagination of the earth eating my brand new boot was very real. To this day, I do not believe I ever wore those boots again. I’m sure my mom rescued the half-buried boot, but then again, maybe not. I’ve muddied more than one pair of shoes since then and simply never wore them again due to the difficulties of getting the mud off. I just let them rot in my garage and then threw them out. I don’t think this behavior stems from this incident, but I think my mom may have thought it was too much trouble to go get the boot with the rain and mud, so maybe she left it for later, when my dad came home from work, and well, maybe that boot is still buried in the yard to this day.
Ducks and Foxes – more to come
Apparently living in the country was too much of a hassle for my parents. The roads were mostly dirt, so raining made it almost impossible to go many places. The cows kept getting out and my dad would have to traipse all around the area to locate them. Then a neighbor would call saying they thought they had our cow down in front of their place and dad would have to walk down there to drag her back. Seven miles isn’t a long way, especially now, but apparently it was back then.
Snow, Igloos and Christmas walks – more to come
I actually remember getting a “Flatsy” doll for my birthday once. Remember Gumby and Pokey? This was a doll in that flat shape. The box looked like a little apartment. The upper body was a flat rubber with a cute face and hair. The lower part had some tights sewn onto the body, but you could stick your fingers into the tights and then put the boots onto your fingers and you made the doll walk. This was great fun! I still remember the bright pink and white striped box, like the awning above a shop on the town square. The boots were white and the song, “These Boots Were Made for Walkin'” was popular on the radio. Any time it would come on, I would grab my Flatsy doll and put on the boots and walk all over the place, in particular the inside of the windshield of the car as I was sitting in my mother’s lap on the way somewhere. I also remember how the boots were a little bit too small for my fingers and the boots would not fit properly. I remember then thinking about how fat my fingers were and how I wished my fingers weren’t so fat. To this day I feel like I have “man hands,” if you remember the episode of Seinfeld. I hated my man hands; I still do.
Other things I remember; getting a brand new pack of twenty-four crayons inside a clear plastic box. You could see through the cover and see the cardboard holder that held all the colors in the perfect order, an order I vowed to never disrupt. I mean, if Crayola had put them in this particular order, it was meant to remain in this order. I remember wanting to take them into the place we were going, I’m not sure if it was church, a doctor’s appointment, or just where, all I knew is that I had new crayons and didn’t want to leave them in the car so that some other kid could come and take them, but I wasn’t allowed to take them in with me to wherever it was we were going. When we returned to the car, the crayons had totally melted inside my little plastic box. I cried and cried. I had not even been able to use one of them at all prior to their utter destruction. My parent’s promised to get me another pack of crayons, but I never remember that promise coming true. I’m certain there were more crayons in my future, but nothing ever compared to that awesome plastic box full of twenty-four brand new crayons that were mine, all mine! The old cigar box full of crayons is all I remember from that point forward with it’s broken and disfigured remnants of my brother’s coloring abuse, little one inch pieces of wax and crayon wrappers, not a pretty color in the whole bunch only browns, blues, blacks.
Moving to Memphis – more to come
Birthday parties and my parents being away for at least two of my early birthdays not including my 8th birthday when my dad was dating this new woman who gave me a present….which greatly surprised me. Had I known then she was moving in on my dad while I was relegated to my grandparents house for the summer, and had I known then how this would totally change my world, I might have thought better about accepting her gift.