Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

http://www.julieharrison.ca/family/personal-style-sacrificed-at-the-altar-of-family/http://www.julieharrison.ca/family/personal-style-sacrificed-at-the-altar-of-family/

Once again, my sister Vicki and I found ourselves without food in the house. The difference this time was that we knew where there was food. My parents owned a tent-trailer. The shell of the trailer was made up of metal. When open, the top of the shell became the roof. It was held up by four folding poles that could be locked into a vertical position. When the roof was up, the width of the tent trailer could be expanded by opening two tent pieces that housed a bed on either side of the body of the tent trailer.

My parents would take us camping at a beautiful campsite, across the river, in the US. Originally we had a large tent and later we got this new tent trailer that seemed so much more modern and convenient. Once my parents had set up camp, my sister and I would be left at the site while our parents travelled back and forth across the international bridge to work and whatever else they felt like doing. I have very little memory of them being at these campsites because they would often leave and not come back until the evening.

At the beginning of each camping trip, we would drive to a grocery store near the campsite and buy all of the food that we needed. I remember Mogen David wine, frozen hash browns, eggs, milk, bacon and little individual servings of cereal housed in their own boxes. These boxes could be opened at the top along perforations and be used as bowls, but I digress.

We would buy so much food that it would overwhelm the small fridge in the trailer, but there would be good eating for a few days. Now we were home and there was no food in the house.

I know my mother was out drinking because I managed to get her on the phone. She explained that she was not coming home soon. Vicki and I both knew that there was food still left in the refrigerator of the tent trailer, but it was now closed and in the yard. We had witnessed the mechanics of how the lid of the trailer was raised and thought that it was worthwhile to try to open it ourselves.

The problem was that we were simply not strong enough to lift the top of the shell by ourselves. Driven by determination and hunger, we both did our best to push the top up. We discussed the fact that it did not have to go all of the way up for us to get into the fridge and get some food out. So we both used all of our strength to lift the lid.

Problem was, we got it up enough to unfold the poles and then our strength ran out. The lid came down and Vicki’s hand was caught in the fold of the poles. She screamed and I was worried that the weight would sever her fingers from her hand. I panicked and used all of my strength to re-lift the top. Vicki removed her hand and we both fell to the ground crying. It wasn’t worth risking another try.

I don’t remember how severely my sister’s hand was hurt. I know that she did not lose any fingers for sure. The trouble was, even though her hand was going to heal eventually, we still had been unable to get to the food and there was no telling when a parent would be home.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

IMGP0510The memory is isolated from context, age or other circumstances. The best I can do is narrow it down to a period between the ages of 9 and 15 because I moved into this particular house when I was about to turn 9 and moved out on my 15th birthday, but I digress.

I had just noticed a rather large black spot between my two front teeth. I had tried to remove it only to find that it was what was left of the teeth in that spot. I had not paid a lot of attention to my teeth. Brushing your teeth does not become a habit when you don’t have a tooth brush.

The first time that I felt the absence of a tooth brush in my life was at a camp. My mother often sent us to camps and Sunday schools and evening activities. It did not matter if we wanted to go, she did not want us around. There was a bus that would pick us up on Sunday morning and take us to Sunday school and bring us home and she was delighted to have Sunday morning “off” each week. Long story short, I spent a lot of time places other than at home.

At this particular camp, they had a speaker one day talking about dental hygiene. The highlight of the presentation was that he had brought these little red pills. He explained that we were all to go and brush our teeth and then we would chew these pills and it would turn all of the plaque on our teeth red. This thrilled my friends and they were all going to prove how clean they got their teeth.

We were sent to our cabins to grab our tooth brushes. We were then supposed to brush our teeth and return. At that point, our success would be judged by the red tablet. I had not brought a toothbrush. I did not own a tooth brush. Instead of going back to the cabin, I took off into the trees next to the camp. I was hopeful that no one would notice that I was missing. I walked along a creek until I got tired and then I went back in time for dinner. No one seemed to be the wiser.

So, now I was examining another casualty of my upbringing in the mirror in the washroom. I had no idea what to do about it. I tried shoving toilet paper into the hole so that it would be whitish instead of black, but it was still obvious. I decided to just be careful when I smiled so that no one could tell.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Leaving-page-001In this book, Martha Beck examines the truly pathologic relationship she had with her parents and how she managed to get out from under it.

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

IMGP4598Tomato red pants were the only thing that we could find given the parameters of our shopping trip. We were in a hurry. There were things that my mother would rather be doing. Unfortunately for her, I was not yet capable of going shopping for myself.

I had been wearing the same pair of pants to school everyday for as long as I can remember. This is a pattern that lasted until I went to high school and got my own job and my own money. At that point, I could buy my own clothing and dress however I could afford. I was not there yet.

I was about ten or eleven years of age and the demands of having children were just too inconvenient for my mother. Clothing shopping, well any shopping for that matter, was just not her idea of a good time, so she did as little as possible. When she did shop, she would let us know how expensive we were and how inconvenient we were, but I digress.

On this particular day she had other plans. She always had other plans. I had ripped the only pair of pants that I had. I probably had outgrown them. But, I had ripped them to the point that I could no longer wear them. My mother had been angry. First, she was angry because I had ruined my clothing. Second she was angry because now she had to take me shopping. Third, she was angry because buying me clothing was going to be expensive and finally she was angry because, as she let us know, she would’ve been an opera singer if she had not had children.

So we had hurriedly gone shopping. There was not enough time allotted for us to go to several stores and the department store that we were in did not have a lot of selection in my size. In hind sight, this is hard to believe and I now wonder whether or not she was trying to buy from the children’s department only because they have less expensive items, but I have no way of knowing. If she was, I was probably at the high end and that would explain the limited selection.

Unfortunately for me, a red pair fit. They were hideous. They were unacceptable. They were purchased. I was concerned about going to school in these red pants. I did not want to be seen.

My mother said, “Your ass looks like a big red tomato in those pants.” Nice.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

I wrote my first book above, before I knew my mother was a narcissist.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

The Narcissistic Pattern

IMG_5025Being attractive meant that Jesse got a lot of attention. She was regularly asked out and was often disappointed to find that her suitors were disappointing. (and when I write “she”, I mean “he” as well. The sexes in this scenario are arbitrary. This can be written exactly the same with any genders). Her looks drew them in but then, once she was in the relationship, things felt flat, unrewarding and she questioned whether or not there were any men that actually wanted more than to be seen with her.

Jamie was different. He asked all about her, pursued her relentlessly and made her feel secure and loved. Having a history of short, unrewarding relationships, Jesse was careful, but Jamie understood. He had been hurt before. He confided in Jesse that he did not know why he picked such troubled women but they had all turned out to be “not quite right”. He said that his last girlfriend was almost certifiable.

He was willing to take it slow. He told Jesse how he dreamed of breaking out of his rut, starting a family, perhaps moving to a new town. These notions appealed to Jesse and his interest in her was unquestionable. Calls, gifts, dinners and surprises were all part of this perfect package. Jamie got along well with her friends and always had something exciting to talk about, people he had met, things he was going to do.

Jesse fell hard for Jamie. The whirlwind romance continued for weeks and Jamie got a new job in another town and asked her to go with him. Jesse had already said that moving to a new town was appealing to her and when she hesitated, Jamie pointed this out. He had only looked in other towns because she said she would like it. She knew it was too soon, but she had never been more sure of anything and quickly said yes. He was her soul mate. This man wanted all of the same things, doted on her and was very romantic. Problem was, it was all a lie.

The stress of the move, living with someone new and living in a new town all caused strife. Jesse knew they were arguing a lot, but isn’t that normal under so much stress? Jamie’s new job gave him more reason to be tense. His direct supervisor turned out to be a jerk and he was having trouble getting along in his new working environment. Jesse took a low paying job, the only job that she could get quickly, and thank-goodness, because Jamie quit right away. How could he be expected to work in such an unreasonable situation?

Jesse now found herself living in a new town, no friends or family around, working to keep the two of them afloat and Jamie was no longer kind. He criticized her for being selfish, not realizing how difficult it was for him to have to rely on her income. He wanted her to feel sorry for him and take care of him and if she encouraged him to get work, there was always an excuse why that couldn’t happen. He would blow up at her and accuse her of being a bitch, trying to control him, acting like his mother.

Jesse wondered what she had done wrong. Where was the romantic Jamie that was so concerned about how she felt? Where were the flowers? Why didn’t he dote on her like he did before? Why couldn’t he even do laundry? She was the one that worked all day. She tried harder. She wouldn’t complain or make demands. She knew the entire situation had been hard on Jamie. He would come out of it if she was just patient enough.

Each time Jesse worked up the nerve to leave, Jamie would become the thoughtful Jamie again. He would apologize, make promises and remember to do something sweet. Jesse knew the nice guy was still in there and she couldn’t make sense of the ups and downs. Things were either great or terrible. There did not seem to be a middle ground that lasted very long.

Her friends were all in a different town and when she said that she was going home for the weekend to visit, Jamie became incensed. Obviously she didn’t care about him or how he was feeling. He accused her of being selfish and thoughtless. The more she stood up for herself, the more demeaning Jamie got. He was now questioning whether or not he had chosen another wacko. Jamie accused Jesse of being insane. Jesse did her best to avoid fights, do what she could to placate Jamie and his abuse got worse.

Jamie started to go out late most nights. Since Jesse had to work early in the morning, she asked him to try to be quiet when he came home, so as not to wake her. Jamie started to bang the door a few times when he came in and blare the television set. He would prove to her that she couldn’t control him.

If some of the elements in this story ring true, you may have chosen abusive partners before. Here is what you need to pay attention to:

Jamie’s Red Flags

1. His last relationship, or a pattern of relationships, with people that are considered “crazy” or “insane’.

A history of very bad relationships is not a coincidence.

2. Intense romantic overtures early in the relationship. Rule of thumb is that if it would make you feel uncomfortable to match the gifts, surprises and compliments one for one, they are probably excessive.

Over “giving” and pursuing early in a relationship is not normal.

3. Early plans to make major changes in the way things are like moving away, starting a new career, spending a year travelling (with no clear means to pay for it).

Making major life changes early in a relationship is dangerous.

Things to Understand

1. Fights are Normal — Abuse is Not

All relationships have conflict, but the type of fight and the intensity can be pathologic. Someone that actually loves you does not put you down, physically hurt you or call you names. When Jamie started accusing Jesse of being insane, it was not an “argument” it was an attempt to control her. It was abusive.

2. Your needs are important

A partner should respect your needs. If you want to visit friends, this is not an attack on your partner. If you want a hobby, time to yourself, to pursue other interests, a person that loves you will support you.

3. Sharing the Work can be Expected

It is reasonable to get help both financially and physically from your partner to do the work of living. Asking for help and expecting to receive it are legitimate parts of a mutually respectful relationship.

History Repeats Itself

Too often, a pattern of finding a pathological partner stems from your experience of other relationships. If all you have ever witnessed is:

love is conditional on good behaviour,

people are mean to get their way and/or

really intense good times are followed by really bad times

then it can be hard to know that this is not normal. This is hurtful and abusive and only you can choose to not be in the relationship.

 

Narcissist_frontcover

Influences in my Youth

IMG_2942I was watching a series of Ted Talks on storytelling and a common theme, or rather a common element, is that each of the speakers have mentioned a strong influence when they were young. One woman spoke about being brought up in a chauvinistic household and being beat for not following the rules that she was supposed to follow. Another man spoke about how his grandfather ignited his imagination by deconstructing things for him at an early age, taking apart phones and radios. Another man spoke about his mother taking him to the movies when he was a young boy and on and on it goes.

I look back at my early life and recognize that I was neglected. I don’t have any strong role models, people introducing me to things or gifts of insight. I learned how to look out for myself, which I realize is valuable, but it is not being brought up. I can probably relate more to children that have been lost in the woods and survived, except that I lived in a city, amongst humans, not wild creatures.

This knowledge makes me feel a longing for something that I never knew and never had. I remembered my girlfriends being in love with Donny Osmond, how they idolized him and wanted to meet him and I never understood that. There were no celebrities that I had a crush on or felt any connection to. I did not look outside of myself for people to bring things in and offer opportunities.

My wiring has been all about being self sufficient, learning what my needs were and how to meet them myself. This of course, set me up for a marriage to a man that had no obligation to meet my needs or provide any sort of support or encouragement. I hadn’t had it in the past, why would I look for it now? I probably wouldn’t have even noticed if he had not also been cruel and mean. But, in the final tally of it all, I realized that there was no reason to stay and serve this man because he was not a partner, not a friend and certainly not a lover. He was, by this time, however, the father of my children, so I have no choice but to continue to deal with him, but I digress.

I did not have the mentors, the unconditional love and the insights of an adult in my life while I was growing up. This sent me in a particular direction. How could I possibly get people to like me? Good grades in school, excelling at sports and being nice to people were the keys to who I became. Now, in the second half of my life, I am faced with the question of where to go from here. Despite my past, this is my present. What type of future do I want to create?

What I would like to leave for the world is my understanding of what it is like to be allowed to grow up instead of being raised. To be able to explain how to identify the children who are in danger of being neglected and overlooked by those that are supposed to love them and care for them and to offer hope to the people that have survived this lack of upbringing. I would like to help them become all that they can be and live a satisfying life of joy. A few Ted Talks will do that to me.

Read the entire book, now available
My entire story about how I grew up.
A quick summary of everything I learned first hand in how to deal with narcissists

The Narcissistic Pattern

IMG_5025Being attractive meant that Jesse got a lot of attention. She was regularly asked out and was often disappointed to find that her suitors were disappointing. (and when I write “she”, I mean “he” as well. The sexes in this scenario are arbitrary. This can be written exactly the same with any genders). Her looks drew them in but then, once she was in the relationship, things felt flat, unrewarding and she questioned whether or not there were any men that actually wanted more than to be seen with her.

Jamie was different. He asked all about her, pursued her relentlessly and made her feel secure and loved. Having a history of short, unrewarding relationships, Jesse was careful, but Jamie understood. He had been hurt before. He confided in Jesse that he did not know why he picked such troubled women but they had all turned out to be “not quite right”. He said that his last girlfriend was almost certifiable.

He was willing to take it slow. He told Jesse how he dreamed of breaking out of his rut, starting a family, perhaps moving to a new town. These notions appealed to Jesse and his interest in her was unquestionable. Calls, gifts, dinners and surprises were all part of this perfect package. Jamie got along well with her friends and always had something exciting to talk about, people he had met, things he was going to do.

Jesse fell hard for Jamie. The whirlwind romance continued for weeks and Jamie got a new job in another town and asked her to go with him. Jesse had already said that moving to a new town was appealing to her and when she hesitated, Jamie pointed this out. He had only looked in other towns because she said she would like it. She knew it was too soon, but she had never been more sure of anything and quickly said yes. He was her soul mate. This man wanted all of the same things, doted on her and was very romantic. Problem was, it was all a lie.

The stress of the move, living with someone new and living in a new town all caused strife. Jesse knew they were arguing a lot, but isn’t that normal under so much stress? Jamie’s new job gave him more reason to be tense. His direct supervisor turned out to be a jerk and he was having trouble getting along in his new working environment. Jesse took a low paying job, the only job that she could get quickly, and thank-goodness, because Jamie quit right away. How could he be expected to work in such an unreasonable situation?

Jesse now found herself living in a new town, no friends or family around, working to keep the two of them afloat and Jamie was no longer kind. He criticized her for being selfish, not realizing how difficult it was for him to have to rely on her income. He wanted her to feel sorry for him and take care of him and if she encouraged him to get work, there was always an excuse why that couldn’t happen. He would blow up at her and accuse her of being a bitch, trying to control him, acting like his mother.

Jesse wondered what she had done wrong. Where was the romantic Jamie that was so concerned about how she felt? Where were the flowers? Why didn’t he dote on her like he did before? Why couldn’t he even do laundry? She was the one that worked all day. She tried harder. She wouldn’t complain or make demands. She knew the entire situation had been hard on Jamie. He would come out of it if she was just patient enough.

Each time Jesse worked up the nerve to leave, Jamie would become the thoughtful Jamie again. He would apologize, make promises and remember to do something sweet. Jesse knew the nice guy was still in there and she couldn’t make sense of the ups and downs. Things were either great or terrible. There did not seem to be a middle ground that lasted very long.

Her friends were all in a different town and when she said that she was going home for the weekend to visit, Jamie became incensed. Obviously she didn’t care about him or how he was feeling. He accused her of being selfish and thoughtless. The more she stood up for herself, the more demeaning Jamie got. He was now questioning whether or not he had chosen another wacko. Jamie accused Jesse of being insane. Jesse did her best to avoid fights, do what she could to placate Jamie and his abuse got worse.

Jamie started to go out late most nights. Since Jesse had to work early in the morning, she asked him to try to be quiet when he came home, so as not to wake her. Jamie started to bang the door a few times when he came in and blare the television set. He would prove to her that she couldn’t control him.

If some of the elements in this story ring true, you may have chosen abusive partners before. Here is what you need to pay attention to:

Jamie’s Red Flags

1. His last relationship, or a pattern of relationships, with people that are considered “crazy” or “insane’.

A history of very bad relationships is not a coincidence.

2. Intense romantic overtures early in the relationship. Rule of thumb is that if it would make you feel uncomfortable to match the gifts, surprises and compliments one for one, they are probably excessive.

Over “giving” and pursuing early in a relationship is not normal.

3. Early plans to make major changes in the way things are like moving away, starting a new career, spending a year travelling (with no clear means to pay for it).

Making major life changes early in a relationship is dangerous.

Things to Understand

1. Fights are Normal — Abuse is Not

All relationships have conflict, but the type of fight and the intensity can be pathologic. Someone that actually loves you does not put you down, physically hurt you or call you names. When Jamie started accusing Jesse of being insane, it was not an “argument” it was an attempt to control her. It was abusive.

2. Your needs are important

A partner should respect your needs. If you want to visit friends, this is not an attack on your partner. If you want a hobby, time to yourself, to pursue other interests, a person that loves you will support you.

3. Sharing the Work can be Expected

It is reasonable to get help both financially and physically from your partner to do the work of living. Asking for help and expecting to receive it are legitimate parts of a mutually respectful relationship.

History Repeats Itself

Too often, a pattern of finding a pathological partner stems from your experience of other relationships. If all you have ever witnessed is:

love is conditional on good behaviour,

people are mean to get their way and/or

really intense good times are followed by really bad times

then it can be hard to know that this is not normal. This is hurtful and abusive and only you can choose to not be in the relationship.

 

Narcissist_frontcover

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

http://www.julieharrison.ca/family/personal-style-sacrificed-at-the-altar-of-family/http://www.julieharrison.ca/family/personal-style-sacrificed-at-the-altar-of-family/

 

Once again, my sister Vicki and I found ourselves without food in the house. The difference this time was that we knew where there was food. My parents owned a tent-trailer. The shell of the trailer was made up of metal. When open, the top of the shell became the roof. It was held up by four folding poles that could be locked into a vertical position. When the roof was up, the width of the tent trailer could be expanded by opening two tent pieces that housed a bed on either side of the body of the tent trailer.

My parents would take us camping at a beautiful campsite, across the river, in the US. Originally we had a large tent and later we got this new tent trailer that seemed so much more modern and convenient. Once my parents had set up camp, my sister and I would be left at the site while our parents travelled back and forth across the international bridge to work and whatever else they felt like doing. I have very little memory of them being at these campsites because they would often leave and not come back until the evening.

At the beginning of each camping trip, we would drive to a grocery store near the campsite and buy all of the food that we needed. I remember Mogen David wine, frozen hash browns, eggs, milk, bacon and little individual servings of cereal housed in their own boxes. These boxes could be opened at the top along perforations and be used as bowls, but I digress.

We would buy so much food that it would overwhelm the small fridge in the trailer, but there would be good eating for a few days. Now we were home and there was no food in the house.

I know my mother was out drinking because I managed to get her on the phone. She explained that she was not coming home soon. Vicki and I both knew that there was food still left in the refrigerator of the tent trailer, but it was now closed and in the yard. We had witnessed the mechanics of how the lid of the trailer was raised and thought that it was worthwhile to try to open it ourselves.

The problem was that we were simply not strong enough to lift the top of the shell by ourselves. Driven by determination and hunger, we both did our best to push the top up. We discussed the fact that it did not have to go all of the way up for us to get into the fridge and get some food out. So we both used all of our strength to lift the lid.

Problem was, we got it up enough to unfold the poles and then our strength ran out. The lid came down and Vicki’s hand was caught in the fold of the poles. She screamed and I was worried that the weight would sever her fingers from her hand. I panicked and used all of my strength to re-lift the top. Vicki removed her hand and we both fell to the ground crying. It wasn’t worth risking another try.

I don’t remember how severely my sister’s hand was hurt. I know that she did not lose any fingers for sure. The trouble was, even though her hand was going to heal eventually, we still had been unable to get to the food and there was no telling when a parent would be home.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

Rainbows and Sunrises — Chapter 4

IMG_2765I can only say that I was enjoying myself. I loved this feeling of being a family, of having a gorgeous three year old daughter and a perfect newborn. We had a lot of family visit and we had friends come over. We were renovating the back of the kitchen that had been a mudroom. I had gotten to know a lot of people in the city and felt that I had a reasonable community around me.

In Canada there is a lot of messy weather. With this in mind, entrance ways are equipped with a mud room that is designed to house a lot of coats and boots and provide a space where you can change and put things away. The house did not have an eat in-kitchen, so we decided to remove the wall between the mudroom and the kitchen.

We had patio doors installed on the one side of the mudroom and it opened the kitchen up and gave us room for a table with a view into the backyard. The workers were in the house right after the baby was born, which was a little bit of a bummer, but it was nice when it was completed.

I would sit for hours with my daughter lying asleep on my chest. I did this with all of my newborns. There is a real comfort holding a baby. They are so much nicer when they are on the outside, especially when they are still small and fairly immobile.

As a family we had gotten into a routine. My baby would sleep the entire night if I sat and fed her for a really long time before bed. She would also sleep in the afternoon. My days were composed of going out in the morning for preschool, groceries or Dancefit and then staying in, in the afternoon, so that the baby could nap. I would watch cartoons during this time with my older daughter.

I remember there were many thunderstorms that summer, right around dinnertime. The house had a huge front porch and the three of us would stand out there and watch the display. It was the kind of porch that was made to sit on and was covered by a roof and there were partial walls around the front and sides of it. This was not just a slab of cement to mark where the front door was. It was a place to sit.

The porch faced east and had the added advantage of being a great place to see rainbows and sunrises. I have seen rainbows in the other directions, but my experience is that most of them are in the east. Just recently, there was a double rainbow in the west one morning, but I don’t recall seeing a lot of them. For one thing, you have to be out in the morning. I do remember standing on the porch with my daughters waiting for Bob to come home from work.

I had read how many women would put a lot of pressure on their husbands when they got home from work and I didn’t want to be doing this so when I realized that I was doing it I backed off considerably. Bob had already mentioned that I was “too bored” at home and I misread why he was saying it.

He was saying it because he wanted me to be back at work. From a purely mathematical perspective, I could be making a lot of money. The cost of childcare paled in comparison to what a veterinarian could make. His mother felt the same way, but she went one step further. She explained that the taxpayers had contributed a lot of money to running universities and as a graduate I had a certain responsibility to give back to the community.

This did not show any respect for the fact that I was bringing in money. Not only did I have an income from the social safety nets in the province, but also I had rental income for a while and then I had tax return income from the final sale of my house. Then, there was the money that was made from the sale of my house. I had also invested several thousand dollars in a second mortgage for some neighbours and they were paying dearly to keep this money. I was bringing in a substantial amount of money considering that I was not “working” or “contributing” as I was being told.

The main thing that was clear was that I was not appreciated for what I was doing. I was bringing in money; running the household; raising the girls and trying not to make too many demands on Bob. What I wasn’t doing was anything that could give Bob more status or prestige. Having a baby is good until the novelty wears off. My purpose in his life was to make money and to make him proud, as far as I could tell. I did not know this for many years, at least consciously.

Keep Reading: My Father

 

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available
The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

IMGP4598Tomato red pants were the only thing that we could find given the parameters of our shopping trip. We were in a hurry. There were things that my mother would rather be doing. Unfortunately for her, I was not yet capable of going shopping for myself.

I had been wearing the same pair of pants to school everyday for as long as I can remember. This is a pattern that lasted until I went to high school and got my own job and my own money. At that point, I could buy my own clothing and dress however I could afford. I was not there yet.

I was about ten or eleven years of age and the demands of having children were just too inconvenient for my mother. Clothing shopping, well any shopping for that matter, was just not her idea of a good time, so she did as little as possible. When she did shop, she would let us know how expensive we were and how inconvenient we were, but I digress.

On this particular day she had other plans. She always had other plans. I had ripped the only pair of pants that I had. I probably had outgrown them. But, I had ripped them to the point that I could no longer wear them. My mother had been angry. First, she was angry because I had ruined my clothing. Second she was angry because now she had to take me shopping. Third, she was angry because buying me clothing was going to be expensive and finally she was angry because, as she let us know, she would’ve been an opera singer if she had not had children.

So we had hurriedly gone shopping. There was not enough time allotted for us to go to several stores and the department store that we were in did not have a lot of selection in my size. In hind sight, this is hard to believe and I now wonder whether or not she was trying to buy from the children’s department only because they have less expensive items, but I have no way of knowing. If she was, I was probably at the high end and that would explain the limited selection.

Unfortunately for me, a red pair fit. They were hideous. They were unacceptable. They were purchased. I was concerned about going to school in these red pants. I did not want to be seen.

My mother said, “Your ass looks like a big red tomato in those pants.” Nice.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

I wrote my first book above, before I knew my mother was a narcissist.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Cavity

IMGP0510The memory is isolated from context, age or other circumstances. The best I can do is narrow it down to a period between the ages of 9 and 15 because I moved into this particular house when I was about to turn 9 and moved out on my 15th birthday, but I digress.

I had just noticed a rather large black spot between my two front teeth. I had tried to remove it only to find that it was what was left of the teeth in that spot. I had not paid a lot of attention to my teeth. Brushing your teeth does not become a habit when you don’t have a tooth brush.

The first time that I felt the absence of a tooth brush in my life was at a camp. My mother often sent us to camps and Sunday schools and evening activities. It did not matter if we wanted to go, she did not want us around. There was a bus that would pick us up on Sunday morning and take us to Sunday school and bring us home and she was delighted to have Sunday morning “off” each week. Long story short, I spent a lot of time places other than at home.

At this particular camp, they had a speaker one day talking about dental hygiene. The highlight of the presentation was that he had brought these little red pills. He explained that we were all to go and brush our teeth and then we would chew these pills and it would turn all of the plaque on our teeth red. This thrilled my friends and they were all going to prove how clean they got their teeth.

We were sent to our cabins to grab our tooth brushes. We were then supposed to brush our teeth and return. At that point, our success would be judged by the red tablet. I had not brought a toothbrush. I did not own a tooth brush. Instead of going back to the cabin, I took off into the trees next to the camp. I was hopeful that no one would notice that I was missing. I walked along a creek until I got tired and then I went back in time for dinner. No one seemed to be the wiser.

So, now I was examining another casualty of my upbringing in the mirror in the washroom. I had no idea what to do about it. I tried shoving toilet paper into the hole so that it would be whitish instead of black, but it was still obvious. I decided to just be careful when I smiled so that no one could tell.

The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

Leaving-page-001In this book, Martha Beck examines the truly pathologic relationship she had with her parents and how she managed to get out from under it.

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Drive

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Fax

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Interview

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Call

Narcissism–Scenes From the Front Line — The Funeral

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Pants

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Trailer

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — Biking

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — The Doctor

Narcissism-Scenes From the Front Line — New Job