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.
It’s just a fragment of a memory, out of context, out of time, but a dramatic one none-the-less. My mother is in her room, on her bed, writhing in agony. She is wailing in pain and sobbing. My father is pacing back and forth in the livingroom, lost, unsure of what to do.
I am in the kitchen immobile. I can’t move. I am frightened and worried. My mother is in distress. There is nothing that I can do. My sister is home. I know that, but I don’t know where she is.
My father says, “We should take you to the doctor’s”.
My mother replies, sobbing, “Dr. Dean can’t see me until….” I don’t remember how far away the appointment was, but it is strange at this point in my life to remember my mother saying that.
If she had in fact been in as much pain and discomfort as she appeared to be, why was she refusing to see a doctor? Why did she not go into the emergency room of the hospital? Heaven knows that we had been there on many occasions.
I blurted out, “Dr. Dean will be dead by then.” I’m not sure why I said this. Perhaps, it was in recognition of how ridiculous her statement was in the midst of all of this drama. Perhaps I didn’t want the only solution, the only end to this to be so far in the future. All I know for sure is that I felt helpless, lost, worried and panicked.
I don’t remember any more. I don’t remember the outcome, other than the fact that Dr. Dean did die before my mother got in to see him. He was rather old at the time.
Now, in hindsight, I realize that this was probably just one more manipulation. My mother used illness as a way of making herself the centre of everyone’s attention. She was sick throughout my entire life. In this particular instance, the likely reason that she did not want to go into the emergency room was that there was nothing wrong and they would be able to tell. Her family could not. We were focusing all of our energy on her and that is the way she liked it.
In this book, Martha Beck examines the truly pathologic relationship she had with her parents and how she managed to get out from under it.
The 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.
You know you are going to encounter them during the holidays. Here is a little refresher video to help you circumvent the drama when you see them. This technique can be used to keep calm and out of the line of fire.
I saw him swerve and stop and get off of his bike. He was a little ahead of me as we were biking down the highway, the only road that we could take to get to his parent’s place. Now, there is a “rails to trails” path that goes along this route that would’ve been nice at the time, but on the day we were travelling, we were right on the highway.
This incident occurred a considerable distance from our apartment. His parent’s place is a full 45-minute drive and we were two thirds of the way, but we had ridden our bikes. We had spent a lot of the summer biking around. Our trips had included biking to my hometown, to a wedding and up to see nicer scenery north of where we lived.
It appealed to him because we were doing something that he could brag about. We didn’t just bike; we biked 120 miles (200 km) in one day. We were adventurers; we were out there doing things other people could only imagine.
I enjoyed biking and being out on the road with just some equipment and my bike. This was something that I would do again. But, at the time, I didn’t realize why it was so important to do it in the shortest time possible and to only break if absolutely necessary. Now I know. It is all about bragging rights. If you are going to do something, specifically so that you can tell others that you have done it, it must be exceptional.
Now we were in trouble. The fork had broken off of the front of his bike. Two forks are necessary to hold the wheel in place and the right one had bent to the right and snapped off. We were just outside of a city and a significant distance from his parent’s place. This happened before everyone had a cell phone; so even calling someone would mean moving a bike, on one wheel, a considerable distance until we could get to a phone.
We were essentially stranded. After a few minutes of examining this fork and thinking about the laws of physics, yes physics — forgive me but I’m a scientist at heart — I realized that the pressure on the fork was down. In other words, it only had to have strength in one direction. In order for the fork to support the body of the bike and hold the wheel, it did not have to have sideways support. It had broken to the side. It did not need any strength in this direction.
What the fork needed was to be kept in alignment. If I could keep the top and bottom part of the fork lined up, the force down could be applied and it would be supported by metal on metal. There did not need to be a lot of strength sideways.
I found an appropriate sized piece of wood and rammed it into the fork and rammed the broken piece onto the other end of it. This perfectly aligned the two pieces so that pressure could be applied to the fork by the tire below and the handles above. He reassembled the wheel and we made it successfully to his parents’ place. I was thrilled. It is very exciting for me to come up with an innovative solution to a problem.
Every time I said something to him about it he brushed it off as obvious and not worth mentioning. When I tried to tell this story to friends or family he was interruptive and down played the significance. He never said that it was a good idea and just made it seem like this was so obvious that I was childish wanting recognition for it.
Now I know that he did not want to tell this story because he was not the star. There was a solution at hand and he didn’t find it. It hurt my feelings that day and for a few weeks afterwards, but I had no way of knowing that it was just a symptom of a larger problem and that I wouldn’t get credit for doing anything — ever…
Tomato 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.
I wrote my first book above, before I knew my mother was a narcissist.
This is a new thing for me. People seem to prefer the videos, so I’m posting this as a blog.
Renee Zellerger, in more than one movie, illustrates the thrill of dating the “bad boy”. In “Bridget Jones Diary,” she chooses Daniel, her inappropriate boss, who flirts with her at work and is a notorious womanizer over the quieter, more boring lawyer. We all understand.
In “The Holiday” she is once again with a man who treats her badly. He wants to continue to see her after he announces his engagement to another woman.
Now, of course, these are both examples of romantic comedies and not real life, but a lesser discussed reality, when it comes to having a relationship with a narcissist is intense drama.
Most of the men and women I coach want the drama and the partner they have chosen. What they are seeking is a way to decrease the negative aspects of the relationship. With a narcissist this is not possible. If you continue in an intimate relationship with one, you will suffer.
In order to get their nourishment or narcissistic supply, a narcissist creates havoc in your life. This is seen as “great” times in the form of special treatment, lavish vacations, pampering or whatever you happen to like. Then sudddenly, you are being ignored again, possibly belittled, taunted and lied to.
Life can seem rather plane and uninspiring if you have been with a narcissist. The problem is that if you want to get off of the roller coaster ride of great times followed by terrible times, you must let go completely.
So, if you are deciding to stay, I must ask, “Are you addicted to drama?”
There were fifteen minutes left before the job interview. I knew that if I called a taxi right now, I would still be late. I only had enough time if he showed up immediately with the van. I hadn’t called a cab earlier because I had reminded him that I had an interview and asked him to come right home after his lecture. He said he would.
So, here I was, ready, dressed and starting to panic. I was almost finished my masters of science and I was actively looking for a job. One of my supervisors was working for a government agency that was a perfect fit for my degree. She was an accomplished woman that I had gotten to know a little during my studies and I thought that I would enjoy working for. She was highly respected and I had come across her name a disproportionate number of times while researching scientific papers for my research, so I knew that she would be good to work for.
Casually, or so I thought, she asked me to come by her office and discuss, next steps, as in, after my master’s. I took it to be a job interview, and she had insinuated that was what it was, but it also could’ve been a discussion about another advanced degree. In either case, it was a great opportunity. If you are pursued to do your PhD it is much more prestigious than if you have to go and try to find someone to supervise you.
I had agreed immediately. I knew that I could make it to the appointment. I was so excited that I came home and told him about it. It turned out that he had one lecture that afternoon, but there was plenty of time to come home and then I could take our only vehicle to the interview. We also had one preschooler at the time, so I needed to have someone to take her for the 45 minutes, or so, that I would be out of the house.
So, the clock was ticking. He had not come home. This was a time before cell phones, so I could not call him and remind him. I had no way of knowing where he was. I called his office and he had not been there. He had done it again. He found a way to undermine me.
I called to tell her that I would not be able to make the interview and I tried to set up another time. She realized that I would always be this unreliable. She knew him as well and probably already had some preconceived notions about me based on her knowledge of him, and she declined. I asked her what she wanted to discuss and she begged off of the call and said that she had to go. She said that it was not important.
When he arrived he said that he had forgotten and that he had gone to the beer store. This of course, did not account for the amount of time that he was missing. I was angry and he attacked. He pointed out that I could’ve made other arrangements. He said that it was my own fault for not getting to the interview on time. He let me know that I was being unreasonable and that I was “losing it”.
Ironically, this turned out to work in my favour. There was no longer any question that he was sabotaging me every time that he got a chance. When I defended my thesis, he did not even know it was happening and I didn’t tell him about the next job interview until after I had the job.