"Knowing what I know now, about God and His Sovereignty...
Somewhere there is a heart willing to listen to this story about this little girl, orange carpet, hollyhocks, a small town ...and violence. Somewhere there is surely someone who will read Your story and see the Grace and Mercy in your life...and God will use you to touch that person, for His Glory.

Your story touches my heart, Pat "

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Fist Full Of Pills



Pitch black, stars shining bright, it was well after midnight. A beautiful summer night with the faint sound of sirens.
   I suppose he came home after the bars closed, maybe after they threw him out. He had been suffering all week from a healthy dose of pity served in a bowl of heaping blame. Mom had cut off his finger, and of course, he was still mad.

  Back in the 70's the exercise fad was a rope device that hooked onto a door knob. You would lay on the ground, head up to the door and place your hands and feet in the stirrups, the right arm and left leg would go up, then the other side, scissoring back and forth. She was getting ready to work out and they were once again arguing, she slammed the door and his finger just happened to be right there. He screamed something awful! Holding and shaking his hand, blood cast from floor to ceiling.
The tip was gone, it could not be reattached. He was sent home with meds and new ammunition.
 If you hit someone it must be their fault.......
    especially if they cut your finger off.
On that starry night less than a week later, they were at it again. I had awoke to screams of "Bob, what did you do?"
It wasn't unusual to see him stumbling drunk, but I knew something was different. He could barely stand, he fell down the stairs, he fell off the stoop, he fell to the ground and he laid there. A fist full of pills and a bottle of whiskey had done him in.
I stood outside watching, I could hear the sirens getting louder and I asked God if he would keep them from getting there on time.
I had become a calloused, fed up, skeptical 10 year old, who knew every bar phone number in town. I knew how to roll a drunk for rent money, I knew how to calm his storm by talking him down, I knew more than I needed to.
I was sick of it. Only 1 year into their marriage.....and I was praying for him to die.
 Violence changes a person, even if it is not directly perpetrated upon you.

4th grade-
 Our grading system in school was not A's and B's but U's, M's and L's. Upper, Middle, Lower- in regards to the rest of the class.
 I had been straight U's
I was now straight L's.
I don't know who noticed, if anyone did.

5th grade-
It was a beautiful day, fall I think. The sun was shining in the screen door, I sat in the cascading light, warm, with my back to the door. I was looking at the rectangle of light before me when a shadow moved in front of it. I turned to look.....that day I learned,
when you check yourself in to treatment voluntarily you can check yourself out whenever you like.
 My stomach sank, he walked in. I don't remember the rest of that day. He came home with more pills. Pills that supposedly made it hard to drink alcohol, he took them and he drank and he was very sick, and of course....very angry.

7th grade-
he had gone on many black out drunks that lasted from 3 days to a week or so, this time he never returned. We knew he was alive because he had called my grandma, whining and crying about life to her. For years I feared that shadow would once again appear in the doorway. That shadow only lived on in my dreams

8th grade-
by this time I was well on my way to being a rebellious teen. No excuses, I knew every time I did something wrong...it was wrong, I just really didn't care. I was willing to test all boundaries, a year from promiscuity, I stood on my own cliff of blame. I really hated him, but I also blamed her for her decisions to even bring him, let alone keep him around so long. He was one of many, he just stayed 4 years too long.
A friend and I decided to skip school, 13 yr olds willing to spend the day with high school boys, drinking and driving around. I guess we naively thought that if we went through our mom's medicine cabinets and did a little mixing we could somehow "enhance" the day. We took two of each, the number 16 sticks in my head, I do not remember if that was the total split or the total taken.
White
Pink
Red
Blue
My own fist full of pills, chased with liquor.
I remember a few things about that day-
a very near miss, had not others walked in my virginity would have ended unwillingly at 13 rather than willingly at 14.
I remember hanging my head out the car window with dry heaves on Main Street.
I remember fighting to stay awake.
I was sick for days.
No one found out or figured it out. I was in my 20's when it really hit me how lucky I was to have survived that day.

By the grace of God I never became addicted to drugs or booze, anger was my vice.
A false power
A false strength
yet, it made me feel in control to be angry.
Anger like pills will poison you.
It does not lead to control, but discontent.
The bottom of a bottle will not soothe, only numb and when it wears off all feelings return and the cycle must be repeated.
The arms of a stranger will not make you feel loved, you will hate yourself in the morning.

We search for answers. We search for reasons. We look to blame, it is our nature.
Things happen
to me
to you.
Don't blame, it won't change things.
Heal.
You may never understand why but you must move on. If you poison yourself- stop.
Stop

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to meall who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - Jesus


To God be the glory, in all things. We do not have to understand it all, but we can trust he is loving, trustworthy and the only way for us to heal.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Mirror Mirror



As the queen stands before her mirror, she waits for the right answer.
"mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"
As long as the mirror gave her the answer she was looking for, all was well; but as soon as Snow White became the fairest in the land, the queen was enraged.
Determined to once again capture the mirrors favor she was willing to do anything, and anyone in her way was expendable.
I first saw the concept of associating the world as a mirror when researching Narcissism. It sums it up pretty well. You, in a narcissists life are merely a mirror.
It would seem a cold statement to say you have no value to them, but it would be a true statement.
As in Greek mythology Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, so it is today with the modern narcissist. Only seeing themselves, unable to love another, the narcissist wastes his or her life admiring themselves and ignoring all others.
If you have one in your life you may wonder what I mean by ignoring, for it seems as though they are the proverbial thorn in your side. Always there, always taking, lying, manipulating, but what they are doing is ignoring you. Ignoring the needs or feelings of others is the only way to survive when you are narcissistic, the world simply gets in your way.
Enter the mirror.
You are a mirror for a narcissist. You must reflect a beautiful image. If you do not, there will be hell to pay.
Should the narcissist gaze upon you, and you in return smile, nod and follow along, you are showing a positive reflection.
Should you frown, disagree or challenge in any way, you have now smudged or cracked the mirror and tainted the reflection.
At any cost the narcissist will not take the blame, you will now be ridiculed, isolated and punished until you once again cast a perfect reflection.
Unable to see both good and bad in a person or situation, they will place you on a list. My mother's categories were 1- They are really shitty to me or 2- they have really changed.
List one was for those who smudged her reflection and list two were for the ones who didn't question her or call her on her lies. You could only be on one list. I often held the number one position on list number one.

Sometimes now as I look back I think it wasn't that bad. All in all, it probably wasn't, but then I read about narcissism, and the pit of my stomach hurts. I quickly get overwhelmed and can read very little, the words cut like knives.
Liar
 Manipulator
 Selfish
Defensive
  Criticize
Jealousy

The most profound and sobering comment I ever read was written by Sam Vaknin in Malicious Self Love.( I have written of this in another post as well.)
I am paraphrasing from memory,
 having a narcissist for a mother is like having a 6 year old for a parent. The child has a doll that it plays with, when the child is finished with the doll or has no use for it, they simply throw it on the ground and move on.

a worthless doll
move on to something better


It was the first time I had seen something that validated how I felt. Something that said, it was real. You're not crazy. You didn't imagine it.


It seems a vague memory, all the hurt. Being tossed aside for something better or being displayed when needed seems so long ago, healing is a wonderful thing. Healing allows you to move on and set boundaries,  it keeps you from being tossed aside and ignored.
 Healing is also ongoing, if you have a narcissist in your life, they will reoffend. They will return to your mirror and check their reflection, some days it will go well, others will not. And there will always be hell to pay, you must as the child, spouse, parent or friend of a narcissist- refuse to pay it.

I have also heard it said it is not enough that the narcissist be the center of their universe, but they must also be the center of your universe.
Wicked really.


Further reading on Narcissism
Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers
Narcissistic Personality Disorder NPD
NPD Quiz

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Little Blue Bike



In an alley where rain trickled down the center drain, I often found myself walking, kicking at the puddles ahead of me. I would soon end up at the end of the road, only to turn and do it again. Our street curved around 2 city blocks, government housing on both sides, mostly single mothers and  a few families.
  All the kids seemed to get along for the most part, it was our "hood", the projects of small town white America.  We had our drunks, our abusers, knife fights, brawls and secrets.
  Lots of secrets.
We also had neighbors and friends, close friends who would sit on the stoop together for morning coffee or dressed in pajamas after dark.
A family we were especially close to had mostly sons, I grew up with them. We played kick ball, chase and even went dumpster diving together. One of them had a little blue bike. I was around 7or 8 at the time and before the divorce I had a bike with training wheels,  I guess it got left behind because I found myself older than most and unable to ride a two wheeler
 That bike was just the right height to sit on and have both my feet firmly planted on the ground. I felt a sense of control on it, so I asked if I could borrow it.
Up and down that alley I went, trying to gain my balance.
All alone, yet determined.
At every fearful moment I dropped my feet to the ground and found myself steady once again.. I don't know how long it took but I made a trip down that drain to the other end.
  Gray skies and brick building surrounded me with the water was kicking up behind me now.
A smile on the face of a little blonde girl on a little boy's blue bike.
   Riding on her own.
I did a lot on my own.

When I taught my children to ride, the first thing I showed them was how to "catch" themselves. When fear hit plant those feet on the ground.
I had them sit with feet upon the peddles and I would wiggle and shake the bike, then say "letting go", they would quickly stomp their feet down and smile at having caught themselves.
A defense against fear.
This gave them confidence and we soon set off down the block, with me pushing behind. Soon I let go and they went on.
When they came to the curve the feet went down and they turned to tell me! Only to see they had left me behind and had rode by themselves. They had done it and the look on their face proved it.

That is what mom's and dad's do, they teach and equip, they stand by and if things get rough they are right behind,
watching and caring, at least that is where they should be.
I will never forget teaching my kids to ride bike.
 I will never forget the little blue bike.
I will never forget when I thought I was all alone, I really wasn't.
I may have had to learn on my own but God had my feet firmly planted on a rock that can't be moved and he had his hand on my back, in case I fell.
I feel as though I should kick a puddle to celebrate.



Photo Credit:juan23for

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Honor Your Father and Mother

  Commandment
Honor your father and mother, before I became a Christian honoring my mother wasn't a concern or a thought.....let alone a struggle.

I was always either sad or angry with her.
She would  say something unkind at times but usually she wouldn't say anything at all. Nothing really in regards to what I had done positively, or something I told her about me, it seemed unless it related to her it just didn't matter. That makes you sad, it taps into your, You are not good enough place.
Yeah, it just didn't matter what I did or thought, who I knew or what my day was like,or how I felt; it's not that she didn't know those things or ask, it is more like she was expected to ask and unless somehow it was "needed" information, it would then be crumpled  and thrown on the floor like a useless scrap of paper.
I remember being very sick and in the hospital around the age of 5, the halls were long and dark and I was afraid. Perhaps they didn't let her stay there at night? Perhaps visiting hours were limited then.... I really don't remember her being there, I just remember long dark hallway.

When I was in grade school the Harlem Globetrotters came to town, we had tickets and I was ecstatic, days before I slipped on the ice and really hurt my tailbone. I told her but I don't know for sure what she said, what I do know is I sat on hard wood bleachers getting more and more uncomfortable as the night went on. I began to cry, I was miserable, and I was told to deal with it. We did not leave early and I did not mention it again although it hurt badly for weeks.

As a teen, mom and I moved in with her boyfriend, her now husband. We changed states, I changed schools and life as I knew it was left behind, I now lived with one emotionally diseased and one emotionally dead person.
H (that will be his name) was rude, caddy and arrogant, he would pick fights with me for no reason. Depending on her mood she would either take my side or take his, usually his and if I spoke up in resistance she would slam her bedroom door and not speak to me for days.
At 16 no one believes you when you tell them you are the only adult in the house.
At 16 you are not an adult.
At 16 you are left with sadness and anger.
At 16 I was diagnosed with migraines, I was prescribed a couple different meds until one worked, and at 16 I slept every chance I got. I slept deeply.

No one asked how I was doing, eventually the headaches went away, at least the physical ones.
When I moved out....I was told to go....two days after graduating high school.
When I said I was getting married they came for the "party" but not for me.
When we announced our first child was on the way, mom said, "well if that is what you want." and H gave us a thirty minute lecture on how if he had to do it all again he would never have children.
     (H has three children, I only ever met one, she was an emotional wreck to say the very least)
I have been cursed for my weight, my marriage and my religion, by my mother.
Sadness turns to anger and anger becomes bitter with time.
Walls go up so high and defenses are launched toward anyone who dare attempt to enter.
That is who I became, anger in a human shell. I could smile at you and be as pleasant as a Spring day but if you crossed me I could verbally tear you to shreds. I had my moments in which I verbally tore into her.
Not honoring.
Just surviving.

As God began to heal me, his commandment to honor her both annoyed me and haunted me.
I did not nor do I now worry about H, he is really no part of my life, but because on occasion I speak with my mother I  had to find a way to understand what it was God wanted from me.
I spoke with pastors and pastors wives, I cried, I pouted and I argued with God.
Then one pastor summed it up...."how do you honor someone who is not honorable?"

I cannot answer this question for you, it is between you and God, but I can tell you what it looks like for me.

Boundaries- I must set and keep healthy boundaries, minimal contact is best for us. I have not seen her in over ten years and we speak between one and four times a year. If she is not hurtful, does not tear down others or spread lies, we will talk for a while, but if she begins to do any of those things I warn her once, if she persists I end the phone call.

I do not hate her.

I relinquish all expectations of her.

I no longer give her the power to make me sad, or happy.

If I get angry, I process it and hand it over to God.

I have empathy for her.

This is how I honor her.
I had issues on starting this blog....it could be perceived as being non honoring, I went ahead with it for these reasons.
I am not blaming my mother, I am writing about her disease and how it effected me. She has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it controls her and it defines her. It does not excuse her.
God is honored in his healing work in me, and I trust him in his sovereign design to place me in her life as her child.
Others will be and have been already touched by reading these posts, some have not yet been healed and some are going through the process.  It is my hope to strengthen you and lead you to the only answer which is Christ.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another Dutiful Call

  What not to expect when you call a narcissist.
Don't expect that they will be glad to hear from you, even if it has been nearly a year since you last spoke.
Don't expect they will ask you how you are or if they should, that they would genuinely care.
Don't expect just because they have only two grandchildren that they would be interested that one is getting married.
Don't expect them to be well or happy or sane.

Not all phone calls to someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are like this. It is just so for me, my narcissist isn't exactly text book. She doesn't fool others well. Narcissists are usually smart, clever even, but a healthy dose of hypochondria and a heavy inclination toward lying easily and quickly give my narcissist away. She fools no one, perplexes many, but fools no one.
Still it was Christmas and I felt I should call, not being able to bring myself to it on the actual holiday, I mustered the will the day after. The deep pit of my stomach lead the way and it takes but a moment to wish I hadn't called.
Sometimes hope sneaks in and you think it may be a good day, maybe a civil day- not today.
If you only call once or twice a year it is easier to stay with the pleasantries, the weather, the dog, just chit chat.
Just have no expectations......at least high ones.
I gave up those years ago, I even gave up hope. I set boundaries to keep the damage to a minimum, the damage a phone call could do to me. Hatred and anger cannot be allowed to spew freely. 
Still somehow, silly me, I thought a recently received Christmas letter written from her only child as a new empty nester  and the engagement announcement of her only granddaughter MIGHT spark a question or two.
No
Just health issues...hers, real or imagined
complaints....hers
talks of committing her husband

It is ok, I once again was reminded to lay down expectations from those who cannot fulfill them, to mourn for those who cannot or will not see any blessing or good in their life, and to chalk it up as another dutiful phone call.
We had a merry Christmas as a family.
  My husband and I now have the house to ourselves...a soon to be new son in law, new worries over the choices our children make and will make....life changes everyday, and it is not done yet.
I choose to look at blessings and I wish my mother could see them, even one.
I choose to live life and to love it, sometimes I guess I need a phone call to remember that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Prisoner of Fear and What if

From the age of 19 until 44- yep this Spring, I didn't drive on the highway. One or two little jots from one exit to the other in town was all I could muster, Lamaze breathing came in handy there at least.
My mother never drove, we didn't own a car. Growing up in small town ND, not having a car didn't really pose a problem, we just walked anywhere we needed to go. She said she backed into a pole and never drove again, I don't think she ever had a license and her mental state kept her from getting one.

When I finally got my license at 18, I set to driving.  Not a careless driver but a complacent one perhaps, definitely naive,  I had an accident that first year. Mom and Harvey, her husband- or so they said, not legally married but having been together 3 years by now were moving and I was in the way as usual. Harvey never liked me and the feeling was mutual, he by his own admission didn't like his own kids and if "he had to do it all over again, he wouldn't have any kids!" They would probably not have chosen him for a father either. I was not to go with in the move so the plan, unknown to me at the time was to pawn me off on a son of a co-worker. We met, went on a date and within a week I was told I had to move.
Stunned I asked him, David, what to do. He said, "you can move in with me." I don't think he was in on the plan I think he just reacted to a girl in trouble.
By the next week, all moved in I realized I was living with an alcoholic, soon after when he didn't come home one evening I walked to the end of the block where friends of his lived, seeing his car I peeked in the window. Through the blind I saw him, his buddy and buddy's wife, gathered around a glass table with a razor blade in hand cutting white lines of powder.
Stunned again. Deep in the pit of my stomach, I ached, sickened  and frightened with no where to run. We were now in Wyoming, oil transplants...I had graduated high school there but really didn't KNOW anyone, not well enough to ask for help. I knocked on the door, it took a while to answer....she smiled saying "come on in."
I think I made a bit of a scene, much to her disapproval, after all I awoke her small children, sigh, I guess that was worse than their parents doing cocaine in the living room.

Things went from bad to worse, I think we lived together maybe 5 or 6 months, I didn't even like him. I had made a couple trips to where mom now lived, about and hour away, that didn't work either.
On the ides of March I had headed back "home", he had asked me to return, what else was there to do? On the trip I looked down in the car, not sure what I was doing, I may have glanced at my 8 week old Cocker Spaniel puppy or looked at the radio, but when I looked up I had crossed the white line into the oncoming lane. No one else was there.....but I panicked, over-correcting, I sent myself hurling into an embankment . Flipping four times and ejected out the third roll through the front windshield.
I remember placing my hand in front of my face and thinking "oh shit, I have wrecked my car!" Funny what the mind thinks at a moment like that.
I awoke to an ambulance crew and the women who witnessed the whole thing, one went for help the other stayed with me.  They asked my name....I couldn't remember, they asked the day....I was a week behind, but slowly it came back.  I  could hear whining coming from my now teepee shaped Toyota. My pup inside with a scratch on his nose, I looked to see him and saw my car a good 100 feet away, that is what saved me....I was told by the responders usually the person is killed when the car hits them or lands on them in this situation. I was thrown late in the rollover and far.

I laid in the emergency room having a cavern sized tear in my arm stitched, everything ached. Concussion, broken pelvis, glass embedded everywhere and at the time they thought a broken back.
Four days, four nights and my mother, who lived 30 minutes away came...for one ten minute visit. My boyfriend....came once for about an hour then to pick me up when I was released.
Thank God for the old woman in the bed next to me who was my advocate for pain meds, my only company, she at least cared.
When David and I got home I quickly realized he was embarrassed to be out in public with a hobbling, black and blue stitched up mess. At some time during that first week or two we had another argument, he must have been on something because I witnessed an anger I had not yet seen. He grabbed the stair railing and shook it loose from the wall, the entire thing, his face distorted and eyes enraged, I  knew I had to leave for good. By God's design my grandparents were at mom's for a visit, and I asked to go home, back to ND with them. David drove me down that road one last time, and I never drove on the highway again.
  Though my body hurt for years,  I was captive to fear much longer, what if I do it again?   I didn't even drive in town for almost 3 years.
I prayed for strength, for bravery for trust...but fear always defeated me. My poor husband has driven many 15 hour days on trip, and put up with me squirming over ice, speed, what others are doing, I am sure my blood pressure has been off the hook more times on the road than I care to know.
I was a prisoner.
Until...
This Spring, I drove 100 miles on the interstate. A quiet stretch, no snow or ice....I did it.
I had struggled as a Christian with God's sovereignty, knowing nothing would happen to me that was not in his hands and knowing good or bad...it was in his plans. I knew that yet I still chose fear. paralyzing fear.

Isaiah 61

 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,


God set me free from that paralyzing fear,still a work in progress, you won't find me volunteering for long road trips or driving with unsafe drivers, but the beginning of freedom.
God has set me free from many things. Some things I still hold on to.
We are easily captivated, to fear, to addiction, attitude, unforgiveness.  We are captive to what others do or don't do, what they say or don't say, what we need from them and do not receive. But we can be free.
If you find yourself captive, bend your knees.
If your fearful, grab ahold of He who is solid.
If your angry, release.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Staircase

 this post is similar to a previous post called Staircase on Southern Belle





   I grew up in government housing, perhaps a small town white version of the hood. I had lots of friends there, many great memories and more than a few that aren't as good. It seemed like most of the trouble came from our house, the reality is, our troubles were were just the more visible kind. It wasn't uncommon to wake up to yelling there, sometimes it was the fighting kind like when  a young kid pulled a knife on Bob, and they danced through the yards like a poor version of West Side Story. Once we were awoke by our drunk but happy neighbor, he needed everyone to come out and see the fish he caught, we did. Mostly it was just run of the mill domestic "discussions", with an occasional sledge hammer to a truck window.

  Arranged in groups of four,  perhaps 44 total, the apartments were made of brick with small little yards,each with a clothesline. Holly hocks were everywhere, I think they were the only flowers that grew there.
Our place had three levels and the staircase between the main floor and upstairs bedrooms holds many memories for me. At the end of that staircase  was the large gold frame mirror where once a  little girl with an unwanted  pixie haircut peered in crying.
About half way down you could see into the living room and kitchen, if I sat there the wall still had me hidden from view but I could see everything going on in that  mirror, this is how I watched the troubling tv series Sybil. I wasn't allowed to watch it but something inside me really wanted to. I was hiding there in terror watching as Kunta Kinte had his foot chopped off on the series Roots, for years I couldn't sleep with my foot hanging off the edge of the bed. I spent hours there, playing, running and jumping, skipping steps making large leaps to the bottom, but a haunting memory of violence is most associated with the staircase.

      
She sat in a flannel nightgown on the kitchen chair, brown print wallpaper behind her and a small white porcelain stove to the left. He stood in front of her wearing blue jeans and a white t shirt like he always wore, he had just gotten home from the bar. His dead dark eyes squinting in anger, he was yelling, at only 5 foot 7 or 8, he was small in stature, but he was a scrapper. The little girl watched from the staircase, she saw his fist rear back, his other grabbed the flannel, the knuckles on both turning  white. The woman clasped her hands around his and pulled back, the flannel tore and she yelled, "Bob, NO!"
The little girl screamed, every bit of her body seized in fear yet....no sound came out.



To this day I don't remember the sound, I am not sure anything actually came out of my mouth. I don't remember his fist hitting her face, it probably did like so many other times, violence was normal those years, almost daily.
That incident is so vivid yet, so incomplete.

  A little girl on a staircase
with orange carpet
in a brick fourplex
with hollyhocks at the rear entrance,
across the street from a park
in a small town
in North Dakota.