Lucas

So where is Will now? I don’t get it. Was he ever really dead?”, I opined.

“Girl, I allotted you fifteen damn questions to ask me during our binge watching of Stranger Things, Season Two. And said questions have already been expended! Redeemed!”, Lucas bellowed, wiping his hands together before emphatically throwing them up in the air.

“Okay, understood! So…..on a scale of one to ten, how annoying am I right now?”

“Probably about a nine! Look, you keep asking me questions about things I’m still trying to figure out! I don’t know why Eleven is at the cop’s house! I don’t know why there is slime on the tree in the woods! I don’t know, woman! I DON’T KNOW!”

I met Lucas when I was in eighth grade. We had burgers at a now-defunct fast food joint with my then-boyfriend Derrick. I met Lucas again a year later when my subsequent boyfriend and I went to Lucas’ house to watch movies with him and his then- girlfriend. She had long blonde hair and beautiful, large green eyes – albeit desecrated with tacky blue eyeliner on the lower rims.

Lucas doesn’t remember any of this, and I’m not sure why I do.

“Come here Ira”, I bellowed, gesturing towards my orange tabby cat, whom I recently adopted from a shelter. “Come sit with Mommy on the couch”.

Ira looked at me, yawned, and began laboriously licking his paw, whilst glancing up at me periodically as if to say “fuck you, I’ll move when I feel like it”.

“Why won’t Ira come sit with me? He must not like me”, I pondered aloud.

“Not like you?”, Lucas laughed, tapping his lighter against his bowl in preparation for another hit.

“It’s quite the opposite. He is sitting directly in front of you, with his back to you.”

“So?”

“It’s a protective stance. He is PROTECTING you.”

“Protecting me from what?! And since when did you become the friggin’ cat whisperer?”

“Woman, please”, Lucas sighed, setting the bowl back on the coffee table. “I was in the infantry. A grunt. I enlisted at goddamned thirty years old. I did TWO fucking tours in Afghanistan. TWO fucking tours! It’s tactical shit – body language. Trust me”.

I added Lucas as a friend on Facebook about a decade ago, not thinking much of it. He was in the Army at that time, stationed a few states away. At one point, he called me to ask for legal advice for his friend, whose marriage had gone awry. We spent a good chunk of time bullshitting on the phone, and, not hearing from him again, I assumed that his friend’s domestic woes had been resolved.

About two years ago, he posted on Facebook that his contract with the Army was up, and that he was returning back to our hometown. I sent him a drunken instant message, which was promptly returned. A flirtatious banter ensued, which lasted until about our third date, after which he said he didn’t want to see me anymore and professed continuing love for his ex-girlfriend.

I then flooded him with threats of death and bodily harm via text message. Epic, restraining order worthy material.

“I’m going to find you, twist your fucking balls off, and cook them like fucking vidalia onions over a campfire before feeding them to ravenous black bears so that your species of scumbag will never be permitted to propagate on this earth until your second coming, assuming you are permitted to reincarnate you fucking bastard son”.

“I wish death upon you and your brethren. You can’t run or hide from the wrath of God. He KNOWS what you have done to me. You think all is forgotten? My lineage will hunt yours for centuries and ensure that justice is fulfilled”.

“No, I’m not leaving you alone. Fuck you. I’ll stop texting you when I feel like it. You deserve to be annoyed. If you are annoyed now, just imagine the incessant howling you will experience in Satan’s kingdom, where you belong with the rest of the ungodly savages that were permitted to walk this earth”.

Then Kaiser happened.

But, throughout Kaiser, I maintained a friendship with Lucas. And he eventually became my best friend.

“Does anything scare you Lucas?”, I wondered, as Ira finally jumped into my lap.

“I’ve dodged bullets in 100 degree heat carrying full artillery. I’ve gone without showers for months on end, cleaning my ass with nothing but baby wipes. Ive taken shits in the desert and covered them with sand – much like Ira here- in order to avoid detection from the enemy. I’ve saved lives, and I’ve taken some. Now what do you think the answer to your fucking question is? Cue the Jeopardy music”.

You know that dumbass Marilyn Monroe meme? It’s always a picture of Marilyn in some provocative pose, with some variation of the following prose:

“If you don’t love me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best”.

I always thought that was a corny crock of shit, and an excuse for bad behavior on a female’s part.

Maybe because, until Lucas, I never really let anyone see me at my worst.

Whether I allow myself to be loved at my worst – and if I’m even capable of giving my best – well, that remains to be seen.

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Sergei

pexels-photo-109892I’d like to say that the addiction crept up slowly and after responsible use, and that I was just another unwitting, guileless victim of ruthless Big Pharma. But it didn’t and I wasn’t. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I just had no idea that getting out of it would be so hard.

“CVS Store 413. Pharmacy Department. How may I help you?”

It was two o’clock in the morning and Store 413 was located in a college town about 35 miles from my house. This was the fourth 24-hour CVS store I had called within the past seven minutes.

“I need to know if you have a certain medication in stock.”

“Okay, which one?”

“I need – Adderal”, I swallowed. “The 20 milligram pill and a thirty-day supply. Generic is fine.”

“Ugh, please hold, I’ll go check”, retorted the clerk, slamming the phone down. My heart began beating rapidly as the auditory delights of Joe Cocker filled the airwaves.

“Love lift us up where we belong”

Please have this medication in stock.

“Where the eagles cry”

Please have this – do eagles actually cry?

“On a mountain high”

Please. Please, for the love of God, please have what I need.

“Love lift us up where we belong

Far from the world we -“

“It’s here, but you better hurry up. It’s finals season. We can’t keep this stuff on the shelves”.

I was first introduced to Adderal in law school while studying for the bar exams. My then- boyfriend scored it from his childhood best friend, whose father was a doctor. We were able to stay awake for long hours, concentrate intently, and ultimately pass the exams. It served its purpose, and I quickly forgot about it.

About a year after I had opened my business, I was complaining to a friend of mine about my workload. He then offered me a few spare Adderal pills, which I gladly accepted. He explained that he took them on occasion to stay up late during his overnight shifts towing illegally parked trucks.

In the ensuing months, I wound up siphoning off of his supply quite liberally.

Except, in contrast to the bar exam experience, it wasn’t so much the enhanced productivity or ability to concentrate, but the quelling of the voices that haunted me on a daily basis.

The voices that told me – as did my mother – that quitting my job and opening my own practice was a mistake. The voices that told me I was an outsider, a recluse, and that all the other little girls – or, in present day speak, my colleagues – poked fun at me behind my back. That my brief wasn’t thorough enough. That I didn’t sell that potential client properly. That the argument I overlooked would have changed the outcome of that Motion.

Considering the adversarial nature of the legal system – a lawyer’s duty is essentially to advocate his or her client’s positions, even if said positions are legally incorrect – the voices mind fucked me on a daily basis. Prolonged, exquisite, hands on the headboard and sore the next day mind fucking.

Was my adversary correct on that point? Or was I? How could I do eight hours of research and still be wrong? I’m probably wrong. But maybe I’m not.

Adderal changed everything. It was like a priest had performed an exorcism inside of my frontal lobe. The voices were gone. There was no fear, trepidation, or second-guessing myself.

I would bust into Courtrooms, successfully completing hearings with virtually no preparation, and with an outstanding theatrical performance. It would take me an hour to whip out a letter that normally might take me four. I laughed at adversaries that tried to intimidate me, which exponentially pissed the seasoned ones off, and caused my contemporaries to easily back down.

I no longer felt like that little girl sitting in the corner with her fingers in her mouth and that had no friends.

I was Superwoman.

I eventually grew guilty at having to depend on my friend for his supply, and increasingly uncomfortable at his concomitant romantic overtures.

“Where do I go to get this?”, I asked, already sensing that the best answer probably didn’t lie in my insurance company’s health provider directory.

“You have to go see Sergei. He is the local joke of a psychiatrist. Just Google the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder and relay it back to him. He writes shit for everyone, their mother, her German Shepherd and it’s leash.”

I walked into a room with about thirty seats shaped in a horseshoe formation. Each seat was filled, with about an additional ten persons standing. People were called in to see the doctor – the only doctor in this practice – at about ten-minute intervals, sometimes less. New faces entered the room every 3-5 minutes. It was a mill, a drug den, a glorified trap house, albeit with stacks of celebrity gossip magazines with dog-eared corners.

It was a relatively easy score. When Sergei called me in, I shook his cold, clammy hand and made niceties. In the middle of droning on about not being able to focus at work or timely complete tasks, I shot up out of my seat to retrieve the purse that I had “accidentally” left in the waiting room. When I returned back to his office, I began gibbering about my non-existent upcoming trip to Mexico, “losing” my train of thought about three times during the recitation of my itinerary.

“Okay, it seems like you might need some help -”

“What are those?”, I interjected. But this time, I wasn’t feigning delayed attention.

There were turtles. Turtles everywhere. Glass turtles, marble turtles, woven turtles, ivory turtles, crocheted turtles, ceramic turtles, origami turtles. Red turtles, blue turtles, green turtles, ombré turtles, big turtles, small turtles. Hundreds of them.

Everything under the sun except a real, live turtle.

“They are turtles”, he whispered, placing both hands on his desk calendar and leaning towards me. “Turtles represent longevity. Think about it – they literally withdraw into themselves in times of threat as a means of survival. And it works .”

I sat there, genuinely speechless for a few long, awkward seconds, whilst examining the exquisite detail of a marble red and blue turtle -shaped paperweight on Sergei’s desk.

“Well”, Sergei interrupted, gently waving his hand in front of my face, “let’s try you out on ten milligrams, twice a day. Hmmm? Will that be good enough for you?”

Debbie

pexels-photo-256546My heart sank as I heard the sudden sound of the mechanical garage door opening.

“What the hell is your problem today!?”, my mother shrieked, whipping her faux leather hobo bag down onto the couch. I was sitting on the floor enjoying an after -school snack and an episode of Ren and Stimpy on Nickelodeon, whilst halfheartedly trying to complete some math homework.

“What?”, I stammered, genuinely confused as to my apparent latest transgression.

“Mrs. Griebler said you had a FACE on ALL DAY! I even saw you in the hallway on the way to art class after lunch. There you were, walking down the hall, your head down and your fingers in your mouth, looking like a goddamn retard or head case.”

She then began mimicking my alleged demeanor during the journey from lunch to art class that day, walking back and forth across the living room, thumb in mouth, head bobbing side to side and donning a ridiculous, exaggerated frown.

“Why are you so embarrassing?!”, she demanded. “ALL YOU DO is embarrass me! All the other little girls in the hallway were smiling, laughing, and talking to one another. They all had hair jewelry in their hair or cute little braids in. You take no interest in your hair or clothes! You look like a damn rag doll!”

“You know what?”, she continued, “You need therapy! You’re a schizoid! You see that big blue book on the shelf, over there? Your father and I read it, and we know now that you are a schizoid! That’s your problem!”

“Mom, I don’t know what you are talking about”, trying to figure out by way of context clues what exactly a schizoid was. “Mrs. Griebler’s classroom is on the other side of the building. I don’t remember walking to art. I made a cool picture though. We drew pictures with colored pencil and then covered them in black crayon so that when you scratched the crayon –

“Yea, whatever, the art teacher is a hippie quack”, she interrupted. “I think she smokes weed in the parking lot every day before work. Like, OOOooOH, look at me, I’m into yoga, and I can communicate through plants….OOOOOooOH”, she cackled, doing a strange dance and flailing her arms around into the air.

A few days later, there was a slight knock on the door during a social studies quiz. A teacher, Mrs. DePepe, was standing outside of the door, smiling a warm smile, her equally peppy bob- style haircut bouncing around with each movement. She pointed towards me. I looked behind me and to my side, confused.

The quiz was interrupted, and my best friend Georgia and I were summonsed out into the hallway.

“Well, hello there girls!”, Mrs. DePepe greeted. “Based on your performance in English and reading classes, the two of you have been selected to participate in fifth grade enrichment!”

“Just us?”, Georgia inquired, echoing my own reasonable concern as to why only she and I were selected. While we were both fairly skilled in the relevant classes, something about the whole thing, especially the omission of the usual group of teacher’s pets, didn’t seem quite right.

Mrs. DePepe walked us over to a trailer adjacent to the main school building. It had a large sign on the door designating it as the “Resource Room”.

“What the hell is a Resource Room?”, I pondered aloud.

“They must have RESOURCES”, Georgia giggled. “Like stuff you would need to survive if you go camping in the woods alone. Water, matches, non-perishable foods, and KNIVES”, Georgia laughed, pointing her index finger at my throat as if about to slaughter cattle.

“Haha…”, I laughed, my nervousness quickly melting from Georgia’s typical silliness.

When I got home, I explained what had happened and what I was told.

“Well, why didn’t Debbie DePepe tell me about this development?”, my mother exclaimed, her voice indignant. “How does Debbie just strip you out of class and put you in a room without telling me? But, whatever, I have a daughter in enrichment classes.”

So, for about forty-eight minutes each week, I got to sit in an off-campus trailer with my best friend and liberally discuss and analyze short stories we were assigned to read by Mrs. DePepe. They were outstanding stories, a few of which I still recall in explicit detail. Stories that acknowledged that people our age knew, saw and perceived a lot more than anyone ever gave us credit for.

Those classes were some of the happiest memories I have of being a school-aged girl, which are few and far in between.

In retrospect, I don’t think it was an accident that Georgia and I were solely selected to participate in this “enrichment” program.

Amongst the sheep walk certain special, empathetic individuals – the Debbie’s of the world.

These angels see human suffering and do whatever they can to abate the same within whatever means that they have. They are special, advanced souls.

I give thanks for each and every Debbie that I have encountered in my life. You reminded me then and continue to remind me that – despite the voices that terrorize and haunt me on a daily basis – I AM a lovable and beautiful person. One that deserved – and still deserves – to be heard, respected and permitted to freely develop.

Perhaps Georgia’s joke about the purpose of the Resource Room had a ring of truth to it. Those 48 minutes in that trailer each week just may have saved my life.

Kaiser

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Judging by outward appearances, I seem to have everything together. I am self-employed, own my own house, and have unwittingly learned to master – out of sheer self- preservation – the fine art of charming people.

The only outward giveaway that something is not quite right with me is my lack of a spouse or steady romantic partner at 37 years old. In fact, the longest relationship I had ended about 15 years ago after graduate school and predated the discovery that I’d spent much of my life emotionally brainwashed.

“Oh, my God, you are such a catch!! How are you still single??”, exclaims Esther, a well-meaning, elderly client sitting in my office with four miniature Schnauzers wearing pastel colored sweaters. “I should set you up on a date with my nephew, Gregory.  He is in commodities”, she whispers, cocking her head to the side and winking.

The Response I Want to Give: “Well, Esther”, I exhale. “Given my exploitative, unpredictable and chaotic upbringing, I’m attracted to men that trigger my deepest wounds and insecurities, and whose love I feel like I need to “win” in order to actually exist. So, unless Gregory is an emotionally unavailable shell of a human being, prone to disappear for extended periods of time and ignore my text messages, I’m not sure that the attraction will be there. Also, why don’t we spare Gregory the wrath of watching me down four vodka tonics within 45 minutes of meeting and the ensuing awkwardness between us after he explains to you that I am a closet alcoholic and, depending on Greg’s luck that night, a slut.”

**Esther promptly excuses herself from my office to relieve the second smallest Schnauzer donning the mint colored Kate Spade sweater**

The Response I Actually Give: Depending on my perception as to which excuse will resonate best with the particular person I’m speaking with, I usually respond with one of the following:

  1. Hey, why settle? I want it all. Brains, Braun, Bucks and a Big One baby! (Channeling Samantha from Sex and the City).
  2. You know, It’s just so hard to meet quality men. All of the men on these dating applications and websites are just looking for noncommittal sex. (Playing the proverbial “nice girl”)
  3. Oh, a man? Who needs one of those? I’ve got this! (I’m Gloria Steinem on methamphetamine)

I used Number One with Esther, then joked that while Gregory definitely has the Four B’s, I’ve declined dating because I’m focusing on training for a 5K marathon at this time.

I don’t run. Unless it’s a dream, and people are chasing after me. Which unfortunately happens often.

The million dollar question is – how do you have a long-lasting, stable relationship when abuse and dysfunction feels like “home”? The short answer is, you don’t.

Each relationship I have had after my graduate school boyfriend has been the same man, albeit with a different face.

Let’s examine my most recent ex-boyfriend. His name is not Kaiser; but, being built like what I used to lovingly refer to as a “brick German shithouse” and having the uncompromising personality of a Nazi general, the pseudonym seems fitting.

I met him on a dating app and slept with him on the second date. We dated casually thereafter for about a month until one night I found underwear on his floor that wasn’t mine, and much to my humiliation, about three sizes smaller than my size.  Knowing that he had been caught red-handed, Kaiser admitted that he had invited another woman over on Thanksgiving night after I was too tired to drive to his house after having cooked for and hosted the holiday.  When I told him that I didn’t want to see him anymore, he offered exclusivity.  I took the bait. Things were wonderful until about mid-January, when he disappeared to the casino for days on end in a drinking binge with his cousins.

The remainder of and demise of our relationship is perhaps best summarized with the below select text messages from Kaiser:

“I was with my family, that’s why I didn’t text you back the past few days.  If you can’t respect the fact that I am close with my family, then I don’t want to be with you”.

“I don’t care, there is no excuse for you calling me an asshole or a scumbag. I’m not dating you anymore until you go back to therapy for your anger issues”.

“Well, yea you went back to therapy, but you didn’t go fast enough.”

“Also, I don’t want to date you until you get your fertility checked. I want kids and I’m not going to waste time with you if that’s a problem.”

“I don’t care that your egg count came back good, it took you three months to go see the friggin’ doctor. It’s too late”.

“I’m not ready to reconcile”.

“I don’t want to get married, ever. I’m not working my ass off my whole life for some lazy bitch to take half of my pension”.

“All I can offer you at this time is friends with benefits”.

“The Chinese delivery man is here. You aren’t answering the door like that. Go put my basketball shorts on, now”.

“You didn’t deserve flowers on your birthday or for Valentine’s Day because we aren’t technically in a relationship”.

“I didn’t text you the week before or after you euthanized your cat because you don’t deserve my emotional support”.

“It doesn’t matter that we had sex three times last week.  You need to stop contacting me, or I will get a restraining order against you and you will be arrested if you message me again”.

Every time I am home and someone knocks on my door, I am paranoid that it’s the Sheriff serving me with my restraining order.

Good times.

via Daily Prompt: Uncompromising

Zachary

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Growing up with a narcissistic parent or other caregiver is a unique experience that I believe only those whom have endured it – other than industry professionals – can truly comprehend.  It is this continuing sense of isolation and invisibility that renders the recovery process so difficult.  I don’t even try to explain it to the few friends that I have or to significant others anymore, as the look on their face when my recollection is casually brushed off or minimized is stabbing.

The term narcissist seems to be casually thrown around, especially by jilted lovers on internet message boards. A narcissist is not necessarily – although it could be – the guy that posts daily shirtless gym selfies, the rude flatmate who repeatedly eats your earmarked leftovers, or the woman who flatly drops you after an exhilarating courtship stage. It is something so much more sinister than what appears on the surface.

My mother was a teacher at a local grade school. In fact, it was the same school that I attended – a circumstance that unfortunately left me vulnerable to a host of narcissistic games in addition to those regularly played at home.  One year, a boy, Zachary, was placed in her class that suffered from a physical disability and some slight cognitive issues.  I don’t recall exactly what the limitations were. The boy’s mother, like any non-disordered and fit parent, was his advocate.  She wanted him to receive the best education possible, and did not believe that he needed to be placed in a special education classroom.

Now whether the boy’s mother was correct in her assessment of her child’s abilities is beyond my knowledge, but irrelevant nonetheless. My mother had an unhealthy obsession with this child.  Her endless, daily complaints and narratives on this disabled child at the dinner table centered not on pedagogy, objective data, or the actual educational needs of any child in that classroom, but the physical aspect of his disability.  She made fun of him constantly at home, mimicking his mannerisms in the same fashion as Donald Trump did the disabled reporter.  She didn’t want him in that classroom because she considered all 23 pupils in that room to be a reflection of her.  There simply wasn’t room in that mirror for a child in a wheelchair that was prone to drooling, nor the interference of his mother, whose appearance and genuine concern for her son she also mocked.

One day, she came home from school, her face red and swollen with rage.  My father was still at work, and my brother likely at some after-school sports practice.

“What’s wrong?”, I asked, upset to see that my mother was distressed, and eager to console her.  I must have been somewhere between eight and ten years old.

“It’s that new principal, Mr. Semko!!  That FAT son-of-a bitch.  He prances around that school in a business suit every damn day, coming into MY classroom unannounced.  He even INSISTED that I call him DR. SEMKO because he has some advanced degree. I told him I’M not calling him DR.! Who does he think he is? And then, he had the nerve to call ME a NARCISSIST!”

“What’s a Narcissist?”, I recall asking, struggling to repeat the foreign word with the proper enunciation.

“Oh, it’s just a term for somebody that is just in love with themselves.  That’s NOT me. I do EVERYTHING for these children.  I sacrifice myself day in and day out for those kids. How DARE he!?”

Close to the end of that same school year, my mother came home again, this time her face puffy and bloated from crying.  Zachary had fallen ill and died suddenly.  As usual, I listened to and comforted her, fully assuming responsibility for her emotional weight. However, the narrative had transformed into what a sweet child Zachary was, how she did her absolute best to further his education and work amicably with his “saint” of a mother, and what to wear to the wake.

A couple of decades later, my mother retired from teaching.  A retirement party was planned at a classy event venue on the water. Many of her colleagues – past and present – were going to be attendance, including many of the teachers that had taught me.

My father told me I was expected to give a speech.  I wrote one and he reviewed it in advance for acceptability.  I bought a new dress at Banana Republic and curled my hair.

I played into the narrative. I danced the dysfunctional dance.

In said speech, I lauded at length the sacrifices my mother went through for our family to experience “The American Dream”, as well as her trials and tribulations as a teacher, inclusive of her having endured the loss of one of her students, Zachary, early on in her career.

And as I made that reference to Zachary, I saw her nose – for a split second – crinkle in disgust behind the tacky table centerpiece of fake flowers and balloons.

Ophelia

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Today I am raising the proverbial white flag of surrender.  Don’t misconstrue this.  It’s not a gesture of peace towards you, but towards the war that I have waged against myself for 37 years.  A war that I didn’t instigate and never wanted to participate in.

I know what the reality is now – although it took me until late adulthood to fully comprehend how grotesque and dysfunctional it truly was.

It started in my gut. You know, the feeling that something was just “off”.  The sense of lightheartedness and ease I felt being around my best friend’s mother during sleepovers at her house.  The feeling of safety and contentment I experienced during those long weekends at my grandmother’s house.  Perhaps it’s not those feelings that are remarkable (as that is how children are supposed to feel), but the starkly contrasting ones that ensued in the car rides home from such excursions – crippling anxiety and abject terror.

Over time, I developed a pervasive sense of being small, dirty and defective – somewhat like an old broken baby doll that wouldn’t wind up to perform as required when you twisted the lever on her back.

When I was a teenager, I just figured that – as my father would constantly tell me – I didn’t have enough respect.  “Honor Thy Father and Mother”, he would say, his finger pointed up to the sky, his voice thunderous and impassioned.  The pulpit pleas always struck me as bizarre, as we weren’t even a religious family.  So, after each abusive episode, virtually all of which occurred when no one else was home, I was cajoled into apologizing to you by my father, who, in retrospect, was likely in the “doghouse” until he was able to procure your vindication.

When objective outsiders began to notice that something wasn’t quite kosher, I would look at them like they had lobsters growing out of their ears. The Real Estate Agent:  “Wow, your mother is so controlling”.  My Friend: “Your mother is obviously jealous of you.”

How could that be?

In my mid-twenties, I drunkenly revealed to you that I had been molested by my older brother for years.  I wasn’t planning on making the disclosure and to this day don’t know why I decided to do it at that time and moment.  In the deepest recesses of my psyche, a place I had yet to meaningfully explore, I knew that you were already aware of what had happened.  I just wanted to see your reaction.

You know how in some mob movies there is that one moment where a mobster becomes acutely aware that another has become a government informant, simply by looking into their eyes when they are talking? And realizes instantaneously that said person – even if it is someone they love dearly – must get “whacked”? Watching you feign outrage, disgust and concern over an ongoing violation in your home that you were absolutely complicit in occurring was that moment for me.

The ensuing years found me mentally revisiting my childhood on a loop as if I had popped in an old VHS tape, internally debating as to whether certain events were in fact in my head – as I had been drilled to believe – or if they actually did happen.  It wasn’t until I began reading about the characteristics and habits of narcissistic mothers – and the people that enable them – that the lens from which I watched the VHS tape began to focus.  The idyllic childhood that I thought I had – and for which I was always told I was ungrateful – was an illusion.

Despite my logical understanding that the abuse I endured as a child was not my fault, the deep-seated feelings of worthlessness, despair and pending annihilation stubbornly persist. Whenever these feelings overwhelm me, which is often, self-destructive and disassociative behaviors follow.  I consume at least one large bottle of wine a day, and do all the lovely, stereotypical things that women abused as children do.

I have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and have spent thousands of dollars on therapy not covered by insurance.  I have tried meditation, religion, spirituality, yoga, medication, and abstinence from alcohol.  But it’s always two steps forward, followed by ten steps back.  My biggest triggers are rejection from a lover – whether perceived or actual – or when a colleague looks at me in a way that reminds me of your face contorted in disgust or in a tone that reminds me of your shrill, cackling insults.

I don’t want to live my life like this. I want to heal. I want my soul restored.  I want to have healthy relationships, with others and myself. I want to have a child myself one day, and am well-aware that the biological window in that regard is rapidly closing.

It’s time for a new approach, and that is where this blog comes in.  Maybe I have to – in psychology speak – finally “sit” with the pain as opposed to running from it – to fully immerse myself in the hurt as if stepping into a bathtub of needles and scalding water.

Do you remember the story I wrote about the little girl named Ophelia? I must have been eleven or twelve. I don’t quite recall the plot and don’t fathom that it was anything remotely structured.  I just remember it being about a sad, sullen girl, who felt alone and rejected – much like my true self at that time.  In any event, I thought it was good and wanted you to read it.

I can still see you lying on the couch, engrossed in some trifling daytime television show, your permed hair held back with a brown banana clip.  I asked you to read it.  You didn’t even bother to sit up to read the story.  You then began skimming each line and hastily reading it aloud under your breath like a school girl trying to get through with the Pledge of Allegiance at homeroom so she could go meet with her friends in the hallway.  Every so often, you snuck glances at the television whilst reading, making quite certain that I saw you doing so.

“What is this? Is this supposed to be about me?”, you chuckled, lackadaisically handing the papers back to me.  “You’re not a sad person. You should write about something happier. You don’t want people to think you aren’t happy, or something is wrong with us, do you?”

I never wrote any story or poem thereafter unless it was cheerful, positive or something I believed you would find entertaining.  I had to be the reflection you wanted to see.

Dysfunctional families are perhaps best compared to a house built from a deck of cards.  Each card in the house is dependent on the placement of every other card in the house to stay intact.

I can’t keep destroying myself at the expense of preserving the house.

It’s time to tell my story.

This is Ophelia’s Resurrection.