Brand New Dandy……

As a teenager, I wished I could tell what the future would hold.  Would I find a good man?  Would I find a career I enjoyed?  Would I be fat and happy in my old age?  And will I have one or two children?  Will I finally have a grasp on my depression and eating disorder?  Will our family stay connected after mom and dad are gone?

Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I see the brilliance in the uncertainty.  Certainly, we as humans have control and freedom over our decisions…but what about the attitudes of the people you are surrounded by?  Would I have been content with the foreknowledge   of knowing that my in-laws and step son would hate me?  And would I have done things differently had I known?  The answers lie in the cornerstone of my faith, where Jesus has his way with me and I accept and even condone His will for my life.  If I had known that in the year 2018 that I would go on a search for myself, and in doing so, lose almost every single connection to family I would not have changed a thing.  For I have always been led by my heart, and, for better or worse, my discernment.

I feel that I have paid my dues, and living next to my in laws has proved a perilous and daunting task.  From day one I was mistreated, ignored and abused.  Yet no one would hear me, no one would listen-I was for the most part ignored, unless of course it was a holiday; and I learned to dread each and every one after my father died.

She’s so sensitive!

Yes, as a matter of fact, I expect to be listened to when I speak.  Actions speak louder than words, and I got the hint early on when I noticed that no one heard me; instead they talked over me, through and around me-what I had to say had no merit-I wasn’t relevant, and I spent years and years trying to prove myself to people who couldn’t have cared less.

Hey, I’m a tough cookie.  I roll with the punches as well as the next guy, and heaven knows it could be much worse.  However, I am in control of my life now, and if I had to pretend for one more minute?  I just couldn’t, let’s put it that way.

I want to begin anew.  I want to surround myself with people who love me for who I am and who I am not-and boy do I have that in spades.  My close friends are a small circle, but the circle is widening, and I have come to trust those in my church family, with my very life.  Interestingly enough, all of my friends (with the exclusion of Jason, my guy pal extraordinaire, I met him while working with the Intellectually Disabled at a company who treated its personnel like prison inmates.  I left three years ago, yet he remains-God is using him and he knows he is needed, and after winning a Humanitarian award for heroic effort on his part?  I am happy to see him so complete, thriving because of the fact he is making a difference-I adore the man.

 

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My favorite client, Jerry-may he rest in peace.

 

I was happy there for some time, until the powers that be proved to be insidious bottom dwellers who not only stole money from the clients, but food and clothing as well.  My supervisors were always twenty somethings who knew nothing about the clients, and everything about scamming the company, but I digress.

What I need is a new start, a fresh start-and I can’t do it here, no, not living like a bug in a jar, awaiting the next slight, diss or downright slap in the face.  I have to leave.  Thoughts of upstate New York, where my family originated (actually England and Ireland) or Maine-I am a nature lover and feel quite drawn to the Adirondacks, or the coast of Maine, so brutally raw in its beauty-captivating.

I suppose I am day dreaming, but there must be a solution to the gripping and suffocating place in which I dwell this moment.  A pawn in a game I refuse to play, I will be wiser, harden my heart and throw caution to the wind.

I am a rule breaker.  I am a rock.  I am an island.

Baby I’m Worth It

 

Jesus mighty I am on an emotional rollercoaster-and I really, really want to get off-any moment now…yep…that would be really cool, Jesus.  And then His peace hits me smack in the face, and I chill out.  With the help of some cannabis.  In my reality?  I love everything God put on this great, green earth-but my favoritest ever-ever gift?  That of the marijuana  plant.  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you Jesus.

Oh the flipping melodrama.  As the Hoffmans Turn, or The Young and the Witless…whateve.  I am over it, over it I say.  Heavy sigh, thank you-I feel so much better.  🙂 It’s that time of year again, when my brother and his family fly in from Los Angeles to stay with my sibling for two weeks.  They frolic on lakes like that of George, we grew up vacationing at Canoe Island Lodge-my father’s ashes were spread there by the family, and on Lake Pleasant years later by myself and my husband.  Last year, my brother gave me the information and we booked a house a few miles north.  The resulting meltdown, on my sister’s part-caused us to reschedule our vacation to September.

Even though we were to be in separate homes, my brother agreed, the risk was too high.  I broke down and cried, then broke down and drank a half of a bottle of vodka.  This was to be the last time I have spoken to my sister’s family; which includes my Godchild, niece and nephew.  I told her to look me up when she decided she wanted healing, through whatever avenues (meaning therapy, reconnection and some hard work) meaning I had finally figured it all out.  All those years, years of thinking it was me, my drinking-and for years I had absolutely not one stick of self esteem.  Things would be fine, and then I wouldn’t hear from her for an entire Summer, but by Fall she was a completely different person.

I walked on eggshells my entire adult life.  Nothing was good enough.  And when I got sober?  Matters worsened, and although it was subtle at first, the in-your-face red flags were evident.  Who disinvites their own sister and her husband at Christmas?  So many signs, and one weekend upstate I did my research.  NPD.  Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Heartbreaking.  She wouldn’t even allow her children to eat here.  On one occasion, a Christmas long ago, I remember the kids bugging her, pleading they were hungry..mommy, mommy can I have something to eat?  Pleaaaseee????  We had an entire spiral ham complete with all of the homemade fixings.  I had invited them for dinner!  What fresh hell was this?  

I wasn’t invited on any family vacations.  Inevitably, during one of our visits one of the kids would let it slip.

“Aunt Michele, last week, when everyone was at the beach…..”

“Aunt Michele, why weren’t you at Uncle Craig’s birthday party?”

The pain was both psychological and physical.  I would try to keep my head up, at least until we made it to Dwain’s truck.  I would cry for days.  Why?

“Why am I not worthy?,” I would ball to my husband.

This went on for twenty years.

So, this ended up being much harder than I had previously imagined-I find writing cathartic.  Yet as with any successful therapeutic work, the strife is real.  Bringing up old wounds is the Bizarro world equivalent to Chinese torture, water boarding and, quite possibly?  Multiple root canals.

And so it was, that after planning to pick my brother up and take him to dinner.  I had already planned on asking him to stand at the corner, as childish as that sounds.  I do not roam where I’m not welcome, thank you very much.

I get a text from my brother saying, “hey, why don’t I just rent a car and come up for a few hours during the day tomorrow?  It’s crazy hectic around here, so it would be better if I just drove up to you.”

I’m no Forest Gump, but it took me about 2 seconds to seal that deal.  The translation?

She doesn’t want you at the house.  You might accidentally run into one of her children and make contact.  My God!  What if the kids got a glimpse of their aunt, who, jiminy cricket, never did a thing but love the absolute crud out of them all.

And so it was with cheeky rage that I allowed myself some snarkiness.

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No she DIN’T…

Please tell Squeaky that I would not darken her door if her ceiling shat golden eggs.”

My poor brother.    He doesn’t deserve that, seriously.  But DANG THAT FELT GOOD.

 

Joy and Peace

 

Two years ago, right before our 24th wedding anniversary and subsequent trip up to the cabin in Potter County-a man I called friend, shot his ex-girlfriend at point blank range:  in broad daylight, with children everywhere, at the Jigger Shop in scenic Mount Gretna.  Patrick then put the gun in his mouth and ended his mental anguish forever.  His ex died on site, and she left two heartbroken children behind.

I met Patrick and his brother Mitch when first dating my husband.  They were dear, uproariously funny and rebellious.  I left the Philadelphia area to get away from drugs, namely-cocaine.  Working at a Houlihan’s in the King of Prussia mall, I had developed a habit, and I had just shaken an addiction to methamphetamine months before.  Coke was the perfect substitute, and it was very, very easy to score.  When my then fiancée asked me to move with him to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, I jumped at the chance.  It wasn’t long before I met my current man, who, unfortunately, had a behemoth of an addiction himself.

Patrick and his brother, Mitch, were the local suppliers.  Patrick and his wife were the first friends I made out here-it wasn’t long before the midnight phone calls began-Liz, out of her mind frightened, as Patrick would come home drunk and ready to rumble-waking his wife and infant, smashing Christmas trees, and yes-he hit her.  More than once.   I would come and talk him down.  But I began to loathe him-domestic violence is no joke-I have been a victim of both emotional and physical abuse.  I stuck with Liz, but Patrick faded away.

At one point I heard he was doing jail time, for beating the crud out of his new bride, who just happened to be an attorney.  But nothing stuck, and his actions-combined with the mentality of local police and judges alike-would be dismissed out of hand.  Thus the murder-suicide.  Tragedy is an understatement, this rocked our collective worlds.

At that time, my sister was also creating in me a downward mental spiral.  I hadn’t even heard of Narcissistic Abuse; it was on this vacation that I found information that would, two years later, set me free.  Yet my state of mind when we arrived at the cabin?  I believe I was in shock, grieving and mentally/physically at my limit.

As we entered the cabin, Dwain went to turn on the water, heat and other appliances.  I went for the bottle of Tequila, and sipped slowly as I read the news from home.  I mixed the liquor with Juicy Juice, so my husband wouldn’t suspect anything.  I had been sober for the past nine years, but I made the deliberate choice to drown my sorrows,  I didn’t get drunk on this vacation, but it was enough to remind me how booze can take away the pain.  A reminder I didn’t need at the time.

Standing in the kitchen, just a few days ago, my husband asked a question which led to my confession.  The only person I had told, previous to this conversation was my friend Joyce, a fellow recovering addict.  In the rooms, we are told to make amends, absolutely, but not if the process would leave the person hurt.  I had thought of coming clean many a time over the last few months and years; I just couldn’t do it to Dwain-and no, it wasn’t an excuse.  I was afraid he wouldn’t take me to the beloved cottage in the woods of Potter County.  I was in fear of the truth marring his memories of our anniversary.  To tell him would be cruel, not?

I answered his question, then turned my face in his direction.  I confessed.  And it hurt him, very much so.  He screamed he couldn’t trust me, I screamed back.  I cried big, fat, ugly tears that evening-angry with myself, angry with my addictions and yes, even angry with my loving husband-who doesn’t deserve the likes of me, and never did.

The moral of the story is this:  yes, we want to be truthful, as Christians-it’s a pretty serious matter.  But the past is the past.

Keep it there.  Ask Abba for forgiveness.  And swear an oath of secrecy to Jesus, to yourself.  The past is just that, but the future awaits us-like a diamond in the rust.  Polish that stone often.  Don’t look back, for you are a child of God-and your remorse and repentance is more than enough.

 

The Sunny Side of the Street is Dark

My stomach is in knots.  My heart is racing.  I feel panic rising from deep within.  I am paranoid in as much as I can’t blame myself, as although I take full responsibility for my part in these relationships-I have been “programmed” to respond like this.  It took me several minutes to realize why I was feeling so distraught-and I could smell a dirty narc from miles away.

 

My close friend Sinead is also semi-close with my in-laws.  She was like a daughter to them, much more so than I.  They called her every few days (I never received a phone call, for years) took her out to eat, treated her just like their own.  But lately, something has been hanging in the air between them: Sinead is as much in the dark as I am, and she was due to have lunch with them today.

We have been discussing this ad nauseum.  Not to be blunt, but I asked her today why she puts up with their mistreatment of her.  She was nervous, and  left our exercise class early, to lunch and learn with two of America’s finest.  Here’s where the torment comes in:  I have called and messaged my friend.  She has seen my message yet not returned it.  It is my belief, or fear if you will, that my mother in law has struck, again.

I found myself in literal tears, until the Holy Spirit spoke:

“You have done nothing wrong.”

No, I have not.  Sinead is very sensitive, and I fear that monster has said something random, hurtful or off the cuff.  She has tried to come between myself and others in the past, and this is pure narcissist triangulation at its best.

What if Sinead is angry with me?  I cannot apologize for what I didn’t do.  So be it.  If my heart and friendship truly matter, she will calm down and call a spade a spade.

I am at peace in the knowledge that God’s got this.

No longer will I fight, for any relationship.  I just don’t have it in me, nope.

Stay away from narcs.  They’re the Jezebel Spirit personified, and they will eat you up, and laugh as they spit you out.

 

 

Believe

I had a totally different topic for today, but that was before, hours before he came to pick up the things he has acquired over 32 years.  His tree stand.  And everything else.  His father, in a desperate attempt at tough love, and after he refused to apologize for his vicious attack on my character and mental health, told him to pick up his things.

“We’re done.”

My heart broke into a zillion pieces that day, a week ago.  If you could cry blood, I would have.  Today was unexpected, and very final.  I feel as if the illusion of family is just a pipe dream-and I must repeatedly remind myself that this is not my lesson, not my story, not my circus, nor monkeys.

I was upstairs, cleaning and sorting laundry.  I knew Bud was down with his grandparents, which made me nervous enough…..later, Jesse barked outside, and I opened the door to see him walk right past the dog he had loved for 5 years-the dog he and his father picked out as a puppy.

I didn’t expect this to feel like an appendectomy without anesthesia, as if the powers that be were ripping my heart to shreds, then stomping on it.  I wailed so loudly in the shower, that my golden retriever began an eerie, soul-shattering moan that snapped me out of my grief.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.  None of this was ever supposed to happen.

Narcissists ruin families.

And oh what I would do to turn back the sands of time-or perhaps a lobotomy, so the heart stopping memories don’t kill me dead.  I can’t tell my husband, he is at work and I have learned through this entire nightmare that Dwain is what matters.  Aside from his divorce and everything we went through, this is my husband’s first tragedy in his life.  I am as ferocious as the mama bear, tending to her kin.  I will not let evil touch this man, this kind hearted country boy of mine.

And as I threw myself on my knees, I railed:  Father forgive him, he knows not what he does.

This is the cross Dwain will have to carry.

I have to tell him.  And then we  can bleed together.

Brand New Dandy……

As a teenager, I wished I could tell what the future would hold.  Would I find a good man?  Would I find a career I enjoyed?  Would I be fat and happy in my old age?  And will I have one or two children?  Will I finally have a grasp on my depression and eating disorder?  Will our family stay connected after mom and dad are gone?

Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I see the brilliance in the uncertainty.  Certainly, we as humans have control and freedom over our decisions…but what about the attitudes of the people you are surrounded by?  Would I have been content with the foreknowledge   of knowing that my in-laws and step son would hate me?  And would I have done things differently had I known?  The answers lie in the cornerstone of my faith, where Jesus has his way with me and I accept and even condone His will for my life.  If I had known that in the year 2018 that I would go on a search for myself, and in doing so, lose almost every single connection to family I would not have changed a thing.  For I have always been led by my heart, and, for better or worse, my discernment.

I feel that I have paid my dues, and living next to my in laws has proved a perilous and daunting task.  From day one I was mistreated, ignored and abused.  Yet no one would hear me, no one would listen-I was for the most part ignored, unless of course it was a holiday; and I learned to dread each and every one after my father died.

She’s so sensitive!

Yes, as a matter of fact, I expect to be listened to when I speak.  Actions speak louder than words, and I got the hint early on when I noticed that no one heard me; instead they talked over me, through and around me-what I had to say had no merit-I wasn’t relevant, and I spent years and years trying to prove myself to people who couldn’t have cared less.

Hey, I’m a tough cookie.  I roll with the punches as well as the next guy, and heaven knows it could be much worse.  However, I am in control of my life now, and if I had to pretend for one more minute?  I just couldn’t, let’s put it that way.

I want to begin anew.  I want to surround myself with people who love me for who I am and who I am not-and boy do I have that in spades.  My close friends are a small circle, but the circle is widening, and I have come to trust those in my church family, with my very life.  Interestingly enough, all of my friends (with the exclusion of Jason, my guy pal extraordinaire, I met him while working with the Intellectually Disabled at a company who treated its personnel like prison inmates.  I left three years ago, yet he remains-God is using him and he knows he is needed, and after winning a Humanitarian award for heroic effort on his part?  I am happy to see him so complete, thriving because of the fact he is making a difference-I adore the man.

 

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My favorite client, Jerry-may he rest in peace.

 

I was happy there for some time, until the powers that be proved to be insidious bottom dwellers who not only stole money from the clients, but food and clothing as well.  My supervisors were always twenty somethings who knew nothing about the clients, and everything about scamming the company, but I digress.

What I need is a new start, a fresh start-and I can’t do it here, no, not living like a bug in a jar, awaiting the next slight, diss or downright slap in the face.  I have to leave.  Thoughts of upstate New York, where my family originated (actually England and Ireland) or Maine-I am a nature lover and feel quite drawn to the Adirondacks, or the coast of Maine, so brutally raw in its beauty-captivating.

I suppose I am day dreaming, but there must be a solution to the gripping and suffocating place in which I dwell this moment.  A pawn in a game I refuse to play, I will be wiser, harden my heart and throw caution to the wind.

I am a rule breaker.  I am a rock.  I am an island.