Mom from Hell, Literally?

“My mom, my mom, I know you’re sick of hearing about my mom…” Eminem “My Mom.”

I read a blog post this morning that has engendered this response. Since I don’t think it’s fair to write long self-confessions as comments on someone else’s blog because it’s THEIR blog I’m doing this instead.

Rebecca Wallick, a retired attorney, author of “Wild Sensibility” today wrote a post about something she learned from her first pro bono client. It’s a compelling post and a good story. Like me, Rebecca had a narcissistic mom, and if you have also been so blessed you’ll understand how incomprehensible, hurtful and indefatigable those bitches can be. Rebecca wrote about her mom’s death.

As the responsible, good child in my family, it fell upon me to head up to Montana in the dead of winter, leaving behind my jobs for however long it was going to take to sort out what to do with my mom. She’d become suddenly very confused, and my Aunt Jo had taken her to the hospital. Mom was admitted. I was called. The docs were still trying to figure out what had happened. Ultimately [this is (one of) the funny part(s)] my mom had OD’d on Tums. She’d poisoned herself with excessive calcium self-medicating an ulcer.

The afternoon/evening before I left California for Montana, my truck broke down, my washing machine broke, I tripped over the door of my dishwasher and it broke. Even pushing the button 10 times wouldn’t make it run. A stray dog we’d taken in showed up with scabies and ALL six of my dogs had to be treated. My roommate and I had to buy and treat ourselves with Quell or Rid or whatever, too. My purse was stolen from my truck while we were parked at the vet. Yep. All that after I got the call about my mom.

I got to Billings just after a major snow dump — more than a foot — and though my aunts managed to collect me at the airport, they didn’t want to drive. I had my mom’s car and chauffeured people around Billings’ frozen streets, back and forth to the hospital. After ten days, my mom had to be discharged into extended care. I had to find her a nursing home. It snowed again, 18 inches total on the ground and more in open spaces and drifts. All in all, it had been a cold MF winter, 40 below for two weeks (the theory is that’s what drove my mom crazy but I think THAT happened long ago).

My mom hadn’t signed a power of attorney which meant that, compos mentis or not, she had to sign herself out of the hospital and into “the home.” I had to “force” her to do it. I found her a place. I then went to the hospital with the papers not knowing how in hell I was going to accomplish this. She’d already asked me one morning as I was helping her out of the bathroom, pulling up her diapers, if I was going to stay and take care of her. That moment was my first inkling of my real feelings toward this person, “I’d rather die,” I thought and it was the truth.

She was holding court — meaning entertaining visitors. She’d turned on all of her immense charm for them, the funny, sweet person she was to my friends, to strangers, to my second husband. Seeing me arrive, they got up to leave. My Aunt Jo and my Aunt Martha were already there, knowing what was ahead for my mom and for me. My Aunt Jo was right behind me. “We’ll wait outside, sweetie,” she said.

I put the papers in front of my mom and set forth the facts. “Mom, you have recovered enough that the hospital has to discharge you, but you’re not OK enough to go home yet. I found a nursing home for you two blocks from Aunt Dickie. It’s really nice and you’ll have your own room until you’re ready to go home.”

Her face darkened, every nuance of evil settled into her features. “I knew you’d do this to me,” she said, and grabbed the pen from my hand, signed the paper and said, “Are you happy now? You should stay here and take care of me but no. So you’ve finally gotten rid of me. Now get out. I never want to see you again.” The nurses came and, as I recall, had to restrain her.

It hurt, but I was OK with that. I didn’t want to see her again, either. Never, ever, ever.

At that time I didn’t understand the underlying dynamic of our non-relationship. I just thought I wasn’t good enough, and she was complicated. Thankfully the next day I would return to California, to my students, to my life.

Outside my mom’s room, I found my Aunt Martha waiting. Jo had gone home and Martha had stayed so I wouldn’t be alone when the ordeal was finished. “Jo went home to cook dinner,” said Aunt Martha

We sat together on a bench in the hallway for a few minutes. I was emotionally shot, I wanted to cry, but those Montana cowboys don’t cry, so I didn’t. In a way, what could have been better than my two aunts making sure they had my back and I knew it? It wasn’t like my mom was easy for anyone.

My Aunt Martha and my mom were less than a year apart in age. They’d gone through school together, same grade. They’d been best friends their whole lives until, not so many years before, they’d had a falling out and my mom had ejected Aunt Martha from her life. It didn’t diminish my aunt’s loyalty or love for my mom, but Aunt Martha kept her distance. My Aunt Martha and I had always been very close. From the time I was a little kid, I adored her, liked her, appreciated her, enjoyed her and it was mutual. I am certain my mom was jealous because she envied anyone who had anything that she (felt? imagined?) she did not. She always saw herself as having been screwed over by life while other people hadn’t. The narcissist is always the center of the world and is incapable of empathy or perspective.

“I even gave you my family!” my mom said to my Aunt Martha in that fated fight. My aunt had remained single all her life.

I felt the turmoil of inchoate emotions and exhaustion. When I’d collected myself enough to go back out on the icy streets in February’s dim dusk, we went home for supper. My Aunt Jo had cooked the supper I liked best when I was a little kid and had stayed with them one summer.

My mom died a few weeks later, and I went back to Billings to deal with that. By then my brother (who was homeless) had arrived and was staying at my mom’s condo. The funeral ensued, I got pneumonia, yada yada and the day came to go to the attorney with the will. I drove my mom’s (new) car downtown to see the guy. Here’s the second funny part.

In her will my mom left my alcoholic brother her new car. The whole time my mom was in the hospital she’d said, to me, to my aunts, to everyone, “Don’t let that boy (my brother) drive that car! He’ll wreck it!” In her will she left me both of her televisions. Great except that for some 20 years we’d fought over the fact that I didn’t own a television and didn’t want one. When I told my Aunt Jo, she about died laughing. Everything else was divided logically down the middle…

Fast forward 20 some years to this past Friday and my fall (“Notes Smuggled from the Bunker”), my head bump, my black eye.

I have thought for a while that my mom is still doing things to me. I think that even as I think that’s a completely crazy idea. But it was only a few days after I arranged to read from the China Book at the bookstore in Alamosa that an insidious hiding rock on a soft, safe, dirt and grass trail, did a long-term number on my foot that put me out of walking commission for more than 2 months. Just a DAY before the reading, I reinjured the foot in my own living room on NOTHING. “Mom???”

Friday, my head-bump fall came more or less at the same time my Aunt Martha’s platter arrived at my door.

I think I need an exorcist.

P.S. This song by Eminem is great, and, for me, illuminating, but also a little “colorful.” You’ve been warned. 🙂

Personal Psychological Stuff Related to Overcoming Self-Sabotage

Ultimately each of us is accountable to OURSELVES. I’m not one to say that’s easy. I’m struggling right now JUST to get to a little bookstore in Alamosa, Colorado. Should be easy enough, right? But not all of our enemies are visible or external. What am I fighting for? The truth that I am a good writer and a good person and my books deserve attention. Self-sabotage is a real but insidious enemy, and the more engrained it is in a person’s psyche the more difficult it is to identify, root out, and defeat.

I hurt my foot again last night. It is now pretty much where it was when I first injured it. From the outside, this looks like a simple accident. On the superficial practical level it is. I have to treat it like a foot injured in an accident because that’s what it is. But thinking about when it first happened, I remember that it happened a few days before I was going to Denver to The Who concert and to see old friends, specifically a guy who was my first ever date. Even though we didn’t work out as boyfriend and girlfriend, he always remained in contact with me, keeping me in his sight over the years. We are good friends.

My mother hated him. Until she died, she blamed Ron for everything that went wrong with my brother. Seriously. And why? Because the three of shared a joint once.

Going to Denver to see The Who and visit Ron and his wife? What’s wrong with that? Nothing, but…

I initially sprained my foot on NOTHING. A flat, easy trail. I was wearing the right footwear. I wasn’t running. It is something that should NOT have happened. The re-injuries should not have happened, either. Yesterday I was thinking about it. This whole summer was filled with physical pain of one kind or another culminating in the foot. As Freud said, “Sometimes a foot is just a foot,” but sometimes it’s also a metaphor for liberty and motion.

It’s like there is another “Martha” inside me, and right now she’s fighting against the REAL Martha. She’s scared of trying, of achieving, of being who she really is because if she DOES do those things, Mom will not like it, and the shit will hit the fan. “Don’t show off.” “Nobody likes a know-it-all.” “They don’t know the REAL you. I do.” “I don’t care what you want.” “Why did you do that?” (Smack) “Art is a four letter word in this house.” “You might be a writer, but you don’t have anything to say.” “You’re the lowest form of human life.”

Interestingly, during lunch, Ron came out with a “mom” quote that I found both disturbing and enlightening. She was OBVIOUS to others and unforgettable.

The China book. I came home from China with all kinds of stories and a trunk filled with presents for everyone. What I got was, “I don’t want to hear about China. I didn’t want you to go in the first place.” That was that. Baby Duck brought all of this up into my sub-conscious mind where mom and that little girl still, apparently, live. All of it. It’s almost as if writing that book was the ultimate act of defiance. So…I re-injured my foot the first time the day after I’d contacted the store about an event. I re-injured it AGAIN the day my picture and my book appeared on the front page of the paper. I re-injured it again last night, walking with my cane through a lit living room, to let the dogs out to pee. This was after doing an interview with the local radio station.

All the obvious and usual methods for getting me to turn back from something that belongs to me didn’t work. So Little Martha has resorted to some dark and sinister maneuvers like spraining my foot on absolutely fucking nothing.

How do we exorcise these demons? I know now that’s what I’m doing. I feel that if I can make it through tomorrow I will have made significant headway against the small, scared, self-sabotaging Martha who lives deep inside my psyche. That poor thing. She just wants to be loved, but she is so warped.

So, last night, after I returned to bed and attempted to find a way to raise my foot while I lay on my side, a bit of Bible verse floated through my mind. “He shall bruise your heel.” I knew that wasn’t quite right, but …

I looked it up this morning. You can’t be raised on the Bible without it having resonance for you even after you are no longer exactly a Christian and are a Panenetheist (which doesn’t leave out anything). Here are Adam and Eve in Paradise and here comes the serpent, tempting, and evil. Truly fucking evil (which, oddly, many people don’t believe really exists — but I do).

God is speaking to Satan. He says,

“Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
15And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He (Man) shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:14-15 KJV

I feel as if someone wise just said to me, “I didn’t say it would be easy or painless, but I’m proud of you. Don’t give up.” All these things we carry in our deep selves. It’s not only that others are a mystery to us. We are often a mystery to ourselves. Thank goodness I’m surrounded by loving friends in a beautiful place where I can learn and grow as human being.

Interesting article on self-sabotaging behavior if you’re interested.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/10/25/rdp-friday-accountable/

Why It Matters… The Deep Saboteurs….

As I get ready for the big event (big for me) this coming Saturday, a book launch for my little memoir about the year I spent teaching English in China as one of the first American foreign experts to have that opportunity, I’ve found myself confronted by very powerful shadows.

The most palpable was that of my artist brother — now dead from alcoholism. He was also an artist and, in our family (meaning my mom) he was THE artist in the family. My work was minimized or mocked, whether it was writing or visual arts. By ridiculing my efforts or ignoring them completely, BOTH of them made sure that I never got “full of” myself. At the same time, they both used me to maintain their lives to a greater or lesser extent depending on how sober each of them might be at any given moment.

My job was to be dependable in case they needed me to enable them, which meant nothing I did could be the most important thing in MY life. My job was to be prepared to shore things up, to listen to them. For neither one was I able, ever, to do anything well or even right. My mother insisted — even after I’d been teaching for nearly 20 years — that I was not a “real” teacher because I didn’t have a degree in education and the students in my classes had a right to expect more. When I shared newsletters from the wilderness park I was instrumental in forming, that had articles I’d written about hiking in that park, my mom said, “I had no idea nature had any meaning to you at all.”

Where was she all my life?

Once, when I was showing some drawings to some of my mom’s friends after Thanksgiving dinner, and one of them said to her, “You must be proud of Martha Ann.”

My mom just turned to me and said, “You did a good job cleaning up the kitchen.” She never looked at the drawings. My mom was a master at making me feel good only when I was helping someone else but even then I could never do really well.

I have dozens of stories to illustrate this in which my mom or brother figure in this way, but there’s no point in relating them here. The point is that these two people still live somewhere in my mind, and in moments like this — when I’m trying very hard to pull things together to do something that is VERY good for me — one of both of them will appear. I know they are not real, I know their power has been defused by death, and yet…

Do we live for our family’s’ approval? I think as children it is very important that approval from them is for the person that we actually ARE. That might be one most important things they can give us. That approval says, “Yes, this is YOU, pursue your talents, refine them, enrich your knowledge, BE yourself.” My mother and brother both seemed to think that to keep me there to function as they needed me to, they had to keep me down, and they conspired to do that. What this says to me tonight of their sense of self-worth is that they knew they had none.

And truly, they did not.

OK, yes, I know I’m 67 years old and my past should be behind me and all that, but the thing is that it isn’t until we push forward toward something we have not pushed for before, or have turned back from in the past even when we wanted it, that we learn a lesson like this.

There are some good songs about this, but maybe not for here (Eminem, “My Mom”). These lines from Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” say it pretty well.

Master of puppets, I’m pulling your strings
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
Blinded by me, you can’t see a thing…

What matters is what we do ANYWAY.
Survival is the best revenge.

Trail Confidence Marker

“I’m uncertain whether to comment. Again. I want to know do we all feel this? Why? Take your time.” Tracy

Yesterday I wrote on the prompt “Transitions.” The post turned out a lot deeper than I thought it would when I commenced writing it. Then Tracy asked me that serious question after she read it.

Damned chain reactions (Neils Bohr)

In the post I talked about myself and how, as a young person, I was extremely uncomfortable with uncertainty and confusion, how I wanted to know answers to my questions RIGHT NOW. The whole thing (post, life) culminated in the understanding that letting things be is often the only rational “choice,” not even a choice because that’s what’s going to happen anyway.

I learned, finally, beginning in the late 1990s, that what I was really seeking was reality. Life as I had always known it was built on lies. I didn’t know the whole story. All I knew was that on some visceral level, I was aware that things weren’t right. I wanted to stand on solid ground, but I didn’t know where it was and why I wasn’t standing on it.

So what’s the story, Morning Glory?

I think everyone feels restless sometimes and wants to know what’s going to happen, like “What’s Santa going to put in my stocking?” I’m not sure everyone is continually apprehensive. I think, in my case, it’s probably something shared by other children of alcoholics.

Why?

In all my reading 20 years ago or so when I first began to come to grips with this, to comprehend this, I learned that the people in families like mine have “roles” and my role was to keep things going in a semblance of normalcy. The alcoholic parent is a puppet-master, giving and withholding love as a way to retain control over his/her life. The “keeping-things-going” (KTG) kid has to be constantly working to earn that parent’s love or the KTG might (good god we can’t let this happen) relax and see reality for what it is.

An added factor in the unreality of life with my mom was that no one knew she was an alcoholic until she was a month or two from death in 1996 (she was 74) and the hospital, trying to figure out the sudden onset of severe dementia, did a brain scan. The brain scan found masses of lesions and scar tissue consistent with long term alcohol abuse. I did not even have the chance some other children of alcoholics have of KNOWING my mom was a drunk. I couldn’t even say, “Well, she’s been drinking,” because I didn’t know. Part of the strategy she employed was making sure I couldn’t see what she was doing. Why?

She didn’t want to stop? She was ashamed? Only she would know why, but the upshot was that until that phone call with her doctor, I had no idea about the truth behind my uncomfortable life.

My mom was a master at keeping me off balance. One day I was her best friend, the next day the worst thing that ever happened to her. All I wanted was to know — for once and for all — that she loved me and that I was doing OK. Naturally this affected every aspect of my life. Regardless of what happened, all the bad things were my fault. Mean childhood friends, “You have to learn to get along with people. Go to your room.” Abusive first husband? “What did you do to make him hit you? You married him. You stay there.”

And the good things I did? She refused to notice other than to say, “You think you’re so great, but I know who you really are.” Or, “I have no use for art. It’s a dirty word.” Or, at a dinner put on by the Rainbow Girls group of which I was a member, “You have these people fooled. They don’t know you like I do,” accompanied by a hard pinch to my upper arm.”

She was a mean bitch.

What’s more important, a healthy sense of self and the ability to accept love do not grow in a family agar culture like that.

The journey to reality has been long and I’m still on it. It began with therapy in the late 90s when I began to learn about the dynamics of the alcoholic family and heard from someone else how the mechanics of such a family work. I was shocked to the core by what I heard from my therapist, by its accuracy. She explained why I never knew what I really FELT. I didn’t. I didn’t recognize feeling, emotion, as information I could use, a color that completed life’s painting.

There was a moment — 2000? or so — when, having met Goethe, I got the “answer” that allowed me, has allowed me, to at least “fake it until I make it.” He said to his secretary, Johann Peter Eckermann, who was pondering whether to take a teaching job that had been offered him and leave Goethe, “Hold your powers together for something good and let everything go that is not for you and is not suited to you.”

That became my mantra(?) It was clear instruction about what to do until I had a better understanding of life, the universe and everything. It told me, simply, what to do until I understood, until I found solid ground. My lifelong instinct to get away from the family madness into the woods, hills, rocks, rivers, mountains was sane. I was looking for reality at the very source of reality.

It’s been a long journey and I’m still traveling. A few years ago, when “the man” first expressed his feelings, I was shocked and confused and, well, felt like a moth trapped in a light. I didn’t respond for a long time. I had understood that I needed to think about it, about our sketchy past and where I am now. After a while, I reached a conclusion about love — all love, friendship, romance, whatever — that it demands consistency and kindness. I saw that is what love is. I finally responded and from that began a long correspondence that covered all the mistakes and blindness of the past 25 years that we’ve known each other. At this point, I’m just amazed that two people could successfully communicate about feelings and build a relationship. For me that’s a huge step and measure of personal growth.

I think on all our journeys we reach trail markers. Sometimes they are clear and give us direction; sometimes they’re obscure like the markers on the mountain bike trail at Penitente Canyon that are just a number and the words “Trail Confidence Marker.” But clear or obscure, they are information.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/08/03/rdp-saturday-commence/

Prerogatives of Sole Survivors

I dreaded the slide scanning chore for years, and, like a lot of chores, it turned out not to be so bad. Looking at China was inspiring, great.

And THEN…

Yesterday I sat down with the famdamily slides and more or less cursed life as I stacked them into the (usually not functional) bulk scanner. Some of the slides are over 60 years old and the glue holding the sides of the slides together had stopped working. Retired, I guess.

Since so many of them were totally irrelevant to me (as the sole survivor, I get to be the arbiter of relevance for this family) I started holding them up to the light to see if it was worth scanning them. Lots of slides went into the trash, things like store-bought slides of the Air Force Academy or faded scenery photos of the Black Hills. It was a relief just to toss them.

I found some wonderful things in that huge collection of slides.

Like a lot of families in the 1950s, we took road trips, usually to Montana, but in 1957 we drove from Denver to Florida, then to California, Oregon, Montana and back to Colorado. I was five and my brother was three. Some of those photos survived and they are sweet artifacts of a very different world.

Somewhere on the road having lunch, 1957. The background hills look like California, but who knows?

Some of the photos are hilarious, though they were probably not meant to be. Others bring back good memories of the time when our family was functional and happy. Looking at them, I decided to forget that I know how it turned out. But my initial feeling as I dived into this was anger, an anger I never felt before. I was furious with them all for dying.

I’m not big on Facebook memes but a friend happened to post this last night when the “… l’horrible fardeau du temps” (…the horrible burden of time) (Baudelaire) was pushing me to the ground. The meme seemed to give good information, maybe it was the truth. It really was a huge pressure fitting my life around my mom’s expectations. I carried the hopeless weight of my brother’s addiction for years, but couldn’t fix him. My dad? He was doomed from the start and he always said that he, mom, and Kirk were not my job. ❤

It was wonderful to see some of those people again, people I loved and times I savored even as a little kid. The best photos are the ones no one set up or posed, the photos of a day in the life.

Neighbor kids, my brother with a broken arm and an airplane, my Aunt Martha and my grandmother, our house in Nebraska.

When I was done with that for the day, I put on my new skis for the first time. Out there on the snow, with the beautiful San Luis Valley sky and mountains all around me, the snow beneath my skis, the frost falling off the tips of the cottonwood trees, I thought in the vague direction of my mom and brother, both suicides, “Maybe I just loved this more than you did. Maybe it was always enough for me.” I glided forward, somewhat tentatively, hoping I’d still be able to do do this and I was, I am. ❤

It’s a Small World…

Since the election of He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN) the word “narcissism” has probably been “googled” millions of times. As for me, I had already a deep understanding of narcissism long before HWSNBN appeared in the political limelight.

The Evil X (of song and legend) was a narcissist. Watching HWSNBN debating Hilarity, and seeing him speak, sent shivers of “America, for the love of god, don’t vote for this guy!” down my spine. I saw everything the Evil X had done to distort my perception of reality and turn me into his slave.

But the Evil X was not my only experience being the slave of a narcissist. My mom…

She’s been dead since 1996, and almost every day since that equivocal event I’ve had one more realization about her, us, even her childhood. One of my mom’s favorite refrains was, “You’re so selfish. You need to learn to think about other people.” This, over and over and over and over…  Now I know I was hearing echoes of my grandma admonishing my mother. I’m not selfish. I’ve never been selfish. Besides, what does that mean to a five year old who’s barely discovered the external world?

Like all narcissists, my mom tapped into the mentalities of others very quickly, and she saw right away that I am a peace-loving, very sensitive, creative person who wants to get along with and please others. And, my flaws. Narcissists are very good at identifying those, too, and amplifying their size and importance in order to cast blame. Narcissists are also very good at convincing others that they’re the shit.

My mom’s world was very small as a result of this. Everything that happened happened to HER. That her sisters’ husbands hadn’t died in their 40s, and they were still couples doing things together, was not my aunts’ good luck, but my mom’s bad luck. Rather than be happy for them — and join in as she was always invited to do — she resented them. She didn’t look at them objectively and see their struggles. Over time, her lonely hole got deeper, smaller, darker, and then she was buried in it.

The narcissist has a very hard time being sure of his/her basic existence because they don’t have an appropriate relationship with the external world. Deep down they have a vast pool of insecurity. My mom knew there was something missing in her connection to the world and needed constant reassurance from others that she was there. Narcissists cannot find their own happiness; it must come from others, and, in my mom’s case, when this wasn’t coming, she became a sadistic bully.

I’m amused watching some of the players on the international stage dealing with the Narcissist in Power. Macron kisses up, holds hands, does all zees French sings that feed the bottomless ego of HWSNBN then, in a speech to Congress, contravenes the policies of HWSNBN. Macron KNOWS that the policies exist not from a deep core of beliefs but the need of HWSNBN to please his power base and stay on top. Merkel just gets it over with and goes back to her life. Asian cultures revolve around “saving face” so pandering to the ego of a narcissist is natural for them.

image_548524710381531

Hip surgery update: Healing continues. It’s pretty boring around here without the dogs, but I still don’t feel safe about having them around and all that means (Bear on my lap, protective pads on the floor, walks). The staples come out day after tomorrow. I have to figure out a way to take a shower — just the the quotidian annoyances of the process that require patience and faith. I’m so glad I live in this FLAT, pretty, friendly, redolent with lilacs and iris little city where, if I go outside to walk, someone will wish me well. It is immensely cheering. ❤

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/narcissism/

Once Upon a Time

My brother had a little girl, and I loved her more than anything. Strangely, you can have unrequited love in your own family, and that love story didn’t work out well. Not because of me, and probably not because of her. I suspect all the other dark factors that affected my family. The photo is her with her mom about 1981.

When she was a little thing, just walking and talking, she was my best bud. I didn’t get to see her often because there was a lot of stress in the famdamnily, but when I did see her, it was the greatest.

Once we went out to eat together — her mom, dad, and I. We had finished dinner and were sitting around the table while my niece played in a largely empty restaurant. She was enthralled with the (to her) long distance between the back wall and the front windows. I joined her in the back of the restaurant about to share an adventure to the front.

“Let’s go!” she said. She’d just learned to run without falling on her face.

“Where?” I asked.

THERE!” she replied.

“There? That’s too vague,” I answered (to a two year old)

“OK. Let’s go to vague!”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/vague/

2 + 2

Rat IThe House Might Eat Tommy’s Ice Cream

Got THAT out of the way. I’m not at all interested in mnemonics, frankly. But I do know one and there it is. 🙂

***

In OTHER news it snowed last night. Here’s a photo of Bear in the snow. One of my friends pointed out the shadow, calling it Bear’s “Inner Wolf.” ❤

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/mnemonic/

Doors of Obfuscation

Our life’s dreams are often slow to realize and some of them are simply strange, like my dream of someday having a LOT of dogs. That was a dream I had as a kid and tried to realize as a teenager with a big red dog I brought home. The moment wasn’t right. It was not the right age/time of my life to begin my dog pack, so the dream didn’t come true. I forgot all about it for a long time, so long that when it DID come true. and I remembered it, I was in my 40s. All I could do was laugh.

But some night dreams are scary/important. I think we do work things out in sleep, some hidden conundrums — some very old ones — can work their way up the levels of our unconscious mind and teach us things using strange but perfect symbolism.

When my little brother was 10 we were visiting my Aunt Martha in Denver. She lived in a late 1950’s three story apartment next to Cheeseman Park. Now the building is condos and they sell for quite a lot of money ($213,500), but back in 1963 it was just a small, 600 sq ft, one bedroom apartment in a great location. My aunt lived on the first floor but elevated. The basement apartments had big windows so the first floor was pretty far off the ground. It had a “lanai” and to get to the lanai you went through a sliding glass door.

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The actual apartment! Thanks Zillow!

I don’t know if sliding glass doors were newish back then or that we just hadn’t had much exposure to them, but my brother walked through it. He could have been badly hurt, but all that happened was a cut on his thumb that didn’t even need stitches.

The other night I dreamed I walked into a room and my brother was there sleeping. There was a sliding glass door hanging off the rails. I was so afraid my brother would be hurt, or someone would come in and hurt him, that I began fussing with it to get it to close. When I got there I found DOZENS of attempts at repairing that door and NONE of them worked. I discarded one after the other — some made with wood and chicken wire, some with wire reinforced glass. I could NEVER get the door to close; I could NEVER make my brother safe.

In my dream, my brother slept through my Herculean efforts on behalf of his safety. He never knew. He was completely undisturbed. Then a voice in my dream said, “You have to go. You’ve done everything you could.”

Behind everything else in the dream was the fact that my brother had chosen to sleep in that room, in that bed. A very obvious cliché right there.

I’m pretty sure that anyone who’s reached the point of walking away from a beloved family member (my brother was a hardcore alcoholic) who is an addict feels conflicted, maybe forever. In my dream I answered that statement with, “What about this door?”

 

Sibling Rivalry

I loved my brother and respected his talents. But…of all the rocks I’ve painted, people like the one with his cartoon character on it most. It’s almost as if he’s back. I hear our art teacher saying to me, “Why are you always hanging around the art room? You don’t have any talent.”

That is not true.

My mom, “You’re the writer, Kirk’s the artist.” That was that, pure and simple. My reaction against this was instantaneous and visceral. Art is not just ONE thing.

For the most part — between us — my brother and I didn’t have any issues over this. Our work was very different AND different people liked his work from those who liked mine. My brother liked my work. In fact, he was my biggest cheerleader — up to a point.

When my work sold, paintings sold, he wasn’t too happy. He should have been since he was always hitting me up for money, but… He got over it. “You’re an abstract expressionist,” he said.

I had to look that up.

“The thing about your paintings, Martha Ann, is they’re not on the public pulse.” That was true.

I have never had any interest in drawing comic strips. I don’t enjoy them very much and to draw the same thing over and over again in order to advance a narrative (that’s the new way to say “tell a story”) seemed tedious. Why not just write the damned thing? But my brother’s comics were hilarious. I have a decent sense of humor it’s more situational than it is a world view.

Still, my brother wanted to do conventional paintings and he did some. I felt his imagination kind of died in that kind of work, but he was hoping to sell them for big bucks.

That led my grandma to say that which was never to be spoken, “Kirk’s a cartoonist. I think Martha Ann is the fine artist in the family.”

My mother’s face paled. Kirk’s reddened. I was pleased, but I looked down at the ground. The taboo had been broken.

Between us it was really not about whose art was better. I helped my brother paint cells for the animated cartoon and he taught me to make paper and sharpen my linoleum carving tools. Really that’s the point. I painted this rock so that Leafy could wander around Colorado Springs (where my brother lived most of the time).

 

He'll wander around Colorado Springs on this painted rock. :)

Leafy Wanders, my brother’s cartoon alter-ego.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/visceral/