December 17, 2016 (Saturday)

by Yule Heibel on December 16, 2017

This business of working through my grief, anger, etc. toward a recovery wherein I find my inner, nurturing mother is a lot of work. Yesterday I felt that, no, my depressed mother could not possibly have been narcissistic – she was “just” clinically depressed. But when I recall the “rusty nail” incident, I remember her (re-)actions, and they were definitely not the actions of a concerned mother or even an especially depressed one. When I awoke from my passed out state and made my way back to the house, I stood outside in the dark and made myself known at the closed door. I must have knocked. At some point the door opened and my mother stood in the doorway, backlit. I couldn’t see her face. In her hand a lit cigarette. Outline, silhouette – that is all. No face, no emotion. Impossibly big, gigantically tall as she stood elevated on the inside and I stood below, outside. I think I must have been afraid to “bother” her like this – the usual guilt over being a “nuisance” – but eventually she bent over to grab me when it became obvious I was rooted to the spot, unable to move. Also unable to speak, as I couldn’t answer what were the first words out of her mouth when she opened the door: recriminations, as in, “Where have you been? We’ve been calling you!” (but you weren’t out looking for me – and it had gotten dark already, damn you!). When she bent over to haul me inside she noticed the blood soaking my tights from crotch along inner thighs to knees. She put me in a bathtub, and perhaps remarked that it was a good thing the tights weren’t torn (less for her to deal with; I can’t be sure of this remark, but it would be very typical of her: she really did have a knack for making it all about her).

After the bath, nothing. Some questions, but basically nothing more. Nothing at all. “You must have sat on a nail, that’s why you passed out and can’t remember anything.” (There were no nails sticking out of logs in that clearing where I was overcome with fear before fainting.) It was all passed over to my father who, despite working two jobs to get us out of the bankruptcy he had engendered with his harebrained idea to start a paint factory, drove me to the hospital the next day to see a doctor about getting a tetanus shot. In the ass. Insult to injury. She didn’t bother coming along, she didn’t ask any more questions – she was done with it, and whatever I might have felt (fear? anxiety?), well, I could just shut up about it. In the wake of which I had the incident with the “magic” doll: I cut up the face of a doll, wrapped it in a bandage I soaked with a poultice from different plants in the fields, and then “buried” in the attic. I also became convinced I had a “guardian angel,” which was a weird notion for a little heathen like myself. Months and months later I recovered the doll by accident, and its face was healed. Just a little “psychotic” incident, I guess…

When I thought about and remembered this yesterday, up to the hospital / doctor visit, I was quite viscerally filled with outrage, and it manifested as this sense of rising heat through my torso and into my head. I realized how fucking bizarre and, yes, narcissistic, her behavior was after reading McBride’s advice to conjure, as it were, one’s own inner mother who nurtures us, who steps forward when we experience something bad – actual or perceived-to-be-bad – when we experience a “collapse,” which is what happens when a seemingly minor incident sends us into an emotional tailspin. Jesus, how many times did this used to happen to me? And I saw that my own mother was utterly callous, without a shred of nurturing, mothering behavior towards me (beyond bathing me and probably giving me some supper before sending me to bed), in the wake of what even to her must have seemed a highly suspicious incident. I didn’t realize how suspicious it was until I had my own daughter, and one evening, almost in passing, told my niece B. about “the incident.” Suddenly, it clicked.

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