The Wagon I Had My Dreams Hinged On 

Sitting in front of my moms old SUV caddalac thing that serves a multitude of purposes in my life. The chief among them is it’s my ride. They gave it to me. They were generous like that. Very much so. My sisters first car was corvette. A black corvette. A killer one. It looked cool as fuck. Nicest car ever actually. I haven’t even let myself think of that car. I guess for so many reasons. Too many too count. In a narc family. Love is money. End of story. 
I’m not gonna say it wasn’t fun when that very car became my first ever car. Made of fiberglass and basically faster than a rocket. Which worked out great with my already raging alcoholism and healthy drug intake at the time. 

Survivals been a miracle. 
When you’ve said too much. You’ve said enough already but then get steady cause this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where you’re not playing with words anymore. This is where words are your only protector. They also are the areas in which predators land their marks. They do it steadily and slyly, if you wrote the words down and saw them just in the naked expression of what they are. They wouldn’t appear subtle at all. Quite the opposite actually. They are knowing and. cutting remarks said quickly and then often quickly interrupted as this kind of self interrupting subterfuge an example being…

A “friend” telling you about his second amazing home. And then says “I mean if you could afford it wouldn’t you have two cribs” and then quickly rambles on into a sorta related but different avenue of thinking urging you subconsciously to just brush off that remark and let sit and simmer. 

And if you’re programmed from a house of violence where every part of you for the very core of your survival has learned to just take it. 

What do you do?

Especially in the context of the scenario which is “old friends catching up and having a great time. In other words a scenario in which for you to point out a “seemingly innocuous although actually evil comment would be seen in the moment to you in the very least being a real spoiler in the festivities that is the narcs glimmer and glare. They are attractive. Seductive even. The whole thing is a game of seduction. And it’s one I’ve enjoyed playing. I’m still trying to figure out sexuality and sex in this equation. I am so baffled by that as to, for now, not approach it at all. Or very little. So I’ve been basically celibate for the first time. Yay. 

But yeah 

In this context. Let’s just fill in the blanks. It’s a real story. And so my story is that I’m open about my life. Personally I think that kind of openness makes a lot of sense when factoring in all the elements and conditions of a situation such as mine and many many like me. But that being said there are consequences to that kind of openness. And I knew there would be but these are not like what I expected. Essentially I have super googles on now compared to where I used to be in identifying this covert toxic behavior. It truly is a script flip when I watch them work. Even as they’re working on me, I take notes, even secretly high five them when they land a nice little dig in a place I’m not supposed to be able to see. It’s like this when you wake up from this abuse. It’s so weird and matrix like. Like being invisible in the locker room. Once you know this Behavior exists. This level of intention not previously and let’s face it naively known to you exists and across all spectrums of relationships. Well let’s just say you finally know how to separate the wheat from the shaft 
So. My corvette 

And why do I have my moms SUV? That’s a good question. With I’m sure layers of fucked up answers but 
Let’s start with the fun ride. Let’s start with the vette after all that’s where it all started. 
And vroom vroom it would go and hell no I didn’t notice the obvious insanity of giving a kid with addiction issues a car like that. 

I mean as with all things narc it makes perfectly good sense. It was a hand me down of a hand me down. And how would that fall on me. Obviously that makes the luckiest kid alive right? Well duh right?

Um. No. 

I mean I had fun with it and appreciated it and still do but in the current state of things one can’t help but investigate ones own past just a smidge deeper than what one had done previously. Especially when ones relationships have grown so dire and are screaming as if being murdered in a psycho thriller to call out for much needed attention and deeper investigation. The writing is what takes me there. I look at my moms SUV. Actually it looks at me and says” go on I dare you” expose me as your moms suv mamas boy. Go on mr. no contact with your family but still driving that SUV aren’t you. What up with that. ?” Go on it goads me. ” you don’t have the sack… ” but then it gets wise. It gets all yoda on me. I’m just sitting there talking to the caddy about nonsense when he says. He says

Until you speak on that shame you feel when you see me. You can’t really have me. I won’t ever be your car until you talk about what you’re ashamed about. ”
And then I said damn

How ya gonna get all intense deep like that with me? 
So I picked up my phone and typed it in and then thought about the vette. I sure did drive that thing as far and as fast as I could. I thought I might just keep driving. I probably did. I probably would. 

But then 

I was just submerged in embarrassment and shame. A fancy car doesn’t really do much to bandage a wound like that. One could say it’s more like throwing gasoline on a flame. One could be tempted to say that. 

Also as with all things in narc household everything is transactional. I knew no other context for living. I’m not sure one ever does get completely unfucked up from a situation like that but I like my chances. However they are hinged on my expression. And specifically my expression of the truth in opposition of some weird forces. Wink wink nudge nudge. Every one knows what everyone’s talking about. The jig is up. Let’s dance! 
The vette. 

Focuse.

The vette 

Vetted. Droll was actually the license plate. 

Amusingly odd. 

He said 

” I love that word. Droll. Amusingly odd. 

It was his favorite word. 
Fuck. 

This is just landing on me now. Here now. The evil joke of that. 

Fucksake. 

Damn dude. 

Damn. 

Wow. 
I mean I know that was just on accident right? 

The weird poetry of that. The brilliant poetry of it. Kudos sir. Your genius will not go unrecognized. 
Send a kid off who lets face it is (even I will cop to this as maybe not just my programming) amusingly odd. In a car that screams to call attention awkwardly. What kid has a fucking corvette? I can tell you. Not many. 

But to put the kick me sign right on it. Hiding in plane sight. In a world too dumb to really get your real meaning. 
Let’s just say

Gifts were and are always more than meets the eye in narc relations. 

So why my moms SUV 

That’s a deep and good question. It slipped in thru convenience and sense at the time of supposed good will in our family. I can afford my own car. So this ain’t a trust fund thing by any stretch. But that being said it happens to be a very nice car. 70 miles on it. Runs pretty good. It’s not a miracle in my world so much as Just dumb convenience. Right?

I mean my van needed to go. Let’s leave that there. I needed a new ride and my mom told me I could have her old one cause she’s getting a new one. So boom. I’m driving around in my suvs which has great practical logic behind it but maybe not so much on the psychology side. 

Ya think?

Um yeah

Not a great idea 

Unless…

You’re only as sick as your secrets right? Why not try exposing that little shame and see if you don’t enjoy your next drive a little more. 

 💡 
And as I said they were rockstars in the department of showering us with bombastic big gifts. Like the car. 

Or my dad bought me an amazing bass and amp. And he was really nice about it too. I remember that fondly and it makes me weep now thinking of that and feeling the love which is deep yet only ever reaches one way. It’s excruciating. 

Those conflicts of emotions they stir. I can’t let go of the fact of all that love I felt. And in their twisted and confused way I believe they loved me the best they knew how. It’s just the pain was way too much for them to bare. And so it bled on all of us. 
These gifts always felt transactional. I mean in the case of the bass and amp as bad ass and generous as they were. I had first agree to take four years of piano lessons. And I did. In narc family everything works on extremes. My dad got it into his head that if I got even one C that I would be grounded until the next report card with the same stipulations applying. A kind of permanent lock down based on performance. It’s crazy to think about it now but that’s how it was. And would you know it. I ended up getting a C and then grounded for six weeks. It was upheld. Nothing but my room for six weeks. For a C. I never got another C. Until I got an F in AP English but at that point no one could ground me anymore. 

So it worked I guess. 

My sister was a straight A student and valedictorian of her class. 

Which one of us you think was the golden child? 

I was never college material. Or that was the narrative. My sister went on to 8 or so years of top level college study on my parents dime. I moved to Atlanta and they gave me a van. A nice van. In the giving away nice fucking cars department my folks are up there in the top of the class (evil whiplash genius jokes aside dad) when you factor in their weight division which is lightweight. 

The house I grew up in cost 17 grand. 

My dad rebuilt it essentially and made it real nice. I always assumed we were kinda rich. But we weren’t. Maybe just on the surface of things and if you looked thru certain kind of lenses. 

But yeah. I got another cool ride and they gave me five hundred bucks a month for good while (or until one of those falling outs we’d have on the reg) while I got my first jobs going and up on my own two feet supposedly in the material plane. The five hundred bucks stopped soon thereafter and never again to return. No other real financial support to speak of or expected. I got like thirty k when my grandmother passed. May she Rest In Peace. The black widow that she was. 
So why the caddy now and why all this thought about transaction. 

One of the defining moment of my childhood came when me and my dad were playing. A rare occasion in and of itself. I was lapping up and loving the attention. We were throwing pillows at each other from across couches facing each other. Gunning these lap pillows back and forth. With real heat, which just made it fun, for a boy like me. Rambunctious as all hell and full of a need to prove himself and connect. Needs that just sat there like flabby things which became like shackles. 

But we were gunning these pillows when one of mine landed clean on his face. 

And all the happiness drained out faster than anything you’ve ever seen and suddenly he was across the room yanking me by the shirt so hard as to have it half rip off my back and then I got thrust into a stucco wall. Pressed up tight looking right at the face of his rage. Seething like a demon. And then I was outside of my body and watching it from a safer place. 
My mom stepped in here now where she had never done before. Let me also say that this type of physical abuse was not the order of our family. This was an unusual occurrence, tho not a one off. And directly in keeping with over all tone in any event. I mean the house would be destroyed on the regular. And the golden child didn’t survive any of these fates either. It’s true that my dads real venom was reserved for me but the golden child got hers too. I remember one time he threw everything in her room down the stairs during dinner. He would go off like that on rages. All the time. Alcohol was a huge factor. Every night after work he would have two manhattans. That’s what he liked. Manhattans. God damn the poetry in this thing. It’s innate. All I gotta do is type facts and this shit is rich with layers and meanings. 

And by two drinks I mean two giant glasses full of booze. 

Drink one

Cold silence. Reading paper. Menacing vibes. Drink two

Like clockwork

” ya know joe the problem with you…”

Or some other diatribe of really awful emotional and mental abuse. 

Every night

I was planted there. When I think of it now. How come? I don’t even really know. Magnetized. Trauma bonded. And in need of a father. And attention. And in the end I guess any attention is better than no attention at all. 
So he would work himself up into a drunken berating of me and every part of me. A toxic shame transfusion is how I see it now with clarity’s eyes. 

I took all of it. I used to just sit back and marvel at my ability to take pain. It was a thing I was proud of. Like my secret weapon. 
But my mom stepped in on this occasion, and I was shocked that the danger that always was, was actually happening now. That’s when I left my body. And saw my mom

Scream from the doorway ” we don’t beat our kids”
I had recently taken interest in Tennis. And by interest I mean I obsessed about tennis and wanted to become a big tennis star. 

(God more on the whole needing to be a star as a result of narc abuse later. Obviously that’s a book in and of itself ) 
But I had taken an interest in it. I loved it. And my favorite thing was this old wooden tennis racket she gave me. 

This was my prized possession and it was the wagon I had my dreams hinged on. 
I remember studying the way it was painted and all the little things about it that made it special. A gift of love from my mom to me. And a tennis racket to boot. 
When my mom screamed 

“We don’t beat our kids ” my dad dropped me and 

grabbed my tennis racket and slammed it over and over again on the wall just over me. Breaking it into splinters. And then left. Storming off. My mom followed him and I just sat there floating somewhere else. 
The next day me and my dad went shopping and he bought me a top of the line fancy as fuck new tennis racket. 

4 Comments on “The Wagon I Had My Dreams Hinged On 

  1. One time my dad beat me so bad in front of company, just beat me on the sofa. And then he made me stay on the sofa, in front of the company, to add to the shame.

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  2. Jesus, Joe. Ok, I had no idea we have so much in common. I don’t open up about this sort of stuff to just anyone. Ya know what is the most fucked up? My abusive father and dependant, crazy mother live in my basement now. In an apartment I built for them. Because I’ve let it go. He was an alcoholic who abused us (brother,mother and me) both physically and emotionally. He’s dry now, thankfully, but still a simpleton, looking to do the least amount and feel entitled to it all. While I work and pay his social security. In hindsight, I’ve always looked for a father figure. (Weird how I’m shrinking myself now) I digress, what I’m trying to say is, get it out….and move on. I have come to realize that I can’t change it nor can I change his or their thought patterns. I’ve tried, I’ve failed, I’ve been hurt. I’ve also become really fucking strong. Because I WILL NOT repeat those patterns. And recognizing the abuse, as you are, is the way. The way to set yourself straight. So you can grow, recognize and move on.

    This entry really hit a chord with me. Fuck, Joe.

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  3. Jesus, Joe. Ok, I had no idea we have so much in common. I don’t open up about this sort of stuff to just anyone. Ya know what is the most fucked up? My abusive father and dependant, crazy
    mother live in my basement now. In an apartment I built for them. Because I’ve let it go. He was an alcoholic who abused us (brother,mother and me) both physically and emotionally. He’s dry now, thankfully, but still a simpleton, looking to do the least amount and feel entitled to it all. While I work and pay his social security. In hindsight, I’ve always looked for a father figure. (Weird how I’m shrinking myself now) I digress, what I’m trying to say is, get it out….and move on. I have come to realize that I can’t change it nor can I change his or their thought patterns. I’ve tried, I’ve failed, I’ve been hurt. I’ve also become really fucking strong. Because I WILL NOT repeat those patterns. And recognizing the abuse, as you are, is the way. The way to set yourself straight. So you can grow, recognize and move on.

    This entry really hit a chord with me. Fuck, Joe.
    I want to comfort you because I’ve been there.

    Be well, stay the course. Please.

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  4. Jo my mind is spinning, thinking about all of this. Thinking about some striking similarities in our upbringing. I’m going to try & write a proper reply this weekend. What I want to say here though, is you’re getting down to the most painful memories. Hang in there. You’ll go thru phases, much like phases of dealing with death. Whenever you hit the anger phases (and they’ll come & go), try to recognize ‘ok I’m in the anger stage now…Then (a lot of therapy helped me with this…which btw, I went to 5 different ones before I felt like I was with the right one…) Anyway, recognize it, and honor it by being kind to the child in you. Kindness the way you should’ve recv’d back then. You’re gonna get through this, and be a better man for the painful journey you were brave enough to take. My guess is you’ve got a LOT more dots you’ll be connecting; not the least of which is figuring out what in this chaotic childhood, impacted whatever it was that kept you in the relationship with this Quinn gal, as long as you stayed. ~Me? I stayed with my boyfriend, lived with him for over 4 years. I think of him now, as my narc ‘bounce’. Meaning, it’s not unusual to pick partners that are in key ways, very much like the parent, with whom we wish we’d had a better relationship. I’m sure you’ve heard of that before. It’s Very common, we’re still looking to heal the old childhood wounds.
    Anyway, it’s intense stuff, KEEP meditating!
    Box it out. Your family no doubt is going through their own slice of misery right now too. I bet your dad is angry as all hell. But, like you say, the jig is up, and now everyone has to come to terms with their own truths.
    And Jo? It’s not your responsibility to do that for them. Remember that. I love you tons. Stay strong. 🙏🏻

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