Monday, January 26, 2015

My Visit to the Food Bank and A Lifetime of Poverty

Saturday was food bank day.

Have you ever wondered who got together and thought that the poor should all eat corn flakes, cans of corn, tuna and macaroni and cheese? Our food pantries in my locale never heard of a fresh fruit or vegetable. Not in a million years. Even if you are allergic to cheese and fish, you still get a bag full of it like everyone else. At least I got them to exchange the nasty Froot-Loops for some decent corn flakes and got some cans of green beans.

We went to the monthly soup kitchen, that is held at this one church and ate some pasta with chicken and corn and salad, they also passed out cupcakes. The folks at this church are very nice and do not shame the poor whatsoever. I like them a lot. It wasn't a bad meal and if you wait until 1:00pm you can get leftovers and take them home for dinner or the next day. So Saturday which thankfully was warm enough for me not to be housebound was like charity day. We have a soup kitchen elsewhere in a neighboring town that serves daily but sadly like so many places like that, which we wouldn't mind using it's in a very bad neighborhood where going down there alone means taking your life in your hands.

We have been scrounging away. I made cabbage soup with turkey necks, and will be making black bean soup with some frozen chicken and rice from the freezer for tomorrow. I definitely am encroaching into my food, I consider the "emergency" meals, which is kind of scary and have been for the last week. Groceries have gotten so expensive. I laugh at dieting because when I read diet books or even Rachael Ray's Yum-O! cookbook which I probably got for a 1 or 2 dollars some months ago everything has a million ingredients.  The carbs always go up when you are food insecure. I don't care how much broccoli you buy. Let the people who don't have to worry about involuntary calorie reduction try dieting for a change. There is a difference in feeling between refusing to eat snacks and simply not having the option.

I am stumped in how to change my circumstances. We did sell some ebay and such. The scary thing is he is working freelance and we are still so poor. They just don't pay him enough and the flu cut off 200 bucks last month. By the way, with the jobs in his field,  they are far fewer in number they all pay the SAME EXACT salaries, they offered in 1999, when we moved for one of his newspaper jobs out of Chicago.  However now, the health benefits are almost non existent for most. One guy told him at his newspaper their medical insurance was the same as Wal-Mart's which basically means useless. That is some of the secrets about our so called "booming" economy.

The bills are growing so high we as I have written before I feel crushed. I am talking about moving us into a disability apartment and getting on the waiting list, but not thrilled with the rules or if he makes more money we get punished for it but rent is so high now it's eating a great deal up of our money. We may have no other choice.

What scares me is things are this difficult even doing the pay bills by hierarchy formula. Rent, electric, insurance, medical, taxes and food. We have never blown the rent money on a shopping trip or faced a near-eviction. We try to be "responsible" but in this case it doesn't seem to work. Maybe life is this hard for most people and I didn't get a clue around the spoiled narcs. Could that be it? But there is something wrong when there is always more month then money. We are always planning ahead and in survival mode. We have decided we need to keep the grocery shopping at the ethnic stores 15 miles away and an area Mexican grocery store because the food lasts longer and the owners aren't out to gouge us like the main grocery stores.

We have made it a life-rule not to live with anyone. Some may say, "Why don't you two move in with one of his relatives, like his sister?". Some may say, "Why don't you find a friend to move in with to make it easier?". I have lived with friends in my 20s, and gone down that road. Aspies and especially very sick Aspies need privacy. I still remember the year I had to move in with my parents and what a nightmare that was as I struggled to graduate from college.

Another blogger wrote about what it is to be poor, and I wanted to share her words here.  I definitely related to many of her words.

My Lifetime of Poverty

"Some people will tell you that there is no shame in being poor.  Really?  What planet are you on.  Of course there is shame, even from the one who is supposed to love you.  It makes you a low value person, very, very helpless and stupid.  Let's be realistic here.  Why didn't anyone actually connect to me?  Why did they sit all happy and tell me that and ask me a huge list of invasive questions.  Early on realized that you weren't allowed boundaries when your poor. "

There is a lot of shame in poverty. I am struggling with it immensely. At times I get brave and write about how I want to be above it all and how God will honor the poor but when push comes to shove, it is shame inducing and embarrassing. Poverty makes you angry. Poverty makes you see the long list of things you don't get to do. One thing that does happen is you plan to do stuff, "I want to visit ****, I want to see ****", and then you look back 5 years later and none of it happened.

I was showing this article to my husband while writing it, and he said to me, "Why should I feel ashamed when the game is totally crooked!" I noticed he has not internalized these things like me. Maybe he is better off in avoiding that! Hey I don't shame any poor people myself,  I agree he is right in my head but my heart needs to learn it.

I am working on leaving the narc family mind games with poverty wishing a few breaks or at least peaceful steadiness would kick in. My brother showing off his $15,000 dollars worth of furniture got to be a bit much the other day. That must be some insecurity to show off your presents, your furniture to a sister on the lower rungs of the ladder but I know the sick crucible that was all boiled up in.

It's been sad having a life where poverty has affected for so long.  I don't know how to make money or "hustle" or the things people do to bring in the cash. I have done things like tutor and sell the occasional painting for money in the past. Remember disabled people can make a little bit.   The scary thing is without my husband, I would have been even poorer and not able to at least enjoy the 10 years of the more stable working class mode. We also have done everything from sell so many things from our apartment like records or books on ebay to collecting cans. He even sold ebay last week.  If my husband sees a can he still picks it up. "Once a can man, always a can man" was the quip to this sentence.

I suppose one has to brush one's self off and tell themselves not to give up, keep walking. There is no other choice but do this. I am worried about my eyes and 7.9 A1C but I was very ill last month when I had the blood work done. My eyes could just be very dried out with the sinus pain. We try what we can. We have grown old but I found this poem the other day and it is MY LIFE:

              The Bean Eaters

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 - 2000

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood, 
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
          is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
          tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

I know I am fortunate not to bear this poverty alone and have someone in it for the long haul but it can get scary sometimes. I do believe ACONs who are scapegoats do get set up to fail. I have spent DECADES working on life skills I should have known far earlier. On the Afraid of My Shadow blog, she also wrote:

Let me tell you something.  I met some real down to earth wonderful and actual poor people on line. These people had good educations too, but somehow we tend to walk around with holes in our gathering baskets. Unable to rise to the top.  This was all caused by an abusive childhood.  I realized right away I only loved my mother in theory, because I was supposed to.  The real authentic me couldn't stand that creep.

I understand what she means by holes in the gathering baskets. I hope one day to plug mine up or reweave them and fix them.

See: The Wolf At the Door and Other Poverty Posts

Weird Skies

I'm a bird and cloud watcher.  Here's some weird clouds from a few days ago!

I never get bored

I never get bored. Just now I was playing with beans in my kitchen trying to figure out what to make with some for tomorrow, black bean soup with chicken? Is frozen chicken from March 2014 still good? Can someone tell me if I am taking my life in my hands to defrost this tonight, boil them, take off the meat and make black bean and chicken soup? I have a hot pepper somewhere in my fridge. There is always something to be blogged about or read, or done. My problem is not enough energy to do everything I want to do. I'm even wanting to go study 18th century Scotland from reading the Outlander series. When people complain of boredom to me, I don't understand it. 

Hanging Out

Technology in some ways is separating us more. I have this odd rule, though I may try for an Obama phone still for safety reasons on the bus, I do not want contact with the Internet when I am out and about. Some of this is the naturalist in me, I want to pay attention to nature, not wait for another email.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Narcissists Have No Nostalgia

 Lucky Otter wrote a good article, and I wanted to comment on what I saw too. Many of the qualities that applied to her narcissists applied to mine as well. For feeling people who love, and miss people, this can be some of the most painful stuff in living with narcissists. Narcissists and Sentimentality.

I can go down memory lane with my brother and we often do, but no such thing exists with my mother and sister. This tells me of one core big difference with both of them. I have very few people I can remember things with. When you spend your whole adult life and childhood, moving every 7-8 years, there is very little cohesion or people who have known you for a very long time. Even my closest friend here has only known me since 2010. So there are very few people in my life I can reminisce with.

My mother has no concept of growing older. In some ways she seems decades younger then myself as I have had to face aging and even my possible death at a far younger age then most. I do refer to myself as "old" and in many ways I am "old". I live a life that is akin to an 80 year old and am nursing home material. To be frank, it freaks me out to see my mother in her very late 60s who seems to have no concept of growing older. She acts like she is going to live forever. The constant house decorating and emphasis on material reminds me of that woman in California who built the mansion for the spirits, and kept building, building, building. I and my husband used to joke and refer to her house as the mausoleum, because so much energy was poured into it, it seemed as she expected to exist in it FOREVER.

My sister has no memories and doesn't care about "yesterday" either, there is only right now in both their minds. Don't try examining the future with narcs either, that is a waste of time.

My mother never looked at old photos, she told my aunt not to send me any. It drives me crazy, that she holds all the memories to my childhood with hundreds of photos she does not care about. I wish I had gotten some of them before I went no contact. I have asked my brother to get some from her. He seems willing but I fear him chickening out with her jaundiced eye staring down at him asking, "Why do you want those old things for?" 

So to be honest this was something that always creeped me out about my mother, the total lack of the concept of nostalgia and sentimentality. She just didn't feel the way I did. She didn't hold some memories dear in her mind. One thing that keeps me going is pictures in my mind of fond memories. I even sometimes at this advanced age, think of childhood friends and fun with them and my time in the woods in the park looking up at the trees and youth explorations and memories. The disabled will dream about the time they could run, and play and do things they can't do now. Take my word for it.

One thing I used to say to my family when I was younger was "When People Die, they Disappear" and in this family, they cease to exist. One thing I and my husband still talk about is right after my father died, is every one of his effects was instantly deposed of. She gave my husband a few of his old clothes but once he was dead, there was an instant clean out.  The only thing I got of his, was his old address book that she had accidentally mixed in with some old papers of mine that she wanted to get rid of. There was no tie pins or other effects, I wonder if she gave those my brother. She removed every picture of his from the house though she oddly put a few in this one little wooden box thing like she wanted to cage every memory of his existence, so basically just a short time after he died, one wouldn't even have known he existed.

I still am bothered to this day, knowing she took a trip to New York City three weeks to go shopping after his death, and was on the Today show, whooping it up. Remember when they had that glass window and would show the crowds cheering and jumping up and down? There she was jumping up and down, with a smile on her face. She had told us the day, it would air. A chill ran through my body. Of course the time later came when she bragged about how much money she had been left. We never saw a will so she became instantly financially comfortable for the rest of her life, at the time I lived in severe poverty in the ghetto and at my highest weight too. He died in 1998 and I was disabled in 1997. I was still too much in the narc fog to ask too many questions at the time. Even my sister was bothered by the instant shopping trip back then when she still had some vestiges of her former personality back then.

Other relatives would die, like my loving aunt, and one would never hear about them again. Bringing them up was verboten.  I would have thoughts like "What about so and so?". I actually had thoughts since my health was so bad, and they still trouble me now about being forgotten after I die and having my effects wiped away. I can see her burning my stamp collection and paintings and throwing them in the trash so I am going to make provisions that this doesn't happen.

I can still cry over friends who died even 5 years ago. Something will remind me of them from out of the blue and tears will come to my eyes. This never happened with my mother or sister. Never ever. They simply did not care. They were not bothered by feelings like this. I never saw it sadly in my father either, though he wasn't as severe since he would bring up his deceased parents from time to time.

My mother mocked my interest in the past and history. She was weirded out by my love of previous generations, historical towns and old-fashioned values. At one point, she told me, "You are too old-fashioned and love to live in the past!" That same day she called my old rural town which I loved and still miss quite a bit, "Hooterville" and said, "There's nothing there". She scoffed at any memories. What is scary about this is she was raised in a nice rural small town, one that was very historical, but there was no attachment to this, nor history nor even realizing what she had.

This lack of feeling and sentimentality is something I could never understand. Narcissists are far different creatures then the rest of us.

Losing One's Mind is Far Easier

So Conflicted About Brother

Something I wish for with my brother. Am I hoping against hope? Is this an impossible dream?  It never will happen with my sister. Sometimes I seem on the verge of waking him up. Sometimes not. It has created great conflicts in me. My brother was scapegoated by my mother too and is ostracized by the family to a degree as well, as I wrote about before.

If I sound double-minded about my brother, and you see the conflict and contradictions in posts, yes I admit it.  On one side I think forget it, I've been hurt by too many who always took her side and he has some major faults I am mindful of.  We all have faults of course.  On the other side, I think, we were so close once upon a time, and he does seem to care. He gets upset when I disappear [well unlike the others who only PRETEND to care with their fake cards].

Flying Monkeys: Low Contact or No Contact

I talked to him again, but I am being careful and protecting myself.

Sometimes he seems to care, we were close when we were younger. He is the only one who before even noticed I was alive. He is telling me this weekend he is going to have his kids call me. I think he will keep this promise however I'm making sure I am not as emotionally invested as I was before. He does talk to me about personal stuff unlike the other ones though I am guarding my information making sure I don't tell him anything new to go back to Queen Spider for now. I find myself wishing she was not hoovering as a cloud over every family relationship.

But then I always worry, is she sending him as a flying monkey. Is he coming to talk to me because I've not been around a couple months and actually cares and is reacting to my pulling away or did she tell him to do it? I hate feeling this way and always having to second guess motives. Was I wrong to give him a second chance? 

Him and his girlfriend told me they both missed me. Trust me none of the narcs would ever tell me that. My sister and mother don't miss anyone.

He knows something is wrong with her but he is still afraid of my narcissistic mother and that's the problem. He didn't defend me to her, and I still don't understand why and it bothers me. Sometimes I wonder if I border on paranoid thinking of her controlling everyone. I know she does to an extent most definitely but it's hard to know where to draw the line. He told me he hasn't talked to her in some time not in a "We are on the outs way" but "She has been busy at her vacation" home sort of way.

There was an interesting moment on one phone call, when I told him, "They have ostracized you too, and he said, "Your problem is that you care! I don't care if they do or don't!". I stood up for myself and oddly he backed down and started relenting. I told him, "I am not you and not going to take abusive treatment". "I'm not going to say it is okay". It is unfair of you to expect this of me. I am a different person then you!"

I do think he lives in a denial about his own abuse. It is easier to deny it happened and keep from rocking the boat in his world. The thing that confuses me is sometimes he seems to listen to me and then draws back but then I'm too tired to battle to get others to see the narcissism and the damage done to so many others. It's creating some cognitive dissonance in me. With Aspies, we can't always read others very well, this makes it harder.

Some of this stuff gets so complicated my head hurts. I will take one step at a time. With narcs too, there is so much triangulation and so much confusion too. I still care about my brother. That is the problem. I want to fight for people and not have the Queen Spider win everyone over and leave me standing alone.  Maybe this is breaking every no contact rule. Maybe I simply am banging my head on the wall uselessly against the narcissist behemoth. I guess this is how I feel right now about it all. I have to protect myself and figure this stuff out all at the same time. Why is it always this hard?

My Brother Trained by the Family System.