A close call.

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My son took this photo while waiting for the tow truck. Look at the wheel.

Earlier today, my son called me. He told me that while crawling along in slow moving traffic, his car suddenly wouldn’t steer properly. He heard some metallic sounds like something breaking, and suddenly his steering wheel stopped working at all! Fortunately, he reacted quickly, and slammed the car into Park and put the hazards on.

He got out of the car to look under the hood, but he saw someone in another car pointing to his front driver’s side wheel. It was bent sideways. He called a towing service and at the shop they told him his wheel was about to fall off!

He’d been on his way to work, and because he was unable to come in, lost a day’s pay as well as having to shell out some bills for the repairs (AAA is covering the tow). Working as a shift manager in a convenience store, he’s not exactly wealthy.

He could have been really angered by the inconvenience and expense. He could have groused about the lost pay and the fact he has to pass on meeting up with some of his friends tonight. It’s certainly understandable he would be at least a little irritated by all that! I know I would be.

But he was looking at this a different way. He said he felt blessed. I asked him what he meant, and he said, “It could have been so much worse! I could have been driving at 65mph on the Interstate!” My son is an atheist, but he said he felt like some sort of presence, if not actually God, must have been protecting him and made sure he was driving at only 6mph when his wheel began to go.

Thinking about what could have happened to my son was sobering, but how right he is! Something that seems like a huge pain in the butt can actually be God’s way of keeping us safe from something much worse. You just never know.

Sometimes I think my son is wise beyond his years.

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Little gifts on a crappy day.

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Latest additions to my rock and geode collection.

Life can be surprising. On the whole, today has been a crappy day, but there’s always something to make a bad day more tolerable, if you just pay attention. God doesn’t forget about you even when things seem hopeless and you’re ready to either pull out all your hair or kill someone.

My day started like this. I’m trying to get my car legal but everything about it has been so hard. It failed inspection because of the emissions test. I go through this crap every year. Because I’m off work this week I finally have time to get this shite taken care of, but after everything I need to do is finally done, it’s going to eat up half this week. Cars require more maintenance and cost more than kids, I swear. Especially if you are too poor to buy a new one and are forced to drive an old beater like mine.

Sitting in the repair shop at about 9 AM and feeling put upon and surly, I posted this on my Facebook wall:

So i’m sitting here at the car repair shop trying to get my 13 year old junker fixed so it can pass the emissions inspection…or i can at least get a waiver from the dmv so i’m not driving this pos illegally anymore…gonna spend some time at the library or the rock shop while i wait. Then tomorrow probably going to have to wait around at the dmv all day for the waiver if i still fail inspection. This state just wants to suck money from you any way they can…if i lived in south carolina, florida or tennessee i wouldn’t have to put up with this shit, spend money i don’t have, and waste half my vacation on this. Sorry about all the lower case letters but i’m trying to type this on my phone.

They told me there were 5-6 cars ahead of mine and they probably wouldn’t be able to get to it until late this afternoon and I didn’t want to wait that long, so I decided to start walking home (I had no access to a ride and taxis are way too expensive). The walk home was 5 1/2 miles, in the burning hot sun, along roads with no sidewalks. I will NOT walk back today, but am prepard to walk back there in the morning to get the car early in the morning when it’s cooler (I’ll be sure to wear better shoes instead of the flip flops I wore today).

But it won’t be over. Not anywhere near it. Once I get the car, I have to take it back for a second inspection. If I don’t pass, I can take the second “fail” inspection plus all the receipts for the work I had done (you are required to spend at least $200 to prove you at least tried to get it fixed) to the DMV and stand in line for a waiver so I can drive the car legally. THEN I have to take the waiver to the tag office and tax office (two separate buildings) and pay for the registration and taxes. This crap is going to eat up most of my vacation week.

My court date is August 6th (I was pulled over last month for a expired tags because of the failed inspection) but this week is the only time I have to get all this crap done. I probably won’t have a day to just relax and do other things until Thursday. It really pisses me off because the car is safe to drive, and would pass inspection anywhere else. It’s a waste of time and money in my humble opinion.

But there were a few small things that happened that made this ordeal a little less aggravating and even made me smile. Before I made the decision to walk home from the repair shop, which is in an area with a lot of funky shops and outdoor eateries, I decided to get coffee and a muffin from one of the cafes. I sat down at one of their little outdoor tables, read a book I brought with me, and ate the muffin and drank the coffee, which were both delicious.

I happen to collect rocks and geodes, and across the street was a rock shop. Most of their rocks and geodes are indoors, but some of the less expensive ones are displayed on tables in front of the store or in little fountains. I found a large geode filled with white crystals that kind of spoke to me. The shop wasn’t open yet but an employee was just pulling in. I asked him how much the geode was and he said he thought it was $5. I was shocked such a big, beautiful rock would be that cheap. He said he’d have it held for me and to come back in 15 minutes.

When I returned, the woman in the store told me I’d been quoted the wrong price and it was actually $15. I guess she saw my disappointment because then she smiled and said since $5 was the price given to me that she would sell it to me for that price. I was overjoyed. I selected 3 small colorful stones (the red one in the photo is actually a piece of glass) from one of the outside fountains. So I walked away happy, prepared to trudge the 5 1/2 miles back to my house.

Along the way, I saw a dead bush whose branches intrigued me because of the pattern they made. This is not a black and white photo but looks like one:

branches

About 45 minutes later (when I was about halfway home), I had to stop and rest and refill the water bottle I was carrying. I found a Shell station that had a little sitting area next to it complete with a bench to sit on near the curb. I placed the rocks down on the curb and took the beautiful photo of them you see at the top of this page. When I looked up, I saw something else–a magnolia tree in full bloom, so I decided I needed a couple of pictures of that too:

magnolias1 magnolias2

I walked the rest of the way home thinking about the post I was going to write and suddenly the issue with the car seemed a little less aggravating and overwhelming. I even felt that these little gifts from nature were God’s way of letting me know he was always there no matter what.

ETA: About 15 minutes before the shop closed, I called them and was told they were actually able to FIX the problem and I should be able to pass inspection, but was told to drive about 100 miles first to make sure the engine light doesn’t go back on.

So I got the idea to go back to The Light Center in Black Mountain tomorrow, which will put about 100 miles on the car. I found this place to be very peaceful and healing when I went there last September and wrote this post about it (this blog was exactly one week old!) I’ve been wanting to go back anyway while I’m off. (I don’t think this is incompatible in any way with my Christian faith). If the light doesn’t go back on, then I should pass inspection and will be able to bypass the waiver thing at the DMV and just be able to go get the car registered and that will be the end of it, God be willing.

My Christmas present to myself

comfort

As ACONS or victims of narcissistic abuse at the hands of others, we can be nervous, hypervigilant, and constantly feel stressed out and overwhelmed. It’s so hard for us to relax and just feel happy and in the moment.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that work best and take us to a place where we feel more at peace and more sane. We need to seek out and savor these small things.

The other day I received a gift card for Cracker Barrel. I have to admit, I love their country stores that are always a treat after pigging out on their heavy country cooking.

This morning I had to go have two of my tires changed and get an oil change. I hate dealing with servicing my car, but it had to be done. I already felt better knowing at least my tires won’t skid off the road, even though my car is 13 years old and the transmission is starting to slip.

Blasting rock music and singing along to it on the way home, I remembered my Cracker Barrel gift card and decided to stop by and buy a few things with it.

I adore candles and always buy those big scented jar candles at the dollar store, K-Mart or Walmart because usually those are all I can afford. Those are fine, but today I decided I could afford to splurge and buy a $20 Yankee Candle. I had a tough time choosing an aroma, because they all smell so great, but I finally settled on a new scent called “Silver Birch,” which smells just like woodsmoke and reminded me of a crackling fire.

I also love bath products, so I bought myself a bottle of JR. Watkins apothecary bath salts in Menthol/Camphor with Eucalyptus oil. The bottle, charmingly printed in a late 19th/early 20th century style, says it’s great for soothing colds and flu, but I’ve tried it before and it’s great for everything. It makes your body feel energized but relaxes your mind at the same time.

So when I got home, I decided to take a long hot bath, and just let the scents and warmth of the water swirl around me and bring me into the moment, only the moment. I lit the candle and placed it on the sink, poured a handful of the scented bath salts into the water and mixed in a little vanilla/lavender scented bath gel (cheap from Dollar General) in there too to make the water softer for a little moisture. Then I slid into the tub and literally sighed as I settled in. I lay there with my eyes closed for about an hour, just letting my mind wander and focus on the moment. I also said a little prayer of thanks for small blessings like this.

I nearly drifted off to sleep, but finally, when the water began to get too cool, I dried myself off, put on some comfortable clothes and decided to write a blog post about the bath from heaven.

We need moments like this to validate ourselves. We need to give ourselves little gifts every day if we can. If we didn’t get the mothering and nurture we needed, or we’re still surrounded by narcissists who don’t give a shit about how we feel, we can still give ourselves comfort and nurture every day in small ways like this

It’s not even necessary to spend the kind of money I did today (and the only reason I had it was because of the gift card I received). You can get the same effect with cheaper products from lower end stores. I always find great stuff at the Dollar General a few blocks away Their candles are limited in variety but smell really good. You can also mix a little baby oil with a cheap scented bath gel. At some smoke shops and other stores, you can buy little bottles of scented oil, or even learn to make your own (I’m sure there’s plenty of how-to instructions online).

There’s nothing like a long, hot, leisurely, great smelling bath to soothe your nerves and make you feel normal again, at least for a little while. And make sure you light a candle while you soak.

I’m still feeling so relaxed I think I’m going to nap for about an hour.

A pretty good day

goodday

Alright, so my day didn’t start out very good.

Yesterday I got my settlement check from the insurance company from the car accident Molly was in last month, and this morning had to go to the bank to open a savings account and deposit the rest in checking, so I was an hour late for work because the bank didn’t open until 9 AM and I didn’t want to be toting a huge check around all day.

At 8:30 I received a call from my boss. She screamed “WHERE ARE YOU?”
Rubbing my assaulted ear, I explained I’d left a message on voicemail at 6:30.
“BUT IT WASN’T ON VOICEMAIL! DON’T YOU REALIZE THIS IS OUR BUSIEST SEASON?” The implication that I was lying about leaving a message could not have been more obvious.
“I’m sorry, I did leave a message. I’ll get there as soon as I can. I won’t be more than an hour late.”
“WELL YOU BETTER MAKE IT QUICK!”
Click.

I opened up my laptop and Tweeted: “Today is going to be the day from hell.”
I quickly scanned my blog stats, and found them disappointing.
Mentally I felt my defensive armor going up and my cortisone levels rising. I braced myself for the attack I knew I’d be facing once I got to work.

Although I have nearly perfect attendance and am never late, sure enough, when I arrived at the office, my malignant narcissist boss screamed, “IT’S THE BUSIEST WEEK OF THE YEAR! DON’T YOU REALIZE THAT? YOU ARE RUINING THIS COMPANY!”
Facepalm.

I knew she wasn’t serious, because I do a good job, my attendance is good, and she’s like that with everyone (well, except for her flying monkeys and sycophants), but it still made me feel violated and angry. Narcissists have a way of doing that.

The other bad thing that happened this morning was my daughter Molly went to court and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. She will be out Christmas day (thank goodness for that!). The good thing is that when she gets out, she will owe no more fines (which are far more than she or I can afford) and will have no more probation. She’ll do her time and just has to stay out of trouble after that.

But the day got a lot better. While it wasn’t the day from heaven, it didn’t turn out to be the day from hell either. I made friends with Molly’s older boyfriend, Paul. We were texting each other back and forth about Molly’s day in court and what happened. When I got home from my long day at work, I called him, and we spent about two hours talking. He is very easy to talk to, even for an Aspie like myself–I always feel violated and threatened by the most simple telephone conversations. I always hated the sound of a ringing phone. But talking to Paul was different, and put me at ease.

Paul is not only comfortable to talk to, he genuinely and sincerely cares about Molly. He’s the first boyfriend she’s ever had who has really cared about her wellbeing and wants her to turn her life around instead of all the losers who did nothing but drag her down and use her. We talked mostly about Molly, and what we can do together to help her. He’s older than she is and she listens to him, where she hasn’t always listened to me (I’m her mom–that’s probably why!) He put money into her jail account so she can buy concessions and make phone calls.

The other day I wrote a long depressing post saying I thought Molly was a narcissist (and she may be), but once again I have doubts. Drug addiction and bipolar disorder can also cause a person to act in a narcissistic way. She also has a diagnosis of BPD and PTSD. People with BPD can act very much like narcissists, as can bipolar people in their “manic” phase.

The reason I’m once again doubting she’s a true narcissist is because when she was handcuffed today, Paul was there with her, and she looked at him and said, crying, “I’m so sorry for all the pain I’ve caused everyone. I really want to change. I’m a terrible person.”

I don’t think she would have been faking those tears and those words; for what reason would she do so? Paul told me they have had some deep conversations about her behavior and run-ins with the law over the past decade and how much she doesn’t want to be part of that anymore. I think she was running around with some people who were very bad for her, because she thought she didn’t deserve or couldn’t do any better.

yesterdaysfeelings

Molly is intellectually brilliant and could do anything she wants in life. Once upon a time she was a straight-A student. But her self esteem is so low that she’s mostly associated with people far beneath her, people who do stupid things because they just aren’t very bright. Paul wants her to spend more time with her psychologically healthier friends who aren’t doing drugs, and meet some of his friends who are succeeding too.

Molly has never liked to read much (although she reads and writes very well), but in jail she will have a lot of time for reading (it beats playing cards and watching endless reruns of “Cops”). He told me about a book she had been talking about by the actress Kristen Johnson, called “Guts,” in which she describes her struggles with alcohol and drugs before she turned her life around. This book could be inspirational for her. Molly has always liked biographies and stories about people with substance abuse issues. I remember her favorite book in high school was one that had also been a favorite of mine when I was her age: “Go Ask Alice.”

I don’t have any family to speak of (or rather, none that I speak to), and certainly none in my area, but Paul invited me to his home for Thanksgiving. I invited my roommate to come along, but she declined, so it will just be the two of us. He’s new in this area and has no family here either. He’s cooking dinner and I’m bringing dessert and a bottle of red Merlot wine (my favorite).

Having been burned so many times by narcissists and psychopaths, I don’t trust people easily, so of course there’s a small nagging voice in my head warning me Paul may be a narcissist in the love-bombing phase, but I really, truly don’t think so.

Just the other day, Molly was talking about having kids someday. She’s never shown the slightest bit of interest in having children (she is a bit young still and certainly not emotionally ready), but she told me she would be interested if she was married, and she thinks Paul may be The One. I told her not to rush things and I would like her to attend school first. Paul and I think she just may do this once she is released. He wants to take her to the community college just to have a look around and maybe sign up for one class just to get her feet wet.

After putting most of the settlement in savings, I still have a little over $1,000 left, a nice sum of cash for someone as poor as I am. Some will be used for Christmas, but I decided to order a few books tonight. One was Kristen Johnson’s book “Guts” which I’ll bring to Molly; I also ordered a Wild Republic stuffed raccoon (a Christmas gift for my son (who already has “Alfonso” the river otter, who I wrote about)), and two more books about narcissism: Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door,” which I have heard great things about; and Sam Vaknin’s gigantic tome, “Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited.”
I love to get things in the mail, especially books.

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Any day, no matter how shitty it starts, where I can make a new friend, feel hopeful about my kid, have a little money to spend, realize I won’t be alone on a big holiday after all, and get some new books to read, is a good day. And if I can end that day with a new blog post telling you what a good day it was, then it’s officially a great day.