It doesn't take much to set off a narc. I would get yelled at for the most ridiculous things, and often she would follow her screaming rants with crazy beatings (I'll describe those in the next post or so). I got to thinking about the things that I did to her which made her have to set me straight. It's playing fast and loose with your sanity to go down this road with a narc, but you learn to adapt because your very safety and survival depend on it. Sometimes it's only after getting away from the narc that you realize just how crazy her reasoning was. What's bad is that some of her nutty habits stick with you because they are ingrained from an early age.
So what did I do to the poor woman that made her abuse me? Let's see...
1. Letting my toes crinkle when wearing flip-flops. According to her it was because I was wearing a dress with flip-flops. She told me that since I didn't know how to wear flip-flops with a dress that I would never be allowed to do so again. She kept her word on that.
2. Neatly arranging her toiletries on her decorative toiletry stand after being made to clean her bathroom. She walked in and took one look at what I had done, saw the very slightly different way I had arranged things and took her arms and knocked everything over. I don't remember what she said exactly, but it was something along the lines of me screwing up because I didn't put her hairspray in front of the lotion, and how it was all just a big, ruined mess.
3. For my senior portraits, I put a barrette in my hair to pin up the sides. It was one of the approved hairstyles I could use as a general rule. When she saw how I looked (which was pretty good for 1989), she went ballistic. She told me that I couldn't apply for the scholarship that was recommended to me by friends of the family because I was too "kooky" and "screwy," and that the school wouldn't want someone like me who didn't know that I was supposed to wear my hair completely down for senior portraits.
4. Letting my bra straps fall down on my shoulders while wearing a boatneck top. I was 12 and had been wearing a bra for only 2 years, and she would yell at me any time my straps showed. So I pushed them over as far as I could, which meant they fell over my shoulders. I didn't have much for shoulders because I was freakishly skinny, so that made her mad as hell. We were at Disney's Epcot Center, and while waiting in line, she went nuts, telling me how I was doing it all wrong, and that she was gonna forbid me to even wear a bra, and she threatened to make me take off my bra right then and there. Fortunately she got distracted by something else. The lines at that place were very long and crowded, but she didn't care how many people saw and heard. No one ever stepped in to help me out, and she knew they probably wouldn't. As soon as I could get away from her, I did, and was sitting by a fountain, crying very quietly. She came up to me and told me a sibling told her I was "bawling," and proceeded to yell at me some more for crying.
5. Not smiling at all times, especially when we went anywhere. She (and AF) would tell me to "quit frowning up" and to "smile." This was especially true after a beating or a verbal assault, especially if it was in public.
6. Not looking at the minister at all times during a sermon. As I got older, I would try to sit somewhere (in church) where she couldn't see me because she would glare at me during the entire service, making sure I had the correct expression on my face, and that my eyes were looking in the right direction. My peers liked sitting in the back of the church so they could cut up a bit, but I liked it because the bitch couldn't see me at all. I once had a migraine, and since she never took me seriously, I had to go to church and play the piano for the service. I was sitting there in great pain, and had my eyes cast downward, and she went nuts when we got home, telling me I was being so rude to the minister by not looking at him. I reminded her about my awful headache, and she said it didn't matter, that I was always supposed to give him my undivided attention.
7. My teacher telling her I had "high expectations of people." Well, that's what she said the teacher said. It sounds like a pretty lofty thing for a teacher to say about a 5-year-old. In my infinite wisdom as a 39-year-old, I imagine the teacher said something along the lines of, "she tries very hard and wants to do well."
8. Wearing penny loafers during the Thanksgiving meal. I was 17, and I wore a size 12 shoe from the time I was about 15, and it was 1000 times harder to find size-12 shoes in the late 80s than it is now. She approved of my sweater and jeans, but she wouldn't allow me to wear sneakers, so when I put on my shiny, brand new penny loafers (which I paid for myself) she went nuts, claiming I was being rude to my AB and his wife by not wearing dressier shoes. As if they would even notice.
9. Not wearing a full face of makeup to help AS and her husband move out of their apartment. This was when she told me about the foundation keeping the sweat from getting into my skin (one of her "Pearls of Wisdom"). She also told me I was being rude to AF and BIL by not being properly "fixed up," and that she hoped they wouldn't be insulted by how I looked (which was still nice because I only needed a bit of mascara and lip gloss to look presentable).
10. Buying anything and not showing it to her the second I got home. I had my own money from the time I was about 16, whether it was from babysitting or working at a part-time job I got at 17. If I went anywhere with anyone else, or if I were lucky enough to go anywhere on my own, and bought anything, such as a purse or a pair of socks, she would go apeshit if I didn't show her what I bought the very minute I walked in the door. When I would show her, she would then say negative things about whatever it was that I bought.
I feel a bit nauseated now. Time to stop.