Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Sociopath and the Beauty Queen

The night of the honeymoon the newlyweds stayed in a room on the ocean waiting for their trip around the world to begin the next morning when they would board the plane with passports in hand. That first night Charles just fell asleep on the bed and when Nancy Jo exited the powder room dressed beautifully and ready for a newlywed night of splendor, Charles lay their unconscious to the world. The next morning he told Nancy Jo, “I knew what I had to do to get you and now I have you”. Simple as that, what inspiring, loving words to build your life on. Nancy Jo was speechless for the next upcoming years.

The honeymoon produced a pregnancy and then the newlywed fun really began. Nancy Jo’s doctor was furious because she became pregnant with a surgically implanted IUD in and it threw off the numbers in the doctor’s study. What a nice “congratulations” from the doctor for Nancy Jo. While she was pregnant, Charles began to resume his philandering ways with other women, and that never stopped. In 1968, I was born, the product of a beauty queen and a sociopath. I will get to the diagnosis a little later.

I grew up under the guise that we had money, when the truth was that my father’s parents had money and he wanted to live the life of leisure and live off of them. The evidence of this manifested itself when my father would leave town for days and days, leaving with the keys of the vehicle in our driveway in his pocket while he drove off in his car. He left without leaving my mother any money, not paying the bills, and she would not have any mode of transportation. Beautiful, this is what every woman dreams of when they marry and have children. Since his parents always provided a financial safety net beneath him he never really had the drive or the need to truly pursue an income. He did have business after business; he would never actually “work” for someone else as in “become employed”.

I grew up with confusion about money and no clue about the value of a dollar. I knew that my grandparents had accounts at the finest stores around town and so I would help myself to shopping and sign off on the ticket with the family name. My father never had an interest in paying the bills and the lights would get turned off, the cars would get repossessed and that further confused me as we lived in a nice home and had nice vehicles when they were in my parents’ possession. I thought we had money, but apparently it was not in my parent’s bank account, but the bank accounts of my grandparents. I only understand this in retrospect as an adult, as a child, things just seemed incongruent and strange. My parents never seemed as though they were together and little did I know about how they became married, the tragedy of their honeymoon and the cheating ways of my father. Just like Nan, Nancy Jo also carried a wounded heart. When your heart is wounded you are distracted from the things in life that could bring you joy or that might need your attention, like children. I recall my mother being a loving mother, but I also recall that she seemed absent, literally and figuratively.

My father was horribly abusive physically, verbally, mentally, and sexually. He was the devil personified. I wanted desperately to kill him. I used to dream of ways to do it but none seemed to carry enough pain and torture to do the deed justice to repay him for the life I was trapped to live.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sociopath and the Beauty Queen

The Sociopath and the Beauty Queen

Daniel Boone was my grandfather and I am the daughter of American heritage; of crisis and chaos, of turbulence and travesty. We are all living here together on this spinning ball of commerce suspended amongst the cosmic expanse. Some of us working to self-actuate while others of us self-destruct, searching to find inner peace and make sense of it all.
Flashback: She walked up and down in front of the school donning a sinful blazing red stain upon her lips, against the rigid rules of her preacher father, and she added insult to injury sucking down the smoke from a cigarette; she was only 14. She smoked until the night she died. It was the 1930’s when conservatism ruled like an iron fist and fire and brimstone flew from the pulpits of every building with a steeple. Her name was Nan and she was an even closer granddaughter to Daniel Boone; she was my grandmother. She had dark eyes, raven-black hair, olive skin and resembled the Cherokee Indians of her heritage. She was one in a family of 13 and struggled for her independence and wanted to be the star; but instead she was the rebel. She graduated valedictorian of her class at age 15 and went off to Berea College in Kentucky where she would meet the love of her life. His name was Jimmy, he was my mother’s father. The love was rich and true, they married and Jimmy was off to war. It was the early 1940’s and Jimmy flew a plane in WWII. He went down with his plane overseas and his body was never recovered. Nan was literally 2 weeks to giving birth to their daughter Nancy Jo, the beauty queen.
Nan lost the love of her life and now had a living memory of him in her arms but was not emotionally available to appreciate the gift of life left by her true love as her heart was wounded beyond repair. Her weight dwindled, she lost her breasts and wore falsies, and the doctors at that time (1944) told Nan to have a drink every night before bed to calm her nerves. ……Nan became a raging alcoholic. She married 5 times thereafter, never to find true love again, just momentary love in an alcoholic haze. She drank and smoked herself to death. Nancy Jo never had the life she should have and everyone lost in this game.
Alternate Flashback: Harriet was a young girl growing up in her family with responsibilities and chores. One of the things she did was to dress the babies that died for their funerals. She told me this when I was young and I only thought how awful, but she just told it so matter-of-factly without hesitation or real emotion. It was a different time and I could not understand. Harriet met and married Harbert and they had 3 children, the last of which was unplanned, the cord tightly wrapped around his neck and his name was Charles, the sociopath. Charles is my father.
After Charles was born, his mother Harriet had a nervous breakdown and went to the mental hospital for a few years. Charles was left with his father, two young siblings and attended to by the cooks, maids and yardmen. There was never a true human bond formed with Charles and so a conscience never developed. When the family went into town, they always left Charles behind and when Charles went to the first grade, he did not speak and they did not know what to make of this. When Charles did eventually speak, he sounded like a southern black boy, the baby of his cooks, maids and yardmen. Charles, however, grew up knowing how to be both cunning and charming, getting whatever he wanted from anyone despite his disparaging upbringing.
Speed to the 1960’s and Nancy Jo was a beauty queen, entering pageants and found herself being crowned Miss Tallahassee, Florida, the hometown of Charles and his family. It was to be my hometown too. When he saw her, she became his next conquest. He swept her off her feet. He had all the trappings of a successful, handsome young man in his twenties. He drove a Mercedes, had his pilot’s license and a plane. He took her on moonlight flights, wined her and dined her. Impressed her and asked her to marry him. She said yes.
As the wedding grew close, Nancy Jo felt like this was a mistake that she could not marry him and she wanted to back out. Nancy Jo’s mother Nan had been busy spending money she did not have to have air condition installed in her modest home so that when her new family members might come they would find her in modernized comfort. Nan told Nancy Jo that “you have made your bed and now you have to lie in it”. True words of support coming from a heart-broken alcoholic, and Nancy Jo was devastated with no where to turn except down the aisle in her beautiful white lacy dress.