Phone Conversation with a Lunatic

10 Nov

Right before going to bed last night, I didn’t want to turn on my computer just to write a come-back for bullies, so I handwrote it. That said, now that my computer is turned on, here it is:

“I could endure your presence much more easily if your mouth were as small as your mind.”

 *

Yesterday, my phone woke me at 7:16 am. I glanced at it, and it was coming from Missouri, and the area code began with an 8. So I assumed it was a telemarketer (yes, they have called me as early as 6:40 am) and ignored it. Later in the day, while I was at a write-in, my mother texted me, asking me to call Aunt Bev and giving me her number. Looking at the number, I suddenly realized that she must have been the one who woke me early this morning. I got to wondering if she’s aware that her time zone is a couple hours ahead of mine (never mind that it’s about sixty years behind mine).

I texted back my mother saying I’d do it later, “between the writing party and tonight’s concert.”

She strongly implied that it would be a long phone conversation, which sounded rather unpleasant to me. Conversing with any of the Weird Sisters—even the least evil of them—simply sounds extremely not appealing. She texted: “Will you have more time to call tomorrow?”

When I was at home after the write-in, I immediately plugged in my phone. I had lunch and streamed part of a Korean film on Netflix before checking my phone, taking a deep breath, and calling Aunt Bev.

She just wanted my current email address to send the real estate agent, because my cousin Shelly wants to buy the house. I already knew about this, because my mother texted me about it last week. I figured this was about the house, but I also figured there was more to it than just my email address. Apparently the real estate agent plans to email me forms. I don’t know whether I’ll have to print something and sign it and return it via snail mail, but if so I can print at IOW.

Aunt Bev asked, “So how are you doing out there?”

I said, “Oh, great! This is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write fifty thousand words, or one hundred seventy-five pages, during the month of November. However, my goal is to complete the first drafts of two novels during this month. So far, one of them is slightly over two hundred pages.”

She said, “Two hundred pages isn’t very much.”

I froze, feeling flabbergasted. “What?”

She added, “Two hundred pages isn’t very much compared to a typical novel. That would be easy to do.”

I felt rather deflated and stunned.

I realize that for a conversation with one of the Weird Sisters, that was pretty harmless. However, after the phone call, it sank in with me….Nobody else would claim that writing two hundred pages in nine days isn’t a big deal. Nobody, that is, except my mother or one of her siblings or some similarly deranged and completely negative and toxic and disdainful bully.

Earlier yesterday, I spent slightly over an hour at the Pretty Kitty Bazaar, a benefit for the cat shelter House of Dreams. I ran into someone I know, and when I told her about NaNoWriMo she said she’s been seeing my posts on Facebook. She seemed really impressed, quite the opposite of Aunt Bev. She said, “I couldn’t write two hundred pages. I can barely write a paragraph.” Also, she had seen my Facebook post that I posted after midnight: “My NaNoWriMo novel is now 200 pages. I’m going to bed.”

I belatedly wish I had set aside my customary honesty and told Aunt Bev that the novel is currently six hundred pages. It could have been a test. She probably would still have come up with something negative to say. She definitely wouldn’t have praised me, never mind that I wasn’t fishing for a complement. She would have claimed that no publisher is going to accept a novel that long from a nonentity like me. Or she would have even said that isn’t very long and it’s easy to write six hundred pages. Perhaps she would have questioned the quality of my writing and try to convince me that I have no talent. When my mother isn’t pretending as though I’m not a writer, she’s openly dismissive, saying such things as, “I wish you didn’t write so long.”

The thought does occur to me: I’d like to see Aunt Bev try writing two hundred pages! I wish I had said that to her on the phone. True, the book I read on narcissists says not to engage, not to get into a fight with these bullies, because it’s futile and they have no remorse and will never admit that their behavior is inappropriate, let alone that they’re wrong.

Last month, I had sent via texting a photo of beautiful red vines on the wall of a building, and I wrote the message, “It’s autumn!” I sent this to my mother and to Francis.

My mother replied: “Yes, it comes every year.”

I read it in her sneering, mean, bully voice. I can’t even send her a photo without her making a snarky remark. I have countless times heard her snap in the most withering tones that exact same response to my dad when he comments about the fall colors or some other seasonal change.

I then texted to my brother: “I can’t even send the harpy a photo without her making snarky remarks.”

He replied: “She’d be negative even if someone held a gun to her head.”

I thought of that after talking on the phone with Aunt Bev. All of the Weird Sisters—and my uncles, when they were alive—are one hundred percent negative, at least toward people (scapegoats) who don’t fit into their teensy-weensy version of reality. They very consciously want to break a person like me. They see me as a threat, which is ironic considering that they’re the ones who are abusive, not I. I haven’t even acted in defense against them as much as the average person would have, never mind that responding is completely futile.

All my life, the Weird Sisters have wanted to destroy me, to kill my spirit. I don’t fit into their sociopathic and patriarchal version of reality, and they don’t want me to exist. Perhaps my very presence, or the awareness that I exist, is vaguely unsettling to them, because perhaps somewhere deep down they know they’re empty pieces of shit. On the other hand, their sense of entitlement and lack of remorse are so unfathomably extreme.

On the bright side, at least now—unlike for the first thirty-three years of my life—am conscious of what monsters the Weird Sisters are. While I’m emotionally still affected by their toxicity, intellectually I know better. Intellectually I know their behavior and their negativity is all about them. People who feel good about themselves are not bullies. People who feel good about themselves don’t try to diminish and depress others. People who feel good about themselves do not attempt to destroy the confidence and self-esteem of others.

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