I tried my hand at some fiction to describe my life earlier on. With the graphic zines, I figured this was a redundant enterprise and focused on expressing things in drawn form, but kept the writing and decided I would share it here. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and GUILTY.
Budgie went away to college and loved art. She also loved the quiet. Even the parties of her fellow college students were peaceful silence compared to narcissistic bellowing. She recovered years worth of lost sleep and never went home on weekends. Everyone warned her an art major meant she would starve but sadly she didn't listen.
Everyone was against Budgie studying art but business bored her and she had flunked Chemistry in high school and avoided Alegbra II like the plague, so the science fields were beyond her. Years later Budge would learn that those who could unravel the logic of math had far more chance of making more money.
Budge was naive and didn't know yet that studying art education would make her poor, but she loved the field and everything about it. Years later students and co-workers would remark on how enthusiastic she was about art. Maybe if Budge had stayed healthy she would have been okay, and gotten a job teaching junior high art or gone on for a master's in art therapy. She was turned down at two schools as one of the top candidates but failed medical exams they insisted on because all it took was looking at her, to know her lungs were toast. She was still midsized in the low to mid 200s at this time.
In college, Budge started going goth, and listened to nothing but The Sisters of Mercy and the Mission UK, Andrew Eldritch thrilled her, though skinny boys like that who chain-smoked cigarettes ignored fat girls like the plague. She also added bands like Bauhaus and the angrier Skinny Puppy and Ministry that appealed to darker emotions that laid within her.
The color black filled her closet and she wore ankhs and a pentagram ring. Peep went to a Midwestern state school that was on the conservative side of her state. Already the ex-cheerleaders and far thinner daughters of evangelical Christians started rumors in her dorm that she was a Satanist. She couldn't afford the fancier, more liberal state college and by then you had to have a 3.8 to get instead of just a 3.45 to get in there. With the other girls in her dorm, their mothers loved them and came up to their dorm rooms to help them decorate, sometimes they would show up and take them out to lunches, or bring one of their siblings for a visit. They told her to avoid that weird fat girl who wore too much black and who "needed Jesus".
College was great though, Budge spent hours in her painting and printing labs, the basement of the art education building was her favorite place to hang out beyond the 4th floor of the college library where Budge read every weird book she could get her hands on with her informal self-led "major" in comparative religions and esoteric subjects. Up there she could be alone. She kicked back in the magazine room at the college reading "American Atheist" and "Freedom from Religion" newsletters and "Life" magazines. Budge painted normal subjects, but also a few strange ones. One professor was outraged when she painted a burning flag surrounded by hypodermic needles and told her she was being "too art school". Budge had a fascination with the Victorian era, and it showed in her art.
Budge would meet her millionaire friend who she would know for 30 more years. Sally was dressed in late 1980s long flowing dresses and tunics with leggings and lots of jewelry including endless pieces of amber that her wealthy relatives had left her. She talked about her trips to Europe where her aunt broke her arm and the constant litany of castles.
Sally's mother was as old as Budge's grandmother and already going lightly senile. She wore cashmere sweaters as she potted violets and cooked tasteless microbiotic food, and nagged her submissive family to death. Sally hated her mother's constant encroachments, but did everything her mother told her to do. It was strange to Budge how an old 90lb woman who oddly dressed like a bag lady despite her gobs of money could keep her entire family in check. Her mother was angry that her daughter had gotten such a fat friend, and called Budge out of earshot, "that fat blob".
Sally back then was fun and introduced her to things like PBS News Hour, nature and art centers and Unitarian Universalism, things that the Spyders had kept her from knowing about. Sally was cultured, exciting and had a giant New Wave, Punk and Goth music library that included lots of mix tapes. However, her new friend was kind of bossy and seem to hold an air of superiority over her, but she at least could hold an interesting conversation. Budge didn't know what "slumming" was yet. After all she was far friendlier then Midge was. Budge didn't have any friends in high school, or freshman year, so when Sally showed up. Budge finally had a friend or so she thought.
Later Budge had to return home to student teach and looked for a good full time job while working 2-3 others. That year, her health started to break. The Spyders worsened towards Budgie while she was in college. College cost too much. Mrs. Spyder went on shopping sprees while mortgaging the house without telling Budge and told Mr. Spyder that Budge was costing the family lots of money and was a "burden". While John went to the same school and never heard a peep about how much he “cost”, Budgie did all the time. They hated the fact she majored in art education. Art was Budge's salvation and gave her a reason to wake up in the morning but the Spyders didn't care. Art was for "losers" and she would end up a starving artist that would bring shame upon the family. Sadly realities of the American economy would bring the Spyder's curse against Budge into reality.
Budgie had long wondered if she was adopted, she didn't look like any of her family members. She was far bigger, taller and fatter then all of them. Her father pudged up at times but could lose weight at the drop of a hat on any diet. She didn't look like anyone else either. Her cousins wore bikinis and ate whatever they wanted. As Budge got older, her personality and interests diverged even further from her family. None of them cared about art, or history or music, or much of anything. At this time, her father called her "arty-farty" and smacked her for being "too idealistic". Even Tears for Fears was considered the devil's music. One was not supposed to be altruistic or plan one's life to help others, except when serving as a personal Cinderella to two spoiled narcissists.
Mimi grew to be just like Midge. Like the movie Single White Female, Mimi, decided to dress and act like her mother, who esteemed her highly. Midge would cut Mimi's steak until she was 17 years old and help her select outfits to wear, to the day of high school graduation. Mimi never rebelled like most teens do, but did everything her mother said. She never developed her own identity. She promptly came home from school, ate her goldfish crackers, watched General Hospital and yelled at Budgie to do the dishes and then spent her evenings watching television with her parents.
With her low grades, Mimi went to community college earning an associates and majored in graphic arts, turning in Peep's leftover state school art for her class requirements, while doing early 1990s graphics on computers. Her would be future career was erased by technology and average people learning Adobe but it didn't matter, her husband made 6 figures. Mimi never had to clean out a fryer, nor scrub pots and pans in a giant sink, or work during high school. Mimi read only Garfield comic books and only what teachers demanded. A 10-15 hour brief internship at a print company would represent the only job she ever held down.
Mimi never dated in high school. She showed no interest in romance and said "Boys were gross and yucky." Suddenly at 18, she met a 28 year old executive while sitting on the right bar stool, only two months after high school graduation. He was Catholic and looking for a wife. They got engaged only a month later. Her new fiance, Philip had a good insurance job and his own two bedroom apartment with posters of blonde women wearing sunglasses, all invariably draped over Corvettes and lots of brass fixtures. He got Mimi a new car. Budgie at the age of 21, was condemned as an old maid. Mimi was celebrated as a perfect daughter while Budgie was dismissed as a failure even as she was graduating from college with a bachelors degree. It didn't help that Mimi was thin and Budge was fat.
The wedding planning started in earnest. Budge's emotional abuse with the new Bridezilla and her Bridezilla mother skyrocketed. Mr. Spyder filled with rage at having to pay for a 25,000 dollar country club wedding with 300 guests to boot. Budgie was deemed as just being in the way as Mimi became the center of attention. Mimi gloried in her attention. She had snagged the ultimate prize a well-off husband who came with connections, a great education and a father who had been mayor for many years of one of the largest cities in the state.
Midge arranged a bridal announcement in the local newspaper. Her bridal shower was held at one of her new millionaire in-laws' homes. Mimi didn't wear makeup, dressed as mannish as Midge in Lee jeans and Nike sneakers, and wore her hair in a tight perm, and still somehow had won the dating game with nary a sweat. Budge wondered years later if the marriage had been arranged, it had all the earmarks. How did she meet a husband that old at a teen club held at a local bar? The question puzzled Budge, since the drinking age was 21.
Midge loved Mimi's new husband, he was a young executive, and best of all a Catholic. Philip made clear to Mimi, what he expected in a new wife. He told her to get her weight down for the wedding and to avoid eating bread and Cheerios. He lectured her on voice tone, he required that she not yell like her parents. He was pleased as Mimi thinned down and used her "inside voice" and rewarded her with a new car. Plans were made for the wedding.
Mr. and Mrs. Spyder got angry and called Budgie a failure for not being married first before her younger sister and told her she was too fat to find a husband. Budge was not allowed to date during high school at all as Mrs. Spyder screeched about teenage pregnancy and young “whores and sluts”. As Budge's classmates dated in high school and married high school sweethearts they meet at teen parties or church youth groups, Budge wasn't even allowed to talk to boys. What did she know about boys? Budgie was too shy to date and had no confidence left. Peep lusted for bad boys but was afraid of them, too.
When Budgie moved home from college her abuse worsened. Her parents screamed and complained about her downstairs. Budge's days lasted from 6:00 am to 11:00pm. She had to student teach and then work a night job as a telemarketer selling carpet cleaning on the phone. She paid 120 a month for a 8 foot by 10 foot room she merely slept in and never otherwise saw. Later, when student teaching was over, she would substitute teach, work a daycare job and a restaurant job too. Budge was exhausted.
The Spyders told her over and over she was lazy and good for nothing. Mr. Spyder downstairs talked about beating her up and throwing all her things out on the lawn all the time to Midge, who agreed. They didn't know that Budge could hear every word through the heating vent. Budge was frightened. She didn't tell the Spyders that she had just gotten turned down for two good teaching jobs and told that her health was too poor. Both school districts required a medical exam which she failed despite being one of the top candidates. Her door to the middle class was being firmly shut for good. Her mean parents would have blamed her.
In college, Budgie found out she was severe asthmatic. All those years of gasping for air, and being ignored in high school had taken a toll. She was on her way to COPD early. She had bronchitis several times a year and constant panic attacks from being unable to breath. ER doctors gave her constant doses of Prednisone, which she would duly take, but every pill seemed to fatten her up. Her lungs hurt, she gasped for air all the time and would throw up on the way to work, with inhalers being used constantly. She was allergic to smoke, mold, dust, and life.
Everyone else went through life cheerfully without their body ready to collapse at the slightest exertion. Budgie didn't know what to do. She had been left totally unprepared for anything to go wrong in life. The Spyder's envying her youth, would dismiss all claims of ill health and told her as she gasped for her air, "You just can't cope!" One day Budgie got a severe asthma attack, and could not breathe. She was too scared to call an ambulance for herself. She laid on the stairs gasping for air, and her father walked by and yelled at her. He didn't care that she was dying. He sniffed his nose in the air, and walked by ignoring her. She knew she was on her own, and crawled up the stairs, to get her inhaler, which she used. She knew she was very sick, but with her inhaler, somehow got the strength to get in her car, and drive to get a breathing treatment, which wasn't exactly safe but better then dying or gasping for air for more hours.
Budgie was around 70lbs overweight and Mrs. Spyder never let up. One day she snootily said to Budgie, "I'll pay you 1,000 dollars to lose that weight so you will be thin like your sister! Maybe someone will marry you before you turn into an old maid! We don't want you living here for good." Budge was paying rent and working all the time. Nothing was ever good enough. One day her father tried to hit her in the basement, on one of Budge's rare days off but she grabbed his arm. By that time, being hit was rare, because she had grown to be midsized and nearly 6 feet tall and the Spyders knew she could take them on. He ranted and raved, “All that college, and you probably will never get a job, you are too ugly and fat!” “Everyone hates your personality too, it sucks!”
Budgie felt a dark feeling inside, as Mr. Spyder railed against her personality and got angry that she had not joined the convent "since she was a lesbian anyway". Peep was sexually attracted to men but her homophobic parents constantly focused on her being a lesbian. With the mannish clothes and hairdos being forced upon her, she wondered why she wasn't allowed to date or have anything to do with boys especially now, as the Spyders railed against her lack of paramours. No wonder she was not marrying like all her high schoolmates and sister. Budgie had graduated from college and worked hard. As Budge watched her career aspirations vanish, and her family grow more abusive, her health broke. No one gave her a break. The world hated her as much as her parents did too.
Other girls were loved by their fathers. Budge wasn't. She realized they both were evil. There was no proms, or Daddy-daughter dances in Peep's life but endless days of housework, fixing cars, and digging holes in the year for the Spyder's constant landscaping projects. Budge's mother had never bought her a dress to wear on a normal day, or showed her how to paint her nails, do make up, nor any of the feminine things which were for girls who were petite, thin, sweet, nice and loved by their families.
Budge became depressed. Her life was falling apart. Life was nothing but low paid work, and nothing to look forward to. Everyone criticized her. Midge's years of smear campaigns, and put-downs were coming to full fruition. No one respected her. They all saw her as a "loser" even with her newly minted college diploma. Budgie was a young Aspie, falling further and further behind who knew inside she was not loved and accepted like other people, and who always had be on her guard. The quote "Hell is other people." fit Budgie's existence.
The pressure for perfect housework even among several part-time jobs pieced together increased. Budge was hectored not to read, she was told by both parents that her artwork sucked and she had no talent. They didn't want her to be an art teacher in the first place, but offered no other advice or possible careers for Budgie. The neat-freakery and weirdness only grew as Mimi grew into a prig of a girl who criticized her as much as her mother did.
Budge began rebelling more overtly in college. She had become a Goth, and started talking back. Since her parents held so much of the purse strings, Budgie could only push things so far. All those endless jobs only paid so many bills. She was not prepared for an independent life. Her wealthy upper middle class high school had scared her out of Vocational training, claiming it would mean low wage work for life. Budge had no life skills and the Spyders had planned it that way. Older Budge would regret just not walking out at 18 and not investing so much soul into trying to get through college, so she could get a good career. It didn't matter how much she fought, Midge always won and her father followed.
The wedding planning proceeded. No expense was spared for Mimi, who grew more intolerable. One day, Budgie went along for some of the wedding dress shopping--usually she was left out, and Mimi decided on her virginal white wedding dress with a big white bow on the back. As Mimi pranced with her thinner body on the wedding shop walkway in front of the mirrors. Mr. Spyder said to Budge, “No one's ever going to marry you, as I said, you should rethink about the nunnery. Let them take care of you.” The Spyder's didn't care that Budge wasn't even the right religion anymore to be a nun, they just wanted her gone!
Mrs. Spyder one day told Budgie, “You are too fat, you can't be in your sister's wedding.” Budge at the time wore a size 22-24. “You'll ruin the pictures”, Midge said. Mimi accepted this, and agreed with Mrs. Spyder. Inside, Budgie's depression and hurt grew. Budge's outcast status in her non-family would be cemented for good. Mimi gloried in her golden child status. God in the future would bless Mimi, with a huge suburban house, 4 children, an even thinner body, a trip to London and never wanting for a dollar. He ignored all of Budgies pleas for financial stability and threw another match to light hell up bit hotter.
A few months before the grand production of her sister's elaborate wedding, one day Budgie came home from work, and found a box in the mail addressed to her. It was from a company known for wedding knickknacks. Budge felt suspicious opening it because she had not ordered anything. Opening the box, she found a paper addressed to her, and a credit card number in her name she did not recognize.Then Budgie remembered, she had sent away for a credit card in the mail a few months earlier! Her mother had taken the credit card when it arrived in the mail, and used it without Budge's knowledge.
At the time Budgie had forgotten about her application thinking she had been turned down.Mrs. Spyder had stolen Peep's identity! Her shopaholic ways had taken precedence over everything! Calling the credit card company, Budge found out over $1700 dollars had been charged in her name. No one asked for this financial help, no one talked to her saying, "We are short on funds could you help us out?" Budgie knew she had to leave then. There was no other choice. Budgie was too afraid of turning her mother into the cops for stealing her identity. She knew her parents would lie about her, and maybe even make counter accusations. Midge threatened her that if she talked she would do just that.
When she confronted her mother, Midge said, “You owe me because we paid for some of your college!” Her father was no help. He believed Midge's lies and refused to even accept it had happened. Budgie said crying, “Why did you lie to me or just not ask?”. Budge ran to take a day off from substitute teaching and rented a room in a woman's boarding house in a neighboring town.
Budgie had gotten a part time art teaching job at a juvenile home, which was part of the recreation program for incarcerated youth and required working during evenings and weekends. She chose to commute 45 minutes three times a week instead of living too close to her parents. The day Budgie moved out, her mother was at work. However her father was home, having retired early; and he went ballistic, screaming and yelling, as Budgie had not told her parents she was leaving. She didn't want to be sabotaged.
Mr. Sypder tried to rip Budge's few clothes out of her hands, claiming he had bought them when he hadn't, ranting and raving about a blue chair she took, which that week he had announced he was going to put in the trash. He screamed at her for “stealing” things, grabbing at her, and throwing paint cans, as she hustled the few possessions she owned into her car and on the trailer she had rented. As Budgie made her final dash for the car, he ran after her shouting, raging and throwing more paint cans.
The wedding was coming very soon after this time. Budge planned to cut them all off, and no one had disinvited her from the wedding. For some time, she wanted to give a message in the way she dressed. She had been abused and put down long enough. The Budgie of today does not advocate revenge, and will pause here, to say revenge is wrong. However she does not regret standing up for herself and the spirit of rebellion against injustice.
Her Bridezilla sister and narcissistic parents had pushed her to the breaking point. She was a little afraid, but she decided she was going to wear all black to her sister's wedding as a Goth bride. She planned out the outfit and got herself a teeny black veil and black shoes with buckles on them, and a pentagram silver necklace. The dress was custom made made out of black lace. She had black gloves. She got a friend to wear black and to go with her. When Budgie showed up, her family stared, and their eyes bugged out. Mimi was surprised. No one said a word. After the initial shock, Budge's family just ignored her. Her plan had backfired.
Years later, Budgie realized only walking away and going no contact worked. The narcissists froze her out and circled the wagons. Even 27 years later, her grunting cousin would invite her to his wedding reception but not the church part of the service. Years later Budgie's father would bitch about her showing up in black at her sister's wedding but he never questioned or stood against the ill treatment that led her to come as a Goth bride in the first place.
Budgie cut off the family as planned for three and half years. They would not know where she even lived. She went “no contact” before knowing what it was. Sadly the therapists Budgie voluntarily sought out for her abuse, severe anxiety disorders and panic disorder, while admitting that she'd been seriously emotionally abused, told her to reconcile with her parents and family, to “work things out, “to forgive and forget”, and “don't be bitter”. They had all read pleasant John Bradshaw books, with hopeful tales of families healing and coming together as new best friends.
“Mothers always loved their children.”, many of these therapists said, not realizing this didn't apply to everyone. Budge heard plenty of excuses for her parents, that they were “under stress”, that they needed to be “honored”, and to realize that “everyone makes mistakes”, and “not to hold grudges”. No one ever defended her. Even there, they told her something was WRONG with her not to be loved.
Other relatives joined the fray, telling her "that's just the way they are", "you have to accept them for who they are", or "You don't want to live your life angry do you?" Others told her it was simply wrong to cut off one's parents no matter how badly they had treated you. In 1990, few knew about narcissistic personality disorder or sociopathy and if they did, it wasn't for a mere layman to address.
Budgie's therapists did not tell her about going no contact or how severe emotional and physical abuse can affect a person for life or about protecting herself or about drawing boundaries. She'd have to learn these lessons later in life. For years Budgie would blame herself. She was a “bad daughter”, “cost too much”, “shouldn't have gone to college”, “didn't get along with people”, “didn't make enough money”, “messed up the relationships.”
Budgie worried that she was everything they'd told her that she was, unworthy, fat, lazy, and worse. For many years she dreamed of the day she would be thin or average sized and have great job making lots of money where her parents and family would finally love her. That was a wasted dream. It is for all adult children of narcissists. But Budgie had enough fire in her at a young age to cut the chains, once upon the time. This time she plans to stay free.
Peep Fiction #2
Peep Fiction #1