It's been a busy couple of weeks. School started and my firm belief that teenagers are the biggest germ-spreaders in the world was confirmed yet again by the arrival of the beginning-of-the-school-year-Monster-cold. Sigh. A real butt-kicker, this one was, with congestion and sleepless nights and coughing fits and fevers and fatigue and generally overwhelming malaise.
But still, we took it in rounds so that each party affected was able to rest comfortably in turn, and we've faced bigger battles than a measely cold, no matter how powerful it tried to be. Thrown into the mix, though, I'd committed to throwing a party at our home for a lady I've spent the last twelve years working with. She was retiring and, unfortunately, her boss didn't deem it important enough to throw her a party. I'm a big believer in the creation of rituals to mark events, as I don't feel that we as a fast-moving society have enough of these pauses of recognition. So, with DH's and the DD's help, we'd decided to turn a negative non-event into a positive celebration.
Fighting a massive headcold and preparing the house for a party at the same time filled up my plate enough, but then one of the DD's was invited to a birthday party for a special friend as well. Even though both parties were on the same day, we decided that it was important for DD to go, so I made the time in the day to drive her to her friend's house, leaving DH home to continue making our home presentable.
After a morning of last minute shopping, cleaning, cooking and sniffling (though I tried desperately not to sniffle in the kitchen,) I saddled up to take DD to her friend's house. I didn't realize quite how far out of the way the friend's house was until we were thirty minutes into the drive. Ah, well, I thought, it will all get done. It always does. With DD safely delivered, I had just one stop left to make, so I pulled into the nearest convenience store to our home to quickly pick up two bags of ice.
Standing in line, running late, trying to find my wallet, trying not to sniff or cough or sneeze on anyone, I was - to put it mildly - distracted. I'm not sure what I heard behind me that was familiar, but something made me glance briefly over my shoulder.
In that single look, I recognized GCYB standing directly behind me with Narc OS's son, who is now seven years old. I can't say that I recognized what happened inside me at the time, but with a little retrospection, I can describe what I felt.
I tensed in anticipation of that familiar gut-dropping, guilt ridden constriction of my chest. In the past when I've suffered these brief interactions with the NFOO that come as part and parcel of living in the same small town that they do, I've been immediately terrified. A lifetime of being the scapegoat, the reason for the problem, the cause of all harm does not, after all, disappear in four brief years of LC followed by NC. I was waiting for that terror for a split second before I realized that it didn't come.
Maybe it was the sheer exhaustion of my week, maybe it was the fact that I had bigger and better fish to fry at the moment. Who knows. But I just really didn't give a fuck who was standing in line behind me. Joan of Arc come back to life probably would have gotten the same non-reaction. I needed two bags of ice, and I was damn well just going to get two bags of ice and then drive home to take care of the people who love me. Damn it.
I thought for a brief moment of what I would say if GCYB initiated a conversation. And realized that I would say nothing at all. I mean, really, who is this person to me? He's a user and a fraud who claimed to love me but immediately blamed me for all the NFOO's problems as soon as NM was cut off from her access to me as her primary source of narc supply. He owes DH and I fifteen thousand dollars which he borrowed to start a now-failed business five years ago. He never paid back a red cent (and yes we - okay, I - shouldn't have lent it to him in the first place, but that was a lifetime ago.) He got married over a year ago and didn't invite us to the wedding, didn't ever make any effort to contact us. He's only contacted me twice in four years - both about three years and eleven months ago - once when he passed a message through EF saying that he was too angry with me to talk to me, and once when he sent me a text (knowing full well that I was out of the country) that "your mother had surgery and isn't doing well - thought you should know even if you don't care."
So, really? Really, really? I thought as I stood there waiting to get my two bags of ice. What the hell is there to say? "Hey fucker, where's my money? Find a new sister to use lately?" Nah, I was too tired for any of that.
And then, I heard/saw his reaction. He moved to the other side of the convenience store counter and got in the longer line over there. Bwahahahaha! Coward much?
The impression that I was left with is that of the idea all parents seem to give their children at some point when those young children encounter a particularly gruesome looking insect: they're more afraid of you than you are of them!
And guess what? It didn't really even change or affect my day. I got the ice, I drove home, I unloaded the packages and told DH what had happened. We had a brief laugh over it, I blew my nose for the seven thousandth time that day, washed my hands and made some homemade macaroni and cheese. All those invited showed up on time and we had a fabulous party for a fabulous lady. I slept well that night, after sending up a little happy thought/hope/prayer to whatever higher power helped me to survive the NFOO for my little nephew's sake.
Done and done.
But I learned about me through this little escapade - I learned that Vanci is not only going to be okay, she already is. She's got her priorities straight these days and she lives be one of her favorite credos: Never make anyone a priority in your life if they only choose to make you an option in theirs.