Happy weekend everyone. Happy Canada Day. Happy Forth of July weekend.
I know you aren’t used to me making back-to-back posts, so I have disabled comments on this one. Instead, for those of you who haven’t seen yesterday’s post, I’m linking to the previous character study in Truths Unseen
You are not mistaken. I’m leaving Truths Unseen well… unseen. From the beginning, I warned everyone that I might not be able to finish. Then I said I probably wouldn’t complete it. Now I officially throw in the towel. I’m definitely not able to finish telling that story.
There is one reason I’ve felt compelled to tell this story. You didn’t see any hints of it in the 1930s “character studies” I shared. The reason would have gradually been revealed when Mattie’s daughter took a central part in the story.
The reason it was important to try and tell this story is Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP). I’m not sure whether or not that name is still accepted as a syndrome. Also there was always debate as to whether it was a mental disorder or plain child abuse. Personally I categorize it as evil. Simply evil.
The term fell into my radar in 2001. As I read about it I knew I had witnessed such. However, I could not find that article to share with you today. Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP or MbP) is a term often used when a caregiver or spouse fabricates, exaggerates, or induces mental or physical health problems in those who are in their care, with the primary motive of gaining attention or sympathy from others. (Wikipedia)
It tends to be overlooked because the “caregiver” is so friendly, kind, and helpful to medical staff — making their work seem easier. That person is a skilled manipulator, always appearing worthy of sympathy. In some cases they have even received important awards, because have played their part so well as “self-sacrificing caregiver” so well.
Truths Unseen Closure
For those of you seeking closure for my failed attempt at the story that keeps coming back, demanding to be told… I’ll state some closing facts. No, I can’t change the story to make it easier to tell, because that simply is not the story. I won’t further sully the tale that way, because the story has already happened.
Clarence: Lived a long life with which he was relatively content. However, due in large part to Mattie’s manipulation (and partly to an accident/back injury) he became a hermit. He always lived in the shack on the barren ridge. By the time he was an old man he only left the shack once every other week when Mattie (mostly to be seen doing good works) made him come home with her and Frank for an evening and a bath. Since he couldn’t bear to leave the house to take things to the dump, the shack became filled with stuff, pilled high, leaving slim trails to walk from room to room. When he died, Mattie was angry to realize that none of that “stuff” was salvageable. She never found the stash of money she was sure he had hidden there. Even so, Clarence kept a kind heart throughout his life.
Ben: Grew into a marvelous sense of humor, was very outgoing and made friends easily. He married a young woman whom Mattie complained was high falutin. Mattie wouldn’t accept her sister-in-law. The truth was that Ben’s wife was polished, smart by any definition of the word. She, and through her Ben, saw through Mattie easily. Mattie’s resentment drove a wedge between her and her younger brother. They didn’t reconcile until after Ben’s wife died. Ben was happy to renew friendships with Clarence and others in the family, determinedly looking past the truths he knew were thinly veiled. Meanwhile Ben developed a heart condition and died in middle age.
Frank: Was devoted to Mattie through 50 years of marriage. However, Mattie’s mean spiritedness and manipulation was like an infection in Frank’s heart. He became resentful and distrustful. More taciturn than ever, he was downright sullen. When he retired, he did not leave his house (or his chair) for six months. However, when Mattie died, Frank was the toast of the Golden Agers club (mostly women) for a year until he remarried. He drove the bus for the group and traveled everywhere they went. He was happy with his new wife, but the core of darkness that infected his heart remained. He nurtured resentments old and new, particularly of his son and one grandchild.
Mattie: Her manipulative skills grew and she became increasingly mean spirited and filled with hatred. It grew until her own hate ate her from the inside. She was a fairly old woman when she eventually died, raving her hate for her old enemies, children, and grandchildren.
Mattie and Frank: Had the girl and boy that Mattie imagined. (After the kids were grown, to get extra money, Mattie insisted on taking in a foster child, never telling the child that he was not their own — until Mattie’s mean spiritedness allowed her to lash out at him as a teenager and spitefully reveal the truth. Frank’s resentment and distrust fueled the situation. He ran away, tried to return as a young adult, but the hate remained in Mattie and Frank, so the divide that was never healed.)
The boy was youngest and grew deeply resentful of the favored treatment his older sister got. He was normal enough to see the wrongness of his family. He left home as soon as he was old enough, had a long and unhappy marriage with nine children, before the marriage finally collapsed.
The girl learned every manipulative trick Mattie knew, and developed an entire collection of her own. But she was more than a user, more than simply controlling. The darkness she took from Mattie was nothing compared to her evil. For evil truly exists. She married and had children of her own. She got away with murder, quite literally, of one child (Munchausen syndrome by proxy — mental illness, child abuse, or pure evil?), and gave another a lifetime of torment with bizarre abuse and manipulation. The tantrums from Mattie’s adult daughter were sufficient to stop anyone from interfering with her misdeeds. Everything she did was hushed up, or brushed away. Her eldest child was from an early marriage and lived with Mattie and Frank, remaining unscathed, but buying into every lie and manipulation his mother presented.
The story doesn’t end there, but those are all the characters you’ve seen mentioned. Either way, there still weren’t any happy endings.
So there you have it. I tried to live in the darkness of relating that story because I know it is important. Unpleasant to hear, but important to tell… I got further with this attempt than any other format in which I’ve tried to tell the story, but I wasn’t “ready” yet. Perhaps I never will be.
More than ever, I need the sunshine. I’m moving on to something whimsical and fun.
Stay tuned for an announcement on Sunday!
Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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