My name is Vivian Cunningham-White and I'm not crazy.
I think I have been in this mental institution for almost ten years but I don't belong here. Right now it is early morning and I'm lying quietly here in my bed pretending to be asleep because my meds from yesterday have worn off. I hope if I stay real still no one will notice that I'm awake and almost normal. That way they won't force me to take another pill and put me back in the dark.
Almost normal? That's what I feel like now. My mind is a little fuzzy but now I can actually think. I can feel the hard mattress under me, the cheap cotton bra and panties I am given to wear, the shapeless one piece dress I am forced to wear all the time. And best of all I can remember. I remember some of my life before.
I close my eyes and listen to the early morning sounds of this institution. The silent sounds of the other women sleeping, the sounds that the insane make at night, and somewhere down the hall behind some locked door, a Sundowner is howling in the dark.
Sundowner is the term that the attendants label those poor souls whose brain activity is so mixed up that they howl at the moon when the sun goes down. It is not a nice term, but it fits them to a tee.
I'm not exactly sure when I started to become aware of my surroundings. But one night I woke up and had to use the bathroom. Usually I just went right here in my bed. I was so drugged, I just didn't know the difference. But this one early morning, I got up and used the toilet in the corner. Somewhere there was going to be a very happy orderly later that day because she had no mess from me to clean up.
I have been remembering more and more every day but I can't let any of the nurses or attendants know this. If they find out, my meds will be increased and I will fade back into oblivion. So far I have been able to figure out that this is a state run institution by what I can see or hear going on around me.
The help only does the minimum necessary to keep their jobs. The rooms and equipment are poorly maintained or needing replacement. The state hides the mental patients away to prevent upsetting "the normal's ... the outsider's"
I have wondered why am I here? I remember being a Senior VP in some large corporation. I was making serious money in my job. I was married and my husband worked for the federal government. We lived on a small farm outside of a large western NY State City with our two children. My husband was a stay at home Dad, working with all his computers in his office.
Me, I was picked up by chauffer every morning and driven to the Company Headquarters and returned home at night. I was climbing the corporate ladder and ignoring my family plus everything and everyone else. I remember becoming a self-centered bitch.
I can remember now how everything started. I was single and working for a local tool and die company. It was a small company owned privately by a Mr. Franklin Potter. He was the founder and a very kind gentleman.
When I started with the company Mr. Potter was in his 60's and still working every day. He was in his office by 7:00 am and still there at 7:00pm. All the employees loved him because of the way he treated them. If anyone called him "Mr. Potter", they got a dressing down.
"My name is Frank! My father was Mr. Potter and he's dead now," was usually how the dressing down began. When he finished, he smiled and said, "Please?"
I was hired as a front office employee. My job was to be a secretary, personal assistant, switchboard operator, gofer and basically a "Girl Friday" for all the men working in the front office. It was a small company and everyone pitched in.
I met my husband Phil at a Starbucks near where I worked. Physically he was exactly the type of man I was drawn to. He was about 6' tall and around 200 pounds. He wasn't a bit fat, but looked as if he had a hard body under his suit. As far as the rest of the package was concerned, he had dirty blond hair, a pleasant smile and the softest brown eyes I had ever seen.
When our eyes met the first time, I felt as if I was looking into soul of a small puppy. His eyes appeared to want to worship me. I think I fell a little bit in love with him then.
I'm surprised that Phil didn't immediately spot my beautiful features. I was proud of my body. It had developed while I was in high school. When I started in the 9th grad I was built like a skinny boy. By the time I graduated, I was smoking hot!
My body had filled out very nicely. I was 5'4" tall and 110 lbs ... My boobs were a "B" cup but they were firm and sag free. I played soccer and ran some cross country, thus my legs and butt were nice. All and all I was a borderline wet dream for guys. Men chased me not the other way around.
But then there was Phil.
I didn't actually stalk him, but I started showing up at Starbuck's daily. I soon figured out his Starbucks schedule and I was right next to him in line. That graduated to sharing a table, then meeting for lunch and finally, after a couple of months, a real date.
It's not that Phil was shy, he would do anything I asked. It's just that he never took the initiative. I had to ask him for anything I wanted. But to his credit, if I asked, he immediately did it for me. He never complained or reneged.
I just assumed that he would soon know my likes and dislikes and I wouldn't need to ask. I was a selfish bitch. I wanted it my way and only my way.
It took about six months before I had to make the first move. Now I wasn't a virgin or anything, I was a "nice" girl. But Phil was driving me nuts! He would walk me to my apartment door, kiss me until my knees were weak, and then LEAVE!
I knew he was feeling something because I could feel his excitement pressing against me while we kissed. But damn it, he wouldn't make the necessary moves. Batteries for my electronic lover were becoming a major part of my budget!
One night I was just too horny. When we got back to my apartment I dragged him by that lump in his pants through the door and right into my bedroom. I'd like to say that the first time was great, but I'd be lying. The first time got the job done. By the time, well actually the next three times that night were over, I found out that Phil really knew his way around a girl's body. I was one happy girl.
My apartment lease ran out four months later, and I moved into Phil's small house. We started our life together.
The door to my small room opened and a female attendant entered. "Ok honey, it's time to get up, take your meds and get cleaned up."
I slowly stood up as if I was still medicated. She had me strip naked and start walking to the shower room. The medication cart was at the shower room door and she handed me a small paper cup with my two pills in it. I put the pills in my mouth as she watched. When she turned to put the water on, I spit the pills into my hand. Once in the shower I opened my hand and let the pills wash down the drain.
She washed me down not seeing the pills fall.
I was starting my way out of my drug induced stupor. A fleeting thought crossed my mind, "What if I need these pills to stay alive." But then I really didn't care if I lived or died. I just wanted my mind back.
My next memory to return was after about 10 years of married life. I had 7 year old twin children, a boy and a girl. Phil and I had a nice house in the country. It sat on 20 acres of rolling hills with a pool and a small horse barn with two horses. We had no close neighbors. Phil was a stay at home Dad and did something for the government. My job was a lot more important, or so I thought.
I never actually paid much attention to his work. Perhaps it was for some intelligence agency like the FBI, CIA or NSA or something. I suspected that because every once in a while a man would appear at our front door asking for Phil. The man would be carrying a briefcase that was chained to his wrist.
As the time passed, Mr. Potter sold the business. He had two children but they had no interest in running a small firm. So our little tool and die company was absorbed by a larger out of state company. None of our original employees lost their jobs. To be exact, our front office soon was home to some more important people from our new parent company and the entire operation was expanded.
The business thrived and my duties increased. The merger of this business with others happened three more times in that ten year span. Each time I got more responsibilities, but was traveling at least two or three weeks a month toward the end.
My family life was disintegrating. Phil did everything with the kids. He was both father and mother to them. I was just someone who seemed to occasionally visit for a day or two. I was surprised that the kids just didn't call me Vivian instead of Mother. "Mother" not Mom or Ma, but Mother.
I never noticed at the time, but now looking back it seemed they never felt anything for me towards the end. I was just a stranger in the house whose name happened to be "Mother". Mother was my name, not my job as far as they were concerned. Phil had replaced me in their eyes as the go to parent.
Phil was always there for them. He got them up in the morning, off to school, sat up with them when they were ill, helped with their homework, was there for their after hours school activities, plus read to and tucked them in at night. If I was home and they needed something, I'd offer to help, but the answer always was, "It's OK, Mother, Dad will do it."
Their refusal of my help did hurt at the time, but soon I was again buried in my work and the hurt went away.
.... There is more of this story ...