Secrets at The Big House:
Overcoming The Damage Of A Narcissistic Mother And An Emotionally Absent Father (Lessons in Resilience)
by Ana Maria Michelena, MD
There were ghosts and there were secrets at the BIG House.
The space between the walls of The BIG House were charged with the anguish of ever-present unhappiness. It was a different kind of haunting.
Time changes many things, but it does not change our memories.
This is a true story of descent from wealth and social standing. By necessity, it is also the story of my mother, a petite socialite of uncommon beauty, who subjected her children to unspeakable emotional and psychological terror.
From the outside, my mother looked perfect. She grew up in wealth, attended an all-girls boarding school in Switzerland and completed her education at Rosslyn House, a finishing school for girls in Surrey, England. She exhibited great intelligence and managed to be the recipient of numerous academic awards. She mastered the French language as if it were her own, developing an exquisite sensibility to delicate, soft and soothing poetry that contrasted with her mercurial temper.
My mother was so very charming and sophisticated in front of her friends and anyone who visited The Big House. Unforgettable. Thoughtful. Kind. Everyone admired her Audrey Hepburnesque physique and accompanying refinement.
But from inside The Big House, my mother’s hysterical, histrionic fits were covered up by her parents, her brother and the loyal servants. She was a master manipulator.
We were never sure where our mother’s terrible wrath and rage came from, at least not as children. We suffered her anger in the ignorance and innocence of childhood. We suffered her lack of patience, her irritability. Her inconsistency. We swallowed her detachment, choking on her never ending criticism, her cruelty and her judgments.
How easily words poison the mind. My mother was a master at poisoning minds. She made sure any budding sprigs of self-esteem and pride in myself were nipped short before they even had a chance to grow.
First, she delivered the initial blow that would open the wound, then she made sure the wound never healed by continuously pouring the stingy poison of more hurtful words on to it.
My self-image was poisoned and she suffocated my natural optimism and joy. It would take many years to undo the damage she inflicted upon my psyche.
Secrets at The Big House is written like a novel, with scenes and dialogue and a narrative arc, and every word is the truth—my truth. It is written in a way that will engage the emotions, the mind, and the love of readers.
Ultimately, it’s a story of hope, and I open the book with my favorite quote:
“Hope is the certainty that every question will be answered, every wrong will be made a right, and every act of faithfulness will be rewarded.”