Reveal: Anger and Emptiness – The Bubblegum Lipstick Story

Fury Painting Cropped - Revealed Healing - Brandie Nicole Richardson

Growing up as a kid was a pretty good time.

A lot of my bite sized fun happened through the TV: Barney and Friends, Rugrats, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Kenan and Kel, and a lot more 90s Nickelodeon shows than I can remember or list. As much as I’d like to say that my childhood was great, since I was well cared for, put through private school, and received many words of affirmation from my mom and dad, there was a lot of emotional nurturing that was missing. This left a large, gaping hole in my development that I tried to ignore. This emptiness evoked strong feelings of sadness. This sadness left me feeling fearfulvulnerable, and victimized, and this made me feel anger.

I was so angry to the point that I became sarcastic, bitter, and shameful of myself and who I was. All the while, I wanted to maintain the sweet, innocent demeanor that I so desperately wanted other people to believe I had. It was exhausting. Of course, there is innocence present with every child. Unfortunately, that precious innocence can be lost in many different ways, whether it is by physical or emotional neglect and/or abuse. From there, what happens to the child depends on how that child’s world continues to be shaped during and after the abuse cycle.


For me, as a child I went through a 3 major seasons of emotional trauma:

1. Sadness:

I was sad that I saw my friends’ parents interact with them in a way that my own parents did not interact with me. This sparked feelings of jealousy and not feeling like I belonged. I felt like something was wrong with me and that was why my parents couldn’t take me bike riding, swimming, on vacations, etc. I spent a lot of time by myself as a child, learning how to interact with imaginary friends and talk to my stuffed animals for companionship. This may sound normal for a kid, but imaginary play was my primary method of interaction. By rule of my parents, I was not allowed to have sleepovers or play outside under the supervision of other adults. These restrictions kept me inside the house most of the time, including summers. This longing for a better family, combined with loneliness for real human interaction led to childhood depression.

2. Fear:

The fear that I encountered as a child was both inconspicuous and subversive. I had normal childhood fears of course, such as spiders, weird shadows after the lights were out, and over-sized dogs chasing me. In addition to that though, I had a fear that I was unlovable. Of course, I had no idea that this fear existed in my elementary school years, but as an adult now, I can clearly see it. Many of these negative perceptions of myself and debilitating thoughts crept in after I encountered many severe beatings, slaps, screams, and outpourings of rage from my mom for my infractions in behavior.

Even if you are someone who believes in spankings, a spanking is not what I am talking about here. I’m talking about a parent throwing things across the room because a child didn’t pick up her toys; getting slapped in the face because you asked the dreaded “Why?” question as a toddler; getting screamed at all the way to school because a kid was late getting up out of bed and making their lunch, so now mom is going to be late to work. This made me think I did bad things and deserved bad things because I was bad and unlovable.

3. Anger: 

For me as a child, 1 (Sadness) + 2 (Fear) = 3 (Anger). But this was not the kind of anger that I could show, because whenever I showed extreme sadness or anger, I would be shamed and punished for it. So my anger boiled inside. I would fantasize about hitting my mom over the head with my Barbie doll house; running her over with a shopping cart; or dumping a pot of boiled spaghetti on her while she was sleeping. At 8 or 9 years old that’s some disturbing stuff for a child to imagine – but I found a deep sense of fulfilled revenge and satisfaction in thinking those thoughts.

Even more disturbingly, I also imagined killing myself in violent ways, as young as 6 years old. I thought that would make my mom sorry for all the things she did to me, and more so, I would be free from her cycles of tyranny. When I got old enough to talk back to my mom, I learned what her wounds were and fired them back at her in disrespectful and hurtful ways.

In my early college years, the handful of times she put her hands on me, I fought back and pushed her or screamed back at her to back off of me. I was terrified of doing these things, and I always felt like my heart was going to come out of my throat whenever her eyes widened in surprise and her mouth tightened when rage…. But I held my ground, as terrible as it was for me to continue the anger cycle I had learned as a child, I felt a source of power in anger.

My rage became my secret super hero power finishing move. Once it was unleashed, “my enemies” would be defeated.


A Flashback: The Bubblegum Lipstick Story

A little background info:

One of my favorite things to do as a child was to play with makeup. It was a way to connect with my mom too, because I used to LOVE watching her apply it. On a really awesome day, she would show me how to apply lipstick and eye shadow, and I was elated. One day, my mom bought me a kid-friendly lipstick kit with crazy colors ranging from red to purple. Applying the lipstick was more like applying silly putty paste to your lips rather than actual lipstick. I didn’t care though, I loved it. I learned that applying a little of my dad’s lip balm to my lips before applying the kiddie lipstick made everything much smoother and less sticky.

Putting on a big show:

One afternoon, I turned on some music in the living room and began dancing, pretending I was Janet Jackson. Of course, Janet always wears lipstick, so I pulled out the kit my mom got me. Surely a bright, electric pink would be Janet Jackson approved. My bite-sized, six year old self hopped up on the couch so I could see myself in the overhead mirrors. Once I could see, I aimed carefully and applied the bubblegum smelling stuff to my pursed lips – just like mom showed me. Boy was I excited! I hopped down, rubbed my lips together in excitement – feeling totally fabulous, by the way – and danced away while my mom was napping in the other room. After putting on a great show for my imaginary fans, it was juice box time. By that time mom was awake, in the kitchen, and prepping a meal for later.

Taking on a big fall:

I disappeared into my room for some time and reemerged later only to be grabbed violently by the scruff of my shirt and yanked over to the couch. My mom cursed at me and screamed while she moved the pillow back on our brand new couch only to show me the object of her rage. I didn’t see it at first, but as she pushed my body further into the pillow, I saw it – a one inch smudge of bubblegum pink lipstick on the edge of the pillow of our brand new couch.

She yanked me back off of the couch into the middle of the living room floor and proceeded to beat me with my dad’s heaviest belt. It was made of silver. Not just the belt buckle was shiny and silver – the entire belt was shiny and silver. I used to look at my dad’s belt and wonder how he could wear something so heavy, with the shiny circular details lining it. I watched as those tiny silver balls were hurled over my mom’s shoulder and slammed down onto my back, butt, legs, arms, and face. I begged, I cried, I screamed “SORRY! STOP!” But nothing worked.

Luckily, my dad appeared out of nowhere and moved my mom back, scooped me up, and put me on the bed in the other room. He held a mirror up to me and I saw an open purple sore on my face. My mom later applied ointment to the physical sore, but the emotional damage was done. I fell asleep crying, vowing never to touch the lipstick or my mom’s couch again.


This memory of the bubblegum lipstick incident is an example where I felt those three emotions I mentioned earlier:

1. SADNESS: My 6 year old self wanted to play.

It was the middle of the day, my mom was napping, and I was in the living room by myself. I wasn’t allowed to go outside or have friends over to my house. I was also told that I was too young to go to other children’s houses. So, my 6-year-old brain assumed I was stuck, and I had to make up a way to have my own fun. The way I did that on this particular day was pretending to be Janet Jackson (or whoever else was playing the role of protagonist on TV.) But at the end of the day, my 6-year-old self knew she wasn’t Janet Jackson. She knew she didn’t have any friends. She knew she was alone, and she was very sad.

2. FEAR: My mom was napping and I was NOT about to wake her up with loud music.

I had gotten yelled at for that before, so I was afraid that the volume would be too high. I was afraid of jumping too high and making the floor shake or making loud sounds while I danced. Maybe I’d get too carried away and hit the table, or break the lampstand, or hit the stereo speaker. Or maybe my mom would walk in and think I was crazy for dancing in the living room, pretending I had millions of adoring fans…. While wearing clown lipstick. I was afraid to express myself the only way I knew how at that time. Whether it was fear of doing something “wrong” or fear of getting embarrassed and laughed at by my family, I was afraid.

3. ANGER: Although I was just a 6 year old, I was pretty wise for my age. I was angry that my parents were not being the kind of parents I needed.

I’m not talking about the fact they didn’t give me cookies for breakfast, even though that’s what I wanted. I’m talking about the emotional connection I knew I needed from them, even at the age of 6. I knew I wasn’t getting some form of parental guidance, even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time. I just knew that no other kids at my school stayed locked in the house over the summers…. Except for when their parents went grocery shopping or out to run errands. No one else’s mom disappeared for weekends at a time, leaving them crying and wondering where they went. And as far as I could tell, no one else at my school got the crap beat out of them for pretending to be a bubblegum lipstick-wearing Janet Jackson.


What happens now?

I share this story, not to get pity or praise or anything like that. I share this story for me. I share this story for revealing to myself how this story continues to play out in my life now, even though I am an adult. I may have been innocent as a young girl, but it is my responsibility to own my past, my actions, and my feelings now, so I can do what is in best for me and my life as an adult. Retelling this story releases its power over me. I was holding on to so much shame with this story until I released it. During the process of releasing it with trusted friends and through this blog, something new has been revealed to me.

The emptiness is still there.

The sadness, fear, and anger is still there. The anger is my form of protecting myself from being hurt, but in my anger I am inadvertently hurting myself anyway. The nurturing I needed in my youth is still missing. Just like a 6 year old, I often feel fearful and vulnerable as an adult, taking on the “angry victim” mentality.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE:

My mom is not an evil person. She has her own story and her own traumas.

Although her anger and treatment of me in certain circumstances was not ethical or reasonable, my mom really is a great mother. I am not excusing her behavior, but her example continues to remind me of the ways in which I want to be responsible for myself and those who I love. I’ve learned many lessons from her in how to handle myself as an adult. I have also learned many lessons on what I won’t allow in my life. I can thank my mother for being the parent I needed to help me get to the point I am at today.

It has been revealed to me that this trauma from the past didn’t happen to me. I’m not a victim here. This trauma happened through me. Although I did not cause it or ask for trauma as a little girl, it happened anyway, as do many other unfortunate things in life. Life is not the way it should be. Life is the way it is. Since this trauma came into my life and left again, it happened through me, while also leaving behind some emotional mess to clean up.

Just like a hurricane wrecking a coastal town. Just like a tornado shredding the plains in the Northwest.

It comes. It goes. It leaves destruction and devastation. Then the cleaning begins. The healing continues. 

If you are suffering from trauma or some form of abuse, seek help. Do not prolong your healing any further. Let the destruction pass through you and find a safe environment to continue your healing. You are worth so much more than the devastation you see in your life.

To your health,

Brandie Nicole

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *