Reviewing an Old Journal: Rediscovering the Manipulation of My Sister and My Mother

I finished my ‘to do’ list yesterday, except one thing. I wrote that I wanted to get through an entire notebook (journal) yesterday and that didn’t happen. It was the last thing I did from that list and it wasn’t until about 8:00 pm that I started.  But what I did do was to get through a section of a three subject notebook. I don’t have much doubt that’s contributing to my feelings of depression this morning also.

I didn’t find anything pertaining to the time of my father’s terminal illness. I didn’t think I would though because that particular journal dates back to 2009. It was on top of the pile though so I figured I’d start there to minimize the overwhelm.

It’s alarming to see the same basic themes running through me and my life back then as today. I struggled with authenticity just like I still do today. I struggled with depression, as I have since I was 18 but probably long before in reality. I struggled with communicating with my family and being treated with respect.

One particular thing that stood out was my sister’s treatment of me.

I took her dog in a couple times while she and her family went on vacation. Both times she promised to pay me for it. Both times she broke that promise. The second time I did it I was still angry about the first time. But instead of speaking up I kept silent.

I know there’s people would probably say, “It’s your sister, you should do it for free.”

Well I would disagree in our situation. Besides that, she’s the one who insisted on compensating me. She’s the one who initiated the topic of paying me. Whether it was all planned to manipulate me into taking her giant Rottweiler into our small house, I don’t know. But it was her husband who dropped off the dog with her young son. Pretty much assuring I wouldn’t bring up the subject of payment. Then when they got back, the husband picked the dog up again.

Later when I spoke to sister on the phone she told me ‘We’re going to do something for you. We just don’t know what yet.”

It breaks my heart that my sister could treat me this way. I’m also angry. I had actually forgotten about that until I read it last night. I want to go back in time so much and tell her how shitty that all was and that if she can’t come through on something, don’t fuckin’ promise it. It’s not even the not getting money that hurts and disappoints me. It’s the fact that she thinks and feels so little of me that I’m not worth much but to lie to and manipulate.

Makes me even more confident in my staying away from her and cutting her out of my life.

I’d also written some about my parents and their neglect and abuse from childhood. In fact one incident effected me so much that I wrote about it twice.

Between last night and this morning, I got into a small battle in my mind about writing about all this. And then I realized, one of the big reasons that adult children hesitate to write and sometimes never write about it is because we still want to protect them.

The other big reason we hesitate to write about what happened is because of shame.  Our own shame and the fear of being judged for what they did to us. Somewhere along the way, society has brainwashed many of us into believing that if we got abused, or hurt in any way we must have deserved it.

Last night I kept thinking about how I still want to believe my father loved me. I think he believed he loved me. But I don’t think he really knew how to love. Abuse can be confusing because I wasn’t abused continually every moment of every day. My father and I had some fun times together too.

When I was younger, I believed my mother was the good parent, the nice one, the patient one. The one who didn’t yell. (My father didn’t yell either, he bellowed.) My mother was the one who let us do things that my father didn’t. We didn’t have to walk on eggshells when he wasn’t home. She was less drama and I could be a kid for the most part.

But there was neglect too. I did have friends and spent quite a bit of time playing with them, but when I was in the house with no friends, I played alone a lot.

When I was 9, one of my small pets died because my mother hadn’t been keeping an eye on my sister who was 3.

I went to school without homework being finished when I was just in first grade. And was abused by the teacher for it.  I went without a Winter coat one year in high school. And where I’m from, a Winter coat is a necessary item. I compensated with a sweat jacket underneath a jean jacket. And then there’s the enabling of the abuse my father inflicted most of the time.

I list those things above because I do see most of them as a mom’s responsibility for the most part. But it’s really both parents who were responsible for these things. I don’t hold my father too responsible for the death of my small pet because he was at work. My mother was home. She was just downstairs, while my sister was upstairs.  The homework was an issue because my father was abusive when he “helped” me. Simply avoiding him wasn’t always possible when I was six.

In the end, while my father was dying, my mother teamed up with my sister to triangulate and manipulate me. She had me believing she validated and understood me during one particular conversation between the two of us, then threw a dig in as well as excused an incident of my brother raging at me as “just an emotional reaction.”

In my opinion I waited too long to sever ties with these people.

I’m also questioning this healing capability of journaling. I posted a video where Dan Mackler talks about it here.

I’ve journaled…a lot. Not recently, but I used to. So why am I not healed?

One reason I think is because I allowed my family to still be a part of my life for so long. I allowed them to treat me like a dumpster and a doormat and I allowed them to manipulate me. But in my defense, I really didn’t know what exactly was going on. I can’t even be sure that if I had been so aware in my 20s, 30s and even part of my 40s that I would have severed ties.

I knew something was wrong. I’ve known since at least from my early 20s that there was dysfunction in my family. I know now it was a lot more than dysfunctional. It was toxic. But each time I attempted to confront something or resolve something, I walked away feeling like it was me who was the problem. Because, if only I could let go of the past.

Even when later I would feel the anger again. Or the confusion or sadness or depression. I would at times feel so astonished and perplexed after a confrontation or an attempt at discussion because I would walk away from it feeling beat up.

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10 thoughts on “Reviewing an Old Journal: Rediscovering the Manipulation of My Sister and My Mother

  1. “I would at times feel so astonished and perplexed after a confrontation or an attempt at discussion because I would walk away from it feeling beat up.”

    It really is astonishing and perplexing when your own family does not care about your well-being.

    As you know, some of the trauma and abuse that I experienced as a child was very extreme. So over the top, it seemed more like a horror movie than real life. But, of all the painful things that I have ever gone through in my life, the most painful by far was simply knowing that I was not loved, I was not cherished, I was not protected and nurtured, I was not wanted, I was not liked, by my own family.

    Not being liked by my own family cut to the marrow of my bones, to the essence of who I am. Not being liked was most often communicated by a disdainful look, a dismissive tone of voice, being ignored, and having my needs neglected.

    Not having a winter coat when you were a teenager, living in a cold climate — that makes me angry.

    Your sister telling you, twice, that she will pay you to keep her large dog in your little house while she goes on a fun vacation, and then not paying you either time, even though she brought up the promise of payment — I am just shaking my head, because it’s these “little” things that tell you your feelings do not matter to these people. The very people you expect to care, if anyone does.

    I am mad about you not having a winter coat as a teenager. Winter before last my then 33 year old son and his girlfriend and her 15 year old daughter stayed in our house. The winters are very cold in this high altitude. We bought them winter coats and gloves when we saw they didn’t have any. Right now, my 43 year old stepdaughter is living with us, also to get on her feet financially. I have already bought her winter gloves and will be buying her a warm coat very soon.

    This is just what you do for people you care about. I’m sorry you didn’t have that growing up. Being loved by our family of origin is a basic necessity of life. We need love, like we need food and water and clothing and shelter. When we don’t get love from our family, it cripples us psychologically. Then we spend years as adults trying to figure out what is “wrong” with us and how to fix it.

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    • Thank you for the validation. It’s these comments that really help me to see what it is I’m missing sometimes. Liked. I never even thought about that. I was having problems with feeling accepted and then later it occurred to me that their actions don’t indicate love. I focused on those things as well as respect or lack thereof.

      But it’s apparent now that I was definitely not liked by my sister especially. And when I think about certain times, I think my mom teetered back and forth on how she felt about me.

      So much happened at the end of our relationship, during the time of my father’s illness, it really traumatized me. At that time I was emailing someone long distance for support through it. She helped me see so much with what I didn’t see.

      I was always going, “Yeah but…” to excuse the behavior. I did it prior to her support a lot (in my mind) and I did it in the emails to her. I wanted to be clear. I wanted her to know that I was no angel. And again, my reflex to your comment is to do that. Defend.

      Not because I’m angry at your comment. Not at all. It’s that desire to defend them because I feel less than perfect. But that’s not all.

      That was one Winter. All other Winters I had a coat. Every Christmas there were loads of presents and every birthday was remembered and celebrated.

      So this is where I feel like I run into shame. How could I cry about something like this when there were good times?

      Just when I think the confusion is letting up, it takes hold again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is very confusing, isn’t it? Even in my extremely abusive family, there were plenty of Christmas presents and birthday presents.

        I wasn’t a perfect daughter or sister, either! Who is? But I strongly believe that every imperfect child needs and deserves to be liked and loved by his or her family, despite having human imperfections. Because everybody has them.

        Maybe my family was just a little more honest in their hostility than your family? When I was four years old I came in from playing in the back yard like I did most days, to go to the bathroom. I had to walk from the back door through the living room to get to the bathroom. My mother was sitting in a chair reading a book. I didn’t say anything, having learned never to disturb her when she was reading. On the way back outside from the bathroom, as I silently walked through the living room again and passed her chair, my mother said, “I love you, of course, because you are my daughter. I just don’t like you.”

        I hadn’t done anything “bad”” that I recall. I was four years old! I remember how crushed I felt. I didn’t even know what to say. After my mother said this, she went back to reading her book, like I wasn’t even there. So I silently went back outside.

        Over the years my mother would say that every once in awhile. Maybe only about once or twice a year she would say it. Maybe less. But it always came out of nowhere, when I hadn’t misbehaved at all that I was aware of — not that misbehavior on the part of a young child would justify it!

        When I was eleven I finally got up the courage one day to ask my mother WHY she did not like me. I wanted to fix whatever was wrong with me, you see. Her answer: “It’s just you, it’s just the way you are.” Later she added, “It’s the way you think.” Like… she could hear my thoughts?

        How does a child fix that? How does anyone fix that?

        As I got older, both my mother and my father’s hatefulness and verbal and even sometimes physical abuse of me became more and more extreme. I was completely thrown away by my parents when I was fourteen. Forced out of the house. And yet, to this very day, my now elderly mother often tells people how much she loves me, how much she worries about me, and how hard and how often she prays for me. BUT…. her definition of LOVE is nowhere close to my understanding of love. Love is gentle. Love is kind. Love is not envious. Love does not rejoice when you are in trouble. Love does not gossip about you. Love gives you the benefit of the doubt. Love does not fail, not even when you are human. Imperfect.

        But — what if my mother had never come right out and SAID “I don’t like you” to me as I was growing up? What if she had never put it into words? What if all she had ever done was what she did in fact do to me, day in and day out — I’m talking about her frequent hateful looks, her typical snotty, aggravated tone of voice when she talked to me, the way she almost always minimized and ignored my feelings, her neglect of some of my basic needs?

        Love isn’t about what people say of don’t say, you know. It is about what they do.

        When you grow up in an atmosphere lacking in warmth, void of nurturing, accepting love, it stunts your psychological growth. And when, in that cold environment, you also get things like Christmas gifts and birthday gifts and enough clothes to keep you from freezing to death and enough food to keep you from starving, it can be confusing as heck! The mixed messages — like my mother saying “I love you of course, because you are my daughter” — what does that mean, when the next half of the sentence is “I just don’t like you?” I mean really, what in the heck does that mean?

        My youngest half-sister, who was born when I was married and pregnant with my first child, so she really has no clue how our mother treated me when I was growing up — she kept giving me messages, back a few years ago when I was on FB, saying “Mom told me to tell you she loves you!” This was in the weeks and months after our mother had written a 62 page hate letter to me, telling me everything that was ever wrong with me in my life, according to her opinion, plus she sent copies of that book length hate letter to others in my family, my siblings and my aunt, to let them know why she does not like me. And yet my mother is telling my sister to tell me she loved me, even after she had given her 62 page hate letter about me to my sister!

        I told my sister, “I know that you believe our mother loves me. I am not asking you to stop believing this. But please stop passing on these messages to me from our mother. I do not believe that she loves me, I believe that she hates me. And when you pass these messages to me from her, it really hurts me. So let’s just not talk about our mother at all anymore, okay?”

        My sister did not reply to that private message. Then, about a month later, o the night before Thanksgiving, my sister posted right on my FB wall: “Mother said to tell you that she loves you SO MUCH and she wishes you could be here to have Thanksgiving dinner with us!”

        I deleted that post off my wall. Then my sister and her husband and a niece and another sister blew up FB with their Hate Linda messages.

        ARRRGGGGHHHHH.

        Like

        • So much to comment on here. Reading your comments is both heartbreaking and helpful. I am so sad for the 4 year old little girl hearing that awful statement. Who says that?

          Sounds like your family is all on your mom’s side. And all those posts on FB sound like a form of gang stalking. I think I might have to block them all. Have them believing I left FB or something.

          The confusion has been really tough for me to get through. But it’s getting easier to see around it as time goes on and I know I’m more clear being away from them.

          This afternoon I used Mr. B’s camera and set it up in a windowsill and just talked into it. Just now I played it back and listened to myself say all this stuff about severing ties with my family. It was a free talking thing so it wasn’t completely organized, but it was clear. My voice sounded less depressed than it has in a long time and as I was talking I could tell I was confident and sure about the fact that what I was saying happened did indeed happen. And even though I was not perfect and in fact mean myself at times (I bullied my brother when we were kids) it doesn’t excuse their behavior.

          I keep reminding myself too that the difference between me and them is that I’m sorry for certain things. I’m willing to hear anyone out who wants to have a respectful conversation and tell me they were hurt when I…

          But that’s not how it’s presented. I’m attacked. In fact my sister has used some rather benign things against me weeks later when I tried to have a conversation about something that involved resolution. The finger points and I’m to blame for this that and other things. In the same breath she tells me I need to let go of the past. She also takes something to be her idea after disagreeing with me on it prior to that. These are the things that make me think that she’s a narcissist. But I try to avoid those terms and focus more on the behavior, because I’m not a mental health professional.

          You brought that up too. It’s not what ppl say but what they do. YES! This took me until recently to get through my thick skull. I’ve been in relationships with ppl who claim to love me and then do something that shows they don’t. But I stuck around believing, ignoring intuition because I didn’t want to feel the pain of their absence. Ugh. I’m sorry to go on. My gosh, there’s just so so much.

          It’s late here, I’m going to go read a book. I’m looking at the clock and calculating how early it is for you. lol.

          Sweet dreams and a big hug to you (if you want it.) I’m so sorry your mom treated you that way and said such horrible things. From what I’m reading you are very likeable. Thanks for being here.

          Like

          • Thank you so much for that last paragraph. I gratefully accept your hug and, wow, tearful… from what I am reading, you are very likeable, too.

            I love that you are talking out your feelings to a video camera. I have done that with audio tapes, which was very healing and validating to play back.

            Good night.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hey Linda. I know it’s been quite a while since we’ve exchanged comments on this post, but I was going back through old posts and doing some rereading and editing. Rereading through this post plus both of our comments really hit me in the gut all over again. However, after I signed out and was sitting here with an Isochronic meditation in my ears and reading a book on alchemy, I started to think about something you wrote above: “…we spend years as adults trying to figure out what is “wrong” with us and how to fix it.”

              Of course there’s more before that, but that one piece, it kept going through my head and then I thought, why does it have to mean there was something wrong with us? They were the ones abusing us. It was their behavior. That’s what’s wrong. Not us.

              I thought about the four year old little you, that innocent little girl, walking through the house, independent way before her time and I wanted to cry for her. You were a perfect being. Nothing was wrong with you. It was your mother who had something wrong with her.

              And then continuing on with my thought process I thought, How about these questions instead, “What wrong with them?” and “What’s right about us?” And think seriously and positively about that. So many things. Maybe we spend so much of our time trying to figure out what’s wrong with us because there’s no answer. There isn’t anything wrong with us. Therefore we’re spending time on the wrong question.

              And I think maybe in many cases, that people who want to live in denial, (parents, siblings, other family members) see something, sense something in the one they decide to pick on and abuse. They see the potential for strength with sensitivity. And in that they see the power that can come from that. So they say things and do things to keep us down, to eradicate self-worth and self-esteem.

              I don’t know that this is true in every case. But I think it’s possible in many. Just some thoughts.

              I hope you are doing well. How’s the memoir coming along?

              Liked by 1 person

              • Oh my goodness, I did not see this comment until just now because I no longer use the gravatar-wordpress account that I was using when I wrote the comment you were replying to here. I was having a lot of technical problems on that account and could not find any help, so finally I logged out of my old WP account completely and started a new one.

                But my old computer, which I am using right now, to get the pictures off of, still has me logged into my old wordpress account… if any of this makes any sense? My new WP gravatar — new as of about 10 months ago, or something like that — uses the same picture of me in my silly hat, and the name Linda Lee/@Lady Quixote.

                ANYWAY, what you said here — yes. YES!!! You are so right!!! Thank you for the validation.

                Oh, you asked how the memoir is coming. Painful. And painfully slow. But I am working on it…

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  2. It wasn’t until I was separated from them that I began to see the truth in everything. It is way to hard in your 20s and 30s to see the real truth if you are all wrapped up with their manipulation and lies. And so many of them. Your story is so much like mine in that there were so many people involved and so many layers of bullshit and lies and pain and suffering that it takes a long time to sort through and then heal from

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. It definitely gave me the space. But I don’t think I would’ve understood so much of what went on unless I’d had been able to read other people’s experiences and been so blessed to find enlightened witnesses via commenting on blogs and blogging myself.

      You are one of those enlightened witnesses by the way. You are quite wise and have seen things in my posts I was not able to see. I know I mentioned this before. But I am more grateful for this than I could ever put into words. Lynda Lee is another enlightened witness. And there is another woman named Kelli who used to blog here on Worpress. I found her back in 2012/2013.

      I started reading her blog and because of that, so much started making sense. First about the affair that had recently ended at that time and then the family stuff started to make more sense too because of her blog. She also helped me through email. She was an angel at a time I was living in hell…in the midst of the care of my father when he was sick and then the intense fog that had resulted from all the abuse that ensued during that time.

      She was a huge anchor in keeping me grounded at a time I didn’t want to be here anymore. Unfortunately, she has put her blog in private and it is no longer accessible unless you request to be ‘let in.’

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