It’s Actually Self-Sabotage and Restlessness

Although there was more to the post I wrote more than a week ago, called “Sabotaged Again,” I took it down anyway. In the post I said that I know that if I take care of my body and eat better, most of my PTSD will heal. And since I am not really sure about that anymore, I can’t stand behind the statement.

I also want to apologize to anyone who read it and felt minimized by that statement.

That being said though, I still think that taking care of the body, does improve the mind. I have experienced diminishing of symptoms like hyper-vigilance after taking care to eat in a healthy way. So I do still think that self-care does play a part.

But there is a lot more to it. I know that the brain changes in the case of trauma, or develops differently, when the trauma comes from childhood, than it would have if the child had been nurtured and cared for in a loving manner.

I have a tendency to start feeling better and then I get restless. I think this is what causes me to revert back to old habits. I also think it’s a combination of wanting to socialize too. I am lonely living with B. He doesn’t talk much and quite frankly, I am bored with him as well as feel quite a bit of resentment toward him.

So I prefer to seek out other company. In addition that company is at a disc golf course and close to nature. So two needs of mine are met with this: Actually three: being in nature, being around people/socializing and some movement.

I love disc golf. There was a point in time when I played often, but the local course is rife with opportunity to drink and smoke.  And although I have the discipline to stay away from it when I’m home, when I get out among people who ‘indulge’ I do the same.  And of course that sets me back.

In my situation it’s easy to have this happen, and in particular at my age. As much as I want to socialize with people who have healthier values, it can be difficult to meet them. It’s easy to go back to the familiar. If I want to get involved with different types of people, it takes money.

I’ve also noticed, that no matter what type of group I’m find myself around, eventually I feel uncomfortable and don’t fit in.

A couple weeks ago, B and I had a talk and agreed to make some changes. I can say that he has been following through for the most part. There is one thing I asked of him that I know he’d been following through with but I’m not sure if he still is. I’d have to ask to find out.

For me, I was following through on everything but one.

My not having an income is a problem. He wants me to earn some money. I don’t blame him and I agree with that desire myself.  The plan was for me to work on eBay. We have plenty here to sell and I’m quite familiar with the platform. But I have not been able to get myself to do much of anything on it.

I feel ashamed but I also feel like maybe I need to find something else to do. I just have no desire to deal with eBay. I feel so restless sitting at this computer anymore.


My Mother Broke My Heart But Set Me Free

My last post I shared an email I sent my mother in response to the message she wrote in my birthday card.

I didn’t share what she’d written but I will now.

The card itself says, “You’re always on my mind…

Inside it says, “…and in my heart.”
Then she signs it: I love you – Mom.

The message she wrote inside:
My dear (My Name)-

I think of you every day. I can understand your determination to discontinue family relationships – but it doesn’t change my love for you, or my regrets for having failed you in so many ways.
I was never supportive enough, empathetic enough, active enough in defending you or making sure that you knew you were valuable and loved. My sense of guilt and sorrow is huge. I don’t expect forgiveness – nor will I ever forgive myself.
There were “contributing factors” in my failure at motherhood – they don’t excuse it in any way, but knowing about them might give you some insight into why it has taken me a lifetime to grow up and realize just how damaged I had been.  I am so very sorry.
I am willing to pay for your round trip airfare from Philly if you are willing to come. Please give it some consideration and let me know.

(Note: She lives in Florida.)

To read the email I sent in response to the message, you can find it here.

I waited a few days and knew she’d be working on a reply back to me, but I ended up calling her.

I read something in a book called No Place to Hide: Facing Shame So We Can Find Self-Respect. I don’t have the patience or presence of mind to find it right now.

It had me confused and thinking well, if I can change my behavior and how I think about what happened, maybe I can have a relationship with my mother.  Thing is, I’d already written an email and in that email it has said I wasn’t capable of having a superficial relationship. So with that and knowing I had let her know where I was coming from already, I went for it.

I had been crying before I picked up the phone to call. I calmed myself down but then I would start to cry when I’d reach for the phone again. I took some deep breaths, thought I’d be okay and dialed. When she answered, I started to cry again.

It was coming from the little girl in me who still needs her mom and was so relieved to hear her voice. It was also coming form fear of being rejected too.

I called with the intention of just letting things go if she wanted but also knew that given my email, she would open the floor to me, so to speak.

The first thing I let her know is that I didn’t want it to be like the email I sent my father. <<<That’s a link to the post that explains more about that.

First she asked me what email. Seems difficult to believe she wouldn’t know. But I don’t know.

Once I clarified she said, in an adamant tone of voice, “You have every right to how you feel about your father. As far as I’m concerned those feelings are justified. (This coming form the woman who triangulated with my sister to manipulate me into ‘stepping up’ or walking away when it came to caring for my father while he was dying of a terminal illness.)

That’s a long story and I’ve written posts about that too, in 7 parts. I’ll link them at the end of this post.
In fact reading them will pretty much explain what my phone conversation was about with my mother. We only talked for about an hour and a half though and I didn’t get into everything.

The main thing I wanted to get across to my mother was how I felt, even though I did mention my feelings during that time when I wrote the email to her in response to her most recent birthday card. But also the actual events helped to pin-point what made me feel those emotions

On the phone I talked about the things she’d done I felt were disrespectful and manipulative. In telling her those things, I admit, I wanted validation and a real apology would’ve been nice. I also told her about what my siblings did that she wasn’t aware of. I didn’t see their behaviors as anything for her to apologize for but I was hoping it would illustrate how exhausting it all was for me to basically be ganged up on. I was in a position where it felt like three against one and no one gave one shit about my feelings. Everyone else’s mattered though.

True to the narcissist way, the apologies were things like, “I’m sorry that you felt that way,” and “I’m sorry if that happened.”

When she would say that, I would think about part of that excerpt in the book I mentioned above. There was something about acceptance. Accept how they are, just let them be them and don’t try to change them.

But this just didn’t work for me.  I felt invalidated and frustrated that I wasn’t getting real and sincere apologies. I said things that alluded to wanted an apology but not even one was forthcoming.  She also made excuses and gave me reasons for different things I brought up. Despite all this, I agreed to lunch or dinner with her if she flew up at Christmas time.

But then it turned out there was more than just frustration and I didn’t really know everything I felt until some time after we hung up.

I wanted to let these feelings go. I wanted to just accept it. But it hurt way too much. And so as the day wore on after our conversation, I began to have bouts of crying and even actual uncontrollable weeping.

I wept because I worried about her reaction to what I was feeling if I wrote to her about it. I wept because it was the same old song and dance. I wept because I just could not be that person who just accepts her as she is, in this particular circumstance and her actions against me, and move on to have a relationship anyway.

One other thing she said, right before we got in on the difficult stuff, is that she didn’t want a superficial relationship either. But her actions said differently, or more accurately, her words later said different.

So I sent her another email, telling her how the the conversation left me feeling.
Subject line: Emotional struggle

I’m really struggling right now emotionally. You asked if I was (I forget your exact wording) uncomfortable talking to you I think it was. And something I didn’t think to mention is that these talks kick up a lot of difficult emotion for me. And then other stuff comes up for me that didn’t get discussed.
Basically, without getting into details about exact events and words that were said, the underlying thing is that I felt/feel like (my siblings’) needs and wants matter/ed to you more than mine do/did. (Not talking about childhood right now, but the events surrounding dad and his care.)
And that hurts deeply and I feel like the conversation with you today just opened that wound right up again. In fact the conversation made me realize that was pretty much the whole underlying feeling I got from you.
This realization has left me feeling so insignificant to you as well as feeling very empty and pretty hopeless.
(My note: That hopeless feeling was actually anxiety about meeting with her in person after realizing that I was thinking about more stuff that I’d want to discuss. It was also loneliness. I had a deep sensation of lonliness right after hanging up with her and it just grew until I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore.
I cried on and off until that night, when I finally wrote the above to her.)

Here’s her response:
I know and appreciate that it’s important for you to express how you feel and felt at the time of those events.  You did enlighten me about what was happening between you and (your siblings) – I had not been aware at the time.  What I did feel then was that your father’s needs were the primary concern just then – in spite of our many, many differences, the divorce, etc.  If you were “insignificant” to me, I would not have had you on my mind every day since you ceased contact with me – with worry about what was happening in your life and feelings of deep guilt and regret on my part.  At the same time, I felt that I should respect the boundaries you had expressed.  It surely is not my intent to make your emotional state more painful.  I don’t know whether it is more beneficial for you to try to work through these issues with me – or to back away and close me out again.  That is your call.  But I need to say to you that despite your feelings, you were NEVER insignificant to me and I feel awful knowing that our interactions led you to believe that.  You matter to me, your well being is very significant to me, and I will love you forever – whether you choose to communicate or not – it is unconditional.

My initial response was this:
I feel like we didn’t even have the same conversation. I was letting you know how I felt about your role in what I went through during those months and how your actions effected me.
Yes, I filled you in on what Chris and Mel did too, but that wasn’t something I was trying to resolve with you. There was a whole lot more to what I was saying than that.
Although you are correct in saying that it’s important to express myself, I also feel it’s important to have what I went through validated. And I don’t feel that.

I feel that my feelings were dismissed and still at this point, pretty insignificant.

I do think it will be better for me to work through these issues without you.

This is what I wanted to say:
If dad’s needs were so fucking important to you then, perhaps it should’ve been you that ‘stepped the fuck up” instead of manipulating and shaming me into doing it on the terms you needed. I don’t think for a second that his needs were truly that important to you.
It was about you needing others to take care of it, so that you didn’t have to. And you went about making that happen, while at the same time triangulating with my sister, getting between a fight that I didn’t even know we were having.  She and I had talked before you called with your shaming and arm twisting. Sister and I had hung up in agreement that dad needed outside care and that neither one of us wanted his care to take over our lives and that we’d visit but not be his nurses.
But then you blindsided me with a phone call, that I KNOW was prompted by her bitching and whining about me not doing what she wanted, because she’s a sneaky little narcissist like that. Acts like she’s cool with what I say, agrees with me but secretly wants to rage at me for not doing what the little princess wants me to do. She can’t stand that she can’t control me, so she calls you. And you, like a fucking minion, calls to pressure me, guilt me and shame me.
As the mother of both of us, the proper thing to do in that case is to tell my sister that she will need to fight her own battles, not that you will call me for her. How fucking old are you??? That’s middle school shit.
So I can clearly see that you understand nothing, if all you got out of the conversation is that I ‘enlightened you” about my siblings behaviors toward me that you weren’t aware of. You missed the point entirely if you think it’s just about expressing how I felt at that time. Get a fucking clue. Get out of your head once in a while and get in touch with your heart.
You say you’ve had regret and guilt. For what? You’re clearly not open to anymore about what I want to say and my emotions about everything that I went through. If you felt so much regret and guilt, you’d actually be open to what I have to say and you’d be apologetic. But that’s not what’s going on here.
I don’t care how many times or in how many ways you SAY that I’m significant. It’s fucking obvious as hell and you’ve made it so, over and over again throughout my life, that my feelings are in no way significant to you. You are important and significant to you and that’s it. I don’t think it was always like that though and maybe that’s what has kept me in denial for so long. I remember at times you did care about my feelings. But I’d say more times than not, there wasn’t much empathy.
Yeah, I do need to work through my feelings alone without you and as you say, back away and close you out again. In fact, I wish to close you out forever.
Please stop sending me birthday cards with letters of fake bleeding heart messages. If you really cared, if I was really on your mind 365 days out of every year since I cut off communication, then why not send messages or letters on other days and let me enjoy my birthday? 
I have never looked at my walking away from the family as a boundary (until now) and I in fact told you that on the phone yesterday.  It was my way of protecting myself. I mean, who the fuck would not want to get away from an abusive relationship? Who would not move away from a toxic environment?  I mean, c’mon, you did it. You yourself refused to go to your own father when he was dying. Nor did you attend the funeral.  You divorced my father. Why? Because it was a toxic and unhealthy place for you to be.
But it’s true, walking away from a toxic family was in fact a boundary, saying that I will no longer be the family scapegoat, doormat and dumpster is a way of drawing a line.
Another boundary is when someone tells you, no and that they aren’t going to do something. Disrespecting that boundary is when you try to talk the person into doing what they just said they didn’t want to do, using guilt or shame or bribery. Even coercive language like, “Well it could help you too” is pushing a boundary.
So no, you have not respected my boundaries.
So I guess that’s it. I’ll just say, Thank you.
You broke my heart, but you also set me free.


I didn’t send either of these. What I sent was this:
Looks like it will be best for me to work through ‘the issues’ alone.

Below are the links I promised to link above. They will tell you pretty much what happened back in 2013, surrounding my father’s care during the last months of his life.  These parts were actually written from what I’d hand written in a journal. I know there is more on the blog but I think most of the info needed to put this post into perspective is there.

Stepping up: The Intro

Stepping up part 1

Stepping up part 2

Stepping up part 3

Stepping up part 4

Stepping up part 5

Stepping up part 6

Stepping up part 7


Message From My Mother; Message To My Mother

I forget now, did I mention that I got a birthday card from my mother 5 days before my birthday.

In it, she included a personal message as usual. The message started out nice. She even apologized at the end of the paragraph. But there was also some manipulation and a bit of guilt tripping. Not that I think she knows that. I honestly don’t think she realizes it.  But then who knows, she could have me fooled.

She thinks and has thought these last six birthdays, that I don’t talk to her now because of my shitty childhood and how bad of a mother she was. I’m paraphrasing.

So this year, instead of ignore it (or at least let her think I’m ignoring her, because every year I have a melt down, she just doesn’t know it) I decided to respond.

It really frustrates me that she thinks that I decided to cut ties with her and my siblings because of my shitty childhood, just after my father died. I mean, if I was cutting ties for a shitty childhood, would it make sense to wait until my father died? He made my childhood shitty too, so if that were the reason I’d have cut ties long before I did.  Besides cutting ties with my mother for a shitty childhood doesn’t explain the reason for cutting ties with my siblings. So…

So here’s the email I finally sent:

Hi Mom-

Each time you send me a card with a message written in it, you refer to how bad of a mother you were while I was growing up.

I appreciate the thought and the apology for that, but in all honesty that is not the reason I stay away from you. (Or my siblings for that matter.)

My reasons for staying away, stem from my experiences with you, Chris and Mel shortly before and during the months that dad was dying. I felt scapegoated, manipulated and betrayed.

My boundaries were utterly disrespected and my feelings were completely minimized and dismissed. I felt like a used up doormat and a receptacle for the whole family’s toxicity by the time it was all over.

To give you one example, I was given the same ultimatum by all three of you in separate phone conversations!
“Step up or walk away.” Ultimatums are a form of manipulation.

I’ve stayed away because I finally realized what was going on and that I didn’t and don’t deserve to be treated the way you were all treating me.

Both forgiveness and trust are processes, and things to continually build on and nurture, not just once and done events. Again, just to be clear, I am not referring to my childhood. I’m much more affected at this point in time by what took place in those months in 2013, than what happened in my childhood.

So with all that being said, I’m confused as to what you want from a visit. What is it you are thinking? Do you want to talk things through? Or do you want to just visit and leave ‘the heavy stuff’ under the rug?

I am not able to have a superficial relationship with my own mother. There is a lot to work out. When things are as toxic and dysfunctional as they are, it is unhealthy to continue to pretend that they are not. So I am not capable of such a visit, let alone a relationship like that.

For me to come down and see you would take building some trust back up first as well. So if you’re interested in having that difficult and possibly healing conversation, then it will need to happen here in Delco. In addition, understand that I have reason to be apprehensive about talking through the “hard stuff” with you. It has not had great results for me in the past.

With that being said, I would not be ready at this time to have that conversation myself. It is a difficult one (and may not and likely won’t be just one conversation) and at this time, I am going through some really stressful and difficult things, working some issues out with Bruce and dealing with some health issues that I am attending to and which take priority for me. (That’s a boundary and I’m quite adamant about it.) Adding such a stressful conversation (although I’m not even clear if you are even open to that) to “my plate” is not going to work for me.

To be completely honest, in the Spring, in perhaps another six or seven months (here in Delco, you and me, without my siblings) would be much better for me.

So that’s where I stand. I would be willing to see if it’s possible to build back a relationship, but there are stipulations because I am no longer going to compromise myself to please others just because they don’t like my choice to say no. And I’m not going back to the same old same old dysfunction.

I’m nervous about her response, but happy that I stood up for myself and kept it respectful.

A Walk, A Haunt and My Birthday

I have finally started getting myself out for walks. Last week I saw a really well decorated house for Halloween but didn’t have my camera. So on Friday, the day before my birthday, I went out for another walk. This time with my camera.

If you click on each photo, you can get a full screen view. Then you should get a magnifying glass type icon with a + inside it. That will give you the capability to look closer at the detail. (if you’re interested. I know not everyone likes this stuff.)

Although I stopped watching horror movies, because they’ve been too much for my PTSD, I still love Halloween. My favorite thing to do or had been, before the intense stress messed me up, was to go and do things like haunted hay rides and haunted houses, where people dressed up like monsters and ghouls and scared the shit out of everyone. I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved it. I remember going through one that was set up in a long trailer in the parking lot at the mall when I was a kid. My brother was younger than me and although he didn’t really like that stuff he went through anyway.

I went through screaming and laughing. My brother cried with fear. At the end, one of the guys that had been in costume came out the other side with us. I don’t remember all details. But he was concerned about my brother so he came out of character to soothe him. It was the sweetest thing. Even came out of the trailer and spoke to my parents in a jovial manner, and wanted to make sure my brother had calmed down. He also had told them how much I’d enjoyed myself.

Even as an adult, I still loved it. By then, most of the time I wasn’t really that scared. I mean sometimes these creatures would make me jump, but not usually. It was just part of the fun. It made it more fun…for me and for the people in costume. I also love to see how they ‘decorate’ the places. The stuff that people do to make these places spooky and scary is amazing.

But it’s been years since I’ve been to one.

One of the last things I did with my mother (for my birthday) was to go to an event with 4 ‘haunted’ buildings all made up to scare people for Halloween. It was fun. I screamed and laughed a lot.

So yeah, I got a kick out of the house in the photos above.

The day after I took the above photos, was my birthday.
I really thought that B forgot. He never said “happy birthday” before he left to get some stuff done.  I loved that he went out though. Because of the stress I feel around him a lot of the time, I was grateful to be left alone yesterday.  However, it turned out that he did remember and brought cake and a card full of goodies.

The night before I had requested a gelati from Rita’s and B stopped and got a couple. I saved mine. It turned out that after I ate dinner, I didn’t really want it.

So it turned out to be the perfect birthday treat as you can see in the video below. I celebrated my birthday with it.

Warning: There is singing. 😀


A Birthday Card and a Dream

Last night, or more accurately, early this morning, I had a dream that starred two women and later a huge dog that looked like a giant version of a Burnese Mountain dog.

The women were standing in front of me in a crowd. One of the women in particular, kept backing up toward me as they moved around a lot. Actually they both were doing this, with very little room to spare. A couple times one of them almost stepped on my foot and both of them almost backed right into my body a few times. The woman closer to me than the other was then called up to the front of this auditorium type place the crowd I was part of was standing in. When the other woman turned around and saw me, I said (with a smile),  “Oh good, I was just about to say something to her.” (Referring to standing too close, etc.)

The woman sneered and replied, “Well she’s on medication so…”

I didn’t respond. Then I noticed the woman who was up at the front had lost her note cards by putting them (accidentally) through a slot at the podium/desk she was standing at. She peered out toward where I was standing, with a pleading look on her face and I walked up to get them out of the slot and hand them to her.

I felt uncomfortable up there in the front of all those people, even though I was just helping this woman out and walked right back to where I’d been standing.  Then she realized there was a third card and didn’t see where that one was. She looked at me and let me know with body language she couldn’t see the other card and still needed help.  From where I was standing, I could see it still inside the desk and it had not gotten stuck inside the slot.  I shrugged and said quietly, “I don’t know.”

She eventually found it on her own.

Then while I was standing on one side of a post and rail fence, a man walked onto the other side of it with a Bernese Mountain dog that could’ve belonged to Paul Bunyon. The man was average size and squirted all of the water from a water bottle into the dogs mouth, which was level with the man’s head.  After the dog received the water, he then nudged the man’s face. From my vantage point, I thought the dog wanted more water. But it turned out the dog had a ball in its mouth and was nudging the man to play.

Post and rail fence

I felt intimidated, even though I was on the other side of the fence and stood up on the rails of the fence to make myself bigger/taller than the dog…which actually made me unrealistically tall, almost like the “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Brazil.

I could hear the dog growling and thought it was because of me standing high up like that.
(But of course irl I know that dogs play growl when they’re playing.)

The part of the dream with the women is likely drawn from my two hour wait on Tuesday, at the ultra crowded DMV. I had already been quite stressed out from some other stuff going on in my life and dealing with that, added another layer of stress. My responses also indicate my codependence relating to caring more about people’s reactions to standing up for myself than I do about actually standing up for myself. It also shows my willingness to be helpful, but only to the point that I am okay with and will even say something that isn’t true, just to not deal with the complete but short sentence of saying ‘no.’

I related these two women in my dream to two girls in the neighborhood I lived in from the ages of 10 to 20. My family had just moved there and I had just finished 5th grade. Since I was new to the neighborhood I was bored. I’d met the one girl already and thought that we’d become friends. But apparently she didn’t like that idea because she recruited another girl to help her bully me one day.

Not to jump around too much, but I received a birthday card from my mother on Monday, with a personally written message inside of it. She still believes that my reasons for staying away from her (and I guess my siblings) stem from her mistakes as a mother while I was growing up. Her message was mixed. It was manipulative and yet I detected some desperation in there too. She also even apologized for her behavior from my childhood.

I’m honestly not sure if she is aware of her manipulations. I tend to think that she is not. But I wouldn’t gamble on it. I don’t give benefits of the doubt anymore when it comes to people who’ve already proved themselves to be manipulative and have betrayed my trust.

I’ve written out an email standing up for myself and clarifying that I’m not staying away because of my shitty upbringing but because of how I was treated in the weeks leading up to my father’s death.  I’m paraphrasing here. I didn’t call my upbringing shitty in the email.

I’m debating on when to send it. My birthday is tomorrow so I think I’ll wait til after the weekend. Because I know that after I send it I will be nervous about her reply and I want to give my mind and body a chance to chill out. Just receiving her cards with these messages at the time of my birthday, creates a lot of turmoil for me.  So I’m giving myself the gift of a little time. And afterward I’ll give myself the gift of finally verbalizing (even if it is in writing) the real reason I severed ties with my mother and siblings. I don’t know what will come of it. I don’t know how she’ll receive it. But that’s not my job. My job for myself is to stand up for me and say what I need to say in as civil a manner as possible, yet get the point across.

Relating back to the dream:

My wanting/needing to speak up is important to me. But yet, I feel the need to plaster a fake smile on my face in order to do so. It covers up my feelings of anguish…feelings that none of them want to know about.

When it comes to my mother, I am compelled to help her forgive herself, to go to her because I feel sorry for the way she feels, or at least the way she expresses herself to feel…one thing she said in the message is that she won’t ever forgive herself for how she was when I was growing up. My feelings of wanting to and being compelled to go to her is represented in the part of the dream when I go up to the podium and get those note cards out of the slot, because she doesn’t see them and I do. (Just like my mother doesn’t see (or claims to not see) the real reason I stay away from her.

Standing on the fence to make myself super huge, when I felt intimidated by the humongous dog was to mask the intimidation I felt by the big dog.  I believe that big dog represents my family (mother, brother, sister) as well as the growling from the dog represents their bullying and abuse of me.

The email I intend to send is that fence that I’m standing on. It’s a boundary, but also helps me to feel ‘bigger’ than I’ve been in the past. Bigger meaning that I am more willing to see myself and my feelings as important rather than worry so much about being seen as or even called selfish because of the boundary I choose to draw.

I’m still feeling intimidated. But standing up for myself has become more important than worrying about what will happen on the other end.