No Place To Hide – A Book about Shame and Gaining Self Respect: Kind of a review

I’ve recently read a book called No Place to Hide: Facing Shame So We Can Find Self-Respect

It’s by Michael P. Nichols, PhD.

Toward the end it had me a bit torn in two about being no contact with my family and I ended up calling my mother, partially because of the influence this authors words had on me.

In part.

It was coupled with having recently received another birthday card from my mother, with some manipulative language written by her within the card.

This is not a complete review of this book. I’m mostly pointing out something that bothers me and what it brought to mind for me.

But it’s not all bad either. If you like to relate your own experiences to what an author has written, it can be helpful to put some possible missing pieces together. It also helped me understand a bit more about shame and some more of the dynamics in my family.

Just be careful and really think about any advice the author gives, when it comes to keeping communication lines open. When it comes to having completely unaware narcissists and sociopaths for family members, and you’re the scapegoat of them, BE CAREFUL

The author seems to have had a lot of clients that he’s been able to help with acceptance of the difficult people in their lives while staying in contact. But he was able to counsel them on their own individual circumstances…which of course we the readers are not privy to the whole of the situation either.

I allowed his words to influence me and went in with some hope when talking to my mother. But unless I’m willing to accept her lack of apology, validation and much acknowledgement about the scapegoating, manipulation and mind-fuckery, then I’m not able to keep contact. It’s where my acceptance stops short as far as having people as an active part of my life, who can dish out as much manipulation and scapegoating as my family has proven able to do.

Even though there had been other things that happened within the family prior to 2013, that proved me to be the scapegoat, I would probably still be in contact with them all, if the events in the first four months of 2013 didn’t happen.

However, it did open my eyes to the fact that their prior behaviors had been very toxic.

I am still a bit confused by the author’s words. But if the abuse had not been so damaging and harmful, it might be a different story. “Eh, I’ll just see them from time to time. I won’t argue or talk about heavy things. I’ll just take it as it comes and the relationships can be superficial and on the surface.”

I mean, I don’t really want superficial/on the surface relationships with my family members. But I could do it and would do it and accept that that’s what they all want, IF and it’s a big fat IF I had not been so ‘beat up’ by them in the first place.

It’s not even about forgiveness, what I’m writing about here.

It’s about my own self-respect. Something the author even has in his title. It’s also about self-protection so that I don’t subject myself to more of the damage. If I keep going in and being involved with these people they will strike again. Because it’s what they do. They can’t not be who they are.

This author thinks it’s immature to cut contact. Well, I disagree. There comes a time for self-protection. There’s comes a time for self-respect and boundary drawing. And cutting communication is a way of saying, “I am not going to take your abuse anymore.”

The author does say to speak up for yourself, etc. Which I agree with. But then there can also be a problem with the feeling of safety.  It gets pretty exhausting being the one to be willing to listen their beefs about me but God forbid I have a problem. Especially when in the thick of a stressful situation. My siblings get nasty (one has rage and the other likes to throw passive aggressive jabs) when under stress.

The more I think about it, the more pissed off I get at this author for writing such shit about it being immature to cut contact. What a fucking blanket statement. He has no idea who is reading. There are tons of people who have been brutally abused by toxic individuals and groups and his words could influence someone to put themselves into real danger.

Psychological abuse like gas-lighting, triangulating and shaming to manipulate is horrendously harmful. And the only way for some of us to recover is to stay far away.

That does not mean I do not accept those fuckers for what they are though. I accept it fully that they are abusive, hypocritical, scapegoating cowards, who don’t want to admit that they are human and instead want to stay in denial, brushing all their blame onto their daughter and sister, treating me like a doormat if I am in their vicinity.

I mean, come on. If that’s not acceptance, then what is? I see the truth. I see them for who and what they are. I think it proves my acceptance by staying away, instead of getting together with them, thinking I’m going to get something different from them. instead of denying it and trying to pretend that they actually know how to treat me with respect, I am well aware that they don’t.

So….what??? I’m supposed to show acceptance for who and what they are by walking into the snake pit?

In fact, I am showing myself self-respect by staying away, because I am not subjecting myself to abuse. More evidence of acceptance, is that I am no longer slamming my head against a wall with futile attempts to get them to understand, validate or apologize. I accept that they don’t want to hear it. I accept that they think I am “too sensitive.” I accept that they won’t listen and don’t care to. I accept that they are toxic.

What I don’t accept, is to have people in my life who don’t want to resolve issues when they come up. I don’t accept people in my life who refuse to look in the mirror and simply point fingers blaming me for the issues in the relationship. What I don’t accept is to have them involved in my life.

I accept that I do indeed have issues and that I have contributed to the rift that is there between my siblings and myself.  However, I will not be the one sitting there owning all my shit, while they sit there owning nothing.

If it takes MATURITY to allow the type of toxic dynamic in my life that is present in my family, then I’ll remain as immature as a 5 year old… thank you very much.

With all that being said, I do like some of the things the author said and he clarified some things about shame that I did not know.

I marked some pages with sticky notes of things that he wrote about that I related to.  So I’ll be writing a series of sorts on that stuff and relating and working through my own experience that I was reminded of.

I’ll continue with each idea and experience in separate posts.


Addendum to: I Wish My Mother Had Breast Fed Me

After I tapped out the emotions in my post about my mother not breast feeding me and the excuse she gave…I listened to the rest of the podcast/YouTube video the excerpt I also posted was from.

The doctor interviewed said that she struggled to breast feed. That it didn’t just come naturally or easy. That she had to work at it before it really worked.

I also was told by a friend of mine the same thing, telling me she had to work at it before she was actually able to do it.

Well, although I do think that a mother owes it to her infant to continue to try until she makes a success of breast feeding, so that her baby has at the very least that head start in health, I now understand now that it’s not just something that happens quickly and automatically for everyone.

So I wanted to add that I didn’t mean anything I wrote to be judgmental against every mother who never breast fed.  All circumstances are unique. Plus I want to admit to my mistake of not understanding how difficult it can be. I just thought it was easier and more natural than I’ve found out that it is. I was under the impression that most babies will just automatically latch, but I was wrong about that.

I mean, I still wish she’d breast fed. My feelings haven’t changed about that.

But I can probably even forgive her for not doing so. Were there pumps back then? Because if there were, then it would’ve been an option she opted against. Which would be another sign of her apathy and not wanting to bother.

But I don’t know the entire story since I don’t have any memory of any of this. Maybe she tried for a few months. If she did, she didn’t tell me about it. Maybe she tried once and gave up.  Again I don’t know.

I’m really not trying to find and nitpick shit my mother did wrong. I’m not even really mad at her  most of the time, for the shit that happened to me in childhood. I am disappointed that she didn’t try harder for me. That I wasn’t important enough to her to make the effort until it worked. I’m disappointed that she didn’t protect me more. I’m sad for myself as both adult and child, that I didn’t have a mother who wasn’t so apathetic, who wasn’t all that physically affectionate, who didn’t stand up for me when it was appropriate.  It sucks hard.

But what I’m mostly pissed off about as well as very emotionally injured from, is her behavior during my father’s time of dying. The story is weaved through the blog so I won’t get into it here.

Thing is, that level of manipulation and abuse taints the good to the point that there seems to be none of it left when it comes to my memories of her.