Finding Validation Within

 

Below is a post I brought over from Safire Falcon (the blog I used to write on). It was posted on May 20, 2014. At that point I had just been (somewhat) “No Contact” with my family for less than a year. I turned to a friend hoping for some validation, which I didn’t get.

It seems a bit synchronistic that I came upon this post over at SF.

I signed in there to read through some posts and decide which one(s) to transfer over tonight. I haven’t done any of that in quite some time and I want to empty the blog of all the stuff that’s relevant to this blog so I have it all in one place. And since I’m feeling on the strong side tonight I figured I’d venture in there.

Well, recently it came to my realization that lack of validation has been a big problem in my relationship with B. It never really occurred to me that it was that. I mean I go from 0-60 with my anger in a matter of seconds that I never really thought about it. I thought it was all me.

That being said, I’m not excusing my behaviors of yelling and berating. Not at all. I’m just pointing out this discovery that has been in front of my face all these years, that I completely missed.  It has brought things to light and makes complete sense as to why I’ve felt so distant from him.

He can validate when he relates to an experience or has the same emotion I do in relation to an experience. When I’ve gotten this from him I feel connected.  But if his differs, the validating is absent I become beyond frustrated. The feeling of distance brings on the rage and the attempt of forcing him to see what I’m saying begins and keeps going.

It’s a waste of energy quite frankly.

This isn’t another B bashing though.  My frustration is more now, with not realizing what was going on. I knew I was frustrated by these interactions with him but just didn’t understand why and why my reactions were so intense.

I understand better now. It’s still been a struggle though, to control my behavior and reactions. I’m not so sure DBT is really the answer. But if I go on along that line, it will take me in a different direction from validation and the lack of it from others.  And that is what the post below is mostly about.

There’s also a bit about something else that has come up lately. But I’ll just let you read it.

The comments will be closed on this post because the conversation happened three and a half years ago. I really just want to get the post over here from SF, for my own feeling of completeness.  She has since made it up to me a couple times now. She never specifically addressed with exact words, but something came up and she said something that let me know she understood. And again about a month ago, she was pretty validating of something else I told her.


The quote in the picture is from The Tao of Fully Feeling: Harvesting Forgiveness Out of Blame.

I took it from the book after a phone conversation with a woman I’ve known for a long time. Someone who lived through her own childhood abuse and has learned to be a ‘tough girl’ who claims to ‘not care.’

She and I had not talked for a little over a year. Because of distance, because of life and how busy it can be. But truthfully, for me, I don’t like to talk with people in general, when I don’t have something specific to talk about or if it’s someone I haven’t seen in a long time, because our conversations eventually comes around to ‘what’s new’ with me.

And what’s new for me, is that I’m working through trauma from abuse, that I hadn’t realized so clearly, was such an issue until recently. And I haven’t been doing much else. So it’s tough to talk about much else and to say, “Nothing really,” feels completely awkward.

The solution I suppose would be to not talk to her about that stuff but I seem to fall into it when we talk. I mean, what do I say when she says, “What’s new?”

So although apprehensive and somewhat against my better judgment, while at the same time thinking she’d ‘get it’, I talked to her about what I’ve been dealing with.

After all she’d gotten herself away from her neglectful mother and abusive step-father when she was just a kid. She put herself in the foster care system.

The conversation waxed and waned about my experience, how I felt and then her experiences of a recent betrayal of someone in her life and how she feels.

We also talked about more mundane things but then the conversation wound around again to my family and that toxicity.

And it was then that she told me that I take things too personally. I was hurt. I thought, “Not you too. Not someone who I really believed would understand.” I shook my head and thought, “Just like talking to my sister about how I feel.”

I also thought, “Again. I fucking did it again. I should know better than to expect her to understand.” Because everyone reacts this way, why should she be any different?

She said I internalize and that I shouldn’t do that because those other people go on with their lives, they’re not effected and I should do the same.

She claimed that’s what she is doing and that she has just learned to not care. Yet here she was, bitching about all this shitty treatment she’d put up with, in recent years from a couple relatives.

She was, and I’m judging by her tone of voice here and reading between some lines, that she was angry and even a bit confused by the behaviors of these people.

It seems to me, that if she truly didn’t care, that she would not feel anger or confusion.

Despite feeling hurt though, I also saw the wisdom in the statement.

I do internalize deeply.   And I do think that my ‘taking things too personally’ has been a detriment to me and has indeed held me back.

That being said, people who’ve been traumatized and scapegoated internalize things. That’s a thing. It’s not our fault. In fact, from what I see, I’d say my friend does it too.

But back to contemplating her words to me: I’ve allowed what they think to keep me down. I get depressed, paralyzed and demotivated. (She didn’t say those things. This is what I’m deriving from what she said.)

So what I took from that is that I have a choice. I can build my life up to a point that I can finally stick a big fat middle finger up at everyone who has branded me a failure, or I can go crawl in a hole somewhere and suck my thumb and never emerge.

It sucked not to be acknowledged by her, especially since I think she may be in her own denial.

But I also derived from what she said, that no matter how much I feel sorry for myself, the people who have hurt me deeply don’t care and my picking up, dusting myself off does not have to do with them.

BUT that does not mean I need to push it all aside. It does not mean I can’t grieve. It does not mean I have to pretend it didn’t happen. In fact what I’d really like to do is find a way to derive strength from it all.

While at the same time validate myself for my feelings and the shit I’ve been through despite what others say and think. Just because she thinks I should push it all aside and “not care” doesn’t mean that’s what I have to do.

What I have to do, is find my own way.

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Mind-Fuck By Therapist

I am on a roll of transferring my posts from my old blog, Safire Falcon.  Today, I decided on a post I originally called,  ‘Evaluating a Therapist,’ which I originally wrote and posted in November of 2013.

After reading through it and editing a little, I decided on a title that better described what happened.  Given the state I was in back then, I am giving myself some much needed compassion pertaining to sticking it out for as long as I did.  I still don’t even think that what this woman did was a deliberate act of sabotage. But deliberate or not, it had the same effect.

At the time I started to see her,  I was not even a year away from my mind-fuck of a family and I was still feeling affected by the break up of the affair that ended in January of 2012. I can remember now, so well the fog in my brain back then, when I had started seeing this therapist. The result of all the abuse I had survived.

I can still recall the cloud of depression that had taken over my brain and thought process. I can think back on it now and feel the difference in clarity of how my brain is functioning now in comparison to the lack of that function back then.  Given this present improvement, I would like to believe that I would handle the predicament I found myself in with this therapist, in a much different way.

As I re-read what I wrote here, I found myself shaking my head and thinking, “How appalling this therapists behavior really was!” I feel some anger, but I also feel the alleviation that I am not in that situation now. And then there’s the relief of now being able to see how much of a mind-fuck it all actually was and know without a doubt, it wasn’t  me.

There was an additional disappointment in relation to this, particularly after the first couple appointments with this therapist, which may have also added to my self-doubt during this period.

I had voiced a concern about the disorganized appearance of the therapist’s office to someone I saw as a major support for me as I was waking up to my role as family scapegoat.  This supporter of mine, minimized and even laughed a little at my apprehension about how that might reflect her capability as a therapist.

I stopped seeing the therapist shortly after writing this and then at some point in 2015 reviewed what I’d written and at that time, added an update.


So without further ado, here’s the story:

She told me in one session, when I went to her in a really dark depression, that I need to find a hobby, maybe join a gym.

I’ve been seeing a psychologist who seems pretty scattered. Her office is a cluttered mess and although I never have expectations of someone being a compulsive neat freak, which would probably be just as bad, I like to see a little bit of order from someone who is helping others get their lives straightened out.

This bothered me from the beginning and I almost didn’t go back for a second visit, but I figured I should really give her more of a chance. But I continue to do things like that…give people, especially therapists…another chance even after my intuition nudges me and says, “No, this isn’t a good idea.”

And that’s because one, I’m not so sure it’s my intuition or my perfectionist traits telling me this therapist (or whatever the situation) might not be a healthy one. And two, self-doubt.

Up until a few years ago I was pretty good at giving people the benefit of the doubt without much thought.

I’ve never really been too self confident though and easily gave the benefit of the doubt even when it didn’t feel right. My self doubt would take me to the conclusion that it ‘must be me’…’something is wrong with me.’

The end of the affair, triggered the trauma already laying somewhat dormant and trusting anyone or myself is now a shaky dilemma. I simply don’t. I’m suspicious of everyone.

It’s pretty mind fucking actually. Although I see that my original thoughts were at times correct, that something was off about someone or that the situation in general wasn’t healthy for me, the self doubt can still become magnified.

But still, the trust in and of others is pretty much non-existent. I factor in my hyper-sensitivity and it’s as clear as mud as to whether someone including myself is trustworthy. I don’t want to displace any feelings though. I’m hyper-conscious of the possibility of this, given the effects of the traumas.  And so the therapist gets chance after chance.  Maybe she’s pushing buttons, not on purpose, but pushing them nonetheless, which tells me there’s something to work on. Which is a good thing.

There’s the chance I’ve devalued her to the point I want to call it quits. I have felt recently that this is it. If things don’t work with her, I’m done with therapy and will need to find another way. I’m agitated in general I guess, which is coming with the depression right now. But it seems to be aggravated when in her presence. I think it seems as though she’s not understanding, when in reality she does, but I’m not reading her correctly.

Edit Saturday, 9/2/17: Maybe she was the bad therapist I thought she was all along and even enjoyed pushing buttons. Maybe not, but maybe didn’t even have the consideration to be careful. I do know and understand now that she was incapable of giving me the validation I needed at the time.

She suggested she give me a psych evaluation and the process was excruciating. It took longer than it should’ve because her schedule clashed with the times I could get a ride over there.

When we were finished, she gave me a copy to review and to my disappointing surprise, it seemed to be written by a third grader. In addition, it was clear she hadn’t really listened too well to my answers to her questions. The things she wrote had my words twisted in some instances. The stories were told flatly with no real emotion.  My experiences just didn’t translate well to her ear and mind apparently.

I made some corrections and found that I could do a much better job of describing it all, telling the stories accurately and really painting a vivid picture…the true picture.

When I went in for the appointment, fully prepared with corrections and better descriptions and depictions, she had rewritten the whole thing anyway. Before I had handed her my copy of corrections, she handed me something completely new.

This was frustrating for two reasons. First, I felt as though I put in all that work for no reason. And second, I hadn’t seen her in weeks, given our conflicting schedules, so I could have actually found some time to come pick up and her rewritten copy before the appointment, if she’d had a staff member call me.

I was visibly annoyed, so she allowed me to read off my corrections while she wrote them on her copy.

After we were finished and before I left, she told me she’d have a staff member call me when the corrections were finished, so I could pick it up and proof it again before our next appointment.  I agreed as I thought this would save us both time and the evaluation could finally be finished.

I wanted to get back to actual therapy sessions.

I never got a call.

Going over such lengthy evaluations is continuously taking up our appointments. It’s ridiculous and she seems scattered, unorganized and seems to be annoyed with my insistence that she actually be accurate with the information I’ve given her.

I think for efficiency purposes and to further help the process, her attention needs to be more focused and it just simply isn’t. I’m not expecting any special treatment, just follow through.

This does provoke anger for me. And it’s also tempting to take it personally. But at the same time, stopping myself, I realize this is probably a personality trait of her own and has nothing to do with whether she likes or dislikes me. Although, it’s gotten to the point that she probably doesn’t like me and to be honest I don’t like her. In fact it’s become obvious (I would think to both of us) that once we get through the evaluation process, I won’t be seeing her anymore.)

It’s frustrating to have gone this long feeling unheard and not listened to, and to end up in a similar situation once again, basically back at square one.

In the beginning, when I first went to see her, she diagnosed me with PTSD, I think after the second session. She told me this, and unfortunately I didn’t see it in writing.  But I remember specifically having a conversation with her after a session, when she said, I believe you have PTSD.

The day the evaluation was complete, she handed me the papers and let me open it without saying anything to me at all.

I read and along with her having written other diagnoses, she’d also included borderline personality disorder.

Although I was already suspecting this and had tried to convince other therapists in the the past that I had it, I still felt shocked and upset. The time period I had been seeing her, I was feeling raw and depressed much of the time. So a little consideration for her to say, “Let’s talk before you read” would’ve gone a long way.

Not to say she was responsible for my feelings or emotions, but it’s one of the jobs of a therapist to guide and help her client.

When I became upset she gave me a blank stare.

When I asked why PTSD wasn’t in the list of diagnoses she gave me another blank stare.

I said, “When I first started coming here, you made it pretty clear you thought I had PTSD.”

She shook her head to say no.

Update May 12, 2015

I let what I thought of her writing, comprehending and listening skills slide. I wanted to address it with her, but I didn’t think it would’ve made a difference. When I’d spoken to her about another issue (paragraph below) I ended up feeling guilty.

I understand there are times that therapists might draw from their own experience to help validate a client or help them to feel better about their own situation.  I’ve had therapists who’ve done it and have had no problem with it, when it’s done appropriately.  But the way this therapist did it, felt more like she was trying to turn the tables and utilize me as a therapist.

Don’t get me wrong there were times I could see and feel the validation and understanding, or at least it seemed that way. I questioned more than ever though after the evaluation experience. And being heard without question, is the most valuable thing for me in therapy.

Just as I had decided during the evaluation process, I stopped seeing this therapist. I decided the situation was not a healthy one. You could argue that it might have been a place for me to practice the things I needed to improve on, but I would disagree.

I don’t think in the middle of the most painful time of recovery, is the time to be trying to have a Buddhist mindset with your therapist. I felt it would be better for me to have a therapist who I would feel validated by, someone I felt heard by and someone I felt understood by. At least 90 percent of the time, as well as get the impression that she was present with me.

There were other problems as well, with both her and the staff:

There were times when I’d speak to a staff member there and leave a message with them. And the next time I would talk to the therapist, I would find my message mixed up when reiterated back to me by the therapist. Other times the same receptionist I had spoken to previously about a particular topic, would have no idea what I was talking about as I spoke to her a second time about the same thing.

Before I had taken the evaluation, I called the office to make my first appointment for the evaluation. It wasn’t a normal therapy appointment so I mentioned to the assistant that’s why I was coming in.

The assistant who answered put me on hold for a minute and when she came back to the phone she said, “There’s nothing here, you need to fill out the forms yourself.”

WTF?

I explained to her, “No, a psych evaluation is administered by the therapist and will likely take a bunch of appointments to complete. I need to make an appointment to come in to get started.”

I was frustrated and got upset, impatient and agitated.

I was pretty annoyed that I would have to explain that to someone I would think would/should already know that. And this after having communication got fucked up a number of times previously.

There were other instances too when I’d left voice mail messages and when I’d call again because I wouldn’t receive call backs, I’d ask the person answering the phone if my message was received. And the reply would be yes and then tell me that I said something I never said.

Who wants to go to a therapist and deal with being mind fucked? Its exactly what I was trying to get help for. My childhood was one big mind-fuck. My family was one big mind-fuck  And where do I end up. Back in the lap of another web of mind-fuckery!

I don’t really know if she was fucking with me or if she is just genuinely scattered and disorganized as well as her staff being so too. But either way, it was not a healthy environment.

Currently, in September of 2017, I am in DBT, both individual and group. The individual therapist is validating and helpful. Group is giving me the opportunity to understand how to cope with my emotions in a way that makes me see how important these skills are for children to learn from parents and teachers.

Perfectionism Produces Procrastination

Another post from the Safire Falcon blog, written, May of 2014.  Even though I have been doing much better I still struggle with this. 

Perfectionism is not a positive characteristic. It is in fact what I believe to be the culprit in keeping me from doing quite a few things. I’m waiting ’til I can do it ‘right’ or more accurately perfectly. Whatever that is.

And that goes for my writing. I procrastinate. I put off writing or editing something of my own, while I read tons of other posts or watch videos. Even when I get an idea I don’t act on it by writing a post on it, I put it off.

I have a tough time pulling myself away from the computer though, putting off other things that need to be done too. When I’m in a certain mind-set and my back side can no longer take being in the chair, I remove myself to either cook dinner or take a shower.

The ideas can fly all over the inside of my mind then. But I have to get this other thing done. More anxiety. Feeling pulled in two directions at once.

Then there’s the excuses, like needing to be more clear on the idea. Or tomorrow when I’m less tired. Or when I get back from walking the dog because there’s not enough time to think out a post between now and the time I have to leave.

Edit Friday 9/1/17: No dogs to walk at this point in time, at least not on the regular. I just finished a week’s worth of visits to a dog for a couple who was on vacation, but I won’t see that dog now until the people go out of town again.)

Perfectionism is a wall. And my first thought was that it’s not about fear. I’ve read that. I’ve read that the underlying reason for not writing is fear. And immediately after the thought, “It’s not fear” went through my head, I immediately said to myself, “Yes. Yes it is.”

It might not be solely about fear of the judgment of others. It’s also fear of my own frustration when I begin,when I proof read it, when I miss a key, when I can’t grasp a word or even a thought, when I miss a detail. It’s about my own negative judgment. I can really feel myself at times pushing, chiseling, hammering away at a mind-wall when I do begin writing.

Writing can be cathartic as you write out your content. But also the act of it can bring up feelings within, that have obviously been ingrained long ago. Like an inner-critic.  Certain personality traits that resulted from a not so friendly environment. Fears that someone else was right in such a covert message…that you really are not good enough.

There is a writer in there…behind that wall. She’s just been hidden for so long it’s become comfortable…safe…to her own detriment. What a conflict and a contradiction.

What will become of me if I change?
There’s another thought behind the reason for procrastination.

How to Teach Your Kids to Hate Each Other

Another one I’m re-homing from Safire Falcon. This one was written in November of 2014. It had another title, kind of clunky. This one’s not so great either but that’s what I’m calling it.

I misinterpreted my sister’s tone after the plug from the curling iron fell from the outlet into the sink. We’d both been standing at the bathroom mirror and I was attempting to curl my hair.  I was in my twenties at that point and my family had fairly recently moved into this particular house.

The darkness of depression had already been part of my world, those feelings of being trapped by and in life started a few years before the above scene, when we were living at the house I’d lived in since I was 10. And I was probably in the deepest darkest depths of it at the time of the move.

The move contributed to the added intensity but I was in it already and in deep. At that point I had no idea what I was most likely suffering from was symptoms of complex trauma, and it wasn’t crossing anyone else’s mind either.

The emotional abuse had always had an impact on my life but it was starting to take a bigger toll. And no wonder. I was in my early 20s. I should have been living on my own, or at least settled into a college major. But I was still lost. Not only that, I had begun to have (age-appropriate) intimate relationships a couple years prior. And within those relationships, is where the most intense turmoil shows up.

I was even less aware how the stage had already begun being set for my role as family scapegoat and continued to be .

My sister said, “Careful.”

My first thought was that her comment was condescending and that she was assuming I was a careless sort of person. I replied with a sneer of annoyance and resentment, “The water’s not even running.”

Translation: “No worries little sister, you’re not in danger and how dare you imply that I am so careless. It certainly isn’t my fault the outlet won’t hold the plug.”

That’s not what I said, but the tension between us was thick and the rift deep, by the time this incident happened, something we were both aware of. I was too angry to care though.  For whatever reason, after my nasty reply, her response was a matter of fact tone that carried with it a touch of hurt and confusion.

“I was just thinking about you.” She really did sound sincere.

Instantly I felt like shit…that I’d misinterpreted her intention. The relationship that had once been close was falling apart. But my anger blinded me, filtered out so much of my thoughts and feelings. It was safer to be angry. But it hurt. I hated being angry all the time. If I ever felt lost before this, it was nothing compared to what I was continuing to feel in this part of my adulthood.

I didn’t understand it really and didn’t know the first thing about how to go about fixing it.

My sister had already physically attacked me a few years before that. She had her own impulse control and anger issues.

My misinterpretation existed, it was harmful, but it didn’t exist in a vacuum. The toxicity of my family had grown into an ugly tumor that everyone seemed to prefer to ignore. I was certainly angry about the past, the way my father treated me and even about my mother’s neglect, but at that point in time my anger encompassed many things, even things I was unaware of.

Like being lost with no idea of what I wanted to do with my life. With not feeling settled with a significant other, which really equates to me not being settled within myself. With my father who treated anyone I dated like shit. With my sister for not understanding. With my parents for not helping me out of the darkness, for moving, for not listening to me, for making me feel wrong for every emotion I felt. For thinking that my wanting to resolve present and even past issues was ridiculous and that I should just let it go.

“How often do I need to discuss it? It doesn’t change anything.,” were my father’s words one day when I approached him to talk about something bothering me from my childhood.

My sister’s physical attack on me however, was provoked by some passive remark I had made. But unfortunately I don’t remember what I said. The memory of that crosses with another incident…

Shortly after I’d graduated from high school, my father had won a trip to Cancun for a week from his job, so my parents took that vacation.

My siblings were still in school though and I was informed that it was my responsibility to make sure the other two went to school. The message was that if they didn’t I would be punished.

What that meant now that I was an adult, I didn’t know. I suppose they could still enforce a grounding since I still lived under their roof. But disappointing them was punishment in and of itself, (Failure. Not good enough. Fucked up again) not to mention my father’s seething or booming threatening voice. My cortisol levels would rise just thinking about that.

One night while they were on that vacation,  after my sister had gone to bed…with her boyfriend, I was in the kitchen with my boyfriend and my brother, waiting for some oil to heat up in a pan. I had the ‘bright’ idea of deep frying some frozen pizza bites.

Sitting there yackin’ away, I didn’t realize how hot the oil was getting and the pan began to smoke.  I got up and quickly removed it from the burner.

But it suddenly went up in flames. And all three of us panicked.

My boyfriend, grabbed the pot as I lifted the screen in the kitchen window so he could throw it outside into the yard. When I let go of the screen, it slammed right back down causing the pan to be forced back, splashing hot oil onto his hands and all over the floor.

He kept that pan in his hands while we all panicked trying to figure out what to do with it. Walking it to the front door meant walking it over carpeting that could catch fire.

We went back to the kitchen window and I opened the screen again. This time he flung the pot and it flew successfully outside. I don’t remember how we got the fire out.

We were so lucky the house didn’t go up in flames. The curtains in the kitchen ignited during all the chaos, and I had been able to get them out the window too. And just as my memory is blank on how the fire in the pan was put out, such is the case for the curtains.

I remember during all the commotion, just after the the fire started, that my sister had made a sudden appearance in the kitchen to see what all the noise was about. Thinking about it now, I can imagine the shock and fear she probably felt. She would’ve been around 13.

After his heroic act, I saw my boyfriend’s hands were badly burnt and I got him to come to the kitchen sink, running water as cold as I could get it on his hands. I told him I wanted to take him to the ER but he refused. He couldn’t sleep that night. In pain, he tossed and turned all night.

He was unable to work after the injury while he healed. He was also angry because after telling my parents the story, he felt they should’ve compensated him in some way. And he wasn’t shy about letting me know it. I didn’t know what to think. I told him I’d talk to them about it, but he said not to.

After this horrendous incident, there was oil all over the kitchen floor, so to prevent anyone from slipping, before going to bed that night, I poured salt on top of all the oil.

The next morning I went to work before my siblings were up. I was so depressed about going to work. I worked in a pub/restaurant kitchen and I hated it. My mind always went into dark places while I worked and it would exacerbate my depression. And this day I had the added benefit of anticipating the clean up after I got home from work. I couldn’t even think where I’d begin with it.

When I got home I found my sister in the kitchen, just having finished cleaning up the greasy mess. My work day ended early enough, that if my sister had gone to school, she wouldn’t be home when I got there.

Most people would be thrilled at this whole scenario, little sister staying home to clean up a huge mess that I made, saving me the trouble after eight hours of already shitty work that entailed being on my feet the entire day.  Yeah…but not me. I was pissed AND annoyed that she hadn’t gone to school. I know I was thinking about the disappointment, anger and the possibility of my dad’s rage, toward ME for her not going to school. They would be angry at me for what she didn’t do. This was all I could think about in the moment I saw and knew she hadn’t gone to school.

Never mind the house almost catching fire. Never mind the huge thing sis had just done for me.

I look back on this and cringe and kick myself. I think about how different our relationship might be now if I  had not reacted, not just on this day but many other days in a similar manner.

That day, (although the memory is fuzzy) I’m more than sure that I let her have it, yelling about how mom and dad would be angry at ME for her not going to school.

I raged (from what I now know was fear) and she responded whining,  with something like, “I stayed home to clean up the mess.”

How ashamed I felt. How awful that I did not have room in my heart for gratitude in this situation because all I could think about was my parents reaction of me not being in control of the situation.

I don’t remember if I apologized but even if I had, it would not erase the original response and reaction. Damage done.

The physical attack though, that was a different thing around a different incident but it was also in the kitchen. Again the memory is fuzzy, but there was some exchange of words and likely something passive aggressive from me.

The next thing I knew I was up against the counter, next to the fridge trying to block the claws that were slashing at and toward my face looking at the twisted anger and hurt on my sister’s face.

I swung in an attempt at self-defense, in an arc and missed. I think that I subconsciously missed on purpose. I didn’t want to hurt my baby sister, despite the viciousness I was seeing and feeling from her.

I finally lifted my leg forward and pushed my foot into her gut and flung her away from me. Somehow I was able to get away then and ran up to my room. I was physically and emotionally hurt and scared, but the emotional hurt was much worse.

After having been so close in childhood, we were beginning to hate each other.

________________________________________________________________________________________

I know that my sister’s physical attack didn’t happen with the grease-on-the-floor incident because my mom had been home. She’d been at work or otherwise out and when she got home she’d come up to my room to see me, to see how I was, to talk to me, to see the wounds.

She looked at my face and assured me I wouldn’t be left with scars. The ‘scratch’ that ran down my cheek was only superficial. And in fact it was not an outer scratch. The red mark was under the skin and did indeed fade without a mark.

My mom also delivered my sister’s apology for her and let me know my sister felt really awful about the incident.

[This is very interesting to me now, in regards to the setting up of later triangulations.]

I don’t remember if my sister herself had apologized after I emerged from my room or not.

I feel sad thinking about how the relationship deteriorated between my sister and me. It was gradual but then it was all of a sudden too. We had some years in between when things seemed to get better and we used to sit on my futon and play Mario Brothers for hours. One of my most fond memories is staying home on a snow day and playing Mario Bros all day long.

Awareness Can Be a Long Process

Original post date: May 24, 2014
This is another post originally from Safire Falcon.  It was even longer than what I’ve posted here. The second half includes a POV of co-dependence that I’m not completely sure of now. So I didn’t include it. I may edit and include it later. But for now, no. It’s interesting what you can learn about yourself when you go back to old writings. It can be discouraging too when it looks like there’s been stagnancy or even regression.  I did edit what I’ve posted here a little, but not much. I didn’t make any notes on where I edited either.

Awareness is still coming in like a process. I spent a lot of my life ‘asleep’ so awareness has been a bitter pill. But as bitter as it is, not knowing…not being aware of all the bullshit makes me what I used to call ‘stupidly happy.’

The absence of awareness makes any happy I felt non-existent(?) cancelled out. I was played…whether it was intentional or not. And when I say that, I mean whether the person was self aware of their own sickness or not.

I think of my sister when I say that because she is narcissistic in a big way. And I don’t mean in a healthy way. So although she has abused and hurt me I don’t think she has done it with the intention to set out to hurt me. It has everything to do with her having the need to avoid pain. She is very much about winning her arguments, being right and proving that her issues with me are bigger than anything I may feel. And if it means hurting me to accomplish it then so be it. I then become just a pesky obstacle to overcome, manipulate or push out of the way in such circumstances.

She feels justified in pointing her finger, blaming me and to sound all therapist-y, has no problem using “You” statements rather than “I feel” statements.

When it came to ‘romantic’ relationships, most of the time there was an issue or problem, I would try to rationalize any problem in any relationship to be all me. Even if at first in my anger I would blame the other. I’d be the one hanging her head in shame and guilt after it was pointed out to me how irrational I was being. And then I’d take all responsibility.

And just like the ruminations I’d have about my sister, those situations would come up in my head later and I’d ruminate about what I ‘should’ve’ said. What I’d so wished I’d said. Tense and so angry because this…thing…argument, was never resolved.

I’m sure all that owning up and taking the whole blame and feeling so much shame is a form of denial as well as confusion as to what is theirs and what is mine. Although I was conditioned this way, I still see a form of denial in this. Some of the issues would’ve been deal breakers if I’d had my self-esteem about me. But the denial allowed me to stay. It was better than being lonely and in pain.

I find myself thinking about what my sister might say in certain situations being the narcissist I believe her to be, and what I would say in finally sticking up for myself, no more tail between my legs. As well as still wish I could have redoes in many other situations.

A fellow blogger asked me in a comment recently:

“I can’t honestly say that I would rather be where I was, than where I am now. What do you think and feel about that? Comparatively?”

I made one comment saying that I wonder if my anger will ever go away while in the next comment saying that I don’t feel so angry anymore. Yeah, just a bit contradictory dontcha think?

I had to go back and ask myself about that contradiction. I think the first comment was just me speaking from how I’d been feeling that last week or two. Because to be honest I am not over it. I’m not done and I don’t think it’s that easy. I jumped to a response without really FEELING what my emotions really were/are.

So to comment here now on that question she asked me, I will say that I would much rather be aware than be foolishly in the dark. “Ignorance is bliss,” is a saying we’re all aware of but I don’t believe it’s true. We may THINK we’re blissful without knowing, realizing or understanding that someone is trashing us, lying about us, manipulating us.

But isn’t it a better and more empowering feeling to be able to CHOOSE whether we continue to include such a person in our lives with that kind of information as part of the decision making process?

I certainly think it’s better to know the truth…even if it hurts…to know the reality of what that person is doing…is capable of doing. If such people exist, it’s a matter of keeping yourself safe from them. I mean if someone was treating your child like that wouldn’t you prefer to keep them away from such a nasty human?

There is relief from being away from my family now. Thing is when I feel the relief of being away from them, the anger in moments and days can subside so much I don’t even remember that I’m still going through the anger.

If I’m by myself, alone, minding my own business, enjoying whatever I’m doing, there’s nothing to react to, right?

But mere moments later someone could say something, even if it’s something innocent, not intentionally or maliciously meant to push any buttons, and BAM! There I am getting angry, irritated, annoyed, frustrated and then finally confused. What the hell happened there?

Have you heard of Emotional Flashbacks?

Displaced anger happens within these emotional flashbacks.  I go through different points, where I am able to separate myself more in a way that my anger isn’t being taken out so much in situations where it doesn’t belong. But other times, not so much. And then I’m reminded to be careful not to have such a false sense of security. Meaning, “don’t be telling people I’m over it” when there is no possible way it can happen that fast.

I try to keep in mind that my anger and ruminating at their narcissistic behavior and lack of empathy is not hurting them. It’s not changing them. I’m not sending messages through osmosis about my side of it all and how I was hurt.

Intense anger over those things are only hurting me. Sometimes (not always) I can change the energy of the anger with a thought,  “There is no way I will allow this emotion to eat ME up because YOU are the douche bag who doesn’t give a fuck about me.”

And I continue, “You are not more important than me. I don’t care that you think you are in the right by thinking I am the selfish one. I don’t care that you are so self-righteous that when you say that I’m the one so messed up with my head up my ass, that you are so blind to how fucked up YOU really are. And that you can’t even see yourself when you are pointing that crooked finger at me. Look in the mirror and while you’re at it, look how many fingers point back as you point that one out at me.”

Obviously I DO care otherwise I would not be angry. But…

I take comfort in the fact that I am the one with the awareness. I am the one learning where my actual responsibility lies, not where some disordered other perceives it to be.

It’s those moments that I feel stronger in my anger, rather than out of control. The anger isn’t quite as mixed with fear of them anymore. I’ve had time to step back and see the situation for what it is, and these people for who they are.

That being said, I know there’s probably plenty more that I’m not seeing, that is still shrouded. But as I’ve said previously, it’s a process. Even if I had come from a healthy background life would still be a learning process, right?

I now have though the space to think about what I can do to take care of myself if I ever find myself in their presence again. Anxiety certainly creeps in there too, when I think about this. But some days/moments there’s a determination at the same time that comes out of the anger.

Disappointment is also part of the equation. The absence of a family foundation is very disappointing, especially when I’ve been walking around blind to my actual role in the dynamic. However it clears up a lot of the mind-fuck, head spinning confusion I was dealing with. Knowing the truth, SEEING the truth clicks on a bright light bulb in my head.

It sucks yeah. But there’s the reality, which has clarified so much of that disarray. It’s been one long continuous sigh of relief, that can also cause forgetfulness of how I once felt and even how I still feel at certain moments.

It’s always more productive to work within reality and know what you’re dealing with than to continue spinning wheels in fantasy.

Anxiety is a nasty part of the equation to which is something I’ve not always been aware of, thinking it wasn’t a problem for me. But that was wrong. Again, it’s something I was just unaware of, despite being able to look back and see my behaviors that indicated it and situations that brought it out of me.

I cannot change my own past behaviors and go back and ‘fight back’, letting them all know they cannot and will not walk all over me. I do resent myself, in that if I’d insisted on the respect, stuck up for myself, I would’ve felt so much better about myself, therefore manifesting that outward in my treatment of others, choices I made and even the intensity of the emotions I felt.

But I think that being said, I could get into a chicken and egg kind of cycle. I was groomed, ‘beaten down’ with abuse as a small child, into adolescence. My brain was forming all kinds of things at that time. It normalized things that shouldn’t be. It formed pathways to lack of self confidence and I was stripped of self esteem. My brain took to a shape that gave me the beliefs of not being good enough, worthy and that everything about me is wrong.

Over the last decade I have slowly become more mindful of my treatment of others. There were times I have been snotty and even nasty believing that if I show my displeasure I could get what I needed, whatever that was and whatever the situation called for. I was being narcissistic. And I could feel the chaos in my mind, the agitation, the impatience toward myself as well as the other.

I find that my anger is more toward myself than toward them in those situations and I’ve done lots of misdirecting. Something I catch myself at and apologize for, when I do.

That behavior may also come from the dissatisfaction I’ve felt about my life. I believe this is also a result of childhood trauma. Making clear and concise decisions about my direction in life and my future, were severely impaired.

I did not have someone who steered me in any sort of direction. I had no one to reel in the reins and I was neglected in many ways. I played alone a lot as a child, I remember. In high school my parents were completely uninvolved in what I was doing in school. And I was able to get away with dating a man 7 years older than me when I was 13 and then when I was 16, I ‘dated’ a man the same age as my own mother.

I wouldn’t call that dating, but used the word for the sake of simplicity.

At 18 I began to binge drink and worked only part time. College was discouraging for the short time I attended because as I said, I had no direction and had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life. So at that time I saw no reason to stay in school. And I had no parent speak to me about this decision. I had no support and I was left to feel my own way through despite not having been prepared to do so.

It all led to a chronic anger because I was not able to express a healthy anger. And by the time I’d reached young adulthood, I certainly didn’t even know that’s what I was feeling to induce such behavior. In fact I didn’t even know when to be angry sometimes. For example, I wasn’t hip to when someone was being disrespectful. Boundaries weren’t exactly something shown to me, given me or taught that I even had the right to.

Anger doesn’t feel good, especially when it’s chronic. Chronic embedded anger is different I think than healthy anger. Chronic anger seeps into every part of your life. It destroys relationships, it diminishes chances at having healthy relationships, including with the self. It eats away at the body and brain. It keeps blame right on top, even if it’s justified blame. Chronic anger keeps one in a state of not being able to move forward, feeling that someone else needs to make up for it. An apology is owed. Closure cannot be found from within.

But unfortunately, people like narcissists or other disordered individuals won’t come forth with apologies and validation. So working through it alone is a must if I want to move forward, despite the difficult.

Validation and acknowledgement and even approval is a healthy human need. But the need for those things can run over to the point of becoming pathological, meaning it creates codependence and people pleasing.This can obviously become detrimental and put a codependent in dangerous situations.

This happened to me. My family situation and their treatment of me while my father was dying is a perfect example of how detrimental it can be. I cared more about how they felt in general and what they thought of me more than I did about my own feelings pertaining to the situation.

Betrayal is a Mother

Originally written on August 17, 2013: Another post transferred from Safire Falcon. I just read through it and it needs some editing to clarify the situation. But reading this got me so angry.  I need a break from this shit as much as I need to post it. It gave me heart palpitations. That’s how pissed off I got as I reread this post. It needs editing, but I need to sleep right now.

These people are so fucked up to have treated me like this. My own mother especially, but my sister in this scenario too is quite the POS.  I need another word to refer to this group of assholes because they are not family.


I was emotionally abused as a child and later scapegoated and manipulated by family as an adult. The latter showing its ugly dynamics in the first few months of this year (2013) awakening me to total awareness of the seriousness of the toxicity.

During those months we were caring for my father, while he was terminally ill, a particular agreement was made within this situation between my mother and I after my sister had very obviously triangulated her against me, after a conversation between my sister and me pertaining to the same subject.

The conclusion sis and I had reached on the phone wasn’t satisfactory to her apparently, but instead of letting me know, instead of discussing it with me, like an adult, she called “mommy.”

It hadn’t even been an argument, and it had actually seemed to me that when my sister and I hung up, we were in agreement and on the same boat.

Take note: This is what narcissists will do to your ‘face’. But behind your back they talk shit, triangulate and devise some plan with someone else to get you to think that YOU are the douche bag, when all along they are the players, fucking with your mind.

But although my sister acts like a narc in some situations, especially with me, she doesn’t act like that in every scenario with every person.

My mother called me to get the agreement out of me that my sister was afraid to re-address. And I went ahead in the end and told my mother that I would take a couple days to figure out what I would agree to in caring for my father.

I thought it through and let my mom know specifically what I would agree to and she took it back to my siblings, whom I was told agreed with my terms too. I was actually appreciative that she was willing to play mediator since I knew that logical adult conversation was probably not a probability with my sibs and me.

We all walked on eggshells, had to crane our necks around big fat elephants in any room we were in and I for one had begun to felt afraid given I’d been physically attacked or threatened by both of them.

My parents were divorced, but in addition to my mother’s mediation, she had also told me/agreed that she’d go to my father’s if none of us three kids could get there at a particular time.

Just weeks later, there was an attempt to manipulate me out of my terms one particular weekend. I was exhausted and completely stressed from the chaos that had ensued on a particular Saturday. In fact that specific Saturday, I was not supposed to be there at all. But was later asked to go for breakfast. I was there for much longer as a result of the home health aid (who was being paid) not showing up with her car. A car she needed to do the grocery run she was scheduled to do.

I was so ready for Sunday (the day after) to replenish and get some stuff done at home. And not see any of my fucked up family, including my father. Dying or not, he was still an asshole.

But then the text came from sister, asking, “Can you do lunch tomorrow?  You’ll just need to be there an hour.”

I knew that “only being there an hour” wasn’t likely, given my so called breakfast visit that same morning which turned into half the day and a severely chaotic one at that.

In fact I had spoken to my sister mere hours before receiving that text and told her I wouldn’t be going the next day. There was no acknowledgement of that day being Sunday…one of my AGREED days OFF!

Not that I can’t be flexible. But I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I had even mentioned to my sister that mom said she’d go if none of us were available. BEcause after I’d told my sister I wasn’t going the next day while we were talking on the phone, she mumbled, “I can’t go tomorrow.”

Of course she couldn’t. She didn’t want to deal with any of the hard part but she expected me to. In her little twisted mind, she seemed to think I owed it to everyone.

I needed a whole day. Well truthfully I needed my whole life back or at least the rest of it, but that’s another story.

The mom specifically told me that she’d step up and fill in when none of us three kids could be there. Seems to me this qualified. So what the fuck is with the communication break down here? Maybe mom wasn’t saying the same shit to my sister as she was saying to me. But then how would I know.

My sister, apparently thinking she was my mother at that point and me her small Cinderella child, didn’t think the mom should have to drive down for “just breakfast.”  I found this out later when I finally got hold of my mom to be sure she was (or someone) was going to take care of my father’s lunch.

I had called my mother to tell her someone was needed Sunday. But she seemed to forget the agreement too since I got a cold response. “Well I’ll talk to brother.”  (Of course she said his name, but I’m not using names.) So apparently brother trumped me and trumped our agreement. WTF for? I was telling her what was needed. My word apparently wasn’t good enough.

So after not having the courtesy returned to me with a phone call or text from either the mom or sister, I called my mother and was informed she’d talk to my brother. That was the night before. The next day I called her again. She was clearly irritated, told me she was headed to dad’s in this tone of voice that came across like I was asking a stupid question and should know what she was doing.

And I was informed that my sister was frustrated (when I’d asked if she was angry) and didn’t understand why I couldn’t go instead of my mom driving down.

1. There is only a 15 minute difference drive time between my mom and I to the place my dad had lived.

2. The agreement was made this way to give me time to replenish. My dad was dying but he was not easy to be around and he was my abuser. And news fucking flash mom: YOU ALLOWED IT! And were in fact an abuser to me as well.

I did not verbalize number one or number 2 above, but I did ask her if she mentioned the agreement to my sister and her reply was, with an eye roll in her voice, “No, I didn’t want to go there.”

Of course not womb donor, you couldn’t possibly find it in yourself to stick up for me, tell her the truth and be fucking real with your very own narcissistic daughter. I suppose it was easier to keep the scapegoat daughter, the one who froze when she needed to be sticking up for herself, squashed in her role.

A  twisted, toxic dynamic, with a dying man in the middle of it. It was a very life draining and soul stealing on-going event. Not to mention how drained of my soul I’d already been, being raised in such an environment.

Because of Our Past: Reflections of a Circumstance Surrounding a Sick and Toxic Family

Originally written February 2014. The text in orange below was the biggest edit, but there are other edits that I didn’t indicate. However, they are all completely relevant and helps the story to flow, even if it does make the post even longer than it already was. Heheh.

In addition, I want to share the comments that were written below this post when it appeared on Safire Falcon, the blog I had started and written at before starting and settling into this one. So I will include them below in the post, rather than putting them in the comment section. 


“We are who we are because of our past. I’m not talking about what we do or don’t do for a living. I’m talking about who we are within. We walk on eggshells because of the past and I believe that we treat each other the way we do because of the past.”

I wrote the above paragraph to say to my sister quite some time ago, back while in the midst of a very stressful time in my already toxic family’s life, my father’s terminal illness.


Edit on 8/11/17: It was this event and circumstances surrounding it that made clear the toxicity within my family. The sickness had nowhere left to hide. Of course a family like this needs a dumping ground or what is commonly referred to as a scapegoat. That scapegoat was me. And boy did they dump on and walk all over me. I also want to mention and clarify the part of my statement above, in reference to what we do (or don’t) for a living/career.  

Throughout my childhood, teen years and early adulthood, there was this underlying message that a career is an important part of identity. It was never said, never, outright. But the message was certainly there. Both of my parents had good jobs/careers. The industry my father was in wasn’t quite as stable as the one my mother was in, but he always did something. Even when he went into sales, which he claimed not to enjoy, he still did well, even winning awards and other fun prizes. 

Like I said, the words were never, “You must do what we are doing to have worth. But the message was clear that it was an important part of identity to have a career or even a solid talent and be really good at it.  I always wanted to find my talent and make money at it. I think maybe it might be writing, but I never knew how to make money at it and I didn’t have much help.

I remember once, writing an article or a poem or something and sending it off to a bunch of magazines. I was so excited about it and told my father. He immediately became impatient and condescending telling me, “You’re not supposed to send the same thing to all those magazines. You pick one and send it to them.”

I felt like I was stupid. But how the fuck was I supposed to know that? It’s not like he made any effort to nurture me in my writing or guide me in making a living at it.  Fucking pecker head.


So back to my sister: I had had a conversation with  her not long before writing that statement above, all the way at the top of this post, with the plan of saying it to her at some point, when the opportunity arose. It never did. In fact the opportunity had passed and I was left with the frustration and need for acceptance that I had frozen, once again, when given my window to state my case.

I hear a lot about fight or flight but it seems most people who talk about those human defense mechanisms  forget one…FREEZE! (This, before I had known about Pete Walker’s book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. At the time I wrote the bulk of this post, most of what I was reading and listening to, left out FREEZE and certainly didn’t mention anything about FAWN either.)

Freeze tends to be my go-to defense mechanism, at least up to this point, when it comes to my sister and other family members too. When I get into a situation where it’s appropriate to stand up for myself, I fumble, stumble and stutter or just stop talking altogether. The last time I was in a particular situation that would have been appropriate to verbally defend myself,  I sat there listening to my sister tell me how screwed up I am/have been. And when I did venture a statement or question, it was completely ineffective. Waved away with a “Yeah but…” or ignored while she leaped over it to continue berating.

Despite my “I feel” statements and non-aggressive approach, I was going to once again come away from this ‘conversation’ feeling as though I’d been attacked by a rabid dog.

However, despite her being so vicious in response to my last attempt to strengthen our relationship, I was about to begin being freed. Even through all the blame, shame and finger pointing.

When she stated:
“I’m done talking about the past with you!!”
,  I realized that I no longer ‘had’ to try to ‘fix’ our toxic relationship or the dysfunction between us.

She said, “You have a choice,” as if she were an angry mother scolding a child.

She continued, “You have a choice to sit and wallow in the past, to spend life in a depression. I don’t have time to resolve every little thing.”

She used herself and her husband as an example. That if one of them does or says something hurtful, they say they’re sorry and move on.

And there in-lies the difference…there was no apology to me. Ever. There was no consciousness on her part when it came to what was at the root of all this toxic sludge and dysfunction.

Although I don’t actually think depression is a choice for the most part and is an illness, at that moment I did realize that she was never going to really hear me or be willing to listen to me.

I actually made a conscious decision in that moment to let go of all the shit between us that had been left unresolved and kept us so emotionally distant. I let go at least to the point that I knew I would stop trying to work things out with her.  I also decided in that moment that I would be working out a way to sever ties with her.

It was a relieving feeling actually. And I’d had this pain in my left shoulder blade for years. But as soon as I made that decision about her, that pain disappeared.

She was never going to see my point or validate anything I felt and I was certainly never going to get apologies for her bullying nor was I going to get any acknowledgement that she had been verbally abusive, never mind admit to remembering the physical attack years ago.

I was allowing her behavior toward me to cause me fear of being myself. I needed to be on my guard around her and be extra cautious as to what I said to her and around her, lest it be used against me in the future however benign my half of the conversation may have been.

During that same conversation and realization, she told me that she didn’t want to have to worry about every little thing that came out of her mouth when she was around me. Ironic.

Then said, “And I don’t want you calling me to tell me negative things about family members.”

This is yet more irony.

Again I froze saying nothing. At that point I just wanted the conversation to end. It reminded me a little of feeling trapped on the phone with a couple girl-friends when I was about 13. They’d been calling me names, making fun of me then threatening to “beat me up” if I hung up on them.

I recall feeling like I couldn’t wait for them to tire of their bullying so I could be set free. And that’s the feeling I had that day on the phone with my sister.

Thing is what she’d said was bullshit. She’d just insinuated (or is it implied?) that I had done something that I hadn’t. And before that, in a twisted way, accused me twice of doing things she’d actually done.

Just weeks after these perverse and even insidious accusations, I heard her catching herself when she just about started to make a comment about my brother and her frustration with the way he keeps things so disorganized.

She stopped herself before she said anything negative, but had gone far enough in what she was telling me and from her tone of voice, I knew exactly what her complaint was. It helps that I know my brother too.

Referring to the other accusation she so cleverly formed into a demand, the one where she said she didn’t want to hear me trash any of our family members. Well…

In the past she and I would be talking on the phone or I’d be visiting and she’d have some problem with our  mother. She’d compare her with other moms of her friends, because our mom wasn’t the grandmother to her kids my sister wanted her to be.

She hated how our mother wouldn’t spend more time with her kids. But instead of going to my mother, the person she had the issue with, she bitched about it to me. This is her MO and had played the same game with me, speaking and complaining to my mother about me.

The difference between my mother and me though, is that I did not call my mother to try to make her do what my sister wanted. I had the presence of mind to know that the issue was between the two of them and I had no business getting in the middle of it. In fact I think I might have even said to my sister, “Why don’t you talk to mom about it?”

As for the realizations that flowed during that phone conversation, more accurately referred to as a berating session:

I woke up to the fact that the eggshells…
(not only the two of us walked on…which she believed in her warped mind, that I was the cause of and didn’t see I walked on them too…but the eggshells the entire family walked on among each other)  would most likely never be truly cleaned up and until I had the opportunity to remove myself, I would not stop feeling like a garbage dump.

Not that I hadn’t had the choice to stick up for myself. I suppose I did. But I didn’t feel or see it that way because of the fear of more abuse I’d already had enough of.

I was afraid for my safety.

But I was also afraid that if I attempted to express myself, the words wouldn’t come out right. I would fuck it up. And then I’d be back where I started and the rumination would be even worse than if I hadn’t said anything at all. Ruminations like, “I should’ve said this, not that.” “I should’ve been more articulate in what I did say.” I’d also kick myself for having tripped over my words.  So with all that in mind, combined with the ‘Freeze’ response I kept my mouth shut most of the time.

During this berating session of hers, she’d given me an ultimatum to either step up or walk away, completely disregarding any of the reasons I had for being so hesitant to ‘step up’ for my father. In fact it wasn’t even because of my father so much, even though there were certainly reasons regarding him. It had much more to do with my siblings and knowing full well how they would likely treat me if I got involved on their terms.

And that’s the kicker, there were more than those two choices but I “Froze.” Ironically I felt the need to choose only between the two of those because of my fear of the abuse I was sure I’d have to endure. No other choice was clear to me at that time either.

And you know what’s even more fucked up: The same fucking ultimatum was thrown at me by my brother before that berating session with my sister and then in a later phone call with my mother.

I gave it some thought, to walk, each time it came up while being barked or whined at. Maybe it would’ve been healthier for me if I had walked away. Perhaps more peaceful.

But my father was dying and despite his abuse of me throughout my life, I didn’t really want to walk away from him. Not at that point. But I think about all this that I’m writing right now and wonder how he would have felt and what he would have thought, had he known the way I was treated by my siblings and mother trying to get me to step up…particularly my sister and mother because I’m sure their motives were so, that they wouldn’t have to put in so much time in being with my father.  My brother was already spending all of his free time away from work there, so although he was still a POS in this situation, I know it wasn’t all about relinquishing responsibility for him.


Added 8/11/17: I want to ask my father, “How does it feel to have a family who’s so toxic that three of them gang up on one to get her to help care for you? How does it feel to know that your youngest daughter is a bully toward your oldest daughter? How does it feel to know that your ex-wife, the mother of your children is participating in manipulation, guilt tripping and triangulation against your oldest daughter?  How does it feel to know that there is all this sick toxicity surrounding you in your time of need?


My family thought I was selfish for ‘making it about me.’  God forbid I have the rational fear of the two (actually three) people who have a history of treating me like shit, whatever the fucking circumstance is, even a dying father.

The fact is when a whole family gets involved with anything, it’s about all of them. And it was about all of us. My brother spent most of his non-working time with my father so he was pretty much never home. My father decided he didn’t want kids around so my sister’s time with him was limited. Which meant the times she could’ve been there, but only with her kids, needed to be filled and that usually fell on me.

I wanted to be there, but I didn’t want to be bullied into being there on their terms. I wanted and needed it to be on my own terms. Again I was the throw away who didn’t matter. And if I said no, I was pushed. And if I said no still I was still given a hard time. Agreements were ignored, my brother barked at me one day on the phone because he “NEEDED TO KNOW NOW if I would be available to be there every night until dad went to bed.

This happened a few weeks in and was suddenly dropped on me. After being barked at, I gave my brother what he wanted. He actually didn’t want to know…he needed to know that the answer was yes. No room to think and the message was, do it or you’re a horrible person.

Forget the fact that I had an on-call job, nights, that I would now have to quit. I was already struggling to put enough gas in my car to get to and from my father’s place. And was never offered money to do that. I had to ask and I was afraid to.

I’d known when I made the decision to give in to their demands and ultimatum, I’d have angry chaos and abuse to confront and basically absorb. I knew I wouldn’t stand up for myself. I did at times but not without some kind of recourse. Even when I stuck to my boundary after my sister’s attempts of violating part of an agreement I’d made with my mother, I spent that whole day shaking, scared and rehearsing what I’d say if my sister confronted me.  Turned out to be a waste of time but doesn’t change the state I’d been in because of it.

The exhaustion I felt certainly wouldn’t let me defend myself physically or mentally if I needed to. I think I was also trying to control what they all thought of me.  There was still some of that left despite my knowing it was a matter of time before I did take them up on their offer to walk the fuck away. The fear of losing their love was still a factor even though I didn’t really have it to begin with. And then there was the sense of obligation pounded into me..

“Step up or walk,” is what was presented to me, by ALL THREE FAMILY MEMBERS. Mother, brother, sister. It makes me want to cry thinking about this again.

What I wish my response would have been to these three sick fucks:
“Those are not the only two choices. I will be there if I want and if I choose to walk that is my business. But I will be seeing dad and caring for him if need be, on my terms. And I will not be forced into anything pertaining to this situation via shame or guilt.”

But alas…

I thought it would be easier. After all, the abuse now had a time limit. Once my father passed, I would be taking that walk they all offered me in their ultimatum.

My father passed April 1, 2013 in the early hours of the morning. I remember because it was still dark out when I got the call from hospice. I had left just a few hours before…around 10pm the night before. And I’d actually thought about just sleeping there in the big oversize chair that was in my father’s room.


So my sister was right in her statement about choice, but not exactly the way she meant it.

I do have a choice not to continue hitting my head against a wall in attempt to resolve issues that someone else has no interest in.

I do have a choice in discontinuing to get acceptance from someone who doesn’t want to give it.

I had other choices too, that I wasn’t quite clear enough about, at that time to see, or if I could see them, wasn’t feeling brave or confident enough to enact. The feeling of needing to keep myself self physically and emotionally safe as possible was priority.

I did feel some shame and regret. And in some ways felt that I deserved to be abused.

To my sister on the phone that day, I found an opening. But I used it to weakly present the idea of the past actually being the present. I asked her, “Don’t you walk on egg shells because of events from the past?”

I was feebly and pathetically attempting to point out that our dynamic was formed over time through our behaviors. And the roles in the family, and the way we related as children and young adults, as well as lack of proper teaching from our parents on how to relate and resolve, was at least partially responsible for how we related now.

And in my mind the only way to change the toxic dynamic in the present was to resolve the past, by awareness of our own behaviors that created it all. But it was not to be.

As per her usual response it went something like, “Yeah but you…” and she fell into her habit of finger pointing and blame.

She was stuck in being right and making me the bad guy. I was tired of being verbally beaten. So I gave up and let her have her say. As usual.

So… Are we what we are because of our past?

I think it has a role in molding us. As kids our brains are malleable and in addition we all have innate traits and abilities. But they will be effected by how we are nurtured or abused. I’d say most of that takes place without our awareness too. And many adults who are in pain and manifest it in a myriad of ways, don’t and won’t look at it. Won’t look back. Will stay in denial. But there are others of us who are aware, who want to get past the denial and resistance. Who fight the confusion and frustration. Who want to separate what they own from what belongs to others.

And either way, maybe that is dictated from the past.

And maybe those that fight to work things out, to change, to make themselves better people, are who they are (or who they are becoming) DESPITE the past.

 


 

Comments from original post: (I am posting these for myself more than anything else.)

Rivka: I agree with your thought that some people are… smaller than you or me. Your sister sounds like my mother. She doesn’t listen. She doesn’t understand my point of view. I want closure from her. I want an apology, and she says I am a spoiled brat. I don’t think your sister can see the big picture like you do. And your brother, he wants what he wants. It doesn’t matter if you have a job to go to. It’s really hard when one member of an abusive family wants to make things better but the others want to continue and to deny. I feel for you. I’m sorry you are going through these growing pains.

Safire Falcon (me): I didn’t really mean that anyone is smaller or better than me. Not that I haven’t entertained that thought, if I’m being brutally honest with myself. But I’ve thought he complete opposite as well, so…

I’m guessing you’re referring to the end of the post where I say something about trying to be a better person. (?)

I was talking about being a better person in comparison to past self, up to the point where I’m in a situation that gives me the opportunity to respond differently.

I reread the post (and edited a little too being the perfectionist that I am) and didn’t see anything (or take anything out) that said that I think I’m a better person than some people.

But if I’m missing that, I would love to have it pointed out to me. Because even though I was angry at this situation with my family, I wasn’t trying to get the message across that I think I’m ‘better’ than them.

I think I’m more aware, awake and willing to see what they don’t though.

Rivka: You did not say that you think you are better than your siblings. I’m saying for you. “Being more aware, awake, and willing to see” is self-actualization, the goal of every human being. Their vision is small. Yours is big, and it depresses you when you are around them. I would guess that you both feel sorry for them and feel hurt by them. I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable.

Safire Falcon: Oh no, you didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I just wanted to be clear and make sure I didn’t miss something in my own writing. lol.

Thank you for the clarification. What you say is very comforting and validating. In fact you are right about what I feel. Pity as well as hurt. I couldn’t have worded it better.

I never thought of my awareness as self actualization either, which is quite helpful too. I remember first hearing that word in my early 20’s and thought of it as something I’d probably never reach given my depression and what I felt was my lot in life, which was to work jobs that took me nowhere.

I am learning that I am more than my job. Thanks again for clarifying. I was concerned it might come off as being a bit angry but I wasn’t at all.

Rereading these now, I could make some corrections in what I wrote. Like how “I feel, pity and hurt.” I feel anger too. A lot of it.

Self-actualization: Referring to my last comment, there’s that mention of job again. The messages we get as children are so ingrained, it’s ridiculous. It is just registering to me that Rivka is telling me that waking up is actually self-actualization.  But I’m still stuck in believing it has to do with understanding my purpose in life which in my mind connects to a meaningful (to me) career, something I dedicate my life to, a way to be productive and contribute to society.

I think I have made even more progress in waking up now that I can see more clearly what Rivka was saying to me.  It looks like I missed Rivka’s point a couple times in these comments, which is frustrating.

Because of Our Past

houses-in-shadow-sepiaOriginally posted on Safire Falcon (my old blog) 2/19/2014. I’m (slowly) moving those posts over here. I created a category called “Safire Falcon” here as well to put them in.

“We are who we are because of our past. I’m not talking about what we do or don’t do for a living. I’m talking about who we are within. We walk on eggshells because of the past and I believe that we treat each other the way we do because of the past.”

I wrote the above paragraph to say to my sister quite some time ago, back while in the midst of a very stressful time in my already toxic family’s life. At a time in which I was only just beginning to wake up to how toxic things actually were.

I had had a conversation with  her not long before writing it, with the plan of saying it to her at some point, when the opportunity arose. It never did. In fact the opportunity had passed and I was left with the acceptance that I had frozen, once again, when given my window to state my case.

I hear a lot about fight or flight but it seems most people who talk about those human defense mechanisms  forget one…FREEZE!*

Edit Sunday 11/5/17: Just want to note that since I’ve written this post, I’ve heard a lot about ‘Freeze.’ But at the time that I wrote it, many of those I was reading and listening to were not mentioning it.

Freeze tends to be my go-to defense mechanism, at least up to this point. When I get into a situation where it’s appropriate to stand up for myself, I fumble, stumble and stutter or just stop talking altogether. The last time I was in a particular situation that would have been appropriate to verbally defend myself,  I sat there listening to my sister tell me how screwed up I am/have been. And when I did venture a statement or question, it was completely ineffective. Waved away with a “Yeah but…” or ignored while she leaped over it to continue bitching, berating and finger pointing.

Despite my “I feel” statements and non-aggressive approach, I was going to once again come away from this ‘conversation’ feeling as though I’d been attacked by a rabid dog.

However, despite her being mean about it, in response to my last attempt, to strengthen our relationship by resolving an issue between us, I was about to begin being freed.

Even through all the blame, shame and finger pointing.

When she stated:
“…I’m done talking about the past with you!”
,  I realized that I no longer had to try to ‘fix’ our toxic relationship or the dysfunction between us.

She said, “You have a choice” as if she were an angry mother scolding a child.

She continued, “You have a choice to sit and wallow in the past, to spend life in a depression. I don’t have time to resolve every little thing.”

She used herself and her husband as an example. That if one of them does or says something hurtful, they say they’re sorry and move on.

And there in lies the difference…there was no apology. Ever. There was no consciousness on her part when it came to what was at the root of all this toxic sludge and dysfunction. No accountability.

When she said to me once, in a separate conversation than I’m referring to here, “Well, I have issues…” I stopped what I’d been saying in attempt to address a problem I’d detected from her about a week prior, to let her tell me what those issues of hers were.

My automatic thought process was that she was going to talk about some issues or faults of her own. Because when I say, “I have issues,” I am usually referring to some sort of flaw within myself.

Instead she laid into me. Her issues were about me and so-called awful things I did. They weren’t awful things. I had offered an idea while conversing with her. It just happened to be an idea she hadn’t agreed with. But instead of saying anything then, she just went silent and stiff. In fact I felt the tension. I knew something was wrong. She held onto it and used it against me during that phone call.

So back to the phone call I was originally referring to: At the moment that she said, “You have a choice…”I realized that she was never going to really hear me or be willing to listen to me.

In addition to that, when she’d said that she had decided she was never going to discuss the past with me again, that also got me off the hook from trying to have a real and deep relationship with her.

Thing is she wasn’t even willing to amicably and maturely revisit shit that happened just a week prior. She generally used my attempts at resolving something I knew to be a problem, as an opportunity to chastise, criticize and belittle me.

So I made a conscious decision at that point in the conversation, (although it wasn’t exactly a conversation since she was the only one getting words in and hurtful ones at that) to let go of all the shit between us that had been left unresolved and kept us so emotionally distant. I decided I would stop trying to work things out with her. I also decided in that moment that severing ties with her would eventually happen.

It was a relieving feeling actually. And I’d had this pain in my left shoulder blade for years. But as soon as I made that decision about her, that pain disappeared.**

She was never going to see my point or validate anything I felt and I was certainly never going to get apologies for her bullying. She was never going to be accountable in any way.

I was allowing her behavior toward me to cause me fear of being myself. I needed to be on my guard around her and be extra cautious as to what I said to her and around her. Lest it be used against me in the future (possibly) however benign my half of the conversation may have been.

Ironically though she’d said to me that she didn’t want to have to worry about every little thing that came out of her mouth when she was around me.

Then said, “And I don’t want you calling me to tell me negative things about family members.”

More irony, to say the least. These are things she had done!

Again I froze saying nothing. At that point I just wanted the phone call to end. It reminded me a little of feeling trapped on the phone with a couple girl-friends when I was about 13. They’d been calling me names, making fun of me then threatening to “beat me up” if I hung up on them.

The threat wasn’t as overt as that with my sister. But I recall feeling at 13, I couldn’t wait for those girls to tire of their bullying so I could be set free. And that’s the feeling I had that day on the phone with my sister.

Just weeks after this accusation, in the form of a command, I heard her catching herself when she just about started to make a comment about my brother and her frustration with the way he had kept some files of my fathers so disorganized.

She stopped herself before she said anything negative, but had gone far enough in what she was telling me, I knew where she’d wanted to go with that hypocritical bullshit of hers.

Maybe she’d had a moment of delusion about who complained and trash talked family members. She used to complain to me about our mother and compared her friend’s mom to ours.
Our mother wasn’t the grandmother, to her kids, my sister wanted her to be.

Edit Sunday 11/5/17: I know now this is a form of gas-lighting. It’s meant to knock the other person off balance and doubt themselves.

She hated how our mother wouldn’t chisel out more time for her kids. But instead of going to the person she had the issue with, (our mother) she talked about it to someone else, (me). This is her MO and had played the same game on me, speaking to my mother about me.

Difference between my mother and me though, is that I did not call my mother to try to make her do what my sister wanted. I didn’t inform my mother of all the trash my sister was talking about her either.  I had the presence of mind to know that the issue was between the two of them and I had no business getting in the middle of it.

As for the realizations that flowed during that phone conversation:

I woke up to the fact that the eggshells…
(not only the two of us walked on…which she believed in her twisted mind, that I was the cause of and didn’t see I walked on them too…but the eggshells the entire family walked on among each other)  would most likely never be cleaned up, beyond bulging from under the rug, and until I had the opportunity to remove myself, I would not stop feeling like a garbage dump and actually being their garbage dump.  This is who and what I was to all of them. Really sick shit.

Not that I hadn’t had the choice to stick up for myself. I suppose I did. But I didn’t feel or see it that way because of the fear of more abuse I’d already had enough of.

I was afraid for my safety, yes.

But I was also afraid that if I attempted to express myself, the words wouldn’t come out right. I would fuck it up. And then I’d be back where I started and the rumination would be even worse than if I hadn’t said anything at all. Ruminations like, “I should’ve said this or I coulda said that.” You know…that kinda thing.

Yeah that was happening anyway, but I feared it would be worse. Besides, there is a whole brain mechanism involved. I was groomed to take this shit. And my brain formed in such a way so that it and I would react this way. Of course there were already innate traits present that made the freeze response possible as opposed to the fight response. But I used to have the fight response. Then I’d been physically attacked a couple times as well as raged at and felt threatened. So that had something to do with it as well.

My siblings became monsters when it came to how they treated me.

My sister also spat out an ultimatum about me walking away, during that phone call. But my father was dying. And in fact is one of the reasons she and I were on the phone in the first place.

The same ultimatum was offered to me by my brother before that and then later by my mother.

I gave it some thought each time it came up and I’d been barked or whined at. Maybe it would’ve been healthier for me if I had. Perhaps more peaceful.

My father was dying though and I was apprehensive in getting deeply involved with his care, like the family was asking me to do. He and I had had some recent problems and he abused me emotionally and psychologically when I was growing up.

My family thought I was selfish for ‘making it about me.’ But in fact I wasn’t exactly doing that. The fact is when a whole family gets involved with anything, it’s about all of them. And it was about all of us. My brother spent most of his non-working time with my father so he was pretty much never home. My father decided he didn’t want kids around so my sister’s time with him was limited. Which meant the times she could’ve been there, needed to be filled and that usually fell on me.

So yeah, it was kind of about me and him and her, as well as it was about my father.

I wanted to be there, but I didn’t want to be bullied into being there on everyone else’s terms. Again I was the throw away who didn’t matter. And if I said no I was pushed. And if I said no still I was still given a hard time. Agreements were ignored, my brother barked at me one day on the phone because he “NEEDED TO KNOW NOW” if I would be available to be there every night until dad went to bed.

This happened a few weeks in and was suddenly dropped on me. After being barked at, I gave my brother what he wanted. He actually didn’t want to know…he needed to know that the answer was yes. No room to think and the message was, do it or you’re a horrible person.

Forget the fact that I had an on-call job, nights, that I would now have to quit.

I’d known when I made the decision to give in to their demands and ultimatum, I’d have angry chaos and abuse to confront and basically absorb. I knew I wouldn’t stand up for myself. I did at times but not without some kind of price to pay.

The exhaustion I felt made it difficult for me to defend myself physically or mentally if I needed to.  I think I was also trying to control what they all thought of me.  There was still some of that left despite my knowing it was a matter of time before I did take them up on their offer to walk the fuck away. The fear of losing their love was still a factor even though I didn’t really have it to begin with. But this didn’t occur to me then. And then there was the sense of obligation pounded into me.

“Step up or walk,” is what was presented to me, by ALL THREE FAMILY MEMBERS. Mother, brother, sister. It makes me want to cry thinking about this again.

What I wish my response would have been to those three bullies:
“Those are not the only two choices. I will be there if I want and if I choose to walk that is my business. But I will be seeing dad and caring for him if need be, on my terms. And I will not be forced into anything pertaining to this situation via shame or guilt.”

But alas…

I thought it would be easier. After all, the abuse now had a time limit. Once my father passed, I would be taking that walk they all offered me in their ultimatum.

My father passed April 1, 2013, in the early hours of the morning. I remember because it was still dark out when I got the call from hospice. I had left just a few hours before…around 10pm the night before. And I’d actually thought about just sleeping there in the big oversize chair that was in my father’s room. But having no toothbrush and wanting to get into something more comfortable, I chose to go home.
________________________________________________________________________________________

So my sister was right in her statement about choice, but not exactly the way she meant it.

I do have a choice not to continue hitting my head against a wall in attempt to resolve issues, when someone else has no interest in doing that.

I do have a choice in discontinuing to get acceptance from someone who doesn’t want to give it.

I had other choices too, that I wasn’t quite clear enough about, at that time to see, or if I could see them, wasn’t feeling brave or confident enough to enact.

I did feel some shame and regret. And in some ways felt that I deserved to be abused.

And don’t forget it’s in our DNA to feel the need to be part of a family, a clan. It was a necessity to our survival once upon a time. That is still programmed into us as humans.

To my sister on the phone that day, I found an opening. But I used it to weakly present the idea of the past actually being the present. I asked her, “Don’t you walk on egg shells because of events from the past?”

I was feebly and pathetically attempting to point out that our dynamic was formed over time through our behaviors. And the roles in the family, and the way we related as children, teens and young adults, was at least partially responsible for how we related now and why we have certain issues.

And in my mind the only way to change the toxic dynamic in the present was to resolve the past, by awareness of our own behaviors that created it all. But it was not to be.

As per her usual response it went something like, “Yeah but you…” and she fell into her habit of finger pointing and blame.

She was stuck in being right and I was tired of being verbally beaten. So I gave up and let her have her say. As usual. When it came to her and me, she always got her way, ever since we were kids.

So… Are we what we are because of our past?

I think it has a role in molding us. As kids our brains are malleable and in addition we all have innate traits and abilities. So they will be effected by how we are nurtured or abused. I’d say most of that takes place without our awareness too. And many adults who are in pain and manifest it in a myriad of ways, don’t and won’t look at it. Won’t look back. Will stay in denial. But there are others of us who are aware, who want to get past the denial and resistance. Who fight the confusion and frustration. Who want to separate what they own from what belongs to others.

And either way, maybe that is dictated from the past.

And maybe those that fight to work things out, to change, to make themselves better people, are who they are (or who they are becoming) DESPITE the past.

*After reading Pete Walker’s book on Complex PTSD I learned of another defense mechanism called Fawn. It is just how it sounds. I think of it as kissing ass. But best to read the book if you want to know exactly.

This post on Safire Falcon had a short comment exchange so I’m including those here below because they added to the post nicely.

R said: I agree with your thought that some people are… smaller than you or me. Your sister sounds like my mother. She doesn’t listen. She doesn’t understand my point of view. I want closure from her. I want an apology, and she says I am a spoiled brat. I don’t think your sister can see the big picture like you do. And your brother, he wants what he wants. It doesn’t matter if you have a job to go to. It’s really hard when one member of an abusive family wants to make things better but the others want to continue and to deny. I feel for you. I’m sorry you are going through these growing pains.

I said: I didn’t really mean that anyone is smaller or better than me. Not that I haven’t entertained that thought, if I’m being brutally honest with myself. But I’ve thought he complete opposite as well, so…

I’m guessing you’re referring to the end of the post where I say something about trying to be a better person. (?)

I was talking about being a better person in comparison to past self, up to the point where I’m in a situation that gives me the opportunity to respond differently.

I reread the post (and edited a little too being the perfectionist that I am) and didn’t see anything (or take anything out) that said that I think I’m a better person than some people.

But if I’m missing that, I would love to have it pointed out to me. Because even though I was angry at this situation with my family, I wasn’t trying to get the message across that I think I’m ‘better’ than them.

I think I’m more aware, awake and willing to see what they don’t though.

R said:You did not say that you think you are better than your siblings. I’m saying for you. “Being more aware, awake, and willing to see” is self-actualization, the goal of every human being. Their vision is small. Yours is big, and it depresses you when you are around them. I would guess that you both feel sorry for them and feel hurt by them. I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable.

I said: Oh no, you didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I just wanted to be clear and make sure I didn’t miss something in my own writing. lol.

Thank you for the clarification. What you say is very comforting and validating. In fact you are right about what I feel. Pity as well as hurt. I couldn’t have worded it better.

I never thought of my awareness as self actualization either, which is quite helpful too. I remember first hearing that word in my early 20’s and thought of it as something I’d probably never reach given my depression and what I felt was my lot in life, which was to work jobs that took me nowhere.

I am learning that I am more than my job. Thanks again for clarifying. I was concerned it might come off as being a bit angry but I wasn’t at all.