The Disturbance of Psychological Abuse

I don’t know what it’s like to be hit everyday by a parent or a sibling. Or a partner for that matter. I don’t know what it’s like to be sexually molested as a child.

My father used to sit around on the couch in some sort of thing that wrapped around his waist. It was made from terry cloth, the same as towels. But he wouldn’t wear underwear underneath them. I’ve been told that that is a type of sexual molestation, by more than one person and one of the people that told me that was a therapist. It certainly is a crossed boundary and something no small child is prepared to see, nor should ever see.

But at the risk of sounding like those who minimize, that was nothing in comparison to what was done to me psychologically and emotionally. And I think when it comes to parents abusing kids (at least in my case) in ways other than physical and sexual, the psychological and emotional go hand in hand.

Take the example above, of my father sitting around with his junk hanging out. Any little kid is gonna wanna look. But there is this shame about it too. As an adult, I know now that it’s dad’s fault for putting his shit out there.

But even worse, when I confronted him and asked him to stop, around the age of 10, because I wanted to bring friends in the house, he said, “It’s my house, I’ll do what I want.”

There were lots of messages in that one statement. He was telling me that what I wanted didn’t matter.  He was telling me that it wasn’t my place to ask him such a thing. He was also telling me that my friends weren’t welcome. In fact he treated most of my friends like shit, while welcoming most if not all of my brother’s and sister’s friends as if they were family. My father particularly had a soft spot for my brother’s girl friends. Once my brother had been dating someone for a while, my father would treat them better than he treated his own daughters.  During my and my brother’s teen years, my parents allowed a male friend of my brother’s to live with us temporarily.

If memory serves I was 18. My boyfriend at the time caught this kid spying on me as I changed my clothes. So obviously my father didn’t give any fucks about keeping me safe.

Months ago, I went through my posts in my dashboard and marked them all private. I must’ve been feeling ultra vulnerable that night and just didn’t want any of that public, despite no one really reading.

But recently, I’ve been going through them one by one. I’ve been reading and editing them before I publicize them again. And as I read each one, I’m more than just reminded of how horrible it really was. It’s like learning about it all over again because it hits a part of me that’s even more aware and awake than I was when first writing about it.

The realization isn’t new exactly but it’s…I don’t know…maybe someone can help me.

It’s UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE is what it is, that someone could do such horrible things to their child, whether in childhood or adulthood and they fucked with me during both, throughout my whole life.

Thing is it can be literally unbelievable to some people. Because it doesn’t leave visible wounds. But what it does, is leave a mind that does not work to full capacity. And a brain that is lacking in all it needs to work to see the world in all its’ proper colors. I remember experiencing during bouts of depression that the world looked completely dull. So dull it might as well have been in black and white.

What they did was fuck up an organ of the body that is known to be connected with MENTAL illnesses. Not physical. So when it’s mental (and let it be known that I believe it is physical) then it’s somehow the sufferers fault. We are the crazy ones.

When you are psychologically abused it is brutal. Your mind is fucked with, so you learn that anything about you isn’t right. You learn that doubting yourself is the best thing you can do, because it’s probably you that is fucked up.

Psychological abuse may not involve literal hitting and kicking, but there is a kind of pummeling that can feel physical just after an interaction with an abuser and long after you get away from it.

Psychological abuse will fuck you up. It will leave you chronically depressed and get you labeled lazy and stupid. It will cause learning disabilities. It will cause self-doubt in every single area of your life. It will cause sleep disorders. The stress of it will cause nutritional deficiencies even if you are fed and knock your hormones out of balance at the time they kick in and to be working correctly to feel well.  It will cause you to seek love and acceptance repeatedly, from those who don’t get it at best, and those who will hurt you more at worst.

You will land in the laps of gas-lighters and blame-shifters and they will piss you off so much it will cause even more stress, making things worse. It will sabotage you so much that you land in a deep ditch that is difficult to claw your way out of because there is always someone or something at each foothold to step on your fingers, sending you back down to the bottom of the ditch.

You will grow up to think yourself stupid, lazy and unlucky. It leaves you questioning years and decades later about specific incidents that the abusers and manipulators say they’ve long forgotten. You will question yourself as to why you can’t get over it, why you can’t move forward and why everyone else seems to be progressing in life, but you stay stagnant, stuck and feeling trapped.

You are the one told to lighten up when you don’t laugh at something the rest of the family finds funny, even if it’s not at your own expense.

Even when you wake up and figure it out, there are still so many questions…and anger. So much anger and frustration to want to go back and see it for what it was all those years ago. And stand up for yourself. It leaves you pissed off and frustrated at the life wasted because you didn’t do what you really wanted to do and some of that was because you didn’t know how to go about it. You didn’t know where to start. And still don’t.

Because you were left on your own, once you became an adult to figure the world out for yourself, you just did nothing but numb yourself at every chance, even though you had no idea that was what you were doing.  You actually believed that eventually everything would work itself out, despite not even knowing what you wanted, only what you didn’t.

It’s difficult to put psychological/emotional abuse into words. I’ve been lucky and blessed enough to have some people who read and have read here, understand and even provide insight to further my awareness. I thank you for that.

I think what happened to me is a big deal. I think that the absence of the more obvious types of abuses makes it even more insidious and easier for it to be minimized. It’s difficult to put into words sometimes. But I am proud to read myself back and see that I was able to do it.

I had a psych eval done by a therapist who made it seem like it was nothing, the way she transcribed what I told her, because there wasn’t any emotion behind it.

I’m not at all minimizing other forms of abuse, let me make that absolutely clear right now. Any kind of abuse is horrendous and I am one for helping the abusers or better yet those at high risk or as you might say, potential abusers, so that people stop being abused.

I feel like it’s really important for people to understand how psychological abuse works and happens. In fact right now I feel like it’s important for me to understand it as well as possible because it has effected me and my life in ways I never thought would be possible. I look at myself now and I think, “This is not how I imagined my life would be.” And here I am.

Going back and reading all of my past posts (still working through to make them all public again) I am seeing how much gas-lighting went on. I am seeing how manipulative both parents were. And how they set my siblings and me up to end up just like we are…not speaking, borderline traits, narcissistic and emotionally immature. My parents did not teach us how to resolve issues we had between or among each other. When they got between us, it was just to punish one or both, depending on the situation. That was it. Kids/humans don’t learn how to solve problems/disputes/arguments that way. And as we got older, that shit just got worse. We began to fear confronting each other. We began fearing any sort of adverse issues. My sister’s way was to call my mother to get in the middle for her. My way was to bitch about it to someone else and my brother could go either way, to either rage or just keep his mouth shut. That being said, my sister and I were not above the rageful fits ourselves. I punched and kicked inanimate objects like doors and walls. My sister threw phones across the room.

This type of abuse causes a lot of stress and anxiety. It makes the adult children physically ill, addicted to shitty foods, which in turn stresses our bodies. This thought comes from not just seeing my self in the mirror everyday. I’ve gained a lot of weight in recent years, but also from catching a glimpse of my brother as well. He is bigger than ever and I’m not talking muscle. He looks older than he is and I know he is probably still hurting inside.

But he is unaware and is one of those people who says, “It wasn’t that bad.”

Before I wrap this up, I also want to clarify something else I find really important. Emotional and psychological abuse is not always the same as verbal abuse although it can be. When I think of verbal abuse, I think of directly being called nasty names. Blatantly being called stupid or nothing or ugly or fat.

In my case those words were never said by my parents. They never called me any nasty names. I was told I was selfish in some cases when I attempted to draw some boundary or say no to something. But that’s a little different. Don’t get me wrong, that’s fucked up too, but still different than what I’m referring to.

In my case I came out of my family environment feeling stupid, ugly, without confidence, without self-respect and without self-esteem. But not because I was told I would add up to nothing. In fact I was told I was beautiful. I was told I could be anything I wanted to be or put my mind to. My father was appropriately affectionate and told me he loved me all the time.

But all those words and even displays of affection, contradicted so many of his actions.

So emotional and psychological abuse is not always done with words. It’s what is said by actions and the way someone is treated that speaks much louder and has much more impact. It can also entail what isn’t said or done.

Psychological abuse is some insidious and evil shit because there are no wounds on the outside of the body to see. But you can bet there are wounds, deep inside.


Family Scapegoat Has Enough

Below is a post I originally wrote back on July 21, 2013, just a few months after my father passed.It was on one blog and I’d left it in “Draft.” When I found it again, I’d posted it in another blog on February 16, 2017. Both blogs abandoned.

Today, July 29, 2017 I came across it again and felt it belonged here.

It’s interesting to read it now after so much time, because I have experienced a sort of slight dissociative amnesia, in between the dates at different times, concerning different things pertaining to my family.

Back in the early part of having severed ties, I was newly waking up to the abuse from my family…more or less.

I was able to see it more clearly I guess you could say. I began to know without doubt that they were causing me loads of emotional and mental harm. Through the years, I knew something was wrong, but I had a lot of self doubt, which I know now came from much gas lighting.

But now, years later, I read this (and many other things I wrote back in 2013) and I can see the self-awareness and the fact that I’d awakened to their bullshit.  But now, with so much time passed, there are things I read here and had forgotten that that was how it went down.

Sometimes I can’t even articulate as well now as I did then as to why I don’t speak to my family. I just say that they abused me in the last months of contact with them. But it’s so much more and deeper than that.

Makes me really glad I wrote during those early days. So without further ado…

They knocked me down but I’m not staying there

Another email arrived, even after I said I needed time and space away from the family. My mother still insisted on asking something of me before she went to France.

When I sent the email in response to a vague message she left on my voice mail, I made it clear I was not available.

At least I thought I did.

But she insisted on asking anyway, to see if I’d be finished “taking my space” by the time she wanted me to house and cat-sit while she traveled.

I told her no, and pretty much left it at that. It was weird for me not to spin into an explanation to try to control her feelings for me.

I grew up explaining myself, pleading my own cases, even when it seemed both senseless and common sense. The outcome for me was the same. I worried about what she thought and how she’d feel.

I found I was asking myself a lot, “What the fuck? Why can’t she understand without an explanation?”

Now I ask, “Why do I feel the need to explain?”

Normally, I would’ve felt compelled to tell her why. But not this time.

I had attempted too many times to discuss things that needed to be cleared up and resolved. I tried more times than I can count, to lead the big elephants out of the room. But she made it clear one day, she’d had enough and was no longer open to discussions initiated in this vein.

I don’t think* my mom has enough awareness to know why I want the time. And in my mind, it’s permanent…this ‘No Contact’ status, because I don’t think she’ll ever realize the real problem, because the problem is me…according to her.

It started with me, she believes. Her words to me over the phone after I’d answered a question she’d asked about the tension among my siblings and me.

Later after that conversation as well as others, she engaged in and enabled some of the manipulation and triangulation among my sister, herself and me.  And the fucked up thing is, that at the time I viewed it as her being helpful, a mediator for us.  But when I ‘woke up’ I saw it for what it was. She had leaned too much to the side of my sister, for her actions to be that of a mediator.

It’s gone on too long and the roles are so ingrained.

Things are more clear now concerning my toxic family dynamic and it’s dysfunction. And I believe, to remove myself from all of it, is the healthiest option in all aspects of the word ‘health.’

There is so much to work through. It hurts, the way things have come about, and the very thought of learning that love doesn’t exist in my family of origin is very painful.

But most important at the moment, is to keep myself clear of giving them or anyone the opportunity to spew their toxic sludge all over me with blame, finger pointing and taking no accountability.

I have quit the job of family scapegoat.

*I know my mother didn’t and doesn’t have enough awareness now. Between the date originally written and now, she has proven it to me more than once.

Perpetual Losses: Some Examples of My Family’s Dynamic -or- How I Became the Family Scapegoat Part 1

eScapegoatEvery aspect of my family’s toxic dynamic is very sad and alarming to me. And each separate relationship holds its own unique sadness for its own unique reasons.

My relationship with my sister throughout adulthood was one of the most difficult relationships within my family.

There was a lot of contention between us and in later years, I would periodically ruminate about something she’d said or done. I couldn’t reach closure in my mind when it came to certain situations, arguments, disagreements, or some discussions.

It was frustrating and confusing. I knew it came from anger…all that rumination. Now I realize it was lack of resolution also and mostly.  And I knew the remedy would be to talk to her about it. But I’d had the experience of attempting that quite a few times to only be blamed for something else that wasn’t even being discussed. I remember one attempt I told her I didn’t feel accepted by her…and then didn’t have a chance to elaborate.

Her immediate response to my incomplete sentence was, “Well I have issues.”  I wish I could get across that tone of voice. It had an entitled air about it. It was taut. But I didn’t pick up on it at first.

I thought she was going to talk about herself, because when I say “I have issues” I refer to my own flaws.

I said, “OK…we all have those, what do you mean?”

She then proceeded to tell me some things that were wrong with me. Like her perception of how I “push” my point of view about diet and health onto her and others.

This came from my enthusiasm about certain things I’d learned about health after doing some research of my own about a health problem I had years before this conversation took place.

After reading about certain things back then, I’d spoken to her and other family members about it. They knew of the health problem. It was chronic and I felt that conventional medicine wasn’t going to have much in the way of answers for me.

I don’t know, maybe I was too enthusiastic about it but I don’t remember telling any of them that they ‘should’ revamp their diets and lifestyles. I only remember telling them about it, as in having a conversation with people I loved. People I thought loved me too and people I thought who would support me. Or at least listen without jumping to some ridiculous conclusion.

I found that when I attempted resolution about issues my sister and I had between us, I was met with attack instead of any sort of acknowledgement, validation or apology.

She’d roll her eyes, tell me in so many words I was being ridiculous, needed thicker skin and I needed to let go of the past. Complete contradiction on her part.

It was just recently that it was pointed out to me that I suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. Which I think hit me in way that shocked me (?)  since I didn’t seem to react at all. But it’s like that information is still simmering. I think I knew it deep down, but to admit it or put words to it, was a different thing.

(Edit 9/9/17: The reaction was probably more like dissociation. I don’t remember now who told me I might have Stockholm Syndrome…which is trauma bonding.)

I remember as kids, I made my sister laugh. I was almost 6 years older and I taught her how to play board games, card games, I even turned cleaning up into a game. But  I also remember I was more concerned with her feelings than my own. I always gave her her way, distracted her if she started crying, took toys away from my brother if she’d wanted something he already had. So she got what she wanted from me most of the time.

Then in my early 20s I became severely depressed and retreated inside myself.  I also became passive aggressive toward her at times too and one day she turned in physical retaliation.

I often wonder if she felt abandoned by me when I became visibly and obviously depressed and betrayed when I made passive-aggressive remarks…usually because she was acting like she ruled the roost, as one example. But one incident I remember in particular was her staying home from school on a day while our parents were away on a vacation, for the first time leaving the three of us home, with me in charge.

I was given the responsibility to make sure the two of them went to school everyday while our parents were gone. One night, while my sister and her boyfriend were upstairs in bed, my boyfriend, my brother and I were preparing to deep fry some frozen egg rolls. I heated up some oil in a pot and before I knew it, it caught fire. Chaos and panic ensued. Long story short, we were able to prevent utter disaster, but not without some damage.

There was oil all over the kitchen floor, my boyfriend had bad burns on his one hand and refused to go to the hospital. I had to work the next day and I just spread salt all over the floor to prevent anyone slipping.  Next day I went to work…an excruciating day for me as my depression had probably been at its worse around that time, and the depth and intensity of it was still pretty new to me. Although I think I had depression as a child, it wasn’t the same and it became much more intense.

When I got home from work, I found my sister had stayed home and cleaned up the entire mess in the kitchen. Instead of being immediately grateful, I got pissed at her. This despite the dread I had been feeling as I walked home from work, thinking of the project of cleaning up the kitchen I thought I had waiting for me.

I later felt like crap, but in the moment, my thoughts went to the fact that my parents would hold me responsible for her not going to school. So I was angry that her actions would get me in trouble.

(Edit 9/9/17: This is a perfect example of how parents set their kids up to hate each other. I was set up to be responsible for two teenagers getting to school for a week and I was only 20 myself. I was the one who would be punished if they didn’t go to school. So it makes sense that I would lash out at her for not going, despite it being for a fucking good reason. I just wish my siblings could see this.)

The distance widened for a time and then our relationship waxed and waned. We went through a period of time where I believed we were getting close again. But the reality was and remained it was always a surface relationship.

When something emotional came up there was no adult conversation about it. It was an attack on either side. I admit I wasn’t always perfect and didn’t know how to handle my anger either.

So I’d rage about her when she wasn’t around. Or be passive-aggressive with her in my communication.  And apparently she’d rage about me too.

When my sister got engaged, she’d asked me to be in the wedding, while at her and her fiance’s house.

My answer: “Lemme think about it.”

It was the fact that I knew our relationship was fair weathered that made me answer that way. I’m not proud of it and maybe I should’ve just said yes just because she’s my sister. But the facts are facts and this is what happened.

That day, when I left, she’d hugged me on my way out.  So I figured everything was fine and since she was present for our roller coaster relationship too, I just figured she’d understand, you know, be on the same page as I was.


Later that week, I got a phone call from my mother. She wanted to know what the deal was. Why would I answer the way I did?  Why wouldn’t I want to be in my sister’s wedding? She told me it wasn’t about me and as per usual let me know I was being selfish.

With such a guilt trip, I gave in. Being too afraid to call my sister, knowing her capacity for rage, I wrote a letter and dropped it into her mailbox. I apologized for being so selfish, but I also explained why I hadn’t been sure, using how I felt about myself at the time though, rather than talking about our relationship. I was too afraid to draw the whole picture.

Later when we spoke, the letter wasn’t enough to diffuse her and she was still quite angry.

I told her, “Since you had the issue with me, you should’ve called me yourself and not had mom do it.”
Her response: “Oh you did not want me to call you. I was really angry.”

And it wasn’t the last time my sister turned our mother into her flying monkey.

It hurts that my sister did that shit, but it hurts even more that my mother actually went along with that crap instead of telling my sister to put her big girl pants on and call me herself.

The More I Learn the Bigger the Puzzle

Preface Note:
I can see where this could get a bit confusing. So I will explain a bit.

I’m moving posts from another blog (that’s been marked private) over here to this one. I’m doing some editing, but not changing the gist of the original post. This post here, (below) was written back in March of 2014.

There’s a part where I talk about “my last therapist” but later, I saw two more therapists after her. But it took me awhile to get back to therapy. Turned out though that neither of those therapists were helpful.  I’m in therapy now with a man but I’m reaching that feeling of futility once again. So this post is pretty fitting for that reason.

I also felt like I should clear that piece of the post up because of the fact that I just posted earlier today about my present therapist.

Puzzled Jinjer

Originally written in March 2014
I’ve been trying to pigeon hole…classify my life experience of abuse or the people who have impeded it upon me, my family dynamic and the toxic sludge that is my DNA. In addition I am pretty sure that every single relationship I’ve had outside my family has also been unhealthy and most were also toxic.

I’ve read so much about narcissism, borderlines and quite a few other mental disorders. I’ve experienced my own depression most of my life and I’ve had a few other diagnoses as well.

The last therapist I went to gave me one diagnosis after the first session then diagnosed me again with something else a few weeks later claiming to “only want to help me.”

She seemed to speak in circles and I found myself explaining things to her over again, which showed me she hadn’t listened, twisted facts or simply forgot that I had told her something at all.

I’d swear I was being gas-lighted in therapy.

Another therapist didn’t seem to get the seriousness of the toxicity in my family  and I felt she took things entirely too lightly. And chalked everything up to “problems with relationships.”

Now that I think about it, that’s a ‘blame the victim’ diagnosis.

So my trust in therapists at the moment is absolutely nil.

So, I cannot put any of it into a nice neat box, small or otherwise.

I’ve been trying to think too much in black and white maybe, put it all together like some logical math problem.

It seems to me that mental illnesses and personality disorders and pathologies and the names given them and the behaviors that go along with them are not cut and dry. It seems that maybe not everyone who is narcissistic does the exact same things in every example, although many behaviors are indeed identical.

And I think different people get to see different traits too, depending on the role you play in the life of the disordered one.

Some shit fits and some shit doesn’t. It leaves me confused some days and even a bit paralyzed in writing my tales. Just when I think I’ve got my father pegged or my sister too, I read something that contradicts my original thought…that was formed by something else I’d read before in the first place.

There’s no question of the abuse and the toxicity now and the damage caused. In fact I think it was even more cruel in some ways as it was covert, emotional, verbally manipulative and insidious.

It left no physical bruising for the world to see.  Or for me to see either. I even believed for a long time that I was wrong, I had no reason to be depressed. I was the problem. It’s all in the past.  And I wasn’t beaten to a bloody pulp or sexually molested.

Unless you count my father sitting around on the couch. Foot up legs spread and his “junk” hanging out.

At the moment I don’t know whether an exact label is necessary. I mean my father’s dead so no doctor or therapist will ever diagnose him. Hell, the chance of that happening when he was alive was on the negative side of the number line.

Is it essential to have every piece to the puzzle to heal?

I certainly hope not.

But no matter what behavior or exchange or dynamic I’m analyzing I only have my own experience,  what I’ve read and my own deductions to go by.

And that being said, my experience with abuse has been at the hands of family, so called friends, bosses, a teacher and significant others. Plus some bitch who called (and likely still calls)herself a healer.

It was the last significant other that woke me up and bowled me over at the same time.

It was a blessing and a curse.

If I’d been a healthy individual myself I would have never been with him.

If I hadn’t been with him I may never have come to realize how toxic most relationships in my life were.

If I had been raised to be a healthy individual without abuse… so much time would not have been wasted in my life,  in destructive relationships, taking even more abuse, would not be a factor. And there would be no need for this type of wake up call.

A direction for my life would’ve been easier to figure out for myself. I also probably would’ve had help in that area of my life.

But instead here I am. With a big puzzle to piece together.