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

Here’s another old post. Not the best night for this reminder but wanted to reblog anyway, since I read through the whole thing.

Sleeping Tiger

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

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

It’s alarming to see the same basic themes running through me and my life back then as today. I struggled with authenticity just like I still do…

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Dear Family

And I use the word ‘FAMILY’ quite loosely. You are not my family. Once upon a time you were, but not anymore.

I just can’t bring myself to really think of you or feel about you like family. If you were truly family you would not have treated me like a doormat. You would not have dumped on me all the problems of the family.

How could the complete toxic family dynamic be all my fault?

I’ll tell you how.

It’s not! It never was!

Sure I have issues. I’ve done mean things and I’ve done things I’m not proud of. I have plenty of regrets.  But the difference lies in my ability to see my fuck ups and apologize for them. To be willing to hear what someone has to say and validate their feelings, even if it’s a result of something I did or said…AS LONG AS IT’S DONE WITHOUT FINGER POINTING.

But everything wrong with our family somehow became all my fault.

Somewhere along the line…well I see now that it happened gradually…that I became the family scapegoat.

Mom, the rest of this letter is for you:
If you were a true mom that loved me, you would not have excused your son’s (my brother’s) rage against me calling it “just an emotional reaction.” Emotional reaction or not, it is unacceptable at least and abusive at worst. And with no sincere apology from him, it is unforgivable.

He is quite a bit bigger than me. I felt threatened as he bellowed at me as I sat in a chair, while he hovered over me.  You would likely wave it away and say, “He’d never hit you.” But how the fuck do you know that in his blind rage that he is not capable of such a thing?

He didn’t hit me that time. But tell me, how do I trust that he wouldn’t lose control next time he had “an emotional reaction?”

He is emotionally unstable. In fact all of your kids have issues with controlling our emotions. But yeah, that’s my fuckin’ fault right?

WRONG!

When I tried to draw boundaries and say no, your other daughter would either whine to get me to do what she wanted. Or she’d pretend all was well to my face and then call you when I wasn’t around. Whine to you. Then you’d take her side and call me with guilt trips and shame me.

You never stood up to her for me though. Even after an agreement was made and the pressure was on for me to do something you wanted me to do. This after a nasty stressful couple of days. This after you agreed to go when I none of us kids could get there.

Read that again mom. When NONE of us kids could get there, you promised you’d go. But instead of just telling that to sis, you just let her spew her…what you called frustration, as to why I couldn’t just go.

No thought given to what I’d just been through the day before. Instead, sis kept texting me to go even after I said no. Even after I’d talked to her and told her the whole story of the awful day and to call you because YOU SAID YOU’D GO.

I stood my ground.

The text said it would be just for an hour, you know, for lunch. But that horrendous stressful day was only supposed to be for breakfast. But it turned into an infuriating situation, which included a grocery run on a fuckin’ Saturday afternoon, because the home health aid showed up with no car. And I was the only one who had a problem with this?

Of course, because guess who had to pick up her slack.

I caught up to you on Sunday, finally, on your cell, while you were en route to dad’s. I asked what was up and you said vaguely, “I’m driving.” I pushed further, “Where to?”

I felt the need to confirm that you were going since I’d heard nothing after my final text to sis the night before that I would not be going. I told you that it would likely not ONLY be an hour and you barked, “It will only be an hour.” Because apparently you forgot what I’d dealt with the day before. And you knew because I’d called and told you all about it.

I also asked if you’d reminded sis of the agreement…that I would have Sundays for myself. Your response? “I didn’t wanna go there?”

What. The. Actual Fuck. And I’m supposed to call you my mom?

Even more fucked up, is the note you left the next day for me in the kitchen at dad’s place. Not so much the note itself, but the last words before your signature. “I love you.”

Um…what? Scary that you expect me to believe that.

I am beyond hurt. You’ve asked me how you get me to forgive you for the damage you caused me as a child. Not only have you not apologized, but you are on the wrong track. I did not sever ties with you because of my shitty childhood. I cut ties with you because…well, I think the above paragraphs illustrating your blatant disregard of me and our agreement explains things quite well.

It is painfully obvious that you have no respect for what I feel, what I want or what I need.

You gave me no chance to grieve my dying father either, because the whole time we were caring for him I was in survival mode. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t part of this crap. He certainly was. He doesn’t get a pass because he was dying. That is no reason to be a shit to any of your kids. But I did deserve to not be on constant guard from you and my siblings.

Sister and her digs. I had to just ignore them because I was afraid that she might get violent. It’s happened in the past. I absorbed and internalized her digs. I feared for my safety.

Brother and the possibility of his rage if something didn’t go the way he wanted it to. If he felt he needed to control a situation…or more accurately, if he felt the need to control me.

Then there was the minimization of my experiences and feelings by all of you. And although the fingers pointed at me on the topic of walking on eggshells, I could practically see the eggshells around each one of you.

When dad died and we were clearing out his apartment, sis and her husband thought it was a good idea to bring the scooters for the kids to ride along the walk way we had to use to carry the furniture on to our cars. When one of them almost crashed into me, sis’s hub had been standing off to the side talking to the dude brother had recruited to help us, and said nothing to reprimand the kids to be careful or even say to stop riding the fucking scooters because they could cause injury to themselves and others. Your son-in-law is a douchebag.

It’s funny how clearly I see the disrespect had carried over to this brother-in-law. It makes me sick to think about how I was treated as if I was invisible, as if I didn’t count as a human being to you people. All of you…even you mom.

And you want me to come visit you. Can’t you see how ridiculous that is. And the fucked up thing is that if I told you someone else had treated me the way you all had in those last weeks, you’d tell me that I need to separate myself form that person. Or maybe you’d tell me I was being too sensitive and I should suck it up?

In my heart you are no longer family.

I am angry with myself that I have let what you think and what you have done, dictate my behavior and my life or lack thereof.

I am saddened by all the time I’ve wasted because I have believed what you drove into me by your actions and words. Although you never directly said that I’m worthless or a loser, your behavior and treatment of me, shouted it loud and clear. In addition it was all there, between the lines of much of what you said.

But you are wrong. I am not worthless. I deserve to be fought for, not against. I am worth overcoming this abuse you have imposed on me and do not deserve to be beaten into the ground and walked all over.

You might say, in fact it is likely you would say that I walked away, but that would not be accurate because what really happened, is you pushed me out.

And I have to accept that. Your behavior and treatment of me is unacceptable and unforgivable at this point. Certainly, if by some miracle you actually realized how you all treated me and wanted to truly work it out, then we’d have something to talk about. But I know that is not going to happen. Even if it did, I would not trust that your intentions were pure anyway, so it’s kind of a catch-22 isn’t it? Damage is done.

It’s especially sad, Mom, that you were part of the abuse and ganged up on me with the other two. A mom who loves all of her children does not participate in bullying with a couple of her kids against another one. That is truly sick. Even sicker and sadder, is that you don’t even see it.

I have been hanging on to this hurt, sadness and anger and it’s destroying me a little each day. I was already struggling with my life. I don’t have to tell you that I have never felt settled within myself. That depression has been a battle for 30+ years. That I had suffered a trauma a year before dad got sick and that my childhood was lived in survival mode.

But that shit I put up with for those last few months, well that just about finished me off. If I’m honest I’m still not recovered. I sunk into myself to  hide from the world. I’ve self-isolated because I believed that your abuse of me was a reflection of me.

I have become afraid to live and although that had already become a problem, the situation among us made that much worse.  I have felt scattered in my thinking and have not known where to start with my life or how. I hate to go out because I feel so small among the people and like I’m a target for assholes and the entitled douche bags. While at the same time I feel like a fat cow who sticks out like a sore thumb and have this target on me or a sign that says, “Doormat.”  Like you left your mark on me.

But I’m not going to let you win. I feel like I’ve been muddled in all this sludge you threw on me, like the family garbage dump.  Well how fuckin’ dare you!! How could you do that to one of your children?

Tell me please…how the fuck do you choose one to assault the way you did? No, I know it was not physical. There are other forms of assault and I was assaulted at every turn. I had it coming from all four directions.  I was the one who had to ‘own’ all the shit that hit the fan.

Well I’m not your scapegoat any longer. I put an end to that, years ago now. At least in physical form. But emotionally, I’ve continued owning the garbage you tossed my way even when it wasn’t mine to own.  I hate you for that. I have been loathing myself and now I’m just sick of owning all the muck that you were part of creating with your husband (my father) concerning the five of us.

I was your child! How could it have started with me?

When you told me that you didn’t think the eggshell walking was all me, I felt my heart begin to open. Your words were actually healing.  But then you added, “I think it started with you, but I don’t think it’s all you now.”

I froze. I had nothing to say at that moment. Until the next day. But by then you didn’t want to hear it. You rejected me and my desire to address it.  Well, fuck off then. Because to say that, just proves what you really think. And if you think I’m the sole problem, then why the fuck have you kept sending birthday and Xmas cards.

Oh, that’s right. You’re lost without your scapegoat. You have nothing or no one to dump your shit on, isn’t that correct?  The guilt trips in the cards you’ve sent pretty much prove that. I’m just lucky that you are not deceitful enough to actually apologize and pretend that you’re sorry. I’m lucky that you are actually oblivious to how you all behaved. Because if you did know and acted like you were sorry then I’d be sucked in again.

Thank you for sparing me that much.

This has dragged out long enough. As I was saying, I am sick of letting what you did dictate the outcome of my life.

I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I’m still effected deeply by your abuse but I am committing to myself now. I am committing to taking care of me, of my body, mind and soul. I am committing to healing and getting to know me.

I know it won’t be easy. But I have to try. Because if I don’t it won’t be long before I die.

Catching Up With Myself: A Short Bio

DSCN5358a

I have been struggling, the last few days, whether to continue writing my story or not. I almost voted for “not” but have somewhat changed my mind.

I won’t go into the reasons here. There are too many other details. Just that I would also like to do something with two other blogs I started as well. So in doing that, some editing, rearranging and changing is needed.

Edit Friday 10/27/17: At this point I don’t remember the details I refer to. I guess it doesn’t really matter. What matters is now and what’s going on for me. This is marked private right now but I’m putting back on public so I feel the need to edit and add some stuff.

The other day in therapy, it came to light that I am in a crisis. I am still very much going through a lot of the shit that is trauma and PTSD. So this explains a lot of the struggle I have with organizing my thoughts and going back and forth to the fence. Wanting to start other blogs to reorganize and to blog about other topics. I know that I still want that. And it will come eventually. It’s overwhelming because I’ve started many others also on what I wanted to be spin off topics…which are in the realm of healing. The things I want to refer to in my healing are online and so I need to have a place to hold onto them other than book marks because that is not organized at all. And if I lose the lap top then the book marks are gone.  I procrastinate though. All part of trauma. Eventually these kinds of posts, the ones that refer to my ambiguity on writing on this topic and wanting to blog about other things on other blogs ends. The fact that I fight myself so much is also telling. Self-doubt.  

One change is that I’m posting my long hidden ABOUT page here…as a post.

Below you’ll find what I wrote for the ABOUT page:

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I am a “middle-aged” (if I live to be 100), single woman, with what I now know to be Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, GAD and major depression. Those came from one therapist and another therapist dx’d me with dysthemia.

I am dependent on a man who is a slave to his job. If not for him I would be homeless.

Healthy relationships have always eluded me. (In reality I know it is I that has eluded them.) This is part of my emotional issues, which resulted from a toxic environment as I grew up.

I became aware of difficulties with my emotions when I was 18 while in a relationship with my first age appropriate boyfriend. I have been in and out of therapy since I was twenty and hospitalized twice for depression in my early and mid-twenties. I had taken a variety of anti-depressants at different times, none of which worked for very long, if at all.

I have never attempted suicide but have felt that death would be better than life in my deepest, darkest, depths of depression. I have used alcohol, pot, sex and the company of others, as coping and escape mechanisms. I also used to sit in my bedroom in times of intense distress, writing or watching TV and chain smoking cigarettes.

Back then…in my 20s and even through my 30s, I was led to believe what I had was depression and nothing more. Not to belittle depression as a diagnosis. Not at all. Because I know the darkness, depression involves. There’s nothing small about it and not only a dark place, but also a scary and lonely place to be.

But the reality was  that it was (and remains) depression plus…Plus post traumatic stress disorder.Plus borderline symptoms. Plus anxiety.

I was already showing many symptoms, but there was no one to inform me of this, let alone to help me heal from it. Now that I know what I know, I feel as though I slipped through the cracks when I was young.

When the symptoms began to really surface in my late teens and early 20s and I was realizing something was seriously wrong, I began to distance myself from my family in general, which included my sister in particular.

Little did I know the chasm that was already there, because I just did not have the deep awareness of what was going on. The toxic dynamic of my family was my normal, although I also knew it wasn’t normal…or more accurately, I knew it wasn’t healthy…despite not always having the words to express that knowledge or the ability to put my finger on it.

I knew because of the way I felt much of the time around my family and particularly my father, because of his immature behavior and unpredictable moods. My father is the main culprit in causing my emotional issues and was the one whom we all walked on egg shells around as we kids grew up. There is so much more to tell here but much of it deserves and even requires their own posts. Lest this one be so much longer than it already is.

So for now, let me get back to my sister. She and I were close when we were young children, although we were almost six years apart. (I am the oldest of three, with a brother in the middle.) Once the depression and anger hit me, my sister and I grew apart quickly.

Looking back now, I realize the depression and other symptoms had manifested themselves in other ways long before I was even aware of what depression really is and I certainly never even entertained the possible diagnosis of PTSD, since I had no idea that you could acquire that via abuse and being bullied at home, school and in your own neighborhood.

Lots of kids went through being teased, bullied and even beat up. It was just part of some children’s childhoods…it’s just the way it was. And you grew up, went on with your life, made a living and you just grew out of all that shit. Besides, I figured, so many kids had it worse than I did

That’s how I thought about it and when that didn’t happen for me, I blamed myself for not being able to be as tough as some other kids. Why couldn’t I just suck it up and stop feeling like I was trapped, like I didn’t belong (or fit in) anywhere and like I stuck out like a sore thumb?

When I started therapy back in those early days of my late teens and early 20s, and spent time in the hospital, I don’t even remember being told of a diagnosis. I remember hearing and using the word ‘depression’ and I remember getting and filling prescriptions for pharmaceuticals for it.

I do know and remember though, that when all the symptoms began and while I was in therapy and in the hospital, I never heard the words ‘post traumatic stress’ in context with my diagnosis or me at all. I didn’t hear those words until I started therapy after a particularly nasty break up in 2011/2012 with someone I would call an over-lapper.

An over-lapper though, is someone who needs to hook another person into a relationship with them before they can leave the one they are currently in. (I’ve been one myself too by the way.)

I admit it was an affair, since he was still married. But according to him things were bad and he was planning to divorce. That’s a story worth it’s own blog, (not post… blog) but I will perhaps go into it here, because having extra-marital affairs, (although something that is very much judged, tends to turn into a ‘burning at the stake’ and only blamed on the woman, which is utter bullshit) is a symptom of some real emotional issues and a toxic background.

Understand though, that I am not justifying it. I had a tough time with it. I fought with myself all the time. He may have been a narcissist. He was certainly narcissistic and I think, after reading about it in In Sheep’s Clothing I think he is also what Dr. George Simon refers to as a “Covert Aggressor.”

In addition, I was seriously addicted to him. It truly was a chemical addiction. If you’ve never heard of this, you can find out more in a book called, How to Break Your Addiction to a Person.

A probable cause for this and my very real arrested development, is that my direction in how to do life was non-existent when it was needed…in childhood, adolescence and my young adulthood.

I never finished college. I’ve gone to trade school at three different times for three different things and graduated, but then didn’t do much with those diplomas. I have had a series of jobs, none of which I’ve ever felt settled in.

Even as a pet-sitter I was miserable, especially during the busy times of year, like the Winter holidays and certain times during the summer. I would find myself so run-down from so much work, it would cause fatigue and a major depression.

So to call myself by a job title and actually identify with it, nothing has ever really resonated.

Unfortunately, I have always thought of and grew up believing that a person’s job/career is a major part of identity. So that’s been really difficult for me and moving around from job to job has made me feel as though I was always trying to find myself.

Speaking of identity, I don’t really know who I am. And since I grew up feeling like someone’s career is a big part of identity, I’ve been lost for all of my adult life.  So in addition, being so emotionally abused by my father as a child and emotionally neglected by both parents, I never had a chance to form much of an identity.

The dynamic in my family and the toxicity it bred, along with my temperament, set me up to be the scapegoat of the family. I’m not sure which one of my siblings is the golden child. My brother is pretty admired by my mother (last I knew) for his accomplishments, but as kids my brother and I used to actually joke that my sister was the favorite of my mother.

My father became ill about a year after the end of the aforementioned affair and I still wasn’t fully recovered from the break up. I was apprehensive about getting involved in helping out with my father’s care because of some fairly recent blow ups and blow outs as a result of an email I sent to each of my family members.  So I had fears of being around my siblings, figuring certain things would be brought up and used against me.  I also felt uncomfortable about being around my father in such an intimate manner as the email was about his past behavior and my feelings about that. (I also mention this in the ABOUT page in this blog. (To be posted)

I knew there would be a humongous elephant in my father’s apartment whenever I was around.

Having no car at the time, I tried to manipulate my way out of it with silence. But then their manipulations and guilt trips began along with the same ultimatum from three family members: mother, sister, brother.

I eventually did give in to their manipulations and the situation was a nightmare, becoming a secondary trauma. And I am still struggling with the trauma their behavior caused me. It’s frustrating.

I have already talked about this and I am sorry to repeat it. This is something I originally wrote on March 17, 2016.

It’s so sad to think that my parents, my family didn’t like me. Perhaps didn’t love me either despite my being told they do/did.

It’s difficult to accept. Since it keeps coming up and I still think about it, still get angry about it, I know I have not fully accepted it. I can actually physically feel the block sometimes to the acceptance of it. Actions do speak much louder than any words. People who love you don’t repeatedly abuse, hurt, manipulate, triangulate and gaslight you. They just don’t.

But when you grow up being slammed with messages that you’re less than, that you’re not worthy of being loved and you’re not all that intelligent, you grow up to think something is wrong with you, that you deserve all that adverse treatment. At least I believed it.

There’s no self love and I don’t think I’ve ever really even liked myself.

Here’s the link to my About page.

An Article on Gas Lighting

Ever since I watched that video I posted a few days ago, I’ve been preoccupied with my realization of what gas lighting is and that it’s my family’s form of abuse against me. I’m still kind of in shock about it.

In addition to that, the past couple days, I’ve also been questioning whether writing out my past is really the most healing thing. Who am I kidding? I’ve been wondering that for years and as a result I’ve been slow about doing it, all the while still sitting on the fence. What I’ve got posted here so far is barely touching the surface and many posts are distractions and some are insights.

Being on the fence though is keeping me back. So I know I need to decide one way or the other. There are so many other things I want to do besides think about what my parents and siblings did to me. I feel like I’m letting them stop me from doing productive and good things in the world.

I began thinking that maybe I should stop reading on the topic. That maybe I’m on overload and instead of continually looking outward to blogs, books, videos, etc, it might just be a good idea to shut down all those things and go inward. Do a lot of meditating. Start exercising. Spend time with myself. Maybe write about something else. Read about something else. Find someone who will let me take their dog on hikes.

But alas, I’m addicted to the internet and I’ve been thinking about how hard it’s been to recover and that I’ve just learned a lot more about gas lighting and that it’s likely the reason I’m having such a difficult time. I mean even if I do turn away from all this reading, I am still dealing with rage issues, self-isolation, a problem with trust (including self-trust) and plenty of other things.

So…

I googled “how to recover from gas-lighting” and found this article.

It’s by the author of In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance, Dr. George Simon. He has a whole blog on his website. And when I googled my search terms and came up with the list page, I happened to click on his link.

I’m so glad I did because his books seem to be relevant to me. And although they were before, when I’d come across them during searches on Amazon, I didn’t realize how relevant.

The quote below is from this post by the same author. It describes perfectly what I went through with my sister, brother and mother. I feel traumatized all over again. I want to cry. But the tears still won’t come.

“Gaslighting has come to some prominence lately because several authors have highlighted it as one of the more crafty tactics psychopaths use to disadvantage their victims. But many character-disturbed individuals, most especially the aggressive personalities, are prone to using numerous tactics, including covert techniques, to get the better of their targets. Their goal is always to win or secure whatever it is they want. And they’ll do whatever they have to do to get it. Sometimes the most effective way to do that is to avoid red-flagging their intentions but rather get the other person to unwittingly but voluntarily surrender. Instill shame, instill guilt, instill fear, or instill great doubt, and the other person will likely back off the stance they really wanted to take.”

I found In Sheep’s Clothing in one of my local library systems so I will be picking that up in the next day or two.

Please check out his website through the link above. He writes about more than just gas-lighting.

Edit Thursday 10/26/17: As for on the fence. Being on the fence can be a good thing, particularly if it’s a high fence. It gives a wide perspective. I keep on the back and forth about writing, not writing. It’s a struggle. But I think I finally see that there will be breaks but I will need to come back until I get through it.

Reading the comments that Bethany wrote below, helped me come to this conclusion just now. I didn’t agree with her at the time they were written because I thought then and have thought at other times that I just need to stop, completely. And I don’t think that will happen until I feel that I’m finished or I’m dead.

Who in My Life Do I Consider Codependent?

This question came up in the recovery program I am doing. It’s one question in a whole list that I am working my way through and I found myself answering this one in so much more depth than I had expected so I am sharing here.

-Mr. B:  He puts up with my shit. But I’m not sure it’s because he cares about what I think. I don’t know, maybe it’s just fear of what more I’ll do if he speaks up for himself. Thing is if he actually spoke up and told me to knock it off because he’s not gonna take it anymore, I would stop, or at least, catch myself each time he spoke up while it was happening. I know I would also think twice about my tone of voice before I got started on something that pissed me off.

This sounds like I blame him for my actions or actually for not stopping. I don’t. I do not. In fact, although I haven’t mastered it yet, I am doing better at thinking before I react. And when I do react, I spend more time thinking about what I can do different next time. I do notice also that my behavior is different depending on my so called mood, which is really what’s going on in my brain. So if I can feel that I’m angry and agitated anyway, like how coffee can sometimes make me feel, I am more likely to be less tolerant of everything and everyone. If my brain is calm, then my behavior reflects that.

The way my brain functions depends a lot what is going into my body. I am now beginning to take control of that. It is important to me to heal, but it is equally important to me that I treat those that care for me with dignity and respect. It’s easier to treat them that way when I feel better about myself but I tend to get caught up in a cycle because the more I treat people with disrespect, the more I can’t stand myself.  And I take my feelings about myself out on others.

-I don’t really have anyone else in my life actively right now. But I can see codependency in my brother, even though he has bullied me and raged at me in adulthood. He feels the need to always be with someone ‘romantically.’ He obviously will not take time to be alone.

My mom:
-My sister would call my mother to bitch about how awful I am because I wouldn’t do what sister wanted. So mom would come to her rescue, take her side and call me to manipulate me into doing what sister wanted.

-She stayed with my father while he took advantage of everything she did. All the housework, grocery shopping, etc. When we were younger, my mom took my paternal grandmother grocery shopping each week with her. I loved this when I could tag along.  But now I wonder if my mother was doing it to appease and just not rock the boat.  My father never really did any cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry, etc. Not even the dishes once in a while.  It was all on my mom and she never said anything.

-I remember when my brother was going to California and my mom was packing his fucking suitcase. I forget what exactly my mother said at one point,  but my brother apparently didn’t like whatever it was and got flaming pissed off. I had been sitting right there in the living room on the couch. My brother shouted at my mother, “Shut up and keep packing my suitcase!

I remember feeling so pissed off at my brother for treating our mother like that. But also afraid to say anything to him, fearing brother’s raging backlash. I told my mother after my brother walked away that I couldn’t believe she was still packing his shit after he talked to her like that. She just shrugged. I felt really sorry for her in that moment.

My father was not around, otherwise my brother would have never gotten away with that shit. This happened back in the 90s, so my father was still young and strong enough to have spoken up  and would not have had a single problem with letting my brother know who’s boss. In fact if my father had been in the room, I have a tough time believing my brother would’ve even spoken to her like that.

My father was shitty in a lot of ways, including abusive. But one thing he did not tolerate was us kids disrespecting our mother.

I mention my father “still being strong” because during the weeks leading up to his death in 2013, he was so weak, not only physically but emotionally and mentally too. He had become more codependent himself, more than ever and he wasn’t sticking up for anyone, including himself. He feared both my siblings by then. It was so sad. I felt sorry for him in that regard.

Pathetic and alarming as well to think about the difference from when young to old. When my brother was in middle school, one day my brother was insisting he wasn’t going to school on a particular day. So he locked horns with my father. My father wasn’t having that nonsense. “If you’re not sick, you go to school.”

My father raged that morning and grabbed my brother by the throat and pushed him up against the wall in my brother’s bedroom and seethed, “You are going to school.”

I wasn’t there for that. I was in high school and long gone that morning. It was my sister who originally told me the story and I later heard it from my brother as well. I now see how threatening this likely felt to my sister, witnessing it as well as to me, hearing about it.

I am not condoning this behavior or suggesting it was healthy or OK in any way. It would not have been the way he could’ve even dealt with my brother that day my mother packed my brother’s suitcase, because my brother was a full grown adult at that point. And I think it would’ve been physically impossible. But I do know he would’ve stepped in for my mother.

But in the weeks leading up to his death, my father was a shrunken man, although he was still rather big and tall in physical size in some ways. That happened later, even though while in hospice and still coherent enough to need to use the bathroom, the nurses there needed two of them to walk him there. And even that was a dangerous struggle. Emotionally though, he was very afraid of my siblings. Very frail.

At one point, while still at home, he became upset that my sister would go over to his apartment and allow her young sons to run around and also let them touch and play with whatever they wanted to, without asking.

They are boys, so at that young age, they weren’t exactly the gentlest of souls with material items. My father was afraid to set that boundary.  He was afraid to let her know he didn’t want them doing that and he apparently wasn’t willing to speak up to the kids either.

He also just simply didn’t want my sister to bring the boys over anymore, because his tolerance for their loud play became non-existent as well. I told him to talk to her about it after he told me about it, but I could see how worried he was about such a prospect.

Soon after that conversation with him, I mentioned it to my brother and also mentioned that he didn’t want to tell our sister. Next time I spoke to my brother, he mentioned he’d talked to our sister and it was settled. She wasn’t angry or irritated at all. In fact, I’m sure she was relieved. After that she had the perfect excuse not to be available to help out as much.

It got her off the hook of being obligated to be there. It was the perfect excuse for her not to ‘be able’ to go there on any given day. So it turns out he had nothing to worry about after all.

 

Ties No Longer Have to Bind

black sheep

image from 123rf dot com

Why should family ties necessarily bind?

Once upon a time being accepted in your tribe was a matter of life and death, so it would be detrimental if we didn’t do what we needed to do, including bow down to the role of family scapegoat, for example. That’s what I was.

Maybe I still am, in their view.

But I’m not there to know. I am not there to be treated that way. My going No Contact or more like No Response was my way of drawing a boundary.

I think it’s still an imprint in the DNA, to feel the need to stick with family, even if they’re abusive.Being part of us, I think is why I felt so anxious about severing those ties before I did so. On the surface I was afraid of their reaction to not liking it.

Would I be in danger physically? Would they come knocking on my door? Would they endlessly text or call?   I didn’t know. But I had to take the chance for myself because I was emotionally exhausted and beat down. I needed to get away from them…permanently…as far as I knew. And as far as I still know.

It’s nice to think that they will see. Once you’re away they will figure out what happened and why you want to keep your distance.

That may happen. But in many cases, that most likely will not happen.

There is ambiguity within me about wanting any family member to want to resolve things. Even if they seemed genuine there would be doubt and if they really were genuine what about all the shit that’s already happened? It would take a lot of apologizing and talking to resolve the past.

I’ve said I’d be open to such discussions and conversations. But then how would I know what the intentions are from a phone call or a message?

How would I know it would not just be a trick to lure the scapegoat back in, or just plain bullshit?

There are I’m sure ways to tell, especially when you have “known” someone all your life and you’ve been tricked and pushed and bullied and beaten so much. There’s a lot to be said for intuition. In addition it would be in their words. And later in their actions if it was a trick and they said all the right things.

Someone who is truly sorry and wants to resolve issues is going to know what to say and how to approach things. They will be awake to their own errors and won’t be accusatory in an email or voicemail. They should point out where they went wrong so you can easily know they are self aware.

I also don’t think they are going to send emails and leave voice mails that don’t acknowledge the bullying and abuse at all. God knows the attempts at contact from my family members mentioned nothing of the hell I put up with.

They’d rather sit with the elephant in the room and in the ether. But of course the elephant wasn’t addressed when it was fully present and in fact held against me later. I was blamed for it. My mother blamed me for of it, of all people.

So even if there were sincere attempts and desires to want to discuss things, to resolve and heal the hurt, to apologize, I’m not sure I’d be ready right now, nor trusting. Words prove nothing. A whole lot of action would be needed to prove it was meant and sincere. And that takes time.

The abuse and bullying got to a point that it was severe, and I’m still angry that they would even do those sorts of things in the first place. It can’t be changed I know. But the damage is deep. It’s also layered dating back to childhood for me, going all the way up to a couple years ago.

There’s a lot not to forgive. And besides, I’m just getting to me…the real me and I haven’t even gotten past the surface yet. There’s a lot to get to know and years of catching up with myself.  Given the oppression that was dished out and then my own defensive suppression I felt was necessary to protect myself, I think it’s better that I do some healing on my own.

But then if they were actually sincere, the healing would be faster if we were ‘all in it together’ I think.  I know that’s not reality though. People who finger point, scapegoat a family member, triangulate and blame don’t usually just wake up one day and say, “OH, what a shit I’ve been. How narcissistic and damaging of me to be so abusive.”

If it happens at all, I’m guessing it’s rare. It’s their way of dealing with their own trauma. It’s more comfortable for many people to be in denial, pretend it’s the fault of one other person, establish a scapegoat and instill lots of double standards.  But that doesn’t mean you gotta take it.

To find out who I am, who I really am is important to me and if I were to accept them back into my life right now, even if they truly were sorry, even if they really wanted to work at healing themselves and the dynamic among the family, I have myself to tend to right now.

It would be too easy to fall back into my role, as it would be for them as well. No matter how sorry or apologetic they all might be, we all still have our triggers and history.  So I can only assume it wouldn’t be easy for them as well. Change is hard for everyone so that would mean it would be difficult for them not to scapegoat me. It would be difficult not to utilize their double standards of their blame and shame against me.

The point is moot though. I think this may be permanent. I can’t imagine that they would ever understand or stop seeing me as the problem. I can’t ever see them as coming to realize how hurtful their treatment of me was, let alone that they were even treating me like shit.

I don’t expect that any of them will ever be self-aware enough to see the blame they put on me.  Nor will they push past the denial of the triangulating and manipulation they pulled.

I just don’t see the rug being put back where it’s been pulled out. And I don’t see them looking under said rug for all the shit they swept under it.

Although I removed myself, I still feel ostracized, because I was pushed out. I wouldn’t exactly say that I went willingly, even though I used my own will to walk away. I did it to take care of myself, for self-preservation and self-defense.