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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Ties No Longer Have to Bind

black sheepWhy 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.

Dark Truth Between the Lines

dark_forestI went through the emails exchanged between my father and me back in 2012 and 2013. I think I know why I forget certain things now. It was difficult to read what I wrote as well as some of the things he wrote. But more disturbing is what’s between the lines really.

Some emails were about getting his furniture and other belongings out of his apartment because he was moving in with a woman and wouldn’t have room for the stuff where he was going. We kept going back and forth about working out a time to do it. Our schedules conflicted. In fact I noticed some contradiction in a couple of his emails as well.

He kept saying he’d arrange to be there when I could get there. He’d even bring his girlfriend down to the apartment if necessary. But later insisted on the fact of being up there on the weekends and couldn’t meet me on any weekends.

But yet he was anxious to get the place cleaned out because he had a dead line and wasn’t renewing his lease. It disturbs me to not have seen this before. He wanted what he wanted but didn’t want to compromise.

I remember one weeknight going there to pick up some books and he mentioned a couple of things each sibling would be taking. When he saw the look of disappointment on my face, he offered something to me, as if it was a consolation prize. In fact the chair he pointed to was broken.

In later emails I could read how distressed and almost competitive I became. Greedy even. And I wanted to avoid conflict with my siblings that I thought for sure would ensue.

As I read I felt sick.

Reading between the lines, it wasn’t about the furniture or any of the stuff.

In the mix of the emails there was one from me to him pouring my heart out about how I felt. About the role in the family I played and how I could see it. How hurt I was that everyone was in denial and that the disbursement of these things should be discussed among ourselves with everyone there.

I had felt like it had been turned into a competition. And whether it was deliberate or not, I don’t know. (I didn’t say that part.)

I’ve thought more about it at different times and I wonder if my siblings felt ripped off because I got dibs at certain things when we were younger because I was the oldest.

He dismissed a lot of what I said in that email and professed his love. The important stuff went unacknowledged again.

I didn’t want furniture. What I wanted was for him to hear me. For him to understand me and for him to talk to me. I also wanted my siblings to take me into consideration as well. One thing that really bothered me was a queen size bed that my sister took for her ten year old son to have, when at the time, I was in desperate need of a bed. She hadn’t known that, but no one else was asked. It was just decided and I had no say.

I realized after I’d finished going through the emails that I spent my life, up until his last days trying to get him to hear me…to listen to me about what was wrong, toxic and dysfunctional. Not every single minute but there were times I remember now and can see how it was too hard for him to deal with.

I did the same with the rest of my family too. It was stressful and painful to be involved so closely with my family as my father was dying, knowing that anything I said meant nothing and wasn’t taken into consideration. My feelings were minimized, my sister took jabs at me, my father bitched about my siblings to me, my mother and sister triangulated against me.

I was their dumpster and punching bag.

I would come out of that situation with even deeper C-PTSD than I’d already been suffering from.

As I read those emails, it hurt to see that I was trying to force so much. Trying to force people into loving me. Into understanding. Into wanting to change and even heal our family and deal with the issues and face them so we could resolve them.

I’m sad that I didn’t just accept earlier that it’s not who they are or who they want to be, so that I didn’t waste so much time thinking that I could somehow get them to see, because even those in denial are aware somewhere, even deep inside, of the truth.