Monday, November 16, 2020

Jealousy dreams

 Last night I had this weird dream (aren't they all) set in the 1920s or so, where I was visiting, or staying in an old Victorian-type house. At some point, my siblings arrived - there was a reason, but I don't remember it - as did my dad, who is deceased in real life. 

My eldest step-sister is a bit of a band-wagoner and in this dream she was extolling the virtues of whatever thing she was into at the time and taking up all of my dad's attention. MY dad, her step-dad. 

At some point, I challenged her for holding court. There were words exchanged to the effect that I am nothing and to get out of her way. I asked her what she knew about me, and specifically my education, and she replied, "you don't have one." This is where it came to blows; full on me pound on her until she was on the ground, PAFF PAFF PAFF in the face!

This dream occurred only a few days after me having a moment of thinking I've put much of my past behind me. Apparently not. 

Just now, as I was searching for an email I sent to a client, I found an email to my spouse from March 2009. In it, I reference "two people, who came here (my house) with lunch they'd brought. For themselves... and they thought it was funny that they'd forgotten to call me to see if I'd like lunch too. But they weren't bothered about sitting at my table, eating the lunch they didn't share and letting me clean up after them.... " This was my step-sister and my step-mother. I know. It sounds very Cinderella. 

This incident happened following my step-niece having been here for most of the previous month, me feeding and housing her so she could be in town to complete her drivers training, with not a jot of "Hey can I pay you some rent/food money?" Nada. I found out not many months later this niece was bulimic/anorexic, which accounted for why so much food disappearing while she was here - huge blocks of cheese that normally would last several weeks and full loaves of bread, which disappeared over night - and all the "coughing" I would hear every night - not coughing; puking, I realised later. Oh. And she stole things from me when she left. Nothing huge really - some irrelevant bits and bobs and an expensive pair of tweezers I'd bought for work - I was still doing hair and related at the time. But theft is theft. 

This happened 11 years ago and I'm still so chapped about it - these two incidences specifically, and how often stuff like this happened and how marginalised I was - I mean, how loudly does it scream "YOU'RE NOT IMPORTANT" for my sis and step ma to turn up to my house with a flipping COOLER full of lunch for themselves, not share, and to claim "Oh, we forgot to call and ask." Such a load of shit. I hate them for it. In my perception they both speak to me so condescendingly... I haven't seen either of them for ages, so certainly my memories are coloured by these incidences, but even recently my step-sister commented on something I'd posted on FB; her comment had the same condescending "tone" (if that can be derived from a FB post). She seems to forget I am in my 60th year... 

/rant. I'll flesh this out later. 

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Ding Dong that asshole has been fired!

Warning, Rant: 

All those "fuck your feelings" people are sure having some feelings now. I agree with Biden/Harris it is time to begin repairing the immense damage the #trumptastrophe has wreaked on the US, and indeed the world, but I am going to gloat and be angry for a week (ok, probably way longer), because we KNEW. We KNEW it would go like it did - without question. 

Maybe we didn't know how bad it would be, but we knew it would be horrifying. 

 The vast majority of Trump voters are non-college-educated white people, and the vast majority of those are non-college-educated white males. This is TERRIFYING. It's also the reason #trumpstain uttered "I love the uneducated." 

Of course he did; they wouldn't/couldn't read or research well enough to understand what was going on, AND the #orangeshitstain capitalised on that, and their fear, and their propensity to believe conspiracies, and told them endless, endless lies - including that the economy was the best it's ever been - and they are not educated enough to understand how economies work anyway, so couldn't begin to understand the catastrophe he was selling them. 

Meanwhile, depression-level unemployment and nearly 250,000 dead because he knew about corona in bloody NOVEMBER but carried on calling it a hoax, and spouting LETHAL lies to this demographic - which, by the way, has sustained the vast majority of those deaths...

He has consorted with - courted - despots. 20 years ago, USians would have stormed the gates of the white house had the occupant so much as nodded their head towards Russia.

But Trump? He is so compromised as a person that the only personalities he wanted to emulate were Erdogan, Kim Jong Il, Putin - and that was OK with that uneducated demographic?? Good god!

I am furious. I'm furious about people posting and sharing utterly garbage "news," and calling me names for providing links to show them how wrong was the information. I'm furious about the destruction of relationships and families.

I'm FURIOUS to have had deep-seated racism and discrimination exposed in people I know and that fury is compounded by those people trying to convince me any of that has merit. I am beyond, beyond repulsed by how anyone calling themselves "christian" could entertain that disgusting man and his disgusting family - particularly knowing he is on record - as in video - lashing out at and disparaging the religious. 

I have NO love for religions - plural; religion is a scourge and if we didn't know that previously, we must know it now after watching the "religious right" fawn over a child rapist (who so intimidated the two women he raped - with witnesses present - when they were 12 and 13 year old children, they have not proceeded with their cases. Yet), a sexual predator, a liar, a cheat, a philandering asshole, a confirmed criminal; "I voted for him because he is a christian," is the most serious indicator of utter paucity of ethics and morals anyone could ever utter.

"But abortion!" Really??? He paid for at least two of his concubines to have abortions - and probably paid for more. 

"But her emails!" FuckSAKES! EVERY member of the Trump family had a private email server for the entirety of that "administration." Ivanka used hers to secure millions and millions of $$ in Chinese patents at the same time her #trumpstain father was inciting war with China. Dumb and Dumber (Jr. and Eric) used theirs for similar pursuits. 

"But Hillary killed 42 people." GodDAMN! Anyone who's ever had a job knows how bloody impossible it is to keep a secret in the workplace; how the fuck could Ms. Clinton kill 42 people and the facts never emerge. LIke, this level of idiocy is impossible to comprehend. 

"But gay marriage." It's MARRIAGE. Period. It's a legal contract; if you don't want one, don't have one. Stay out of other people's bedrooms... and by the way, the contract is nice for some, but unnecessary in the bedroom; consenting adults can have sex with any other consenting adult any way, and any time, and anywhere everyone consents to. 

"Oh, the supreme court..." the fallout is yet to be seen. As a side note, who paid off Kavanaugh's debt? #impeachthatlyingrapingassholenext. 

He didn't ignore white supremacists. He never spoke against them; he never called them out. He COURTED them. He literally consorted with them and THIS lit a BONFIRE of racists emerging into the public and KNOWING they would say whatever, to whoever, whenever - and that they could literally kill a man by putting their knee on his neck and taking almost 10 minutes to cause him to suffocate to death, and that the #cheatoshitpresident would not only NOT condemn the act, he would revile those who did. 

Anyone who claims the #orangecatastrophe isn't racist is fucking crazy. Not once ever did that predatory asshole ever date/marry/consort with a woman of colour - and while that is likely due to women of colour having too much self-respect to even entertain the idea of it - but it is yet another proof he's a racist. This is a fact and it is public record as are the NYC discrimination cases he lost. 

So yeah, people may read this and think I'm super angry and they will be absolutely right. I am angry that my drive to be informed was reviled and pilloried. I am deeply, deeply angry my character was called into question because I was informed, terrified, disgusted.

I am beyond disturbed people I know well chose to dive into idiotic Qanon garbage and that they berated me when I provided corroborated information that might have given them pause, but which they rejected without considering. I am furious people shared (and continue to do so) idiotic, unsubstantiated, massively false memes, and that they called me names (You're a bitch. You're negative. You're a loser. You're an angry libtard) when I showed them how wrong and dangerous such memes are.  

Yes, I'm pissed and I'm going to be pissed for a long, long time. Suck it up. 

It's not my country, but I will, along with an historical number of voters, try to begin healing.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Raiding the Archives

I decided to do a bit of digging into my parents' past. Upon checking with the provincial archives, I discovered two things; divorce records are public domain, and secondly, anyone can order a copy. So I did. I received 123 pages of legal documents (some duplicates, so about 115 unique pages), including a hand-written letter my mother (the narc) wrote, which was entered into the record as an affidavit, and which became the basis of questions in a later deposition.

Nothing in that letter surprised me necessarily; she has harped on about her divorce for more than 50 years.... However, what DID come as completely new information was that it was SHE who brought the divorce action. She has always claimed my father "abandoned" us. Completely false. I also didn't know she had threatened several times both in the letter and the deposition to leave the city with us to prevent our dad from seeing us. This was at odds with the fact she wouldn't acknowledge she was divorced and continued for years to call my dad her husband, even after he had remarried. It was so, so weird. It wasn't "I am divorced and my former spouse is remarried," it was "My husband is living with another woman and they don't have a real marriage."

It should be noted here while she was carrying on about my dad and "his women," (the only woman being someone who became my step mother and was for 33 years) my mother was herself dating someone - she the sunday school teacher and he the deacon - and this resulted in her falling pregnant and them having to marry very quickly. She will have become pregnant slightly before she got her decree absolute. She's a very skilled hypocrite....

The other revelation, which makes sense of her relationship with me and with my two sibs, is the clarification of our roles to her, and the clarification - like crystal clear - she at no point saw us as humans separate from her, but as the means of expression.

She has always scapegoated me, but these documents confirmed she has done so at least since I was nine (when all the custody proceedings were in full swing), and likely before that. I don't have any particular memories but a younger-than-nine-year-old child wouldn't recognize scapegoating or gaslighting.

The hand-written letter and the later deposition are fascinating with respect to scapegoating though; my mother put words in my mouth: she made claims - numerous times - about what I was saying to her or telling her. For instance, she claimed I told her, and I quote, "Daddy says you're sick, sick, sick in the head and we don't have to listen to you." This. Never. Happened. She makes this statement three times in the deposition as something I allegedly told her, and curiously, it is always in exactly the same format: three "sicks" followed by "in the head, and "we don't have to listen to you." It's weird. She claimed I told her my dad said this to us. I know this is a full lie. Anytime - up to and including when we were married adults with children of our own - we'd ask our dad what went on, his reply was always "It's a long story." He never said anything more than that.

My mother makes several statements about things I supposedly said to her, including that I (specifically me) wish to see less of my dad - absolutely false - and that I (again, specifically me, not my sibling and I) are disturbed by my father's "lovemaking in the front seat of the car and in the pool." This specificity is so, so weird. My dad was a preacher's kid who struggled very much to find a path to remarriage, as he'd been told since birth he'd burn in hell if he committed adultery - and in Baptist world, a marriage after divorce is adultery. The idea he'd engage in "lovemaking" in front of his children is ridiculous. None of what she claims happened and she contradicts herself several times between the letter and the deposition.

The short form is she has always used me to voice what she will not say herself. Where it concerned my dad and my step mother, my mother would claim I said terrible things about them, when it was she doing it. She put words in my mouth to my teachers, to a couple pastors, to people we knew. I spent most of my pre-teen and teen years being utterly confused about what was going on, because people would confront me about what I'd "said," when I hadn't said. It took me ages to understand she was lying to everyone. For the record, I haven't seen her in seven years, but she still claims I'm somehow wrecking her computer... or her life. It varies.

My next youngest sibling is mentioned but once in the entirety of those documents and not at all in the hand-written letter. I"m not sure whether this was due to her being invisible to my mother, or because she was the "golden child" so my mother protected her. Predictably though, as neither I, nor our youngest sibling has anything to do with our mother, the golden child is now the unfortunate recipient of our mother's wrath and abuse.

I'm after my mother's counselling records now. I'm almost certain I won't be able to find any records of her therapy sessions with my dad prior to their divorce, but I know I will find family counselling records and can access them because I was there. I've read some of them. I'm going to get copies so I can re-read.

Fascinating shit.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Wait! You're Taking THAT out on ME??

I get into loops in not-rare occasions; loops of thinking about events and what I could have, should have said at the time... had I understood what was actually happening.

There are so many events I remember as being confusing and weird and incomprehensible; so many times shit would go sideways and I would have no clue why and would be standing there like I'd been hit by lightning of a sort. In retrospect, knowing what I know now...

The first I remember was when she was 20. She was dating a guy who was quite a lad - slick, self-absorbed, and someone I suspect was treating her more like an accessory than a person, and who I think was likely cheating (I don't know this, but I knew that guy on and off for about 20 years). I was at her house one night and she began insulting me and calling me down. It still hurts thinking about it. Shortly after that, this guy was gone.

Another of these instances occurred at her house after she was married and a mother of two. She and I had had some disagreement about something - I don't remember what, but these incidences were common and had been since we were little kids. I detest arguments and I detest more feeling like I've done something for which I should apologise, so that's what I set out to do. I went to her house, sat at her kitchen table, and told her I was feeling badly about our argument and that I was sorry we'd argued.

One always hopes the response to an apology will be something like, "Thanks, I appreciate that." But no... her response was to fly totally off the handle stand bent towards me, pointing her finger in my face and screaming at me for 15 minutes... I left in tears, devastated.

Another time, I was at her house for our parent's 70th birthday. She was agitated and annoyed, and a day after this shindig emailed me some caustic edict about how I had disrespected her daughter, and terminating with "Manners. Get some."

At yet another point, she was dating some guy from the US. She was angry and agitated for several months - her anger and agitation was directed at me, of course... After an alarming visit to his home, which was "off grid," down a long driveway, hidden by a huge berm and with "private property" signs lining the way - she said it was weird - she broke up with him not so much because THAT was weird but because she discovered he had broken into her on line accounts and had been deleting her male clients and male friends.Although she had been very abusive towards me during this relationship - which I knew very little about - after she dumped him, she called us - my spouse and I - to help her protect her information and block that guy... Note pattern beginning to emerge. 

Then there was the French guy who she was dating when she hosted our parent's 70th. He also lived away and obviously wasn't going to be able to commit easily given the distance. Also included in her email about her daughter was some rant about how it was rude to speak French in a room full of non-French speakers... I dunno... is a sideline conversation unrelated to an unheard by anyone else in the room rude?

And then there was a cocaine addict... She called me up and asked to go for walk... she wanted my blessing, I think, to date this guy, who she acknowledged has a huge problem but who she thought she could "support." I did NOT give "permission." I told her she was crazy, that cocaine addiction is the WORST, that those people often spend all their own money and that of anyone they're with... I don't know what happened, but given this was one of the few times I didn't end up being the brunt of her wrath, she might have taken my advice.

Then there was the six-year-long relationship characterised by pathological jealousy, stalking, anger, verbal abuse... As a note, she is extremely private - fine - but secretive - not fine, so nobody knew what was going on in that relationship. Throughout this relationship, she was secretive, intense, often angry, closed off.

About four years into the years she dated that guy, I agreed to attend counseling with her. Prior to the day of our counselling session, it seems they had been arguing for days. I found out that day they'd been in counselling for a while. When I arrived to the appointment, I found her sobbing outside the counsellor's office. She was on the phone with him. She was so agitated that day and the counselling session became an opportunity for her to express her anger.Within 30 minutes of us beginning the "counselling" session, she was already accusing me of all sorts. This escalated into her yet again yelling at me with her finger pointed at my face. The counsellor said nothing, which I still find bizarre. My sister left shortly before the end of this session. I left in a suicidal fog and walked the 45 minutes from the office to my home.

Also during that relationship, another time she lit into me: she had invited my spouse and I for dinner, but called literally as we were walking out the door with food in our hands to tell us to delay our arrival for two yours. I found out later she and this stalker had been arguing for hours and she hadn't been able to prepare food... but who did she tear into? Me. Why? because I was inflexible not being able to wait around for two hours for dinner with zero notice.

Then there was a guy who I had dated about 25 years ago. Lovely guy; kind, diligent, funny, but dumb and slightly dishonest. She knew him of course, but imagine my surprise one year when upon arriving at my step-mother's home for christmas dinner, and he opened the door.... They dated for maybe six months, but then she dumped him for the abusive stalker. In 2016, they decided to give it another go. She is intense, a personal trainer, long-distance runner, ironman competitor... he is NOT; definitely comfort, not speed. They date for a year, but without warning - literally - she turned up at his house, dumped him again. He was devastated and called me - something he hadn't done for many years - trying to understand what had happened. Two weeks after that, SHE is calling me, after been entirely out of contact for several years, asking me to call him and go pick up her running shirt, which she says he has. He is not amused .... 

Speed forward to yet another incident in February 2018. She was angry about issues I was not party to and couldn't do anything about. I understand things had become dire for her, financially, as she had taken on my mother's financial affairs in addition to her own. I don't know this for certain, but the details add up to her having got to a point of possibly losing both her home and the one she had purchased for my mother. When she was finally able to sell her house and rent out my mothers, and get our mother settled into new lodgings, she called me up and spent 45 minutes telling me how resentful she is (I would be too were I in her shoes - but she bought those "shoes" all by herself...) and chastising me for all the stuff I should have been doing over the last seven years - ignoring the fact the past is unchangeable and the issues were of her own making ... 

Looking back over these known incidents, I think I have identified what was going on; she has been in many unpleasant, sometimes abusive, and twice, dangerous relationships. In every instance, she has been absolutely silent about what is going on in these relationships but has taken her anger and frustration out on me.  It strikes me now, from the distance of non-contact, she has used me as her target throughout her life. To be fair, she learned this from our parent, who has scapegoated me since I was a tiny child (read the previous and next posts for background).

She has lately contacted me suggesting she owes me some apology, but she has no clue how deep is the pain I live with on the daily. No clue. She doesn't comprehend how much she's contributed to it by siding with our abusive parent, and by engaging in it herself.

I don't doubt there will be another few times where she'll get herself in to a bind and call me to sort her shit out - except now the answer is NO (unless she is in physical danger, which I can't rule out because she is unfortunately stupid about men)...

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The terror of being ill around a narcissistic parent

My mother has a full-on HATE for anyone who is ill - she claims it's just them needing attention. Obvious illness causes her to express rage and derision. For hours. I don't know what happened to her that she is so violently hateful of vulnerable people – although I know from personal experience, her mother - my grandmother  - was much the same. 

In my adult life, when I've been employed (I have been self-employed for almost 25 years) I had a terrible time calling in sick no matter how sick I was.  I always felt I would be called out as a liar. It was terrifying.  I'm in my late 50s and even now, being ill to the point I can't work really bothers me; I feel a deep sense of guilt, like I'm committing some type of fraud, and fear whatever response I might get. Some of that is my mother’s reaction to sick people generally, and how she handled me being ill specifically.

As a kid, I had terrible colds; I would often be up coughing all night and exhausted for weeks from lack of sleep.  I still went to school - by choice because feeling unwell at school was preferable to being in the house with her, enduring her endless rage.

In the worst years, I maintained my social life, being between 16 and 17 years old when the cruellest of this was going on. My mother railed on that my “never being home,” was why I was sick. That and the night air, which she claimed the doctor had told her was keeping me sick. According to her, I was doing everything I could to stay sick and keep her up at night. She argued my entire goal was to cause her as much distress as I could.

I remember once when I was very little – maybe 8 or nine – I had a bad earache. I remember sleeping in my mother’s bed and her saying she wished she could take the pain away, and I remember that statement didn't ring true. As I grew up, she became more and more hostile towards me and particularly when I was sick. Those many nights I'd be coughing so hard, trying to stifle the sound into my pillow, she would burst into my room in the early hours screaming at me that I was keeping her awake on purpose and was trying to wake the whole house, that I was selfish. She didn't care at all how sick I was, didn't offer help or medicine, never mind I was nearly barfing from coughing so hard... It was horrible. I was sick, exhausted and terrified she'd turn up screaming at me at 3 a.m..

My "favourite" incident of her going ballistic because I was sick was in the week after my boyfriend visited over the winter holidays in my 12th grade year. This incident set off a chain of events that reverberated for more than 10 years after.

That December, my boyfriend, who lived away, came to stay with us over the winter holiday. Meeting him for the first time, my mother vacillated between being sugar-sweet and trying to make an impression on him, and being a full-fledged bitch. Near the end of his stay, she did a bizarre, really weird thing - the catalyst for events to occur a week later. He and I had come in late-ish from a New Year’s Eve party; She heard us come home, but we didn’t hear her emerge from her bedroom.

My mother’s controlling personality and her “religion” make for her being extremely caustic about intimacy, sex and relationships – insulting, derisive, weird. We weren’t allowed to share a room – and I get it; it was her house – so before parting for the night, we did what in-love 17-year-olds do and had a little make-out session on the couch. Her sudden, “That’s enough of that!” revealed my mother standing in the dark, observing us. She then disclosed she’d been watching us for 10 minutes. It was, among the many, many weird moments of her parenting, a pinnacle of her bizarre behaviour. We were mortified, embarrassed and of course subject to her barrage of insults and abuse. I still feel sick to my stomach remembering it; it was extremely peeping-Tom of her. So gross.

In the days after my boyfriend left to return to his home in another province, I came down with a wicked cold.  All the parties we’d been at and all the shared food we’d consumed were likely the source of whatever bugs I had, and as a 17-year-old, I was doubtless not as careful about hand-washing as I could have been – nor was anyone else. I was sick enough the week after the winter holiday I couldn't go back to school. My friend (a gal my mother absolutely detested for some reason - but she hated all my friends, so true to type) came over to bring homework material. 

My mother hadn't contacted the school to see if there was homework.... my fault that I wasn't there to get it myself, and I was just trying to get attention... endless, but I had called my friend and asked her to bring over whatever I needed to be working on. My mother absolutely freaked out at my friend, who she cornered in the front hall of our house, my friend’s back against the front door, unable – or too terrified – to leave, as my mother screamed in her face, called her names, tore into her character, shamed her. It was horrifying.

After four days of being at home, subject to my mother’s endless abuse, despite still being sick, I went back to school and to my job serving tables in a busy restaurant. At the end of my first night back, I left by the staff entrance where my step-dad (who was amazing) and my mother (who bullied him) were waiting. My dad often picked me up, but this time, she was with him and my suitcase was in the car. It was 9:30 at night, I was tired after my shift, still quite sick, and VERY confused about what was happening. I don’t have words for what happened next; they drove me to the hospital and left me there.

I have almost no memory of what had actually happened that night. It was so deeply traumatizing I have only vague and incorrect memories of that night even now.

In my memory, my parents drove to the hospital and we came together into the lobby. I went to the bathroom and came out minutes later to find my parents gone and my suitcase abandoned in the middle of the lobby.

I didn't know I had spent two hours with a psychiatrist – I have still no memory of these two hours or having met with or spoken to anyone. I only remember entering a typical hospital public restroom, doing my thing and leaving in the usual time it takes.  I only discovered what had happened after yet another terrifying incident of my mother’s irrational rage, occurring almost 10 years later.

The incident that led me to discover almost four months of mostly-lost memory was spurred by my mother’s behaviour one particular day about two months after I got married, when she was visiting my house. I was juggling new spouse, new home, young child, new marriage, and on this day, caring for my daughter and my friend’s child – a one-year-old.

My mother has a bizarre propensity for getting herself into rages. The usual trajectory is she says something caustic or critical about another person. Whoever she has said the thing to might respond with a counter of some type, at which point she blasts off into some explosive tirade.

As per her usual, this is exactly what happened. She launched into a rage within 30 minutes of arriving and began seething about my new spouse (who wasn't there) and my dad (definitely not there). After an hour of it, I finally couldn't take it anymore and asked her to stop slagging them off, that it wasn't fair or right and that she was not welcome to come to my house and tear into people, particularly when they weren't there, or to subject me to her shit in my own house. 

This made things worse by orders of magnitude.  She wasn't having it and doubled down on her attacks on my spouse and my dad, and screamed she could come to my house whenever she wanted, and I couldn't stop her... So bizarre.

As my mother slid into her rage, I put the kids in my bedroom in the crib, so they'd be out of danger, if not out of earshot. My mother - enraged, and irrational - and now resorting to striking me - refused to leave; she said she couldn't go because she needed her purse. I opened the front door and threw her purse onto the front lawn hoping she'd follow it. Nope. She still wouldn't leave and was in a massive, irrational frenzy. This is when I called the police.

By this point, we were both screaming.  I was pleading with her to leave, which became "you have to leave," which became "GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!" 

Suddenly, she went from full-on rage to dead calm; she spat out that she was leaving, adding her usual barrage of what a terrible person, mother, wife, daughter I was and how “everyone” knew how “sick” I was. But rather than heading out the front door, she went down the hallway, opened my bedroom door and scooped up my child. She tried to leave the house with my baby in her arms. This did not go well for her... 

I admit I threw a few hard punches to dislodge my child. This was the first time I had retaliated with purposeful violence. My mother had struck me many, many times in the past with fists and with objects. Sidebar: once she chased me upstairs with a carving knife – one she still has. I locked myself in the second-floor bathroom, but she kicked the door in and stood there with the knife in my face, screaming at me. Terrifying.

I had often defended myself, or had run off, sometimes down the street in the dark - once in bare feet in winter - but I had never reacted this way - consciously, purposefully resorting to violence with the goal of hurting her.  That she would attempt to take my child made me blind with anger.

It. Was. Horrifying. 

When the police finally arrived, she saw their vehicle pull up, threw herself into the couch beside the door, and as the officers came through the open front door, she bleated "Help me, she's trying to kill me."

I had already told dispatch what was going on - and they'd heard her screaming her head off in the background, so the police were aware of what was going on, that she was attempting to take my child, that she was in my house and refusing to leave. The officers managed to coax her out the door and into her car, to a cacophony of her pleading and desperately trying to convince them she should take my child. 

As much as my mother attempting to abduct my child was horrific, as were the hours leading to that moment, and the years before, and her regular, horrifying, middle-of-the-night attacks on a sick teenager, I'm glad - strange word to use - it happened. Her rage and her having tried to take my daughter that day compelled me to find out what had transpired 10 years earlier. 

That incident was a turning point. I knew then I needed to comprehend what was going on and what had been going on my entire life. I knew I had to understand as much as I could about her – and, by extension, about me. The gaslighting my mother is so expert at had led me to question my fitness as a parent and my sanity from as far back as when I was in fifth grade, when she would tell me, on an almost-daily basis, she had people watching me.

I started calling around. I remembered a couple counselling sessions we’d attended as a “family,” and I knew which hospital they'd taken me to and knew that there must be a record. When I called the hospital, I was transferred to the psych unit. Reception confirmed there were records of that family counselling and gave me the names of the people who'd seen us. My call was then transferred to a doctor - a psychiatrist - who said he remembered me, and that he'd met with me for two hours on that night many years earlier. 

I was STUNNED to understand I'd spent two hours at the hospital with a psychiatrist. I remember walking into the hospital's main reception area, my step-dad putting my suitcase down, me walking forward into a small white bathroom and walking out soon after to find my suitcase sitting in the middle of the floor, and my parents gone. I remember calling our then-pastor, who came to pick me up, and spending two or three nights with him and his family, sleeping in their den on their pull-out.

I had no memory of anything else (even now), and asked the doctor if he was sure he had met with me. He was, and said he had a file with names, dates, and record of that meeting. Writing this now, 40 years later, I'm still amazed I remember nothing of this night beyond these incorrect details.

I requested access to the file and said I wanted to come in and read it. When I arrived to the doctor’s offices in the basement of the hospital annexe a few days later, he was at first very reluctant to let me read the file - because, he said, my mother was not there, so something about consent. I said that file was also about ME and I WAS there. He relented but said I could not copy anything, or take the file out of the small room he put me in. Fine. I had notepaper with me and I did copy. Furiously.

This file was a compilation of notes from the initial intake – that two hours I remember nothing of – and several family sessions. I was utterly stunned - again - to understand we had attended EIGHT family sessions. Even now, I have no memory of these sessions beyond two.

We – my mother and I – had attended family counselling sessions in the past, usually with a minister at our church or a school counsellor. My mother had tried many times to find a counsellor who would say I was crazy, and threw around “schizophrenic” like she was some expert on mental health.

As a sidebar to her behaviour in counselling, this anecdote:
When I was 15, at her insistence, we'd met with our then-pastor. He had heard her out on a couple prior occasions, and I think she thought he was an ally. However, within 15 minutes of the start of the session, she exposed herself, her anger, her behaviour, and the abuse she was heaping on me. He identified several issues and suggested she shouldn't treat me the way she did and that things would be easier if she weren't so harsh. 

This, predictably, resulted in furious, loud outrage on her part, and her stalking out, as was her usual response to anyone pointing out she might have contributed to the situation. She accused our pastor of attacking her, and of conspiring to ruin her reputation in the church. Bizarrely, but not unpredictably, she turned on that man with a vengeance. Although she had led the charge to see him hired as our pastor, she launched a vicious campaign to discredit him, and have him fired.

Her personality and tendency to extreme outbursts were well-known in our church of barely 150 people (on a good day when dessert was served), so her campaign was unsupported and unsuccessful. Her efforts resulted in him remaining with the support of the greater congregation, and her leaving our church and to begin attending the very large church up the road from us - a church she had spent many years maligning for its demographic of "all those wealthy people who look down on me." It was bizarre. 

In my memory of the counselling sessions following the hospital incident, I was there with my mother, my step-dad, and a female counsellor. I didn't remember her name, nor do I remember how I got to these sessions or where they were held. I was living with my dad at that point, so likely he drove me, but I don't have any memory of getting there or leaving or being dropped off or picked up. 

In the two sessions I have in my memory, my mother was OUTRAGED. I remember her being utterly furious at the psychologist for having identified my mother’s negative, angry behaviours and their effect on me and on my siblings and step-dad; and I remember her furiously lashing out, calling the counsellor names, accusing her of making stuff up, of being unfair, of colluding with other people who were out to get her. She stalked out of both sessions claiming everyone was against her (she said this regularly, along with "You can hardly wait until I'm dead.... ").

As I sat in that small, windowless cubicle reading the notes written by the psychologist who did the sessions, I remember being relieved that she had identified my mother’s extensive personal issues. This was the first time I’d had anyone – particularly an adult – identify my mother’s serious mental issues. The counsellor observed my mother took no responsibility for her actions or behaviours, or anything she said; that she perceived herself as constantly set upon and persecuted by other people; that people were out to “make her look bad;” and that she was still furious at my father for leaving her. The counsellor wrote my mother was dealing with her mental distress by making me her target. In her notes, the counsellor identified my mother as intensely angry and having deep-seated feelings of maltreatment. She wrote, "The mother is scapegoating her child." Yes. Yes she was. From the time I was about two years old.

Discovering the truth about the night my parents left me at the hospital, and knowing the extent of counselling, how many sessions there were, identification of my mother's serious personality issues, and understanding - finally - those were not my fault, and knowing the extent of them was horrifying but a relief.

That counsellor wrote my "behaviour" issues, which she identified as my acting out as a means of self-preservation, were a direct result of my mother's scapegoating.

I began to heal after that. Very slowly. I was completely out of contact with my mother for almost two years after that, but there were many relapses, many times I tried to have a relationship with her; many, many more of her outrages, her abuses, her irrational anger, her tearing me to bits, and the time she lashed out at my parenting with “You’re a terrible mother; you don’t feed your children potatoes.” Yes, she actually said that. That comment caused a huge crack in the “matrix.” That comment, and my mother’s apparent narcissism, irrational, unpredictable, abusive behaviour are the foundation for the vast raft of reasons for our present reality.

When my children were in their early teens, she began directing her anger and treachery towards them in person, and in emails. She told them they were “heathens” and that she was sorry they would never go to heaven. In emails, she wrote things like, "I don't know why you hang around those people who hate me and want me dead." Six years ago, she finally, terminally, crossed the line. (Chapter six million... to follow).

Am I still amazed that I have no memories of that hospital visit and six of the eight counselling sessions? YES. Do I still struggle with taking time out when I’m ill? Yes. Do I feel guilt about being out of contact with my mother? Yes.

But I understand that guilt and why it is misdirected. The guilt I feel is attached to a mythical "good, loving mother" who doesn't exist, but who I have abandoned. Six years ago, when I finally hit that terminal wall and suspended contact with my mother, that guilt was suffocating. My extrication left my sibling with care and feeding of this abusive woman, who has since turned her abuse on this sibling – the was-golden-child (chapter six-million-two-hundred to follow). For the record, there are three of us siblings. The other one literally fled the country, where they have a “relationship” with our mother from a safe distance (chapter six-million-three-hundred to follow).

In the last three or four years, I've come to understand this guilt and its context; every child’s enduring wish for a good mother who cares about them, is kind and loving, and engaged in a caring, unobtrusive way. However, in my case, this mother does not exist and never has. I finally understand there is nothing at all I can do to elicit the good mother. I can let go of feeling guilty for abandoning what is a fantasy mother who doesn’t, and never did exist. The real thing has serious personality challenges that no amount of me "being good" will fix. It took me 50 years to get to this point, many bouts of deep, terrifying depression, much self-flagellation and self-hate, but I am finally out. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

I feel all the time but I don't know what I'm feeling...

One of the most difficult things about being the child of a narcissist (or someone with borderline personality disorder - BPD) is untangling emotions, understanding what one is feeling, why, if the emotion is attached to something, someone, some event, or if one is generalizing.

As I sit here this morning, I have an intense feeling of upset, slight anger, foreboding, fear, frustration. About what? I haven't untied all that yet.

In the list:

I've had a client contact me about a project I've tried three times to complete for them. They must contact their client to make sure the site is prepared, and they haven't. Frustrating but I can't fix it for them - they drop the ball but I take the hit.

I have a friend needing help moving stuff, which I'm happy to do, but I'm a third party to the machinations, so sitting about waiting on that stuff to be coordinated.

I'm travelling with a group next month, but not positive of accommodations, and unhappy about a potential addition of $500 US to my costs resulting from my having done a good deed...

I'm pissed off we've had dead air from an organization we've been trying to contact since May this year. This angers me so much because their behaviour is ridiculously unprofessional and we're left wondering what we've done.

I'm bored; work is too quiet thanks to a continuing sluggish economy.

I'm annoyed with myself for procrastinating over several need-to-be-completed items that will take only a few hours to finish.

I'm so very angry at my sibling over their handling of a change to our parent's living situation and that sibling's demands for money but a refusal to say WHY.

I'm also furious at this sibling's deep unwillingness to be clear about what is going on, particularly, as I understand it, they were on the verge of losing their home, and the home our parent was living in. This sibling chose to be angry and confrontational despite our many offers of help.

And I'm furious at another sibling for having taken nearly half a million from our parent and lost it all. Every damned penny of it, and $45K from an investor, and $80K from another person's parent too... this is a whole other story, none of which I was part of, except where I suggested, strongly, to my narcissitic parent they should make sure their investment is secured - which they didn't, so yeah, near poverty. 

I'm struggling to figure out which feelings go where and if they're even worth entertaining. And I'm sick to my stomach and I don't know why, and I know I'm pretty close to burying my head in the sand that is Reddit, or in my addictive craft habit. I have lately come to understand how I use these as "treatment" of a sort.

Growing up as the child of a narcissist is a distinctly unbalancing experience. There's no variance in how the narcissist approaches whatever it is they're angry about - and they're always angry about something.

It is never their fault and they always react on maximum volume, no matter how infinitesimal whatever the issue might be. There is no emotion one can feel and/or express the narcissist won't somehow attack, minimize, misrepresent.

They can spend hours or days haranguing, but when the harangued person finally crumbles into tears, or resorts to rage, the narcissist doubles down. There's no emotion one can feel or express that the narcissist will accept as valid; emotion is always an attack on the narcissist no matter what has precipitated that emotion.

When one is subjected to this from an early age, to be blunt, it fucks you up.

The net effect, particularly when all this starts when one is a tiny kid (2 years old in my case) is, as an adult, the victim often - almost always - misinterprets what people are saying, or what they mean by what they're saying. I am, as a rule, confused and uncomfortable about where my emotions are coming from and I have a difficult time understanding other people's emotions. I am aware I read in other people's feelings, but am terrified to ask if they're actually feeling the way I think.

I usually default to believing they're angry, or they detest me - this being a result of my parent's regular assertion when I was young that they had "people" watching me all day, every day, whether I was at school or with friends (I had so few friends; my trust was shattered at such a young age, and I never knew who these "people" were).

I always feel as if I've done something terrible - a persistent, ungrounded foreboding. Someone saying, "Hey can I talk to you for a second," releases and INTENSE fear response in me. Always. You will understand in employment situations, where people must collaborate many times a day, the "Can I talk to you?" thing made my work environments unbearable and terrifying. For the record, I work for myself now and have mostly done so for about 25 years.

I struggle to let things roll off me and to understand when something needs a response, or when there is no point in even thinking about it, let alone responding to it. I am never confident in whether I have appropriately dealt with a problem, or responded correctly to a question, or an issue. I feel most of the time I've made things far worse, by addressing them at all.

This weirdness has not been helped by the couple occasions when I've been blamed for something completely out of my control; once a pipe burst in a room I was in, and the woman of the house - my former spouse's mother - came steaming down the stairs yelling "what did you do?" at me. I was sitting there, stunned that water was suddenly pouring out of a wall behind all the shit she had stacked up there, having had no clue there were pipes there.

I have three adult children and I am fascinated (and envious in a sense) by how expertly they deal with the day-to-day issues they have, and how well they solve work-related stuff, and by their excellent friendships - with each other and with actual friends.  I'm also amazed I managed to raise three kids who can do that. I'm very glad my distinct issues seem not to have transferred to them. They're great collaborators and skilled at conflict management and resolution.

I feel unbalanced most of the time where it concerns my emotions: I'm either flat, meaning I feel nothing, or experience far less emotion than someone else might in the same situation, or I'm often full-on torn apart by a comment or event someone else might barely register.

I feel I am always letting people down, never doing the best I can do, cutting corners, being shitty. This is my narcissistic parent speaking, and I know it, but this horror began when I was very young.
Although I know it isn't logical, it is deeply internalized. I've heard it said children raised in such environments are permanently-affected, as the trauma causes changes to their DNA. I haven't read too much on the subject, but colloquially, I'd claim it true.

Where it concerns my siblings, my emotions are particularly hard to manage; I shift between concern for them - they were victimized as much as I was, in different ways - and anger towards them for not taking off the blinders they find so comfortable.

I am very concerned for my one sibling, as they are enmeshed in a not-at-all-positive way with our joint torturer/parent. I have deep concerns as to how this sib will react to this parent's death (this parent being 90 years old presently), and how they will adjust to the absence of this still-narcissistic, parent who has, I understand, added stalking-type behaviours to their contact with this sibling.

At the same time, I am beyond furious at this sibling - for how they have scapegoated me, in concert with our parent, for more than 45 years, how they fail utterly to see how, more and more, they are exhibiting the same characteristics of this parent (and of this parent's own also-narcissistic/BPD parent), for how they protect our abusive parent, how they prey on me for help, but reject any help offered - except when they are in dire straights - and ignore me entirely when whatever crisis they may be having has been solved. Since early this year, my overriding emotion is a desire to literally tie this sibling to a chair and punch them until they feel the deep pain I've felt my entire life.

The other sibling ... I also feel so much fury and anger towards them. I cannot comprehend how they can sleep at all, let alone live day-to-day knowing they are the one-and-only reason none of us will have an inheritance, and why the other sibling has been footing the bills - all of them - for this horrifying parent we share. This sibling has exhibited a bizarre vacillation between having near-murderous feelings toward this parent and attempting to have a relationship with them. For the record, their joint relationship has been spectacularly and catastrophically unstable for most of this sibling's 47 years.

Well-meaning people will often say, "Just let it go," but they truly do not comprehend how children of narcissists experience emotion, and how confused and often fearful those children (who may be adults in their late 50s) are. If we're struggling to wade through a lifetime of it, imagine how little a probably-caring but uneducated person might understand.

The net effect of my inability to appropriately parse and navigate my emotions has been the development - among several issues - of profound body dysmorphia to the point of obsession as a stand-in for dealing with the moving parts.

This dysmorphia coalesced on a specific day when I was 13 years old thanks to an off-hand comment made by a good friend, who I know meant absolutely nothing by it. I was going down the stairs in our school, heading to class - she being on the stair directly behind me - when she made a comment about the structure of my hips and butt. I can remember that moment and I were I in that school, I could walk to the exact place - the exact stair I was on - when she made the comment.

Literally from that moment on, this dysmorphia has been a daily, draining, torturous fixture in my waking life. It is the first thing on my mind when I wake - and I wake three or four times a night - and the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. It doesn't help my sibling is a fitness professional (driven to some extent as a means for them to cope with their own demons I suppose), who has no shame about shaming me and how I look, whether that be the body scan or an insulting comment.

This dysmorphia is coupled with an ever-growing fear of being in public looking like I do. This is compounded by my having competed in a fitness competition four years ago, and then returning to a normal weight and average strength for a person of my age. Hating how I look also keeps me out of the gym: I'm embarrassed to be "normal" after having become so fit and strong.

In my case, that bucket-list item, the competition, was approached as a means of, "SEE! I'm not gross!" rather than something I pursued purely on my own terms, for my own reasons. I'm now fighting with entrenched dysmorphia made worse by having become very fit and quite thin for that competition, but not having the tools to deal with being a normally-sized person of my age. On the rare occasion I see my sibling, their habit of body-scanning me, and their unshielded look of disgust after that ... it doesn't help, and it makes me want to injure them all the more. Vicious circle for sure.

If you're reading this and wondering why I don't get help, I assure you I have tried. I have used - with some success - one of the on-line counselling services when the issues with my sibling were such I was feeling suicidal. It was very helpful to have a faceless, but experienced psychologist willing to read my long accounts, and make observations and suggestions. To not have to be face-to-face where he could see me, how I look, and to have counselling sessions not diluted by my terror over how I look - it was a good solution.

I have recently sought out mental healthcare services; however, despite physical health care being easy to access and covered under the country's health care plan, mental health services are not covered and are very costly, or if provided on a sliding scale, not dependable.

I need care several times a week for at least a year, but at a cost of about $2000/month, it's impossible to afford. It is not for a lack of desire and willingness to get help; it's a literal inability to afford the care I need. The doctor I saw recently diagnosed me with severe anxiety - filed under "No shit, Sherlock," - and prescribed a specific medication to help. The drug she prescribed has a significant side effect - predictable weight gain. Definitely no bueno. Like 1000 percent no bueno.

I am not in contact with my siblings or my parent - and yes, this is extreme, highly guilt-inducing, and difficult to swallow. I know, however, contact with this parent is poisonous, and contact - currently anyway - with the siblings is likely going to affect me negatively.

I know what it's like to have to talk myself out of walking into traffic or driving into a semi - it is utterly, utterly terrifying to be at that point and to know what might trigger that again, and how bloody close - twice in the last eight years - I came to saying "aw, fuck it," and driving across the line on purpose, despite knowing doing so would end my intense pain but would ruin my own children's and partner's lives.

I cannot stress this enough; when someone is in THAT much despair and so desperate to end their own pain, and they know doing so will have a massive, permanent effect on their loved ones, you MUST understand how unbearable it has become for them.

Neither of these siblings is willing to acknowledge their parts in any of it. They are, at times, like starving dogs with respect to goading me. One of them - maybe both - seems to enjoy pushing me to the point of pure, blinding despair. I don't know what they get out of it but it seems to satisfy something for them. Then again, they learned at the feet of the master, given our parent was ravenous for the high of torturing (in an emotional way) me, teaching them how to scapegoat, and expert at alienating us siblings one from the other. The effects of this parent's efforts are cell-deep and permanent.

A bit of advice for people who like to give advice, particularly to people like me: Just don't.

I guarantee you, if you had a happy or reasonably stable childhood, you cannot possibly understand the chamber of horrors that is a childhood overseen by an angry, unfulfilled narcissistic parent whose sole purpose in life is to create as much pain, despair, fear, sadness as possible as some means of obtaining power, and edifying themselves.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Nobody was paying attention....

 Last week, my mother moved from her two-story home into a supported living facility - much smaller digs - and the excavation was initiated. Somehow, she has managed to acquire enough stuff for four families, despite being very elderly and a widow....

Among all this stuff, surprisingly, is a small archive of my report cards from a couple grades of elementary school, two from junior high school and one year of high school.

It was riveting and heart-wrenching to read the comments on those reports - all hand-written, dating back as far as 1966.

Our home life was, shall we say, disturbed. My parents fought - not regularly, but spectacularly - and finally separated when I was maybe five, which is the year I started kindergarten. Their relationship was acrimonious. Actually, not "their;" her relationship with him. Brutal. As it was the 60s, we, my younger sister and I, stayed with our mother. My mother has the most spectacular case of narcissism I've ever met, although I didn't know that until maybe 10 years ago. Such affected people do not great parents make....

I read those hand-written comments with a shifting mix of chagrin, anger, embarrassment, and wonder. In all those years, did not one single person - teacher, librarian, principal - ever wonder what was going on? It was the 60s/70s and people didn't meddle back then - certainly not teachers; they had enough on their plates between planning lessons, working five days a week and doing everything by hand, so probably paying attention to the more personal aspects of their students' lives was too far outside their area of attention. I understand that. But.

See, I grew up in total, daily chaos. My mother was always angry about something, angry at me, angry at what I was wearing, how my hair was, who my friends were, how I spoke and acted... you name it, she found something in it to be angry about. I was, until 2013, her scapegoat. I think I still am, but I am out of contact now, so whatever she might say about me, I don't hear, exept for the occasional vitriolic, hateful email she writes that someone forwards to me....

When I was in second grade, the bulk of the comments on my report cards were that I was distracted, occasionally confrontational, not doing well, rushed, missing fundamentals. At home? M mother would pick a fight with me every morning. For a period of a month (I was little; could have been a week, could have been three months; it was fucking terrifying, however long) and then threaten to send me to boarding school. She would pick up the phone in the kitchen and pretend to make calls to some school. The second she started for the phone, I would run upstairs to her bedroom and pick up the handset of the bright orange phone to prevent her from making the call. It was terrifying. 

So yeah, I was distracted, because I was terrified of what might be happening - what my mother might be doing or calling or planning during the day, or what might happen when I came home after school. It wasn't a maybe; it was a for-sure. If the what-might-happen was relative peace, it was a rarity that was proof of the rule, and the calm before a certain storm later, or the next day, or....

By the time I was in fifth grade, her terror campaign was well established and deeply rooted. My mother reminded me on a regular basis she had people watching me and reporting back to her about what I was up to during the day. Can you imagine what it's like to be an eleven-year-old child who is convinced she's being watched all day, every day??? Like, who do you trust?!

During all this chaos my mother remarried. He was excellent. Really. We'd known him since we were born so he wasn't a stranger at all. He married my mother (the sunday school teacher) because, despite her outwardly puritanical, judgemental views on sex and relationships, they were screwing around and she became pregnant. If you're the puritanical, once-divorced sunday school teacher in a baptist church, in the 70s, you must, at all costs, keep up the appearances....

The upside was he was a great dad and we got a little sister out of it. The downside is we got a little sister out of it and I went from being my mother's constant target to being that, and the scapegoat for ANYTHING she didn't like - my younger sister's teenage behaviour, and anything that our new baby sister did that my mother didn't like. Apparently, I was going around behind her back "teaching them to misbehave." That accusation continued up to about 10 years ago... the 'baby' was 45 years old by then....

When I was in junior high, I was bullied. Endlessly. One guy put his foot in my back and pushed me down a flight of stairs. Later, he took to following me home. In eighth grade, my so-called best friend decided she was furious at me because I'd made one other friend, so she chased me home... with a stick. Then she never spoke to me again.  One day couple of girls, twins, waited for me outside the school, the back side, in a corner not visible to the street or windows, threatened me, pushed me off my moving bike, attempted to steal my bike. In home Ec. class, someone stole my bra while I was trying on a dress I'd made in that class. An hour later, I was horrified to see the boys kicking my bra down the hallway.  A boy in several of my classes took any opportunity he could to harass me. One day he decided he hated me and, right outside our science class, he pulled a huge clump of hair out of my head - hurt so much. I wacked him with my binder - and was hauled into the office and chastised for the "friends" I kept. A few months later, he slapped me across the face in full view of an auditorium of kids.... I was ridiculed for my hair, my size, my build. You name it, it was up for target practice. At any point did any teacher or parent step in? Nope.

My mother, of course, was carrying on as "normal" which meant I was never sure what would be on the other side of the front door when I came home after school, but it was never good. Once, when I was 13, it was really, really bad: she was in a fury over how I was doing the dishes - criticizing absolutely everything to the point I began screaming at her to leave alone (this kind of harassment was the usual - almost any time she screamed us into cleaning up, she'd also spend the entire time screaming it wasn't good enough).

This time, she picked up a knife - a 12-inch long, bone-handled, serrated knife she had beside the stove (which, by the way, she was still using 40 years later). She was terrifying anyway, but armed? Holy shit ... so I raced out of the kitchen, up the stairs into the bathroom and locked the door. She kicked the door in and held that knife to my face - in our second-floor bathroom with one of those 60s-style wide, narrow windows high up in the wall. You don't know terror until you're pinned against a wall with your crazy-ass mother shaking a knife to your face and threatening you and there's no escape.

So yeah, my schooling suffered. I was angry. I was scared. I daydreamed. I escaped into a book or up into my head. I looked for any possible means of escape - which, for the record, did not include drugs or alcohol.

Not a single teacher ever asked if I was ok. Not one. In twelve years of school, how many teachers does one have? 60? I know some of this had to do with the era - people didn't meddle and given divorce was such a horrifying event still - common enough but still considered a morally-contentious choice.

Hilariously/sadly/confusingly, my mother used to write comments back to the teachers on those report cards - it was always their fault I wasn't doing well, and true to her character, she was an exemplary parent, and had expectations for everyone's behaviour. As she'd been a teacher herself, she was bizarrely judgmental, and her imperiousness was more pronounced.

In fifth and sixth grades, I volunteered as a library page in my school. I LOVED that job. The school was always quiet - mornings, 7:30 to 8:30 or so and sometimes after school. It was safe, and provided a legit means of being out of the house. And I really liked the librarian, Mrs. Woods. Like, a LOT. She always had a smile on. She was nice.

Even that bubble was burst, though. When I was 28 years old, I was out for groceries with my two babies - I think I was probably pregnant with my third at the time - and ran into Mrs. Woods. I was really happy to see her. During the conversation, I made the fatal mistake (being a stay-at-home mom at the time and it being the late 80s and being that mothering wasn't necessarily considered a job), of replying "not much" to her question of "What are you doing these days." Her reply was, "Well, you always were a bit lazy."  I was DEVASTATED. I wasn't, and I'm not now, lazy; I was an eleven-year-old child with a chaotic, scary home life turning up almost every morning for two school years to shelve books, to get some peace and stability.

I still struggle day-to-day with feeling like I belong, like I have the right to belong, with feeling like I'm not contributing to anything, like I'm failing, like random shit that happens is my fault, like with bad things wouldn't happen if I weren't around, with living.


There was an "into traffic" incident a few years ago - the second, the first being the result of agreeing to go to counselling with my sister, who spent an hour of a two-hour session with her finger in my face, screaming at me. The first "into traffic" incident scared me a LOT and took two weeks to come down from. The second was even worse. I was driving alone on the highway and I struggled for the entire 90 minutes to not drive across the centre line. Semi-trucks are big. The driver is up high. It would be a bump for them. That's where I was in my head for and hour and a half....

My family members don't think I hear their whispers of "well, you know how she is." They don't know how devastating their petty little comments are. They don't acknowledge their actions and they don't understand they scapegoat me, or, if they do, they're somehow justifying such lifelong abuse.

My sister continues to scapegoat me - this month of moving my mother gave her the opportunity to unload her resentment on me - and to be fair, this time she copped to it; she called me to tell me how resentful she is (except she ignores she chose the situation she's in, and that I had zero input into it), so at least there's that - but yet again, after her having unleashed on me, demanding money from me, but refusing to let me understand what she, or my mother actually need, we're back to radio silence and, "Well, you know how she is."

No, they don't know how "she" is, because they don't give a real fuck.

It took me years and years and years, not a little therapy, and total non-contact to get to a place of reasonably good functioning, but there are still moments or interactions that throw me into chaos.

But at least now I have all these report cards spelling out all my faults and failings - why would I be surprised my mother kept them -  that will reinforce just how separate I am from the family and how invisible I was at school, and how important it is for my family members to maintain me as the scapegoat.

Update, November 2020:
Since I wrote this, my spouse has gone to bat for me with both my siblings. He has always been firmly in my court, right at my side. The shit he's seen and put up with... a lesser man would have been out. His having met with them/spoken to them and speaking for me - bluntly - took a huge weight off me and, I think, may have given them a level of insight they were suprised by and needed to hear. 

Also since then, I engaged a pretty great counsellor, and finally got a diagnosis - CPTSD: complex PTSD. And also since then, I have acquired a copy of our parents' divorce records (these are public and accessible to anyone who wants them, as it turns out), which was unbelievably englightning, and brought my mother's - and indeed the family's - scapegoating into clear focus. More about this here: