Saturday, December 31, 2011

To New Beginnings

I love watching and feeling the excitement in the air this time of year.  People are making resolutions, planning to do more and be more as they're prompted by the start of a fresh, shiny, new and so far unblemished year.  Whether they're making a plan to better their health, financial situation, look for new connections or setting other life goals, it's nice to see the drive and effort people seem to be willing to act on, at least for a while, at the beginning of the year.

Beginnings for me are bittersweet.  Most of my beginnings have been due to the end of something else, some other form of existence that has often  been cherished and/or difficult to extricate myself from.  It seems, in retrospect, that most if not all of my new starts have been the result of having been in a pickle in the first place.  I created some of those tight spots for myself with regrettable decisions, but most have come about courtesy of the fucked up world the Crazymakers created around me and in which I stayed for far too long.

Still, beginnings, I think, don't always have to be the result of loss.  It's possible to spur oneself into action based on will alone or simply due to a calendar date.  Beginnings can be pulled from the ether.  Endings, though; well I think that endings always signal a new beginning.

As an ACoN and recovering drunk, I know about the pain of beginning anew.  I know about the uncertainty of having no routine but a bad routine and the effort required to build from scratch.  I know how lonely it can be at ground zero, and how intimidating a blank slate can be.  I know what it is to be at a loss, and how it feels to let go of the old to welcome the unknown with only a glimmer of hope that the new will be better.  I know what it feels like to have the wind of loss whistle through my soul.

Fortunately, I also know this: it can be done.  We really can build ourselves better, stronger.  It's not easy, by any means.  It's so ever-loving hard to change, especially when we are changing what is often everything we've known.  There is a lot of sweat, blood and tears required to re-build from the scorched earth that we are often required to start from after declaring No Contact or hitting bottom or deciding to reject an established family system.  It's work, but it's worthy work.

In my experience, since starting out on that scary new beginning, I've had to put my shoulder to the grindstone over and over again in order to keep moving forward.  Sometimes I have to push and work harder than others.  But - and this is key - as long as I've remained willing to keep moving forward, I've been rewarded.  It's gotten, so, so, so, so much better for me.

I hope that this trend continues in 2012; that I remain willing to approach the wheel and that my back and my heart and my mind remain strong and that I am able to keep getting better.  I hope the same for you.  Happy 2012!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Freedom From Fear

I've been enjoying the narc-free holiday season to its fullest while surrounded by people who are lovely, loving and safe.  Though I haven't posted much over the last couple weeks, I've been thinking of you and sending out my wishes for the new year; that you will be happy, healthy and free from fear.

Fear was the primary weapon of NM, ENF, NSis and GCYB, both in my childhood and in my enslavement to the NFOO as an adult.  They counted on my fear and used it as a way to manipulate me into the position and place that they deemed me worthy of.  They used my fear to define my role as the Scapegoat and Bad Seed in order to use me to their ends and to protect themselves from blame.  That's really what all the gaslighting and mind-twisting was about, you see.  It's so much easier to remain the good guy despite your evil actions if you have a consistently believable fall guy (or gal.)

It worked for a very long time.  I was afraid of losing their 'love,' of being wrong, being bad, stepping outside of the lines.  I feared retribution and retaliation, both of the overt and subtle varieties.  I feared losing the only 'family' I'd known so much that even after I began my own family I still heeded every beck and call from the NFOO.  I was still under their spell, which was largely generated by fear of being cast out.

Even after I was reasonably sure that the structure and foundation of the family I was raised in was a sick, putrid shambles of shame, I stuck around.  I was so afraid that if I made a stand, if I stood up for what I KNEW was right against the wishes of the Crazymaker Clan, I'd be thrown out.  Banished.  I made the best of it for as long as I could even to the detriment of my family and my self; my soul, my heart, my health, my mind all suffered.   There's an old story that one cowpoke asks another who's been cleaned out by the town saloon's crooked game of Farro, "If you knew the game was crooked, why'd you play?"   And the destitute cowpoke responds, "Well, it was the only game in town!" It was truly all I knew.  But then... one day... I woke up.

I took that ultimate step of gathering my strength and my wits about me and I said, ENOUGH.  I drew a boundary even though I knew it would go down like the Hindenberg and I was very, very afraid that my boundary would bring about what I had always known would be the outcome of my bucking the system.  I'd always known, specifically since I was 13 and tried to change the NFOO dynamics, that should I step too far out of bounds, I'd be cast out.  I knew that they were all going to gang up on me.  After all, they'd certainly done it before.  Many times.

But I did it anyway, because it was right and because it had to be done.  We scapegoats are the strongest members of our clans, I believe, and if we weren't when we were originally 'chosen' for the role, years of survived abuse sure do serve to toughen us up!

So there I was, out in the desert all by myself and still carrying the piled-on sins of the members of the NFOO.  Was I lonely?  Sure.  Was I scared?  Absolutely.  Did I feel lost?  As a ball in high weeds.

I stuck to it, though, and I did this by seeking to understand.  Originally I wanted to find a way to understand them, I'll admit it.  I wanted to figure out how they ticked so that I could find a way to fix it and get things back to normal.  I was fiercely indoctrinated and well trained that this was my role, unfortunately, and a LOT of my time and energy in the first year of semi-NC was spent trying to find a way back to what was comfortable with just a few changes. I had a serious case of the IF's: if I could just be better, if I could just speak clearly, if I could just figure out a way to make it work...

I couldn't, of course, because -as I began to realize over time and with some distance from the daily ration of shit they wanted to feed me - the problem didn't lie with me.  And, sadly, they've no interest in doing better, being better, in changing.  They have a heavily invested interest in me changing BACK to what they want me to be, but that's the only problem that they see: me.

So, this stale-mate, standoff, state of perpetual No Contact remains.  I am effectively out.  My fear, it seems, was based in reality: what I knew would happen, did.

But, and here's the linchpin for me, now that I'm no longer a part of the Clan, it's been so easy to see that the result of my banishment has been 95% positive.  If I no longer have a mother, father, sister or brother, so be it, because the only mother, father, sister and brother I'd ever had were bad, mean, awful versions of a mother, father, sister and brother.

I'm free.
In the interest of trying to express on the page what I am screaming with joy, allow me to repeat;
I.  Am.  Free!

Free from their demands and vanities, free from their soul sucking and financially draining presence, free from the self doubt and manipulation that was their mainstay in the attempt to ruin Vanci.  I'm free from their labels and their late-night rants and their fucked up, sad, pathetic lives.

The 5% that I regret is that I will not be able to have a relationship with my nephew, who is my crazy NSis's son.  And that sucks.  But it's a pretty small portion, and the benefit outweighs the cost.

Mostly, though, what I relish is that I am free from fear.
I thought initially after the separation that I'd lost it all, and for awhile that's exactly what I felt like.  I sat in it long enough, though, to come to understand that what I'd really lost were the shackles of fear I'd been living in forever.  They threw me out and I survived it.  What a small step from there it was to start learning how to thrive and live in this world without fear.

I wish you all the best, and I especially wish you freedom from fear.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Defining Abuse

What is abuse?  How do we define it?

I heard this story from a gentleman of my acquaintance the other night, I'll call him Marv.   I wouldn't say we're friends, but we often end up in a certain social circle together, and we all happened to be talking about our childhoods and specifically our childhood Christmases.

"I had a great childhood," he said.  "I mean, there wasn't any abuse and mom and dad both seemed to enjoy their lives.  Mom stayed home and dad worked, it was really a 'Leave it to Beaver' kind of scenario.  There were some things that they did that I didn't do with my kids, but you know, it was more a reflection of the thinking at the time than anything else.  Dad was the disciplinarian and I remember a lot of 'you wait until your father gets home' type of scenarios..."

I'll have to loosely paraphrase what he said next because the alarm bells were ringing so loud in my head at that point that I could barely listen.  Marv went on to explain how the discipline worked in his childhood home, in which remember he'd just noted that there was no abuse.
When dad got home from work, mom would pass on the list of Marv's inadequacies or screw ups for the day to dad.  They'd have dinner.  After dinner dear old dad would look at Marv and say, "are you ready?"  At which point Marv would have to go to dad's bedroom, get his dad's belt, drop his pants and then dear old dad would whip Marv's bare ass with a belt until Marv cried or dad's arm got tired.  Marv specifically pointed out that the beatings lasted longer as Marv got older and became less inclined to cry.

Holy hell!  On what planet is this not abuse?

Imagine this, for a moment:  In the story above, imagine that Marv is mom.  Imagine that dear old dad is treating his wife like this.  Is it then abuse?  What if it's a wooden board instead of a belt?  Is it then abuse?   What if dear old dad's a teacher and Marv is not his son.  Abuse or discipline?   What if Marv has a learning disorder and failed a test and that's what's on his list of crimes.  Abuse?

I'm not interested in a discussion of spanking vs. not spanking children as a form of parenting.  For the record, I disagree with it personally and think that hitting a child for any reason is both wrong and a form of short-term fear-based behavior modification that denies basic human rights and causes long term problems.  But, I don't see the above story as 'spanking' anyway.

Hitting someone smaller than myself with a leather belt until they cry or my arm is tired while they pose for me in the most humiliating situation I can think of is not 'spanking,'  it's an intentional beating.

I define this as abuse, and frankly, if dear old dad treated anyone else like he'd treated Marv, I wouldn't even have to define it, the penal code would do that for me; it's assault, possibly aggravated assault as I'm pretty sure that a leather belt would be construed as a weapon.  But, dear old dad didn't attack an adult on a regular basis with a weapon, only his child, and that somehow doesn't qualify as abuse?

So this story begs me to ask the questions and I hope you'll sound off in the comments or on your own blogs with a link to this one:
What is abuse?  As we're mostly ACoN's here, specifically, what defines abuse of a child?  Is that different from abuse of an adult, and if so, how?   Physical, emotional, verbal, spiritual, sexual; whatever aspect you think you can define, I hope you will.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Not So Sweet Nothings

I received another call from NM today.  Although I’d hoped that my lack of response to her previous call would deter further attempts to contact me, I know from experience that my response or lack thereof is entirely incidental to her actions.  She’s going to do what she wants to do regardless of me: my actions, my thoughts, my feelings, my desires, my boundaries – what possible meaning do these trivial matters have to her when the world revolves around her, after all?
I mean, read this blog of mine and you’ll come across a GOOD number of examples of exactly what NM, ENF, NSis, GCYB and all their ancillaries think of my boundaries: nothing.  They don’t care and haven’t ever cared what I say or do, as long as they get what they want.  When they stop getting what they want, the attack and stomp all over me and any boundaries that I’ve been brave enough to draw. 
They’ve left me largely alone for the last two and a half years because they couldn’t find any loopholes and really at the end of the day, I’m not worth the effort that it would take for them to adhere to my reasonable boundaries and tell the truth.  It saddens me that the GOOD number of examples to be found in the stories that I’ve posted here are a very small percentage of the violations they’re responsible for.  Just thinking of the myriad ways in which I’ve been ‘beat down, broke and used’ by them is overwhelming.  And those are just the examples that I've had time to put into writing in the last few months; there are so, so many ways that I’ve been hurt by them, individually and acting as a group.  They've expended so much effort manipulating me, gaslighting me, demeaning me, circumventing me, destroying me.  If they’d committed a tenth of that destructive energy to looking within themselves, well, wish in one hand, etc.

Here’s the voicemail I received,
“Vanci, I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk.  I know you haven’t been involved in my health problems over the last four years, but it’s looking like this could be my last Christmas.  I need to see the girls (pause) and you.  Please call me.”
If you are easily offended, please look away as I respond.

Here’s what I heard,
“Vanci, I can’t believe you didn’t answer your phone again and the burden of effort is all on me.  You haven’t been around to help me with these ‘health problems’ because you’re a bad daughter and frankly you’re the cause of a lot of them.  So now I’m going to die, and I want to see MY granddaughters.  Oh, yeah, and you too.  You’d better call.  If I die, you'll be sooooorrrrryyyy!!!!!”
Here’s how I will respond:
"        "
(Crickets chirp.)
Nothing.  She gets nothing from me.

It would be great if I could type something about how she did the best she could with what she had, or that my childhood wasn’t that abusive or that she at least tried to respect me as a young adult or that things changed when I got older and she didn’t suck the life out of me anymore.  But that story starts with ‘Once upon a time…’ and ends with ‘happily ever after.’  And that’s as far from the truth of my life and my treatment at the hands of NM and ENF as far can be. 

She’s had four years to come clean, get honest, get help, reconnect, heal. 
In four years, she’s not done any of these things. 
But she might be dying (according to her voicemail,) so I suppose that’s as good an excuse as any to set aside all of those difficult things that she didn’t fix for herself and … put the burden back on me. 

After all, I was always such a good little peace-making carrier of sins.  I was a fantastic scapegoat.  Until I decided not to be anymore.  And after giving up THIRTY years of my life to be the sacrificial sin-bearer for the NFOO, I’ve paid more than I ever owed.
I won’t be carrying anything for them anymore.  Ever.  Again.   

I’m expecting retaliation for my continued non-response.  I can almost see the Parade of Minions lining up and getting ready to float down the street looking for me.
And guess what?  I know that NM’s recent wave of  pathetic attempts to guilt me into action have worked, just not quiiiiiiiiite in the way that she intended. 
She’s expecting me to jump up and do her bidding, give her what she wants.  Instead, those VM’s have sent me in another direction. 
I’m sharpening my sword of truth and ready for the attack that will inevitably come. 
No matter what or who it comes from, I’m ready.

She's reminded me of just how important it is for me to stand my ground.

These Crazymaking people of the NFOO are lying, cheating, abusive, horrific, mean, and downright nasty.  But I'm not worried, because I know exactly who they are these days, and more importantly, I know exactly who I am.  I'm a good person, I'm a kind person, I'm a strong person, I'm a kickass friend and mother and wife and worker and cook and writer and reader and listener.

I tell the truth and the truth is this: there is nothing that could happen, to me or to them or to anyone in the whole great world, that would spur me to reconnect with the horror that was my life within the NFOO.

That's what they'll get from me, and it's probably better than they deserve.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Change and Crustaceans

I've been thinking about myself - not in a weird self-centered mirror, mirror on the wall type of way - more along the lines of end of the year reflection upon who I am these days and what I like about me and what I'd like to change.

At this busy, busy time of year and with these thoughts rattling around between my ears, it occurs to me; change is hard work.  I mean really hard.  Over the last four years I feel like I've become the emotional equivalent of a marathon runner.  I've worked so hard to reclaim my inner Vanci, and whether that's meant recognizing that alcohol was killing me instead of my problems and therefore drying out or going trough the painful steps in tearing away the wrong-taught NFOO family system that I was starting to duplicate in my FOC and replacing it with a better way, I have trudged the road.

Have I arrived at my destination?  Nah.  But I'm a lot further on the road to freedom and happiness than I'd have ever thought I could be.  That progress, that hard-won and fought for progress is a direct result of me changing me.  Regardless of why I needed to change or how I did it, man oh man alive, it's been worth it.

And that willingness, I think, is the key that has unlocked so many previously forbidden and hidden doors.  My desire to be better has in so many ways translated into my ability to do and be so.  It occurs to me that my desire and willingness is what separates me from the Narcs.

They've proven to me over and over again that what they want is not to make themselves better.  They don't want to make their relationships with me or anyone else better.  What they want is to keep me on their level, to get me back into functioning in the role that they assigned me and that I chose to assume for so long because it makes them feel better, no matter the cost to me.  I've wanted to change me for the better, and they've wanted me to change back to what they think is better for them.  Not only is their desire implausible, it just doesn't create any good results.

DH has told a truly insightful story to our DDs on many occasions - to eye-rolls every time - of the Crabs in the Pot.  Usually he tells it when we are discussing some friend or group of friends that the DDs are having trouble with or who are having trouble themselves.  It goes like this:
If you put a bunch of crabs in a pot of water and slowly bring it to a boil, they'll all die.  In that space of time where the water is starting to heat, they should all be able to crawl out, but they don't.  Why?  Because as soon as one crab gets above the fray and heads for the top, the other crabs in the pot grab onto it with their crabby little claws and pull the potential survivor back in.  And they all die together.

*Insert melodramatic teenage eye-roll here*

He's right, though, and I love that the moral of the story when he tells it is this; to survive the other crabs in the pot, you have to NOT GET IN THE POT in the first place.  You have to change the entire scenario.  You have to change.  You have to be willing to be separate, apart from, isolated, lonely, cast out, even if it means you're shivering in the cold for a while while the rest of the crabs are riding out that apparent bubble bath.
The result of that change is different for everyone, I assume.  But I know that for me, it's meant freedom.  Joy.  Peace.  Laughter.  Looking in the mirror and liking what I see.  Having genuine relationships and being an authentic person.  What fantastic rewards have come to me just for being willing to change!

I'm still open and willing to healthy change that leads me in a better direction, and they're not.  Sad as that may be for them, I think I'll stay out of the pot nevertheless.  Indefinitely.


P.S.  No crabs were hurt in the writing of this post.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Healing Bell Curve

I remember what I felt when I declared my first real boundaries with the NFOO; relief.  I'd lived my life up to that point at their beck and call, conditioned to react to their actions, desires and wants and ever the doormat.  When I finally said 'enough,' it was the first time that I was able to take a significant action based on what I knew was right, regardless of their approval.

It was hard to draw that line, especially because it had been made clear to me for a very long time that my two choices were: 1. Go along with us to get along or 2. You'll be cast out.  But deep in the core of my soul I knew that it was right.  Finally listening to that internal voice of conscience - not to mention DH's external voice encouraging me to do the right thing  - was huge, and I felt very proud of my decision to limit contact and create safety within boundaries for my family and myself.

I've always been accommodating and kind.  My biggest failing in dealing with the NFOO in those early days was my natural assumption that other people are also accommodating and kind, at least to some degree.  It's funny when I look back now, how naive I was about how monumental the change I was making would be within the broken family system that the Nparents created and NSis and GCYB wholeheartedly supported.  To say that their reaction to my limiting access to my self and the DDs was violent would be an understatement.  I was proud to have finally stood up for us, and their reaction to that was to lose their damned minds.

As they attacked and attacked and attacked me, my self-pride was replaced by ever-growing fear.  Every time my phone rang it nearly sent me through the roof; my heart beat sped up, I began to hyperventilate, I stumbled in my speech, I became confused.  It occurs to me now, though it didn't then, to wonder in response to what type of people this physical reaction would be normal?

A burglar in the house.  A drunk driver on the road.  A madman with a knife.  A rapist in the darkened alley.  Yeah, all those.  And my mother, father, sister, brother and the minions.  Wow, it seems so clear in retrospect that I simply never should have had a relationship with any of these terror-inducing people.  But, at the time, it was what I knew.

So, even though I was terrified and ashamed and hurt and wounded, I was fortunate to have a couple of trusted advisers in my life who actually DID have my best interests at heart.  DH would say things like; you're doing the right thing, I'm right here with you, their actions are only proof of why we have to take these actions.  My therapist would say, "Vanci, the boundaries that you have set are NOT unreasonable, that they're choosing to violate them is proof of their dysfunction."

Somehow, no matter how confused I would become in the moment of full-on Narc Attacks, I was able to grasp the love, kindness and wisdom of the good people in my life and just hold on to those clear and reasonable boundaries I'd set.  And as the NFOO continued to step all over my limits, I began to make them clearer and tighter, until we reached the point of No Contact.

Even then, for a time, when the phone rang - even though I knew I wouldn't be answering it - I had a visceral reaction; sweaty, panicky, jumpy, scared.  When I spotted someone that I'd known from the 'old days' in a store or at a community event, I'd feel a strong urge to hide, and sometimes I did hide, or at least dial a friend on my cell phone to avoid conversation with anyone who wanted to tell me how awful they thought I'd been to my family.

It's taken a while, but I've started to realize that time has worked some miracles for me in the area of healing.  Doing the work is crucial, of course, taking initiative to be the best Vanci I can be and to never allow destructive forces like the NFOO to rule my life again is what has, metaphorically, spiritually, emotionally and physically, 'saved' me.  But, time is what I've found was necessary to remove those conditioned fear reactions.

When Uncle Minion called in April, it took me by surprise, sure.  It didn't wreck me, though.  When NM called the other day, I had a lesser fear reaction than I do when one of the DDs schools calls (my first thought is always that my daughter's been hurt, and I think that's a normal fear that all parents have.)  NM''s call and voicemail didn't even register on the Richter Scale, you know?

Today, I was at the supermarket with my youngest DD, picking up some things to make Christmas candy with and thoroughly enjoying ourselves, when an old family friend spotted me.  She had her sweet three month old granddaughter with her, so we ooh'd and aah'd over the kiddo as well as how grown up my youngest now is, and eventually the lady asked how my parents were.

Nothing happened to me, physically, and I gave the best honest answer I can, "I don't really know, we haven't actually talked in about four years."  Of course, this registered on the woman's face; whether it was shock or joy at scandalous information, I don't know and I don't care.  It doesn't matter.  If she'd pressed the matter, I'd have simply told her that as she is or was a friend of the Nparents, she should contact them if she'd like more information.  She didn't ask, I didn't feel the need to tell.  I had chocolate chips and candy canes to buy.

I started out proud and relieved.  I spent a lot of time in fear and terror.  And now?  They can't touch me, and not only can they not hurt me, but every time I have an interaction, every time I overcome another hurdle, I am a better and stronger person for it.  Today I showed my thirteen year old daughter how to handle an uncomfortable situation with dignity and honesty.

Time is a beautiful thing.

If you're embroiled in the first or middle part of the healing bell curve, stay strong and stay true; it WILL get better, eventually.  I'm so glad I was patient - there's peace at the end of the trajectory.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's A Bushwhack!

Tra la la, dum dee dum... I went about my day today.  It was crazy busy at work this morning with all sorts of, um, interesting goings on.  By interesting I mean, well, weird.  Full-moon-in-two-days-weird.  Nothing was wrong, but I was definitely up to my eyeballs in oddities that I know how to tackle but am presented with infrequently.  I was working up a metaphorical sweat (as my office has a steady year round temperature of about, oh, 61 degrees, there's never any actual sweat,) trying to accomplish a whole bunch of different things at once.

So, of course, my cell phone rang.
And, of course, the number display showed the phone number of the Crazymaker's Clan Compound.

I turned off the ringer - just as I would do with any other non-emergency call and I kept about my business.  I had a definite 'oh shite' moment, but a moment is truly and wholly all it was.  Like this:


I was under a deadline for a particular task, so I got back to it and I didn't stop even when my phone beeped to alert me to a voicemail.  Eventually, a couple of hours later, I informed my colleagues that I was going to take a break by saying, "Well, my crazy family called during all that, so I'm going to go take a break and check my voicemail, put my hair up because it's driving me crazy and have a snack."

Of these three tasks, I can honestly say that the slice of homemade banana bread I was looking forward to was my top priority.  Really, shouldn't homemade banana bread always be a top priority?  Ten seconds in the microwave, a dab of butter... mmmmm.  Bliss.

At any rate, the VM was from NM.
"Hi Vanci.  It's mom.  I needed to tell you something, it's kind of important, so I'd really appreciate it if you'd call me back at your convenience."

My reaction?  I laughed my damn ass off.  I almost shot banana bread out of my nose.  I mean, really.  Really?  Really, really?  Who does that?  What are we, ten years old?  "Psst, I have something important to tell you, but not right now."  Lord.

I was processing, after I stopped guffawing in the break room, to see how I felt about this cryptic message when my agile brain made a sudden leap that I didn't expect.  I immediately thought of the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?  There's a scene about two-thirds through the movie where two of the protagonists, Everett and Delmar, are hiding from the law in a movie theater in the middle of the day.  The movie stops, a whistle blows and an entire chain gang of convicts is marched into the theater in shackles where they proceed to take up many rows just a few back from Everett and Delmar in the otherwise empty theater.

Pete, the third main character who has been recently separated from the other two, happens to be in this chain gang.  Obviously, he was recaptured by the law - as opposed to being turned into a toad as Delmar had assumed.  Pete sees his buddies and leans forward to whisper as only John Turturro could:

"Do NOT!  Seek!  The treasure!!!!"

This, my friends, was the voice of sanity for me today.  Fittingly, it turns out that there really is no'treasure' in the movie, or at least not the type of treasure the boys really want, just as there would be none at the other end of any effort or journey I would make to return that phone call.

I can't remember if it's in the theater or later in the movie - when the boys show up at the 'treasure' location and find an ambush waiting for them, that one of the characters exclaims, "It's a bushwhack!"  But I knew right away that this is exactly that.

It's a bushwhack, an ambush, a sneak attack.  That voicemail was crafted to be nothing more than a big, shiny, fat, barbed and lethal hook.  I know this because I know the Narcs very, very well.  But even if I didn't, look at the logic:  if it was truly important information that I needed to know, why not just say it?  Why the drama?  The mystery?  The self-importance of 'you will call me or I will not tell you my secret?'

And do you know what the next step in my process was?  I don't care.  Whatever 'sort of important' information NM feels obliged to share with me, I simply do not care.  There is nothing, absolutely NOTHING, that I want from anyone in the NFOO, that I'm willing to give to anyone in the NFOO.  Nothing they can say or do in any way affects or effects my life.

The only news, honestly, that I could receive that would change my day would be that one of them has passed away.  And, to be truly honest, even if it sounds ugly, I am fairly certain that the effect this news would have would be relief.

Short of that, if NM has discovered some new disease on the internet that she can self-diagnose with, I don't care.  If a family pet died, I don't care.  If there's a recently discovered hereditary predisposition to random spontaneous combustion, I don't care.  If GCYB was abducted by aliens, I don't care.  If a long lost relative that I wasn't aware of just left me a million dollars in his will, I don't care.

So, do not seek the treasure.  Why?  Cause that way lies madness, dissatisfaction, harm, foul play, evil people and ultimately, nothing but a worm on a shiny hook.  The good guys just don't lay in wait in the bushes prepared to, well, whack their victim.

I won't be returning this or any calls.  There's no treasure there anyway.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To The Pain

I wrote awhile ago about my re-connection with my hairdresser, and I was lucky enough to have her fit me in a few days ago for my much anticipated - four plus years in the making - hair appointment.   I'm still working out the kinks in the haircut (four years of a ponytail every day seems to have sapped my limited hair styling skills completely,) but we had a great conversation about the NFOO while she snipped about 14 inches off my locks.

Some of the tactics and painful strategies the NFOO subjected her to were exactly the same kinds of abuse they heaped on me, some were only eerily similar.  I was struck, though, by how little they seem to learn; I mean really, how'd that work out for you the last time you tried it?  I have a solid, non-judgmental and confident way about me these days, though, and my ability to listen to and validate Mimi's feelings about the way that she was treated seemed to be a relief to her.

I found myself saying, over and over again, "Mimi, trust me when I tell you that it's NOT you."  The Narcs are so ever-loving GOOD at making all wrongs in a relationship about the other person while taking credit for all the rights.  The deceptions, triangulation, gaslighting, steam-rolling and ganging up are, well, crazy-making.  Poor Mimi, who grew up in a fairly stable home and has a fairly sunny outlook on life was just ill-prepared for the full scale Nuclear Narc Attack she was subjected to.

It's dizzying, you know?  The find ways to make their victim somehow dependent on them, then they take advantage of that in order to suck up their narc supply.  When the victim somehow, some way, finds the guts to fight back, they're just so fucking adept at making the victim believe that they're the ones in the wrong.  Crazy.  Making.

Narcs (and their minions) fight DIRTY.  In Mimi's case, as in mine, they found the weak point - our daughters - and took advantage of the vulnerability of those young girls' hearts.  Playing a child against a parent for any reason is high on my list of unforgivable crimes, for any reason.  And that is, of course, just what the Narcs did to me and just what they did to Mimi.  Sigh.

Fortunately, call it grace or luck or the hand of the universe, those three girls don't have to live as pawns to the Narcs anymore, and neither do Mimi or I.  There's something to be said for time and distance as they relate to healing, and I was able to share my experience with Mimi; the longer I stay away from them, the healthier I am.  In No Contact, I've had lots of ups and downs, but the one constant is this: my life just keeps getting better without them in it.

As I listened to her and recounted some of the dirty, stinking, rotten, awful things they've done to me and my family, I kept thinking of a line from the movie, The Princess Bride.

Toward the end of the movie, the incapacitated hero, Westley, must face the evil Prince Humperdinck with only his wits as weapons as his limbs and muscles have not yet recovered from being (true story) 'mostly dead.'  When the Prince suggests that the two men should face off in a duel 'to the death,' Westley, knowing that he cannot physically best his enemy, launches into a rant about how they will instead battle 'to the pain.'

He explains further that 'to the pain' means that the Prince will be disfigured, maimed, tortured and left in physical and emotional agony; that Westley will not slice off the Prince's ears so that the horrifically beaten and physically disgusting Prince will be able to hear the screams of the children who will be terrified by the post-duel sight of him.  Westley's the hero and well intentioned, not to mention a fictional character, so he's allowed this type of mind play.  But it's occurred to me that this is how the Narc's fight: to the pain.

Long after I had made my boundaries clear with them and held them fast repeatedly, they tried to find a loophole.  If I said "don't call," they'd write a letter.  If I said,"don't write me letters," they sent emails.  If I said "don't email," they sent texts.  And so on.

The most disturbing thing, though, then as well as in retrospect, was the way that they reacted once they'd exhausted all possible routes around my boundaries and it became clear that they wouldn't be getting what they wanted from me.  They simply began instead to attempt to battle 'to the pain.'

They told lies about me to people whom they knew I would eventually hear from.  They told lies about themselves to anyone who would listen, making me look like the bad guy.  They re-wrote history blatantly, at one point claiming that NM's prescription pill addiction (the catalyst of my final stand,) was MY fault.  The used other people's children (including Mimi's) as spies and message bearers who were instructed to accost my DD's at school.  They Facebook stalked.  They enlisted distant family members as minions and at one point NSis approached my (very kind, very country and very much not interested in talking about any feelings, ever)  father in law in the drugstore to bad-mouth me and send a message of guilt.

The ONLY thing they didn't do was to make an honest effort to take me up on my offer to have a straight-forward conversation in the presence of neutral third parties.  Ironically, the only thing that could have been an actual means to healing or some sort of reconciliation was the only thing that simply wouldn't 'stoop' to.  The two times NM did show up, she came with a loaded agenda of the same crap, different day.

In every way they could think, they attacked and attacked by proxy and attacked from a distance and attacked my friendships and relationships in the community.  I watched their increasingly transparent attempt so discredit and harm me in wonder at the depths to which they seemed eager to sink and simply used it as a learning tool; after all, anybody willing to jump on that crazy train isn't really someone I want or need in my life.  But, wow, they sure put a lot of energy into trying to destroy me.  And when they realized they couldn't do that, they redoubled their efforts in their vain attempts to just wound me.

Here I am now,  largely healthy and whole and listening to Mimi the other day reminded me of just how much the whole shitty debacle of 2006 and on into 2007 hurt.  It was fresh and new and every day I woke up with the wind whistling through me.  I simply couldn't believe that anyone, especially people that I'd been convinced my whole life LOVED me, could fight so dirty.

I see it clearly now, and it doesn't really hurt me so much as I find it baffling.  Their epic battle 'to the pain' accomplished one thing for which I am grateful; I am absolutely convinced to the core of my being that those ugly creatures I've seen peeking out of their festering souls are the true forms of the people I grew up with.

They've lost the ability to cause me pain anymore, but they have convinced me beyond certainty that there will never be room for them in any part of my fairy tale.
I'm grateful for that knowledge just as I am grateful for the clarity that I can help to provide to people like Mimi.
And to you, fellow ACoN at this holiday season I offer the same gift:  it's not you. 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

When My Words Fail

I've been a writer since the first time I pieced a string of words together and made a coherent sentence.  Sometimes I'm a good writer, sometimes I'm a great writer and sometimes I'm an okay writer.  I'm rarely a bad writer, but I'm sometimes a blocked writer.

I kept diaries as a kid, but even then I knew enough about the Crazymakers' modus operandi to understand that words of truth kept in black an white were evidence, and that evidence is what gets the scapegoat convicted of crimes - hers or someone else's.  I destroyed diaries as quickly as I wrote in them - just another built-in safety measure I suppose.   Still, it was never the act of keeping the words that provided me with release, just as it wasn't the act of sharing the words that made them real; my therapy came from - and still comes from - the actual writing of the words.

To pull an abstract concept, feeling, emotion, scenario, situation, theory or idea from the ether and use words to coalesce it, to make it black and white, to create worlds and reality out of those concepts; that's my huckleberry, baby.  The act of creation is what I need.  The act is what counts to me, moreso than the audience or even the impact.

Lately, due to all sorts of different distractions and demands on my time, I just don't have the words.  This makes me sad.

I've placed myself at the keyboard many times over the last few weeks only to be stymied by my lack of creative energy.  Like Jack, all work and no play is making Vanci a very dull girl indeed.  Dull might not be the right word, actually, I think what I've been feeling is stifled, maybe even oppressed. 

And whoo boy, that's a freakin' familiar feeling for me as an ACoN.  So, tired leads to blocked, to stifled, to oppressed.  True to my nature, of course, that oppression leads to ... make.  vanci.  angry.

This cycle becomes a sort of self-perpetuating prophecy for me.  The claustrophobia of being unable to express myself eventually works its way into a blinding rage.  Like I said, make Vanci angry.  And when I'm angry, well, that's just ugly.  Perhaps after so many years of the happy happy make nice game that I was forced to endure, or maybe due to the lack of emotion I was allowed to express, when I get to angry these days (not so often) it's a destructive period of time for me.  I can't create when I'm so busy destroying.  And if I can't create, well, everything gets backed up and I become my own oppressor.

So, this is me, putting it out there and making it real by telling the truth in black and white.  I'm hoping that setting it in this stone of font helps me to move past it and maybe the mojo of this post will bring the words back in force.  At the very least, now that I've said all this, I feel better.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

To Make Amends

I've been ruminating lately on the whole apology vs. amends question I've come across in this blog community as well as in life.  I wanted to share my take on it.

An apology:
Saying "I am sorry," means "I screwed up.  I apologize."

An amends:
Making amends is a little more complicated, I think.  Amends are - technically speaking - payback.  Amends mean that I'm going to engage in restitution, that I will compensate you for the behavior I hurt you with, and the payment will be better behavior.
In my opinion, amends work like this.  I say, "Here's what I did, and it was wrong.  I know that I hurt you by doing this.  It was my fault.  I am responsible.  I am never going to do that again, because I have taken ownership of the choice to behave in that way toward you, and I regret it.  I wish I wouldn't have hurt you because you are valuable and I had no right."

Apologies, it seems to me, are a bridge type of action.  They're a brief moment in time somewhere between causing hurt and moving on.  Often an apology is instrumental in moving a relationship or a dialogue forward.  Sometimes, most often in the case of a misunderstanding, an apology is an acceptable action to acknowledge an insult/injury/slight and make it right or better by that acknowledgement.  Apologies are simple, usually, and are appropriate in the case of simpler problems that are not part of a larger pattern of intentional hurt.

Amends, I think, are more than an acknowledgement of wrong doing; when I make amends it means that I take it a step further than recognition.  Making amends is about taking responsibility for a harm that I caused, being honest about that harm's impact, making myself accountable for both the action and the harm and laying out a clear and well-thought-out plan for not only the promise that I will not cause that harm again in the future but also a how-to of the steps and changes I intend  to enact in order to ensure it.  Most importantly, amends are about follow-up; in order to truly make amends, I have to do what I say I am going to/not going to do.  Forever.

True amends require complete honesty, deep personal responsibility and sincerity.
Apologies require acknowledgement and words.

My group of malignant narcissists, enablers and crazymakers that I call the NFOO doesn't contain a single member capable of the honesty, responsibility or sincerity that amends require.

But they are good at the type of sort of apologies that Narcs like to use to get their way:
I'm sorry if I hurt you ~ when I know damn well that I did.
I'm sorry you see it that way ~ so I'll invalidate your basic memory or logic of the truth
I'm sorry that you felt XXX ~ even though that's what I wanted you to feel
I don't remember that, but I'm sorry if it wasn't right for you ~ when I certainly remember it well and I got what I wanted out of it

I think that all of these quasi-apologies are just a means to an end for a Narc.  What they all really boil down to is: hey, this stalemate where you're expecting me to acknowledge and make right the truth of my actions in order for me to gain access to you as my Narc Supply isn't working for me, so I'll say the right type of words I think you need to hear without actually changing any of my actions so that I can get what I want from you again.  Okay?

It's just another trick, another manipulation that the Narc uses to place them in a position of power.  So, the Narc hurts me, usually intentionally.  And then the Narc asks me to carry that hurt around with me.  When I refuse, the Narc makes it my fault.  If enough time passes and the Narc isn't getting what the Narc wants, the Narc will try to half-ass their way back in with empty words and hollow apologies.  So that the Narc can hurt me again.

Um, yeah.  No thanks.  Apology not accepted.  Not at all.  And what does the Narc do with this rebuff?  What a Narc does best, of course!  They use it as a way to show everyone that whatever this silly little problem Vanci had was, I tried to apologize and she wouldn't accept it.  I just don't know what's wrong with her?  Boo hoo, poor little Narc!  So it seems that the Narc will sink to any murky depth to get their Narc Supply.
At least it's not being sucked out of me anymore.  And for that, I am truly and unequivocally NOT sorry.  Not one bit.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Agony of Loss

I am a creature of habit.  
I have routines upon routines and lists within lists, and I largely live my life by them.  Part of this, I know, is due to the symptom/side effect of trauma that I live with to one degree or another everyday; hyper vigilance.  Most people who have been subjected to trauma, particularly the abuses that are perpetrated by omniscient and all-powerful authority figures while we are fragile and completely controlled by the tyrants, exhibit signs of hyper-awareness and a near obsessive need to control or plan for contingencies.  At least that's what my counselor tells me!

I like to think that I've found a nice balance between pre-planning and spontaneity, though, and I can say without a doubt that the longer I am away from the NFOO and the farther my thinking is from them, the more normalized and balanced I am.  I can, in other words, deal with disruptions well, most of the time.  

Lately, though, there have been a lot of minor shake-ups in routine, some of which have involved my sleep cycle.  I can say also without a doubt that all work and not enough sleep make Vanci a very scary girl.  So I've been taking it easy when I can and trying to be patient with myself; saying to my reflection in the mirror - "Hey!  It's okay that you don't have the energy to _______.  Look at the _______ you accomplished today.  Be grateful for _______.  Be proud of ________."  It's helping.  My routine is becoming re-established. 

But oh man oh me oh my the Narc legacy just loves to find a way to kick me when I'm down.  We say in alcohol recovery that alcoholism is a progressive illness; that even if we dry out, we have to remember that the disease is in the corner behind us doing push-ups and waiting for a chance to jump us.  And that the progressive nature of the disease means that it gets worse, never better, if left untreated.  I think that the family legacy of the Narcs might be like that too. 

I'm out.  Officially.  Fini.  Done.  Ties severed.  I have no desire to go back, I have no reason to go back and most importantly I couldn't be reinserted into the Matrix if I tried.  It is impossible, after all, to unknow a thing once it's known.  But they're sneaky, you know, and sometimes I discover that even behind my castle walls they've found a way in.  It happens in my head, don'tcha know, my own brain, trained so arduously from day one by the malignant, sociopathic, abusive and vile fucks that called themselves my parents to keep me down, just turns on me and spews some nasty crap.  It's insidious sometimes. 

I take 10 or 15 minutes each morning as part of my daily routine at work to read the small, poorly written and atrociously edited local "news" (read: gossip) paper.  Just a looksee to keep myself informed of the local general public, you know? 

I realized this morning that I read the obituaries every day with the expectation that I will see the death notice of NM or ENF.  Morbid much?  

Even curiouser, I realized that each day that I do not see a notice for either of them, my gut reaction is one of what I can only quantify as disappointment.  

I have loss in spades, but it's the kind of loss that drags on and on.  They are, after all, all living together in their clan compound only fifteen short minutes away from my house.  And by all, I do mean all: NM, ENF, GCYB and his wife and her son and NOSis and her husband and son.  And god knows who else lives there too.  So it's a funny kind of loss; mourning the loss of one's long lost relatives in the morning while hoping to avoid them in the grocery store that afternoon.  It feels incomplete, somehow, and like the disease that can rear its ugly head at any moment.  It's unfinished, a loose end.

I think that I've spent enough time in the drawn out agony of loss and I'm ready to move on.  I think I'm craving grief instead.  I re-read that and immediately wondered what kind of person that makes me.  But I have to say it's true; I long for the end.

Or maybe I'm just hurt and don't even know it yet because I am absolutely positive that when NM or ENF do pass away, I will certainly find out by reading the local gossip rag.  And when I do hear from NOSis or GCYB that it's happened, as I'm sure I eventually will, they'll have found a way to make it my fault.

What a lose-lose.  What a fucking waste. 


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Self-Worth and Conflict

I took a (thankfully rare) business trip last week to spend two days in the excellent company of the other twelve people within my state who hold the same job position that I do.  It was uplifting to be with my peers even if the disruption of my schedule and day-to-day life was exhausting to recover from.  I've been ruminating in some of what I learned of myself, and thought I'd share some conclusions I've come to regarding fear of conflict and how it relates to a strong sense of self-worth.

I have an interesting job in that I have a lot of power to make things happen.  I am the face and voice of my company to all the clients within our portfolio, and I am almost solely responsible for the 'customer experience,' (and I'm captioning that because I just hate corporate buzz words and phrases.)  My actions, largely, dictate our clients' continued happiness.  Additionally, I function in a role that places within my hands the ability to move almost all transactions forward, to make things happen for others, while posting credit for a job well done in the name of others; those that I assist.  I knew this going into my job and I actually chose the job partly because of this.  I don't feel slighted and I don't miss the recognition.  I enjoy the anonymity that I am allowed to function successfully within.

These same parameters are true for all of my counterparts, and the job therefore tends to attract a certain type of personality to it.  We are largely nurturers; willing to work hard and toil to complete tasks from the realm of mindless to head-ache inducingly complex while claiming no credit for the job when it's done.  We are behind the scenes people.  We are self-motivated.  We are intuitive.  We are open to change and criticism and we are always looking for more efficient ways to accomplish our tasks.  We're untitled and unsung movers and shakers, at least in my mind.

Interestingly, I discovered an area of personality where I am very different from my peers, though.  When it comes to conflict of any kind, most of these folks are very, very shy.  They are a positive group, always looking for that silver lining, but when they are directly confronted with anything other than the most passive tone imaginable, they quickly fold, cave, give in.  Often, there are tears.  I was shocked by this to an extent, until I remembered that I used to be like this too.

Frankly, now, daily, I am a bad-ass.  I take no shit from anyone unless it's my previously dished shit being thrown back at me and I know I started it.  At one point in the meeting, several of my peers were discussing a particular external partner that we all work with and how difficult he was to get along with.  I'll call him Jerk.  Their collective way of problem solving around this individual's attitude problem was to... find another partner to work with and not tell the Jerk they were doing so.  I couldn't believe that this was their best plan, and asked why no one had just stood up to Jerk.  I was asked if he was a jerk to me.  My answer,
"Listen, the guy's a Jerk.  So, one day he called me and needed something and he was being a jerk, so I said, 'Hey!  Jerk!  You're talking to me ALL wrong for someone who needs a favor!"  And he backed down.  He's been pleasant and respectful ever since.  Amazing what happens when you burst the bubble, isn't it?

I am not grateful for the defense mechanisms and personality guards that I have to keep in place due to my NFOO.  As much as I would like to say I'm grateful for these necessities, that would be a lie.  I'm grateful I learned how to protect myself, sure, but I'd rather that I was never wounded so deeply that I needed them.  Still, they are of use.  I've faced down bigger demons in my day than any that my co-workers can possibly throw at me.  Jerk's got nothing on them!  And I think that this is a key to my self-worth and lack of fear of conflict.

I am Vanci.  I know who I am and I'm comfortable in my skin almost all of the time.  When I am uncomfortable, I know that this is just a clue that I have something I'm not dealing with and I take proper steps to rectify it.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that anyone can say or do in the course of the day that can change who I am.  I embrace me.  If others don't, no harm no foul.  I don't have to be loved by everyone.  And I don't have to love everyone else.  I can be civil, when civility is called for and I live in the knowledge that what other people think of me is truly none of my business.

However, I am not passive, particularly when it comes to others' treatment of me.  I understand that everyone has a different approach to communication within business, and I try to be open to other people's ways and means.  Still, I am a human being, and most of the time a very good one.  I deserve to be treated as such.  I am not a doormat and I never will be again.  If this creates conflict, so be it.  Conflict creates opportunity for growth.

I can trace this self-assuredness directly to my upbringing and my life as an ACoN.  I was treated like shit, and I was treated like shit for no damn good reason.  There's nothing I can do to change that, but as an adult I've grown and I've taken a really hard look at myself.  What have I learned?  That I deserve not to be treated like shit.  Therefore (and this is the uber-practical part of my that just insists on turning every scenario into an equation: 1+1=2, always) I will not allow myself to be treated like shit, and if somebody's got a problem with that boundary, well, step on into the ring and let's go a few rounds.

I'm glad for the confidence and lack of fear that this evolved attitude allows me.  I get to be me, and that's apparently more than some people allow themselves.  I'll take it.

You got a problem with that? :)


Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Sisters

When I was a little girl, I was sometimes made to be part of a 'show.'  Mostly the NParents coordinated this as part of a church function, where we would all play a part in the Easter Sunrise Service or the Christmas Eve Celebration, and typically the performance centered around music.

NM played the piano,  ENF had a booming bass voice, I led melodies in my soprano, NOSis was the harmonic alto and GCYB sang high tenor (and later in life low tenor.)  We all had musical ears and I'm sure we presented as a regular Von Trapp family at times.  ENF tended to pastor small, rural churches, so we were often THE entertainment.  I have some memories of this being fun, even.

NOSis and I both loved to sing and our voices blended well together.  Due in part to the structured isolation that the NParents kept us in, we often choreographed our own 'numbers' in the living room together, and I remember more than one occasion where we were asked to share our routines.  The one that's coming to mind right now was a little dance we did as we sang the number 'Sisters' from an old black and white movie with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, White Christmas.

"Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters.
Never had to have a chaperone, no sir
I'm here to keep my eye on her.
Caring, Sharing,
Every little thing that we are wearing...
... All kinds of weather, we stick together
Same in the rain or sun
Two different faces but in tight places,
We think and we act as one!"

It goes on in that vein for some time and I've probably flubbed some of the lines, but that's how I remember it.   I also remember that there was safety in my relationship with my sister.  She's four years older than me, and was far more of a strong female role model at times than my mother was, for sure.  She was one of my best friends, especially as we moved so often that she was typically my only female play mate and the only other girl I knew.  We picked at each other and fought a lot - something that I'm convinced happens in the majority of sisterly relationships, no matter how healthy - but we loved each other.  We did our best to protect each other.  That's how I saw it then, and I believe there's still some truth to that even now as I view it with clear eyes in retrospect.

I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the recipe for a Narcissist is.  Like all personality disorders, mental illnesses and diseases and addictions, there seems to be an ongoing nature vs. nurture argument to varying degrees about root causes.  I tend to believe that there have to be genetic predispositions to certain leanings combined with two other key factors: trauma of some sort and a choice not to fight the leaning toward narcissism (or sadism, or myriad other -isms.)  Either way, like I said, I don't spend a lot of time on it because I'm such a Practical Polly.  It is what it is and I can't change it.  So I spend my energy on me and I move forward.

But, when I think about my sister and the memories I have, it's hard not to wonder how she and I turned out so differently.  That caring, protective sister that I remember from the days of choreographed step-ball-changes is dead or buried so deep that she's never coming out.
Because my sister today, man, she's a raving bitch on toast.

It seems to me that our relationship changed significantly when I was thirteen and revealed in counseling that ENF had sexually abused me.  I didn't know that he'd abused her too, I really didn't.  But my revelations prompted him to admit to abusing both of us.  The metaphorical shit hit the fan in more ways than one over this, but one of the most painful things to me - then and now - was the way in which it changed my relationship with my sister.  I distinctly remember feeling two things when I realized that my sister had been abused too: horror at the thought that she'd felt as awful and violated as I did and relief at the thought that I wasn't alone in this.
But I was, because, although ONSis admitted to the abuse, she became scarily, irrationally angry with ME for revealing it.  I was, she said, trying to ruin her life and everyone else's life because... I was mad that I had to do the dishes.  She physically assaulted me a couple of times, but mostly she just ignored my very existence after that.  I'd once embroidered her a little throw pillow with the message on the front: Time passes and we may part, but sisters will always stay close at heart.  After I brought the sexual abuse to light in our family, she seemed to hate me.  I was devastated by this sudden coldness and hatred from her, but I was only thirteen and was dealing with similar punishments and ostracizations from my parents and little brother, too.  I don't know that I fully understood how to process anything on my planet at that time; I was shell shocked.

There were a lot of intervening years with some pretty far swings in our relationship with each other, sometimes closer than others, but when I made my stand in September of 2007, ONSis really flexed her muscle as the Enforcer in the NFOO.  She was the first to attack and she attacked viciously.  I'd known for some time that she wasn't right - lots of rages and seriously low lows - but I had no idea up to that point that she was so far gone.

And now, she's the leader of the NFOO in a lot of ways, from what I can tell.  She didn't fall into the Lead Narc role, she sought it out, picked it up, put it on and fucking OWNS it.  I guess we all have our different ways of dealing with trauma.

So, I look around me now and I assess - my sister is effectively dead to me, or I to her, doesn't really matter which way that swings as the end result's the same.

I have other sisters.  I have my dear, dear girlfriends who've loved me from near and far throughout the last four years.  I have my AA ladies, who look me in the eye and tell me the truth, even when it stings.  And I have you: the Grizzly Fighters, the Angry Daughters, the Upsi Dancers, Jonsi on the Outside Looking In, the mulderfans and the Ruths and Judys and Lisas the Pollywantanarcissist and the Rings Swinging Forward and the veganstein, Pronoia Agape, and all the Anons and anyone else I can't think of right now and bringing up the manly rear as an honorary sister is LSV.

What's a sister?  Just a girl who understands that sometimes you need to know that it's okay that you're in there underneath your skin even if it feels too tight sometimes.  A friend who knows that you need a hug or you need to hear that you're beautiful.  Just a lady who says, "Hey, Vanci, I believe in YOU."

I lost a sister along the way, and that hurts.
But just look at that incomplete list up there:  my loss of one is a gain of MANY.
I'm so grateful for all of you.


Inferred Pain... and Hair

Ugh.  This is a crappy story and I don't like it.
But it's true and therefore real and as such I feel obligated to post it.

About four and a half years ago, a good friend referred me to a hair dresser.  I am about as low maintenance as a girl gets, and I hate having to mess with hair.  I haven't worn make-up in about fifteen years because I'm just not willing to bother with it.  But, my hair (ironically since I could care less about it) grows super fast.  Cuts, unfortunately, are necessary.  So, I went to see the hairdresser, whom I will call Mimi, and I loved her.  She had great individual style, listened to me well enough to understand that any hair creation that she gave me would have to take a maximum of five minutes for me to fix each morning or I wouldn't do it and gave me a style that worked.  For the first time ever, I had a hair that I would actually style consistently rather than trying it for a couple days then falling back into my ponytail habit.

Because I was still deeply entrenched in the NFOO, I referred NM and NOSis to her.

Six months later, I was dug into the trenches on the front lines of the battle for my sanity with the NFOO and found it necessary to declare no contact (at least outside of a counselor's office.)  And in the meantime, NOSis and NM had stolen my damn hairdresser.  Mimi was a sort of single mom (had a boyfriend but not yet married/living together) and apparently needed help with her daughter, who I believe was about 9 or 10 at the time.  NOSis started watching Mimi's daughter.  Mimi got sucked in.  I took the high road and decided that I didn't want to put Mimi in a bad position, so I stopped making appointments with her.  It's been four years since I've had a decent hair cut.

Fast forward to the present.  I am still friends with the friend who originally referred me to Mimi.  I heard from this friend about six weeks ago that my NFOO had done almost exactly the same thing to Mimi and her daughter that they did to me and mine.  Mimi was aware enough of healthy boundaries to call them out on their violations with both Mimi and her sweet daughter - who was obviously being groomed to be a new scapegoat.  They reacted to Mimi's boundaries by violating them.  Mimi stood her ground.  Violence ensued.

Today I heard from my friend that now, six weeks later, the NFOO - and particularly NOSis - are still attacking.  They're calling and emailing and showing up at Mimi's work to attack her and demand access to her daughter.  Anybody who hasn't lived through this would be flabbergasted by the behavior, as my friend was.  To me, unfortunately, it's a re-run.  I remember the pain of those vicious attacks vividly.  I remember my bewilderment at the actions of people who supposedly cared for me.

I called Mimi and left her a message; I don't know what comfort she's willing to accept, but I can at the very least tell her that she's not alone and that this is about them, not her.  I hope she calls me back.  I hope that she can hear that truth and take it to heart.

And if it goes well, maybe I'll finally have manageable hair again in the near future.

In the meantime, I'm just heartbroken for her and her daughter.  I'm sending happy thoughts their way tonight. If you know what the pain of these kinds of attacks feels like, please send your happy thoughts out for Mimi, too.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1 + 1 = All or Nothing

I've been spending some time pondering the core of my dysfunctional FOO.  It's not an unfamiliar path; much of my pondering in the last four years have leaned in this direction, for sure.

But I've been thinking about the framework, rather than the finished product.  I often refer to the beginning of the Vanci Rebellion of '07 as my 'waking up.'  It's an apt metaphor and that's almost exactly what it felt like; opening my eyes, beginning to see, illuminating minor details, checking back in to reality and so forth.  Like I feel immediately after I've been snatched from slumber, I felt confounded, befuddled, foggy.  It took awhile for my eyes to adjust to what I was seeing and my heart to accept what I was feeling and there was an awful lot to take in.  I was fortunate to have patient and loving support and to have the ability to seek help in understanding the strange new landscape that slowly came into focus.  I doubted everything in this new world, but I kept moving forward, hoping for clarity.

I was lucky enough to have patience with myself and to have others around me patiently rooting for me.  Eventually the mist cleared and I could see the reality (and the wreckage) that surrounded me, and I discovered that - ugly as it was - it was the truth.  And that's when I knew.  Possibly for the first time in my life, I knew that what I was seeing was real, concrete, tangible, honest.  I resolved to stay in truth.  After all, I decided, once a thing is known, to attempt to un-know it is both futile and dishonest.  So I kept moving forward, hoping for understanding.

The harder I worked to understand myself, the more effort I put into comprehending and changing MY behavior - whether that was declaring no contact or attempting to change my explanatory style or simply just parenting my DD's in a healthier manner than I was 'parented' - the more crystal-clear my insight into the tactics of the NFOO.  The stronger I grew, the more transparent they became.  As I've anticipated, observed, deflected and ultimately disarmed each attempt by various members of the NFOO to whip me back into the shape and role they believe I should occupy, their campaign against me has moved from terrifying to laughable.  I grew, even as they stayed pathetically stagnant.

So now I find myself in the luxurious position of NOT having to deal with their attacks on a daily basis, of not having the boogeyman waiting  for me around every corner.  As contact decreased, so did my symptoms of trauma.  So, instead of having to wait for the next phone call, email, drive-by or knock on the door, I can take a look at the actual mechanics of the dysfunctional system.

I'm not so interested anymore in understanding the 'why' of what they do.  I've reconciled their actions in my mind in the same way that I reconcile my drinking.  At the beginning of my sobriety, I asked why a lot: Why am I an alcoholic?  Why can't I drink like a normal person?  Why do I have to deal with this?  Why did I drink like that?  The simple answer that I was able to grasp and understand was:  I drank alcoholically because that's what alcoholics do.  It's oversimplified, I know, but it allowed me to let go of the pervasive WHY.  The Narcs act like evil assholes because they are evil assholes and that's what evil assholes do.  I accepted that, and the WHY became a non-question.  Really, the why doesn't matter to me anymore: I know that I didn't cause it and I can't control it.  That's enough for me.

I am, however, intensely interested in understanding the HOW of the dysfunction, and I've been thinking about the way they system was established in the NFOO.  One of the primary methods of control lies in the communication chain of command, I think, and I'm finally to the meat of this post and the reason for its title.  I can't draw a picture in this simplistic blog format I've established and I'm not anywhere near technologically proficient enough to import or embed a picture, so we're going to have to take a trip to Imagination Land.  I'll do my best to lead the way.

Think of a five-pointed star. Remove the lines and leave the points.  Start at the top point, the pinnacle of the star.  You can now draw a line from that pinnacle point to any other point of the star.  Imagine that each of those points represents a person in a family.  You are the pinnacle point.  You can draw a line - and therefore have a relationship - with each of the other points, aka members of the family, can't you?  You don't have to go through the point farthest to the right to get to the point farthest to the left.  You have equal and equitable access to either or - gasp! - both of them at any given time.  This is the way that healthy communication works.  Every person in the family is allowed to have a direct line to every other person in the family.

There are four points in my FOC's star: me, DH, Oldest DD and Youngest DD.  I am allowed to have a relationship with DH that doesn't involve either DD.  Oldest DD is allowed to have a relationship with Youngest DD or DH that doesn't involve me.  We're not entirely independent of each other, of course, because we love each other and share a lot, but those individual relationships are key and paramount to the greater group relationship as a whole.  It's healthy, I think.  Oldest DD and I talk about school work a lot, but she prefers to talk to Youngest DD about clothes, and she prefers to talk to DH about serious stuff; friends experimenting with drugs and the like.  And that, I think, is awesome.  It's healthy to seek different strengths from different people in our lives.

So, back to the star.  Imagine those five points again, but this time let's add a narcissist to the mix.  And where, do you think, does a narcissist have to be?  In the drawing, as in life, the Narc's going to place themselves where they believe they should be; smack dab in the middle of things.  Now, from your pinnacle point, you  no longer have access to most of the other points of the star without going through the Narc.  Your ability to have a direct line to those other points has been compromised and an individual relationship is turned into a threesome.  The longer it goes on, the bigger the Narc in the Middle becomes, eventually precluding all connection between the other points of the star.  That's dysfunctional communication; ladies and gentleman you are no longer points on a star, you're just a reference in the Narc's overwhelming circle of influence.  The Narc has taken over and infiltrated all the members of the family, all the points on the star, and it's no longer possible to have a healthy individual relationship with any one else in the family because the Narc cannot abide autonomy happening right under their long nosey.

I remember this distinctly.  If I tried to talk to GCYB about the 'situation,' I was stabbed in the back by his running immediately to NM or ENF to report our conversation.  As recently as last April, when I called ENF in order to find out the logistics of DH and I visiting NM in the ICU as she lay dying (but not quite,) he allowed the phone to be taken away from him and NOSis got on the line to rant about how she thought I should behave. When I had my last meeting with NM at my counselor's office, she brought ENF with her into the room, even though both I and the counselor had made it clear that it was to be a 1 to 1 meeting.

And that, I think, is one of the core pieces of HOW the Narcs establish such foolproof systems of control.  They crave omniscience and demand overbearing loyalty at least partially through the limitations they place on individual communication between other family members.

To a Narc, one person in the family having a relationship with another person in the family independent of the Narc's presence (and therefore control) is intolerable.  I think this is part of the reason that they must destroy all familial relationships that don't involve them, such as the bond between siblings.

Either the Narc owns your relationships with others, or they will destroy that relationship before your very eyes.
So,  when it comes to my siblings (and every other person who was associated with me through my NFOO) I wasn't allowed to have relationships with them until I decided to go crawling back to NM.  I didn't and I won't, so they are not allowed to be in my lives at all thanks to NM's overbearing influence.

I can't say I'm pleased to have Nothing, but if the only other choice is All, well, I'm okay with Nothing.  I'm grateful that I don't have to repeat this dysfunctional pattern in my FOC.

And that's not nothing.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Kindness Is Not Weakness

Many moons ago, an acquaintance said to me:
"Vanci, you remind me of the saying, 'Do not mistake my kindness for weakness.'"
I accepted this compliment for what it was and graciously said my thanks.  Then, I moved on with my day.  I've occasionally returned to the phrase over the intervening years and wondered what, exactly, this means.

I am, at my core, very kind.  I always have been; after all this is one of the reasons that I was made the Scapegoat in my NFOO.  By definition, I believe, the Scapegoat has to be kind; we're the most empathetic of the collection of personalities that make up the dysfunctional gene pool.  If we weren't, they wouldn't be able to get what they need from us; a person, even as a child, has to be highly sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of those around her in order to ubiquitously serve the needs of those others.  I was, unfortunately, exquisitely wired to be the kind one.  Sometimes I wonder what joyous miracles this compassion could have created had the Narcs not chosen to take advantage of it, and me.

Alas, as we say sometimes in the recovery community - If you've got one foot in yesterday and one in tomorrow, eventually you're going to end up pissing on today.  So, it was... what it was.

Still, when I finally gathered the strength and the resources to jettison myself from that hellish facade of accommodation that I was raised in (and make no mistake, it was I who did all the accommodating,) I had a hard time being 'nice.'  I'd had my natural tendency to nurture, to be kind, to help others taken advantage of for so long that I couldn't distinguish between being 'nice' and being used.  It took awhile to remember that I can absolutely do things that are 'nice' for other people and that I can absolutely choose to be 'nice' without allowing myself to be used up and walked on.

The dividing line seems to lie in my intentions, and that's where I've begun to make a distinction between 'nice' and 'kind.'  More and more I think that being 'nice' means that I'm defining my action by external measurements.  'Nice' is the stiff-necked proper etiquette and corseted action of one who is trying to please those around her.  'Nice' means that I'm trying in my actions to fit into what I think will be acceptable behavior to others.  'Nice' means that I'm trying to do what YOU think is the right thing for me to do.

'Kind,' conversely, comes from an internal source.  I am kind to those around me who need kindness, and there is no expectation of reciprocation or accolade.  When I see a need and fill a need out of the goodness of my generously large heart, I am exercising kindness.  When I take action based on my inherent knowledge that I am doing the right thing, I am being kind.

I can enjoy being kind to others, because I am a fulfilled woman.  It costs me nothing to be kind, usually, and if it does, then I find that I've fallen into the trap of 'niceness' again; typically this happens when I discover that I've been attempting to be kind to a Taker.  Not all Takers are Narcs, I think, but all Narcs are Takers.  The difference for me, now, is that I can step back and see clearly what is happening.  And I can choose to stop being 'nice' and to replace it with kindness, if I feel I should, or to walk away altogether.

There is something very hard and inflexible at the core of my soul, a massive center of strength that I live in.  Like my natural predisposition toward kindness, I believe that I have always possessed this strength.  The Narcs didn't create it, though I've certainly had that core tested over and over again by their abuses.  And my strength has not failed me, has not wavered.  I've  grown stronger.

Strong enough to be kind without being weak.
So, Narcs and Takers of the world beware: Do not mistake my kindness for weakness.  I am stronger than even I know.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Inspiration's Everywhere

This is the calmest time of year for me, when I take a break from a couple of my responsibilities and commitments and try to find time to relax and breathe.  Usually this means that I try to find time to read.  I read all the time, but the material is often instructional or directed in a manner of trying to understand myself and the world around me.  So, trying to remember that all work and no play can make Vanci a very dull, or crazy, girl, this is the season that I try to read for pleasure.  I burned through a couple of novels pretty quickly, re-read a favorite fiction series, and realized too late as I stood in line at the library last weekend that I was out of reading material.

I happened to be standing by the 'new' non-fiction display, so grazed it quickly and picked up two books that caught my eye.  On a quick pick, I ended up with:
The Rise and Fall of the Bible by Timothy Beal
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell

Both books concern subjects that I am intensely interested in in roundabout ways.  The Bible as it concerns spirituality and my own particular brand of non-organized religion endorsed connection to a higher power and video games as I have a daughter who would live and breathe by the Playstation game clock if I let her.

I didn't expect to find any questions or answers to my struggle with the NFOO, estrangement, growth or recovery.  Lo and behold.

I read fast.  Crazy fast.  It's a gift I've always possessed and it's served me well.  Typically, I can finish a 700 page novel in my spare time - which is sparse - over the course of a couple of days.  I picked up The Rise and Fall of the Bible  first, and in three days I've managed to make it to page 5.  Five pages in three days.  This is somewhat below my standard reading pace!
I kept having to put it down, I realized, because it is a book that seeks to understand the factual beginnings of the Bible and how it is or came to be perceived as the direct Word of God.  And just that idea of pursuing the course of trying to understand the reality of the book, rather than blindly accepting what I was taught, constricted my chest and made the words blur on the page.  What was I taught?

The.  Bible.  Is.  God's.  HOLY WORD.  Period.  NO questions are allowed, NO discussion is allowed, and in fact, anyone who even remotely thinks about daring to wonder if there might be the possibility of room for even the smallest seed of doubt as to this is going to die a painful death before being sent to the depths of hell to suffer for eternity.  The absolute crazymaking facts that this is what I was force-fed on a spiritual front while being abused on verbal, mental, emotional, physical and sexual bases by the Nparent espousees of such judgmental clop-trop is a sore subject indeed, but not truly my point in this post.  Free thinking, suffice it to say, was not encouraged.

Now, I consider myself to be an open minded, free thinking intellectual woman.  But still, those ingrained patterns of fear and retribution for putting even a toe outside of the controlled environment of the N's religious zealotry, no matter how short lived that phase was for them, is surprisingly strong.  I'm not too wounded by it, but I'm grateful that I was able to acknowledge the existence of the feeling.  Now I can begin the work to acknowledge it and change my patterns.  And I will read every word of the damned book, too, eventually.  The fascinating part is that I don't even know what the book is about at this point, but I do know that my fear reaction is very, very real!

I picked up Extra Lives... once I realized that the Bible book wasn't going to be an easy, pleasurable read due to my frantic emotional reaction, and it's been wholeheartedly enjoyable.  It's a great commentary on how video games are made, what drives the design and marketing and why we see video games as such a large waste of time... but continue to spend oodles and oodles of time and money playing them.  The author spends a lot of time in comparison of video games as a form of entertainment to other forms of entertainment, and on page 39 he says this:

"When I am being entertained, I am also being manipulated.  I am allowing myself to be manipulated.  I am, in other words, surrendering... When I watch a film, the most imperial form of popular entertainment - particularly when experienced in a proper movie theater - I am surrendering most humiliatingly, for the film begins at a time I cannot control, has nothing to sell me that I have not already purchased, and goes on whether I happen to be in my seat.  When I read a novel I am not only surrendering; I am allowing my mind to be occupied by a colonizer of uncertain intent."

He goes on into a detailed analysis of how these mediums compare to each other and others; video games, television, etc.  But what struck me about this passage are the parallels to my upbringing.  Both these descriptions of 'entertainment' are really descriptions of what it is to be held prisoner to something, or someone.

It strikes me as an apt metaphor that my early childhood was a film.  I was placed in the seat and had no control over any of the externals; the N's directed the course of the screening and I was helpless to do anything by try to keep up and follow the story.  I was, in effect, incidental.
It seems, then, that my late adolescence and early adulthood was more akin to the novel.  I willingly allowed my mind to be occupied by a colonizer of uncertain intent.

Eventually, I made a break from the colony, and I think that I was able to do this once I realized the colonizer(s) intent; malicious, evil, abusive and terrible manipulation and control of me.  I like the concept that the Narcs are colonizers because it seems to me that their true intention is to completely and wholly take over the world (of Vanci anyway.)

They've always been that way, you know, it's always been their goal.  I think what changed is that me, myself and I made a break from the authoritative colony's rule.

Long fucking live the revolution!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In Utero Scapegoat

The story of my birth is one that I have heard over and over again.  It was the subject of company-for-dinner conversation from as early as I can remember and was dutifully trotted out in ENF's sermons once he became ordained.  He hailed it as proof of a divine miracle.  I recall the legend being told over and over again, growing in length and hair-raising detail over the years.  I can't count how many times I sat through the torturous explanations of what had happened to bring me into the world, they were so many. 

I do remember thinking that it was weird, how eager ENF and NM were to share this story with anyone and everyone who would listen, but I was a little girl and couldn't quite put my finger on what exactly was strange about it.  We do grow accustomed, after all, to believing that our childhood homes are the norm and that our parents are just like every other parent, at least in early childhood.  We've no experience with the rest of the world until we begin to spend time in it.  A child's home really is his or her entire universe in those first few years.  I only began the painful process of seeing that my 'family' was very different from other real families after many, many interactions with those other more 'normal' families many years later.  Sufficient was the pain of these revelations - and the then-certain knowledge that my being aware of the differences would only cause me greater pain as I couldn't change the situation - that I shoved the revelations so deeply into my psyche that it would years of digging to get them back out in the light. 

In a nutshell, the story goes, I almost died being born and my mother almost died in the process.  At full term, the lining of the placenta detached from the wall of NM's uterus.  This is dangerous and happens fairly frequently, but it's often manageable.  Adding to the danger in my/our case, though, the placenta tore away from the uterus at the point where the umbilcal cord was seated in the uterine wall.  Effectively, this cut off my lifeline and caused massive hemoraging for my mother.  ENF rushed us to the hospital, which was a large one with one of the first neo-natal care units in the country.  Through emergency C-section, NM and baby were saved.  End scene.

It's a good story and one that bears re-telling, I think.  It's dramatic and some would say miraculous and there's a good ending to it.  I have to say that I'm awfully glad it didn't turn out differently.  So, hearing about it in one context is pretty regular, I think.  If I'd gone through something like this in delivering my daughters, I'm sure it's a story I would share. 

I've been reflecting on the ways that I heard this story told throughout my childhood and young adult life, and wondering why it keeps popping up for me as a recurring memory.  Why do I keep randomly thinking of the story of my birth?  Today I had a mini-epiphany: in the hundreds of times that I heard this story of my birth, it was never referred to as the story of my birth.  And this is where it gets weird.

This was usually presented by ENF as the story of how his wife almost died giving birth to Vanci.  When he was busily slinging the story about from the pulpit, he told this as the story of the event that made him re-dedicate his life to god.  When he told this story casually, he told it as the heroic tale of how fast he drove to get his wife to the hospital, or of his Datsun car that never ran again or the story of the police escort he was given due to the amount of blood in the car.

When he told it, the story of my birth was about him and what he almost lost, how heroic he was, what my near-death and that of his wife did for him spiritually and - of all things - what happened to his car because of this incident. 

When NM told this story, she talked about her certain knowledge when she stood up thinking that her water had broken and saw blood instead that her baby was dead.  She talked about how it was so lucky that OS was already with grandmother and that ENF had filled up the gas tank of the car.  She talked about her monstrous scar and how she almost died from blood loss on the operating table and how she almost died again from the general anesthesia.  She talked about how they gave her so much anesthesia that she was out for a long time (this part is hazy for me as I've heard different versions - two days, three days, all the way up to a week,) and then has gone on to express how awful it was for her to not be able to  see her baby right away after birth. 

When she told it, the story of my birth was about her and what she almost lost, where my sister was at the time, how heroic ENF was, how much she suffered and how hard it was for her to cope with the after-effects of anesthesia.

I've never, in all those re-tellings, heard either of my parents express how heavy their hearts were with grief as I lay almost-dead in an incubator for a week.  The closest they've ever come within my earshot was to express how upsetting the information they received from the doctors was because they couldn't seem to make up their minds as to whether I'd die, be braindamaged or some other awful fate.  They've said that lack of oxygen was a concern and that I'd lost sixty percent of my blood at delivery.  That I was small and didn't seem to thrive.  That it was a miracle that I survived and that ENF prayed while NM was in surgery and promised his god that he (ENF) would rededicate his life to god if god would just save NM and the baby. 

I'm pretty sure that they think that god saved me because of ENF's prayers.  Maybe he did, who the hell am I to know?  But I'm getting the distinct impression as I re-visit the re-tellings that there were a few common themes to all of the stories:

1.  NM almost died several times laboring to bring me into the world; the implication being that I almost killed her.
2. ENF saved her, whether through proper maintenance of a vehicle or through god, depending on the audience.
3. Even before I had a name, I caused them pain.

I'm pretty sure that I was a scapegoat before I was even born.  How sad.  How very, very sad.  What a heavy burden to lay on a child.

In reading back through what I've written here, I can see that words are failing me.  From an exterior view, this could just be the story of a child who was almost lost in childbirth.  But, taken as a whole and with what would then become future proof of my faults as told by my Nparents, it becomes clear that this story was only the beginning of my scapegoat status.

As a child and a young adult, I also heard the stories of how sickly I was as a toddler.  Apparently I suffered from ear infections and was, to quote NM "so very difficult, you just didn't ever seem to feel good."  I didn't speak until I was three, I've heard, and then just began speaking in full sentences: my first words in order of appearance were 'mama,' 'daddy,' and 'I want a sailboat.'  NM liked to haul this out as proof of my obvious intelligence.  I can't help wondering what I knew and had already learned not to say.

As these memories have appeared more and more frequently to me lately, I've been trying to puzzle together why this story, of all the stories I have from childhood, seems to signify.  Why does it keep popping up to resonate with me?

I've turned to my own experience as a mother, as I often do for clarity and understanding, and I know what I have thought and felt and said when my DD's have asked me about their births.  There's some push inside me to minimize the telling of the amount of pain I went through while in labor with them.  I tend to tell them more about what I did while I was in labor - colored in Scooby Doo coloring books, hey, it helped - than to expound upon the many ways that I hurt or suffered or labored to bring them to the planet.

There's something there, I think, that my psyche's trying to push to the surface.  I think it must have to do with intention.  I wonder if the Nparents intention in telling, telling and re-telling the story of my delivery was to lay the foundation that I would so firmly beat myself with later in life: that I OWED THEM.

What do you think?  I can't quite put my finger on it...