Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Contagious Blindness

I'm open about my struggles to the degree that it's appropriate in my everyday life.  I don't go around with a giant black A for abused or a scarlet S for scapegoat stitched onto my chest, but when people ask, I tell the truth.  When people tell me about their challenges and struggles in dealing with family issues, spousal issues, parenting issues, I try to engage in honest dialogue that reflects my truthful experience. 

There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, having been raised in the vortex of deception that my narcissistic Crazymaker parents created, and having removed myself from that particular cesspool, I value truth above all else.  I want to live authentically, and I practice the principle of authenticity on a daily basis.  When I screw up, I admit it.  When I do well, I allow myself to be proud and to take credit.  When I'm asked what I think... I say what I think.  This particular trait seems to be rather rare in our world and societies, at least in all the circles that I'm familiar with.  I'm not trying to be unique, I'm just trying to stay sane and I wholeheartedly subscribe to the maxim that we are as sick as our number and depth of secrets.  So, I tell the truth. 

Second, telling the truth helps me to keep my stories straight.  I've said before - the truth doesn't have versions, it just is.  Honesty, therefore, is a link to reality for me.  I've found that if I am not consistently honest about what I've been through, what they did to me, how it affected me and how I'm coping, I will quickly become confused.  I don't think I'm alone in this, but I'm pretty sure that this concept is difficult for anyone who wasn't raised with Narcs to understand.  You see, I was indoctrinated from all sides from an early age on with the idea that the Narcs had the power to change facts, history, dates, times, events and actual true accounts of reality by simply saying it wasn't so.  When they decided that the painful truths of the past or present were just not meshing with the pictures of themselves that they wanted to display on the mantle, they simply changed those truths.  They made them into bastardized versions of the truth.  And their versions of the truth - subject to further revision at any given time - became the New Truth! 

There were (and are still, I'm sure) so many instances of this revisionism, gaslighting, stonewalling and outright lying in my life with the NFOO that it truly becomes difficult to know what the truth really is.  It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack... that's piled on the back of a truck... going 70 mph down the highway... in the dark... which someone constantly removing parts of the pile and someone else constantly adding more hay to the top.  Bad metaphor, I know, but, hey it's the truth.  So, when I find the needle of truth in that mess, I hold onto it dearly.  Because truth, reality, what really happened is so very important to me.  They really can't change the truth, you know, no matter how hard they try.  It just is.

But, inability to change the truth won't stop them from trying.  Furthermore, it won't stop them from trying to cover it up, either.  They're basically professional level liars and manipulators, and they haven't gotten away with it for their entire lives by doing it poorly.  They have a system, they cover each other, it works.  Unsuspecting non-Narcs who come into contact with them are easily rubed.  How could they not be?  The Crazymakers have justifications, rationalizations, revisions of history, explanations and misdirection on their side.  EF, family lore goes, could have sold icicles to Eskimos.

Jonsi asked in the coments of my Invisibility and Dark Shadows post:
"I wonder Vanci...did anyone you ever met growing up or in your young-adulthood ever tell you that they thought your family behaved strangely or that they were abusive?"

Oh my, Jonsi!  What a normal, normal question to ask!  This made me laugh out loud, not at the question, certainly, but because it would have been so ludicrous if this had happened.  Here's the why:

They moved us around every year for a reason.  It's entirely possible to maintain a perfectly perfect projection of a facade of perfectness... for a short period of time.  I don't know how much of the grand master plan of physical isolation was completely conscious on the part of NM and EF and how much was below surface, but I'm absolutely positive that they knew at some level that if we stayed anywhere too long, people would get close.  And when 'outsiders' get close to a family as fucked up as ours was, they see through the veneer.  Most 'normal' people, granted, would turn a blind eye (and of the few who did get close to us in one way or another, the great majority did just that,) but those who got close enough to see some of the truth behind the castle gates and might have done anything about it had very little time to act or react.  They usually only began to suspect, it seems, as we were loading up the moving vans.

Even when physical isolation wasn't possible, the Crazymakers created an airtight shelter of emotional isolation.  Here's a small sample. 
When I was about 11 years old, I began to gain some serious weight.  I know now that this was partly a subconscious attempt to make myself unattractive; having been sexually abused wreaks havoc on a girl's self image, particularly as she enters into puberty.  I'd imagine I was doing some hormonally driven emotional eating too.  With the small amount of safety that my newly unattractive body gave me, I started to open up a bit.  I had a couple of close-ish girlfriends for the first time in my young life.  I started writing.  I had a teacher who took an interest in helping me into 'gifted' classes. 
I started to get comfortable with myself.  Oops.

I expressed my desire to slim down to NM.  She put me on 'slimfast.'  No kidding.  Almost 12 years old, going through puberty, gaining weight to hide shame, and she put me on a fad diet that A) doesn't really work and B) truly isn't healthy for anybody, really, but especially for a growing girl.  So, I became hungry, shamed by my hunger, sick to my stomach and generally ill at ease.  Oddly (unless you grew up with Narcs like this,) we ate dinner out in restaurants more during this six month period than any other time that I can remember in my life with the NFOO.  And at every single dinner, when the waitress would get around to asking me what I wanted, EF would say, loudly, in his best preacher-man voice, "Oh, she can't have anything!  She's on Slimfast!"  And then NM would say to him, "EF, don't say that!  You know Vanci's sensitive about her weight/dieting!"  I would get upset, of course, and my cheeks turn red when I'm ashamed. I was a glowing beacon of chubby shame sitting at a booth in public place. 

So, NM would pat my hand and say, always within ear-shot of the waitiress (audience,) "Oh, don't be upset, it's not your fault, Vanci.  It's my genes, you know, and so my fault that you tend toward chubby.  I've had to work so hard all my life to keep the weight off..."

Unless you grew up with this, unless you've had this happen to you, well, at worst to an observer it just seems weird or it seems like these are parents who don't have a firm grasp on the finer etiquette points of social conversation.  At best it appears to be the dialogue of two parents who are lovingly trying to help their overweight daughter to be healthier or fit into society better.  No one thinks, "Oh, that nicely dressed married couple over there with the big smiles and the promise of a nice tip are trying to cover up that they routinely torture and humiliate at least one of their children." 

They are just so damned good at the show of it all.  They have layers and layers of nice painted on the outside; so many that it's really impossible to tell where one lie starts and another begins.  They just seem like such nice people.  There's a comment I've heard often, and it's totally true!  They do seem like nice people, because they act like nice people, and they're good at this charade, because the maintenance of this farce is absolutely critical to the maintenance of the style of living and life they want to have.   If they seemed rotten, they'd never be able to get away with it - if they acted on the outside like the monsters that they truly are, CPS would have taken all three of us kids away pronto. 

So, unfortunately, no, dear Jonsi, no one ever said those things to me.  Most outsiders weren't allowed to be close enough to see beyond the masks.  Those few who did make it through weren't allowed access for very long.  Of those who did glimpse the reality of the NFOO, most were treated immediately and intensely to the blindingly convincing show of Narc-y Nice Nice.  I don't know of any outsider who ever infiltrated to the core, honestly.

And this is the last piece of this answer, and the reason for this post's title.  They lied so well that 99% of people believed the lies.  Further, they created a lose-lose for me: tell the truth and we'll destroy you, go along with the lie and we'll leave you alone, sometimes.  But mostly, and this is the sad part for me, they held so much of my self-worth in their palms, that even when I was the subject of the abuse, I was willing to lie along with them to cover up their 'sins.'  After all, even if I didn't believe it was totally my fault, did I really want to create a situation that would leave our family homeless?  Take away EF's livelihood?  Destroy my mother?  Hurt my sister?  Devastate my brother?  So I drank the kool-aid, you know? 

And then, I grew up.  I had lots and lots of 'friends' and acquaintances, too, but they didn't really know me.  How could they?  I learned inauthenticity over my baby food jars.  I, too, as the child of manipulative narcissists, can make you believe anything I want you to, should I choose.  And with all those friends and acquaintances, I chose to make them believe that I was fine, just fine, can't you see how fine I am.  This repression of my pain, primarily, is what led me to the bottle... the release of this repression is what started me down the road to healing. 

I don't think that the outsiders we came into contact with were neccesarily stupid, though.  I think they just fell victim to the sway of the Narcs, who are very good at their brand of hypnosis.  At least that's what I'd like to believe; I really want to think that if there had been any adult in my life long enough to see the reality of my childhood, they'd have spoken up.  I'd like to believe that if I'd been capable of being authentic with any of my friends or acquaintances in young adulthood, they would have seen the reality of the situation and come to my aid.  I'd like, honestly, to believe that people are generally good at a core level. 

And so, that's what I am - honest and authentic and very, very open.  I hope beyond hope that my openess, my authenticity, my 100% real and true story can help someone else.  And I keep my eyes peeled and my tongue at the ready because I want to be sure that I can be that voice to someone else if the opportunity arises.  I want to be able to say (and I have in the past and it's helped others,) "Listen to me, please.  You have a right to be treated with decency; you have a right to be treated with respect; above all, in all circumstances, you have an absolute right to defend yourself and an absolute right to safety."

Does it make a difference?  To others - I hope so.  To me?  It makes all the difference.


Monday, September 19, 2011

And the Truth Shall ... Well, It'll Do Something Anyway

Veganstein asked an interesting question in the comment section of my Invisibility and Dark Shadows post:
I am not sure that I want to uncover anything else in my life. I have huge blanks, but the memories that I DO have are negative enough that I made my NC decision some time ago. I don't think that I need further confirmation that my parents should not have parented. However, reading your blog, I wonder...is there a healing in finally knowing?

I needed to think about my answer to this, and discovered in the few days that I turned it over in my mind that I wouldn't ever be able to put my thoughts, theories, experience or reasons into a smallish comment box.  So, thank you Veganstein, for prompting this post about my reasons for trying to remember!

Why do I need to fill in the blanks?  I have enough evidence with my top-of-mind memories of the way the Crazymakers functioned to know that they are A) Crazymaking B) Unhealthy C) Narcissistic D) operating in and further perpetuating a broken family system E) Toxic F) Willing to blame all their troubles on me and G) Abusive to the Nth degree.  In other words, I don't need any more proof that NC is the only choice I have here, should I choose to continue remaining sane myself. 

So, why dig up any more, why shine the light on what I know are going to be bad memories of truly horrific and real events that hurt me deeply - so deeply that I had to forget them in order to survive them?  It seems masochistic, in a way.  Why do I need to pick off these metaphorical scabs, re-break ill set figurative bones, dig around in the emotional wound that I know is gangrenous?  That way be monsters, it seems, so why do I steer for them?

I have a few reasons, but my primary reason is fear.  I've written before about my high pain tolerance due to the twisted expectations of my childhood.  I wasn't allowed to hurt, or at least to show it and if I did, well- that created more hurt.  So I learned not to show it, and eventually that meant that I learned not to feel it.  It's the same way with fear for me.  I'm terrified, terrified, of certain things - the dark, open closet doors, heights, small spaces - but I learned early on not to admit my fears. 

I was ridiculed for my fear of the dark and of my open bedroom closet door by NM, EF and the sibs.  In fact, EF used to send me down to the dark basement on a regular basis to retrieve items from the chest freezer.  And when I was down in the damp, dark dungeon, one or the other of the sibs or EF would turn off the light and lock the door.  Once I crawled my way up the steps, absolutely bat-shit crazy and shaking with fright, they'd laugh on the other side of the door until I screamed loud enough or until they got bored with the 'game.' 

I know this now, but I didn't for a long time.  I just knew that I had this irrational fear of the dark that would sneak up on my while I was down in the basement of my own home putting blueberries that I'd picked into the freezer.  I wasn't prepared for it at the time, so that fear grabbed hold of me so tight that - as a married woman with two almost teen children at the time - I ran up the stairs of my own safe home screaming and convinced that the door would be locked and the light would be going out at any moment. 

It wasn't, of course, but it sure as hell felt just as scary as it did when I was a kid.  In fact, when DH and I got our first chest freezer, I subconciously did everything I could to convince him that the (non-attached, thirty feet away from the house, unheated) garage would be a better place for the freezer than the basement. 

So, why do I want to remember that this fun little game of Lock the Scared Girl in the Dark Basement Until She Cries and Screams was real?  Why do I need to remember that they did this to me repeatedly in every house we ever lived in that had a basement?  When I already know that they are Crazymaking shitheads, why do I need to know the specifics?

Because I want to be able to go into my fucking basement to get some of those blueberries without turning back into a scared six or ten or fifteen year old again.  Because I want to remember why I'm scared of things so that I can understand that I don't have to be any more.  I like what Alice Miller says in The Drama of the Gifted Child about this:
"We become free by tranforming ourselves from unaware victims of the past into responsible individuals in the present, who are thus aware of our past and thus able to live with it. 
Most people do exactly the opposite.  Without realizing that the past is constantly determining their present actions, they avoid learning anything about their history.  They continue to live in their repressed childhood situation, ignoring the fact that it no longer exists.  They are continuing to fear and avoid dangers that, although once real, have not been real for a long time."

It's been my experience with fear-driven behaviors that I can't think them away, I can't intellectually understand the fear well enough to make it go away until I get to the root of it.  I have to know why I'm afraid before I can find a way to get rid of the fear.  So, now that I know why I'm afraid of the basement, I know how to be rid of, or at least assuage, that fear and keep it at a reasonable and manageable level.  I tell myself as I'm descending the stairs that there's nothing to be afraid of - and I know this to be true because I know that NM, EF, OS and YB aren't at the top of the stairs - but if I'm having a particularly bad day, I know why I'm scared of the basement dark, so I know that all I have to do is to take a flashlight with me.  Knowing the 'why'  just takes the mystery out of it enough to make it practical, and prevents my fear from sneaking up on me when I am vulnerable, sick or just plain unaware. 

I have had similar experiences with remembering the root causes of all the fears I listed above - locked in closets, being told that if I didn't stay in bed all night long the Closet Monster would get me, OS trying to push me out of a roller coaster, etc.  And knowing the reason, for me, has taken a lot of the wind out of the sails of fear.

So, I want to know so that I can move forward, that's all.  And yes, there's been healing in the knowledge, for me.  Even when I don't need to know about a fear or its root cause, I still try to remember everything I can to fill in those blank spots.  Because my GREATEST fear is that I will wake up one day and find out that I have turned into 'them,' that I am like them.  And those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Invisibility and Dark Shadows

Sometimes I feel like I'm an emotional archaeologist. 
I'm a big believer that the only way for me to move past the pain the Crazymaking FOO, particularly my pathologically narcissistic mother and enabling father, caused me from birth to No Contact is to identify it, recognize it and feel the appropriate feelings in the present that I should have been able to experience in the past.

In order to move past the painful moments of the past and recover from the side effects and symptoms that they caused, I have to acknowledge the existence of the event/trauma in order to learn now how to deal with the emotions that it caused.  But...

It's hard to remember.  I used to wonder why I had so many blank spots in my memory.  I knew that I had begun blacking out as I approached my alcoholic bottom, so that memory loss was pretty easy to explain, but my drinking blackouts really only account for a short year or so just after I turned thirty.  In fact, I really didn't start drinking in earnest until my late twenties anyway.  So, why couldn't I remember large portions of time from my childhood, adolesence and young adulthood?  Now I know that my mind created those blank spots and lack of memory for me as a defense mechanism.  I couldn't have survived some of the abuses had I been forced to carry around my feelings around them every day, so I was able to ... dis-remember them until the time came that I was strong enough to dig them up, haul them out into the light and feel what I needed to.

As part of the process of healing - both recovery from alcoholism and recovery from narcissist parents - I've had to do a lot of digging.  When I am assured that I am in a safe frame of mind and can handle the excursion, I pack my rucksack with figurative tools, from pickaxes to toothbrushes, and I hike into the missing areas of my emotional map to do some excavating.  Sometimes I find happy things; friends that I'd forgotten about, hobbies that I used to like, books that I don't remember reading but would like to read again, songs I used to like to sing.

Sometimes I uncover horribly painful, destructive, monstrously toxic and evil things - cursed mummies of memories that block out the Sun - at least for awhile.

Usually, though, what I unearth are these seemingly middle-of-the-road events that aren't very shiny on the surface and don't initially appear to carry much weight.  When I find enough of these cheap trinkets of recall, though, it's easy enough to put them together as part of a bigger picture.  Put enough subtle pain points together in a row and it's not difficult to understand why I had to blank them all out.

I've recently discovered quite a few memories within the same timeframe, and here's how they string together.

I was about five years old at this time and we lived in a very cold place.  The snow in the winter was always above my five year old head.  I remember kindergarten and the first part of first grade (before we moved, yet again.)

The Baton
My earliest memory here is in the Summer.  OS and I were playing tag outside at the edge of the woods.  She had a baton - one of the old style metal ones with white rubber weighted tips on the ends.  Somehow I made her angry - probably because she couldn't catch me, who knows - and she retaliated by ripping one of the rubber tips off her baton and throwing it into the woods, possibly at me.  She repeated this with the second tip and I remember feeling great fear, not for my physical safety from her, though she was nine or ten years old at the time, but that I was going to get in trouble.  I can't think why I would fear being in trouble based a 'bad deed' that OS did, other than to believe that this pattern was probably part of my experience at the time, already.

Of course, OS ran inside to tell (at that time) narcissistic - I'm just going to start calling him ENF, I think - dad that Vanci had broken OS's baton.  According to her, I ripped the end tips off her baton and threw them both into the woods.  I protested.  Guess who was whipped twenty times with a leather belt? 

Now, I know from my own experience as a parent that most siblings go through phases in which they will use their sisters or brothers as a shield at the drop of a hat.  I get that.  My DD's have blamed each other for broken dishes, missing items, messes and myriad other minor problems over the years.  I'm even sure that in at least a few circumstances one of my daughters has paid the price for a crime that she didn't commit.  (And thank my lucky stars that 'punishment' in my house has always been logical and condusive to growth, rather than just physical abuse all dressed up as 'discipline.'  At worst, my DD's have missed out on ice cream due to a crime they didn't commit, or been forced to go without brain-killers like TV in error.)  Still, it's hard to always have the time to sort out what's happening between siblings, and mistakes happen.  I wouldn't fault any parent for that. 

What strikes me about this particular incident with me, though, is three-fold.  First, I distinctly remember attempting to plead my case and being summarily shouted down by both OS and the parents.  It didn't matter what I had to say; the decision to 'punish' me was made before I could even say, "I didn't do it."  I remember trying desperately to be heard, and I remember being told that if I wasn't quiet, I'd have more 'whippings.' 

Second, I remember that, after my poor little bottom had been beaten black and blue - I was finally able to get them to hear me saying, through sobs, that I hadn't done this awful thing my sister claimed.  And they finally listened, not because of me, but because GCYB who was three or four years old at the time, piped up that he'd seen OS throw her baton tips away into the woods himself. 

Third, and most terribly frightening, I remember that OS was made to apologize to me for allowing me take her 'licks' with the belt, and then they asked me if I wanted OS to be whipped too.  Holy hannah, who does that to a five year old?  Of course I said no - a normal five year old doesn't want to see any other person undergoing torture, I'm pretty sure.  So... I was beaten for OS's bad temper, then I was put in a position to choose to protect my abuser (OS) from one of my other abusers (ENF) because the Golden Child YB finally told the truth in my defense after I'd been beaten.  NM, true, true, true to her form, just watched all this transpire.  She didn't come to my aid, but I'm sure that her 'non-participation' in this cluster fuck of abuse absolves her of responsibility in her mind.

The scariest part to me now is how incredibly non-existent Vanci was in all this.  I seem to have existed even at five years old as a scapegoat, whipping girl and object.  Even then at that young and tender age, they were conscientiously and consistently stripping me of my humanity.

The Spot on the Table
This is from the same period of time and house.   We'd been away for a few days, as a family, though I don't remember where. 
What I do remember is that we came home and there had been some anciliary adult taking care of our house.  Shortly after arriving home, they sat us all three down at the big oak dining room table and ENF proceeded to rant and rage about a spot on the table.  It looked like a cigarette burn.

ENF and NM smoked.  We, at 3, 5 and 9 years old, did not.  Somehow, though, even though we were young and didn't have access to cigarettes and weren't ever home without NM AND we'd all just been away from the home together, ENF decided that one of us three children were somehow resonsible for the cigarette burn on the table. 

After who knows how long being subjected to verbal abuse and rage, we were all 'punished' yet again with bare-assed whippings at the end of ENF's leather belt.  What I remember is that we were all being 'punsihed' because ENF was convinced that one or all of us were lying.  NM, again, stood by and watched this.

Apart from the obvious gaps in the Crazymakers' logic on this one - we'd been gone with them, there had been another adult (likely a smoker too as it was in the early '80's) in the house while we were gone, they were the adult smokers in the house - this incident just falls right in with the underlying patterns of crazy rage directed at the kids in the house as an outlet.  ENF was the active participant in the abuse, but NM was compicit with her inaction.

Now, all these years later, a couple of other things come to mind.  First, I remember that spot on the table.  I've seen it many times since I was five years old as they still have and use the same table.  I decided during some family meal years ago as I stared at that marr on the table that the spot is not a cigarette burn; I'm pretty sure it's a flaw in the wood and varnish that they just hadn't noticed before.  Second, I'm fairly certain now that I remember ENF and NM having a fight in the car on the way home.  Which makes me very certain that a lot of these incidents of rage toward us from ENF were simply his (f'd up) way of releasing the tension between him and NM in their (f'd up) marriage. 

And that, my friends, is about as f'd up as it gets.

Dark Shadows
Last significant memory from that house, and thank goodness because this is getting long!
I wasn't in school yet, but I remember that OS was.   I stayed home with YB and NM, who was a pretty active homemaker at the time. 

When we lived in this house NM chose to take a nap, on her bed, every afternoon, with YB.  During this two hour mommy and golden child nap time, I was not required to take a nap.  It was, however, my job to stay on the outside of NM's closed bedroom door and keep quiet. 
Okay, sanity break:  who does this?  Who leaves a five year old on her own to roam an otherwise empty house for two hours while her grown woman mother sleeps behind closed doors with the three year old son?  Wow.  She should have just given me the keys to the car and a Miller Lite tall boy.

Okay, back to the story.  Eventually, of course, I figured out how to turn the TV on.  Of the three or four channels available to us, one happened to broadcast the show Dark Shadows during nap time.  I don't remember any of the story lines or plots, but I do remember: vampires, monsters hiding in dark places, absolutley inappropriate for a five year old quasi-nudity, and being so absolutely terrified that when NM woke up from her afternoon nap, I'd often be sitting on the floor in the middle of the hallway outside NM's bedroom door. 
This went on for months. 

There are an awful lot of disturbing things to ponder in this scenario, but here's the sticking point for me.  NM later told this story over and over again in company in her 'isn't it cute' voice.  But the way she told it, man, in retrospect, what she really meant was:  Vanci was so difficult that I had to shut her out of my life every single day.  Even then, she did 'bad' things that she wasn't supposed to.  The special child in my life was safe behind closed doors with me, the good mother.  Look at what she did to herself without me there to stop her.  And look at how much she needed me, she had to sit all by herself alone in the hall waiting for me once she realized that I was the only thing that could save her from her 'bad' self. 

The fact that I remember these incidents so clearly now is astounding to me, and speaks to the depth of emotional pain that they caused me. 

Well... I think that's enough loot pulled out of this tomb of mysteries for one day.  What a lot we've learned about this endangered species from the past, don't you think?  They made me invisible, took away my humanity, broke my spirit, took away reality, isolated me, disfavored me and created scar tissue thick enough to hide the truth of my memories behind cutesy stories or outright denial of the abuse.

My primary take away is this:  the pain and suffering that the NFOO in all its incarnations caused me always existed.  If this is the way that life was for me in my earliest memories at five years old... wow, nothing ever changed. 

Thank all the saints, gods, apostles and little baby Jebus's that I got away.  And thank you, my friends, for listening and reminding me that I might have to feel those yucky feelings in order to get through them, but I don't have to expose myself to further abuse from these people ever again.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Narc Denial in Action ... continued

"Well, I know you won't believe me, but I just don't remember any of that."

This statement from NM really could stand on its own as a clear definition of the narcissist's ability to completely re-write any situation in order to suit her needs.

A normal person remembers the turning points in their loved ones lives, and those revelations were a turning point for everyone in our FOO.  That series of events when I was thirteen years old revealed the true character of everyone in the FOO and pointed each member in the directions that we would head in for several years. 

NM took the narc reigns firmly in grasp because of those events and cemented her place as El Victim Supremo.  EF gave up his job as a minister because of those events, and began the kowtowing to NM lifestyle that he still lives today because of those events.  OS blamed me (faulting the victim for bringing it up rather than the abuser for commiting the crimes) and launched her massive campaign of denigrating Vanci and learning how to be a bigger Narc than either NM or EF ever had been.  And YB learned that no matter the situation, he was the Golden Child and therefore got a pass. I became so numb due to the pain those events caused me that I began to seek anything, and I do mean anything, that might make me feel... something.

We're talking about a life-changing, seismic shift  in the character, behaviors, roles, hopes and actions of every single person in the FOO (and really in the world, if we consider how isolated the Crazy NP's kept us.)  Everything changed, absolutely, positively everything.

And she really can't remember it. 

Holy fucking hell, what a frustrating moment.

There is no appropriate response to this outright denial of a true, actual event, that I'm aware of.  Any attempt to refute such a claim seems pointless and reminds me of a saying:  Never argue with the village idiot; they'll drag you down to their level and beat you with their experience.  I simply said nothing. 

Of course, NM needed to fill that uncomfortable silence.  Now, with a little time and distance from the conversation, I like to envision that I could hear air raid sirens at this point in the meeting.  Danger!  Danger!  Take cover!  It's about to get worse!

"You have to understand, Vanci, that I was in shock.  I mean, you'd known about what you'd been through for years but it was news to me.  I probably didn't react exactly right, but I was truly in shock."

Oh.  My.  God.  Here's a little snippet of the jumbled thoughts running through my mind at that point.  I don't have to understand anything about you... of course it's about you and your shock.  Did you really just tell me that I was better prepared at thirteen to deal with my father's sexual abuse of me than you were as my parent because I'd had to carry that sick knowledge for years and you hadn't?  Did you really just demean the fact that my minister father sexually abused me repeatedly by referring to it as 'what I'd been through,' rather than it what it really was - exploitative, horrendous, abominimal, outright abuse committed by a 'trusted' adult against an innocent child?  Probably didn't react exactly right?  There's no probably or right about asking me to lie to cover the abuser's ass so that you didn't have to give up any comforts.  Holy hell.  You did.  Holy hell.

Here's what I said, "I was THIRTEEN!"

Here's what she said,
"You seem to think that we should all be perfect, like you think you are."

"NM, I don't think I'm perfect.  And I certainly haven't handled the situation with you perfectly, and I do have regrets, but most of them are of the fact that I didn't cut off contact sooner." 

And... that was pretty much the end of the session, at least in my mind.  There were a few more salient moments, such as when NM tried to tell me that I've always been 'stubborn,' but really none of them mattered to me.  We ended the session with NM saying, "I don't feel like we've solved anything!  How do we move forward?"  My counselor wisely suggested that I would need some more time to think about the answer to that question. 

And now I know the answer.  It's simple; we don't.  There's nothing real or true in that relationship; there's no love, no empathy, no concern, no care.  There's an evil, toxic woman approaching the end of her life and looking to use any illness that she can manufacture to force enough sympathy for her to get everyone right where she wants them.  At one point she said, "You know, Vanci, with all my medical problems I just want to see things right before I die.  And now I have Parkinson's hanging over my head as a possibility, too..."

One of my DD's has a chronic disease that was a long time in diagnosis.  I've done a ton of research on various auto-immune and terminal diseases as a result of this, so I know a little about Parkinson's.  Enough to know that Parkinson's is an incurable, terminal disease and that we don't really understand who gets it and who doesn't until a person is diagnosed with it.  So, really, don't we all have Parkinson's hanging over our heads as a possibility?  LOL. 

What a sad, sad waste of an otherwise healthy life.  What a shame that she had to try to bring so many other people down into her pit of despair with her. 

What a blessing that I don't have to take that journey with her, ever again.  What a good thing it is to be free of her chains. 
In the words of the late, great Kurt Vonnegut Jr., she can take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut!  She can take a flying fuck at the Mooooon!

Good riddance.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Narc Denial in Action

I've been thinking about my last - and it will be the last - interaction with NM several weeks ago in my counselor's office.  I wouldn't say I'm dwelling on it, but I'm approaching it with the same theory that I've used to stay sober.

We say in recovery, and I believe, that the best way to avoid the next drunk is to vividly remember the last one.  At first, when I was newly sober, I couldn't understand this.  So close to an alcoholic bottom, why would anyone want to remember that incomprehensible demoralization?  I wanted to run as far and fast from it as I could!
Eventually I came to understand the concept, though, that if I could keep in mind exactly how I'd gotten to that painful end, it would be easier to pick up the tools that would keep me from that path again.  Fear can be an excellent motivator, after all, and fear of the hell that I'd ended up in has at times served to keep me on the right path when my more intellectual tools have failed.  It's a temporary jolt, for sure, that doesn't create any real growth, but it zaps me back onto the path of the right direction in a hurry.

So, replaying some of that last conversation has been part of my work for the past couple of weeks as I firm up my plan of action.  With a little bit of research and a bit of reflection, it's amazing how transparent some of NM's manipulations are.  How could I ever have trusted her? I think.  But the answer, of course, is that I was trained from day one to do just that.  I was fed healthy doses of bullshit instead of the mother's milk that I didn't get, and it's natural that it's taken me years of re-learning to flush all that life-sucking, confusion-making crap from my system. 

I present here for your reading pleasure some of the more glaring highlights of Narc-y Crazymaking from that session, in loose chronological order.

She talked for the first ten minutes without stop about what she wanted.  "A normal relationship," she said.  "It just means so much to me that you came to see me in the hospital, and to know that you still loved me.  I almost died, and that's given me some perspective." 
So, again, it's all about NM.  Her addictions and attention-seeking landed her in ICU with failing kidneys and double pneumonia, which she'd allowed to go untreated for too long, so had to have a breathing tube inserted.  Add to this the fact that - without her primary doc handing her hydrocodone and methadone like candy - she was in physical withdrawal and detox from the heavy narcotic doses she's been bellied up to for almost fourteen years. The truth is that she almost ended her own life with her choices, but in NMLand, this means that she 'almost died.'  And it's given her 'perspective.'  
On what, exactly, I wonder?  Is that like, oh my, I almost lost the battle for Vanci's soul before Satan welcomed me home?  Or is it like, hmmm, if I die without Vanci and her DD's at my side, everyone I know will know that I wasn't a good mother or grandmother?  
I can't believe that it was true life-changing, mindset-altering perspective, and here's why: 
"I just want a normal relationship." 

Huh, normal.  This from the woman who defined normal as allowing all three of her children to be bent over a couch, bare-assed, and whipped with a leather belt up to thirty smacks because one of her children had chosen to crawl under the table to get out of the booth at a rare restaurant dinner rather than ask to be excused.  Yes, really.  YB was three at the time and still a pretty 'normal' little boy.  He crawled under the table.  We had our food packed up to go and endured the rage of EF all the way home (fully supported by NM's silence,) where we were then lined up for a major 'whipping.'  We were around three, five and nine years old at the time, and even thtough the punishment didn't fit the 'crime,' and all three of us were subjected to an abusive tirade and physical violence when only one of us had done anything even remotely wrong (which still wouldn't have deserved that type of treatment anyway,) we were told by both EF (when he finally lowered the belt) and NM (when she finally said anything,) that it 'was for our own good.'  Normal?  I think not.  

Our 'normal' relationship prior to the Vanci Revolution went like this: she got what she wanted from me, when she wanted it, without question from or compensation to me.  I got whatever she felt like giving me, which was little if nothing on a good day, and I was supposed to be grateful for that.  No matter how well I followed her rules, even then, I was still unacceptable; I was 'difficult.'

So what she really meant by 'normal' was this; it was high time for me to re-enter the relationship she wanted, because she was running low on Narc Supply.

Evidence:  "...you still loved me."  Ah, I get it!  So you think that since I showed up and told you I loved you, you're back in control.  The Victim Supreme rides again!  Despite the fact that I never claimed not to love her, the statement just places the focus back on target where she wants it to be.  It dismisses the fact that our estrangement was caused by her choices and actions, and makes the entire fight for survival that I've had to wage my entire life a question of whether I love her or not.  What ego!  What classic Narc self-centeredness!

She eventually said this, "I just remember that you and I were really close and we had a lot of good times together... I know it wasn't perfect, but I thought we got along really well."

After I picked myself up off the floor by this outright lie about our history together, I responded in a way that I thought was mature and honest, "NM, I do have some good memories, but I have to be honest.  Most of my memories and experiences center around my having to take care of everyone in the family, whether I wanted to or not.  I have memories of being abused and taken advantage of, of being screamed at and told it was my fault, of being forced to lie to protect the Family at my own cost, of the $15,000 YB borrowed and hasn't ever paid back, of supporting OS financially and emotionally and having her call to scream at me in the middle of the night in return, of being used for my truck and other possessions and of being made the scapegoat in the family.  Most of my memories are about me being used."

"Well, I can't be responsible for anyone else's actions!  And all YB has ever said about the money is that he wants to pay  you back!  And with OS, well, you know some people in our family are more forgiving than others!"  Here she's doing some swift blame-shifting.  She ignores that fact that she has been the primary user of Vanci, and has no compunction about throwing the other (non-present) members of the FOO under the bus.  She's also in complete denial of the fact that she, on many occasions, sicked the Minions and FOO on me; when they attacked, much of the time, they were simply doing her bidding.  She's exonorating GC YB, because it's perfectly acceptable for him to have owed me this money for the last six years without paying back a dime, don'tcha know, because he wants to pay it back. 

And then, classic and true to form, the blame shifts back to me - it's about forgiving me.  Wow.

I cut her off at this point and said, "I need to stop you and tell you that I completely stand by the decisions that I have made to limit and cut off contact with you all.  I made a good decision with my husband to create safety from you for myself and my children, and I have ABSOLUTELY no interest in seeking your forgiveness.  I haven't done anything that requires it."

This stopped her for a minute.  Scapegoat Vanci never would have been so clear and direct with her statement of non-guilt.  Scapegoat Vanci would have been looking for forgiveness.  I wasn't Scapegoat Vanci anymore though, and this direct refutation of a manipulation threw NM for a serious loop.  It took her a minute to come up with this;
"Well, maybe forgiveness isn't the right word." 

Bwahahahahahahaha!  Yeah, 'maybe' it isn't!

She chose thismoment to bring up 'what a difficult child I was,' by saying, "Well, you know, Vanci, you haven't just been used.  We've had to bail you out plenty of times." 

I stopped her again and asked, "Are you talking about when I was a teenager?  Or when I was going through my divorce of the man you pushed me to marry who was abusive in every way possible?  Are those the bailouts you're talking about?"

"Because if we're going to talk about that, NM, then we're going to talk about why I got in the trouble that I did."  I proceeded to bring up my revelation of sexual abuse by EF when I was thirteen and her absolute botch of a job in helping me to deal with it.  (Actually, it wasn't a botched job, it was a carefully executed manipulation to kill my soul while keeping up appearances and guaranteeing her that her life wouldn't change.) 

"We're going to have to talk about the fact that I went from a straight A student who'd skipped the 8th grade to that scared little girl who asked you to protect her.  And we're going to have to talk about the fact that when you failed to protect me to save your own ass, it took three months for me to find drugs, alcohol and sex.  That slippery slope is one that you put me on, NM, and gave me a shove down." 

"Well, I know you won't believe me, but I  just don't remember any of that."

How does a mother not remember throwing her daughter to the wolves?

To be continued...


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Tell It Like It Is Girl

That's me.  This is a nice compliment that a dear friend paid me recently.  "Vanci," she said, "You're the only friend I have that always tells the truth.  You are kind, don't get me wrong, but I know I can always count on you to tell it like it is."

Being honest is a character attribute, right?  Who doesn't want to be known for their honesty, integrity and sincerity?  But, as soon as she said it, I felt a nudge; an old FOO guilt trip the Crazymakers built into me over many, many years got triggered.

Narcs have an unprecedented ability to skew perceptions of reality, in my experience.  I'll never forget part of a conversation that I tried to have with NM early on in our seperation.  I was only willing to meet with her in counseling at the time, which was absolutely unacceptable to her.  She and the giant defensive chip on her shoulder showed up with an agenda; to get me to concede to her version of reality, admit that I was wrong and right everything by returning back to my allotted role in the family.  It was a mostly pointless attempt at conversation, but this was one of my huge take-aways:  She lies so much that in the end she doesn't know what really happened.

That's not an excuse for her behavior, just the only explanation I can come up with for this.  Interestingly, given the smear campaign she was actively spear-heading against me in the community we live in, she brought up in that counseling session that she was 'embarassed' that I 'told people that our family was dysfunctional.'  "We're not dysfunctional!" she said over and over, as if by repetition alone such a lie could be made true.  Strangely enough, I hadn't actually spoken to anyone outside of The Family about what was happening in The Family at the time, apart from one old 'family friend' who'd approached me at a civic service function.

Ms. Gossipy made it a point to get into the buffet lunch line behind me and quickly dispersed with pleasantries by asking me point blank, "How's your mother?"  I was trying to be polite but honest, so I said, "You know, Ms. Gossipy, I really haven't talked to her in a while."
She put on that evil, knowing sneer that seems to be the sole property of Minions and Flying Monkeys and said, "I know what you're doing to your mother, and I'm extremely disappointed in you!" 
My reply was quick, "I'm sorry you feel that way and I'm not willing to discuss this with you further." 

In counseling with NM, I brought this interaction up as I thought it showed clearly just who was doing the 'talking' about our dirty laundry.  I, after all, hadn't said anything to Ms. Gossipy but she'd obviously gotten her information directly from the FOO source.  NM's response, "Well, I didn't talk to her!"

I called her out, saying, "NM, of course you talked to her!  Who else would?"
"Well," she said, "she called me!"
"But you just said you didn't talk to her?!?"

So far in the conversation, NM's gone from you're being mean to me (saying things about me in the community,) to I didn't do anything (an outright lie,) to it wasn't my fault (Ms. Gossipy initiated contact, which gives me a right to engage.)  Next up;  blame shifting to me.

"Well," she said, "when Ms. Gossipy called me and I told her what was going on, she said, 'Vanci was always such a hard child for you to raise, I remember what she was like as a teenager!'"

Wow, just wow.  Not only was she able to make it true in her mind that I am just bad, since I was a bad teenager (um.... see previous posts regarding sexual abuse and repression by NM of my feelings combined with her unwillingness to create safety for me, etc...) fifteen years previously, but she was also able to make it my fault that she had to talk to someone else in the community about our bad relationship - cause I was just a bad daughter and someone we knew had to call her to find out why.

"Why would you say that, Mom?" I asked, deeply hurt by all the insinuation that I was at fault not only for present day issues, but also that my reactionary-to-abuse smoking and drinking and promiscuity fifteen years prior was being dragged back out into the public light as proof of NM's innocence. 

"I didn't say it," she said, "I only agreed with her." 
"So you agreed with her?" I asked.
"Well you were such a diffi--"
I interrupted.  "So you agreed with her and blamed our problems today on my behavior as a teenager?"

Frustrated by my insistence on staying on the topic, she finally sputtered out, "Oh, Vanci!  What does it matter?"

I felt a bubble burst inside me.  Not relief, exactly, but I had some sense of deep, intuitive understanding that I was NOT like her and I responded with, "What's the truth, mom?  The truth is what matters!"

She was silent. 

I'm so glad that I have the ability to see and feel and hold onto and recognize and acknowledge and tell the truth.

Every bad relationship in my life has punished me for being honest. 
Every good relationship in my life has rewarded me for my honesty.
What an awesome tool to have; what an incredible, simple way to live.

No matter the situation, I always have a starting point; what's the truth?  The truth doesn't have versions, it's black and white, it happened or it didn't.  What a great litmus test of my own sanity.

I think I'll just keep tellin' it like it is.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Letter I Will Send

NM and EF,

You asked at the end of our meeting in my counselor's office several weeks ago: "How do we move forward?" 
Here's your answer - we don't.

Don't contact me, don't contact my daughters and DH has asked that you not contact him again either, ever, for any reason, in any way, shape or form. There are no longer any conceivable circumstances under which it will be appropriate for you to contact us.  Once more, to be clear: do not contact us, ever again, for any reason.

You're monsters.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Letter I Probably Won't Send

So I'm going from NC outside of a therapist's office to Completely Severed Ties.  Here's the letter I would like to send to facilitate this.

NM and EF,
This is addressed to you both as it concerns you both.  I've tried so hard to create safe boundaries for myself and my family over these last four years, and have done my best to stay on the metaphorical 'high road' when it comes to you and dealing with you.  I kept certain pathways open in the hopes that you would, someday, want to explore having a healthy relationship with me.

It became apparent at our last counseling session that you are only interested in having the same relationship that we used to have; that they way things used to be is what you consider to be a definition of 'normal.'  You're wrong.  What we used to have together as a 'family' was sick, twisted, manipulative, deceitful and highly, strongly dysfunctional.  You've used me my entire life for your own purposes; you've blamed me for your problems, you've lied to and about me over and over again, you've belittled and shamed me in order to inflate your own false egos and images of yourself as 'a good mother' and 'pastor EF.' 

I will never re-enter into that twisted and hurtful and gross family cycle and dynamic that you've created.  I'd sooner shove needles in my eyes.

Now, one of my daughters has revealed to me that you sexually abused her, EF, and that you saw it, NM, and covered it up.  That's familiar.  You are a pedophile, EF, and you are a pedophile too, NM.  Those who do not protect the innocent are guilty of the crimes they witness.

You're monsters, and we want nothing to do with you ever again.  Do not contact me, do not contact my daughters, and DH has asked me to tell you not to contact him as well.  You're dead to us.

You'll never hear from  me again, that's a promise, but rest assured that if DD wants to file and press charges against you as she remembers more and more of the atrocities you inflicted on her, I will stand behind her 100%.  I will not let her down, because I'm not pretending to be a good parent; I am one.

I hope you're satisfied with the lives you've created for yourselves.



Will I send it?  I don't know.  I have an inkling it might be counterproductive to give them any information at all.  They are emotional vampires, after all, and this might just be feeding the monsters.

Your opinions, insights and feedback are welcome, my friends.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

An Appropriate Level of Detachment

I've been thinking about emotional investments lately. 
In the childhood the Crazymaker's created for me, I learned to invest the lion's share of my feelings and actions in other people's metaphorical banks.  It was my job to care about what happened to NM, EF, OS and YB... and Jesus... and strangers... and acquaintances at any cost, and certainly I was supposed to care about what happened to everyone else in the world more than what happened to me.  I was trained to intuitively determine the needs of those around me and to always, always, always fill those needs.  Regardless of my own needs, wants, desires, hopes, dreams, thoughts, opinions, beliefs, it was my job to slap on the happy face and do whatever it took to satisfy those around me.

I did this willingly as a young girl, because NM promoted 'grace through selflessness' and I wanted so badly to please.  I don't know that a non-ACON can really understand the dichotomy this particular part of the dysfunction creates.  It's difficult to explain to DH or the other normies in my life that I was molded from ... well, from forever... to please the Narcs.  It's hard to explain that from the beginning of time I was taught that I was worthless unless I was 'giving' of myself to those around me.  It's hard to explain that I was conditioned to believe that if I didn't go along to get along, it was made clear to me that I would no longer be loved. 

Every little boy or girl wants to be loved, it's human nature to crave closeness.  Being loved is how we learn who we are.  Being loved is how we define the world.  I was absolutely invested as a little girl in obtaining and holding onto the love that was dangled in my face as a means of control.  I'm reminded of a line from the 90's movie The Crow, where the main character says to another character's mother (as he squeezes the heroin out of her veins,) "Mother is the word for God on the lips of all children."  (I have an inkling that this line is originally from a different source, but I'm not sure.)

And that was true for me, as I imagine it is for a lot of small children.  Until it wasn't anymore.  The conditional 'love' that was offered to me based on my daily performance of slow spirit and soul suicide created such a warped perception of love.  Love, I learned, is painful.

Eventually I rebelled against the pain-inducing Narcs, and I started telling the truth - about me, about them, about my newly enlighted sense of what love should be.  You know, that love should be, well, loving.  You can imagine how that was received.  Instead of being subtly insulted daily because, to them, I was unworthy but at least I could be counted on to do their dirty work and take care of their needs, I became an outcast.  When I stopped being useful to them, they wrote me off. 

 I graduated from high school with a 3.47 honors GPA - a month after I turned 17, having skipped the 8th grade - while drunk, so imagine what I could have done with a little help.  And no one in my FOO had even bothered to talk to me about college, other than to tell me that I wouldn't be able to count on them for any financial support.  Three years later they gave OS a check for ten grand for her educational expenses - I know this for a fact because they couldn't be bothered to mail it, so asked me to courier it to her on one of my trips to the town she was living in at the time. 

So, when I stopped doing what they wanted me to do with consistency, they basically just stopped supporting me in any way.  They couldn't be bothered.  I became invisible.  Again, I don't know that a normal person who grew up in a 'normal' family can understand how absolutely devastating this is to a child's soul.  See, I thought, they really don't love you.  People aren't built to endure that kind of torture.

So, I became numb.  When I got to the point that I couldn't dull the pain on my own anymore, I tried to drink it away, and that worked for me for a long time.  All the pain was still there after I sobered up the next day, but at least I had some escape from it while I was off in the never never land of alcoholism.  Until the booze quit working, and no matter how much I poured into the void inside me, it didn't fill me up (it never really had,) and it didn't stop the pain anymore even on a temporary basis.

I got sober.  I got healthy (-er.)  I felt my feelings, good and bad, and the affect emotion that came flowing out after all those years I'd 'bottled' (pun intended, hee hee!) them up was overwhelming.  I was just a walking raw nerve for a long time.  Thank goodness I'd already gone NC, I don't know how I would have survived that conflagration of feeling if the FOO had been allowed any access at the time.  I am sure that they would have been absolutely delighted to see me unravelled, though. Boy was I a mess; up and down and up and down and up and down.  My pendulum swung far and wide in those days.

Once I made it through the first stages and relearned how to experience feelings, or at least how to recognize them and begin to use the tools I'd acquired to stay more in the middle of the swing, I had some relief.  I started to develop an understanding of my feelings.  I was angry at the FOO.  Previously I'd have just gotten drunk in response to that, or I'd have reacted, possibly violently, or I'd have denied that I felt angry (upset used to be one of my favorite words.)  Thankfully, I was able to finally recognize that I was angry because I'd been mistreated.  I should have been angry.  It was a relief to finally feel the appropriate feeling that the situation dictated.  Normal!  Yay!

Now, most of the time, I've developed what I believe is an appropriate level of understading when it comes to my feelings.  I know when I'm over-reacting and I stop.  I know when I'm under-reacting and I find out why.  I hardly ever push myself off an emotional cliff anymore over trivial matters, and I am able to experience the emotions that I have as the emotions that they are, without guilt or confusion.

But, when it comes to the FOO, particularly NM, I don't think I'll ever be able to truly understand some of their actions or some of my feelings toward them.  I do know that, these days, I feel a strong level of detachment when it comes to them.

Often, I just don't truly care what's happening in their lives, how they're feeling, who they've bribed to do all their dirty work these days since I'm not around.  Maybe it's none of my business, or maybe I just really don't give a rip. 

Either way, I'm glad I don't have to be invested in them like I used to.  It's nice to invest in me, and in the people who truly care about me and whom I truly love. 


Thursday, September 1, 2011

External Proof of Inner Turmoil

** Warning: this post is dark and likely contains some triggers for some people.  Read at your own risk.

This post is about teeth.  Yes, teeth, again.
Why with the teeth, Vanci?  Well, I have 'bad teeth.'

Really, I do.  I take care of my teeth and I always have, but they just don't take care of me back.  Whether it's due to the lack of flouride in the water when I was kid as has been speculated or due to the fact that at one point in my early adulthood I worked between 16-18 hours per day as a waitress and lived primarily on Marlboro Reds, free soda and the occasional breadstick, I don't know.  (I was 22 and had two daughters to support while battling in court to get my psycho abusive husband out of my life.  It was a rough time, and to add to the stress, the FOO would only 'help' me so long as I tolerated their bad behavior.)

So, I have bad teeth.  They like to rot willy-nilly and I trudge to the dentist to repair the worst of the damage as I can.  But, money's been tight for a few years and there's only a limited amount of 'tooth' funding to spead around.  So, the kids teeth come first, and then DH and I take turns getting work done based on the very simple equation of; he/she who is in the most pain goes to the dentist next.

The whole dental question fascinates me, though, in the context of the twisted narcissistic order of preference that I grew up with.  I worked really hard to find a dentist that DH, DDs and I would all feel comfortable with, and we all go in every 6 months for our cleanings and whatever check ups the dentist recommends.  The rule is that if the DDs need anything done, we schedule it, do it and figure out how to make the money work.  If DH or I need something done, well, back to the pain question. 

I don't remember ever seeing a dentist when I was a kid unless I had a toothache.  No regular cleanings, no trips to the hygenist, no xrays, certainly no orthodontia.  Part of this, I'm sure, is because we moved so flippin much - who can keep up with cleaning dates when you're barely even unpacked in a house before you're packing back up?  That logic would fly under normal circumstances, but we're dealing with narcs here, so of course, there's more.

OS did go to the dentist on a regular basis.  She had orthodontic retainers, too, for her slight overbite and slightly crooked teeth as a teen.  She also had a tooth die due to trauma in her early 20's.  NM and EF willingly shelled out the money for that dental work too.  
It's just yet another example of exactly how screwed up the Crazymaker Clan was and is.

I woke up this morning with a shooting pain in one of my molars - it's been on the list for repair for awhile - and I knew right away what was going on.  I've been struggling for a couple of weeks.

Six weeks ago NM finally (after four years) called and made an appointment with my therapist.  We met.  Everything was exactly the same as it's always been on their end, but I could see where I've evolved.  They still dish the shit, but none of it gets on me anymore.  Even though we didn't resolve anything, that knowledge was a win. 
I've struggled since with acceptance of what that counseling session taught me: I'm willing to create safe parameters to have a healthy relationship with them, or to have none at all.  They are only willing to seek a way to have the same relationship that we used to.  And, really, why wouldn't they want that?  It was a lose-lose deal for me, but it was a win-win for them.  That realization of knowledge has  been keeping me up at night, because it's a game-changer for me. 

It made it clear that my NC boundaries need to change, that I need to take away their ability to contact me, even through a therapist, and make it so that NC will continue until (if) I choose to contact them.  I was working on how to accomplish this.

But then...
Two weeks ago one of my DDs revealed to me that she had been abused in a way I was previously unaware of by one of the members of the FOO, and another member of the FOO knew about it and covered it up.  I was able to take my experience with severe dysfunction and use it to help DD by validating her, believeing in her, protecting her and seeking the help that she needs with her.  It will be an ongoing process, no doubt, but she'll be fine, we'll be fine.  We'll walk through it together and we'll make it to the other side and we'll find ways to grow and learn through this painful process.

The anger, no, rage, that I feel is overwhelming right now.  I'm resisting the urge to direct that rage at myself - conditioning, conditioning, conditioning - for not protecting her, for not getting her out sooner, because I know two things: I really did the best I could with what I had at the time, which wasn't much, and at least I did finally wake up.  Was it soon enough?  No.  But at least I did make it happen.

Most of the rage is directed at the Crazymakers, because of the pain they cause(d) but also because, after all this time, all the work I've done to create space, to protect, to establish and maintain sanity and serenity, when it comes to them and their actions nothing fucking changed.  They're the same sick fucks that they were when I was a child, that they were when my DD's were younger and that they were six weeks ago in a counselor's office.

I can't change it, I can't change them, but I can change me.

So, I'm going to be slamming the doors.  I'll be taking my 'relationship' with the FOO from NC to a state of completely severed ties.  I've been struggling with the correct way to effect this while still keeping my side of the street clean, for my own health and benefit. 

In the meantime, while I try to 'do normal' during the day and allow myself time to process all this, apparently my body has decided to add a little fuel to the fire.  I had a toothache today because I clenched my jaw so hard in my sleep last night that I actually cracked one of my molars.  To cop an Alice Millerism, the body doesn't lie.  This is urgent.

The sooner I close those doors and put up the iron curtain, the better.  A girl's only got so many teeth.

Sorry for the darkess of this post, but darkness is what they have brought into my life and what they will always bring.  Once I get those doors shut I'll be working hard to open up my own windows and let the sunshine back into my soul.  Thanks for being on this journey with me.