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.