Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Discombobulation (and quite a few F-bombs in the mix)

My emotions are running all over the map lately, and I'm having a hard time getting a handle on them.  We're all busy in my casa with school finals and work and snow, snow, snow and life's been chaotic for the last few weeks.  Normally I do fine with the day-to-day hectic stuff, but we've also had a couple of viruses hit us and I've been seriously low on energy, so it's been a bit difficult to deal.

I'm making a conscious effort everyday to just breathe and reminding myself a lot that this too, like everything else, will pass.  It's just little stuff, ya know?

So in the middle of it all, actually sick and tired and trying to get the grocery shopping done at my least favorite (though cheapest) store on Sunday afternoon (the worst possible time of the week to be in said store with all of the post-church families in their Sunday go to meeting clothes,) my youngest DD chose to tell me that the Crazymakers had found another loophole and attempted contact.  Again.

They came up with this little trick a few years ago where NSis makes friends with what I can only call broken women and their children.  They're usually single moms, usually ladies with obvious self-worth issues and they usually don't have much of a support system in place.  NSis swoops in and enfolds the broken woman into the 'loving' arms of the Clan.  I've been a single mom.  I know how hard it is and how much being alone in the crazy world of parenting can make a person feel isolated and like screaming, "Would it be too much to get a little fucking help here?!?"  I'm guessing that the many hands of the Clan looks comforting and probably even feels that way for awhile.

So, these little families get roped into the farce and then the various members of the NFOO go about determining their worth; of what use these people are.  Children are not immune in my NFOO to being assigned roles.  Children in my NFOO are to be used and hurt and discarded along with adults.  S'what they do.  They're good at it.

So, the children of these 'broken' (or are they just stupid?  I don't know) women - and they are always women for some reason - get roped into the games and are used as pawns and minions.  In some sick perversion of the needs of the whole outweighing the needs of the individual, these kids - I can think of five separate individuals from four separate families over the last three years - get sent out to do NM's or NSis's bidding.  In three years my DD's have heard five different but eerily similar versions of this:

"I just wanted to let you know that I know your aunt/grandma really well, and if you ever want to talk to her, you can send a message through me.  You can send a note or I can give her your number and I promise your mom won't find out."

What.  The.  Fuck.

Now, my DD's have done okay with these Narc sneak attacks.  They've told me about them every single time and have responded to them with stunned (at first) or cold (more recently) silence.  They've gotten pretty good at the non-emotional brush off along the lines of, "Um, thanks.  Have a good day."

We know it's not these kids' fault.  They're being used.  They're sent unarmed into battle with the missive that they're doing a good thing, really, with no real knowledge of the potential quagmire they're putting themselves into.  They've been given a convincing version of the Great Crazymaker Clan Lies and they don't know any better.  How could they?  After all, if any of them ever got up the urge to question the squeaky clean story of crazy-Vanci-who-won't-let-us-see-our-granddaughters/nieces-because-she's-messed-up-so-bad-but-we're-perfect, well, we know how the Clan deals with dissenters, don't we?  They'd be beaten down before they could say boo.  I'm proud of my daughters for dealing with these other kids with grace and class.  I'm proud of them for telling the truth about these overtures of crazy.

But I'm pissed, I am oh so fucking angry.  Dangerous angry.  Spitting bullets angry.

Who does this to kids?  What kind of a person ever, under any circumstances, puts that kind of message and weight on the shoulders of children?  My girls deal well with it, sure, but it pegs my needle in the red that my darling daughters have to even suffer the interruption in their goddamn lives.  They don't deserve that!  But, oh, wait, we're talking about narcissists here; guaranteed they haven't thought for one minute what that kind of message can do to a kid, either the child receiving it or delivering it.

And those poor messengers; what's the message?  I've never met an upstanding and mature adult who would ever even think to convey to a child that keeping secrets is a good thing.  Because it's not, you know, our secrets make us sick, and asking a child to carry them is one of the cruelest things I can think of.  The only conceivable circumstance I can even stretch to where it would be okay to tell a child that they can confide in me and keep it secret would be a short term promise in cases of abuse and only then would a secret be kept long enough to seek professional help, ie law enforcement.  And I certainly wouldn't send that message through a child.

But wait, I keep forgetting, when I'm dealing with a child I have the child's best interests at the forefront of my action.  The NFOO doesn't have the child's interests anywhere in their gameplan; children are pawns and excellent supplies of narc supply (not to mention fodder for abuse) to NM, ENF, NSis and GCYB.  It's all about what the Narcs can get out of them, what life and blood they can suck from the marrow of the innocents.  In that context, kids are probably the best find ever; they are incapable in so many ways of fighting back.

And a large part of me right now is screaming for a fight.  I want so badly to just start posting on this blog with my real name, to start telling my story on my everyday Facebook, to send an email to Uncle Minion asking him to pass along that if there is one more fucking attempt to contact, I'll be publishing details of NF's sexual abuse of me and the DD's, NM's cover-up and drug addictions, NSis's and GCYB's drug and alcohol use in the fucking local paper.

Some part of me knows that this isn't the right avenue to take, though fuck me if I know what the right way is.  I don't want to open up my DD's to scrutiny or fear of retaliation, I really don't want to stir the kettle for them anymore than it already has been.  As far as those messenger kids, what's to be done?  Their parents are allowing them to be around the seemingly wonderful and loving and pathetic 'grandparents,' and obviously presenting them as some sort of role models.  They haven't, technically, done anything wrong.

Technically.  But I know different.  I know the fucked up blame the victim and use, use, use the innocents platform they're coming from.  And I just want to take a flame-thrower to it.

So, for now, I'm sitting in it and keeping the whole situation in my conscious thoughts while trying not to dwell overly much, because I know about watched pots not boiling.  Some course of action will open itself up to me, I'm certain, and it will make perfect sense when it does.  But for now, fuck, fuck, fuck I just want to seek and destroy.

Not my most enlightened post, this one.  Thanks for reading anyway, and please do let me know if you have any ideas.  What would you do?


P.S.  I've talked to professionals about the sexual abuse, and for various reasons we have no prosecuteable case.  I'd love to be able to file charges, trust me, and see it all the way through prison time, but what is wrong and the framework of wrong that the law provides are entirely different things, unfortunately.  So, that option's not an option.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Five Years

It's been five years this month since the beginning of what I think of as Vanci's Last Stand against the NFOO.  I'd been orchestrating small rebellions against my designations and roles as caretaker, problem solver, black sheep, whipping girl and scapegoat for some time - mostly subconsciously at that point - but I hadn't really drawn any clear boundaries.  I capitulated a lot; I'd sort of draw a fluffy, wide, gray line and then give up when the clan members stepped on it, often immediately.

Five years ago this month, though, a concretely wrong situation took place and it became clear that my DD's were in danger.  NM's addiction to narcotics wasn't anything new, but her refusal to seek help (and ability to Houdini her way into more and more precarious situations with the mind-altering substances,) really reached a boiling point then.  Amazingly, even while actively drinking alcoholically, I was the single member of the NFOO who threw up a red flag and said, "Hey, we aren't prepared to deal with this, we have to seek professional help."  I'm giggling a little as a type this from my cozy and clear present day perspective, not because I find her addictions or the NFOO's insane reaction to it amusing, but because it's just so damn ludicrous.

I did what I was trained to do; I took care of things.  This was NM's second - that we know of - overdose binge in six months.  When I got the call that NM had taken 128 hydrocodone in 48 hours (which was roughly eight times the amount her quack pusher doctor had over-prescribed) while under 'constant' surveillance from the other four adults in the NFOO who all lived with her in the same house and were supposed to be monitoring her locked up drugs, it's just so damned funny that I didn't even stop to question that this was my problem to deal with.  Talk about brainwashed!

What's even more insane is that I made the only suggestion that had with it any possible hope of resolution; we need help here people.  And that the NFOO's reaction to that was a resounding NO.  At that point I wasn't even pushing for rehab or addiction counseling;  I would have settled for even a second opinion from a different doctor as a means to satiate my desire for things to change, probably regardless of that second opinion doctor's suggestion.  I was looking for anything to change, just anything.  And the NFOO unanimously agreed that my suggestion to seek help was wrong, and that 'they' (read: Vanci) would just keep on doing what we'd been doing while expecting a different result.

Even in my alcohol-soaked and brainwashed state, this incident made it clear to me that the only route for change that was open to me was to change myself.  I initially made a pretty weak move - so easy to see that in retrospect, but at the time it was the hardest thing I'd ever done - and simply stated (with DH) that if the NFOO's choice to deal with addiction was NOT to deal with it, my DD's would only be around them under my or DH's supervision.  And if that wasn't the shot heard round the world, I don't know what was.  I changed one thing; free access to my tender daughters due to rampant drug abuse.  In a normal and sane framework, it's clearly the right thing to do.  It's the only thing to do.  As my dear friend and brother-in-law said at the time, so simply and elegantly, "Vanci, addiction trumps EVERYTHING."  But not in crazy Narcland, oh no!

I had no right to change the rules of the game, in their opinions.  They hauled out every single piece of artillery and ammunition at their disposal and did their best to lay waste to me and my newly discovered strength.  The downward spiral of the end of my 'relationship' with NM, ENF, NOSis and GCYB was steep and swift, and that was the incident at the top of the slide.
I wish I could say that I took that initial stand of separation for my own benefit, but it wasn't the case.  At the time I truly didn't value myself enough to stand up for me, but at the very least I could stand up for the DDs, with DH's help.  And that, as they say, was the first step to freedom.

It got rough, and then it got rougher and then the entire flaming bag of dog poo that was my relationship with the NFOO just exploded all over the place.  And there I stood, covered in shit.

It took awhile to realize that I wasn't standing alone.  It took longer to reach out to those people who stood with me and longer still to trust them with my heart and hopes and my worth.  It took almost a year and a half after that incident five years ago for me to even realize that I had a bit of a teensy problem with addiction too, "Got the gene!" as DH used to say.  And once I wrung myself out, it took a lot of work and a lot of time to realize that this single incident five years ago was a catalyst for my expulsion from the NFOO, but it wasn't the reason in and of itself.  The abuse had been there... forever. My desire and ability to see it and understand it was a long time coming.

I'm thinking tonight, though, about that small crowd of supportive people who reached out to me, loved me and helped me walk through the darkest times.  There weren't many in number, but they were real and honest and caring and they kept me going.  Five years later, most of those people are still in my life; they're my tribe, my friends, my family of choice.  They love me for me and I love them for them.
I've changed in myriad ways for the better; stronger, sober, happier, more truthful, more real, funnier, clearer, and those wonderful people in my life have held my hand the whole way.  At times those people have dragged me kicking and screaming back onto the path and at times they've run to catch up with me, but they are a constant in my recovery and instrumental to my healing.

The NFOO remains almost exactly as they were five years ago with the sole exception that they can only blame me for their misery from afar.  My absence has created a far bigger hole in their lives than theirs has in mine, I'm certain of it.

Five years.  Five long years of digging and scraping and remembering and moving forward and helping and learning and healing and rejoicing and building and loving.

All these things, these feelings, this growth - all are only possible for me because I've been able to keep myself safe from the Crazymaker Clan for five years.

Hip hip hooray for five years of freedom!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chameleon in the Park

Two seemingly unrelated ideas came together in my head today and made one of those magic connections: Aha!

I was honored a couple of days ago to receive a sort of award at work. My company has a peer to peer recognition program that allows a coworker to nominate another for 'going above and beyond,' and one of my colleagues wrote up a nice nomination for me. Although I find most of the corporate speak (particularly from management) around this type of program to be at worst gag-inducing and at best pandering, (Hey! If we're that great just give us a raise already!) I like that it provides otherwise seriously self-focused and busy people a formal way to say, "Hey, thanks for all you do."

One of the comments that my coworker made about me in his description of how I 'provide excellence' was something to the effect of, "I don't know how Vanci takes care of so much for so many people while making it look so easy, but she makes my job so much easier and I appreciate it greatly." I never turn away from thanks and kindness, especially after a lifetime spent fulfilling expectations from the NFOO with no credit and no thanks, so I graciously and gratefully accepted the warm fuzzy and gave it a place of honor on my little wall of accomplishments.

It occurred to me, though, that I do know how I do 'so much for so many.' I was trained well to do everything for everyone and to expect nothing in return. I was good at it, too.

From my earliest memories on, I can see how I was honing my already finely attuned intuition about and anticipation of the needs and moods of others. I remember being about four years old and waiting on pins and needles for ENF to come home from work with a peculiar mixture of dread and concern. Within the first few minutes after he walked in the door, I was able to tell what kind of evening it would be: hiding from his rage or being roped into the isn't-it-wonderful-that-we're-all-so-happy-and-nice-nice-nicey-family. I think that I often knew what kind of atmosphere his mood was going to set before he even knew what kind of mood he was in.

The same goes for NM's moods, though instead of rage she swung between a vapid and useless depression to complete and utter distance. The only constant was the fake 'company' show we always, no matter what was really going on, had to put on for guests in our home or in public. It was a false face, but we all played our parts, usually only learning later - during the rage or isolation portion of punishment once we were safely ensconced behind closed doors - what NM or ENF's true mood of the hour really was behind the Happy Family Mask.

I developed early on the capacity and capability to become whatever it was that the clan needed in order to diffuse a bad situation or keep us rolling in a good one. Chameleons change their colors to blend in to the background and avoid being picked off by their predators. I rarely changed my exterior to blend in and not be seen (though I certainly tried sometimes,) but I typically changed myself into whatever was necessary within the NFOO on any given day to keep danger at bay. Like the little Dutch boy with his fingers in the holes in the dike, I ran around trying to be whatever it would take to keep it all together, to keep us (me and the sibs, mostly) safe, to prevent scary things from happening, to try to lessen the chance of them hurting us. At various times I played the court jester, peacemaker, caretaker, stability creator, child minder or whatever else was needed to keep darkness at bay.

Eventually I found myself fulfilling these roles for NSis and GCYB too, as well as their ancillaries; spouses, friends, girlfriends, kids. I was most comfortable in the role of caretaker, so I cooked and cleaned and shuttled people around, often without being explicitly asked (although the expectations of my service were very clear,) and certainly with very few thanks. I was good at this, so good in fact that I think the loss of all my damn work was one of the primary reasons that the NFOO reacted with such violence when I removed myself from them. Who doesn't want free labor? Especially when I made it look so easy; it must have come as a great shock to them how much work I did once I was gone and they had to do it themselves.

It was, plain and simple, servitude. And that brings me to the park, not an outdoor park or a water park or a skate park, but a fantastic movie, Gosford Park. I love this movie with its upstairs/downstairs changing viewpoints. The aristocrats are the reason that there is an English country house, but the servants are the heart and soul of the house. They keep everything running, regardless of their own needs or desires and no matter how badly they're treated. Because they're servants. Not people in their own right; servants.

Toward the end of the movie, Mrs. Wilson (played superbly by Helen Mirren) as the head of all maids and female house staff, says this:

"What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others? Its the gift of anticipation. And I'm a good servant; I'm better than good, I'm the best; I'm the perfect servant. I know when they'll be hungry, and the food is ready. I know when they'll be tired, and the bed is turned down. I know it before they know it themselves."

I identify with this on a visceral level. I know that feeling so well; I truly did know what was needed before anyone in the NFOO did most of the time. I was so good at the anticipation of needs of others that I - for a time - completely lost the ability to understand my own needs.

When I extracted myself, I remember feeling very, very lost for a while. Sometimes, even now, I'll find myself in a place and time that requires me only to look after myself, and I think, "Huh. Weird. What should I do?"

I'm happy to be of service in my job and happy that I have the skill and intuition to see the needs and fill the needs of the work and others. I'm good at it and *ding! ding! this is KEY* I receive credit for it and it's appreciated. I also do this in my FOC, out of love and kindness and the desire to treat the people that I love well. They thank me for my work and they *ding! ding!* reciprocate with kindness and anticipation of my needs and desires, too.
Huh. Weird. :)

I'm happy to be of service, like I said, but even happier that I'm no longer a servant. I think there's a difference, and it comes down to choice (mine) and reaction (theirs.) All of my attempts to be of service to the NFOO would never have been enough for them to recognize me as anything but their servant. Not their child or a loving daughter or a sister or a friend or a fan-freeking-tastic cook or anything else; just a servant.

My efforts to be of service to the people in my life now are rewarded with recognition, reciprocation and mutual affection. And the best part? All of this joy comes not from me trying to be anything that I'm not, but just from me being me and doing what I do.

That's just cool.



Monday, January 9, 2012

Why We Need War Stories

"I was tied to a chair with dishrag stuffed in my mouth and made to stay there all day."
"They beat me for not cleaning up after my younger brother's diaper mess.  I was four years old."
"He broke my arm and threatened to break the other one if I told the nurse the truth about how it happened."
"She locked me in my room for days on end with no food or bathroom."

The above are only fragments of a portion of the true stories I've heard in this community and other arenas in which we ACoNs and survivors of abuse huddle together seeking shelter from the storm of our memories.  When we're in the middle of the abuse, when it's actively being forced upon us, it (and those who wield the abuse,) are the gale force winds we're threatened with.  They're alive, they're monsters, they're right outside of our minds, ready and waiting to exert their influence; they're looking forward to hurting us, breaking us.

Some of us don't make it out.
They take our hearts, our time, our money, our souls, our relationships, our careers, our creativity, our lives.  They appear in our bedrooms and our offices and our sacred places and they ravage us like the beasts that they've allowed themselves to be or become.  They wear us down, they confuse us, they find ways to make us shoulder blame that we don't deserve and shouldn't be forced to carry.  They consume us in any way they can, and then they convince us that their cruelty was what we deserved in the first place.  Most of us have only the defense of denial to block out the pain while we try to live through it.  Is it any wonder that we live in shame, fear, dread, terror?  Is it any wonder that we become broken people?

Some of us get away, to varying degrees.  We survive the atrocities and we spend time and energy and money and emotion and will digging out of the premature graves - be they metaphorical, emotional or physical - that the abusers put us in.  We overcome, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, sometimes all the way.  Sometimes, yes it's true, sometimes we fucking thrive once we get out of that dark, dank, dirty hole that they dug for us.

And when we realize that we've made it into the light, we commit the ultimate alleged 'sin' against our abusers, our dysfunctional families, our narcissistic or deranged or sociopathic or psychopathic 'loved ones,' be they parents or siblings or spouses or friends or ministers or teachers or neighbors.


We break the cycles of abuse with our voices and our words and our experience and wisdom and support of each other.  Bedraggled veterans of combat, we speak of what happened, what it was like and what has changed.  We share our memories and the tears, anger, shame that come with them.  We talk about how we got out and how we stay out and how we move on and how we live, not just through it, but also with it.  We tell the truth about what we've suffered, and we tell the truth of how we survived and we tell the truth of how to live well for different reasons and with different motivations from each other, but the core we share is always the same: we made it, we survived, we're here, we're together, we can do this.

We tell our stories for reasons that only survivors can understand.
We who have been forced to swallow the horror and pretend it doesn't exist (in my case while singing in front of the church on Sunday morning with a big, bright SMILE,) have to speak it out loud in order to affirm its reality.
We who have been forced to sacrifice ourselves to atone for others' transgressions need to unravel the story with a willing audience to help us keep it straight.
We who've been forced to live in shame for crimes we didn't commit (often simply for being born) need to speak out into the light and have others return to us that ...

It wasn't our fault.
We didn't deserve it.
We aren't responsible for it.
It shouldn't have happened to us.
We are lovable.
We deserved better.
We can live through it.
We can grow.
We are not alone.

And most importantly: no one has a right to hurt us ever again.

With all my heart, thank you for sharing your stories and for allowing me to share mine.


Friday, January 6, 2012

How Dare You?

I've been pondering something that NM said in one of our short on frequency but long on counter productivity meetings with my therapist.  My counselor's requirement after meeting NM once briefly was that should she want to take me up on my offer to meet with him as a mediator/witness, she would need to bring her own therapist.

She was seeing a therapist at the time because her doctor threatened to stop writing her prescriptions for, get this, methadone and hydrocodone at the same time, unless she sought counseling to 'explore other ways to deal with chronic pain.'  Huh.  What my seventeen years of pushing and pleading for her to get help wouldn't do, one threat of her losing her fix did.

Typical narcissistic self-fulfillment behavior, I see very clearly now, but at the time I hoped it was a sign of her desire to get better and have a better relationship with me.  Stop laughing, I didn't know any better!

Anyhoo, there were two meetings with her counselor and mine.  Then there were almost four years with no meetings.  Then we had a meeting in June.  Which was essentially the same meeting that we had all those years ago.  Lord, this shit does get redundant!

One of the things that sort of slipped by me in the second meeting all those years ago was this.  As a defensive posture against my awful, awful attack (in her mind,) NM said,
"And you go around telling people that our family is dysfunctional!  It's like you just want to hurt us."

Oh.  Me oh my.   How dare I call them dysfunctional?!?

Here's the thing.  Dysfunctional in its literal sense means that a thing that should function... doesn't.  It's broken.  Not working.  Out of order.   Improper.  

My NFOO was and is broken.  Dysfunctional.
My father physically, emotionally, mentally,verbally, spiritually and sexually abused his children.  My mother emotionally, mentally, verbally and spiritually abused her children.   The crimes that they did not commit personally  against their children, they covered up for each other.  These are not functional behaviors.  This is sickness, rot, disease and degenerate malignancy.  If the point of life is to grow and develop, my childhood was the evolutionary equivalent of a person walking into a desert with gills and flippers.  In other words, a huge step back from enlightenment.  Ahem, dysfunctional.

Childhood aside, look at us now.  NM, you have an entire branch of your 'family' that hasn't spoken to you voluntarily in four years.  You have an almost forty year old grown daughter (plus husband and son,) as well as a mid-thirties grown son (plus wife and one or two stepchildren) who ALL live with you in a 2000 square foot house either because they aren't allowed to or are too scared to launch away from the Clan.  You are all variously addicted to narcotic substances, some legal and some not so much.  You couldn't tell the truth to save your life, I think.  Your other daughter is a hateful and evil Narcissist and your son is a failure at life with the unwarranted ego of a Prima Donna, i.e. a Golden Child.  On what planet is this the definition of functional?

There are certain truths in my experience that are simply factual and not up for debate.
Grass = Green
Sky = Blue
Alcohol in my system = Disaster
NFOO = Highly Dysfunctional

Yet I am in the wrong in NM's mind for daring to call our 'family' dysfunctional.  I love how she made it sound like I was randomly throwing unjust and unfounded accusations around willy-nilly to anyone I happened to cross paths with, like I was accusing her of being a leader of the KKK or saying that ENF had four ears, when in reality all I did was tell the truth.  It's so... so... classic.  Just fucking textbook Narc stuff.  Make the truth-teller the bad guy and you've got a bona fide all purpose lifetime get out of jail free card.

I don't remember responding to that high-brow accusation at the time; I'm sure that we'd already moved on to some other area of How-Vanci-Is-Bad, but I see clearly now what she was really saying.

"How dare you out us, Vanci?!?  How dare you refuse to be responsible for our crimes!?!  How dare you not believe exactly what I tell you to believe?!?"

Oh, I fucking dare alright.  I dare to tell the truth no matter what, and to keep doing it until I die.

Dysfunction is dysfunction.  I'm not trying to fix what's broken anymore in the NFOO, but I'll be pointing out the broken and shattered pieces every damn time I see them, to anyone who needs to know.

I dare to, because it's the RIGHT thing to do.  And no matter what I'd said or done, NM never would have been able to grasp that.  No Narcissist would want to, even if they could.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Won't Be Quiet

Usually my posts are prompted by thoughts that arise from everyday interaction with the (largely normal and sane) people in my life.  Coworkers make comments about their situations or I have a deep discussion with a friend or something changes in my thinking and I have an AHA moment that makes me need to express.

This post is a little different, having had no specific trigger but I've been recollecting several small conversations or asides that all seem to point to a particular mind set that I often come across.

I think that we, as a human race, just don't like to talk about ugliness.  Specifically, we don't like to talk about our own experiences with ugliness, whether that's darkness we've caused or darkness that's been done to us.  We like news about bad things that have happened to other people, but only those with whom we have no connection or hope of ever knowing; additionally, I think that normal and sane and good people become fascinated with news of harm happening to others partially because it helps us to understand that those bad things aren't happening to us.  I'm not saying that's the way to be, but it seems to be the way that many of us are.  Human nature or conditioned response?  Someone out there knows, I'm sure, but I don't.

I've written before about transparency and my need to be so.  I define personal transparency as this: I speak the truth.  That doesn't mean that I preach the truth, I don't go around proselytizing about my experience or belief system or moral code.  I fully realize that many of the traumas, abuses and experiences I've had are... hard to swallow.  I did, after all, live through them and know just how painful those events were and are.  Hearing about some of them is more than a person needs to know, most of the time, and I'm fine with that.  I've long since stopped needing or seeking validation from those around me when it comes to dealing with my roots or my character.  Good thing, too,with the active smear campaign the NFOO still mounts occasionally.

But, I'm a listener and a thinker, and people seem to like to talk to me.  I end up with a lot of people looking for an ear and a shoulder to bring their stories and tears to.  I'm okay with that, and glad that I can be a friend.  I try very hard not to give advice, but I will pick up on certain areas of a story that I can relate to or have been through and I do relate back my experience, should it apply.  It seems to help those in need.

I've noticed, though, that when I talk about my reality; the abuses, gaslighting, revision or history, using, scapegoating, maiming and attacking that the NFOO did and still do (as individuals and a whole,) I typically receive one of three responses.

Those who have been through similar experiences and are looking for understanding and/or help can relate.  Relief at not being alone, at being understood finally by someone else who's been through 'it' too, becomes almost palpable.  Being part of a larger  group has the benefit of helping us to understand that we are not on our own, and for ACoN's, that we are not at fault.  Some of the best - so far - relationships of my life have come from this kind of connection.  We speak the language of each others' hearts, you see.  And having an ally and friend of the heart is strong mojo.  There's power there that can be shared and borrowed all throughout the process of healing.  We can hold each other up with our connections.

Those who haven't been through similar hells are... baffled.  Their eyes get big and round and they say things like, "Um, wow, um, your mother?  Really?  Why?"  They've maybe never had anyone try so hard to intentionally hurt them, and to a normal and largely sane person, the facts about coming from a Narc family full of dysfunction - delivered in a clear, calm, explanatory style - just can't be absorbed.  So far from their realm of experience are mine as an ACoN that they end up looking like they've been hit with a cattle prod.  Baffled.

There's a third group, though, and these are the folks who've had bad things happen to them too, but for whatever reason, they're not ready to face it.  And when I speak about the horrors out loud, these folks invariably respond with some version of this:
"Wouldn't it be easier for you to not talk about it?"
It's often  phrased as a cliched helpful positive, "Stop thinking/talking about it so that it won't affect you anymore." or "You're letting them take up rent free space in your head." or (my personal favorite,) "Well, maybe if you let it alone for awhile, things will get better."  Yeah, that's the ticket.  Never thought of that before. Hee hee.

We like to pretend that bad things only happen to people we don't know.  But I live in truth, and here it is; bad things happen to people everywhere and the only way that bad things stop happening is if good people know about those bad things and take action to stop them.  Hiding the bad things and pretending that they don't exist or that they weren't as bad as maybe we thought they were doesn't make the bad things any less bad.  In fact, if any form of psychological study is to be believed, hiding bad things for too long causes... more bad things.

So, no, I won't be quiet.  People need to know, sure, what the face of abuse looks like and that it is possible to heal.  More importantly, I need to be clear about me.

I am who I am today due to many different influences and experiences in my life, a large number of which are the abuses that I suffered from birth to 30-ish year old freedom through NC from the NFOO.  And I like who I am.  Would I go through it again or wish it on anyone else just to garner the strength and prescience that having survived the darkness affords me?  Fuck no.  But it happened.  And that's the truth.  So I'm sticking to it.

Be quiet about it?  Why?  It's real, after all, and no amount of hushing up will make it any less so.  And, in my experience, once the truth has been 'outed' so to speak, it's a hell of a lot easier to pick it up and begin to move forward toward the light of freedom.

I won't be quiet.  I'll keep telling my truth as it's appropriate and wherever it's needed.  Because it's me, and because I can and because other people need to know that there's joy and hope and freedom out there just waiting to be picked up and carried.

And, ooooo, just a side note that isn't all that important to my cause but makes me chuckle; I bet the Narcs just hate that I won't shut my gosh-darned cockadoodie mouth.  Tee fucking hee.