Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Big Picture

I'm a detail person, and I tend to see things from a slightly varied angle than the majority does.  This is often a benefit to me in my life; I'm naturally curious about how things work, what makes the world go 'round, the how of the matter at hand.  I can often think my way into the very core of a matter easily simply because I happen to see the back doors, the missed or misplaced variables, the hidden patterns.  I've always been like this, and I think this tendency was developed at least in part by the intuitiveness that I developed in response to abuse as the scapegoat of the NFOO.  It was a survival tactic, this seeing-around-corners vision that I can have.

That's the upside.  The downside is that I can become almost obsessively mired in details.  I can spend so much time living in what's right in front of me at any given moment that I fail to notice the world at large around me.  I often have people that I know tell me that they've seen me at the grocery store or driving around and that they were puzzled that I didn't respond to their - often animated - attempts to get my attention.  I honestly don't see them, truly, especially if I'm on a mission; kids to school, grocery list to complete, rental movies to return, make it to the post office before closing.

I've been digging into my past in an effort to understand myself better lately - ha ha, like the last five years! - and I've been examining my habits and character.  I've come to a quasi-conclusion that I often fail to see The Big Picture, and I think that this is part nature and part (lack of) nurture.

I can say for sure that I have a selective vision, and that this was first developed in early childhood as a defensive measure.  I think that I had to forget and not see what was truly happening around me.  When a child is raised in the 'fucked up tsunami tidal wave of craziness' (thank you Lisa for that apt and colorful phrase!) that I was, it's impossible to discern real from false, up from down, love from pain.  So, I think, there's a mental and emotional switch somewhere in me that I developed early on.  With the flick of that switch, I can become extremely focused on and engrossed by the one thing in front of me.  It's one of the reasons that I'm good at jigsaw puzzles and stacking games and spelling and finding themes and analyzing data and finding effiencies.

In flipping that switch, though, I lose sight of everything outside of my focused area.  I become narrow and hindered by a lack of peripheral vision, so to speak.  This can, I want to stress, be a good attribute to have.  But it can also be a sort of partial blindness, particularly when I stay focused for too long on such a small spectrum.

I've been thinking about this in the context of how I filled my allotted role within the NFOO for all those years.  I was the fixer, and I fixed every single thing that was handed to me, whether I agreed with the problem or the outcome and despite the back-flips and somersaults I had to do around my own opinions or moral leanings.   "Linin' em up and knockin' em down," is the phrase DH uses to describe me when I get into my task-oriented mode, and my perceived value in the NFOO was directly related to my willingness to continue fixing problems, no matter how many NM, ENF, NSis and GCYB created.

But spending all that time fixing everything for them created a long-term narrow focus for me.  No matter how much I tried to be a superhero with a cape, there really is only a limited amount of time in a day, and all my energy was allotted to the NFOO's crap.  I missed a lot of the world outside of the Crazymaker Clan Compound.  I didn't see The Big Picture - I was too busy managing the details.

In the phase that I think of as Early NC, I continued to be hung up on details; the minor slips or problems that painfully extracting myself from a dysfunctional family system caused caught all my attention.  I spent days running around trying to fix minor issues - when was a good time to return the call from NM that I'd let go to voicemail?  should I return it?  should I have someone with me if I returned the call?  should it be on speaker phone?  should I let someone else listen to the voicemail to see if I was reading too much into it?  if so, who? and on, and on, and on.  And in doing so I failed to see The Big Picture - that she was violating a clear and firm boundary that had been clearly drawn by calling me in the first place, and that therefore meant that she was being just as disrespectful of me as she'd always been, no matter what the actual message was.

I was fortunate in that I had fantastic support that I was willing to use, so I'd take all those inane questions of minutiae to my counselor or to DH or to a friend and begin to spin on them and one of those good people would say, "Hey, Vanci.  Why would you call her back?  You asked her not to call and to set up a counseling appointment if you wanted to see her, and that is not this."  The helped me to understand that it was a strategy and a tactic on her part to prove that my boundaries didn't matter and that she was firmly in control of when and how she'd contact me regardless of my desires.  So I was able to avoid a lot of the Early NC traps because I had other people in my life that would point to the Wile E. Coyote sign on the side of the road that said in six foot tall letters: TRAP - THIS WAY.

Sometimes, even now, I can get too focused on the details.  Some part of my brain that has yet to be retrained pops through every once in a while and makes a pathetic effort to hook me back into the details; "maybe it wasn't that bad?"  or "wouldn't it be nice to have parents?" or "maybe they've changed?"  And that's when I have to remember to look at The Big Picture.

The Big Picture is this: they've had 34 years to love me and treat me well, or at least like another member of the human race.  Since I went LC followed by NC, they've had five years to suck it up, take accountability, apologize, change their continued abuse of me and stop causing pain - to me and to themselves.  They've had their entire lifetimes to choose to be willing to get well and to do what it takes to work on that path.

They haven't done any of these things.  Using past performance as an indicator of future behavior, I can surmise quite easily that they never will do the 'right' thing, that they will continue to choose the 'easy' thing, which is to blame me.

So they, like the proverbial fool who defines his insanity by continuing to do what he's always done while expecting a different outcome than he's always gotten, will stay the same.  And I, as a truth teller and a seeker of growth will continue to work to better myself and to grow into as good a person as I can possibly be.  I understand more and more as I age and grow that I have control over one thing in this world and one thing only: Me.

So The Big Picture is this, too:  I'm getting better.  My landscape is vibrant and crowded with good people and good things and good feelings and good thoughts.  I don't know what their Big Picture looks like, but they sure as hell have no place in mine.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't Activate the Allergy

I've been attending more than my usual number of recovery meetings lately, for a lot of reasons - I've had some time, I've felt a need to be more present in for a couple of 'newcomers' and mostly because I know that I have an upcoming surgery (yes, my GD teeth again) that will require me to take some pain killers afterward.  This is scary for me.

My drug of choice was always alcohol - though really most addicts and alcoholics will tell you that at our core, our drug of choice actually boils down to one word: more.  I stayed away from illicit substances primarily because I was a legal type of gal.  Some part of my wet brain remained logical enough to keep me protected by staying on the right side of the law, but once the booze quit working for me, I've no doubt that if I hadn't found recovery, I would have gravitated to scrips next.  It was easy for me to justify my drinking by telling myself that I wasn't actually doing anything wrong, you see?  So, before I'd have ventured out to buy smack, I'm pretty sure I would have just used my health insurance to find some doctor-endorsed legal junk.

I've written before about NM's journey into drug-addled madness and the wreckage she created, and there are two good things that came out of the climax of that nightmare from me.  First, I removed myself from the Crazymaker Clan for the first time with real commitment.  Second, seeing that drug-fueled drama play out made me have to look within and spurred me on the road to my own recovery.

I believe that alcoholism and addiction are two-fold sicknesses, diseases if you will.  The first part is the physical reaction that an addict or alkie has when a substance is introduced to our systems; give me a mouthful of beer and my brain, stomach, nervous system, skin and mind all scream... MORE!  Seriously, I was two years sober when I had an epiphany while talking to a 'normie,' that went like this:
"So, let me get this straight," I said, "you can go to a bar, order a beer, focus on a conversation and have something to eat and when you finish your beer, you're just... satisfied?  You don't need to have another beer?  Really?"  I was mystified, cause let me tell you boys and girls, that's just not how it's ever worked for me.  Toward the end of my drinking when someone asked me how much I drank, I honestly answered - playing it off like it was a joke even though it wasn't - "All of it."  Once I started, all bets were off, and to this day I believe that the only drink I truly have a choice about is the first one.

The second part of the addiction involves an obsession of the mind.  At some point my entire life became about the booze.  If I didn't have a drink in my hand, I was planning for the earliest available opportunity when I would have a drink in my hand or I was getting over the last drink I had in my hand; normies call these moments hangovers, I called them mornings.  Toward the end I woke up every day either in physical withdrawal or with the thought of, "When can I have a drink?"  (And here's a funny sidebar glance into the mind of an alcoholic; there's an AA pamphlet called "44 Questions."  The idea of this pamphlet is that you ask yourself these 44 questions and answer yes or no and if you answer yes to more than X number, you might want to consider that you have a drinking problem.  The questions are things like, "Have you ever left work early in order to start drinking?" or "Do you ever intend to have only one drink but find you can't stop yourself after one?"  When I read this on my last day of drinking, I answered yes to all but one question; "Do you ever drink in the morning?"  To this I could honestly answer no - kids to school and all that, ya know?  I seriously got to the end of the pamphlet and looked at my answers and thought, "Well, I don't know if I'm really an alcoholic, I mean, I don't drink in the morning!"  Wowsers.)

I don't want to activate the allergy by introducing something into my system that's going to trigger either my physical compulsion to drink or my mental obsession to drink.

So, to sum up; I'm fucking terrified of pills.  That way thar be monsters, matey.

But, an interesting thing about true healing and recovery has been brought to light by this necessary but scary situation.  I was out of the doctor's office for all of thirty minutes and hadn't even truly recognized that I was terrified when I had already set a plan in place.  Before I could even acknowledge the depth of my fear, I'd talked to the doctor about my addiction - being very clear that I expect to receive exactly the bare minimum of absolutely necessary drugs in my post-op prescription, and I'd called two other recovering alkies and my husband to let them know what was going to happen, when it was going to happen and to ask them to help me monitor and stay accountable to my program and my sobriety.

I have a plan in place to stay safe and to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks, that I have support and that I am keeping honest and well internally and externally.  Before fear took hold, I'd reached out and taken action to prevent it.  Right action, it seems, is the antidote to fear.

Huh.  Who'd have thunk it?
I learned all of this in recovery from alcoholism, but I think it applies to separation from NFOOs that contain Narcs and Abusers as well.  If I have a plan in place and I am willing to follow it through, if I am vigilant about my boundaries and my need for respect, if I already know how I will refuse to be mistreated and I have a course of action laid out to ensure it, I can stay safe.

Relief of pain is necessary in order to facilitate healing.  Safety is necessary in order to facilitate healing.  A plan to allow no more pain from my NFOO and to keep myself safe from them is the best thing that I can possibly do for myself.

ACoNs and grown abused children all suffer from some form of hyper-vigilance, I think.  We weren't protected, so we develop an overly enlarged need to protect ourselves (at least once we wake up.)  Hyper-vigilance can be draining and if we live in a constant state of this ultra-sensitive anticipation of events, we can get sick.  Too much planning for the worst can put us in a position where we only expect that the worst will happen.

But, for me, when it comes to the NFOO, I put them in the same category as I do those pills.  I will conscientiously work to keep them completely out of my life, and in the event that I do have to cross paths with them for some reason beyond my control, I'll be ready with an exit plan and a support group to meet me at the door.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Gift of Life

There's a recurring theme among NParents, one that rallies them around the war cry of, "I GAVE YOU LIFE and you therefore OWE ME!"  They bring this up most often when all other avenues have been exhausted - sort of an against the ropes haymaker punch thrown wildly when all the jabs of gaslighting and the hooks of guilting and the one-two throws of fear and obligation haven't worked to their favor.

Often it's implied that this gift of life is all that is required of the parent in order to ensure lifelong obedience and compliance by the child, followed by ultimate loyalty by the child who's grown into an adolescent and coming full circle in the adult child who will sacrifice their own needs, wants, desires, lifestyles, security and souls in order to remain subservient to the NParent.

In my experience, this last-ditch effort to call to attention the one act of the narc that none of us can deny (they did, after all bring us into the world,) is nothing so much as a sign of desperation.  It's pathetic and gross.

First off, my parents didn't give me life.  My parents provided an egg and a sperm, and I happened to grow from that.  Read up on your biology, people.  It's typically self-aggrandizing of the Narcs to take credit for that infinitesimal magic that takes two biologic donations and creates a living, breathing human being from the fertilization of an egg.  As if the Narcs had any control over the particular happenstance that made that little swimmer spark with that particular ova.  It's one of the great mysteries of our world how conception actually happens - why that egg, why that sperm, why at that time and not the millions of other encounters? As if the Narcs had a special say in creating the exact match that would form Vanci.

Second, this statement usually comes from NMothers, just before they begin to explain to you why their pregnancy with you, ACoN, was the most difficult pregnancy ever to be chronicled on the face of the planet, possibly even in the Universe.  The want so badly to be recognized with an award and a ribbon and a triumvirate choir of angelic verse for enduring the ordeal of pregnancy (and you!) for nine whole months.  I'm not dissing the difficulty of carrying a child to term; I've done it twice and frankly that was plenty for me as I know it's not an easy task.  But really?  Really really what is it?  Pregnancy is what a mother's body is designed to do.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it hard?  Yes.  Is it Mother Nature's natural expectation of us in order to continue to propagate our race?  Yes.  Is it special?  Only in the context of the miracle of birth being special for every woman who's ever had the privilege of carrying a child.

What's really special about pregnancy, I think, is that we are honored with the gift of the ability to nourish another human being in the most intimate of ways.  It's a give-give proposition, and it's called the Gift of Motherhood for a reason; having a child is a privilege, not a right.  I have plenty of friends who've been unable to conceive and have worked their patooties off in order to be blessed with the privilege of raising children that did not biologically begin with them, so I feel confident in saying it again:  having a child is a privilege.

Then there's the mathematical angle to consider.  Assuming that my NParents worked for a standard amount of time in order to introduce Mr. Sperm to Ms. Egg, then NMother endured 40 weeks of pregnancy, then she was in labor for approximately five hours, we can calculate that her selfless contribution to my coming into this world was... adding up... 40 weeks, 5 hours and about five minutes.  Let's round up to ten months and one day, shall we?  So, I owe my mother less than a year in exchange for her GIFT OF LIFE to me.

As with all court sentences, I'm going to allow credit for time served.  I did seventeen years of daily hell.  For seventeen years, I was abused on a regular basis; mentally, emotionally, verbally, physically, sexually and spiritually.  I left after that, and that stopped the physical and sexual abuse.  I stopped the spiritual abuse by proclaiming that I was 180 degrees different from my NParents on this front - oh, and, amazingly, when your NFather is a minister actively leading a church at the same time that you're outing him for sexually molesting you, well, they stopped talking about Jeebus around the same time that he resigned from the church to make sure that no one else found out about his perversions.  But I digress.

So, from the time I was seventeen until I was thirty years old, I was only mentally, emotionally, verbally (and financially) abused by my NParents.  17 years X 6 different types of abuse = 96 years I've paid, plus 13 years X 4 different types of abuse = 52 years I've paid.  That's 148 years I've paid against their 10 months and 1 day.  I'm feeling generous, so I'll assume that on certain holidays and vacations there was no abuse for short periods of time - I'll knock five years off my time served.

So they can take their "Gift of Life" and shove it where the sun doesn't shine, for the next 143 years, please.  Then we might talk about being even.  They were lucky to have me, and they blew it, so they lost the privilege of knowing me and created their own private hell where they will never get what they want from me.  If there's any justice, that'll last for eternity for them.  Or at least for the next 143 years.


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Value of Conversation

This post is inspired by and in gratitude for Upsi and her willingness to allow the target that some estranged parents and other lurking trolls in blogland have painted on her virtual back.

From estranged parents pushing her into the lose-lose corner of 'tell me why I can't have what I want from my child' to those commenters who seem to be looking to push a button that will finally send her into a tailspin, I've watched as she conscientiously and carefully puts herself out there with gentleness, concern for all and care. It's not easy to be so transparent in recovery and growth, in fact it's damn hard.  Healing is hard enough to accomplish after lifetimes of trauma; doing so in a fishbowl is terrifying.  Especially once the trolls locate us and begin to play the games that can no longer elicit a response from their (wisely) hidden and estranged victims of choice.

Would I do it?  If I had these people invading my blog, would I allow the reasonable venue for discourse that Upsi has?  I don't know.  This is my space, and I use it to find myself under the cover of anonymity and to work through the many issues that I have and that have been handed to me.  Would I tolerate the barbs, the jabs, the thinly veiled attempts to guilt, gaslight, blame, etc?  Probably not, but only because my sanity outside of my particular Crazymaking Clan is directly proportional to my ability to hold up my very black and white boundaries.  I truly don't know that I could allow this to be an arena for the type of dialogue and discourse that Upsi navigates and moderates so expertly.

Given that and a whole lot of other variables, thank you Upsi for doing what many of us can't and allowing the Narcs and their Minions to invade your blog space.  Even when it truly pisses me off that they Just.  Never.  Stop.  Trying.  To Prove.  That.  They.  Are.  Right.

I think that the dialogue that she's allowed is supremely important, and here's why.

I was taught by my parents in many painful ways that I had no right to disagreement with the Narcs in my life, even if my disagreement with their wants, whims and desires was the only way to create safety for myself.  I was taught from my earliest memory that it was my job to be the sacrifice to their stated needs.  I was not important as a child, a daughter, a girl, a sister, a human bean.  I was there to be used and to be of use, and if I stepped out of that role, if I asked, begged, pleaded or demanded that they stop hurting me, they ganged up on me and hurt me until I caved back into my allotted place in the 'family.'  Scapegoat, whipping girl, sacrifice.

I was abused horribly, and to add further insult to injury, I was made to believe by the only people in my life, literally the ONLY people in my life for more than a year at any given time through childhood, that the abuse they heaped on me was my fault and that if I ever stood up for myself, I would be asking for further abuse, which I would receive and which would still and also be my fault.

I clawed my way out of that hell, inch by inch and scar by scar.  I survived, and for some time that was enough.  The sheer relief of the abuse stopping was so great as to convince me that that limited freedom of simply not being hurt anymore at that moment was peace, and it was compared to the active hell I'd been living in.  I got further and further away from the active abuses, though, and realized that I was indeed surviving, but that I couldn't seem to grow any further than my stilted perception that the absence of pain was equal to joy.

I was not, however, serene.  I was simply not being hurt on a daily basis anymore. When I realized that I needed growth in order to go from survival to actually living my life and thriving in it, I became a seeker.  I looked in all sorts of different places, but I often came up against some preconceived notions that didn't fit into my world when it came to trying to process my experiences with my narcissistic, evil, intentionally hurtful mother and father.  People who haven't lived under the cloud of these kinds of monsters really can't understand or believe what it's like to have parents such as these.  (And for the record, I'm glad that they can't; NO ONE DESERVES PARENTS LIKE MINE.)  They might have been hurt by their parents, but they can't understand the discontinuation of the entire relationship because of it.  So it's difficult to find a support group, it's hard to find others who DO understand what it's like to have these ominous, lurking master manipulators waiting around every corner to hamstring us with their blades of 'parental concern.'

I found others in this blog community who did understand it, though, and who don't try to tell me that my mother 'did the best she could with what she had,' or that my father 'probably didn't mean to hurt' me, who didn't excuse their behavior by explaining that my parents probably hadn't had the best upbringings either.  We understand in myriad ways that we are a minority; we are the children of narcissists who have grown up to break these cycles of unspeakable abuse, despite the societal pressure that we will 'forgive and forget' the transgressions of our parents.  Most people can't get away.  Many of those who can't break free will, sadly, do the same to their own children as was done to them.

And that's why those conversations over on Upsi's blog matter so much.  We are all raised in some degree of the crucible of crazy as children of Narcs and adolescents of Narcs and finally adults with Narcs.  They are able to get away with their abuses so easily for two reasons:  1.  We don't know anything else (any better) as we've been on their crazy train since day one.  2.  People have to have experience with this level of crazy in order to even begin to believe it's real.

So, those conversations over on Upsi's blog are a sort of living litmus test, I think, for anyone out there seeking who can't quite grasp that NParents are really that bad.  "Maybe they're just misunderstood," our agile brains tell us, or "Maybe my mind is blowing it out of proportion."

Then we find this community and we read the war stories and we see the hope and joy that's available and we hear about those of us out in the ether who have moved on, survived, thrived, lived and loved.  We realize that there IS another way than the path of pain we've been taught.  And when we doubt that it was really that bad, we can read the attacks and the comments from the Crazies when they venture over looking for their Narc Supply and be reminded that, YES, it WAS that bad.  And it still would be if we went back.

And then there are those who weren't raised by wolves, but who have some experience happening in their lives that they're trying to understand; step-parents trying to take care of children of an ex-spouse narc parent, ACoNs who haven't yet woken up but are trying to before they continue the cycle of abuse, spouses of ACoNs who want to understand how they can support their loved ones, siblings who are starting to have an inkling that their long-lost sister or brother might have been onto something.

If we can put it out here clearly enough, if we can be the first steps to even one child being rescued from a parent like mine were, well, then any amount of intrusion or dialogue, even from those seeking to harm, is, in my opinion, worth it.

The more we talk, you see, the more real it becomes, and the more tangible ideas and experiences like ours become to the world at large, the easier it becomes for the non-affected to see it.  Maybe someday these blog communities will be pointed to as the first step to eradicating child abuse?  It could happen, I have to believe that.

So, dear Upsi, keep telling it, and thanks for taking the bullets on all our behalf.  Thank you for keeping doors open and for allowing discourse and the space for the Narcs and trolls to expose themselves to the bright light of the truth long enough for any interested to see just how bad it can be.

I'm sure it comes at a cost, and I thank you for paying and hold my hand out with this humble offering of gratitude.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Motherly Lies

I've been putting a lot of thought into a particular idea lately, and though I don't think I've made it through the obstruction and to the 'other' mythical side of enlightenment and coherent understanding, I am making progress.

Why do I want to believe NM's lie?

First, thank you to mulderfan for a thought provoking comment on my What It Feels Like and What It Really Is post.  As it concerns her own NFOO, she said:
"I unmasked my NF long before I truly "saw" her [NM] and now I often say, she is the more dangerous of the two."

This is the way it has been for me, too.  ENF was, and remains I can only assume, loud, confrontational, overt.  His abuses of me were primarily tangible acts - outward acts of aggression and rage.  In a way, he's the monster who showed up with a name tag that says, "Hello, My Name Is: Monster."  Of course, I didn't understand this as a child or young adult, as the Monster he was is the only Monster - called Father - I'd ever known.  But, once I woke up to the atrocities he committed, they were so easy to identify.   Easy to move past?  Hell, no.  But it was easy to see clearly that, yes, this was abuse and yes, he was abusive without a doubt. 

NM was a shadow lurker in her abuses - she manipulates, revises history, plays the victim, blames the victim, strategizes, forms alliances, spreads rumors, makes shit up, plans ahead and above all, denies, denies, denies.  She's like the Ollie North of Narcissistic Mothers, going around and stirring shit up until it reaches a boiling point and then sitting primly in a corner and announcing that she just can't remember any of that.  What was Ollie's favorite phrase?  I do not recall.

Was she abusive?  Is a man who hits his wife considered abusive if he hits her in the stomach instead of the face?  If he doesn't leave a mark, is that still abuse?  Of course it is, and yes, of course she was abusive.

That she recruited others to carry out the grittier parts of the anguish she inflicted on me and on others is neither here nor there; her desire to keep her hands clean on the surface does not diminish or excuse her abuse in any way.  In reality, anyway - in her mind it's a different story, if, of course, she can recall. 

It's tough, though, to see a behind the scenes abuser as clearly as one can see the more outward abuser.  And if that deceptive abuser is one's mother, oh man is it tough to separate the reality from the fiction. 

We want mothers to be good, our own as well as mothers in general.  We need to believe in unconditional love and inherent care for our hearts as well as our minds and bodies and souls.  Traditionally, this kind of love comes from mother the same way that the food on the table comes from father.  I know, I know, it's so damn stereotypical, but it seems to be true in our society that we glorify and often deify 'a mother's love.'  As if having the physical capability to produce offspring is an automatic qualifier to be 'a good mother.'  

In fact, I remember NM proclaiming on more than one occasion as I worked through the tedious process of drawing tighter and firmer boundaries to protect myself (which she violated without fail,) that she was A GOOD MOTHER!  Interestingly enough, I didn't have the cajones at the time to have accused her of being anything but.  She was already laying the groundwork of her protest against any possible accusations (or, ahem, truth,) of her significant failings - to love her daughter, to protect her daughter, to treat her daughter like a human being.  As the Lady MacBeth, so NM; methinks she doth protest too much.

Eventually I saw her for the Monster she was and is, and I couldn't deny the truth anymore.  No matter how she spins it, she's just as if not more abusive than ENF was or is.  Poison held in a pretty container can kill you just as well as poison that proclaims itself. 

I've heard it attributed to Alice Miller and that might be the case, though I've heard others cited for some version of one of my favorite sayings, too: 
Once something is known, it cannot then be unknown.

I believe this to be an absolute truth, because I have tried six ways to Sunday to unknow some of the things I know and there's just no way it's happening.  The truth will out, and if you try to shut the door on it, well, it finds a way, or at least that's been my experience. 

So, why do I try to unknow what NM is?  Why do I find that there is some tiny little part of me that wishes I could believe the lie that she is really just a pathetic and ill old woman who's made some mistakes but isn't really evil and rotten to the core?  

I'm sure that there are many answers to these questions for me, and I'm certain that my work in this area will reveal a whole lot more about who I am and what I need. 

In the meantime, I think it's this:  everybody wants a mommy who loves them for exactly who they are, and it's a tough pill to swallow that mine simply... didn't... doesn't... never will.  

Working back around to the realization of another absolute truth is the saving grace and reward in this circumstance, though: her lack of love and care and inability/lack of desire to be a good mother doesn't have a single damned thing to do with me.  That's not a rock I need to carry.  

So, in honor of mulderfan, again, Fuck Em!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

What It Feels Like and What It Really Is

Any survivor of abuse, and I am convinced that all ACoNs are survivors of abuse to some degree or another, can relate to the process of having to separate reality from fiction.  It's a difficult thing to do, and that might be the understatement of the year.

We take for granted that the world around us is tangible, real and mostly unchanging.  A rock, when touched, feels like a rock.  It's coarse or gritty, perhaps smooth or polished, but it is unflinchingly solid and it feels, always, like a rock.
To learn how to discern between what we have known as the truth and what the truth really is, well, it's a tricksy process.  Like touching a mold of jello and discovering that this, yes, this gelatinous mound of quivering slickness, this is what a rock really feels like.

How do we really know?  We take for granted that rocks, as we know them, feel like rocks.  Chicken tastes like chicken.  Water is wet and wet is what water is.  Red is red, not yellow or mauve.  Right?

How do we learn to see truth?  Changing our idea of what we've known as fact goes against human nature. We are not, inherently, creatures of faith.  We need tangible, hard, cold, factual proof.  Evidence, that's what we crave.  And once we discover, uncover or simply remember the truth, once we have our proof, what do we do when the certainty of fact as we now have it butts firmly up against and clashes glaringly with the former certainty of fact that we used to know.  How do we know the difference?  What is it, really?  Jello or a rock?

My mother, in the reality of presence that she presents to the world at large, is a kind, lovable, caring person.  She talks the talk and walks the walk that supports these presuppositions, as long as you are willing to take the surface value of her projection as fact.  She's a frail and weak old lady who's had a lot of health issues and really just wants to be around young people.  Just don't scratch the surface.  Push against the idea of herself that she wants you to believe as the 'good' matriarch, as the mother of the year and world's finest grandmother and you'll discover the rot inside the polished shell.  In the tradition of the essence of all emotional vampires, she vants to suck your blooood.  But, the veneer is good as she's a master manipulator.  It's difficult to see through, especially when we, as good people, want to believe the lie.  Most people wouldn't ever think to crack the shell in the first place.

She denied me basic safety and protection as a child, from the world outside the doors of my childhood houses as well as the world inside those doors - my siblings, my father, herself.  When I excelled in life, she questioned me to the point of forcing me to second-guess my achievements.  When I shone, she diminished my glow unless and until I pointed it in the direction that best suited her purposes; most often I was allowed to be 'good' only in such a capacity as it made her and her clan look 'good.'  When I rebelled and refused to play the Happy Clan game anymore, she reacted with neglect, at best, and outright deceptive manipulation, at worst.  She ground on me to have relationships with others that she knew would either exemplify and glorify her, as my mother, or that would keep me in my place of subservience within the plan.  I was not allowed to do anything that was for my sole and internal benefit and growth, unless it happened by chance to coincide with her desires for her own amplification of self.

All of these tactics, these strategies, were easy for her to execute when I was a child.  A child, after all, wants nothing more than to be loved, particularly by their primary caregiver.  In fact, a child must be loved in order to thrive.  And when we, as children, need love and are given specific dogmas and rules from the only source of love near to us in order to attain that love, we will follow those rules in order to gain the necessary love we so desperately need, even if they hurt us.  We don't know that it's nothing more than a carrot on a stick, perhaps with a permanent marker scribble of L-O-V-E across it.  We learn that there will be no 'love' without succumbing to the stick, and that 'love' feels like nothing more than that stick and carrot routine.  This is the essence of conditioning.

I'm reminded of the old saying that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist.

We have, often, an inkling, that something about this abusive false reality we are given just is not right.  It's a feeling in the pit of our stomachs or perhaps a subconsciously cued story idea that we write about when we begin to learn to express ourselves on the page.  Maybe we draw pictures with a dark and barely glimpsed undercurrent of terror.  Perhaps we stuff our known but unadmitted pain so deeply within our souls that we think it's gone forever; denial is a powerful tool.  Then it comes out sideways when we choose abusive partners or we seek to kill ourselves slowly with drugs or alcohol.  Maybe we go on for decades believing the lies are reality, and then we wake up one day and something has conspired in our lives to pull back the veil.  It's ugly, reality, once we have to see it for what it really is.

It felt, for a long time, like I had a caring and loving mother who wanted the best for me and who would always be there for me.  Of course, I disappointed her often, usually without understanding how or why, as her greatest disappointments in me were typically at times when I was happiest with myself.  I assumed that  I was the failure, I was the disappointment and the problem.  How could I not be?  Rocks don't feel like Jello, they feel like rocks.  I had always been the problem, why would I believe anything differently?

But always, there was that niggling little itch in my brain that cued me, that made me feel like I was missing something, that there was a piece of the puzzle missing and something just wasn't right.

And then one day, I saw.  For real.  Reality, not a version of reality, but what was true and actual and factual.  That's the day that I lost my false relationship with my mother.  And that's the day that - eventually - ended my relationship with my mother, too.  I could only stay in the room with the monster as long as I could deny that's what she was.

I saw my mother for the truth of the monster that she really was, and is.  What she'd taught me was love, wasn't, it was abuse.  Red became yellow for awhile and rocks turned into Jello.

But here's the beauty of reality: what an untruth feels like can be changed.  Real is real and the reality and truth of my life has become this, just this, no matter what it feels like, I am supremely and confidently aware every single day that I am a good person.

I am good.
No matter what she wanted me to think or feel, then or now.

I am good, and that's the truth, that's what's real.
The longer I do not have the unseen devil in my life, the better I am.
For that absence of evil in my life, I am truly grateful, and that is also real and good.