Regardless of the likelihood of my fears, though, what exists on every plane through every possible or impossible scenario of terror, what resonates in every cell of my being is this single truth in relation to those fears; the fear itself is real. That physical, visceral response when I'm scared that sets all my internal alarm bells ringing, that's tangible. When I am scared, my pulse shoots through the roof, my breath quickens, my muscles tighten and ready for a flight or fight response. Adrenaline courses through me and my senses become hyper-aware. My fists clench and my jaw tightens, the fine hairs on my neck and arms stand on end. I can hear the faintest sounds, feel the slightest touch, see the tiniest movement. I'm ready, I'm switched on - because that fear is real. It's telling me that there's danger. It's telling me that I will have to take action. It's telling me that I am afraid because there is something to be afraid of.
I was terrorized.
Let me state this again in more detail for the sake of clarity.
My mother and father terrorized me throughout my childhood, and my mother and father allowed each other to terrorize me. When I realized that they were hurting me and stood up for myself, they terrorized me further still by convincing me that I was either deserving of the terror, OR (just to make sure they had a back door,) that the terror didn't really exist.
They did this because they are sick, twisted, mean, evil, abusers.
They terrorized my sister and brother too, and I have empathy for those childhood siblings of mine. But NSis and GCYB dealt with the terror by becoming terrorizers, too. So they no longer have my empathy, sympathy or any other -athy.
My childhood of torture at the hands of the master manipulator Crazymakers left me with pain, scars and fear. Facing fear all the way through to resolution as a child, particularly as a child with no external support, is almost impossible. So a child, this child, me, I, used the only tool at my disposal; I made it ok. I pretended. I pretended, specifically, that it wasn't as bad as it truly was, and this is how I survived.
So I grew up. Allow me to be clear, again, about how the torture and terror of my childhood ended. It became the torture and terror of my adolescence, and I was so ingrained with the imaginary storybook family that I'd created in order to survive that I just kept pretending. So they just kept torturing and terrorizing me. Childhood terrorization became adolescent terrorization became adult child terrorization.
Bang up job on being consistent, mom and dad.
And then I changed. It didn't happen overnight - it was a process to get to the jumping off point, but one day I made a stand. I decided that I wasn't going to allow them to terrorize and torture me anymore, no matter the cost to me, real or imagined.
I had to run the worst case scenarios in my head and in my conversations with the real and true people in my life who loved me in order to get to this point, because I had to find a way to actualize the fear on my own before I faced the real fear of the Crazymaker affront. I ran the cost/benefit models over and over while asking the questions that I needed answers to before I could make a stand and keep it.
Some of the first ask and answer sessions with myself went like this:
"Is it really that bad?" I asked.
"Well, maybe not, but it hurts..."
"Could it be you?" I asked.
"Well, maybe, but not all of it..."
This segued into something like:
"Don't you have a right to an opinion?" I asked.
"Well, I think I should, but I never really have..."
"Shouldn't you be able to have space?" I asked.
"Well, I think I should, but they might not like it..."
And eventually (this is where it would be helpful for you to think of one of those old cut-scenes in a movie where the shot is of the calendar pages being ripped off one by one in quick succession,) the Q and A became something like:
"You have a right to be treated with respect, right?" I asked.
"Yes, I do."
"If you lose them in your life like they're promising, is that the end of the world?" I asked.
"No, it's not."
"Are you ready to stand?"
And the answer was yes, you know. I was ready to stand even though I was afraid because I'd finally come to understand that my fear of the outcome (losing my 'family') was more manageable than my reality of the pain of having them in my life.
They're crazymakers, pain dealers, emotional terrorists. And they're so good at it that they made me believe - with their primary tool of fear - that leaving them would be even more painful than continuing to let them hurt me. Once I understood that fear was the thumb they kept me under, I could face it. I could own it and look it in the eye and say, "Yep, I'm scared. Terrified in fact, but I've faced bigger, stronger demons than this fear."
And that's when I knew I'd survive, at the very least. I hoped - only a little bit, just a little tiny bit - that I would find a way to be ok, even. I never thought I'd be me the way I am now;
Free of motherfuckin' fear.
But I'm glad I am, and I'm glad I had that little bit of courage that it took to face my fear, because what follows is one of the most important lesson that I've learned in life, and I wouldn't have learned it without the very real fear that the Narcs taught me:
When we've been raised, instructed and taught by evil people, we've been taught to fear that which will set us free.
That's a lesson they didn't mean to teach me, you know, because it set me free. And that was the last thing in the world that they wanted.
So, here I am, and I still have my residual fears; heights, talking apes, spiders, the smell of Old Spice, dark, clowns with pointy teeth, deep water, man-sized wind up toys, aliens that look like giant ice cream cones with sixty-two eyes and telepathic powers. You know, the run of the mill stuff. I work through them as they come up.
But I no longer fear myself. And I no longer fear doing what it takes to protect myself.
I'll take that trade.