Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shame is a Weapon

Hola, cyberfriends.
It's been a bit, please forgive my absence; life gets busy.  There's been a lot shakin' in Vanciland; mostly good, some bad and some indifferent but shakin' nonetheless.  I hope to get time to post about recent events, but it might have to wait a bit.
The Sun's been tracking lower in the sky, though, and the days have been getting shorter so I can see the hibernation (and therefore time to write,) season peeking around the corner.  I hope you're all happy, healthy and free of fear.

I've been reminded lately about shame.
How it festers, where it's hatched, what nourishes it and how it destroys.
You know about shame, too, right?

If you have a Abuser in your life - past or present - you know about shame.
I had a whole bushel of Abusers in my life.  Hell, Abusers were my life for most of it.  I know about shame.

I've carried it, eaten it, drunk it, watched it, heard it, felt it, slept with it, split a piece of bacon with it.  (Shame took the larger piece, too, the greedy bitch.)
I've also shaken it off, buried it, turned a blind eye to it, ignored it, acted it out and - at times - beaten it.

But I think it's one of those feelings, one of those gifts from the Abusers, that's... well, it's sticky.  Hard to walk away from.  It follows me, damn it.  And sometimes I inadvertently pick it back up and carry it around with me for awhile.  Shame is a shadow.  Always just there... right in the corner of my sight... but I can't quite grasp it.

I know where it came from.  It was given to me.  The Nparents always were shitty gift-givers; I'm not surprised that this was one of their most generous and graciously given gifts.  They sewed it into the very essence of my being early on, like infancy, and they made sure it stuck with me.

They used shame throughout my childhood - when I was abused, whether it was physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual, they knew they could get away with it.  They knew I wouldn't tell.  Of course I wasn't going to tell, and here's how they made sure of it - they made me believe that it was my fault.  If I told, wouldn't I really just be telling whomever I told that I was bad, I was wrong?  Furthermore, they made me believed that all the bad feelings I had, all of the pain and hurt that they caused me - that I deserved it.

This continued to work when I was an adolescent, but not as well.  I revolted, I told.  I felt momentary freedom.  But I was outgunned, because they responded with increased shame, monumental amounts of shame.  They used it to break me so thoroughly that it was actually easier for me to lie, to recant, to swallow my hurt and pride and future and protect my Abusers than it would have been to stand by what I'd told and continue to live (with them, under pressure, in the special hell that they created for me.)  They made their dirty, nasty, stinking rotten treatment of me my fault yet again, and they made me pay for ever telling in the first place.  They made me pay for years.  And eventually they worked me back around to believing what they told me - that I deserved the shame that they intentionally made me feel.

So, I did the only thing within my power to do.  I hurt the only person that I was allowed to hurt.
Me.

My self destructive behavior was on a Titan scale.  I almost didn't make it.  So they blamed me for that too.  As recently as three years ago, in my very last meeting with my Abusive Mother and Abusive, sick, twisted fuck of a pervert Father (and my counselor,) Abusive Mother threw out that I was "such a difficult teenager."  Ha fucking ha.  Who wouldn't be, carrying around all that shame?  But she was still trying to make it my fault, my burden, my cross to carry well into my thirties.

I pulled out of my death spiral when I had my oldest daughter, as much as I could anyway.
I think back to the amount of responsibility that rested squarely on my shoulders when I was eighteen years old, and I can't even fathom how I took even a single step toward wellness.  And were they there to help me?  In some ways, yes.  I had no idea at the time just how costly their 'help' would be.  I stumbled along the best I could, though, and I just kept trying to move forward.  One. Painful. Step. At. A. Time.

I'll never forget how hard my Abusive Mother worked to get me to marry my first husband.  He didn't even propose to me - she simply hijacked a conversation one day and asked him when we were going to get married.  She pressed until he threw out a date.  He of the crack pipe, who would leave me with bruises and scars of all kinds, with debts and with fatherless children.  He was my Abusive Mother's choice for me.  She even made me feel ashamed that I hadn't been with him for a while before (when he'd broken up with me,) and used to talk to any other guy who showed interest in me - some of them actually nice - about this other guy who was the 'love of my life.'  At 18.  Who fucking has a love of their life at 18?  Isn't every one of them the love of your life at 18?  What kind of mother does that?  But she shamed me into getting back together with him, and then she shamed us both into getting married.

When it went bad, as it was bound to do, she blamed me for staying with him.  She discounted the fact that I live in a joint custody state, and that if I'd filed for divorce at the time, he would have automatically been granted half-time with my girls.  It took ten months for him to finally be caught by the police - aggravated assault against me, which I testified against him for, which he then spent four years in prison for - and then, and only then would the state grant me sole custody.  But that wasn't good enough, I hadn't left soon enough, I wasn't good enough, according to dear old Abusive Mother.  (Note that this was also the time frame that I needed the most help.  I've found out now that this was also the time frame in which my daughters were being abused by my dear old Abusive Dad, and dear old Abusive Mother knew about it and covered it up.)
When I did leave, when I finally got it worked out, Abusive Mother had a heyday with trying to make me feel ashamed for the way that I raised my kids.  They'd help, sure, on their terms.  Never when I needed it most.  And then I was made to feel guilty, awful, shamed for not spending enough time with my children.  Here was my schedule for a year and half:
6 am - work first job.  Work second job.  Change diapers.  Feed the kids dinner (none for me, though, I didn't have enough money for that.) Put them to bed.  Go BACK to work at third job.  Home at 2 am.  Sleep until 4- 4:30.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I made about, oh, $13,000 per year.
But according to Abusive Mother, I was making 'bad parenting choices.'
Choices?  What fucking choices?

When I finally found a full time job, when I (out of the blue) met a decent guy who wanted me and wanted to be a part of my daughters' lives, according to Abusive Mother, I was being selfish.  I wasn't putting my children first.  And when decent guy stuck by me, when he adopted my daughters, when we bought our first house, when I was promoted at work... when I was successful, Abusive Mother said nothing.  Abusive Father showed up and asked to borrow money, or my truck.  The money wasn't usually repaid.  The truck was always returned with the gas gauge on E.

When I spent all of my time ignoring that decent guy (I'll never know why he stuck it out the way he did, but I'm grateful,) and allowing the bad influences of the Abusers to affect my daughters, I was supposed to be ashamed then too.  Because I had at least some happiness in my life, or at least I thought I did.  And they didn't like that at all.  I'll never forget the day before my wedding to decent guy (who actually proposed to me, who then spent the next six years telling me that my family was awful to me,) and I was at the Clan Compound trying to get things ready.  Abusive Mother said, at one point when I was trying to dig through my check register and find the last couple of necessary dollars to pull off the wedding, "Gee, Vanci, I wish we had something to give you!  It just always seems like when it comes to you there's nothing left!"
NSis had been married the year before, an event that I took a full week off of work to help pull off and that my Nparents sent me to her house with a $2,000 check to give her for wedding expenses.  Why send me with that check when they were en route the following day?  Shame, methinks.

And when I finally took a stand, Abusive Father said to me, "I just want you to know that I will NEVER forget the way that you have hurt us all, but I'm going to work on forgiving you."
At least at that point I was able to reply, "I'm not looking for your forgiveness.  Forgiveness is only necessary when a person has done something wrong, which I haven't."

Shame is a weapon.  Shame kills.

So, how to counteract it?
I know of only one way.
Tell.
Tell the truth, always.
Tell it loudly and stick by it.
Drag the dirty secrets out into the light, kicking and screaming, and blast them with the brightest sun you can stand.
Ever notice how you don't have a shadow at noon?

And now, they've popped back up again.  They think they'll be able to use their Weapons of Shame to sway the DD's to their 'side.'  I'm ready, you abusive fucks.  Bring it on.

Love,
Vanci




18 comments:

  1. Shame and guilt go hand in hand. Tell the truth and you're a liar. Continue to tell your truth and you're a nut case. Keep right on telling your truth and they come gunning for a replacement.

    What a weird coincidence. My father just wrote to my kid because, no doubt, they've finally given up on their favourite doormat and need a replacement. She's 31 years old and will make her own decisions.

    What they're not counting on with your girls and mine is that they haven't had the "benefit" of the lifetime of conditioning/grooming that made us almost willing carry the burden of guilt and shame. Instead, our kids have had parents who have taught them to think, trust their instincts, and turn their backs on assholes.

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    1. mulderfan,
      You said it, my friend; shame, guilt, lies.
      These are all the things that Abusive Mothers and Fathers are made of!

      Love,
      Vanci

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  2. It's good to see you back. And boy are you ever!

    Shame is a burden my family gave me too. I cracked up when you wrote about your parents being lousy gift givers.

    Every bad thing that happens to me, I assume I've done something stupid to have earned it. It doesn't matter if I'd never accuse someone else of the same guilt under identical circumstances. I beat myself up over things that often are out of my control.

    So I guess I owe a thank you note to my mom and dad.

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    1. vi,
      Good to see you, too!
      The gift that just keeps on giving.
      A thank you note:
      Dear mom and dad,
      Thanks for this sticky, steaming pile of shite. May you have twice the number.

      Love,
      Vanci

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  3. Good to hear from you Vanci!

    Shame: the glue that holds dysfunctional families together. Great post!

    Sorry to hear that you are having some FOO issues again.

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    1. jessie,
      Good to hear from you too.

      They're like a bad penny, man. Just. Keep. Showing. Up.
      sigh.
      Love,
      Vanci

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  4. Sigh. Sadly, a great post.

    DH seems to feel shame at the oddest times. I'd even say at inappropriate times, and then not at times when I would expect someone to feel shame; which are all learned reactions of course. Reactions that take a life-time to overcome.

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    1. Hiya Jonsi!

      Shame is so closely tied into our self-worth by the abusers; it's so intrinsic for me that it's almost a function of the subconscious. I've had to work for years to identify it and recognize those insidious feelings of shame sneaking up on me in order to even call them what they are. And even then, with my hyperawareness of the fact that it exists, the bitch *still* sneaks up on me sometimes.

      A lifetime to overcome, indeed.
      But as the gulf of distance has grown greater, it's become easier to move past it, to recognize it, to nullify it, to blast it all to hell and walk away from it.
      And now - if they think that they're going to shake the shame tree so that I'll fall out of it, they've got another think coming. Cause I can see them coming from miles away. And what they think they can but on me as shame, I return as facts. Which place them squarely in the crosshairs of their own weapon.

      It gets better, it get so, so, so much better.
      Good to hear from you, my friend.

      Love,
      Vanci

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  5. Shame and I also had a long, intimate relationship. It kept me quiet and submissive. It ensured I'd continue to be the Keeper of Secrets. It bought me all kinds of derogatory "labels" which I believed. Shame launched me into young adulthood and disastrous, exploitative situations/relationships. I deserved to be abused because, well, I just did: I wasn't "good enough" to be worthy of any dignity or respect, a partner who did not continue the only template I knew. I was a "True Believer."
    "Shame on YOU!" Those aren't just words that underscored my inherent worthlessness. They're the melody that accompanies the years of abusive behavior by NM to further enforce her Regime of Terror, to cruelly manipulate me and to expiate her, the Abuser. She remained hidden behind her carefully crafted facade of "Perfect Mommy" and "burdened" by a kid who would literally shake on the way home with a Report Card if it wasn't "Perfect A's."
    I struggled with Geometry. In HS the year before I only got a 99 on my Algebra Regents exam. That shame was overwhelming but nothing compared to what happened when Psychob ambushed me as I was trying to quietly sneak in the house on my way home from my Geometry Regents Exam. She was "working" in her "garden." "Well?" she demanded, hands on her hips, trowel clutched in one hand. "I, I don't know if I did as well as last year-" and with that, she started hitting me on my face, head, shoulders as I sunk to my knees in front of her trying to cover my head while she relentlessly beat me with that trowel. "YOU will NEVER amount to ANYTHING! NOTHING!" she hissed over and over again. I didn't even try to get away. Where was there to go anyway? I was 13. I just kept whimpering, "I'm sorry, Mom, I'm so sorry!"
    The exams hadn't even been graded yet...
    It's not just the physical abuse and terror, it's the mind-fuckery that leaves the longest Legacy. I do *not* "Forgive." I will *not* "Recant."
    Please don't ever "forget" or "recant," Vanci. Your greatest allay is your TRUTH: Screw the FOO. You've had many accomplishments in your life. IMO, one of your greatest has been your ability to transcend their Legacy and to selflessly share your journey with all of us.
    Thank you for offering hope-for all of us.
    TW

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    Replies
    1. TW,
      Oh, don't you worry my friend.
      I'm not a 13 year old girl anymore and will never allow them to put me in that position again. One of the curiouser things about life-long Abusers is their inability to see how WE change - probably because they don't. I honestly think that they truly believe that I will react to this newest assault in the same way that I did when I was a helpless 13 year old held hostage by them. Boy are they mistaken.
      Thanks for sharing your TRUTH, too, TW. It and you mean a lot to me!

      Love,
      Vanci

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    2. TW,
      Incidentally, I was abused as it concerned grades too. I DID get 'perfect A's'and NM and ENF told me that I wouldn't be rewarded for them because they were 'easy for me.' NSis and GCYB got paid for A's and B's.
      While I was typing my reply about, my youngest DD texted me... "I'm so excited! I got a B on my Summer reading essay!" So gratifying that I haven't passed that abusive and unhealthy attitude regarding learning on to my daughters. :)
      Love,
      Vanci

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  6. What astonishes me is how they have no shame whatsoever. They're so deep in their denial they're six feet deep in crap, over their head, eating it, and they still shovel it like I'm the one who tracked it in. There's no way to make them see, understand, or even shame them in return. It slides right off, and then they toss it back. I didn't understand how insane it was until I tried to fight back, and in less than 5 minutes NM not only shrugged off the reprimand she turned it around on me, and I wanted to apologize about the lies SHE was spouting. In that moment, I knew I couldn't fight her because she would cheat and lie and blame and yes shame. I maintain as much distance as possible. I don't make eye contract, ever. Drives her crazy, and for some reason I don't understand it also puts her off kilter. I'm never even alone with her. It isn't easy, but I accept she is not safe. Full stop. No excuses. She is not a safe person. She may or may not do something or say something each time. It doesn't matter. It only takes once. Keep fighting for you, Vanci. You are worth it! Wow... this post really dragged up some stuff I've kept buried. Time to air and toss. Go you!

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    1. Judy,
      I love to see you doing your work, taking care of you. You're an inspiration.
      "There's no way to make them see, understand, or even shame them in return."

      So true, my friend.
      But the end result of all my work to get away, get better, has given me this: They just don't effing matter anymore.

      Love,
      Vanci

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    2. "They just don't effing matter anymore." Knowing that drives them crazy so they try to claw us back. Truth is, the more they play their games, the less they matter.

      Delete
  7. Shame was my mothers favorite weapon. She could palm it into play like an ace from the bottom of the deck. It took me over 50 years to figure her and her tactics out. By then more of my life was behind me than in front. Keep fighting the good fight Vanci and shining your light so the younger among us waste as little time as possible caught in the fog of crazy people.

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    1. Q1605,
      "Palm it from the bottom of the deck," I love that visual. It reminds me that they're all crooked, crooked cheaters to the core.

      It's occurred to me lately that one of the nasty tricks they pull is in how much ever-loving time they take away from us. They set us up to fail from from the start, and ensured that we have to spend our very lives sorting through the garbage they dumped on us in order to just have any semblance of a life at all.

      Check, sir, I'll keep my spotlight charged and at the ready.

      Love,
      Vanci

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  8. "I'm ready, you abusive fucks. Bring it on."

    Oh Vanci, you make me smile! I am so ridiculously happy for you, so glad that you are feeling strong and independent.

    It's amazing how loyal we are to those predators we call parents. And wonderful when we are finally able to see things as they really are, and the courage to make changes.

    Sabotage: the act of destroying or damaging something deliberately so that it does not work correctly.

    That's what these subhumans (Nparents) have been doing to their children. What kind of evil is this? There is a special place in hell for these destructive parents.

    My personal perverse pleasure lies in being an enigma to the Nparents. They love to manipulate and control, so I make it a point to be totally poker face regarding anything in my life. They have absolutely no idea what I am feeling, what I care about, etc... and it drives them crazy. Love it!

    In my situation, I used to think it would be great to face Nparents and tell them what I think. Now I realize that would just give them more ammunition. It's fun being the "Shadow" and watching their confusion.

    And this doesn't mean not telling the truth to others, proclaim it and help others extricate themselves from their predator parents. No one owes anything to these deranged freaks of nature.

    There may always be that 'knee jerk' reaction of shame or whatever tool the creeps used, it is brainwashing after all, but it is great to see progress in the right direction. We may not be where we hope to be in our healing, but we sure as hell are alot better than we were.

    Cheers to everyone making the change!

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    1. Anon,
      Thanks for the reminder that what they do to us is truly brainwashing. The fact that I see it for what it is - that's the greatest indication that the facade is broken and it no longer works on me.

      Cheers back atcha!
      Love,
      Vanci

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