Sunday, 23 December 2012

A Very Merry Christmas, Friends!

by Quercus


Wishing you a very merry Christmas!


As the holidays launch, I wish each and every ACoN.....


PEACE

LOVE

RELAXATION


But I know that for many of us who are not fortunate enough to be spending Christmas and New Year's with our Families of Choice (and who are, instead, still feeling obligated to meet the demands of the FOO, or are still trying to find a way to keep the FOO at bay), each of these wishes will be hard to come by!

If you can't find Peace, Love and Relaxation this time of year (like me!), then I wish you the following:


ENDURANCE

DISTRACTION

AMPLE SUPPLY OF APPROPRIATE COPING MECHANISM*
(*rum and eggnog is my go-to seasonal palliative)


I've been away from the blog for two weeks, unintentionally, just due to the pre-holiday chaos. I can't imagine it'll get any easier, so I really will remember all of you in my prayers and send you warm thoughts in the meanwhile (especially as I get towards the bottom of the glass of coping-mechanism - I'll be toasting you all like crazy as NM makes more comments about my weight and the eggnog not helping anything!).

Please remember to take the ACoN Society Survey, if you haven't yet! The survey runs until New Year's Eve, so get to it before 2013!


Short update on the life of QG:

I have managed to survive several obligatory holiday social events that I could not excuse myself from, and I fared rather well! The narc ex-friend actually kept her distance (though it should be said I was very careful to avoid her - I even scheduled bathroom breaks so that I couldn't be cornered!), and so all in all it worked out alright in the end. Just. I'm thankful to God - I'm sure Providence had a hand in that!

The FOO is up its usual tricks, with one notable exception: with the absence of me as full-time scapegoat, they've roped in another for the holidays (MUCH scapegoating required this time of year! They needed to spread out the load!). So a poor relative of mine, who is very good and kind and patient, is getting bullied now, too. It's fascinating/horrifying/nauseating to see it happen, but I'm learning so much about the RIGIDITY of their narc-minds! They really can't/won't give up on their little pathological games for even an instant! Not a moment can go by without someone in the 'scapegoat' position.

My long-time friend who had a recent crisis, who I have since accepted is also 'narcissistically defended', has had a full break-down and is probably at what can be considered 'rock-bottom'. It's horrible to see, but maybe it's what needs to happen. She can finally see that her family isn't just unwilling to help her, but that they are also the problem. Whether or not it sticks remains to be seen. I'm happy to report she's seeing a therapist. I hope she comes in our direction. But that's a very big decision, as you and I know....

But that's it for me! More sleep deprivation, travel, wrapping, packing, stressing to go, then full on "survival mode" (I'll take notes in case anything amusing happens!), and then the denouement of the post-Christmas, pre-NYE week. I'm sure I'll have LOTS to say then!

Merry Christmas once again to everyone! Remember the reason for the season - it's rooted in HOPE. Salvation. A new beginning. It's in practicality a stressful, busy, materialistic season. But it was meant to be so much more - HOPE in the darkest days.

Hang in there, one and all. We'll chat again in 2013 (or before, depending on how terribly Christmas went!).

- QG :-)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Featured: Doug's Blog - RumblestripQ

by Doug/q1605





For me, the Acon blog community was a refuge of last resort. My mother displays every cluster-B trait known to man. She has all the qualities of a dog except for loyalty. She is so far into the range of sociopathy that no one would challenge me on this. I don't need for her to be diagnosed by a professional. And the State of Texas would be the first to agree.

Her pressure cooker of dysfunction boiled over so ruinously that I was forced to look out side my bubble of denial for answers. When I did, I found this community of like minded people.

At first I was content with forums and contributing to the blogs of others. But inevitably someone would say something to somebody about something else and things would go to places that made no one happy.

Much like growing up.

I had enough of this at home. Chaos for the sake of chaos, and no resolution in sight.

So I decide to create my own space.  People could agree. People could disagree. And as much as I despise a mod tight site, the option to censure is my own.

It will never cease to amaze me the humanity I find among the brow beaten. When our oppressors cite their own abuse as an excuse to palm abuse on others.

It's is a testament to the durability of the human spirit. It is a testament to the hope that the better ones among  us can band together to be the light that outshines their darkness. 

The numbers are on our side. We just have to get the word out and give people a voice.

Personality disordered people are all over. But so are we.

Visit Doug's blog:
Est. August 2011

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Featured: Gracie's Blog - Confessions from the Fog

by Gracie Carroll 


Confessions from the Fog screenshot
A little about me/my blog: 

I am married to a scapegoat ACoN, living with hellish in-laws with control issues and verbal abusive natures up to a year ago. It has been nearly one full year since we have gone no contact with my husband's family and we have never been happier as a couple.

I wanted to create the blog after reading yours and Jonsi's stories as well as reading information on Luke 17:3 ministries site from Sister Renee. After being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder stemming from the abuse I received during our time in contact with these people, I have been through a long, rough road to finding myself again and finding purpose once more after being torn down to nothing. I'm certainly not perfect but have come a long way since first being exposed to N's! My heart is to help those women and people in my shoes, married to those with an N-family causing havoc on their marriage. I have a heart for listening to others, assuring them they are NOT crazy and hoping my words bring some bit of comfort into the crazy mess that is living with N's. I write things I wish someone would have written to me when I was starting out the journey! I want to empower those people and let them know they do not have to live in abuse. 

I think my blog is probably best suited to those starting out or simply those who need an encouraging voice. I'm here to love the people broken and sad enough to even type into the search bar 'abusive in laws' or 'toxic family'. It really does break my heart so many people search for words of comfort and only find things that tell them to live with it and deal with the abuse. (so sad!) I hope to reach people who have gotten terrible advice from family, friends and even pastors (like I have!) to just 'deal with it'. It's something close to my heart and I hope to reach out to people hurting just like I was (still am, at times).

Visit Gracie's Blog, "Confessions from the Fog", started December 2012.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

I'm an ACoN-Nerd! Your Data, Please!

by Quercus

I realised that as soon as I got excited about doing a post containing Venn diagrams, that my secret was out - I'm a huge nerd.

ADD YOUR BLOG TO THE VENN DIAGRAM DIRECTORY!

Where would your blog title fit on this? Please let me know - I'd like to fill it all in and post it, so that readers can find the blogs that best fit with them!




I think it would be best if the author self-categorize - I had a shot at it, but realised pretty quickly that it was difficult to sort the blogs of others!

Update: by special request (the lovely Jessie)

I've got a new chart in the works. I've taken the liberty of adding Jonsi and Gracie to it, because they are our two non-ACoN bloggers and deserve recognition!



REMINDER: TAKE THE ACoN SOCIETY SURVEY! ENDS 31 DEC 2012!

For those of you who may have missed the earlier post, here's a reminder about the survey. Follow this link here to the post explaining everything and which has a link to the SurveyMonkey Anonymized Survey.

In a nutshell, it's anonymous, and it's to see (hopefully statistically! I told you - HUGE NERD!) what background and experiences we all break down into. No questions are mandatory, and anonymity is assured (see the link for the full how-what-why). Thank you for adding your data!

Featured Blog: YOUR BLOG HERE

by Quercus


THE NEBULUS QUALITY OF THE ACoN BLOGOSPHERE:

When I first started this blog, I really didn't intend for this to be a personal blog as such. And in all honesty, one of the biggest reasons for this was that I didn't want my NFOO to find me! I wanted to remain anonymous, to just be who I am but under a pseudonym, and help others to find a central hub that linked all the excellent ACoN blogs together. (It had taken me so long to find the blogs I currently follow!).


BURN OUT & THE ACoN BLOGGER:

I've also noticed that ACoN blogs have a finite life-span. Some of the blogs I first read were pretty well defunct by the time I came around to them (for example, "Narcissists Suck" - Anna Valerious still moderates comments and posts maybe once a year, maybe, but I definitely found it after its hey-day). While I still refer back to her blog (it really is one of my all-time favourites) as it continues to be a useful and thought-provoking resource for me, it's also really nice to read the still-active journeys of other ACoNs. And I find that the newer, fresher blogs are always the hardest to find!

It seems to me, as someone who is still 'in the woods' of her ACoN journey, that the average life-span of an ACoN blog is only a few short years. Then it gets retired - the ACoN has moved on, resolved their issues, and has other battles to fight and victories to celebrate in their lives! I really wanted to start the sort of blog or site that could be passed on to someone else, or at least one that I could continue to support but have other, newer writers give it life when my burn-out point is reached. The reason for this is simple - I know what it felt like to be alone in cyberspace, trying to find a 'community' of people with problems like mine to interact with! It was very lonely for me at first, and I always had this sense that I was two years behind (or more!) on all the blogs I commented on. I felt that I had missed the boat, and I don't want any other ACoN in that fragile "first-step" phase to feel the way I did.


'WHAT NARC?' WE COULD DO THIS MAGAZINE-STYLE:

I also thought I'd have various other authors and bloggers contributing articles, so we could essentially run a little 'magazine' of sorts that highlighted the brave contributions of the sort of people who really put themselves out there to share, and to refer back to their personal blogs (if desired) so that all the ACoNs out there looking for answers/understanding could read more from the ACoNs who most interested them.

But it turns out that my idea didn't work all that well: comment forms seem to be sufficient for people to "have their say"; forums exist for anonymous posting as well; the sort of people who want to say more generally have their own blogs anyway and don't have time to do extra posts; and I'm the only contributing author on The ACoN Society to date (apart from Ruth and Sister Renee Pittelli who wrote a tonne for "FAQ", which I am very grateful for!). I'm really not a 'business-minded' person, as you can tell - my idea was half-baked at best! Good thing this is all free!

I do, however, want to try to come back to my original premise a bit and use this blog as I intended it to be in the first place - a launch pad!


I am formally inviting any blogger who follows/occasionally looks at my blog to 'pitch' their own blog here!

I have a link of recommended blogs on the right of my page (PLEASE let me know if you'd like yours added! Would be happy to oblige!), but it's not very visible, and every blog typically has a links list....

Instead, I was thinking it would be cool to have a "Featured Blog" post now and then, showing a screenshot of the blog and a blurb from the author as to what their blog is about, where/when it started, where it's going, and maybe a general synopsis of the author. For example, Quercus is a ACoN of an NM and (N)EF who is currently waffling on the LOW/NO CONTACT threshold, is over a year into therapy, and is married and in her thirties. Now if you were an only child of an elderly NF who lives with him still and is also his caretaker, we not might have much in common.

What I'd like to do is help facilitate ACoNs to find the blogs most relevant or useful to them! It took me forever to find my favourites (which are typically those whose stories are like mine, but not always! Sometimes a different perspective is also really helpful and educational for me!), and I wished that there had been a central site that really linked all the blogs together so that people could quickly find what they needed!

So it's still my hope that I can 'give back' to the community that has helped me so much by connecting ACoNs with the blogs of other ACoNs.

My readership is low compared to many of your blogs, so I'm not really powered to unite the whole of the ACoN world by any means! But if you see the potential here in what I'd like to do, please help me to do it!

If you would like to submit a "Here's My Blog - Here's What I Write About - Please Come Read!" article, I would happily post it and a link (and a permalink if I don't already have one in the link list). And if you'd like to post on your blog, "Hey, I just featured my blog on The ACoN Society" and linked back here, maybe your readers could find other blogs as well and we can get everyone connected to helpful resources and kindred ACoN spirits!

Alternatively, I can 'play journalist' and do a 'review' of your blog myself, along those same lines (obviously running it past you for approval prior to posting). 

If you're interested, please drop me a line! I can't say that your article will bring in x number of viewers (again, my readership might even be smaller than yours!), but I'd love to help people find the blogs that might resonate with them best. It took me a frustratingly long time to find blogs that really spoke to me and my situation, and I would love to shorten that interval for others.

If there's a blog that I haven't listed that you read and think that other ACoNs should be made aware of, please let me know (comment/email)! I can contact the author and see if they'd be interested in a link to their blog on The ACoN Society.


UPDATE - I've done a mock "Featured Blog" example on the "Submissions to The ACoN Society" page (at top right of page). If you scroll down the "Submissions" page, you'll see a blurb I did about this blog. That's sort of the idea/content I was envisioning, but have at 'er if you've got a different vision for what a "Featured Blog" post for your blog should be!

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Epiphany Post (or When I Became "Unmeshed")

by Quercus


It's taken me awhile to write this post. I've got this enormous draft saved that encompassed everything about my recent 'epiphany', but it got so unwieldy, so rambling that even me, the author, lost the thread!

So rather than subject anyone else to that confusing jumble of sentences, I'm going to attempt to write again from scratch today. But before I began to write, I read up on a few blogs I follow (to both get me in the right frame of mind, but also to inspire proper sentence and paragraph structure... which I'm sure I'll simply ignore, but at least the spirit was there!).

Therapist Michelle Piper of Narcissistic Mother wrote this in her recent blog post, "When a Narcissistic Mother Wants a Copy of Herself":

Infantilization: Never being allowed to explore her own autonomy, her child is kept vulnerable, naive, and scared of the world and being on his or her own. A narcissistic mother will brainwash her child into thinking the world is a cruel place in which one would never be able to survive on one’s own. This leads a child to never feel safe and fear leaving the support of the narcissistic mother, even though they may be miserable.

I first familiarized myself with the ACoN lingo and glossaries way back at the beginning of my 'journey', and I don't think I've really bothered to re-read much of the literature that laid the foundations of my understanding of malignant parental narcissism since then (Jonsi also just posted some of Sister Renee's great work, which I hadn't read in ages but which still grabbed at my attention the way bacon cheeseburger television commercials do... which is at once strongly and positively, in case that was unclear!).

I forgot that I had been "infantilized" by my NM, until I read Michelle's post. I'm sure I never totally forgot about the effects that it had on me, but I had definitely not corralled that set of emotions and thoughts back under the heading of "infantilization" since. "Parentification" stuck with me rather better, and probably because I (bitterly) remember acting as 'the parent' and notice that I'm still being called on to do the same now.

The line "brainwash her child into thinking the world is a cruel place in which one would never be able to survive on one's own" is what captured my attention today, however, and I realised it would make a perfect segue into this 'epiphany' I had last week.

Last week, I became unstuck from the spider's web that kept me trapped in my NM's capriciousness and in servitude to her unholy needs. How I wish I could adequately explain the how, what, and why of this event. I can't explain it. I was saying to a friend that it was more of an 'emotion' than a 'thought', and all I really felt able to do was describe it in pictures.

I think 'infantilization' could be a helpful concept in explaining some of the experiences I went through. Keeping in mind that I was infantilized, as Michelle Piper has explained it, here's my 'epiphany':


I was having another rotten day. Many of my days since starting this 'journey to freedom' have felt rotten and unbearable, and this day wasn't any worse. I would call it a '75% rotten day' (I've had '100% rotten days' during the past few years!). I thought a friend had died of suicide (he didn't, thank the Lord!) and we couldn't reach him (no one could); my N-friend that I mentioned previously was still bothering me (the fallout of her regrettable choices and decisions still hadn't really resolved for me yet); NM had sent further flying monkeys to me through social media (and they'd upped the ante); I had upcoming social obligations that involved being in the same room as malignant 'ex-friend' (who I've mentioned in the past but not so much recently); and a major project at work hit a major bureaucratic snag.... When I list all of that, I have trouble remembering what the 'good 25%' was!

DH saw trouble on the horizon. Either through purely good and altruistic reasons, or because he was judiciously ascribing to the philosophy that "Happy Wife = Happy Life", DH declared "movie and date night" on the spot. Miraculously, I still had enough energy left by dinner time to muster and drag myself out.

I was angry, though: worried (AWOL friend who may have killed himself), irate (project), frustrated (N-friend), anxious (ex-friend & social obligations) and disheartened (flying monkey attack).

Maybe it was the perfect combination of 'negative' emotions, following that point of "hitting rock bottom" the week before. I'm not sure. But I watched that movie in stubborn mental silence. For the first time in ages, I was able to 'turn off' my brain and stop analyzing and fretting and just lose myself into fiction.

In the background of my mind, things began to shift. The only way I've been able to describe it is via Tetris (yep, the block game!) as an analogy:

(You can play for free, without download at freetetris.org, by the way!)

Something fell into place. Again, if I could say what it was, I would! I can't figure it out, because just as with the game, once that row is filled it immediately disappears. (If you've never played Tetris, and I can't imagine anyone reading hasn't, swing by http://www.freetetris.org/ to play for free and experience the pure joy of row-completion first-hand!).

A limiting 'row', a 'layer' of something keeping me enmeshed with my NM vanished in my subconscious. When the movie ended and I was forced to reengage with reality, I noticed the change. Again, I'd pay serious money to find out exactly what that 'piece' was that cleared the 'row' (or heck, what the 'row' was, too!), but it all felt subliminal, inaccessible to me. It still does.

As I was processing this new sensation of 'freedom', I talked it over with DH and again tried to use analogy to illustrate what I felt had happened. It was frustrating, though, because even by the time my weekly therapy appointment had rolled around, I still couldn't adequately relay what had happened. My psychologist seemed to understand perfectly, but he didn't give me any useful phrasing. Maybe there isn't a proper term for it, or maybe he was just being reticent, but at least he was able to understand conceptually.

I had told my DH (and my shrink) that I had the sense of a 'vision' or something. I'm not a particularly romantic or metaphysical person (at least, I don't think I am!), so to say, "I saw in front of me a great star-field" would be a little poetic for my liking. But it was something like that - in trying to explain it to my husband, my brain generated a visual analogy for me. It was a very interesting feeling.

I 'saw' my 'soul' in my mind's eye. It was a bright light, like a star or planet in the sky, and it had colour as it twinkled (first green, then orange). It was separate from me, older than me, but also intrinsically part of me. It was immutable (unchangeable) and it didn't really belong to me..... the best analogy of the relationship between me and my 'soul' is that the soul was the coding and me, the person, was the program. I couldn't operate/exist without it - it was the 'source code', in a way.

So the combination of soul + flesh = what we perceive as consciousness and the 'person' of Quercus. That's the impression I got. The soul had 'personality' in itself, and when combined with flesh and blood and existence in the physical world with all it's 'nature and nurture', it resulted in me, a person.

I didn't just see one soul. I saw a near infinite number of souls, all like stars in space (I have to borrow the image of distant stars and galaxies from the Fornax cluster for this analogy! It's so pretty, and it's so much like what I 'saw' in my mind's eye):

Gorgeous, isn't it? The Fornax cluster contains many galaxies. image source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/images-of-space/2012/08/10/5f055d8a-3d48-11e1-84a4-02de40db9b91_gallery.html#photo=27

All of the souls, in my 'vision', were of equal size and importance, but they were in no way uniform. All had different qualities to them (colour, namely! Rate of twinkle, relative speed, etc.). And all those little 'soul-stars' were from the same divine source. Each had a unique trajectory and purpose, not one more important than the other, but all were of infinite value. And all of these 'souls' had 'lives' to live on Earth. (This is where it gets really theological really quickly, and I don't much get it, either. The nub of the issue is - we're all equal, we're all different, and we all have different earthly assignments, timing and purposes to facilitate a grand scheme of goodness).

This is where the epiphany is best revealed - I am a unique creation of God (or 'the Universe' for the atheists out there!). We all are, frankly, whether you believe we're all randomly-formed stardust (hey, our atoms had to come from somewhere! Law of Conservation of Mass!), unique creations knitted together by God in the womb, or a combination of the two (they're hardly mutually exclusive, are they?). Either way, we're getting into truths that the grey matter of human minds can't encapsulate, so let's just gloss over that for now and stick to the purposes of this post!

The points I'm trying to get to are these:

I'm not my mother.

My mother is not my creator, any more than I am hers.

My mother is her own 'point of light' that has its own trajectory, its own mission, its own timing and has experienced its own life here on earth. NONE OF THIS translates to my 'point of light' - I too have my own trajectory, my own timing and have had my own experiences.

There is as much overlap and commonality between me and mother as there is between me and the fictional protagonist of the movie I was watching. Genetics are one thing, but in my 'vision' here, I realised that it just seems to be a 'local law' or 'convention' that offspring are genetically similar to their parents (it makes great sense on a biological level, but there's a much bigger picture here!). My essence, my soul, my entire personality is its own thing - my NM didn't give me life! Her and my EF 'bumped uglies', then fed and clothed me and were continually disappointed with the return on their 'investment' of time and money for the next thirty-something years! Something much more profound, cosmic even, 'created' me or 'gave me life'! For my parents, sperm met egg and then I induced all sorts of unwelcome physical changes and complaints for poor old NM who apparently expected to glow like the moon and feel like a goddess throughout those 'sacred' 9 months and then for the rest of her life as she ascended to the lofty throne of Motherhood... good grief.

I also realised another thing - that I cannot (and I mean cannot in the sense that you can't alter the flow of time or unscramble an egg or un-burn a match - impossibilities!) travel along the path that my NM would have me travel. I cannot live "her life", and I can't live my life according to her rules or confines!

There are a few reasons for this:

(See point #2!) image source: scienceblogs.com
  1. In my vision, all the little 'soul-stars' were equal in magnitude, and we all worked together, collectively, for a greater good. We served not each other, but 'God' (or however you'd like to personally envision this). It would be WRONG, PERVERSE even, to start serving another soul of equal magnitude when the whole POINT of this 'endeavour' we call 'life' or 'existence' is to serve a far, far greater purpose - something infinitely larger and more important than ourselves!
  2. Just as a ball can't change it's own trajectory mid-flight, I'm hurtling in the direction I'm meant to travel with quite a lot of momentum. I can spend all my energy struggling against the course of my life, but I'll never be able to change it. We're on fixed paths (yes, I realise this is getting into 'determinism' very swiftly! Sorry for that!). "Neither can a leopard change its spots", right? And "Who can, by worrying, add a day to their life"? (both are Scripture quotes). I just don't have that sort of power, even if the will is there.
  3. I was born into a set of circumstances with my soul already intact. I already had all the qualities that made me "me". Again, it's the "neither can a leopard change its spots" argument - the time, the location, the experiences COUPLED with the immutable divinity in us (that is unique to each of us) means my life CANNOT be like the life of my NM!
  4. Death is what happens when you try to change course. I don't know if that's both 'spiritual death' and 'physical death', but this is the exact phrasing my shrink keeps reverting back to. It's not my words, because I don't quite see the 'death' connection there, but he insists that to change your essence, to struggle against your trajectory, to serve another master (i.e. my NM rather than God), is to 'die'. He points out that I 'was dead' before beginning my 'journey to freedom'.
The other mental image I got was that of a cookie cutter - my soul, my essence is a particular unique shape. So is yours. So is my NM's. And no two are alike (like snowflakes). I cannot shoe-horn myself into her expectations, no matter what I do, no matter what threats she gives or essential love she withholds.

What NM's (NP's in general, I suppose) are asking us to do is the IMPOSSIBLE. We cannot be naught but who we are! We are either going to be ourselves, or we'll die.... and waste a precious gift of life, and the opportunity to bring about a beautiful and mysterious 'grand scheme' (and we don't know what that is, yet! I guess it's a surprise!).

image source: bubbajames.wordpress.com

I know many of the readers may not be Christian, or may not even be familiar with Christian thought. But I have to make this example using Christian themes because it resonates so strongly with me that it would seem dishonest not to....

Satan was, apparently, a former angel who got rather above himself (to say the least), and in his hubris and general nastiness, decided to try to usurp God through rebellion or a 'coup d'etat'. Now obviously this was ill-conceived, seeing as God is God, and so, as the story goes, Satan was chucked out of Heaven 'cause he was a dissenter and, in my humble opinion, the most malignant of ALL malignant narcissists!

He couldn't play nice. He couldn't serve anyone (even the Divine God - the definition of all "GOOD" and "LOVE"!). And he wanted all the control and power for himself. (TELL ME this doesn't sound like a narc!).

Anyway, I tend not to give Satan's cause any real thought (I don't much like narcissists...!), but he insists on having people serve him and not having to serve God/do the right thing (for anyone, ever). And he's not exactly "good" in any sense (quite the opposite!), so he uses people rather badly, destroying their lives for his own gain (again, malignant narcissist, what?!).

Now whether or not you take this as gospel, or as mere fantasy/fiction, the story arc is what's important here - jerky, conceited, power-hungry evil dude takes on the Master of the Universe (the source of all love and goodness), loses, but still manages to find a way to 'use and abuse' people (and there's no shortage of theological thoughts on why this has been 'allowed'). If Satan can't own you, he'll ruin you. He'll pervert the course of your life, presumably to make himself feel better. He'll stop you from completing your divine and mysterious mission here on earth, 'cause he didn't get to finish his divine mission either, and it's just simply not fair to him.

I don't know if this all ties together in your mind as clearly as it coalesces in my own, but evil=Satan=malignant narcissists: they all want to bend you from your path, ruin your life, destroy any chances of you 'making it' (whatever that is - I don't know, but I know it's a good thing!), because they're a bunch of jerks!

Then there's what's supposed to happen - life. Life, love and goodness (from the same root-word as "God"). Fraternity. Love. Compassion. Kindness. Individuality. Beauty. Happiness. Everything good comes from being on your 'right path', where you're supposed to be! All the stories and movies about 'following your heart' suggest the same thing - we are each unique, divine creations of God ('the Universe' if you prefer), and we all have totally unique paths, lives, personalities, experiences!

If the Universe teaches us nothing else, it likes variety. No two things are identical (not even identical twins! Even on the genetic level! Crazy, eh?), and the more we learn about space and matter and time, the less structured and less easily understood it becomes - there are few 'absolutes' in life, and the universe likes to showcase many exceptions to our much loved 'rules'.

To try to change someone to be more like you, or more like how you'd like them to be, or place them in servitude to you and not to the 'greater good', is EVIL. And it will lead to death (I see my shrink's point now!).

And that's how I became 'unmeshed' from NM. I saw a bigger truth, or I "learned it on a deeper level" (says the psychologist). I can't, no matter how I try, ever appease my NM! She is literally asking the impossible of me! I don't mean improbable or impractical, either - I mean truly and utterly impossible!

The only end-point along NM's evil path of servitude is death (probably by suicide, possibly by failed health and exhaustion). Whereas by living my life, following my 'heart', there's any number of potential outcomes, all of which are, by definition, better!

Infantilization: Never being allowed to explore her own autonomy, her child is kept vulnerable, naive, and scared of the world and being on his or her own. A narcissistic mother will brainwash her child into thinking the world is a cruel place in which one would never be able to survive on one’s own. This leads a child to never feel safe and fear leaving the support of the narcissistic mother, even though they may be miserable.

Turns out the only really scary place is the 'pit', or "Hell" in Christian terminology. Hell is death - it's also called "abaddon", meaning "total and utter destruction". Soul-annihilation is the term I gravitate towards.

Hell is a place on earth - it's under your NP's thumb, stuck in their web. The world IS a terrifying and deadly place when you're living in 'Hell'. 'Hell' has also been referred to as "separation from God" - if you read that to mean, "separation from all that is good", which is what that really means, well 'hell yeah'! You're living in 'Hell' by definition then, aren't you?!

But become 'unmeshed', and suddenly the crippling fear vanishes. A world of possibilities opens up.

That's my epiphany - I'd rather live free as a 'free-agent' without the 'support' (HA!) of my NFOO than persist indefinitely in what is best described as "Hell on Earth" - a perpetual state of death while still alive!

It was all backwards. As my psychologist said, I was effectively DEAD before. Taking the risk of leaving the 'safety' of my NFOO has liberated me to live the life I was supposed to live! And who knows what that may be! It probably won't be grand and famous and all of that! It'll probably be a fairly common life, perhaps even boring by the current culture's esthetic. But it will be a FREE LIFE, one I'm meant to live.

Oh dear. This still turned out to be a long-winded, beleaguered post. I guess that's just who I am - a discombobulated wind-bag! But a FREE discombobulated wind-bag! Free to follow the life I was graciously given to lead. And I now intend to live it well and stop wasting it in desperate and pointless servitude to someone who seemingly has more in common with a pointy-horned, cloven-hoofed individual than myself. Yeah, I said it.

Some parting words of Scripture, good for everyone to know (not just Christians):

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23)

The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” (Job 1:7)

They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. (Revelation 9:11)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  (Ephesians 6:11)


So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

No, we're not ignorant of his designs. There's a pattern here, and one we ACoNs can now spot a mile away. Pride, power, control - control over people. Never freedom.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Between Ruth, Upsi and Alice Miller

by Quercus


Personally, I've had a rough weekend. The NFriend I mentioned in the preceding two posts made the most selfish of all potential selfish decisions, and then claimed that she did this out of love for others. It wasn't as much what she did, but how she justified it that disgusted me to a new level. How easily she attempted to corral my support and encourage her in her self-appointed role of 'innocent victim'.

'Innocent' and 'victim', my foot! Neither is she innocent, nor in any sense is she the victim! Responsibility and accountability are pillars of the community, of our society. And yet there are so many people who will gladly excuse themselves from both, while heaping extra portions unjustly onto others.

C'est la vie, I suppose.

I wanted to highlight two recent posts in the ACoN universe, because between them the entirety of my dysfunctional childhood can be easily summarized.

*

Ruth of We Are One wrote "The Child is Not the Behaviour". Ruth, in typical courageous fashion, gives examples of when her behaviour missed the mark, and explains the fallout and mistaken beliefs that stemmed from those incidents in her childhood.

The post is clear, concise (I should learn from Ruth here!) and crystallizes the salient issue easily in the title. I won't dissect it further, but I will insist that you follow the link above and give it a read.

This is the first thing that was 'wrong' in my childhood and formative years - every misstep was taken as a direct reflection of my character. When I acted selfishly, as all children do until they learn differently, I was cast as a "bad person", a devil, a sadist that wanted to hurt my mother and break her heart. It wasn't that I desperately coveted a particular toy advertised shamelessly to me on network television and threw a fit to express my intense displeasure at being deprived of the joy that the girl in the ad had with her My Little Pony with the intention of making my mother to feel inadequate - it was because I really wanted the toy.

Children are simple. They are, in every sense of the word, innocent. They are learning as they go, and though they do have some resilience, they are vulnerable in a way that no adult is. Children need to be treated and corrected gently, carefully and deliberately, with full-disclosure and honesty. Parents must take the time and effort to properly explain everything. Children can say, "But why?" a million times in a row, and they will. But it is in the best interests of the child to keep answering those questions as long as you possibly can and to the best of your abilities, no matter how 'put out' you as a parent are. You gave birth to children - you signed up for a role in which there are awesome responsibilities.  You're the adult; the burden is yours (as is the joy received when you've done your job right!). Natural consequences of parenting exist, both good and bad. What you reap is what you've sown.

*

Upsi of You Don't Have to Dance for Them responded to yet another 'anonymous angry parent' comment in the post "Light of Your Life", and in the post she once again drives home the inescapable truth (a la Alice Miller) that children are NEVER to be made responsible for the emotional well-being of a parent (or adult in general). Never. Ever.

Emotionally unhealthy parents who are cowardly (and yes, I will state this boldly) do not seek therapy or attempt to dismantle an emotional siege-works carried over from the previous generation - they do not break the cycle.

As to why they choose not to is anyone's guess and speculation. I have speculated long and hard as to why my NM couldn't (wouldn't?) treat me differently to how she was treated. No good has come from my rumination on why she's done what she's done, and there have been other posts and articles suggesting that to do so is unhealthy for the ACoN (continues the cycle of enmeshment - "What is my NParent thinking? What's happening for them? How can I influence this?"). Getting out of their heads seems part-and-parcel with getting them out of yours (individuation!).

It is evident from the comment discussed in "Light of Your Life" that the commenting mother must not agree with the premise that the child shall be indemnified in regards to the mother's emotions. This mother, and I would argue all Narcissistic Mothers (and probably fathers, too), feel that the child is liable for all insults against her. That the child should be shamed for hurting the feelings (or for not improving the feelings) of the mother.

It is my pet premise that NM's attribute adult motives to babies and children. Too often have I heard an NM say, "She's just doing that to upset me!", or "She knows I love that dress, so she threw up on it on purpose!", or "She's trying to steal away the attention of my boyfriend!" (I've heard that one very recently!).

I believe that because the Narcissist is unable/unwilling to accept that a child is not their emotional equal, they then fall into the trap of expecting the child to defer to the preferences of the parent. The trouble of course is that the child requires 100% of the relationship's available emotional support - there's no quid pro quo here, no give and take! And the further trouble is that the child is simplistic - it is inexperienced, unwise and possesses no real knowledge of how to support an emotionally handicapped adult. Even if the child did have the capacity to support an emotionally handicapped parent, the child would have to put aside their own growth and individuation to do so, a cost far too high for any child to pay (ask an ACoN!).

A child is an enormous responsibility by default. It is not their fault that they are born wholly dependent and require everything the parent has and then some - it is simply the way we humans come about. Patience, love, knowledge - they are insatiable in their desire for these things. Children are by nature highly demanding. It is not intentional - there is no thought or ulterior motive. They just "are".

*

The late Alice Miller is someone every ACoN should be familiar with. Practically an angel in human form, this eminent psychologist explored child abuse and its far reaching effects. Her book, "The Drama of the Gifted Child" is one I would never hestitate to recommend to an ACoN. I find it a bit deep, and I have had to revisit parts and reread the volume (this lady had an incredible mind - my mind can't take in this book in one go!). But it's a short book, and a profound one. "Gifted" doesn't refer to personal success, academic achievement or athletic triumph but to those who have "who have survived an abusive childhood thanks to an ability to adapt even to unspeakable cruelty by becoming numb... Without this 'gift' offered us by nature, we would not have survived."

Alice Miller conducted thorough and proper research into the effects of corporeal punishment and child abuse in general, and has written many articles (published on her webpage) expanding her findings into greater arenas (the world community at large, for instance).

Dr. Miller was an advocate for ACoNs and children of abuse everywhere. She challenged society's prevailing beliefs on spankings, and she rigorously examined the lasting effects of childhood abuse. There is a brief bio of Alice Miller here. She ferociously denounced the current psychoanalysis paradigm as being "in the old tradition of blaming the child and protecting the parents", and even went 'rogue', so to speak, renouncing her ties to the IPA. Her passion for the protection of children, and for "breaking the cycle of abuse" is her lasting legacy. She is truly someone every ACoN should familiarize themselves with. In her article, "We Can Identify the Causes of our Sufferings", she writes (my emphases in bold font):
"Almost all of us have corporal punishment inflicted on us in our formative years. But the fear and anger such punishment brings with it remain unconscious for a very long time. Children have no choice but suppress their fear and anger, as otherwise they could not sustain their love for their parents, and that love is crucially necessary for their survival. But these emotions, though suppressed, remain stored away in our bodies, and in adulthood they can cause symptoms of varying severity. We may suffer from bouts of depression, attacks of panic fear, or violent reactions towards our children without identifying the true causes of our despair, our fear, or our rage. If we were aware of those causes, it would prevent us from falling ill, because then we would realize that our fathers and mothers no longer have any power over us and can no longer beat us."
I think that Dr. Miller's approach of blaming the parents and not the child is a fair, just and kind tactic. It is fair because one hundred percent of the responsibility lies with the adult, the parent; a child cannot be made to carry the burden of a grown adult. It is just because if the parent abuses the child, it is completely and utterly the fault of the parent. And it is kind (and perhaps 'fair' applies here, too) because the child, in turn, will one day become a parent. If the child does not break the cycle, then they too will be to blame.

Unfortunate? Yes. Unfair on a cosmic level? Perhaps... or perhaps it's so just that we humans shrink from it and cry foul. Hypocrisy exists everywhere humans do, and I for one feel it's quite elegant that the victim has the opportunity to become an abuser. What better test of character is there?

*

Ruth's post and Upsi's post, coming so close together, made me realise that I had reached a new milestone on my ACoN journey; I know very well and very clearly what went wrong where in my childhood. Why I am the way that I am. Why the relationship between my parents and I is what it is.

There are two important bottom-lines here, for me:

  1. All children are innocent. All children make mistakes as they learn. All children are impossibly vulnerable and fragile and must be cradled and nurtured in every respect. They must not be labelled or punished because of 'who they are', but rather have their behaviours corrected with transparency and honesty. Parents must rise to this incredible challenge, else risk (in their words) "abandonment" later in life as the child realises that their parent was (and often is) more detrimental than beneficial. Parents reap what they sow.
  2. Children are not emotional equals. An adult must not expect an 'undeveloped person' to carry an emotional burden on their behalf, to any extent. Children do not possess the capacity to support the feelings of an emotionally crippled adult, though they (tragically) do possess the willingness to help. Children are exploited grievously by cowardly adults who, rather than take on the risks of self-examination, dump their own loads onto a framework far too fragile to carry such a burden.
And there's one more point I'd like to make, as risky as it might be - most of us are given the gift to have children of our own. It is here that we put our money where our mouths are: if we were abused by our own self-absorbed parents, here is our opportunity to show how it should've gone down, not how it did. We are given the ultimate blessing - the opportunity to rewrite history, in a way. To pass on a new legacy, and to, quite literally, make the world a better place by raising a healthy, happy child to carry on the next generation.

What I'd like to say to my NFriend, but likely won't (at least not right now), is this - if you do not break the cycle, or die trying, you have no right to continue to whinge on about your own mistreatment. Your argument becomes a moot point the moment you engage in the behaviour that so grievously maimed you.

This may make me exceedingly unpopular, but I'm going to say it all the same: you cease to be a victim of childhood abuse when you have in turn abused a child. You have, in essence, waived any right to sympathy the moment you became what you profess to hate.

I've got no room in my life for hypocrites like these. As my friend injures her child, my sympathy, my support for my friend fades. I now hold her 100% accountable, as she holds her mother 100% accountable for her own mistreatment. Short of enrolling in therapy and making amends of epic proportions, and I mean completely turning her life around purely for the sake of her child, I cannot bring myself to feel any empathy for her situation.

We had the very same situation, my friend and I. Maybe it had nothing to do with me that I was able to swear to break the cycle (and am taking steps to do so) and everything to do with Divine Intervention. This is probable - I see no difference in potential in me versus my friend. But I do know that I am unable and unwilling to view her circumstances with sympathy; she is repeating her cycle of abuse on her own child, and yet continuing to claim to be a victim.

It is a tragedy. And it may not be completely my friend's fault (maybe she is actually missing part of her brain, who knows?). But I know that I can't consciously defend her position any longer. And I am starting to extrapolate this to my own NM, too. For too long have I blamed my evil NGrandfather for abusing her, and in turn for her abusing me. This is what my EF and NM would have me believe. The truth is that they waived their right to plead innocent the moment they started to abuse me and my siblings.

If you have children, you should be held 100% accountable for them. You reap what you sow. And if you can't handle this, stock up on condoms and find something else to sink your love into, for posterity's sake.

Friday, 30 November 2012

More Reflections from the "Rock-Bottom" Session

by Quercus

This is "part two" of my "Welcome to Rock-Bottom!" post yesterday.

I apologise in advance, because this post is going to be exceptionally disjointed (even more so than usual with my posts!). There are themes I ran with in the last post that made my session sound like a coherent conversation (hopefully!) with my psychologist, but in reality there were insights everywhere, and of different varieties. So I'll have to leap from one premise to the next in this post so that I can share the insights in case they are of value to others as well.


Taking on Responsibility versus Helping Someone

When I was speaking about the conundrum (what an understatement that is!) my NFriend has 'found herself in' (read: orchestrated from the beginning, but denies any involvement to the point of impossibility!), I was upset that I was getting everything dumped in my lap whether I wanted it or not.

I also complained that it's not this friend alone, but most of my friends to do this to me. I wasn't sure if they all thought, wrongly, that I had some sort of special skill-set that allowed me to take on and easily solve the problems of others (while they have no consideration or empathy for my current overwhelming state of affairs, of which they are all aware!),  

or if I was somehow bringing these insane 'responsibilities' upon myself (I suspected this might be the case; the frequency suggested it, and I'm the common denominator),

or if it was simply by virtue of me not passing the buck quickly enough. I thought maybe I was just the slowest one to find a chair when the music stopped. Or the last person to put a finger on the tip of the nose; I was always "it" because I wasn't abdicating responsibility quickly enough.

My psychologist nodded. At least one of my theories was valid.

"I wonder . . . can you differentiate between taking full responsibility for someone and simply 'helping' someone?"

That's a thinker. "No! Good grief, I never really think of it that way! If I'm helping, I'm responsible!"

"Hmm. I thought as much. They are, in fact, different things."

"Yes. Yes, I understand, conceptually... but... I just- I just don't see where the dividing line is between helping and taking responsibility!"

"Exactly. How would it be if you said to your friend, 'I've offered you my best advice, but you won't take it. That's all the help I can provide'?"

My first thought to this was, 'Ack! Then she's going to say, 'You can't even drive me to the therapist's appointment?! You won't even come with me to _____? You can't even talk to ______ for me? I thought we were friends! Wahhhhhhh!''.

And my second thought was, 'Huh. I guess I could just set a boundary'.

In the end, I didn't end up setting a boundary with my NFriend. I just started repeating my advice. "Did you do that yet?". She did eventually look into the provincial laws on the subject, so I reassured her that now she knew her rights and responsibilities and could make good decisions for herself. I got silence, but that's quite nice!

I'm also deliberately using the word "responsibility" in every communication. I said, "I know you feel that these circumstances aren't your fault, but unfortunately you must take responsibility for them all the same. Legally, you don't have an option!".

It seems to be working, but I'll keep you posted. I've probably just inadvertently passed the buck to another "rescuer". Or did I? Actually, no, I didn't do that. My psychologist would jump all over me for that assertion - I didn't pass the buck to anyone, the friend is actively appointing another "rescuer"!

See, even there you see my dysfunction. If I'm not saving the day, I'm not only being a terrible person (!), but I'm also putting that impossible situation unfairly onto someone else, someone innocent!

And yet this isn't true! Neither am I a terrible person for not taking responsibility for someone else's problems, I'm also not actively (or even passively, really) causing anyone else to have to be a rescuer. The 'victim', the Narcissist, is the one who won't do the right thing! Not me!

This is my NParent's legacy!!! "Your mother can't be made to deal with this! If you don't take care of this situation, who will? Your younger siblings? Is it fair to do that to them? They are so young! You are being a horrible person for not accepting blame for this situation of your mother's!"

Honestly, I've heard that very complaint, in different words, throughout my childhood.

"Your mother can't be held responsible!"

"Your mother can't be left with all the blame! You were as much to blame as she was!"

"You mother is crying her eyes out in her room. She can't deal with this! You are breaking her heart by not helping her!"

It never occurred to me to just tell my stupid, pathetic EF to 'deal with it himself'! I was a child, a very young child, too! I wasn't intelligent enough to work this out! I had no resources to do anything but apologise and accept responsibility, all the time, for everything. I had no experience to know how wrongly I was being treated!

So I've been raised to dive in and rescue the Narcissist every time, no questions asked, no complaints allowed. And I'd better have done it with a smile and a good nature - I had no right to complain.

I still have trouble seeing where "help" ends and "responsibility" begins.


Resentment and Other Dead Emotions

There are certain feelings I won't allow myself to feel. All of them are 'negative' emotions, or at least, that's what I've been raised to believe them to be.

Resentment is dead. Regarding my NFriend in her 'conundrum' of epic proportions, I said to my psychologist: "I just don't want to start feeling resentful towards her!"

"Do you feel resentment for your friend?"

"No! No - I won't allow myself. It's not right to. She doesn't mean to...."

"Seriously? Why is it wrong to feel resentment?"

"..." I think my mouth opened and shut a few times. "I don't know. Because it's a negative emotion?"

"Resentment exists to tell you that you're being taken advantage of. That you're being used. Do you still think 'resentment' is a 'bad thing'? You've had resentment bred out of you so that you could be used over and over again by your mother without ever holding her to account. You weren't able to register complaint or sadness or anger, either, were you?"

"No. I always had to smile, too. I wasn't allowed to complain."

"Parts of you are dead. They've been killed off to better serve the purposes of your parents."

Ah. I think I knew this coming in, but it never hurts to hear it again straight from the lips of the man in the armchair. I have a feeling that future sessions are going to work to "resurrect" parts of me. I told him that I wish there was some "course I could take" that tells you the degree to which employment of 'bad emotions' is "acceptable"! Because even the slightest spark of resentment in me is something I feel very badly for, and I quickly snuff it out, ashamed of my perceived 'weakness'.

    
Insights of the DH: an Amputee Metaphor

After I returned home and could update the DH on the latest session, he gave me a perfect metaphor to describe my "void where parental love should have been that will never be filled" problem.


"It's as though you're permanently physically handicapped. You're missing a leg or something. So, where you are living in the metaphorical Rockies, with all its steep and rocky terrain, is not suitable for you because of your disability. It would make much more sense to move to the Prairies and walk along flat and even ground! You just have to make changes in order to make things easier on you, that's all."

I love my DH. Here I was freaking out that I'd always be an empty shell of a person, emotionally fragile and lacking resilience. (Again, note that I think what my NM would have me think!). How was I to be a good wife for the rest of my life? I certainly couldn't be a mother! If I'm this fragile, I'd be likely to lean upon my kids, the way my NM did, and screw them up and hurt them terribly! How am I going to cope with the bumps and bruises that come along with my choice of career path, either?

In short, how will I live?! (Playing right into the hands of NM! Way to go, QG's psyche!).

Adaptation. It's true that people who lose their legs, or their hands, can adapt. Life is harder for them, and much of society is designed with only able-bodied people in mind. But they can live good and full lives, with much therapy (physical, emotional) and the help of prostheses. They just have to make concessions. No mountain-climbing for the wheelchair-bound. And even then, there are those who train and strategize and do, in fact, conquer mountains! It's just much more difficult for them. And the achievement is that much more impressive!

People who lose a limb have to accept that it's gone. It sucks, it sucks real bad, but it is what it is. They must adapt and move on. (I thank God for an able body! I have been blessed, that is certain, and I see it when I think of the alternatives). Life is cruel and harsh, and none of us get out of it alive! We all must adapt to varying degrees in innumerable ways.

Maybe I just have a significant disability. Coming to grips with it is harsh. It's cruel. It makes me thankful I haven't lost an actual limb. But I have lost part of what I recognize as instrumental to being a "whole human". Isn't it funny that we all instinctively know what "wholeness" looks like? And why we are desperate to fill the voids in our lives. I also think faith is an essential component of wholeness, now that I've discovered it. So is hope, which I have in short supply.

I wonder what I can and can't do easily, with my disability. Going forward, what specific adaptations will I have to make? What paths should I choose? What situations should I avoid? I don't know how this emotional disability will manifest itself, really.

But I think I ought to try to cultivate "hope" and remember the inspirational videos of a paraplegic climbing, hands only, to the summit of a rocky mountain I couldn't even climb with all my working parts! Or the very poor people of this world, who manage to live in some of the most deplorable conditions on earth, and still find something to be thankful for and to laugh about!

I might have a huge hole in my mental landscape that can never be filled. But I suppose it doesn't mean I can't live my life, and well, and happily. I'll just have to adapt, and in time I'll probably forget it's even there. I'll get used to it. Every so often, I'm sure my disability will handicap me. But I'll get better and better at finding alternative paths to take. And I really ought to rely upon my faith in God more.

I once heard this in a sermon: "Someone said to me, "Christianity is a crutch! It's for the weak!". And I laughed and said, "You're absolutely right! It is a crutch! It is for the weak!" For you see, those who aren't weak really are - they just can't see it or haven't realised it yet!"

I think this is where the "consider suffering to be absolute joy!" stuff comes in (from the opening lines of the book of James) - if your weaknesses are never discovered, you're confidently going along down the wrong path with a bunch of disadvantages that are going to trip you up badly. Perhaps tripping early on down the wrong path, however painful it is, really is a blessing. How far down the wrong road has the Narcissist in your life travelled? How far gone are they? Can they even turn back? Can they reassess their whole lives? Can they change their ways? Outside of Divine Intervention, I think the answer must be "no".

Whether seen from the perspective of Christian faith or an agnostic view, we are all, all of us, truly blessed to have seen the TRUTH about our FOOs. No matter how much we suffer for knowing what we know, we are in fact BLESSED. We will not go down the same road our parents chose. We will not treat others as we have been treated. We will not allow our children to be victimized by emotionally ill adults.

I'm going to try to spend the rest of the week feeling THANKFUL for the realization that my parents are Narcissists, and for the knowledge that I have a crippling hole in my soul which will make my life difficult. No matter how hard it is, it's going to be different to the lives of my NParents. And I am thankful.

I'm going to break this cycle no matter what. I'm going to be the cripple who summits the mountain. I'm going to have to learn to rely upon others to help me here and there. Training starts today.

http://videos.disabled-world.com/video/233/paraplegic-climbs-mount-kilimanjaro

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Welcome to Rock-Bottom!

by Quercus


This week's therapy appointment was hard on me. I am struggling through the crisis of a friend, one I've alluded to before, and it has used up all of the tiny amount of 'resilience' I still had left inside. I had another "psychic suicidal tsunami", only this time it wasn't triggered by happiness (referencing the previous post "If You're Happy and You Know it, Punish Yourself").

My friend is relying heavily on me to "rescue" her from a very, very sticky situation with major (and I mean major) implications for many individuals. She avoids all responsibility (all of it, when it is clearly almost entirely her fault!). She has more excuses for her situation than I thought possible. Everyone and everything is to blame, but not her - she's the innocent victim. Unfortunately, my brain can't wrap itself around that delusion. She's gone too far this time, and this situation has the potential of being severely damaging to many people. And though she seems to have orchestrated the whole regrettable scenario, she still pleads innocent! "You've got to help me!".

I have long suspected that my friend is a narcissist. I didn't mention this at my appointment, though; I just lamented my role in this whole affair, my limited power and resources, and yet how I'm suddenly made responsible for her entire life! (And not only by her, but by her awful narcissistic-and-then-some NM, who thanked me profusely for "taking care of" my friend the last time I had the misfortune of crossing her path. I insisted that I don't "take care of" my friend, I'm just her friend, but the NM insisted that I was the 'guardian angel' of her daughter, and always have been there for her, and always will be, and aren't I angelic...). What did my friend's NM just do there? Manipulation. Note the flattery, too. If you didn't see it the first time, read through it again. What she did was make me responsible for the welfare of her daughter. Why she did it was to let herself off the hook, which she has certainly done.

"Your friend is displaying some extremely narcissistic traits." my psychologist said. He rarely makes such pronouncements. I think he was worried that I might have missed the giant red flags, but I hadn't.

Over the course of the session, it dawned on me what's happening... my friend is the VICTIM. Her NM along with many other people are the PERSECUTORS. Me, the sucker, is being called upon at all hours of the day and night to RESCUE her.

Ah, that loathsome triangle again!

Here's the thing - I've been swapped into the PERSECUTOR role again already, back and forth from RESCUER, when I'm not able to rescue her (and sometimes within the same text message!). Which, for complex reasons that I'm beginning to understand, makes perfect sense: Narcissists who play the VICTIM don't WANT rescuing! They won't let you save them, and when you fail (which you invariably will; can't meet their high standards, and that bar will keep getting raised higher and higher if you do!), you'll be yet another PERSECUTOR to blame.

Narcissists can't (won't?) accept responsibility for their negative actions. And they don't want you to rescue them, 'cause it would make you 'better/stronger' than they are. All they want is exoneration and absolution, and to come out smelling of roses despite their misdeeds (or worse)!


*


But my therapy sessions are about ME, not my friend, and so I talked about how this made me feel, how I didn't think I could cope, and how all hope for my future was gone again.

For various complicated reasons, I found myself bawling into the night to my DH about how hard this whole 'journey' out of ACoN-hood was, and how I didn't think I could do it anymore.

I'll repent openly to you all and say that for a brief period, I considered going back to my NFOO.

I thought about how I was on "the inside", and I pictured a darkness and a faintly luminescent blue 'scaffolding', like you'd see at a construction site, filling that void. That scaffold, the cold, metal, empty framework, is my NFOO.

Then I envisioned just an emptiness inside, where the scaffold had been taken down. I realised that I had no 'structural rigidity' in me. Just a void. I imagined a fragile and hollow shell, like that of a sea urchin's.

shellhorizons.com

The scaffold before was flimsy, and maybe 'radioactive' would be a good description. It was harming me in ways I didn't necessarily notice at first, but it was still something to lean on.

I wanted to take the coward's way out, briefly, and return to my NFOO. I could know that they'd never change and they'd always be toxic, but still find a way to survive, right? I could just accept the abuse in exchange for the delusion of perceived psychological integrity, even if the scaffold was only an illusion and there wasn't any actual support, but my brain didn't have to know that.......

Just the idea of having SOME SUPPORT was psychologically easier for me than removing it all so that there is NO SUPPORT in me. Nothing! What can I lean on? What will prevent me from caving in and breaking into a million pieces like a brittle hollow shell? (A hollow chocolate Easter bunny crushed in shipping was the other imagery I thought of).

I said I was scared. Massively scared. I didn't think I could go on! I thought I'd be crushed tomorrow, now that I had disassembled the NFOO's scaffolding in my mind. There was nothing left to hold me up! Even the ricketiest structure of their 'support scaffold', which burns and poisons, was still easier than nothing, NOTHING at all!

I have rarely seen my psychologist look so excited and engaged. This might have been one of my lowest points, and it seemed as if it was his happiest.

"This is a very important realisation. You have realised that where loving parents were supposed to be, you instead received a twisted metal framework. Removing that, there is nothing left. You will always have this void. Now you have reached the grieving; you will need to properly grieve that emptiness inside where love was supposed to be."

I'm not entirely convinced that this is a good thing. I'm glad someone is, because it feels awful to be perfectly frank. And dangerous. Really, really unstable and dangerous.

"But that is what your mother wants you to believe. These are her thoughts now. 'Stay with the family, despite the damage we cause, and you'll be fine. Leave the family and you'll never make it. You'll be cursed and empty for the rest of your life. Empty. Hollow. Alone. Vulnerable'. Do you see how she'd have you believe that?"

Yes. I do. It's hard for me to differentiate between my thoughts, and beliefs my NM implanted in me from my infancy. I didn't realise that my self-doubt was mostly put there by NM.

This is rock-bottom. This is where I start rebuilding from. I asked him what I could ever do to be able to "function" as a human being? I haven't got any resiliency left. I haven't got much hope at all to speak of. He said, and I will say it was unsettling:

"You'll never fill that void. It will always be there. Always."

I can't help but think that I need something to fill that void. "No one wants to parent me now that I'm a married woman in my thirties! Not even my MIL! I really need someone to parent me!"

"No one's going to, you're right. You missed that. You'll never get it."

(Is it just me, or is this NOT reassuring?!). "But what am I going to do? I can't function this way! Psychologically, I'm frail! I'm going to crack up and shatter! I need something to help me gain stability!"

"Well. I guess we'll just have to do good work here, then." he said with a smile. 

Sometimes I think he must be disappointed with my lack of faith in the process of therapy. I don't really know what the end-point of therapy is meant to be, or what it can accomplish. I do know it's saved my life, it's saved my sanity, and that I am immensely thankful for it. If it weren't for therapy, I couldn't have distanced myself to "Low Contact" with my NFOO. I wouldn't have had the strength, I really wouldn't have. I would have tried, had messy relapses, and just made a pig's ear of the whole thing. I'd be mired in their misery, and more aware of the reality around me (thanks to reading about NPD online, and reading ACoN blogs!), but just as incapable of getting myself out. I might have been worse off, in a way. I'd have lost the ignorance that was a protective factor to one who can't escape an NFOO.

There was more in this session, related to my involvement with my NFriend, that I think is worth sharing. But I'll follow that up in another post.

Right now, I'm at "rock-bottom". I have to grieve.

"Now you see that you can't go back - to go back to your family is death, and really, you were 'dead' before when you were with them."

(I had told him that when I was fantasizing about going back to the NFOO, retreating and surrendering, that I pictured myself committing suicide in various ways (variations on a theme), and interestingly, at my parent's house. Not me and my DH's place, but their house. I believe my mind, however conflicted, knows that going back means dying alone, miserably).

"But you also have realised that there is an emptiness in you that will never be filled. You see that your parents never filled that void and never will. Not only is it too late, you now see that they are incapable of filling that hole. So you must move onwards, away from them."

I'm throwing a little rock-bottom party here at my place today. In attendance - just me and my inner child (and my DH, when he's back from work). You're all invited (in spirit).

From this point on, QG can't go back. Before I wouldn't go back, but apparently now I cannot go back (says the shrink). From this point on, I only go forward. Bleakly, it seems. Forward with a great big emptiness inside of me.

I'm having a wake to mourn the love that never was. Raise a glass of cheer to me, or enjoy a piece of chocolate and think of your friend Quercus. I'll think of all of you, too. But mostly of the unconditional parental love that never was, and the great big hole I have received as an inheritance.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Comic: CactusGirl Has Had Quite Enough!

by Quercus

(In lieu of a written post today, I'll share another comic chronicling the journey of CactusGirl. One of these days I'll scan these in for better image clarity!)





(click images to enlarge)