Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can't Buy Me Love

It seems to me that EFIL and L are so comfortable in their role as grandparents to the grandchildren that L's adult kids are producing that they don't have a "need" for ours. My thought is that L's kids are closer in proximity and easier to manipulate, and by proxy so are their little ones. On July 21, L's son had a baby with his girlfriend. It was a bit of a surprise to me, as L's son did not seem to be the type of guy who'd want to have kids (at least not for the brief time that I knew him) but fine, perhaps that changed. DH and I don't really know the circumstances, all we know is that he had a baby with his long-term girlfriend of a few years.

So now, EFIL and L have two grandchildren on L's side, with another on the way in September.

My, but aren't they just the "picture" of the perfect little family, right? I envision them having their little ridiculously large family get togethers, to which they invite every friend and long-lost relative they've ever known, and having everyone fawn over the newest little tykes. I imagine that EFIL and L will buy the love of whatever grandchildren are in the nearest vicinity as they have tried to buy the love of their children. They'll purchase big and expensive gifts for the little ones, and always make sure to meet their $600 Christmas gift quota. They'll host a boatload of lavish dinner parties and expect all the children to come and stay up way past their bedtimes. They'll dote on those grandchildren with all the love money can buy. Frankly, that's the only kind of generosity I ever experienced from DH's father and step-mother, and I am quite certain that I can live without it.

DH has always said that he felt like an outsider whenever he spent time with his father and step-mother and her kids. Whenever he spent time with his father and his father's new family, he describes feeling like he didn't belong, like he wasn't a part of their family unit. So it's not all that surprising that a man who never had a real interest in his own son wouldn't have a real interest in his son's children either.

But, there is of course, good news in all of this, and that is that DH's EF may very well have given up on his "effort" to win DH back. EFIL and L can broadcast their attempts to the world, saying that it was DH and I who sabotaged our "loving" relationship with them, after which they'll likely never speak of us again, except in hushed tones behind their hands when a neighbor or distant cousin unknowingly opens up a can of worms by asking about the kid in all the family photos that never seems to be around. In my estimation, EFIL and L are happy, having sent their last parting shots (a nasty birthday message to me and one final email to DH in which EFIL spearheaded the idea that he will NEVER accept DH's reality) and feel that they can rest easy, since they've done their "good deeds for the day." Personally, I think EFIL and L are nearly done with what amounted to a weak rescue campaign and that they will go on about their business ignoring that DH was ever a son of theirs to begin with.

I consider all of that to be a blessing because, if they aren't going to change, I don't want them around anyway. I'll just sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet. Eventually, if they haven't already, they'll give up.

10 Commandments Of Dysfunctional Families

Scatha, at Rising From The Ashes, recently posted a link to a fantastic list from Sanctuary for the Abused titled, The 10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families. I've decided to post it as well, as it definitely applies to DH's situation, and I'm sure that many others could benefit from reading it. (*Note: The original text was actually mis-labled, as there are actually 11 commandments listed.)

The First Commandment:
Thou shalt reinterpret reality to preserve the perfect fantasy.

Sample Situation: This commandment is designed to hide family secrets. If you saw dad stagger and fall down the basement steps because he was drunk, you can't tell the truth. instead, reality must be interpreted into an acceptable fantasy. "Daddy wasn't drunk; he simply lost his balance and tripped. Poor Daddy."
 
Application: Even if you see it, it's not real. You must have made a mistake. Therefore, reinterpret what you saw to make it nice and respectable. If you don't, people will think you're and we're all crazy. We wouldn't want them to think that now, would we?  
Motto: Always believe the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the dysfunctional truth.
 
The Second Commandment:
Thou shalt always send mixed messages, especially when it concerns relationships.


Sample Situation: A dominating father tells his child, "I love you. Now beat it and leave me alone.

Application: You don't really know what's true. Either your father loves you or he hates you. Since you never know for sure, you'll never be quite sure if others really mean what they say since those you loved most only spoke in mixed messages. They sounded good, but you couldn't trust them.
Motto: Avoid people and relationships. It's the safe thing to do.
 

The Third Commandment:
Thou shalt be an adult.


Sample Situation: Children were made to take care of their parents emotionally, physically, or sexually and to meet their parents' "childish" needs for power, attention, sex, and belonging. The children submitted to avoid physical and emotional abandonment by their parents. Children in these environments can't really remember a "childhood." For this reason, children were always expected to be.

Application: Being child-like and spontaneous is irresponsible and bad. You must act like an adult at all times and be responsible, even if you're only five years old.
Motto: There's no such thing as child's play. It's all serious stuff.
 

The Fourth Commandment:
Thou shalt keep secrets from others.


Sample Situation: Daddy has a "secret" that only he and his little girl know. Of course, she can't tell Mommy. If she does, Daddy will hurt you and Mommy might leave and never come back.

Application: A child's most important duty is to protect the image of their parents and family in the community. Watch what you say and be careful not to act funny around other people either. After all, as family we have to protect each other. If you stay quiet, you're loyal. If you can't, we won't love you.
Motto: To really love someone is to show loyalty by protecting their "secrets" at all costs.
 

The Fifth Commandment:
Thou shalt protect family secrets.


Sample Situation: A member of the family commits suicide. Since this is not acceptable to discuss even in the family, all pictures, memorabilia, and anything else which would indicate that this family member had ever lived here must be discarded. After all, no one in our family would commit suicide, would they???

Application: Our family doesn't have any problems, does it? Even if we did, we don't have to discuss or deal with them. After all, they're not that important. We can simply deny their existence so that we don't have to deal with the grief.
Motto: Life's too painful to have to deal with the pain and the problems. Just ignore them, they'll go away.

The Sixth Commandment:
Thou shalt not feel.


Sample Situation: A child cries because her best friend is moving away. "You shouldn't feel like that. Stop crying!" yells her mother angrily.

Application: Since any display of emotion might betray the family secrets that all is not perfect, all emotions must be repressed and numbed. After all, we're a normal family. We're not like other people who get angry, sad, or afraid.
Motto: Be respectable. After all, respectable people never show their emotions or pain..

The Seventh Commandment:
Thou shalt allow your boundaries to be violated, especially by those who "love" you.


Sample Situation: A child trying to accomplish a task continues to persist and work on it, hoping to gain a sense of accomplishment and approval. "Don't be so stubborn!" mommy says. "Just give up. There' s more important things than that to be done! Now put that stuff away and clean the house so that mommy knows you love her."

Lesson Learned: Anything you want is not worth protecting. Only those you love can tell you what is important and what's not. Quit thinking for yourself and just do what makes everyone else happy.
Motto: Because others are more valuable than you, you don't have the right to maintain your own boundaries or to make decisions.
 

The Eighth Commandment:
Thou shalt be hyper-vigilant


Sample Situation: A child is constantly reminded how dangerous the world is. People can't be trusted either. Therefore, stay aloof, don't get too close to anybody.

Lesson Learned: The only way to be safe in this world is to be careful and insulate yourself from others. Be careful. Always be on guard They might hurt you. If you need help, don't ask for their help. Do it yourself.
Motto: Always be on your guard. The wise person is always over prepared and distrustful of everyone and everything.
 

The Ninth Commandment:
Thou shalt not let anyone do anything else for you. Do it all yourself.


Sample Situation: Parents continually remind the child that no one is to be trusted. If they do something for you, they're doing it to manipulate you.

Lesson Learned: Stay aloof and don't make friends with anybody. After all, if you get too close, they'll use, hurt and abuse you. And remember this: nobody does anything for anyone unless they want something from you.
Motto: Do everything yourself.
 

The Tenth Commandment:
Thou shalt be perfect


Sample Situation: "Just because you got all 'A's on your report card doesn't mean that you couldn't have done better. You're lazy. Now get to work and let's see you get some more 'A+'s'!"

Lesson Learned: If it's not perfect, people won't love you. No matter how good it is, it's never good enough...but keep trying!
Motto: You're only as good as your performance and that's still not good enough!

 The Eleventh Commandment:
Thou shalt not forgive yourself or others.

Sample Situation: "You're always in my way, child! Why do you keep asking me to play with you? Don't you know I played with you last year? Wasn't that enough?! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Go to your room. Don't bother me."

Lesson Learned: The only way I can be forgiven and loved is if I can earn it by being perfect. The guiltier I feel, the harder I must work to gain other's approval. If I make any mistakes, even a small one, they'll reject me or think I'm incompetent or worthless. I'm afraid I will make a mistake, I know I will, I feel so guilty. Therefore, even if I think I can do it, I won't. After all, I could make a mistake and then what would I do? Oh, I could never go back and say I'm sorry!
Motto: Since God doesn't forgive me, I can't forgive you either.

The [Eleven] Commandments Of Dysfunctional Families:
A Summary

The First And Great Commandment Is This:


"Be a "good" person: Be blind, be quiet, be numb, be careful, keep secrets, avoid reality, avoid relationships, don't cry, don't trust, don't feel, be serious, don't talk, don't love and above all, make everyone think you're perfect...even if it makes you feel guilty."


The Second Is Like Unto It:


"Since you're worthless and nobody loves you anyway (including yourself), don't try to change yourself. You're not worth the effort and you couldn't do it if you tried anyway. God won't help you either. So get back where you belong. There's nothing wrong anyway so what's your problem! See, I told you that you were stupid."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Words Of Wisdom

"Don't let the person who didn't love you 
keep you from the person who will."

Who Made Up These Rules, Anyway?

Found this on Rev. Renee Pitelli's Facebook page a couple weeks back and wanted to share it with you guys. She makes one hell of a good point:

Note to Ns - How come you're the only one who's allowed to talk about me to other people, but when you do something nasty to me, I'm not allowed to say anything to anyone? How come you can badmouth me, complain about me, gossip about me, tell everybody we know how terrible I am, stab me in the back, and make up complete lies, but I have to suffer in silence without being able to defend myself, tell my side of the story, or seek the comfort or advice of my own friends and relatives? Why is it only "wrong" when I do it, and not wrong when you do it? Here's a heads up~ the TRUTH is not "gossip" and "badmouthing." As long as I'm telling the truth, you have no reason to complain~ at least I'm not making up lies about you like you do about me. Why don't you tell the TRUTH when you're telling "your side of the story?" Because it will make you look like the lowlife you are? You are not the only one who needs to vent and blow off steam when you are "wronged," and you are not the only one who has the right to. I have no intention of keeping your abuse and your trouble~making a secret for you while you blab about me all over town. I'm telling my friends what happened between us, just like you're telling your friends~ or the ones you THINK are your friends. They will give me comfort, advice, ideas, opinions, validation, support, a shoulder to cry on, and a safe place to vent, and the side-effect of that is it will make them see you for the piece of garbage you are. That's what friends are for. Why should you be the only one to enjoy the support of other people?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Next To Impossible

So I put up a list in my post Picture Of The Emotional Abuser that contains over one hundred "signs" that your mother may have been emotionally abusive. But the trouble with that list, as fellow blogger Nyssa pointed out, is that it describes on some level or another, nearly every single parent out there. Nyssa said, "A list like this would make every parent in the world into a narcissist." Even my own mother has said or done a bunch of things on that list, and yet, she's not even kind of sort of a narcissist. Nyssa's comment got me thinking about how nearly everything a narcissist says is inappropriate, cruel, or down-right abusive but it's usually next to impossible to prove that is so, because they so often sound just like everyone else.

I'm going to use, as my example, the one that didn't make it on that list, but that many-a-narcissist likes to use when she finds out her son is dating a woman who doesn't meet her approval. (*Note, I'll be using various relationship bonds here as it applies to my own personal history, but this theory is not relegated to only those gender boundaries).

Picture this: Narcissistic, overbearing Mommie meets her dear doormat son's future wife. And, naturally, fears and hates her and upon meeting, instantly feels the deep, dark desire to get rid of this new threat as soon as is (in)humanly possible. So, what is one of the tactics she uses? She tells dear doormat son that his relationship with the new girl is one-sided; that his girlfriend is manipulative and controlling; that she (mommy dearest) only wants what's best for him and he seems so unhappy now; that his girlfriend is abusive. Then, she tells everyone else that too, just for good measure.

Now, picture this: A genuinely loving and non-abusive mother meets her daughter's controlling  boyfriend and recognizes that he is inflicting damage to her daughter's self-esteem and pulling her away from a family that loves her unconditionally and truly wants her to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled in life. She tells her daughter that this relationship is one-sided; that her daughter is doing all the work and simply making it easy for her boyfriend to use her; that she may be suffering from battered woman syndrome and, in short, that her boyfriend is abusive.

Each picture represents a different kind of parent with a different modus operandi, even though they are both essentially saying the same thing: Son/Daughter, your [significant other] is controlling, abusive, manipulative, dangerous and you must stop seeing him/her for your own personal well-being. So, when the words are exactly the same, how can anyone see, let alone prove, that the speaker might be a narcissistic abuser who means harm? How can I be so sure (and believe me, I am) that my mother was not attempting to con, manipulate, or abuse me when she said these things about my boyfriend; or that NMIL was attempting to con, manipulate, and abuse my husband when she said those same things to him?

Unfortunately, perspective is key here, and this whole dilemma can paint one hell of a confusing picture depending on where you're standing when you look at it. What's killer about the whole scenario is that narcissistic parents know all the "right" things to say which, to the non-suspecting target or victim, can sound very convincing. Let's look at some of the phrases NMIL used on DH during the early stages of our relationship, as examples of this tactic:

From an email thread between DH and NMIL dated May 29, 2009:

- I have respected you and your opinions and thoughts throughout this ordeal and you insulted me today. [The implication here is in the phrase, "this ordeal" which, according to NMIL, was not the fact that she had lied to us about her apartment-for-rent but that DH had decided to have a baby with me and marry me]
- You have some big decisions and issues and you shouldn’t treat those around you as though they put you in a bad situation. [The implication here is that DH's "issues" were caused by me, and that I had been the one to put him in a bad situation. And as I've said before, the "bad situation" was our pregnancy, according to NMIL. I fully realize she'd deny that accusation 'til the day she dies, but that's irrelevant to me.]
- I feel like you are trying to make Jonsi happy at the cost of those around you that are trying to help you. [This one's loaded too: Jonsi's happiness is causing EVERYONE distress, according to NMIL. And the worst part is that JONSI is hurting the oh-so-innocent people who are just trying to help].
- the ironic thing is that you are doing something very similar with Jonsi that I did with J – go to great lengths to make someone happy no matter what the cost. [Again, Jonsi is selfish and DH can't go putting her wants and needs above his FOO's, especially when the apparent cost of her happiness is so high.]
- Balance is very important. [And there is no balance here, right NMIL? Because according to you, "It's all about Jonsi."]

From an email thread between DH and NMIL dated June 5, 2009:

- This is not a time for her to deal with any of the “Jonsi wants this or Jonsi wants that stuff, ” which has become terribly upsetting for her. [There DH goes again, making everyone feel bad, and all because he's being controlled by Jonsi who just wants wants wants everything her way, at the expense of everyone around her.]
- I am hoping your remember the word “partnership” in the coming days, weeks and months as it appears very one-sided and it doesn’t have to be that way. [Again, Jonsi is so controlling and manipulative that she tricked DH into a relationship where DH is the only one "giving" and she is the only one "taking."]
- I am worried about you and I love you very much and I am hoping you will find balance. [Guilt trip, guilt trip, guilt trip. Mommie is just so worried about DH, right? We're to believe she's saying all of these things for his own good, because she just woves him so much?]
- I want you to be happy and secure and I just hope you are not creating an environment of anxiety that won’t bring you happiness [DH allowed me to come in and force him to create an environment where he's just going to be anxious and sad all the time.]
- It’s about you too [DH's childhood nickname], not just [Jonsi].

 So, the biggest problem with all of these statements is that, at surface level, they all sound like they could be the legitimate concerns of a parent. Some of them also just sound like lines from a poorly written self help book, with blanket statements that NMIL probably picked up from movies that she's seen over the years like, "It's all about compromise" and "Remember the word 'partnership'" and "look what it's costing you to go to these lengths for her." Cue close-up of NMIL's scornful and resentful face. But the "tell" lies in the context of these comments, as well as in the reality of the situation at hand.

I believe that NMIL was no more concerned for DH's well being than a vampire would be to her blood donor. She wants him alive and well enough to continue feeding her, but not so alive and well that he'll realize that he's nothing more than a bite to eat and get the hell out of there. And if we look at DH's relationship with his NM on the whole, in addition to how my very presence threatened their parasitic bond, it becomes even clearer that NMIL was doing nothing more with these statements than attempting to trick DH into believing that I was the abuser and also into maneuvering him more firmly into her grasp. She wanted DH to believe, as she surely wants the rest of her audience to believe, that Jonsi was a conniving, manipulative, controlling and selfish bitch, who's only intention was to steal DH away, hurt him, and keep him from the people who really love him.

The only person in all of this who can decide the truth about WHO was doing the abusing is DH. It's always up to the abused individual to see reality on his own terms. I think there was a time when DH probably wanted to believe that his NM was speaking some truth when she said these things because it would have seemed so much easier to comply with her wishes than it would have been to address them as being unfair and malicious. I, too, had a choice to make, once-upon-a-time, and for a while, I made the wrong one. It was easier for me to believe that my narco-boyfriend was the good guy and that my parents were the ones being unfair because I was afraid of being alone.

Now, let's take that last paragraph that I wrote and put it in the mouth of a narcissist. Imagine how that statement would read, coming from NMIL: "DH, you have a choice to make right now and you're making the wrong one. You've chosen Jonsi because you are afraid of being alone and because it's easier for you to accept her than it is to accept what we're saying." She could say all the "right" things, all the things that loving parents would say if they thought their child was being abused by his spouse, she could say them with just the right inflection and tone. But the only people who would be fooled by it would be the ones who are afraid of the truth and who have some stock invested in maintaining the dysfunctional status quo.

Do I have emotional stock in my relationship with DH? Absolutely. Do I have emotional stock in my relationship with my children? Absolutely. But what I want, more than my own happiness, is their happiness; their fulfillment; their good health. The biggest difference I can see between a parent saying these things to manipulate, and a parent saying these things because it represents truth is unconditional love. When I was dating a narcissist and I cut off contact with my entire FOO, I assure you, my parents had every reason to be concerned for my well-being. They were right that he was abusing me, that I was losing myself, and that I was miserable. They warned me because they were frightened...not for themselves, though I can't say they didn't think about how much they would miss me if I disappeared, but for me. My mother did not want for me to be hurt. My mother did not want for me to be alone. My mother did not want for me to starve myself in order to convince my boyfriend that I was pretty enough for him. My mother feared for my safety, for my health, and for my future. 

That was real, it was my reality, my parents were right. And they were right to fear for me.

But then, there's the difference: DH's parents never feared FOR him. They feared for themselves. A truly loving parent doesn't do that. A truly loving parent only says these phrases when they are true; not when she wants them to be true so that she can have her control back.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crab Mentality

Mulderfan recently did a re-post on one of Rev. Renee Pitelli's articles. Mulderfan gave me permission to post it here as well, though I had to ask first as I didn't want to steal her thunder. I've decided that this blog is a good place for me to "store" information; as in, I can always come back here and reread things that are really important, and this particular post is one that I think I'll read often. I just really like it; and I have hope that my DH will be the crab that makes it out of that damn pot, and together, we'll repopulate the whole damn ocean, one strong, healthy baby crab at a time. 

Posted on Facebook by Rev. Renee Pitelli of Luke Ministries :

The Miracle Of the Crab Pot
B Y S U S A N C. R A I N E S - B R I D G E S 

Crab fisherman have odd customs at sea. Living and working in the sea gives them a unique perspective and understanding of our oceans and their conditions.

When these fishermen dump a load of crabs into the holding 'pot' on board, the majority of the crabs will fight and wrestle and try to kill each other to get to the top of the heap of crabs. It does no good to get to the top, because the crabs still can't get out - they're too far from the sides of the pot. But they don't know that; they are frantically driven by primal instinct.

Other, instinctively smarter crabs, attempt to scale the walls themselves. Due to the wear and tear on the metal or wooden sides of the 'pot' from the nets and the loads themselves, large and minute dings, scratches or ridges develop on the walls. These dings provide essential handholds for the freedom-seeking crabs.

These crabs attempt to climb up the sides of the pot, clinging to precarious hold after hold, but always headed up. The crabs on the edges of the center heap notice these climbing crabs. They then come to the wall, grab hold of the climber, and haul he/she/it back down to the bottom where all crabs are 'supposed' to be.

Psychologists have called this type of behavior in nuclear families 'the crab pot mentality'. When one member of a deeply dysfunctional family realizes that they and their family have emotional/psychological problems and earnestly seeks help, the dysfunctional family circle becomes threatened. The dysfunctional nuclear family lives and functions only within the complete denial of the true family dynamics. The stigma of the very words 'mental illness' unleashes a firestorm of fear within the family. As the causation of the change, you become the focal point of the pathological anger/fear driving the family psychological engine.

The nuclear family turns on the one seeking help, assuring themselves that 'they' are fine, that 'you' are the crazy one because you had to finally admit that you were 'mentally ill' and had to seek help. That means, to the rest of the dysfunctional family, that they have no problems, 'because they never had to get help'!

You become a threat to the functioning of the dysfunctional family. By your beliefs and actions, you are, in effect, upsetting the dysfunctional 'norm' they so desperately try to maintain. You are in a process of personal change, and a nuclear family locked into a pattern of denial, abuse and maintaining the 'status quo' has to discredit you and the work you are undertaking in order to feel 'safe'. When you change, you change the family dynamics, and that is devastatingly threatening to the ingrained order of the family.

They try to discourage you in every way they can, with anger, verbal attacks, or replaying the family myths, with their completely re-written family history. Their version of the past is so twisted and so far from the truth that you sometimes react with horror at the depth of their delusions. Nothing in the past actually happened as it really happened. Nothing you do in the present is accepted as reality. Your accomplishments are ignored, downplayed and/or given a negative spin that must, by dysfunctional family necessity, reflect badly on you and positively on them. You must be kept in your place.

Unable to understand you on any level, the nuclear family ignores you, chastises you, tries to 'talk some sense into you' and uses every emotional and psychological weapon they can muster to bring you 'back in line' with the dysfunctional family norm. The more progress you make, the further you draw away from the discord, the more the family gets upset and frustrated by your 'selfishness' . Their biggest fear is disclosure in any form of the twisted, demented and unstable family structure. "What will people think?" or "What happens in the family stays in the family!" are familiar formulas for the secrecy practiced by abusive and dysfunctional families. For the rest of the family, even the slightest hint of exposure of the warped family dynamics is unbearable and cannot be tolerated.

As you continue your personal journey, seeking to understand the truth about yourself and your family, their attacks become progressively more personal and increasingly vicious. They may constantly belittle you verbally or ply you with obviously false, passive-aggressive compliments designed as a 'back-hand' slap at who you are becoming. You are never given the benefit of a doubt. Every act and action you undertake is denied and downplayed to reassure the nuclear family that who you are and what you do is not important and as such, is in no way is a reflection on their inadequacy.

If, for example, you are overweight, they try to push food on you that you don't want. You are the 'jolly fat clown' and your assigned role is that of the 'family buffoon'. God forbid that you should lose weight and regain your health. Discarding or trying to redefine your role in the family is a psychological sin. This the family cannot allow.

If you persist in speaking the truth, they can even get to the point of taking your picture off their walls, thereby cutting you out of their lives until you 'see the light'. Although their walls are plastered with pictures of the entire nuclear and extended families, there will not be one single picture of you. This perverted attempt to 'cut you out of the family circle' physically, emotionally and psychologically is another desperate attempt to pressure you back into your 'place'. You are no longer invited to traditional family get-togethers, no one calls, no one visits you, because you make them uncomfortable by seeking and living your own personal truths.

The dysfunctional family functions exactly like the crabs in the above mentioned crab pot. They see you trying to get out, they see you reassessing your role, and they do their damndest to pull you right back down there in the pot of dysfunctional family dynamics, where your reward is that you get to assume your assigned role again.

You keep trying, braving their displeasure, ignoring their comments, and they pull out all the stops. They tell their friends, their children and even your friends, spouse and your children that 'you' obviously have 'mental problems' in whispered asides, as if the subject is much too taboo to talk about, except, of course, as how it applies to only you.

You try to share what you are learning with them, but, locked in a mental/psychologica l cage of denial, their brains refuse to accept in any way, how, form, shape or choice of words the self-knowledge and the understanding of the family functionality you are gaining. They absolutely, passionately refuse to acknowledge how you are changing. To them, your 'assigned' role in the family dynamics is cast in stone. Talk about an exercise in futility! 


Finally, the abuse becomes so toxic that you are forced to make a choice - re-enter the family dynamics and assume once again the crippled role they assigned you, go along with all the re-written family myths, and 'know your place' once again; Or, you can finally get to the uppermost point in your life (the top of the crab pot) and decide to fall outside the pot. Even the fear of the unknown is finally preferable to the abusive family dynamics. Letting go is the hardest part of the entire process.

You let go and fall outside the pot. You cut off contact with your toxic family because you realize that there is no way they will ever accept you as you are now. Their rage at you has been built to massive proportions because you have escaped their clutches. The family applecart is upset big time. You have committed the sin of choosing sanity over myth, of putting yourself and your mental health before the unity of family dysfunction. How dare you?

Ah, but here's the nice part.

When the rare crab finally does manage to climb up the sides of the crab pot, and fall out onto the deck below, what do you think happens? Does the crab fisherman, realizing that every ounce of crab is worth money, toss that crab back down into the maelstrom of crab pot?

No.

He picks up the crab, and tosses it over the side of the ship, back into the ocean, from whence it came. He sets it free, because he knows that the genes for survival, instinct, intelligence, whatever you choose to call it, are very strong in that particular crab. That crab, left to breed, will produce stronger crabs, crabs that are better able to survive in the ocean and to perpetuate the crab species.

So, what happens to the human being who finally manages to get to the top of their personal 'crab pot' full of dysfunctional people?

If they decide to let go and fall onto the deck of reality, then the miracle really begins.

The Hand of God picks them up, and gently sets them free in the Sea of Life.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..."

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Color Of Sick And Envy

I'm with DH. It doesn't look like DH, except I know it's him. We're together, I get the sense that we're dating, like our relationship is new again. We're sitting in a room in some house that looks like it's straight out of the seventies era - there's lots of brown: a brown shag rug, dark brown corduroy sofa, brown paneled walls. There is a green desk lamp casting a sick green glow on everything. The brown looks like puke. It feels like sick. And envy. He tells me he's been seeing someone else on the side. I knew this and I am sad and angry. I want to know who she is, how long this has been going on. He says, "Forever." I get up from the couch and go to the window. When I look outside, she is there, off in the distance, sitting on a swing, looking at me. She is ten years old.

I am terrified. And disgusted because the woman he has been seeing is a little girl.

She is just staring at me and when I look at her, it feels like she is right in front of me even though she is actually probably about fifty feet away. And I know that she can see everything; she can see into the house, into the window; she is looking at us and at me. She's sitting on a swing, not swinging. There is an older boy, sitting like a parasite next to her, straddling her in the same swing. He is talking to her and I can see his mouth moving but I can't hear what he is saying to her and she doesn't look like she hears him or cares. All she cares about is looking at us and making DH jealous. She has that boy with her to make him jealous.

Then I am behind her but she doesn't know I'm there. She's coming for DH. She gets up from the swing set. The older boy follows her like a duckling but she ignores him. I am watching her from behind. She has to cross a substantial body of water to get to the house and I know that if she makes it, it will only be a few more feet and then she'll be at the house. She has to knock over a bunch of boats that are standing up in the water, they are somehow floating on their sterns. She knocks them over so that they are in the correct position, floating stern to bow, stern to bow, so that all she has to do is walk from one boat to the next to get to the dock on the other side. A stranger, a man, stands on the dock calling to her. I do not know him. I wish he would stop calling out to her.

She begins to cross the water, using the boats, and as she does, people are falling into the water and drowning. Some are dead before they hit the water, others drown once they fall in. I continue to follow her. At one point, I am in the water too and it is green and murky and there are dead bodies everywhere. I am terrified. I struggle to keep my head out of the water, I focus on kicking my legs. The water looks and feels like pea soup. Then I am suddenly out of the water again, watching her progress to the other side. Sometimes she steps on dead bodies in the water. When she gets to the dock, she kills the man who was calling to her and throws him in the water too. None of the people who are dying put up a fight, save for the ones who are drowning. They don't want to die.

Suddenly, an image of DH, he's right next to the little girl. She looks at him. Her eyes are glowing green from within, her skin is reflecting the green from the light of a streetlamp. DH's mouth opens impossibly wide, like a snake unhinging it's jaw, and he bites the top of her head. She is dead. I am crying and so terribly frightened. I tell DH, "No! Don't do that. Don't kill her! I know she needs to die but you can't do that. Don't kill her, then you will be bad too."

And then it starts all over again but in fast-forward. Again, I see the little girl on the swing and she looks so evil, just staring at us and I feel like she knows everything and I don't want her to. And again I see the boats and death and green water. This time though, when she gets to DH, he asks me to go next door to one of our neighbor's houses and borrow a ladder. He comes with me, the girl is following us. We get there together, but while I am asking for the ladder, DH takes a shovel and gets in the neighbor's car with the little girl and drives away. I cry. "Don't do this, come back." When I finally find him, the girl is dead again. He hit her on the head with a shovel. Her head is split down the middle and her brains are leaking out onto the pavement in the middle of the street. The green streetlamps cast an eery glow in the mist.

I realize now that she has to die and that DH must do it. I also know that he's doing it the wrong way. The dream starts over again. It continues this way, always ending with DH killing her in the head. And then it starts again from the beginning.

When I awoke, I knew that little girl was NMIL. I understand why I had this nightmare and what it means.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Review: The Real Purpose of Parenting by Philip B. Dembo

Dr. Philip B. Dembo fancies himself “America’s Parent Coach” and comes across as the modern version of a Ward Cleaver wannabe in his new book, The Real Purpose of Parenting. Though the beginning of the book shows some promise, with notes from the author about how important it is to him to write as a parent, rather than as a therapist and life coach, his approach to teaching us how to embrace our child’s identity  begs the question, does he really believe that all people can really be swell parents, if only they just give it their best shot? His initial outline of how his parents treated him left me shaking my head, after he described how both parents had more invested in their façade as a perfect-little-family, than in their son’s ability to create a healthy identity and feel comfortable in his own skin. And these, he claimed, were still really GREAT people.

But, despite my initial skepticism and Leave It To Beaver induced nausea, I had hope that Dembo would pull through and illustrate a novel approach to the difficult task we have all faced at some time or another in developing a healthy sense of self. Amongst a litany of unnecessary and annoying personal asides, which do nothing to drive his major points forward, Dembo does manage to ask a few sporadically placed questions to ponder, like, “What kind of parent are you going to be and are you willing to change what’s necessary to be effective?” Unfortunately for the reader however, he seems to think that simply asking the questions will be a good enough method to help us change our ways as individuals and as parents.

I imagine that this book would be very disappointing, as well as down-right insulting to any adult child raised in a toxic environment. While Dembo does make a few seemingly lucky observations about the core issue of parents who refuse to exit their denial long enough to see that they are hurting their children, his inappropriately conversational tone and personal vignettes accomplish nothing but distract the reader from appreciating them. He also seems to operate under the completely false notion that most, if not all parents are unintentional when they sabotage their childrens’ lives. He speaks to adult children who suffered abuse but still believe their parents should be considered “good” people; and he speaks to parents, in general, who supposedly have some form of moral code or standard. I think it’s safe to say that people who come from the former category likely aren’t reading this book or any related to it; and people who fall into the latter category want answers, not more inane questions that are being lobbed at them by some guy who seems to be claiming that the world is full of unicorns and rainbows.

Now, that’s not to say that Dr. Dembo thinks it right that a parent deny her children their own reality, but that concept gets watered down in all of his repetitive use of stale theories. He’s also a big fan of ellipsis, speaking in CAPITAL LETTERS to make his point AS CLEAR AS POSSIBLE, and bolding for emphasis because he doesn’t know how to make his point any other way. I guess he figures that readers will just “get it” if he shouts it at them, underlines it, and trails off afterward to leave them in a state of confusion. At least then, maybe they’ll actually finish his book, hoping that the answers will be somewhere at the end.

In spite of the ridiculousness of the chapters where he attempts to appeal to those without a conscience, he does manage to produce a handful of good points for those of us with a conscience (read: the only people who’d have even picked up this book to begin with). If you can get through the chit-chat Dembo offers every other paragraph or so (I recommend using a pen to cross off all his annoying diatribes; if his editor had done it for us, Dembo would only have had a ten-page pamphlet to publish) you may benefit from a couple of interesting points. Then again, if you read Dr. Suess’s, Oh The Places You’ll Go, you’ll get the same points, sounding much prettier and in rhyme.

Dembo manages to highlight an interesting point about toxic parents who control their children by operating under a “success at all costs” mentality. However, though he claims in the opening of the book to have worked with thousands of families, he fails to procure enough clear and concise examples of the effects of that type of mentality. And, if we don’t have the examples, how are we to know where to begin finding a solution? Dembo points out that many children learn to avoid certain experiences instead of learning or gaining from a situation, but his vague anecdotes that immediately follow merely produce the thought that he uses a lot of technical jargon but fails to define it.

If you’re looking for a how-to book, The Real Purpose of Parenting is not for you. If, however, you are looking for a book that vaguely makes reference to various parenting-theorists that you probably already read about in college if you took any psychology courses, such as Dr. Spock, Dr. Thomas Gordon, and Dinkemeyer and McKay, then this book IS for you. By page fifteen, you might as well resolve to flip through the rest of the book with your highlighter and mark the ten most interesting and beneficial points the author has to make – he’ll just be repeating them incessantly through-out the rest of the book. If you’re not bogged down by his trailing thoughts and too-general dialog, and you can skip over the parts where he sounds like he’s just trying really hard to sound like an expert, then perhaps you’ll have time to realize that, his presentation of facts is neither contemporary or useful. For example, the idea that we need to learn how to place blame on our parents while accepting responsibility for our own actions as parents and adults is not novel.

I did enjoy Dembo’s rather simplistic notion of “conscience,” which he defined as our development of morals by way of interpretation of the world around us. He outlines that a child’s ability to detach himself from his feelings “of the moment” is a key part of the process of deciding “right” from “wrong.” Of course, Dembo’s unfortunately poor grammar had me more intrigued than the points he was trying to make: Did he self-publish this book? Who else would have published it? Did he simply copy and paste from a personal blog and then throw it together as a manuscript to be printed? I want to know who his editor is. So I can avoid her at all costs, should I ever attempt to publish a book. Nearly everything about the set-up of this book makes it a challenge to read, including but not limited to his choppy sentences and poorly constructed paragraphs that just manage to make the concepts more difficult to conceptualize.

I’m sad to say that nothing is as rosy as Dr. Dembo paints it, when you come from a dysfunctional family. In spite of his claim that “parents can learn to honor and protect the true experience of their child” (page 22) most people who’d be picking up this book know all too well how very few parents manage to pull that particular feat off. Dr. Dembo writes like dysfunctional parents think: If we just keep swimming on the surface level and assume that nice is as nice does, then we can all (cue cheesy smile and thumbs up) be GREAT parents. And, when anyone comes along who doubts that, then distract them with plenty of ellipsis and generic examples of loving families that you’ve seen in sitcoms. Be sure to make irrelevant points that draw attention away from the fact that your parents were abusers by making claims that they were “well-intentioned” in spite of how things turned out. This book fails to outline in a clear and reader-friendly way precisely how we can overcome the legacy of parents who failed us by turning ourselves into the parents we wished we had. It’s a pretty thought indeed, but one that Dr. Dembo fails to define. Unless you fall into the very specific category of “Adult children that have just started on the parenting journey who were raised by wealthy socialites with an ‘Ivy League’ mentality” then this book is definitely not for you. Dembo offers little to no practical advice to those of us who really want to know how to raise our children with a healthy sense of self and a rock solid self-esteem. He’s no more an expert than he is an author.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Eleven For Vicarious

The rules of this game are as follows:

1. Do not talk about Fight Club
2. You must post the rules
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions to ask the people you've tagged
5. Tag 11 people with a link to your post
6. Do not change the rules [wink]

My answers:

1. What is your signature food dish? That I like to eat, or that I make? I'll answer both. My favorite food to eat is lobster. I love the texture of the meet and it's flavor reminds me of the ocean. My favorite food to prepare is probably brownies, though I would hardly say it's "signature." People at a party wouldn't automatically say, "Oh those are Jonsi's brownies!" But I do make them super duper fudge-like, which is my favorite way to make them. My secrets are that no matter what the directions say, I only add 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup milk (instead of water) and 1 egg. I always mix semi-sweet chocolate chips in and bake the brownies for a few minutes less time than the directions say. Also, I only make them in a square glass baking dish, never in a dark non-stick. (They bake differently if you do that).

2. What hobby/passion/activity did you enjoy in the past that you wish you had kept up with and what is the main factor keeping you from taking it back up again? Definitely softball. I played for nine years. But, although my love for the game never changed, my interest in putting up with the politics of it did. I hated the "who gets to play because her daddy is coach" game. I just wanted to play, and I was good at the game and could never understand why all the rest of that crap was necessary. The main reason why I haven't taken it up again is because I'm fairly certain I would just embarrass myself at this point. After almost a ten year absence from the sport, I think my skills would be less than ideal. I would almost rather have left the sport at my peak then go back into again and suck.

3. Which fairy tale do you relate to the most? Snow White. Except I'm the prince and DH is Snow White.

4. What is the song that you can sing best? Hallelulah, by Paramore.

5. What was the weirdest thing that someone ever said to you and how did you respond? Once, when I was at one of my favorite bars with a college boyfriend, a dude came over, sat across from me and said, "Hey. You look like you wanna arm wrestle." I remember being annoyed because I was clearly there with a boyfriend and I was insulted to think that he thought I was the kind of girl who would flirt with him anyway. I was also flattered. I remember giving him a look that said, "No, I'm really not interested in arm wrestling with you" and shaking my head, no. He shrugged and left, probably feeling dejected. In hindsight, I think it's one of the most clever pick-up lines ever. It totally would have worked if I'd been single.

6. What smell do you find most offensive? The smell of the street where I used to work - it smelled like a mixture of iron, spray paint, and steaming hot garbage and in the summer it was a thousand times worse.

7. What was the name of your favorite stuffed animal or doll as a kid? I had two: Mr. Bear (aptly named) and Root Dog. I remember asking my dad what I should name my stuffed dog and he said what I thought was "Root Dog." I was picturing Rootbeer (the soda) and thinking that they were both brown so that was perfect. Years later, my dad told me he'd said "Rue Dog" which was the name of a character from some show he'd once seen; and my mom always thought I was calling him "Rude dog."

8. What do you secretly suspect you could do well, but you have never tried? The sport of swimming. I've never tried it because I hate the thought of getting water in my eyes. Also, water skiing. Which I've never tried for the same reason I've never swam competitively.

9. If you were going to picket a cause, what would your sign say? Farcebook!

10. Who wants to live forever? I don't know of anyone who wants to live forever. I think there are plenty of people who would choose to live forever if, and only if, they could maintain their youth and power forever.

11. What would be the title of your Memoir and who would you dedicate it to? Indomitable. To my children.

My questions:

1. How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?
2. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
3. Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
4. Who do you most admire?
5. If you just won a million dollars, what is one thing you would buy with that money?
6. For the impending zombie apocalypse, what will be your weapon of choice and why?
7.  What is your favorite book?
8. How do you think of yourself - Hero, or villain?
9. Who do you sometimes compare yourself to?
10. What are three moral rules you will never break?
11. If you could go back in time and tell a younger version of yourself one thing, what would you tell?

Tag, you're it:

Mulderfan, Jessie Sheridan, Lisa, Kiki, Scatha, LSV, (I know you've already done it but I would like to see your answers to these questions too) Just Another DIL (if you want to participate, you can leave your answers in the comments. But no pressure!), J (same thing), Vanci, Sweetness, and Lisette. I'm not going to bother any of you guys by leaving comments on your blogs, but if you happen to come here and want to participate then I'd love to see your answers to my questions. Cheers!

Amidst A Pile Of Junk

A dream (in italics). My analysis follows each section of the dream.

DH and I decided, upon waking, to get up and go to NMIL's house. It was so early that our babies were still sleeping and we wanted to go right then because we somehow knew that no one was home at her house. So we got in the car and I drove us to her house. Once there, DH immediately went to NMIL's car, as though he knew there was going to be something in there that we'd want to see. There was, but I was already in the kitchen, looking for evidence. I think I went to the kitchen because, in most people's houses, the kitchen is sort of the "heart" of the home. Most people keep their calendars there, or drop important things off on the counter to inspect at a later time. So I went there to find my "evidence," even though I had no idea what it would be or what, precisely, it would be "evidence" of, I just felt I would find something important there. Could be a nod to my behaviors in my waking life, where I'm always searching for "evidence" of what NMIL is up to and what her next attack on DH will look like.

While I was searching in the kitchen, DH came running in and told me he'd found stuff in the back of NMIL's car that I would want to see. He seemed excited, and I was worried that it was a "good" sort of excitement (like a kid on Christmas) instead of an anxious excitement, which was how I felt and how I sort of thought he should feel too. I know, there I was, in my dream world, imposing my feelings on DH. But I just couldn't help but worry that DH was having too much "fun" snooping around in his mother's stuff, when I believed he should be taking things really seriously and be aware that we could get in trouble for what we were doing! I mean, I knew we were breaking and entering, and the feeling that someone could come home at any minute and catch us was always dancing on the edge of my consciousness.

I asked DH what he found in his mother's car and he indicated that it was stuff for the baby. He said there were two things, two gifts for the baby, and that he'd go back and get them. I went back to my search in the kitchen, where I had narrowed down my search to a huge pile of notes and shit on the counter. Mostly, I noticed a lot of junk as I sifted through the pile: doctor's receipts, post-it-notes with useless information scribbled on them, pages and pages of blank paper, in various shapes, sizes and colors. But in the midst of all of that crap, I did see a couple things that caught my attention. Upon waking, the only thing I remember was a piece of paper in the shape of a bookmark. All I knew was that it was a "thank you" note of some kind, and that it was addressed to me, except that whoever had written it had used my maiden name and they spelled it wrong three or four times before they finally got it right. I didn't know who it was from, or what else was on it, but I somehow knew that the person who had sent it to her had intended that she turn around and send it to me, which I knew she would never do, and explained why it was sitting in a pile of junk on HER kitchen counter. And then I dropped it before I could see more and began frantically looking for it again because I felt that the information on the note was very important. When I woke from the dream, this seemed like one of the most important parts: Amidst a mountain of crap and unimportant stuff, NMIL had one nugget of information that was important to me for some reason. My thought was that she either realized it's importance and that's why she was holding on to it, or else she didn't know of it's importance, but was keeping it anyway because there was a remote possibility I might want or need it and she flat our refused to give it to me. It was mine, by right, but she wanted to keep it for herself and keep it from me. I also thought it was interesting that whoever had sent it to me didn't know me very well, or else was trying to insult me by using my maiden name instead of my married name, and spelling it wrong to boot. Furthermore, it was someone who CLEARLY didn't know NMIL very well, or else they wouldn't have sent it to her if they really intended for me to get it. I remember thinking something like, "Hmm. So she's getting my mail here and clearly NOT sending it to me."

DH pulled out one of the gifts from the back of NMIL's car that was intended for the baby. It was a pink booster seat, in a box. It looked used and junky and I thought, "No, no, that's all wrong!" Our baby is a boy not a girl. At first I thought maybe she intended it for DD, but then I shook myself of the inclination to give NMIL the benefit of the doubt and said to myself, "No, it's definitely for DS. She either got him something pink because she doesn't care that he's a boy and that it would be insulting; or because she intended to be insulting." I also thought it was inappropriate because DS was not old enough to be using the booster seat, and WE ALREADY HAD ONE for DD and SHE KNEW we already had one. All pretty self-explanatory, I think. My subconscious was already doing the dream analysis for me. Also, I got the sense that she was not even going to send us the gifts that she had bought because she was really just using the fact that she had purchased them as proof to other people that she still 'cared' about her son and grandchildren. Maybe the gifts were in her car because she was going to return them. We took them because I felt entitled to them, even though they were "all wrong" and I didn't really want them.

I asked DH what the second gift was and he said he didn't know because he hadn't gotten a good enough look at it the first time and because it had suddenly disappeared. I felt that this was not an indication that DH was lying to me about it suddenly disappearing (I mean, in reality, that would be very strange for an object to disappear from the back of the car if no one had removed it) but that he was being unobservant about the circumstances (something he was trained to be) and that it had, in fact, been removed after he walked away from the car the first time. It frustrated me because I wanted to know what the second gift had been and knew I never would.

DH then produced two bath mats, which were not the second gift he had originally told me about, but somehow I knew they were for us as well and that he just hadn't found them on his first search of the car. Bath mats. Pretty useless in the scheme of things. And it's not like we NEED bath mats. If we did, we'd just go out and buy them ourselves. I think the bath mats were an indication of how little NMIL knows about us, or will ever know.

When DH went back out to the car again, I continued my search, more frantically now, for the document that I had dropped. I knew time was running out. Sure enough, DH yelled from outside, "Oh shit! It's my mother!" and I had to drop everything I was holding and run back outside. NMIL was pulling up behind our car, trying to block us in from escaping, and DH yelled, "We're just leaving!" I thought that was funny because he made it sound like we'd just come for a visit, instead of to snoop and steal things, and decided we were going to leave because no one had been home...even though the person we had been coming to "visit" was just pulling in. We got in our car, and I managed to get it out of the tight spot NMIL had put it in. I think I did like an 18-point turn, but then I finally got it out of the spot and we drove away. No one followed us. Just like in my observations about narcissists in real life: when you walk away, they don't follow you.

We got back to my mother's house and I told her that we had gone to NMIL's house. My mother looked at me, worried, and said, "No, Jonsi, don't do this." And I said, "No mom, it's alright. We weren't going there to talk to NMIL. We were just going there to find stuff and steal it." Then I woke up. That last part had me laughing. No mom, we weren't going there to talk to NMIL (what would be the point of that?) We were going to find stuff...and steal it! Naturally. But besides that, while I was fighting the urge that "stealing is wrong" and "we were breaking and entering and could get in trouble for it!" I justified what we had done because I felt we had a right to things that were ours, and because by sheer virtue of the fact that NMIL was keeping things from us, we should have them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Arguing With Logic


The liar's face was too small to add one of those: "Your photo here" captions. So just imagine your narcissist's face in place of the fuzzy spot. If your narcissist is a female, just picture the political-cartooned politician above in a revealing mini-skirt and off-the-shoulder tie-dye t-shirt and the message will still apply. Kudos to DH for sending this to me. He asked me if there was "anything I could do with it." Oh yes.

Oooh yes.

No Looking Back

I think it must be one of the hardest battles that an ACoN ever faces to just let go. By that I mean, when and if an ACoN ever makes the decision to go fully NC (we know not all individuals choose to take that road and this is NOT a criticism of that choice) he has to fully accept that his narcissist is going to move on, and leave him alone. For me, I rather feel like that's got to be the toughest pill to swallow, if only because having all the drama that comes with a narcissist at least makes the narc's target feel like she might have cared.

When I was dating a narcissist and was one hundred percent invested in that relationship, it was devastating for me to think that, when I walked, he wasn't going to come after me. And in my heart of hearts, even while I was trying to bury my head in the sand, I knew that was true. I knew that when I decided enough was enough and that I was done with the constant abuse, he would not change, he would not see the light, he would not suddenly decide to treat me differently. I knew that he might stalk me, oh yes, but that's not the kind of "coming after me" that I wanted. I knew that he might call me once or twice, while actively seeking out other women, and tell me that he missed me. I knew that he might bemoan his loss to others and claim that he'd lost the "best thing that ever happened to him" and that he'd always "just wanted me to be happy," while simultaneously badmouthing me to anyone who would listen.

When I walked, he did not follow. He did some of the things I stated above, even going so far as to find me on Myspace two years after we'd last spoken and sent me a message saying, I'm glad you're happy. That's what I always wanted for you.

A rage filled me when I read that message, like none I had ever felt before, even while I was dating him. I think because it was such an intrusion on my space; such an invasion of my privacy; such a reminder of how much pain I had felt when I was still with him; such an apparent attempt to destroy the self-esteem I had gained in the time we had been apart. I remember writing back the following message, not even giving myself the time to think about whether or not it was worth it: Thanks. Die. I remember the finality of it. I remember how good it felt, just for a moment writing that because it was true. I wished death on him for all that he had done and for all the lives he would probably destroy in the future.

And then, I regretted it. Because it meant that I had not truly moved on. I had not truly stopped caring about how badly he had hurt me, or worse, how badly I had let him hurt me. Because the common denominator in any of my abusive relationships have always been me. I was raised in an environment where abuse is never tolerated, I was not taught to go out and find it, as so many ACoNs have been. Therefore, I literally only have myself to blame. As much as that asshole abused me, I let him do it. I offered my soul to be ripped apart; I gave him my mind to torment; I willingly relinquished control of my body for him to do with as he pleased, no matter that I felt used, worthless, and weak because of it.

But anyway, I learned a really important lesson that day, which has repeatedly come up over the years: that when you walk away from a narcissist, it does not change them; not even a hair. And if they contact you months or even years later, they'll still have not changed. It's a terrible feeling to know that our absence from their lives does nothing to force them into a transformation. I think we all want to feel that our presence in their lives meant more to them than how much time they could steal from us, how much abuse we'd be willing to take, what we could do for them.

But that's not the case and never was. I don't believe that you can love someone partially, or that there can be love without genuine respect and caring. Narcissists will always show you what you mean to them, you just have to be willing to accept the truth of it. You have to be willing to accept that they never loved you, and never will; that they never respected you and never will; that they never recognized your humanity, and never will. Know that when you walk away, they will not follow. They will move on, with little thought about you, except for a general longing to have you back in their lives someday so that you can fulfill their narcissistic needs again, just like you used to. They'll find somebody else to fuck, somebody else to feed, somebody else to use, somebody else to manipulate, somebody else to hurt, somebody else to blame, somebody else to deceive.

And years later, they'll send you a casual email or letter, just a few lines, telling you that they just wanted you to be happy. Don't believe them, they don't mean it. Don't respond, it won't change anything. And don't look back, except to analyze your part as the victim in the abuse. Go No Contact and be free.

That's my wish for all of you. To be free.

Not A Single Fuck

Thanks, Mulderfan, for reminding me that I shouldn't be giving one single fuck about what a certain narcissist does with her fucked up life.

For anyone who saw my recent post, I've decided to take it down for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I have to pick the place to draw my line and just draw it already. I don't need to be thinking about what the narcissists are doing for fun these days...I get enough bullshit from them when they send it to my DH, I don't need to be seeking it out in advance.

Who really gives a shit about that narcissists life? Not Jonsi!

If anybody is curious about the post though, I have no problem emailing it to you. Might as well not waste the information, since I already have it. But I don't plan on wasting my time in the Narcissist's Playground anymore.

Fuck 'em.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Foothold On Your Life

Natalie Lue, over at Baggage Reclaim, is absolutely one of my favorite bloggers. I wish that I had discovered her blog back in 2005 when I was dating the boyfriend from Hell, or in 2008 when I was living with the roommate who should have married the boyfriend from Hell (they'd have deserved each other; they were both narcissists). Although Natalie writes about situations pertaining to dating and romantic relationships, nearly every single post can be applied to every other relationship in life as well: including but not limited to parent/child, friends, siblings, and bosses/coworkers. I have adapted the following post of hers so that it fits in a broader category than just romantic relationships; but if you'd like to see the whole article, click here. The reason I latched on to this particular post of Natalie's is because it ties in so well with my own post about one of the narcissist's favorite phrases: I miss you. Natalie says it so well:

...How much can someone truly miss you or want you back or whatever, if 18 months has gone by while they’ve been saying it?

What kind of situation could someone possibly be in, that from the moment they’ve uttered the “I miss you”[and] “I love you”...sentiments, that they haven’t been able to close the gap between missing you and being back together?

It’s important to understand what missing someone actually means: It’s recognition of the absence of you from their lives, whether it’s as a result of something positive such as you being away on a trip or being unable to spend as much time together as they or you would both like, or the result of loss, which may have come about through a falling out, moving away…or a breakup, which incidentally they may have been the driver of.

When someone misses you, it can also be an expression of sadness and regret because they no longer get to enjoy you in their lives, whether that’s by your choice…or theirs. They may think of you fondly and wish they had another chance to have you around again, and let’s be real, if they’re somewhat of a navel gazer, it won’t be about reuniting in a mutual capacity, and it’ll be more about missing the things that helped them enjoy you on their terms.

Now you know, I can understand when you’re thousands of miles apart due to work or a family situation, or you’re both expressing that you miss one another, but also reminding yourselves of why you’re apart and heeding and respecting that decision. What genuinely mystifies me, is how someone can bleat about how much they miss you, when they sit across the office from you day after day, week after week, or you live in the same area / post code or city, or there is no real obstacle to being around you…other than themselves?

I should also point out that really, even in the situation where you know it’s right to be apart, telling each other you miss one another beyond a short period of time, is just mind effery that prevents each of you from moving on and being able to fully honor your emotional commitments elsewhere...

Just like after a breakup, when that bog standard line of “Let’s stay friends” gets trotted out, saying “I miss you” has become the currency of those who talk a good game but haven’t got much else going on.
Saying “I miss you” or something similar to that effect is also one of the easiest ways to mess with somebody’s head and keep a foothold in their life without staking yourself to something you might be called on later to deliver on. It’s vague and it’s an expression of sadness and regret, but it’s not really saying anything and it’s definitely not a commitment of any sort – this is a bit like when someone says “sorry” without really knowing what they’re sorry about or having no true regret.
...Someone missing you is not equivalent to wanting to be with you or [having a genuine relationship with you]. If they truly want to [have a relationship] with you, you’ll know you’re getting back together without having to be sold pipe dreams...

They may want to [have contact with you] again to enjoy the presence of you in their lives, to reconnect, and to assuage what may be some of their guilt. In fact, let’s be real – you responding to their “I miss you’s” lets them mentally tick their standby list as confirmation that you’re still an option, plus it relieves that fear of the medium to long-term regret that they think may arise from a ‘mistake’.

You may have convinced yourself that it’s just a matter of time, or an obstacle in the form of another person or ‘situation’, or are even blaming yourself for not being ‘enough’, but the truth is that they may miss you, but they don’t miss you that much that they’d put their action where their mouth is. They are the obstacle. It’s not about you.

“I miss you” is just something that they say and mean to an extent…just as long as you’re not expecting them to follow through on it. It’s also fair to say that it’s a pacifying statement – I receive thousands of emails from people who are still emotionally invested, clinging to the dream, and often laying out an ego stroke, shag, a shoulder to lean on or even money, for someone who misses them so much, they’re never able to do anything on a medium to long-term basis to solve the issue. YEAH, that’s really what being missed looks like.

Some people like to stay missing you – it’s No Man’s Land where they can sit on the fence uncommitted.

They can go “Poor, poor me, they’re gone, wah wah wah…” which in their eyes is a legitimate reason to ‘check in’ with you (read: disrupt your life) and talk about the pipe dream from time to time, and on the flip side, they can miss you, but they can quietly, and sometimes loudly, come up with ‘objections’ for not resolving the situation, or back-peddle when you buy into their sentiments.

It’s like ‘missing’ you gives them a claim on you that they don’t even value.

If someone misses you, but they’re not backing it up with solid, consistent, lasting action that takes it from missing you to being with you, it’s time for them to jog on. They can keep missing you from afar while you get on with your life.

Expectations

I recently told DH that I don't expect anything of anyone else that I don't expect of myself. I've created a list of things that I expect of myself and I wanted to share them with you. I know that I may not always hit every goal, but damn it, I'm going to try. And I'm going to keep trying because failure is not an option. I will not fail because my husband is counting on me; my children are counting on me; and I am counting on me.

I expect that:

-I will always tell the truth, even when I'm afraid of the consequences; even if I've done something wrong or think I might have; even when it means that the recipient of that truth may lose respect for me because of what I've done.

-I will follow-through on what I say I will do, especially when I've made a promise, big or small, to my children. For example, if I tell them they can watch a movie after nap, I expect to follow through and not leave it up to them to remind me of my promise.

-I will treat everyone with kindness and consideration, and apologize when I have not done so. But I also expect that

-I will not tolerate abuse, of myself, my husband, my children, or any of my loved ones, be they friends or be they family. And I expect that if someone attempts to abuse any of said parties, I will defend them, tooth and nail. And after I have said my piece, I will walk away, and take my loved ones with me.

-I will respect boundaries. And if I have overstepped another's boundaries unknowingly and they point it out to me, I expect that I will apologize and make an effort never to do it again, even if I don't agree with them.

-I will be polite and always use my manners.

-I will be helpful and not helpless.

-I will offer my insights when I think it necessary; but shut my mouth when I know that an individual does not desire my unsolicited advice.

-I will treat my husband kindly and patiently, as he continues to fight the hardest battle of his entire existence. But I also expect that

-I will not give up on my efforts to help him, show him, prove to him that what we are doing together is right and good and beautiful. I expect that I will continue to educate myself about narcissism so that DH and I can always maintain a dialog about his FOO; and so that we can be as prepared as possible for every new attack they launch.

-I will not be selfish, only selfless, especially where it pertains to my children. I am here for them, not the other way around, which means that their needs (and in some cases wants) come before my own needs and ALWAYS before my own wants. But I also expect that

-I will find time that doesn't interfere with the needs of my children to relax, take a breath, and clear my head. I don't need much time, but I do expect that I will find ten or fifteen minutes, every day, to mentally prepare myself so that I can be as patient and calm with them as I can be. The days are hectic and tiring, but I want to enjoy them because I'll never get them back once they are gone. It's important to me to enjoy every day with them, even when they are testing my patience and the rules.

-I will explore new methods of handling issues that come up when I find that my first solution isn't working. I will consult people who are more skilled, better equipped, or more knowledgeable than me to help me make it through difficult situations. I will read self-help books and I will do my best to take criticism well, so long as I trust the person giving the advice and I know that their intentions are pure.

-I will never stagnate or refuse to change, particularly when the times call for it.

-I will not participate in gossip, especially where it pertains to people that I love. No one will ever hear me speak badly of my husband or children. While I will tell the truth about them and discuss my issues with a therapist or other loved ones who may be able to help, I will not badmouth anyone for the sake of badmouthing.

-I will be honest with myself and fight any desire to enter a world of denial.

-I will be genuine with everyone; including people I don't like or have little interest in having a relationship with. I see no point in being fake; people can always see through it, even if they are in denial about it. I wish to be seen as someone who is real, even if that means that people don't like me.

-I will ask when I have a question and

-I will work, everyday, on maintaining my self-esteem; for myself first and foremost, but also for my children.

-I will find ways to stop obsessing when I find myself falling into the habit.

-I will keep my mind sharp by actively thinking, exploring, doing, and learning. I will be an active participant in my own life and

-I will always offer help when my children need me. I will be the one person they can trust, without a doubt, forever in their lives. It is my hope that they all grow and prosper and eventually find love in relationships where they are loved and respected in return for who they are, not what they can do; but until then, or for as long as I am needed, I will try and never stop trying to be whatever they need me to be.

-I will  be the kind of friend that I would like others to be.

-I will help DH fight his unhealthy legacy so that we can raise happy, healthy children together.

-I will not give up. Ever.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Obsession

Recently, Q (in his effortlessly comical and insightful way) left the following comment on my post, Recipe For Success that really struck a chord with me. He said:

Jonsi, do you remember the comment I made long ago about some friend's of my first wife that would stop themselves from leaving a bar if they had not danced on the table? I mean a vacant empty bar. And how you would hear them later discussing their hi-jinks and how they brought the roof down. (dancing on the table). It was forced and methodical and pathetic. It's so pathetic it really merits no effort from you/us. Not enough to dilute you and your life obsessing about them. I know it's hard to stop. The people I speak of were just about total strangers to me so I wasn't invested in them like you are here. They're like a pop corn fart in the wind. They make their one cheek sneak of a noise and then they are over.

Ah Q, once I got over laughing at your shrewd choice of analogies, I was struck by the truth in your words that I am, in fact, obsessing. Your comment got me thinking about the purpose of this blog and how long I will continue blogging for. I had to stop in my tracks and ask myself: Is this blog doing more harm than good? What will be my course of action if NMIL and crew find this blog? Is the time I spend either blogging OR looking for subject matter for my blog hurting me or my loved ones? Do I, in fact, spend too much time thinking about my husband's fucked up FOO? Do the benefits of continuing this blog outweigh the benefits of discontinuing it? And, how long will I continue to blog for, and when will I know it's time to stop?

I know that there will come a time when I'll cease writing about all of this. I may stop abruptly one day, or it may be a slower process, but someday, I will stop writing here. (Although, for the record, my plan is to always keep my blog up and open for anyone to read. Though I may stop writing, I do not intend to remove any blog posts. I've seen comments from far too many people, thanking me for sharing my story, to take it away from countless others who could happen along someday seeking solace.) I know that I'll continue to keep my own records of what goes on with DH's FOO, just in case we need to involve authorities, but there will definitely come a day when I'll stop putting everything up here.

I thought about my reasons for blogging. Currently, there are several motivations that keep me posting:

1. I write for me, because writing is soothing for my soul and because I feel most comfortable describing my feelings by way of the written word. I decided to write for an audience because, after stumbling upon my dear friend Upsi-Pant's blog, You Don't Have to Dance For Them, I found solace there and thought maybe I could do the same thing for someone else. I also wanted to expose DH's family for all their cowardice, hypocrisy, and evil. I wanted the world to know what they have done because I believe that truth is the only way out.

2. I feel that it's important to find information about them, to talk about things they've done, and to point out very precise examples to my husband, who is still very much trying to fight his way out of the dysfunctional pile of crap they've been shoveling on him his whole life. I think, how best can I accomplish helping DH open his eyes to their abuse? How can I get him to truly See the extent of the damage they have caused? How can I get him to understand that he must change his own behaviors in order to stop their legacy? My answer to all of these questions is that, as long as DH is still in the midst of this revolution, I have to be right there in the thick of it with him. I almost feel a duty to find all this stuff, show him, talk about it, and blog it out. I feel that I can also show this blog, as evidence, to my children, when the time comes that they want to know WHY.

3. I have a history of obsessive thought-patterns. I've been that way for as long as I can remember and don't have any recollection of truly trying to stop. My obsession with DH's family is the perfect example: The obsession with his family has led to a compulsion to find them online because (I justify that) that's the best way to learn what they are doing and what attempts they might make in the future to find or hurt us. I feel I spend too much time looking at their various social networking accounts. I also spend too much time trying to find things about them online; it's not impossible to find clues about them on the internet, but it can be time consuming, very much like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Though I often tell myself I'll ONLY perform searches for them online when my babies are sleeping, I don't always accomplish this and there have been times when I've sat at my computer, typing posts, or looking at their social networking sites while my kids are playing or watching a movie. I often justify it by saying that they are busy and that they don't need me right this very second. But, when two minutes becomes a half hour or even an hour, then that's a huge problem. I do not want to be a mom who is too preoccupied, by anything, to pay attention to my children. I do not want them to grow up feeling like I'm there physically, but I'm not there emotionally.

I don't feel bad about my first two reasons for blogging. I do feel bad, however, about the third. I know that the original source of my obsessive patterns of thinking come from my father; who developed the same mechanism (one of many) as a result of his dysfunctional upbringing. Although I have seen him work at it his entire life, it is a battle he'll have to fight forever. I certainly didn't get it from my mother, who has never, in my recollection, displayed obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviors. I do own this particular problem as mine, but have spent far too much time justifying it to do anything real about it. Mulderfan talks often about getting off the "hamster wheels" in our heads. I've been thinking about that phrase a lot recently, sadly coming to the realization that I have been running a marathon on that damn wheel of mine, and eventually my heart will give out. There is no benefit to obsessing, nothing good can come of worry.

Step one, for me, is being honest with myself. Brutally honest. I have to answer the questions I outlined above about my behaviors and decide for myself what needs to be done. I am not ready yet to stop blogging, but I think I will set a new rule for myself: that blogging will ONLY happen during nap times and at night after my babies are all asleep, and that I will stop checking my emails or browsing the internet when my children are awake. Period. If that doesn't work and I still feel that I am obsessing, then I will have to re-evaluate my thought-patterns and behaviors again. I will have to force a reality-check on myself, because that is no one else's responsibility but my own.

And, in the end, Q is right. These people are nothing more than pop-corn farts in the wind. They aren't worth my time.