Puzzle Pieces

365152276_979b28e2d3_o

Picture Credit: LongEnough

For so long now, it feels like I’m trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together in some desperate attempt to understand why life unfolded the way it did. The frustrating thing about this is that I don’t have all the puzzle pieces, there are large gaps in my memory and perhaps distortions of memory because so many years have passed.

This morning a new puzzle piece was found,  covert sexual abuse. Upon reading this article I felt immediate relief that there is an actual term to conceptualise this experience. It’s something I have posted about here in The Mother Talks Too Much. This experience of knowing the sexual pressure she felt from my Dad, and becoming her emotional support from a young age, seems to fit with covert sexual abuse. Combine this with a father who shamelessly raked his eyes over me or came into the bathroom whilst I’m showering, all seems to have contributed to the erosion of my self  growing up in this toxic home.

So far, I have always wondered if I was sexually abused, everything I have experienced seems to fit with something like this. I’ve experienced depression, self-injury through cutting, an eating disorder, drug addiction, binge drinking, promiscuity, extreme self-loathing, multiple suicide attempts, traits of borderline personality disorder and most certainly have post-traumatic stress disorder. Having children has triggered memories, one very disturbing memory  is of a woman’s hand sexually abusing me. Now whether or not this memory is real is not what I am focused on now, what I realise in light of covert sexual abuse, is that it doesn’t need to have happened for there to be the same outcome. The memory could simply be a manifestation of the fact that whilst I may not have experienced “hands-on” sexual abuse, my experience of covert sexual abuse, of being sexualised, has resulted in the same experience.

I feel like a weight has been lifted, I feel as though I can release this idea that I need to remember something. A wave of acceptance has come over me, and I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other moving further away from this dark past.

 

Advertisements

A Slow Walk Towards Empowerment

15589927_704063083090406_5416682888104623198_n

In recent months there has been an increase in the usual family drama. This of course stems from the Mother and her manipulations. One of the dramas she thrives on is creating wedges between people in her immediate circle, this involves backstabbing one person to another, stretching truths, making herself appear to be the victim or herself some kind of saviour to a situation. There are many ways a narcissist behaves and here’s a good link that explains what these are in more detail.

This story begins with the Mother divulging my financial situation to my brother. At the time she was giving me $100 per week into my bank account. The Mother made it appear to him that she was giving a lot more than that. This annoyed my Brother, he saw me as some kind of leach and that I shouldn’t be living off the Mother. The vile messages he sent about me to the Mother I truly believe is a result of her being in his ear and telling lies about me. As a consequence of his messages and threats he made towards me, my husband and children, I decided to cut him out of my life. The accusations against my husband and I were so awful and so untrue that I really felt I had no choice.

This decision has disempowered the Mother and her ability to play my brother and I off against one another. Not that I ever felt I was against him. But certainly felt I was being played with. From what I’ve read about narcissism and children, is that children of narcissists will not often have functional relationships as adults due to the meddling ways of the narcissistic parent. My brother and I fall into this category. Whilst things between us were not that great for a long time, there was definitely no hope as we’ve become adults with having such a toxic parent in our lives. Unfortunately, he has not realised her manipulative ways, and I can only believe that he succumbs to the lies and victim stories she tells.

In the many months that have followed this decision I have been accused of tearing the family apart, I have been told I’m a bitch, that I’m heartless and selfish too many times to count. The Mother is doing her absolute best to make me the problem, to make me feel guilty. I am now the Scapegoat. And for months I have stood my ground.

And now the situation has escalated.

An anonymous email was sent to my work accusing me and my husband of awful things. I can’t even go into the details here. The content of the email also had information that only someone who’s known me for most of my life would know. I assumed it was my brother as it was all very consistent with the messages I know he did send a year ago.

I reacted.

I went to the police and I made an allegation against him. This was followed up and the police concluded that it’s a family feud they don’t wish to pursue. I was devastated.

My brother denies it was him. Even without solid evidence, I have this feeling that he is somehow involved.

So far, no further emails have been sent to my work. However, I’ve had red beetroot thrown at my front fence and today, an anonymous letter telling me that I am a ‘moron’ and a ‘parasite’.

What I do know at this point in time, is that someone out there really wants to hurt me. It even crossed my mind that it could be the Mother. She would always call me a ‘moron’ growing up. I know it’s one of her favourite words.

Now I sit here, not knowing what’s going to happen next. The police can’t do anything. And I feel completely helpless. I’m worrying about the future of my children, I’m worrying about my own future.

This feeling of helplessness is so overwhelming. The not knowing of what’s going to happen next is scary.

What makes this situation worse, is the lack of time I gave my own children whilst being consumed with all of these emotions. Just like the meme attached to this post, I allowed the anonymous letter today to distract me from being with them.

I have to remember to put my children’s needs first. Whoever is doing these things will keep doing them. I have no control over that. What I can control is my reaction. My children deserve the best parts of me, not the fearful mother they witnessed today.

 

 

 

Abuse victims. Writing their truth. — Julie Mariner

Back in 2015 Brandon O’Neill wrote a blog for The Spectator chronicling the case of pianist James Rhodes and his victory in court overturning a legal injunction which was preventing him from publishing his child abuse memoir. It is a particularly harrowing account of sexual abuse which leaves little to the imagination. Not only does […]

via Abuse victims. Writing their truth. — Julie Mariner

The Mother Talks Too Much

Three wise monkeys

Photo credit: Anderson Mancini

So many things a child’s ear should not hear…

The first one being that when the Mother was heavily pregnant with me, my Dad tried to kill me by throwing her through the glass coffee table in our living room. This is one of those stories that also fed my fear of Dad, throughout my childhood I believed that he did try to to kill me. When I was in my 20’s I asked him about this; he said that the Mother was lying and it never happened.

When I was a baby and would crawl up to Dad, he would put me on his foot and kick me away. The Mother constantly reminded me about this and the fact that he did not like me or want me near.

As a child, I grew up knowing the sexual pressure the Mother was experiencing in the marriage with Dad. He wanted her to do things in the bedroom that she wasn’t comfortable with. I felt  so sorry for her that she had to do certain things to keep him happy but also didn’t feel like I really understood either. He likes blow jobs and anal sex. I was in primary school.

She often said that Dad hated my brother from the moment he was born, she would say it was because he had dark skin.

If we were ever to be robbed and had dangerous people in our home, the Mother said she would save us by seducing the men.  And to let her be alone with them in the bedroom. I remember feeling so safe, she loved us so much that she would sacrifice herself for our safety.

As a teenager she would burn photos of my dad into a pot and say “spells”. I participated and repeated the words with her. I felt scared when we did this.

I only have these snippets of talking memories in my mind, these are all I can remember. And for a long time were a part of my own life story in how I understood myself, how I related to my Dad, how I thought I was better than my brother because I had blue eyes and blonde hair.

I looked up to her so much and felt as though I was right there with her through everything. For my whole childhood, Dad was the bad guy and we were victims. What I didn’t realise was this other game going on, this narcissistic game where I was being played and toyed with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Things

Broken heart

Picture credit: TimOve 

“Crying tears on the outside and blood on the inside, a stabbing feeling deep in my heart”

A little thing about the Mother that had a big impact on our day to day lives, and still does;

She is never, ever satisfied.

There was always something I did wrong, could have done better or not enough of. I would be chastised for mistakes or beliefs in her own head of how I caused something to happen for years following an event.

If I vacuumed the house, she’d be upset I didn’t clean the windows.

If I tidied my bedroom, she’d be upset I didn’t clean the kitchen.

If a photo was taken she was later angry about my posture.

When I wanted to ride my bike to school, she was angry and slammed the door in my face (a stranger got out of their car to help me cross the busiest road)

When I changed my hair colour to a deep red, she referred to me as “carrot head” until I changed the colour to a more socially acceptable colour, in her opinion.

When I was in a bicycle accident and couldn’t get up, it was my fault she hurt her back helping me get into the car.

When she went through a red light and almost had a collision, it was my fault. And I was actually trying to get us killed. I believed this for a long time.

When I was accepted into a uni degree she was annoyed at my excitement.

When I asked her why she doesn’t say nice things about me being pregnant for the first time, she replied “I don’t want you to get a big head”

There are so many more…

I think the biggest turning point in my feelings towards her was around age 15. I went away with a neighbours family for almost 2 weeks. I felt so homesick and missed the Mother so much. When I saw her on the platform I ran towards her, dropped all my bags and gave her the biggest hug. She immediately told me off for dropping my bags.

Then, in the car started yelling at me about the chores I didn’t do 2 weeks ago before leaving.

When we got home I went to my bedroom. This is my first memory of painful crying. My heart felt broken. I vowed to myself to never feel love for her again. Something inside me switched off.

In therapy I have begun to understand the dynamic with her a little better. During early childhood, everything I did was to keep her happy. Conform and mould into whatever she needed me to be. She was my world. This is what young children do. We do it for our very survival. She was the source of food and warmth. Then we grow up.

As I yearned for more of my own identity I believe this became a point of tension. Suddenly I don’t need the Mother so much, I want independance. I want certain freedoms, away from her. I was becoming a teenager who needed my own identity, I needed to figure out who I wanted to be. The Mother could not handle this natural separation. Instead she became extremely mean. Name calling was her way of bringing me back into line.

Name calling.

Every day.

I was so many things. So many nasty things.

Around this time Dad stopped physically abusing me, but now I was dealing with something else completely.

The next few years that followed are a little blurry in regards to the order of events.

I became bipolar. I would have extreme moments of happiness, laughing hysterically for hours followed by hours of crying. I attempted suicide, with 3 of those attempts landing me in hospital.

The accumulation of little things. Living with the Mother was daily emotional torture. This post scratches the surface of how these little daily interactions eroded my self-esteem and ability to even think for myself.

Now in therapy, one of the things I hope to achieve is finding my voice, allowing myself to have independent thought. Learning to find the words to express myself in a way that is constructive, assertive and respectful.

 

 

Playing Chasey

Tidal Zone 2

Picture Credit: Andrew

As I got older, the physical abuse with the strap lessened. It was at this point in my childhood Dad would use his hands to physically abuse me. There are few memories of these, this being one of them.

We were in Mornington on a family holiday, visiting Sorrento. On this particular day we were walking around the beach and the shops. I remember feeling bored. Then I saw a ferry. I asked about the ferry and was told it takes people to Queenscliff and back again.

I got so excited and really wanted to go on the ferry. When we started walking towards it I thought maybe we were. But then we started walking in the opposite direction. At this moment, I remember making a comment about the day being boring.

Dad turned around, looked at me then began running. I ran thinking that we we’re playing chasey. I started laughing and feeling excited.

When he got me, he pinned me to the ground, got on top and started smacking my face in really fast. I remember making eye contact with a man in his car, we locked eyes for a moment and he drove away. The memory ends.

Getting this memory out of my head and onto paper has allowed me to cry. I have sat here crying for the first time at the sheer sadness of being so utterly misunderstood. At the feeling of happiness being so quickly turned into fear.

One of the more unusual things about this memory is that in the moment of locking eyes with the man in his car, I am seeing him through my own eyes in the memory. Even now as I write this I keep seeing the look on his face through my own eyes. This part of the memory is different because I’m not the observer.

I am a Mum now and my young child often says she’s bored, or this is boring. I smile and say well let’s find something to do. Quite often she doesn’t want to and would prefer to just stay bored.  I know it’s ok to feel bored, this is part of the childhood experience.

The Mornings

Early morning bokeh

Picture Credit: Kevin Dooley

“Any sorrow, upon the morrow, must surely fade away. For there is naught, that can’t be sought, upon a bright new day” – Mary Marks

My Dad was ‘The Man’ of the home, what he said went, no negotiation, no family discussion, no consideration for how other people might feel. I learnt from a very early age to accept this. For example, tiptoe around the house when he was sleeping, especially if he had been drinking the night before.

I vaguely remember my brother and I waking up early most mornings, walking quietly to the TV room and we would watch cartoons for what felt like hours.

The thing that would wake us up so early is my Dad’s long wee in the toilet. Door wide open and the sound of a long, long wee, followed by the biggest fart you’ve ever heard. The sound would echo through the house. I never lay their annoyed until I was much older, as a child it was simply time to sneak to the TV room and watch cartoons. I felt happy.

Then, later in the morning Dad would have his shower. And afterwards walk back to his bedroom naked. I would see my Dad’s penis daily, he didn’t care that I was looking. I would often hear Mother yell out, “cover yourself” or “get a towel” or “kids, don’t look” and he would just keep walking, ignoring her.

As I grew into my teens, he would make sure there was a clear pathway, then do the naked dash to his bedroom. It was at this point I knew him better.  As soon as I heard the shower stop, I knew to make myself scarce. Whatever I was doing I’d make sure that I was around a corner, or in my room. Then I’d wait, sometimes I’d stand quietly and wait for 5 minutes until he was definitely in his bedroom.

One morning when I was much older, either 14 or 15. I went to have a shower at the time Dad normally had his shower. He came in the bathroom and did his morning shave, the glass was opaque so he wouldn’t have been able to see me naked. Then, I yelled out, “I need to get out now can you leave?”

Expecting he would leave I turned the water off. He didn’t leave. He let me stand there and did not pass a towel over for what felt like an eternity. Perhaps, this was his way of telling me to never interrupt his morning ever again. And I didn’t.

Is Strength Found in Forgiveness?

Art Journaling Flowers and Forgiveness

Picture credit: Julie Jordan Scott

Both the Mother and my Father are very much a part of my life. There have been periods where I’ve had no contact with either or both, however one thing or another has always happened over the years that has led to contact being re-established.

Now that I am married, have two children and what I like to consider a fairly happy, stable life they want to see and talk to me more than ever before.

You may be asking yourself, why on earth I continue to have contact? The best answer I have is that through self-reflection and therapy I made a decision to re-define who I want to be. Do I want to be someone who hates and harbours resentment for the past. Or do I want to be someone who can forgive. I choose to at least try the path of forgiveness.

This has been an easier path to walk down in regards to my father. Like me, he is good at living in the present and we very rarely talk about the past. I think we both have an unspoken agreement not to discuss this too much. It’s a trigger for me, and well, he claims to not remember anything which is very frustrating.

The Mother on the other hand, lives in a perpetual past. She is a constant victim of everyone and everything. The Mother never holds herself accountable and will consistently place blame on those around her. This makes forgiving the past more difficult, because my present day interactions with her trigger memories and feelings of childhood. I want so much to be stronger around her, I don’t want to be triggered into this blubbering mess, or child-like state. It’s like she is the only person in the world who doesn’t see me for all my good qualities. I am only reminded of past transgressions or how I am the cause of her ill-health.

In trying to forgive, perhaps our current relationship is one where I can practice strength. I can learn to recognise my feelings and not react. One strategy I use when in her company is to imagine a sign on my chest that reads “Just Visiting”. It makes me smile and remember than I’m an adult now and she can’t hurt me.

Too Many Questions

Childhood Dream

Photo credit: calliphora ‘childhood dream’ 

Trigger warning – the following post may affect some readers

One of the traits of narcissistic people is this ability to make you feel and believe that you are the crazy one and not them. When they are confronted with what they have done, you can be told, “that never happened” or “wow, you have a great imagination”.

This is one of those memories which is vehemently denied by the Mother.

I’m so little, standing in the corner of the room, I distinctively remember my peach coloured walls, I’m crying, my brother is crying too. We are pertrified, I vaguely remember us just saying “no no no” over and over.

The Mother has a knife to my throat – “I’m going to kill you!” She’s screaming this at us – over and over “I’m going to kill you”. Then the memory ends.

As I look back through the lens of being a mother of two myself. There is a part of me which can empathise with the fact she may have been suffering and unable to cope. However, that’s where it ends. Even with various kinds of therapy I still can’t seem to forgive this, I can’t even forget it.

Since having my second child, I have been diagnosed with postpartum depression. There are days where I can not cope, days where I want to scream. I choose to walk away, I choose to ask for help. I choose to admit that at times, I can’t do this on my own. I take medication, I go to therapy, I keep trying to get better. I believe this is one of the fundamental differences between me and the Mother, I can admit I’m flawed.

For a long time I understood my upbringing through the lense of domestic violence, a drunk, unloving abusive father. That this in fact was the source of all my troubles. I attended counselling through out highschool just to get through.

The Mother was a victim too, people felt sorry for us, people wondered why we didn’t leave. And whenever we did leave, how come we came back? The Mother went to many domestic violence shelters when I was very little but she always went back. She was the typical battered wife. And for a long time I hated her for continually subjecting us to the physical abuse.

The real secret was the role she played in the violence. She encouraged my father to hit us when it suited her. Other times he would be violent because he wanted to. These were the times she really did try to protect us and throw herself in front of him. So where does this story fit in with the current rhetoric of family violence? Is her role in the violence simply a product of her also being abused? Are there any other mothers out there who participated in the violence towards their children?