I haven’t told many people about this. Very few know any details. My husband knows the gist of it, but not all of it.
I was around 15 years old and I’d already spent time battling my personal demon. It was named Self-Harm and it came armed with a blade and a lighter.
I swallowed a bottle of… something. I can’t remember what. They had me on so many different medications. They wanted to “fix” me. The mutilation scared my parents. Not, of course, enough to try anything beyond anonymous prayer requests to the church group and a random assortment of pills. That, along with attempts, pleading with me to just stop and shaming me for my behavior, was supposed to be my “miracle cure.”
I don’t remember what finally tripped the trigger and pushed me to that point. Was it an argument? A particularly bad day? I don’t know. I can’t remember.
I remember being rushed to the ER. I remember the staff being unable to get a tube down into my stomach. I remember vomiting, repeatedly, every time they tried. Eventually they stopped trying and handed me a big mug of some charcoal mixture and told me to drink it.
Afterward, I had to stay in the ICU for 24 hours. I should have been sent to the local Psych unit for 72 hours. But I wasn’t. The doctor came in and talked to me.
He made me promise not to do this again, patted me on my head, handed me another prescription, and sent me off.
And that was it.
I went home.
I saw a “Christian Counselor” (despite religion being one of the major things my parents and I fought about) a handful of times over the next six months. My medication was changed a few more times. I can’t even remember everything we tried.
And that was it.
I stopped taking the medication when it was “mutually decided” I should move out.
I struggled with depression and other issues off and on for the next three or four years. It wasn’t until after the birth of my son and my second bout of Paranoid Personality Disorder that I started taking medication regularly or seeing a counselor on a regular basis.
I wonder how things would have turned out if they’d been handled differently way back then?
Welcome to Father’s Day 2019, here at The Band Back Together. Today, we celebrate fathers-to-be, fathers whose treasures who are in heaven, fathers who don’t deserve the title, fathers who have shaped who we are for good, for bad, for life.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, Happy Father’s Day.
To The Man Who “Raised” Me-
You married my mother when I was barely three-years-old.
I don’t have any memories of that day, but the pictures show a happy little girl. I don’t know what was going on in your mind as you allowed me to grow up believing you were my father.
I’ve seen all the pictures. I know they portray the quintessential American family.
I have memories that tell me those pictures were lies.
On the surface, I never wanted for anything. I had clothes that fit me, food in my belly and most of the coolest toys. What I didn’t have, was you.
Even at a young age, I remember feeling that I was somehow less than my sisters, somehow different in your eyes. As I got older, I picked up that it had something to do with having a different last name.
But I never got any explanation as to why.
I was only nine when you brought your daughter from a previous marriage to live with us. I was NINE YEARS OLD when you and Mom sat us down and explained that you weren’t really my father.
You asked for my permission to adopt me.
A chance to finally be YOURS?! Who could turn that down? Did you realize that I didn’t have the cognitive ability to understand what was happening? Did you know how desperately I wanted to have your last name? To be a part of the family, to no longer be different?
Why you and Mom went through with the adoption, I’ll never know. You were already fighting so much. A mere six months later, you were divorced.
Do you know what it cost me to tell my mother that I wanted to live with you instead of her? Do you realize that my desire to please you, to matter to you, caused a chasm between Mom and me that can never be repaired?
And what did I gain? A step-mother who made sure I continued to feel like less, separate from her family. The privilege of being your built-in-baby-sitter and maid. And constantly being bullied by my step-sisters every day of my teenage years. All while you turned a blind eye.
Somewhere along the line, I stopped trying to win your love and started to seek what I was missing from boys.
Even the negative attention I received when I acted out was better than feeling invisible.
For years I called you “Dad.” I bought you cards on Father’s Day every year, signing them, “with all my love.” For most of my life, I’ve tried to please you. I stood by you when others wouldn’t, and made excuses for you when you hurt others. Or me.
I can’t do it anymore.
I have a son now and while I may not get along with his father, I see what a strong relationship they have. I have removed the blinders – I see that we’ve never had a relationship. It’s not really a relationship if one person doesn’t even acknowledge the other.
So this Father’s Day, there won’t be a card from me in the mailbox. You won’t get a phone call or a text.
For once, I’ll be just as invisible as you always made me feel.
I’ve been debating joining Band Back Together since the day it opened. I was leery, because good goodness do I have a lot to say. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. And hard to let yourself. Some things are hard to pull out of the box under the bed. It’s not easy to give them attention or light, even if sometimes that is necessary.
So I’m here. And fuck it all. I’m healing. I’m better. I’m stable and mostly happy. I got shit to say.
My mom once showed me a song by Lucinda Williams called Sweet Side. She said it reminded her of me. Which is sort of bullshit. I’ve been pretty emotionally fucked up but never quite to that extent. In any case, I found it sort of ironic that my mom should point it out to me. She mistakenly believes my internal wounds were created when I was molested.
They were her made by her alone. I’m honestly not affected by the molestation. I have been, but that pain has long since been banished.
Having one of the most insane stick up for you at the least expected moment. Finding shelter in his rage. Seeing the correlation. Black sheep meet black lamb. Those surreal moments that buffer you from the storm.
It’s being kicked out of your bedroom and moved into the corner of the living room, so your mother’s boyfriend can have an office. Or moving into the spider-infested, insulation-free shed outside. Because they are tired of you inside. Or a 3AM, walk outside to get to the restroom, because you aren’t welcome to live IN the house with the good people.
And finding the front door locked.
It’s a birthday party alone, while your family went on vacation (again) to New Orleans without you. During Mardi Gras. It’s a sweet sixteen where they haul in a musty old pull-behind trailer and tell you, “Happy Birthday, now GTFO” and you find yourself with a ‘birthday’ basket of cleaning supplies and a rank, disgusting trailer parked in the back yard. Your new home. Have a paper umbrella, it’ll make it right.
It’s making the (sane) decision to not speak to your mother, ever again, at seventeen. And being talked out of it. Stupidly.
It’s having the power cord leading to that same trailer be pulled repeatedly in the middle of the night by your mother’s boyfriend. Leading to HOLY FUCK IT’S COLD IN HERE. Leading to ‘Stop lying! He didn’t do it!’
It’s trusting, against your better judgment, to go home when your life collapses and you are sick and losing your mind. And finding yourself taken advantage of, and then thrown out. Again.
Of trying to get your life back together, only to have your money depleted entirely. Of going back to school only to discover that every day seems to result in another, “I TOLD you I couldn’t watch the kids, I have an appointment”
Of visiting a friend in California to get away from the building stress and anxiety, to find yourself homeless and stranded and papers being filed in your absence claiming you abandoned your children. Of having to explain to your children that you didn’t. And that you meant it when you said you’d be gone a week.
Of living in a shitty motel in the middle of the Mojave desert, subsisting on ten dollars a week in food to make it back to get your kids. In waiting a year to see them again because of your mother’s treachery.
Of gearing up for an epic court battle only to have her mysteriously drop them off with ‘a secret, don’t tell your mother’ and have your beautiful, sensitive daughter burst into tears because the pressure is too much. In hearing her, through her sobbing, explain that she’s afraid Grandma would be back to take them again in a month, because that’s what she said.
Holidays are bullshit. They remind me of the family I don’t have.
They remind me of going to Thanksgiving to drop off my kids to spend time with their Uncle, and be entirely ignored by my family. They remind me of being asked how much a vacuum was at Home Depot without a ‘hello’ or a ‘Merry Christmas’ preceding it and without even so much as a ‘have a nice day’ on leaving.
I spent the last two years with just my partner during the holidays. It’s been years since I so much as got a birthday card or a Christmas card. I don’t expect them, and I don’t need them. But I kind of wish I got them. It felt odd. It still feels odd.
This year, I’m going to cook a turkey, we will all will sit down to it and be thankful for what we have. And I will continue to love my children fiercely every day, no matter how angry and hurt they are inside. No matter how long their own healing process takes. No matter what silly, childish things they do. Even if they break something I love, or snark at each other in a hormonal rage, no matter if they make horrible decisions or great ones. I’m going to be there and love them.
The fact is, that no matter how much she’s done to me, no matter how much she has injured my heart, no matter how many times she’s screwed my life through her manipulations, I love her. She’s my mother; I can’t help it. I miss the love a mother is supposed to provide. I miss the safe haven. I miss the support system.
I miss the person you call when you are at your wit’s end and need advice. I have nothing like that. I’m it. I’m my own self-contained support. If a kid does something baffling, I’m on my own. If I’m drying out the turkey, I’m on my own.
I haven’t spoken to my extended family in years. I haven’t spent more than five minutes in conversation with my mother for two. My life has NEVER been better. It’s stable, I’m back in school. My kids are healing, slowly and painfully, but they are healing. We have our finances in order and our life is generally upwardly mobile. But still…
I want a mother so desperately it hurts.
And I can’t make that feeling go away, no matter how much I want to.
Just did some spring cleaning and deleted all of my Facebook messages.
The oldest messages I had were from Michael, who was a good friend to me.
Sadly, he passed away a few years ago and I regret not making the time to get together again, and I’m sorry that I didn’t know he had passed until over a month after it happened.
Here’s the trouble — We always think we have time.
Time for that catch-up coffee get together, time for that dinner/ drinks night with that person we bump into at whatever store in town, and we’d really like to take the time to properly nurture that friendship, but we’re busy, so busy! — we’re working, we’re getting married, we’re catching up on our favourite TV shows at home, we’re doing household chores, we could be raising families, and we’re tired, we’re worn out, we’re run down, and we’ll get around to it, we truly will, just —– later.
We might have that family member or friend present on the periphery of our lives, somebody with whom we haven’t always had an easy relationship, and they’ve got stuff going on that complicates things further, and one day, in the future, we’ll patch things up with them properly, we really will, we truly mean to do so. Except we’re busy, we’re so busy, and we’re tired, and we might have our own messy stuff to deal with, and it’s not easy or convenient right now, but we’ll do it, we will, we mean to, at least. Just… not at this moment.
And then suddenly, it’s gone, that window of opportunity to make amends, to say hey, let’s grab that coffee, let’s catch up, let’s grab some emotional spackle and mend the cracks in our strained relationship. Either too much time passes, and the opportunity is lost, or the person passes, and, well… y’know. We’ve missed our chance indefinitely, and we’re left behind with complicated feelings and some weighty emotional baggage that we’ll get around to sorting through — one day.
—- Virtual high fives to anybody who has read this far. You can’t feel ’em, but they’re there.
My mother passed away in February of this year, and I never made a post on here expressly stating so, because condolences are so, so hard. And I’m not looking for them now, either.
Timing-wise, it was inconvenient, as I was 7 days away from starting a shiny new job for which I had really high hopes, and working full time at a “training wheels job” that was getting me re-acclimated with being an active part of the workforce after 8 long months of job-seeking. So I never properly dealt with the unfortunate occurrence, that emotional luggage that I’m sure is still sitting on my shoulders and weighing on me in subtle, almost imperceptible ways. I’m not sure how to go about addressing the feelings that I have. Most days, I’m unable to even completely sort out what those feelings are, and how they might be impacting my daily interactions now without me even knowing.
I know my mom loved me, and even though I didn’t say it often enough, or make enough of an effort to show it, I loved her, too, and I should have made it more apparent, and loved more freely and openly, and made more time to display it properly — not just on days that are societally-designated “love fests” like Christmas and birthdays and Mother’s Day and whatnot.
If any of this resonates with any of you, please, pick up the phone and call whomever you’re thinking about right now, if you can… while you have time.
Didn’t know that your phone can make phone calls, too, and not just send text messages and e-mails? Didn’t know that it’s not just a business tool, and not just it now. It might not be easy, or convenient, but it could be the only opportunity you will ever have. Make it count.
Didn’t know that your phone can make phone calls, too, and not just send text messages and e-mails? Didn’t know that it’s not just a business tool, and not just for emergency purposes, y’know, like calling your loved ones only if you get a flat tire on the highway, etc. etc. etc.? Phone calls can be made without occasion and sometimes the unsolicited ones (not from telemarketers, though… blech) are the most meaningful and memorable.
Do it now. It might not be easy, or convenient, but it could be the only opportunity you will ever have. Make it count.
The following was a response I wrote on a message board about the topic of enabling, the ‘how’ and ‘why’ it happens, and how Narcissists and abusers get others to do their bidding. This was written from my personal experiences, growing up with a Narcissistic Mother and watching this scenario play out many times over.
Narcissists thrive on confrontation. They bully their way by having a tantrum anytime they don’t get what they want. They turn up the heat enough to obtain it. The heat rises until they get it. In short, they learn our boiling points, find our buttons, and study our weaknesses. They keep hammering away until they get what they want.
It’s pure ruthless persistence on a target they’ve studied for years, but they also come across tactics that generally work. When they don’t get what they’re after they commonly rage to scare you into giving in, or attempt guilt or sympathy ploys. Their purpose never wavers, and they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.
Simply, a Narcissist or abuser will keep hammering and chiseling down until their targets are just plain WEAK. They do that by isolating the target from healthy relationships with anyone outside their control. And I mean close relationships, people that you’d bear your heart and soul to. People that would be out for YOUR good, that you’ve built a long-time trusted relationship with.
ACONs (Adult Children of Narcissists) often say they were forbidden from having friends, bringing friends to the house, and tightly controlled telephone usage. It is designed to create enough distance between you and others so such a relationship can never form.
Abusers detest anyone who may have more influence over you than they do.
If such a relationship already exists in your life, abusers will seek to drive a wedge between you and that person. Divide and conquer. The abuser creates enough stress on the relationships to create doubt in the other party. They swoop in to become the new ‘reality’ by inserting their perceptions on the weakened target.
My father is an enabler because he’s been trained by my mother to be. She hammers him by exploiting and over-blowing any little offense she can muster (creating conflict) to show how right she is, how awful she has it, etc. She hammers at him until he relents. She does the same thing to my siblings, through personal confrontation and phone calls. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I remember as a kid, we all knew it was just easier to give my mother what she wanted than deal with her rages. If an abuser does that enough, they are training us to just give them whatever they want, because we know what’s in store if we don’t. It’s cost/benefit analysis, isn’t it?
Welcome to the hammering machine. I knew that other people would take bad news better than my mother. So if I got caught in the middle of something between her and someone outside the family unit, she always won because even though I may lose greatly on something involving that person, it was easier than dealing with my mother’s rages.
There’s the birth of an enabler.
There comes a point where you just can’t deal with fighting them anymore, especially when you live under their roof. Even though we move out, that brainwashing has been reinforced for years, and continues into adulthood. Give your abuser what they want, or there’s hell to pay.
And even though we’ve moved out, Ns make sure they insert themselves in everything, don’t they? They appear to be interested in us, invade personal space, demand personal information, run amock over boundaries. The Narcissist is making it known that they have a right to everything about us, and will not stand for anything less than EVERYTHING. It’s so they can continue to insert their perception of reality into their target’s lives and retain control.
They continue forcing themselves onto the target, through phone calls or unannounced visits. If you’re never allowed to (or given the space to) think for yourself, how can you? Narcissists hinder this process as much as possible. It’s why they set themselves up as ‘always right’. If you control all the cards and all the information, it’s easier to manipulate things to your benefit. Thus how they move into the second stage of life.
It’s also important to note that everyone has a breaking point. Some much faster than others, due to the nature of the relationship (such as family friends, distant relatives). Others thrive on gossip and drama…but Narcissists know how to spot their targets and say the right things to obtain what they want.
In short, enablers are Narcissists’ servants. It’s like an abusive dog-owner. The abuser controls the entire environment. Some dogs will cower, some will fight back towards the owner. Dogs that fight back will be beaten more severely until they cower, are neglected, or are gotten rid of. But either way most will still protect the territory. They distrust everyone because of what history has taught them.
Whenever something good happens to me, I always assume that there’s a Catch. Most of the time I am absolutely correct – there’s always something.
Thanks to the wonders of artwork sites and mutual interests, what started as some back and forth communication and chit-chat about all things relating to art and nerd shit, with a fellow nerd with similar views/interests, soon developed into a friendship that has lasted a little over a year now. We grew as close as you can get to someone you have never – and will never – meet in person, though her tendency to be so open, and to share really personal, and HEAVY, stuff led me to perpetually think I was being trolled. Nevertheless, she was still my friend. We talked about so much shit via email and instant messaging, and we were “there” for one another.
Over time, she started displaying some behaviours that were a bit erratic. Like fear of abandonment, extreme depression, shit like that. I always had a far-off feeling that something wasn’t quite “right.” There was something keeping me from trusting her a full 100%, but I thought that perhaps it was my imagination. I have a tendency to be paranoid because of my own issues (I have some epic social anxiety, and I’m Bipolar II as fuck), but I shook it off because she proved time and again that she wasn’t Catfishing or trolling. Even when she was being really weird, I continued to be there for her because that’s what friends do. She’s my friend, and it would suck if I just bounced whenever she was having a shitty day. I know I would feel horrible if someone did that to me.
After a series of erratic events that spanned the winter, she decided to hospitalize herself because it was clear that there was something very wrong.
So, remember that Catch I mentioned? Yeah, it’s Borderline Personality Disorder. We shared short emails here and there while she was hospitalized, and she finished her three-month stint just last week.
I started to feel like something was up. Something wasn’t right, and I couldn’t place it. I’m extremely perceptive, so I asked point-blank via email if there was anything wrong.
Here’s where The Catch comes back into play because, well …it’s a goddamn catch.
You know how people with BPD will idealize people, and shit like that? Well, she admitted that she had become obsessed with me. Like, to a creepy extent. To the extent where she and her wife decided that one of the best options is for her to limit contact with me as she continues to get sorted out. She told me all of this because she wanted to be 100% honest with me. I knew something was up, and I would have kept asking until she told me because …Spidey-Sense.
Her treatment has helped her a LOT; this is something that I can feel, and she is a million percent sincere in her apology. She has stated that she no longer thinks of me as “some ÜBER-human” (her words), and will understand if I decide to cut off all contact with her, since, apparently, friendships with BPD-folks are basically impossible to maintain.
In light of all of it all, I have blocked her access to my Twitter stream and I switched her Facebook access to “Restricted.” The less she knows about what I’m up to, the better, right? But I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to block her out. I don’t want to lose her. I absolutely adore her, and I want her in my life, but again, every piece of literature that I have read, as well as what her doctors say is that this friendship is doomed. Plus, you know, that whole idealization thing in the first place (which has left me with a lot of questions that I fully intend to ask her). I know that’s part of the disorder, but I’m still trying to process it.
And now I sit, at a proverbial crossroads because there’s always a goddamn catch.