Friday, April 12, 2024

Why it took me so long to see abuse, neglect, parentification

Hey everyone! For the past few months I have been experiencing new awareness about things that happened in my life with my parents,  stepparents and half siblings. I've been reexamining situations and experiences  and sharing stories with trusted family members (husband) friends and therapists. We have come to the conclusion that I lived with chronic narcissistic abuse, neglect, abandonment, exploitation exploitation, family scapegoating, toxic shaming and gaslighting about it all. I developed CPTSD, codependency and critically low self-esteem. 

Recently I posted what happened to make me aware of this and what I was doing now about it, now that I know. I think the very first thing that led me to revisit these experiences were the constant nightmares I've had since childhood. They have revealed terror, insecurity, self-hatred, family scapegoating, parentification, gaslighting and the constant pressure I felt to please my parents, step parents and siblings. I realize that they stem from memories and feelings about them, buried deep under toxic shame and frosted with self gaslighting. They don't get better or no matter what I do so I think I'm supposed to be paying closer attention to them. I also began to listen to the voices in my head to see what they were saying and they have proved to be memory based as well.

But the dreams alone would probably have not been enough to wake me up. What led to that was my mother's lies and gaslighting about past situations that occurred that she denied happening. There was more to it but that was a big part. Reviewing situations showed me that I was not wrong and things did happen as I said.  I also began telling experiences and getting feedback about them. I was affirmed that I was believed and encouraged to keep sharing. I kept re-examining more situations and found that they were not better but much worse than I remembered.

So I think the first step in healing from gaslighting, narcissistic abuse, neglect, exploitation, toxic shame and parentification, is to  just accept that they happened. And then start listening to toxic shame memories coming out in dreams, self-doubt and messages in my head. And then I had to come to the conclusion which is utterly cataclysmic for me, that I  was not treated lovingly or well and that I did not deserve this. It was not God's will for me. My parents were not God and did not speak for him. I had to stop making excuses for them and accept that their treatment was as bad as I remembered and inexcusable. 

So today I'm looking at why it took me so long, around 59 years, to begin looking at this. I think if I had to boil it down to one word it would be gaslighting. And how effective that was in keeping me striving to please, hating myself, believing their lies and allowing them to mistreat me. 

A child does not understand God. All she knows is her parents. If they are mostly loving and nurturing, she develops a basically positive self-esteem. If they are autocratic, cruel, abusive, self-centered and unloving, that is the idea of God that the child has as well. The more cruel they are, the more screwed up the child is. And my parents gaslit me into thinking that they and their spouses and their other children were gods. They could do no wrong they and I did nothing but wrong. It was so bad that I can't even look in the mirror without feeling revulsion,most days. I am very good at faking my way through life. 

Using a complicated scheme of scare tactics, shock treatment, unrealistic demands, delusions, lies, blame and shame, belittling, minimizing, disturbing behaviors, violent rage, and steady destruction of my boundaries, they were able to coerce me into a state of constant fear, anxiety, and desperate desire to please. This cult like fantasy life was not real but as hell felt real. I realize now that at a fairly young age I split from reality.  I played along with their delusions and let them treat me anyway they wanted. I accepted everything as normal and okay and what I deserved. 


Thursday, April 11, 2024

First step to accepting that I was abused by parents

I just blogged about how inadvertently catching my mom in lies and gaslighting about abusive, neglectful, exploitative, endangering things that happened to me (see previous post) got me wondering if other things I'd always accepted as normal were in fact also abuse, neglect, endangerment, exploitation and more gaslighting about it. 

So what now? How do I go about sorting that? I guess my first step, is to just say what happened and then to accept that they did actually happened and are not made up or exaggerated. Based on understood definitions of these things, I was abused and assaulted (sexually, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and socially) neglected, bullied, abandoned, exploited, shamed, blamed, parentified and gaslit about it. 

So the next step. Accepting that they they happened is not accepting that they should have happened. It wasn't my fault I was abused, neglected, bullied, abandoned, exploited, screamed at, shamed, blamed or parentified. I didn't bring it on  myself. It wasn't God's will. He hadn't told them to do these things. They were not right. I didn't deserve them. I was not too sensitive, too critical, showing off, a bad kid, a letdown, responsible for, nasty, or any of the other things they gaslit me into believing. 

I was a kid. What I deserved was a childhood, not parentified and made responsible for everyone else. I deserved to be a teenager, not a scapegoat, servant, surrogate spouse and parent to four parents and their kids. I deserved happy memories with some sad, not sad or no memories. I deserved to have stuff, not have it sold and me not told, whenever the family needed money. I deserved a home, not couch surfing at their homes. I deserved to feel loved, wanted, respected and cared for and part of a family. Not unloved, unwanted, uncared for and excluded from their families. 

But I think I missed a step and have to take it even farther back. In order to accept that these things happened, were as bad as I remember and not make excuses for the perpetrators, I have to accept that my memories and version of the story is the accurate one, not their lies, weaponizing, shaming and minimizing.  But to do that, I have to examine how I know my version is true. (Sorry this is so much working backwards, but this is how it's playing out for me. I probably have to go back even farther, to look at why I believed their version but I'm too tired tonight) 

So how do I know my memories are accurate? Well, I guess for one thing, what I know about myself and what others have told me. I don't willingly hurt others and I certainly don't lie about them. Heck I've spent 6 decades lying FOR them. I'm not going to start making up stories now. And there's enough shit now, I wouldn't need to! 

And why would I? Not to get help from anyone. I never told anyone till  now. No one in the extended family knew or if they did, they never mentioned it to me. That's another part of my parents' gaslighting. If my extended family was so loving why did they ignore the abuse? If it was so bad, why did they act like it was fine. Either they don't love you or they approve of how we're raising you. 

I can't answer why they never said anything. Either they didn't know, didn't care, didn't want or know how to get involved. It was kind of DADT back then.  I think my mom's parents didn't know. I think my dad's dad didn't want to know. He just wanted to be loving and think everyone else was too. I think my dad's mom did know and was really bothered about it but everyone talked her down. 

What I do know is that in every little way they could, all four grandparents showed me love. I do not and will never believe that they would want to see me hurt. I don't believe any of them if they did know, would approve.   My parents on the other hand, were masters of deception. Like alcoholics, they knew where to hide the bottles. I think I shielded my grandparents because I wanted to keep them innocent and their homes safe. Maybe I didn't know what would happen if I told. More importantly, I've never liked distressing anyone. 

So I wouldn't make it up to get outside help. And not to get sympathy from one parent either. They didn't care how each other treated me. They actually encouraged their new spouses to abuse, humiliate, exploit, shame and neglect me. Even when my mom's was just her boyfriend. He moved into our house, unemployed, not looking for work and lazy AF. He hit the ground ordering me around "his house", shaming, mocking me, screaming at me, sexually abusing me and generally  making life hell. (remember what I said about "blisters?") My mother never once corrected him. In fact, she took his side every time he attacked me and often joined in the mocking. 

(Side note on the "Blisters" thing: Up till about two years ago, I just thought it was normal. It was my husband (then boyfriend) who called this out for the disgusting pedo sex abuse it was. But that wasn't till a few years ago that he told me. He didn't want to make life worse for me,  knowing how abusively angry mom's husband got. Sometimes we do the wrong thing for the right reason. )

So I wouldn't lie for help or sympathy, how about attention? Hell to the no! I learned early on with them to keep my head well below the parapet. And I tend to downplay vs. exaggerate. Even in this blog, I've had to work hard not to minimize. But my mom and dad and stepparents are not so scrupulous as their track records have shown. Ergo the gaslighting. So I guess where this leaves us is, that if everything impossible has been removed, what's left is the truth. Boom. 



Why am I just now realizing my parents and stepparents abused, neglected, abandoned, shamed and exploited me?

 If you're following you know that I'm unpacking a ton of shit about how I was treated by family of origin. And just so you know, this is stuff I'm just now realizing. So I'm writing in real time, present tense. I've begun truth telling about how I was abused, neglected, abandoned, shamed, scapegoated, minimized, parentified, exploited, manipulated and gaslit about it all by parents and stepparents. I'm telling how bad it was as I'm remembering. I'm admitting that I was not loved or wanted. 

Burt why am I just now realizing this? Because gaslighting is so incredibly mind-effy that it clouded my judgement. I actually see gaslighting as more being gassed but with bullshit and lies instead of phosgene. It has a similar effect if it happened when it happens to a kid. It twists and deforms everything. It made me second guess and hate myself, defend and excuse them and tolerate any sick shit they chose to wreak on me.

I was also too afraid to look closely at what happened because 1) the carefully constructed lies they'd told about all that happened 2) being gaslit that no one would believe me 3) that I'd find I was and even bigger POS than they'd convinced me I was and 4) it was too terrifying. So I spent the last 59 years of my life living in a web of lies for fear of the truth. 

Then my dad died without ever confronting anything that happened, let alone apologizing. My stepmother had died a few years previously and she never admitted anything either. My brothers told very odd versions so I knew they didn't or wouldn't remember. Then my stepfather started confronting my  mom with some pretty bizarre things he said she did and lies she had told. And she contacted me, she said, to find out if she had. 

She claimed to have no memory of doing these things. What I think she was trying to establish was who remembered what and how she wiggle out of it. If she could pit us against each others, as she'd so often done in the past ( I now realize), so much the better. 

Some things I didn't remember until my aunt confirmed them. Then I recalled it. But in the grand scheme of shit she'd done, it was pretty small. Another thing involved me supposedly telling them about my first sex experience. I don't know if I did and it really didn't matter. She didn't care that it would have and still did make me very uncomfortable. All she cared about was clarifying who was right, like a Trivial Pursuit question. 

But being a mom-pleaser, I jumped to her defense, saying that he wasn't squeaky clean either. She latched on to that probably thinking I'd relate awful things he'd done to her, for leverage I suppose. I should have remembered that my mother has never forget anything anyone has done wrong to her, inventing them if she has to. And will store them up for future use. But I still had the blinders fully in place. 

I ended up telling things that both of them had done but made it sound like just he had done them. Things like kick me out of the house when I was 16 for coming in an hour late. He did that but she went right along with it. Then when I had to take care of her four foster kids, baby to age four, for a week when I was 11. I shared how devastated I was when I couldn't make the very special needs baby stop crying and how her  husband (then boyfriend) who was sleeping on the couch, screamed at me and accused me of shaking the baby. She completely took his side and joined the attack once she got back. . But I didn't mention that in the retelling. 

So that was pretty awful to relive. Especially given she was just checking to exonerate herself not out of any concern for how all this shit might have affected me. But her response was what affirmed that she didn't and doesn't care about me. Without realizing it, my story sharing was kind of a test, to see if she would take responsibility. And she reacted as I now accept she always reacted. First, she lied and said they never happened. Then she claimed she forgot that they had kicked me out. Then she said she would never have left me with four foster kids because "I would have lost my license." 

So she knew then that she was wrong. And if she flouted the rules once, she had many times before. Like making me sleep with all the kids in one room upstairs while she and her boyfriend slept in the basement two floors down. like allowing a man she was not married to, to live with her in the foster home. Like letting two other unmarried couples live in the home as well (one of which in my bedroom).  Like letting her boyfriend sexually assault me by calling me "blisters" in reference to my 11-year-old breast size. 

Then, after lying her head off, she played "loving mommy" being so sorry I felt that way (suicidal over supposedly shaking a baby). But at no time admitting to not only allowing these abusive things to happen but encouraging and participating in them. 

(Side note: I've come to see that he was lying about me shaking the baby, to cover the fact that he was sleeping and not helping with the baby. And that I shouldn't have even be caring for that many children for a week let alone a few hours. And that he didn't belong living at our house in the first place. But I never considered that until a year or so ago.) 

My husband identified recently that it was after this conversation that I began to question what happened to me and to see it as the abuse it was. I began to let memories I'd kept locked away, return. I was hoping that in letting them in, I'd discover that I'd exaggerated them. That there were more happy memories than I thought. Because all these years, I've clung to the myth that deep down, they loved me. They just didn't know how to show it. Or they did the best they could. Or just made mistakes. Or didn't mean to. Or that somehow time had healed the memories to the point where I didn't feel so much pain. 

Unfortunately, none of those things happened. I found the memories worse than I'd remembered. I recalled awful things I'd buried deep. And regardless of any test or litmus I subjected these things to, none of them came close to being loving. I reread the Bible on love and none of it fit with any acts of love. I asked other people and they unilaterally agreed. The behavior of my parents and stepparents constitutes ( because it goes on) abuse (sexual, emotional, physical, social, mental and spiritual), neglect, abandonment, trauma and shame dumping, exploitation, parentification and gaslighting. 

And in accepting that, I began to look at my chronic CPTSD nightmares, dysregulation, toxic shame and unspeakable sadness more closely. I began actually listening to the voices in my head and paying attention to the dreams. What I found is that they match up with the traumatic memories or based on devastating memory feelings. I'll blog more about the dreams later because they really need to be explored. 


How I'm healing from parentification by parenting myself instead

 I've been talking a lot lately being parentified from young childhood on up to almost 60. Parentification in my experience was both being expected to be the parent to my parents and stepparents and also to parent my half siblings. From very young childhood the roles were reversed. From age 5, I learned that adult behavior, maturity and understanding was expected of me. It may have been earlier than that but I have very few memories of that time. I have always thought this was because no child remembers but everyone I speak to about it tells me that they have many memories of this age. In fact one cousin who is my age, shared memories of things we did and happy times we had together that I do not recall. The more I thought about it the more I realize that I have virtually no memories that are happy for most of my life up until I moved out of the house. The happy memories I do have center around time spent with extended family. I will blog more on that. 

Thank you for letting me segue. And back to the parentification. I do not remember a time where I did not feel obliged, expected, even demanded to be an adult and parent to my parents, stepparents and siblings. I do not remember being allowed to be a child or a teenager but rather an overburdened adult with no preparation for that role. I remember my parents behaving in very immature, childish and selfish ways that I was expected to normalize, by making excuses, hiding, lying about to extended family, covering for and fixing. I was expected to tolerate all forms of abuse, neglect, abandonment, manipulation and exploitation from all four parents and siblings. I was treated very harshly if one of them even sensed that I did not like it. But I was also expected to present to others that all was fine.

Also the role and expectations flip-flopped. Sometimes they were the parent albeit very autocratic and and inconsistent ones. And very much when it was convenient for them. I was to be the adult when they did not want to be when they wanted act childishly. I was to be the child when they needed something done or a scapegoat. Or to save face for Grandma and Grandpa so they would not know. The flip flopping was very random and unexpected and always caught me off guard. So I learned to be on guard all the time. Their punishment was very severe when I missed my cue in the game. Sometimes there was punishment for no reason at all. And my biological parents let their new spouses have their way with me. I was very clearly told that it was my responsibility to fix anything. So if someone was having a bad day or just feeling like picking on someone or being nasty that role fell to me. 

It's kind of like I had to raise perpetual teenagers. But yet not. I have as a real parent raised actual teenagers and none of them ever did anything remotely so vindictive or cruel. I don't know exactly why they did this. Maybe they were narcissists or sociopaths or histrionic or just vindictive. What I do know is that it was confusing, terrifying and crippling. 

Their treatment sabotaged my self-esteem and in fact entire sense of self.  I did not exist, or if I did only in a sort of limbo, waiting for the next command or demand. I had no individuality, no needs, wants, ambitions, feelings or thoughts.  I was just a shadow, scapegoat , servant, surrogate spouse and surrogate parent. 

I know this sounds exaggerated or made up. It does to me too. And the gaslighting by both parents confirms that. I was just making it up, showing off, too sensitive, selfish. However, because I know that other people exist and not just to serve, I'm beginning to realize that maybe I do too. Maybe it's time to stop parenting my parents and start parenting myself. 

There is a 4 year old girl in Grand Rapids who plays alone and doesn't know that you shouldn't touch Dead rabbits. There is a 5 year old in Newago who walks to school alone and lives in fear  of pedophiles and "Dark Shadows. There is a 6-year-old in Alaska who plays down by the docks alone and watches her mother cheat on her father. This little girl also comforts her father when he threatens suicide. She is left abandoned and terrified on an island while her mother goes to Seattle and her father is cluelessly and carelessly having a grand adventure in the Aleutian chain, while his daughter cries herself to sleep. 

And that is only the beginning. There's sexually abused 11-year-old me. And 12-year-old me left alone with four little kids. And 13-year-old me made to do the work of an adult. And it goes on... Those stories will be part of my series on my backstory. 

So suffice it to say there are a lot of lonely, scared, exhausted, traumatized little Marilisas who need my parenting a hell of a lot more than these grown ass adults who just weaponized it. And I think all those little girls will appreciate a friend like me as well. 

How I'm healing from family scapegoating, CPTSD, gaslighting by accepting that the rules really don't apply to me

Hey friends, messy messed up Marilisa here with another snapshot from hell, or my own personal one that is. Starting a few months ago, I started having a series of really shocking epiphanies in which I realized that what I'd understood was true about my family of origin, was in fact a web of lies and gaslighting. I've reexamined experiences and found that what just seemed uncomfortable but normal at the time, was in fact narcissistic abuse (emotional, sexual, mental, physical, social and spiritual) neglect, abandonment, parentification, exploitation, manipulation, shame dumping, family scapegoating and gaslighting about all that. 

Those experiences plus decades of misunderstanding about them, has left me with crippling CPTSD with nightly nightmares, codependence, fear of abandonment, constant 4F response (fight, flight, fawn and freeze), toxic shame, a legion of nasty voices in my head,  no personal boundaries and people pleasing in extremis. I'm trying to deal with this new awareness but honestly, I've no idea where to begin. Oh, and I'm writing this in real time, so as I become aware of or learn about or experience something, ya'll go thru it with me in this blog. 

So let me just address something my paranoia head voices are screaming at me about. The fact that it might sound like I'm making this up. I was gaslit, by two parents and their spouses and their children,  into believing that any time I felt an inkling that something wasn't kosher in Denmark, that I was 1) making it up 2) being too sensitive 3) being too critical 4) being disobedient 5) being disrespectful. 

They had an answer for everything and it always involved some fault on my part. All the exploitation, sex-ploitation, parentification, manipulation, family scapegoating, abandonment, neglect, abuse, shaming and harm, was normal and God's will. I was actually a lucky girl to have a home. I didn't. I couchsurfed. I'll get into what that looked like, in an upcoming series about my life. 

So about the family scapegoating part of my life. I was made everyone's fall girl by mom and her boyfriend and later husband and dad and his wife and their kids. I did not have a room or things of my own. My privacy didn't exist. I was caretaker including sleeping in the same room as everyone's kids whomever I stayed with. I cooked, cleaned, did laundry and worked like staff, not a family  member. 

From around 5, it was made clear to me that I was responsible for everyone, adults and kids alike. If someone got upset, it was my fault. If they told lies about me, their version was believed. If they wanted to harass, persecute, punish, parentify, manipulate, exploit, overwork, shame, hit, scream at, abandon, neglect, etc., etc., it was all okay. That's what I was there for. 

In a nutshell, the rules of parent-child relationships did  not apply to me. I was stuck in one dangerous, exploitative and abusive situation after another. And later, that destruction of my sense of self, translated to me having no personal boundaries. I grew up thinking that the rules of behavior, right and wrong, applied only to me in terms of expectations for me, not rules that I could expect from others. Right and wrong were so flipped that I believed when family was doing wrong to me it was right and when I was doing right, it was wrong. 

It caused me an almost complete disconnect from reality. And dysregulation AF. Somehow, I was able to understand that right was right and wrong was wrong for others. To the best of my ability, I've tried to treat others right. I have not always. But I did want to. But I did not expect others to do likewise to me, nor even that they should. It's hard to explain. But that's the effects of gaslighting. And family scapegoating. And CPTSD. And codependence. 

Up till not long ago, I've gone thru life in a fog, a dense, peasouper of a fog, part and yet not part of things. The doing part of me was always doing for, fixing, helping, caring for, tending to, humoring and trying to please. The feeling, needing and thinking part of me was out in the cold, looking in at others having lives, being human, being allowed to make mistakes, subject to realistic rules. The wanting part of me didn't exist. It had been suffocated early on. Wanting and needing, feeling and thinking were selfish. Only doing for others mattered. 

Are you wondering if this exaggerated? I've often wondered that myself. That's what narcissistic abuse, neglect, abandonment, exploitation, parentification and gaslighting tell me. I wish it was. I wish it all was just another of the nightmares I've had. Horrific but over when I wake. I wish these were imaginings and not memories. But they aren't. I think if anything, I've downplayed them over the years. That's what my now-family and friends tell me. 

And I think that because the rules didn't apply to me, the only way to get to a healthier place is to accept that the rules still don't. What I mean is that maybe, the path to recovery is going to be a little off-piste for me. Since my backstory was so atypical (and I think you'll see it was as I begin to tell it), my going-forward story will  have to be different too. 

For the longest time, I've tried to follow the commonly held, prescribed, normal world patterns but I can't. I wasn't taught how. I was held to hypocritical, made-up rules, cult-like not real world protocol and contrived realities. Shared narcissistic fantasies to use the psychological term.  I learned to follow these and they became my reality. 

Now, as I've said, I do know how others should be treated but none of that applied to me, I was taught. And what I've done all along is to operate under this fractured reality. I treat others right as best I can.  So it looks like I'm fairly normal. But since I've  never internalized that I deserve to be treated with the same respect, that the rules apply to me also, it's incomplete. I'm lopsided, split. It's like always hopping on one leg. 

I need to get to a new more balanced understanding of what life needs to look like. One where I give and receive. Love and am loved. Respect and am respected. Where there is one set of rules and they apply fairly to and are observed equally by all. I do have that with my now family. They are loving, balanced and kind. I can give love but I have trouble accepting it. It's like I speak the language but don't understand it spoken. 

I have struggled so long and hard to fit in. To be like others. But I can't because I was not taught how to. I lived such a bizarrely different life that I might as well be an alien. I was trained NOT to be want, think, need or feel or expect like others. That my lot in life was to be the scapegoat and like it.  And yet, which is the really weird part, I had to look like others. I wasn't to "stick out" or make waves. I had to pretend all was happy normal, while it was patently NOT happy or normal. I now understand that this was done to avoid attention being drawn to how dysfunctional it all was. 

So I was not given permission to think, want, need, feel or do, like others. I've not been given the tools to act normal. As my husband says, I was the square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Not that I was actually different but that I was TOLD  I was and treated differently. I developed those square edges that didn't fit. 

So I think that since rules didn't apply to me, I have to accept that the going-forward rules may be different too. I can't get into that round hole and it may be ludicrous to try. I ain't gonna fit. I have to follow a different, road less travelled. Or not travelled at all. I didn't have access what I needed so I have to stop expecting myself to live like I did. I have to stop trying to make bricks without straw. 





Tuesday, April 9, 2024

My backstory up to age 7: where bizarre neglect and abandonment in my life began

Hello my friends. As you know if you follow this blog, it's become a real-time walk thru of realization about my lifelong experiences of narcissistic abuse, family scapegoating, exploitation, manipulation, parentification, neglect, toxic shaming, abandonment, betrayal trauma and shame dumping and gaslighting about all that by all four parent figures, including two stepparents. Today I'm starting a series exploring the many levels of trauma I've experienced and from decades of abuse emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually and even spiritually. I want to warn you now that this is very raw and may be triggering to you. So read with caution. It's also a bit all over the place. I'm just trying to get it down. 

First a word about why I always list the forms of abuse I suffered separately: narcissistic abuse, family scapegoating, exploitation, manipulation, parentification, neglect, abandonment, toxic shaming, trauma and shame dumping, betrayal and gaslighting. My family situation was complicated and bizarre, much more complicated than most of my agemates or any that I knew of. My mom and dad divorced when I was 7. They each remarried but only after a series of affairs. My mother dated several married men. My dad dated a 17 year old who had not yet graduated, when he was 34. I was 9.  I catalog the different experiences separately because each of them and their children, abused me in different combinations. 

 From My  mother had various boyfriends while still married to my dad (I just realized that) and then lived with one whom she married. In 1970-1974 when this was happening, it was virtually unheard of in any of the neighborhoods or social circles I lived in (which were pretty standard middle America). My dad dated various women after the divorce and possible before. He'd left us in Alaska after they took me on what they called a mission trip to "convert the Indians" when I was 5.   

My mother was onboard with this. He spent most of the ensuing few years wandering around Alaska doing what I have no idea. My mom wasn't around much either and left me to wander around in the many places in which we lived, both in Muskegon, MI where I was born, Newago, MI where we moved and then in Alaska. I played with a dead rabbit thinking I could pet it at age 4 because no parent was around to tell me it was unsafe. At 5, I walked alone to school up a steep rickety staircase. I played alone the park where a known pedophile hung out. My mother's workaround to that was to tell me not to use the bathroom to avoid him. I was terrified by being made to watch "Dark Shadows" at a friend's house where I was sent after school. Neither my mother or father worked that I know of. I don't know why they were unavailable to care for me. I'm told that constitutes neglect. At 5, it was just my life. 

I explored the very dangerous docks in Haines Alaska alone at 6. I was the kid other friends weren't allowed to play with because I was unsupervised. I climbed rocks alone. I don't remember meals except with the Tlinget family with whom I lived. My mother moved us to the island of Metlakatla for a few weeks in summer of 1969 during our year in Alaska. We knew no one. A few weeks after arrival, she left me with strangers to go to Seattle to get treatment for a bladder infection. (This is what I was told. She has since denied that any of this happened). Seattle was 3,000 miles away. And since my mother and father didn't work, we had no money. I have no idea how she afforded that trip. I was terrified the entire time. Also, Ketchikan just across the bay had a good hospital that could have treated a routine bladder infection. I don't know where my dad was during this time. They were "separated" and he was wandering around the Aleutian chain. I don't know why he didn't come back to stay with me. I have never really recovered from that experience.

I lived in at least 15 different places by age 7. They were all "flop" situations meaning we were transient with no fixed abode, address or means of contact. We lived in tents, with people and in and spare rooms. I've slept on people's couches and floors. I understand that this constituted homelessness. 

This kind of life is the only memory I have till age 8. I have no memory of any family meals together, holidays, toys, proper bed, or parent presence. Houses and apartments would come and go in a month's time. My cousin has a better memory than I do, of at least one home I lived in. He and his mom showed it to me a year ago. I did not remember it. It could have been one of  many vague impressions I have of my living space. 

We did not  move around because extended family was unavailable. Quite the opposite. Both my grandparents and various aunts and uncles loved us very much. My dad's brother (who is legendarily unemotional) told me that the day they took me from his was one of the saddest of his life. Extended family helped and reached out. They were exploited by my parents too. Both grandparents' homes are the only homes I remember. It's not that I don't have the ability to remember either. I can tell you, almost 60 years later, the exact floor plan of their  houses, how they smelled of Lake Michigan sand and water, how safe and secure I felt there. 

Things were bad then but when my mom moved back they got infinitely worse. I'll discuss that in upcoming parts in this series.


Sunday, April 7, 2024

How I'm unmasking gaslighting, narcissistic abuse, parental manipulation, exploitation, neglect and endangerment


 Okay so I've given up all pretense that this blog is about how I lost 100 pounds and am focusing on umasking narcissistic abuse, parentification, exploitation, manipulation, neglect and endangerment. I'm  detoxing from toxic shame, parental gaslighting, codependence and CPTSD. If you need help on weight loss, check out the many earlier posts. For now I'm working through (or just beginning to recognize) the childhood and adult trauma with my parents and stepparents. And I think one important step is going to be to go back and reexamine each traumatic experience in light of new understanding. 

What is that new understanding? Well, it's not exactly understanding as yet. But rather being willing to look at what's happened from a new angle. I think the first step to healing for me, begins with just that, saying what happened. In the past few years, I've begun to talk openly and honestly with a few trusted people about my experiences as a child, teen and adult. Up to this time, I've managed to dismiss, minimize and compress them down to tiny, insignificant things. Because I have a high pain tolerance, I've gaslit myself into thinking they weren't that big a deal. They didn't hurt that much. But my chronic bizarre and traumatic nightmares are telling a different story. I can't drown out the CPTSD tinnitus anymore. 

Up to now, I've believed (been gaslighted into believing) that childhood trauma is what happened to other people (aka the people who were abusing, parentifying, neglecting, abandoning, exploiting, manipulating and endangering me). I had noting to complain of, right?  I was raised by loving people who had my best interests at heart, I told myself. They wouldn't do anything abusive, manipulative, exploitative, neglectful or endangering. If I did ever admit that I felt this way, I was shamed into feeling that I was wrong, too sensitive, too critical, lying, showing off, exaggerating  or just plain making it up. 

I learned very early that I'd better shut that shit down as soon as it reared its ugly. Your stepmother (actually referred to by my dad to me as "mummy" and who was only 14 years older than me with no capabilities, let alone desire, to care for me) would never anything harmful and how dare you even suggest it?? I hadn't but his guilty conscience was acting up. Your stepfather (actually mom's live-in boyfriend) is the head of the house. He can (and did) do anything he wants and you have to obey and like it. 

So I grew up thinking anything any of them did was okay. And I apologize for these little segues down memory lane. I cannot yet just say what happened without emotionally flashbacking and talking in my past voice. I'm also trying to weave in examples of what I mean so you will believe me when I say I was abused, exploited, manipulated, parentified, neglected and gaslit about it all. I have a real problem accepting that people actually believe me when I say what happened. That's why I waited 59 years to start telling it. 

Or rather I did tell some things a few years ago, but I was still in denial that they were abusive, neglectful, abandoning, parentifying, manipulating or endangering. One persistent friend remembers these stories and will call bullshit when I try to make excuses for it. Bless her. So I need and am learning to ask for a ton of affirmation that 1) I am believed 2) It was not healthy 3) was dysfunctional (neglectful, endangering, manipulative, gaslighting, etc. )

To counteract the memory voices of narcissistic abuse and gaslighting in my head, I need to hear fresh voices with clear perspectives not clouded by a narcissistic agenda. That's a word I've been using a lot more. I didn't know what it or NPD was but now that I do, I can see more clearly how this narcissistic abuse has shaped my life, persona, perception, self-concept, actions and behaviors. 

Now I'm working on unmasking covert narcissistic abuse. Once the mask is off you can't unsee the real face underneath. Is is scary? AF!!! I won't ever confront the narcissists. It would be too exhausting and counterintuitive. They've spent the last 6 decades building up facades of moral superiority and cloaks of invincibility. They've lied so many times they believe their lies. I did attempt one time, but only when questioned about some things. I met with a solid fortress of lies, denials and gaslighting. To say anything now would only cause me more pain, like the arrows that hurt more coming out than they did going in.  

Extended family has completely closed ranks against me. Weirdly, they're not even all related and some barely know each other. I have two parents, two stepparents and they each have kids. But one thing they know is that I'm wrong and the problem. There are one or two I suspect may be starting to see the light. But I won't be the one shining the torch. Been there, got stung by that. Too risky. They'll have to do their own healing or not. It's on them. 

I love how Youtube psychotherapists Richard Grannon, Patrick Teahan and Dr. Ramani reiterate that. IT. IS. NOT. MY. CIRCUS. I. DO. NOT. HAVE. TO. FIX. ANYONE.  As if I could. Those demands of responsibility were so deeply indoctrinated that even now as I begin to seek healing, my first worry is to help them. Shit, I can't even walk, emotionally?? Why the fuck am I trying to run?? Because I was expected to. And that too heavy burden is what got me in the mess I'm in. 

And can we just pause to sort out the many shades of grey in THAT? So there was no problem, you (parents) say. If there was, it wasn't that bad. If it was, it's no big deal. If it was, ya'll did nothing wrong. If you did, it was my fault. Okay, I was the problem. BUT THEN, now that I'm healing, ya'll are on my butt to extend the help? WTF? You schooled your kids in shitting on me. And now you still want me to help them? Fuck that noise. Reaching out only gets me sucked in. 

And therein lies the rub. And also the illogical fallacy. Yeah I  know it's logical fallacy. But there's nuttin honey logical about this. So please, answer me. What is it? You did nothing wrong or you did and I need to fix the shitshow you caused for everyone else? Including you?! I think not. I'm with Richard Grannon. Let the narcs sort their own narc shit. And that goes for "forgiveness" which you shoved down my throat like castor oil. 

You did nothing wrong. But if you did, I have to forgive you cause the Bible tells me so? So much narc abuse, you're making it up as you go along! I will not go into the many ways you've perverted God's word to your own ends. It is impossible to forgive those WHO ARE NOT SORRY. 

This is just more religi-babble. I now know it was, is, and always will be my fault somehow. I can't win for losing. It's my responsibility not just to fawn and freeze but FIX and then FAKE it's okay. Do I have to wipe everyone's asses too? Wait. Did that, too. Godalmighty, it's like they were nothing without me.

And with that,  I think we may be getting to the issue. Boiling it down to brass tacks as my dear husband would say! Maybe, just maybe, I got the brunt of it, not because I was the weakest but strongest link. 

I was the Gorilla Glue that held their house of cards together. They couldn't have gaslit me and wreaked narc abuse if I didn't participate in the shared fantasy. I was a kid so not of age of consent or accountability. So there's that. But also, maybe I'm the one they relied on because I'm strong. Or at least stronger than I think. But wait!! I don't want to be strong. Being strong only makes people expect more of you (learned that from Jean Valjean). 

We definitely need to unpack that more in an upcoming post when I'm not so tired. So for today, I'm asking trusted friends to validate my experiences where I can't for myself. That was my son's idea and a good one it is. I'm seeing by the large following that this might be hitting home for some. I don't get many comments but you can always feel free to. I don't get anything out of it. And I can't promise to answer. Still learning to crawl myself. 




Thursday, April 4, 2024

Am I dysregulating or panicking from someone else's dysregulation?

I posted recently that I was relieved to find that the extreme emotions that I have regularly experienced have a name, dysregulation. And more importantly that I can do something about it. But now I'm wondering whether it's me who is dysregulating or someone else and I'm panicking about it. And that sometimes, in an extreme panic attack, I begin dysregulating too. 

I have experiences of dysregulation, including self-harm and unmanageable emotions. They seem to be triggered in part by emotional flashbacks. These, as I understand them, are times I'm thrust into the negative emotions by a milder version of what occurred or even by something benign. 

But emotional flashbacks, or panic attacks or dysregulation are also triggered by less mild or benign situations. Which I guess would not be emotional flashbacks but actually abusive situations. These include out of control anger, irrational behavior, yelling, shaming, sarcastic comments, attacks, self-pity, crazy-making behavior and gaslighting about all that. In this case, from my husband. And I'm beginning to see that this behavior is him dysregulating and that sometimes I've gone into full blown dysregulation in a trauma response to that. 

For the most part, I'd say, I handle his angry outburst pretty well. Too well, it seems. Because it has become the expectation in our marriage that I just "deal with" them. For the first 35 years, there was no real, concerted effort on his part, to admit to, let alone control the angry outbursts. He would only apologize after he'd spent all the adrenaline energy, in the form of raging, screaming, cursing and attacking anyone who got in his way. It is only when he's in a state of post-meltdown euphoria. Or when he was really trying to get himself together. That comes and goes with alarming frequency. 

He never (or very rarely) addresses the suffering they cause unless I confront it. And then he does it  kicking and screaming. It takes long, painful hours of "come to Jesus" meetings to make him even admit what he did. Mostly he backpeddles, saying he "didn't mean to" and giving long senseless explanations. Because, I think, that like my dad, he's trying to convince himself he really didn't act that badly. Which only makes things infinitely harder for me, as a people pleaser. 

Unless he was in the post-adrenaline euphoria state. Then he's admit what he did and adult up to it. He'll get off his high, arrogant horse, humble himself and promise to do better. He's very convincing and I believe him. Because I want to. But when I look at it realistically, I can see how calculated it is. By the fact that 1)He's all over the place 2) inconsistent 3) irrationally and randomly provoked and 4) only humbles himself when he's gotten me to my worst. I now believe that this is done so that I can never plan a positive strategy to cope. It's as if he's saying "plan on this: being in a state of constant crisis, chaos and "he loves me, he loves me not."  

Just recently, he blew up at me at Easter dinner. We had a house full of grandkids that we were both dealing with. He blasted me for not dropping what I was doing, caring for three of the children, to help him figure out what one grandchild needed. And then when I did, he yelled at me because I asked several times if it had worked. I asked several times because he had not responded the first two times. And then he blew up over several other random things. And then made a silly, jokey apology, bowing down before me (which was actually shaming) because he wanted me to do some other thing for me. So clearly dismissing and belittling me. 

And he never apologizes for it. It just gets ignored until I say something. At which time we have to spend hours in more "come to Jesus" meetings, getting him to admit it. Sometimes he's quicker to get it than others. But he never addresses it first. If I want any closure, I have to. Which I know is insane and not really closure at all. It's still all about him because he'll pout and pity himself how he's "such a loser" "always wrong" Which is just more gaslighting me into feeling responsible for making him feel that way. 

He'll make big promises to change when he sees that I'm at my wits' end (a place he seems to like me being in). He will push me to dysregulate (hit myself and meltdown). And then he's so sorry, he didn't mean to, etc. How he understand why I did this because he "had it coming." As if he's suffering some consequences by being confronted by what he did. And it's still all about him. 

I never really get anything but the shit end of the stick. And I've begun to realize that he isn't suffering any consequences. I am. I'm getting the shame, gaslighting, abuse, shitty feelings and fear. He's just being shown his behavior and not liking what he sees. And I'm punished for that. 

If he were actually sorry or actually suffering, he'd be damned sure doing something differently.  But he's not because it's working. He can continue to behave abominably because he knows I'll do the heavy lifting. I'll put my neck on the chopping block taking the risk addressing it. He may or may not accept it. He knows I'll feel guilty because that's what I do. He knows he can guilt me into turning myself into a fucking pretzel to "save my marriage." Which is exactly what it  is. My marriage. His playground. 

He can ride on my coattails feeling like we have such a great relationship when he's not putting in much if any work. He has a great relationship. I have shit and shoved in it. I get a few crumbs thrown my way and because dumbass Marilisa has always accepted crumbs, dumbass Marilisa keeps on accepting crumbs and being so grateful for them. 

This is the pattern for most of our family interactions. I've been pushed and pulled back and forth through it all. I still am. We are in a constant cycle of build up to meltdown, meltdown, post-meltdown peace, him feeling ashamed and setting me up and build up again. He will not accept any responsibility unless he chooses to. And then, nothing changes. I'm told that he'll do better. But no plan is given. And I'm expected to accept this as some kind of magnanimous gesture and be grateful for it. And we go back to square one the very next day. 

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 



Wednesday, April 3, 2024

How I'm healing from CPTSD and gaslighting by starting from scratch with God


Hi everyone. If you're following this blog, you know it's going deep to places I've never explored or even thought of. It's been hard and painful. And somewhat freeing. But mostly really raw. Being Holy Saturday going into Easter Sunday, it's easy for the gaslit and battered little girl in my head to just knuckle under, paste on the smile and fake it. No one wants a droopy Dora to ruin the party. And to some extent I need to do that. For me as much as anyone. Mostly for my not shell-shocked family who would be devastated to know in what bad shape I'm in. It's like there was an explosion that hit only me with no visible evidence to anyone else. 

I'm not saying they are shallow or uncaring. Far from it. They also know parts of the story. They just don't know the extent of the damage and I don't know if they should. What's more important, my self-disclosure or their peace of mind?  Both probably aren't possible. And yet. 

And yet, I need to disclose, to myself and to someone else. And not just to God. That's like talking to the air and expecting a response. Not saying God doesn't talk to me and reveal Himself to me. I'm pretty sure He sure he does. But I'm soooooo mixed up about what that would look and sound like. Or what He is saying. Because, as I've said before, my parents ruined God, in fact every one of the Trinity, for me. 

My father presented  himself as God the father. And his version was not the loving, caring Father of Hosea, or Exodus. My dad in the role of God was terrifyingly arbitrary, impossible to please, implacable, ruthlessly selfish and crazy neglectful. All the things we're told in scripture that Abba Father is not. But I was little and this is the God that was presented to me. I didn't know any better. 

The Bible was spoilt for me. I was indoctrinated into the rules as my parents were blatantly doing what they were preaching not to do. The rules of the Bible were for others but not for them. Narcissistic abuse. They went out of their way to loudly and proudly violate Biblical teaching on an array of areas while just as loudly telling other people what the Bible supposedly said. I say supposedly because a lot was twisted. 

God the Holy Spirit was trashed by my parents too. They told me to ignore the still small voice in me (groanings of the Holy Spirit). They gaslit me into thinking I should let dangerous people, namely themselves, their spouses and children but others too, manipulate, exploit, shame, dump, abuse, neglect and further gaslight me. That this was God's will for me. And they claimed that God spoke to them regularly, essentially telling them to do the very things that were so hurtful to me. Like abandon me in Alaska, several thousands of miles from my family. And that God expected me to put up, shut up, obey and allow this exploitation, manipulation and shame. 

They destroyed any relationship I might have with God the Son, Jesus, as well. Anytime my dad and his wife were faced with their wrongdoing, they'd either deny it (gaslighting) or trot out the old "covered by the blood." My mother and her boyfriend regularly abused me and turned a blind eye to my pain. All the while nailing  me to the wall for the slightest perceived misdoing. Disobedience was frequently cited although they were habitually disobeying God. Which is complete anathema to the real sacrifice of Jesus. Yes, He died for us. All of us. However our sins are covered only IF we confess them. It's not a blanket absolution of all past, present and future wrongdoing. 

So now I have the onerous task of dismantling all I was taught and starting from scratch with God. It's like being in a room full of strangers that you're told are your best friends. I think it may take me awhile to learn to trust them. 



Friday, March 29, 2024

How I experience CPTSD dysregulation


Hello friends. This blog post is possibly the most difficult  one I've ever written. And warning, it may trigger a lot of bad things. So proceed with caution. 

It's Good Friday today which was actually very bad Friday for our Precious Lord. So today is probably a good day to post about what is perhaps the most terrifying outcome of parental narcissistic abuse, ensuing CPTSD and gaslighting about it. And that would be dysregulation. I've been experiencing dysregulation all my life stemming from neglect, abuse (emotional, physical, spiritual and sexual), abandonment, shame dumping, exploitation, parentification, manipulation and parental gaslighting. I experienced it as a child but it wasn't safe to let the adults know. I couldn't safely express it till I was in safer relationships. Unfortunately, neither my dear husband nor I had any inkling of what dysregulation was. We've remained ignorant of, but horrified by it till yesterday when I stumbled upon the term by accident. Here's how I experience dysregulation. 

So I say it's the most terrifying manifestation of CPTSD but really it's just the most observable. All the really serious damage stays in my imploded, shattered, bombed out brain and heart. Narcissistic abuse, neglect, parentification, exploitation, manipulation, abandonment and parental gaslighting (by not one but four parent figures) destroys a child's very core. It threatens and fucks up every single thing about us, every belief, thought, emotion, up to including their (my) very reason for being. I do not and never have believed that I belong here. That, not me but others, would be better off if I was...not here. That God's love doesn't apply to me, only His rules. Is that anathema? Yes, but one I was taught, and one I've struggled to shake all my life. 

That's dysregulation at work. It is the effiest of mind effs. For the most part, I'm able to keep my head just above the poison, by looking fairly afloat but paddling like hell to stay that way. But when my arms get tired, when I don't get the help I need, when someone hurts me again, when someone re-exploits it, when I let it, it overwhelms me and I drown. But it's a dry-drowning because no one can see my lungs filling up and taking my breath away. What it looks like, because it is, is me coming apart at the seams. My little boat is breaking up and sinking and I'm screaming frantically for help! 

I lash out and rage and self-harm and scream and cry and wet myself. When I was a little girl, I used to bite myself and then rub out the teeth marks so no one would see and be upset. Being parentified, I had to protect my four parents from seeing the damage they'd inflicted. Being a "big sister" I had to protect kids from seeing the harm that having too much expectation and responsibility, being manipulated into the caregiver role, and being the scapegoat, slave, surrogate parent and spouse, caused. It was all about sheltering them and their dysfunction and making me take their shame, consequences be damned. 

What does this feel like? Like I'm burning up on the inside. It's a full blown nuclear reactor meltdown. I'm disintegrating, breaking up and spiraling downward. But the valkyries in my head are screaming that I deserve this for being such a wretched failure to my parents. I cannot think of a time when, no matter what I did and gave, it was ever enough. I was a let-down, set-back, show-off. I never pleased them, not once. Never made them proud. Never felt love, unless weaponized, which of course, isn't love at all. All of which, I'm learning, was the plan. They had themselves so neatly sewed up, a reason for everything. They were golden. All they had to do was point another finger and it distracted me from the real problems. I was just one big source of narcissistic supply. 

So when I lose it, it looks hideous. My nuclear family has seen it, poor them. And they're now traumatized because of that. The outside world never does because I've been able to maintain the facade of being whole which of course makes me feel like an utter fraud.  Friends who think I'm normal-ish would be appalled if they knew the real me. Extended family would abandon me. They haven't but only because I've never let them see the destruction their handiwork caused.  I just mopped it up and stored the filthy rag in my broken brain. But sometimes, it spills out and the shame I feel causing those I love such pain, is unbearable. It triggers another meltdown, which causes more shame, which causes more meltdowns. You get the idea. 

I've been stuck in this cycle for 59 years, 7 months and 7 days. I've never understood how I could do these unspeakable things. Till two days ago when a Youtuber discussed dysregulation. And it all suddenly made perfect sense. I feel like I'm falling apart because I am. I'm in freefall. I'm drowning. I'm hurting those around me but mostly myself but not out of violence or any desire to hurt.  I'm drowning and clawing at anyone and anything for dear life. Even if that means taking them down with  me. It's entirely a panic-terror response. I'm scared shitless and witless. 

I'm not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me. Or to exonerate what I've done. It's not an excuse. But it is a reason. And one which up till a few days ago, I had no idea about. I didn't understand how trauma caused trauma responses. I just felt that I was evil. And I have done evil things. But not willingly. I never wanted this. 

What I wanted was to grow up loved with some difficult times, but mostly okay. I wanted to please others but  not at the expense of myself. I wanted to get from parent relationships, not just give. I wanted to feel some joy and peace of mind. I wanted to not feel like everything I did was wrong. But that didn't happen. And now it's up to me to accept that the past will never be any different than it was. And try to rebuild what I've allowed to be torn down. 

How to do that? Well, I'm going to  start by researching and learning all I can about dysregulation, so that when, or before, it is upon me, I can spot the triggers and avoid them. I can be prepared. And know that I don't have to do it alone anymore. I can trust loved ones to help me through it. I can trust my higher power. 

amen



Thursday, March 28, 2024

How narcissistic abuse and CPTSD causes me to implode and shatter (caution: raw)

Hello beloved friends, are you buckled  in and ready for today's post? Shit gettin' real around here about my experiences with CPTSD, narcissistic abuse, parentification, parental neglect, toxic shame, exploitation (including pimping and grooming) and manipulation and gaslighting about allllll that. 

This blog is written in real-time stream of consciousness. Stuff  I'm dealing with is here and now. Why is it coming up now? Dunno and can't really care. It is. The "tinnitus" from voices in my head, chronic nightmares and my inner child are clamoring too loudly to ignore. And I need to mark, learn and inwardly digest. 

So last night we went to confession, a Catholic sacrament. And I realized that I did not have any idea what to confess. Is this me saying I do nothing wrong? (No, duh, inner voices, shut up). It's because I've been indoctrinated to think I did everything wrong, was responsible for others'  and did next to nothing right. Even when I was doing everything they said. I don't know right from wrong, safe from hurtful, for me. 

I tried doing the extended examination of conscience with my husband. As he put himself in my place, he could see why it's so difficult. I was held and so hold myself accountable for things others did to me. I was blamed and so blame myself. I was expected to make excuses for others yet still hold myself to too rigorous standards. Rules applied too harshly to me and not at all to them. I was lied to and gaslit about the Bible and God. Nothing was as written. Everything to do with God was manipulated. I was gaslit about things I was reading in black and white. It was important to read the Bible but I could not trust myself to understand without their reinterpretation. I see now that I got it right but it didn't suit them. And how insidiously dangerous and unGodly this was but I didn't then. I just believed them that I was too stupid to figure it out without them to "explain." 

And those kinds of mind effs are what has caused  my brain to implode and "fracture" for lack of  better words. It has never been able to identify where others end and I (and my personal culpability, feelings, thoughts, needs, etc) begin. I have no emotional skin. I'm one big over sensitized membrane. I have mental and emotional leprosy that exposes to constant hurting. My brain and nerves don't function correctly and put me in danger instead of protecting me from it. And boy, do I have a target on my back for predators. 

Because I was brainwashed to think that I (as in the Freudian self or ego) effectively, do not exist. God says, I was told, that it's selfish to think about me. To want, need, feel, DISOBEY, etc. God apparently did not think it was selfish of them to do these things. Just me. God was right onboard with them exploiting, manipulating, lying to and abusing me for selfish gain. 

Because I am not a distinct person. I am the possession, a tool and a servant of my four narcissist parents.  I was just an extension of them, like a hand or shadow. I think they actually forgot I could speak. When I (even as an adult) would enter conversations, they would look at me like the clock had just spoken. And they always seemed to disagree and scoff. I do not remember once hearing any one of them say, (unless for some ulterior motive) "I know what you mean."

I don't remember I time they weren't misunderstanding, twisting, misinterpreting or shooting down what I said. If I called that out, I was "disrespectful." Everything was about them. Stating facts was making them feel bad. Telling something I learned was showing off. Participating in the conversation was "butting in." Children were to be seen and not heard. But I was an adult. And they were not raised that way and shot their mouths off about everything. 

If I had said the sky is blue, my dad would have disagreed and made me feel stupid for saying it.  In fact just being there annoyed them. Like the rug they wiped their feet on had the audacity to think. Me doing nothing really annoyed them. My stepmother could sleep all day. But I'd better not sleep till 9. I had to be busy constantly and if I wasn't they'd find things. This was not  just as a kid. This was when I was taking an overfull college load, working and doing hours of homework. And sleeping with my baby brother. And doing all the housework. So I grew up ashamed to relax.  

 That's what I learned. That's all I know. It's so pervasive that I can't express it to others because I know it would not make sense. That's the experience I had at mass. I think the priest wanted to but because he'd not dealt with this before, couldn't. Poor guy. It's does sound pretty bizarre. 

And so  of course, being gaslit about all the dreck that was my life, I assumed it didn't make sense. But listening to podcasts by survivors of abuse, gaslighting, parentification, I understand that it does and that there are words for it. And defined patterns. And symptoms and etiology. Strike up the Hallelujah Chorus!!! I'm not delusional or making it up! It's like coming out of a pea-souper (or the fog of gas) and into sun. 

So, writing this as it's happening, I can't process it all now. But I don't have to. I just have to do it as I'm able. Something I've always let everyone else to do but can't allow myself to. Well, that's the parentification for you. Expect a child to do perfectly, the first time and every time, what an adult won't even try to do. Anyway...

Does that mean I don't have to say I'm sorry? Well, a little bit, at first. I've been apologizing all my life for every little thing I've done and mostly, haven't done. I've believed the gaslighting that I'm to blame for others' problems. That I did what someone else actually did. I've taken responsibility for and care of everyone. 

And I'm touched out. My empathy and sympathy have been exploited 16,000 times too many. I've carried till  my back is busted. I've developed broad shoulders to the point of them giving out. My hands throb from all the holding others' and pulling them up and rescuing them. My neck aches from bowing it to others' whims. My whole body hurts from being walked on. And this was all before I got married and had kids. 

Then I went right from parent dysfunction to marriage with less than zero preparation. And then I had kids before I even realized the level of dysfunction I brought with me into my new life. Effectively, I just picked up where I left off parenting the parents, stepparents and their kids. The only thing I was taught to do was housework, chores, duties, and parent responsibilities. But because I was doing them FAR too young, I never really felt capable. 

So I went into parenting terrified I'd have a child. That I couldn't parent them because I was the screwed up, fuck-up my four parents said I was. How I reasoned that, when I was actually parenting their children (sleeping in their rooms, getting up at night with them, waiting on them, etc.) is proof of the deadly effects of poison gaslighting. My mind wasn't just gaslit. It was gassed. Like mental chlorine or mustard of phosgene. 

This combination of too much responsibility with gaslighting that God expected it (He didn't, they did but they did think they were gods, so, yeah...) plus neglect of my basic care plus further gaslighting that I was unworthy and an inept disappointment just blew my mind. Literally, shattered it into a million fragments. 

But expectation to put on a good face and lie and pretend and fake that all was well, sealed all that mess inside. What I look like on the outside (which I've does to some extend reflect what's going on inside) is somewhat regular. But it masks an imploded mind that most of the time cannot think, let alone walk, straight. Side note: dizziness and clumsiness are both signs of childhood abuse. 

I'm also beginning to understand dysregulation which kind of characterizes me a lot of the time. I can't think clearly, or focus, of feel clearly, or talk right, or walk straight. I stumble over things that aren't there. I completely misread situations and people. I panic and fight, fly, fawn or freeze. I dream the most disgusting, terrifying, bizarre and exhausting dreams. Constantly. I am losing  my grip on reality and slowly spiraling into insanity. I warned you that this was raw. 

Where do I go from here? Not sure. One breath at a time. I think it will have a lot to do with parenting myself, praying, asking for help, letting go of wrong, rewriting false narrative, learning some resets, learning more about dysregulation and letting in the love that has been there waiting. 

Love, mar





Wednesday, March 27, 2024

What it feels like to live in narcissistic abuse with CPTSD

 Hello friends. If you've been following this blog, I hope you've been properly buckled up over these last few weeks. March unMadness has been wild. I've been sharing about how I've developed codependent CPTSD from a lifetime of narcissistic abuse, exploitation, manipulation, neglect, parentification, abandonment and gaslighting about all that. I lived under a reign of terror from two parents and two stepparents with various forms of narcissism. 

I'm telling my story now, at 59, because it won't keep quiet any longer. Since childhood, I've experienced nightly nightmares that have been louder. Think Stuka loud. It's so bad that I'm getting tinnitus from dream voices in my head! And as I write this they're screeching like furies that I'm just exaggerating, making it up, being TOO SENSITIVE (my dad's gaslighting of choice.). Guessing it may even sound fake or made up. I wish is was. 

I wish this was just a story I wrote. For a long time, I did believe that I had somehow invented it because no one ever talked about or acknowledged the many, many bizarre and terrifying things I experienced. The times I was left to wander alone. Or left with strangers a country away. Or made to parent special needs foster kids. Or molested and made to feel ashamed of it. Or kicked out of my stepfather's house (operative words, HIS house, not mine) at age 16, the list goes on. As Youtuber Patrick Teahan calls it, "one endless gaslighting." 

What developed was a form of PTSD called CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) with codependency, self esteem in the negative numbers and toxic shame. Although codependency isn't even accurate because children are by nature dependent on their parents. Being parentified, or experiencing role reversal where the child takes care of the parent, it was a form of codependency. 

The fact that there isn't even a word to describe what happened has made it seem less real. And finding words for it has helped make it real. So this post is about describing in words what CPTSD has felt like to me. Something I've  never been able to do before and I'm not sure I'll be able to do now. But I need to try. 



Tuesday, March 26, 2024

How an HSP or empath gets effed by shame dumping and narcissistic abuse

 Hello my friends of this blog which was about (and still is on deeper level) how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass or weight loss drugs. If you tuned in for specifically weight loss advice, you'll be scratching your head. Because what began as a March unMadness weight loss challenge has morphed into my personal discovery trek on toxic shame and CPTSD from narcissistic abuse. Which, you may say, has ought to do with how I lost 100 pounds. It does in a loose way. But I'm too overwhelmed to connect, going through this real-time awakening. So the March weight loss challenge is a bust. And April doesn't look too good either. 

Moving forward with what's become the main focus of this blog which is how I'm detoxing from CPTSD toxic shame. Since childhood and into adulthood, I was neglected, abused, parentified, manipulated, exploited and gaslit about all those things. But I'm a little late to the party and just now realizing that. I've been JADE-ing (justifying, arguing, defending and explaining) away the perpetrators' behavior and so gaslighting myself.  

That's a lot of psych-ese. I'll do a glossary post to make it clearer if you're unfamiliar with any of these terms. If you've not suffered with them, I'm glad. If you have, you'll be nodding your head. If you have and are not ready to acknowledge it, you'll find, as I did, that it's incredibly affirming to know that these things have names. That you are NOT  nuts. All those icky emotions you felt when icky things happened, have  identifiable causes. You're not  making it up (as if you could or would?!?) "Epidemiologists" in psychology have routed them out and held them up to inspection. And these actions (gaslighting, marginalizing, shame dumping, scapegoating, shaming, triangulation, exploitation, manipulation, neglect) have been justly labeled the abuse they are. 

So, a term I just became familiar with today, but which manifestation of, I've been aware of all my life: HSP or highly sensitive person. And I'm that HSP. I'm someone who  notices nuances and discomfort in others. Who is very attuned to stimuli that others aren't. As an HSP, I'm not superior or special. I'm just aware of more subtleties. And I don't really like being this way. For one thing, I'll  notice someone else's suffering before or in lieu of my own. I'm vulnerable to the woes of others and will let you take advantage of me if I think it will make you feel better. Janis Joplin: "you know you got it child, if it makes you feel good. " 

If that isn't manna for a shame and trauma dumping narcissist, I don't know what is. I've gone along with every form of narcissistic abuse my parents and stepparents levied on me, because someone cried me a sob story (aka trauma dumped). "He had a rough childhood" So do I and you caused it. "I feel guilty" So you should, you've screwed me over countless times. "I'm suicidal" so am I thanks to you!  "I need you to care for me." Fucking who doesn't?? I'm your kid!! "My stepmom abused me." YOU abused me!! 

And needless to say, this became a weaponized pattern in my life. All anyone needed to do was to shame or trauma dump. What does this mean? To weaponize one's own trauma to make someone else feel guilty about it. To exploit, project and blame another for, feelings.  To capitalize on "trauma" for selfish gain. In some cases, to lie and claim to have experienced things you didn't to shame others into accepting unsafe situations, people and experiences. 

"You have care for the 4 foster kids. They've had rough lives." So I sleep with them, get up with, feed, comfort and clean up after while mom plays house with her new BF in the basement. "Your stepmother's back hurts." So I (with a back injury) do all the heavy lifting including sleeping with her babies and getting up with them. 

Narcissistic parents obviously weaponize this but it carries into my outside life as well. I became the target of every scammer in town. "He's special needs and lonely." So  I ignore the fact that he's a super stalker. "He's needy. You should let him play he's your boyfriend." He's 20 and I'm 13, but yeah as you do, overlook that weird and expect ME to normalize it.  Well, not surprising my own dad and stepdad had pedo tendencies. "You have to make the new foster kid (16 to my 11) feel welcome." So I let him molest me. 

I'm not a sucker. I'm just easily moved to help. Which is a good trait unless you live in a narcissistically abusive home. The HSP term really resonates because it gives a handle on how I've been manipulated. I've called myself an empath and been corrected (shamed) for doing so. Which of course, I accepted because I accept all shade as my due.  I don't know if I'm truly an empath and I don't care. What matters is how I feel...responsible for everyone else and driven obsessively to fix them. HSP or empath, explains how they got to me. By exploiting that empathy or sympathy or caregiving nature to get me to do things that were unsafe and hurting me. For their own selfish ends.

They wanted me to think they were good parents with my best interests at heart. But they let me wander around town alone at 5. They ordered me around and shamed me and encouraged their spouses to do likewise. They used me as a toxic waste dump for all their shit. And I in turn, let anyone who wanted to, dump on me. 

And why did I go along with this? Because they effed me into believing this was right...for them, not for others. They were golden. And I don't use the term "effed" lightly or in the nice effed way. I was mentally raped. My boundaries were mowed under as soon as they reared their heads. I was defenseless. And being a highly sensitive person only made it worse. Every unpleasant sensation, every weird vibe, every dirty joke, every breach of my innocence, every exploitation, manipulation and trampling was magnified ten-fold. 

Though actually, having said that, I believe (and have been told that) anyone in these circs would feel the same unspeakable ick, HSP or no. That I'm HSP, I know. Though what good it does me to know that, I'm not sure. It does give me ammunition to fight back when I rehear on autoloop my dad saying "you're too sensitive." Sure am but if you know that DAD why are you using it against me????? Why are exploiting it yet making me feel guilty for it? HMMMM??

Another thing I believe that being an HSP is good for is helping others. You knew that was coming. It's NOT good for me, that's for sure. All it's done for me is to give others a weapon and an open door to use it. I'm stuck bleeding all over the place and being ashamed of it. But back to the point. 

Being highly sensitive gives me an ability to articulate that without it, I may not have. So I can put these feelings and experiences into words that I think resonate those with similar struggles. If this does resonate, I don't have a lot to offer. I can't yet reach out to help. I'm still struggling with being too touched out. I don't know yet, who is friend or foe, where others end and I begin. Who I can safely trust that when I reach out, they'll reach back. Who wants to give and receive mutual help and who just wants to glom on. 

Cuz, spoiler alert: we who are too giving do not know how to care for ourselves or even that we should. We give away the farm. We let others walk all over us and then when we've nothing left, walk up and other our carcass to the next victim. 

Where does that leave me? Needing to go back to basics, with the 5 Ws and one H. To start all over to reframe what happened so I can see how to get unstuck from sickness. I'll get back to you on that. 



If I could describe narcissistic abuse CPTSD in a word it would be...


Hello my friends of this blog on how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass, which is fast becoming about how I'm detoxing from toxic shame. The past few weeks here have been a bumpy ride of realizations, confessions, apologia, aha moments and of things falling into place about the abuse I've experienced throughout my life with four parents (two steps). I've written much about the narcissistic abuse, manipulation, exploitation, neglect, abandonment, parentification and the gaslighting about all of it and the ensuing CPTSD, by four dangerously narcissistic parents. 

Since this is a stream of consciousness blog, I'm writing as I'm feeling it, unpacking it, etc. I might sound as if I'd known about this all along. But this is in real time, folks. You're reading these realizations and new perspectives as they are happening. It is mind-boggling bordering on blowing. I'm as shell-shocked now as I was as a kid when it was occurring. Only the good news, I'm an adult in loving relationships, not a young child alone with only four raging, delusional narcissists for reference. 

And am not even writing this blog, at this point to help anyone else. If you're getting something from it, if it resonates, that's good and I hope it's helpful. But this is entirely for me. You may be wondering, uh, what if these people read these blog? You've said some incendiary stuff. That I have, mate. But I just can't worry about that. If he or she does, well, maybe they needed to. I'm not writing it for the purpose of them reading but I'm not caring if they do. 

And just saying, if they did read and decide to confront me about it, know that we would not be having conversations on their terms anymore. No more opportunities to gaslight and lie and backpeddle and shift blame and marginalize and dismiss. No more chances to blow smoke up my ass. The little girl they did that to is in safe hands now. She is in the custody of someone who loves and believes her. That would be adult me. So IF I did (huge if) agree to discuss it, it would be on MY terms.  But I don't foresee that happening because I'm nowhere near ready. 

And this is why this blog is for me. (You are welcome to take what, if anything you need from it) This is such uncharted territory that I'm just taking it as it comes. You may say, then why do you need to go public. I need my story to be heard. I need to validate that girl stuck alone in Newago and Alaska and Muskegon and Grand Haven and Spring Lake. Sleeping with the babies, having nothing of her own, being hungry and cold, be made to be the adult and comfort and do the work for, the adults. That God is disappointed in her. That rules are for her but not others. Being scapegoated into thinking that she is the cause of everyone's problems and everyone would be better off if she was dead. 

I need to help her. I need to comfort her and tell her she's right about what happened and that it was wrong. They are wrong. They are not God. And God loves her. Even if it didn't feel like anyone did or cared. There are large parts of me trapped in those places and times and feelings that I need to release. She needs to know that these bars do not exist anymore. And I need feedback about these things from others. I may sound convinced, sure of myself, etc. But I'm not. I was indoctrinated into thinking that I was too broken to sort it for myself and that I needed others to tell me what to think, do, be and feel. 

But now I know that they had a vested interest in keeping me enslaved to their doctrine. Who else was going to sleep with the babies at night? Surely not their parents! Who else was going to fix dad and mom and their girlfriend and boyfriend? Who else was going to do the work to keep the family going? Who else was going to do the heavy lifting to make their every hare-brained scheme work? 

So to get to the title of this post, if I could describe the feeling that this narcissistic abuse caused, if I could identify the key emotion of CPTSD, in a word it would be...Well, let's look at this like a detective. Let's round up the usual suspects. Was it guilt? Yeah there was a lot of that. But now I'm getting that guilt is merited while shame is not. So maybe it's toxic shame? Yup lots of that. Not the biggest one thought. 

How about dismissed, scapegoated, unimportant, confused, yep, all boxes ticked. Also nervousness because I was not prepared for the situations I was thrust  into. I was only given wrong teaching and bad examples. Mostly, I got no social cues and what I did get was skewed.  So I looked like a bit of an idjit trying to assimilate. So yeah, feeling left out, like a misfit and weird annoyance, tick, tick, tick. 

But that's still not the biggest feeling. And that is. FEAR. TERROR! Panic! Abject, nauseating, craven horror, like all the furies of hell pursuing. Frightened to let up, to slow down, to put the other foot down. Fear that creeps around trying like hell not to wake the Kraken Fear that makes my face a cadaveric grin. Terror like the shell-shocked leer of WW1 soldiers. Terror that had looked into the abyss, at Medusa. at the beast. 

Fear that keeps you rigidly frozen and  radio silent, holding your breath lest the circling Nazi shark subs hear you. Fear of the little animal when the predator is around. So what was I afraid of? I can't yet articulate. I've been unable to pry my hands off my eyes and look at what I'm so pervasively afraid of. 

Of being disbelieved? Ignored? Shamed? Dismissed? Abused? Mocked? Harassed? Beat? Molested? Nah. Been there done those. Child's Play. It's something deeper and it has driven my every thought and move since childhood through to being a senior. It did have to do with awakening wrath in parents. That was NOT SAFE. Remember Credence from "Fantastic Beasts" and his all-consuming rage? My step-father and father could show him a thing or two. And when it came to seething, vengeance that was my mom and dad's wife. Think a love child of Damien (Omen) and Regan. 

But yet, my fear also had to do with that parenting concern of not making your child feel bad (only in a sick, toxic, parentified way). I did not want to upset or hurt my parents because I could see that they were all vulnerable. I'd heard (and been gaslit) by weaponized stories of their "abuse" and "trauma." I use quotes because weaponized as it was, I don't know how much was just a cover for balls-out bullying. 

My parents were my gaolers, controllers and basically God-heads and tormentors. But in some weird way, also my children that I had to care for. My mother has told my children that "sometimes I need your mommy to be my mommy." And as a parent my actual kids, I've been terrified to cause any pain or hurt to them.  That is good parenting and normal feeling. And which of course I have sometimes failed to do, and for which I take full responsibility. 

But in the case of my parents, this was happening when I was young (beginning so early that I can't remember when I didn't feel so protective and responsible.) I can't remember when I didn't feel the role reversal of me as parent and them as child. This was encouraged and expected of me. They were autocratic, uncaring parents to me but expected me to be all-loving, forgiving and nurturing to their every need, want and emergency. And believe you me, they were always in crisis. I grew a flashing siren on the top of my  head like an appendage. 

So there's clearly a lot more on this topic but I need a break. Love ya'll










Sunday, March 24, 2024

How I'm healing CPTSD by realizing that things were as traumatic as they seemed

 


Hello my dear friends! If you've been with me through these past few weeks of my March unMadness weight loss challenge, you'll know this blog has become less about how I lost 100 pounds and more about how I'm detoxing from toxic shame, CPTSD, codependency and gaslighting. Which is kind of one in the same thing, in some ways. Today I'm looking at how I'm healing from CPTSD ( if one ever can) by realizing and accepting that things were as crazy traumatic as they seemed. And a warning, this is going to be raw and horrifically triggering for some of you, especially if you're in CPTSD and don't yet know it or if, like me, you're only beginning to begin considering it. 

So if you're new to CPTSD, it stands for complex post traumatic stress disorder.  But in my definition, it could also be childhood PTSD or even crazy PTSD. And it's past as much as present traumatic stress disorder in that the narcissistic abuse that caused it is ongoing into adulthood, with gaslighting about the exploitation, manipulation, neglect, endangerment and chaos that occurred. 

Unlike PTSD which happens to soldiers in temporary, observable, combat situations,  CPTSD is messier, harder to observe, chronic (something the C could also stand for). Imagine me using Dorian Gray's voice from  "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" to describe me in CPTSD "I'm complicated." (Another thing it could stand for). 

Which of course, makes it so much easier for those who are causing it and benefitting by (the narcissistic parents) to gaslight the kid about. We lil ones caught up in it are very much  like the misunderstood, blackballed WW1 soldiers with combat fatigue. We are "shell shocked" by the insanely pain, terror, manipulation, cruelty, fear, exploitation and endangerment. This goes way beyond lack of love. Narcissists don't just not care for their kids. They resent their very being as little usurpers to the throne, threats to their supremacy and for being a reminder for how really effed up that is. 

CPTSD is also less of the stress and more trauma, using Youtuber Richard Grannon's analogy of bolts that show wear under stress (pressure), but under trauma (misuse, abuse, bashing about) flat out cracking. Which is what those of us who've suffered repeated bashing about as little children do: we crack up. Stonewall. Collapse. In times past this was called having a nervous breakdown. 

But again, being tiny unformed humans (still emotional fetuses, really) we don't know that any of this is NOT normal, NOT safe, NOT healthy and most importantly, NOT OUR FAULT!!!! To the tiny human, the big human is God. They are our source. For everything. If what the source is providing is good, grand. If it's poison, it's still grand to us because we don't know poison from milk. We just drink it up and die quietly inside. 

Okay, right now, I'm being assaulted by memory-voices that are saying, "You're exaggerating!" How dare you suggest that what we gave you was poison!!!" You vile little creature." And they're also saying "everyone else thinks so too!" Remember I called those head voices a quorum. They are that meeting that was held without you present, that jury that was convened, which decided unanimously that "you're the problem. Now all we have to do is find a punishment extreme enough to fit what you've done." I actually have dreams on autoloop where this happens. 

If it seems I'm exaggerating or inventing this, well, you probably don't belong here and should leave now. No one could make up the things that  happened to me. That has been verified by every one of the few people who have heard it. And they've only heard pieces. A 5-year-old can't make up a dad routinely describing his suicide plans to her. Or leaving me in Alaska, thousands of miles from my home to go witness to the Manson girls. Or a mother who left her six-year-old for a week on a tiny island of Alaska, to go 3,000 miles away. And that only gets us up to age 6.  

And I'd challenge anyone who questions, to tell me how they'd cope with that. I know that on the surface, I don't show how battered, barmy and broken I am. That's because I don't want my experiences to upset you. That's why I never told anyone. Plus I was gaslit into thinking I'd never be believed. I people please like I breathe. 

I'm going to overlook, excuse, defend and even approve whatever you do because that's my "family" expected. It doesn't matter whether you want or expect me to or not. I'm going to because not to was a thought so terrifying I still will not consider it. 

I'm a master of disguise. And of hiding. And keeping secrets. Legendarily so. I'm like the Doctor Who episode where the gas mask is the kid's face. I've become the mask I wear. I don't know what's underneath. I know the face doesn't have much skin or protective layer. It's that shiny, raw skin of someone burned, metaphorically. 

I smile reflexively but it's a cadaveric spasm, a death's head grimace, a poorly pasted on smile that is meant to make everything all right and everyone feel all right about everything. And to cover all the pain. I mean, God forbid I show it. That would be "showing off." And being "too sensitive." It would upset you and make you feel badly. 

Did you think I was naturally a happy person? I'm not surprised I fooled you. Don't feel badly. You were meant to be fooled. Or at least appeased or comforted. And it's not your fault. This panto was set in motion decades ago. And I've been perfecting the costume and role for 59 years. 

It's not the part I wanted but it is what I got. I'd have liked to have been a happier kid. I'd have liked to have a house and a bed and a bedroom and toys and messy little drawings hung on the fridge. I'd have liked to hear memories about myself. I'd have liked to have happy memories with a few sad instead of no memories except sad. 

I'd have liked to be a kid and not staff, a surrogate parent, a surrogate spouse, a sex object, a scapegoat. But that's not my fault either. It's as my husband so aptly put it. I was "groomed" to be these things. I was indoctrinated that this is what "good girls" were. This is  how family members behaved. Of course you know (if you weren't raised like this and I hope to God you weren't but if you were, I love and see you) this is weird AF. But I'm a little late to the party and still have to get up to speed. 

So what is my true self beyond the hiding and masks? I have no idea. I don't have one yet. I've always been a chameleon, a reflection, a straight man, a prop, a possession, a foil. The schlemazel to everyone else's schlemiel. That's what I'm here for. It's all I got in my toolbox. So far. And being the people pleaser I am, I feel obliged to end on a positive note of hope. I'll get there, I'm stronger than I think. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

But if I'm honest, I'm not there. And I might not ever be. Right now, I'm still processing that if God was there, why could I not feel Him? Part of the gaslighting was that parents were the deities. But if that was just to much bullshit, will the real God please stand up? I'm not angry, just gassed. Shell shocked. I've got the enormous task of reviewing, revamping, reteaching and relearning my entire existence. I have to detox, degas, ungroom and unthink. And I don't know where to start, if I even have the energy. 

I'll say this. I may not make it to the promised land. But I'm damned sure gonna do all in my power to get my loved ones, my precious children and grandchildren there. I'm going to break this cycle in one generation, if it kills me. 








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