Tuesday, March 5, 2024

How I'm detoxing from toxic shame

Hello friends of this blog on how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass surgery or weight loss drugs. I've been writing a great deal about emotional healing from the effects of parental gaslighting, toxic shame and chronic guilt. What's weird about about toxic shame is the way it feeds on itself. Like right now, the voices (memories) in my head are scolding me, saying "oh give it a rest! Quit dramatizing! It wasn't that bad! You're too sensitive! Everyone's sick of hearing about it! (when  no one had ever heard it)" Like I always heard before. 

So part of how I lost 100 pounds and am working to lose toxic shame and guilt is to talk back to the voices. Now that I recognize the gaslighting for what it was (and still is) I'm airing the room of toxic gas fumes. I'm rewriting the narrative. I'm countering every negative message that keeps playing, with fresh, new detoxed thinking. In short I'm acting as if (Alanon nod here) I can trust my version of events and that I don't believe I'm a total failure. 

So what exactly does that have to do with how I lost 100 pounds? I'm still formulating so bear with me. When I was victim to parental gaslighting, manipulation, exploitation and abuse, I was told and believed that I was powerless, helpless and hopeless. The only way to live was to "serve" others. Translation: do and be everything expected of me, without question. Accept their every dictum, demand and delusion, no matter how irrational and arbitrary. That God was calling me to be used and abused at others' whims. 

For the longest time, like nearly 60 years, I've lived with these beliefs as part of my fundamental being. I wasn't able to consciously articulate them. They exist in my muscle memory, my core. They haunt my dreams. I hid from them because they are too terrifying and mind-effy to address. But God has been helping me to pry my hands off my eyes and look them square on. Or at least in a mirror, like Medusa. 

And the shocker is the feebleness of these ideas when held up the light of day. They are what's powerless. I laugh when I see how ludicrous and absurd they are. Like when you wake from a nightmare and realize IT WASN'T REAL!! The relief is edible! My mind and heart are slowly, with baby steps, learning to feel the peace that passes all understanding. This serenity is real and the gaslighting messages are fake. Many enormous burdens that have been crippling me, are being lifted with this realization. 

As to the weight loss, it was metaphorical as well as physical, or maybe metaphysical, beyond the scope of physical. Being released from the pressure of these crazy, sick thoughts that were planted my brain, being rescued from the crushing weight of toxic shame is the most joy-giving thing that has ever happened to me. Because now I can fully feel and enjoy the joyful life experiences (marriage, children, relationships) that up to now were withheld from me by toxic shame. 

Ironically, though I parented their kids, I was also told that I was too (insert insult) to have children of my own. THIS is the shaming voice of gaslighting. "You must do everything for us but you can't be trusted to do it right." I'm sure you hear the hypocrisy and manipulation in this. It took me decades to. But now that I do, it's plain as day. 

They had to keep my duped, drugged and shackled by shame. If I ever got free of their them, I'd see not only how toxic but also how ridiculous was their behavior. You might wonder, as have I, why I believed the gaslighting things they did and said. It's a fair question and one I'm not sure I have the answer to yet. 

I think it stems from my crippling empath nature and an obsessive need to people please, which they recognized and leveraged shamelessly. Either that or they exploited my naturally caring nature to unhealthy levels. Regardless, all four of the parent figures got exactly what they wanted out of me and I got a deadly self-hatred that almost killed me.

Because it wasn't enough to just get me to do everything for everyone. I had to be made to feel ashamed. Not good enough. Broken. Stupid. Foolish. A disappointment. Bad. Not worthy of basic human needs. That extreme, arbitrary rules applied to me but not them. That God loved, forgave, even approved their every toxic act but me, he hated. No forgiveness for me. 

So I internalized all of it. I sopped it up like a damn sponge. Because it was safer than admitting how much they despised me. Oh yes, that's what it was. I've made excuses to myself. Others have made excuses. They meant well. They didn't know any better. They didn't know how to be parents. Yada BULLSHIT yada! Who means well that sees their child suicidal with shame and just heaps more on??? Who pushed their kid to the brink and then laughs when they fall over??? 

They were NOT raised this way. They did know better. All of my grandparents gave them good homes with things they needed. Not perfect but normal. And they knew how to parent their other kids and teach them to exploit me. They got all excited about every shit their other kids took. Every hobby, interest and pursuit. For me, sneering and shame. 

You like acting? You're showing off. You like theater? Theater is of the devil! You graduated college? Whoopee. You came in late? You can't live here anymore! (age 16). You're being stalked? Ignore it. You were sexually molested. How irritating for me. I might lose my foster care license. on and and on and on. Ad nauseum.

I didn't want to see how little they thought of me. I made excuses for them because no parent could have such hatred toward their kid that they would routinely abuse, endanger and abandon. How could I wrap my mind around that and live?  And that I think, is the gist of it. That's what kept me enslaved. 

And that ironically has also been my way out. Answer: no parent does that. So they weren't parents. I was theirs, in the slave-master way. But they, in some boggling made-up way, had no responsibility to me. And that itself would have been difficult enough. But factor in the egregious destruction of my mind and emotions, and it becomes something inexplicably bizarre and dark. 

Which is my way out because what is inexplicable is either very good of very bad. And since it has no bearing in love, as defined by the Bible, it must be of evil. As Sherlock Holmes says, "once you've established the impossible whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." It  is impossible that their behavior was loving. So improbable as it is, they must dislike me very much. 

Now that I have accepted that, and that what they do is gaslighting (lie, deceive) everything else falls into place. It all makes sense, in a distorted way. The cloud cuckoo shein could only exist if I kept quiet and upheld lies. So I was kept quiet by toxic shame which I was already prone to. 

My way out is to examine each wrong thing that was said and done to me with the eyes of a loving adult. To reparent myself. This is going to take a long time cause there's a lot of wrong to rethink.  



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