Wednesday, May 22, 2024

CPTSD from malignant narcissistic abuse was written all over my face

 Hi friends. So, if you're new to the blog, welcome, but warning also. What I'm writing is incredibly raw and possibly triggering. It certainly triggers me. It's not a pretty place around here right now. I'm finally dealing with the shitshow that my life growing up was. The deeper I go the more toxic ick I find. How that poor kid that was me survived in  nothing short of miraculous. Part of helping her includes looking a pictures of young me. And what I find is disturbing. You can see the malignant narcissistic abuse, toxic shame and CPTSD written all over my face. And for the first time ever, I'm feeling disgust for her not with her. It's appalling. 

If you aren't new, you'll know that I've been opening up about the systematic malignant narcissistic abuse from four parents, two bio, two step. What I should say is four authority figures. They were no more parents to me than the worst bosses you can imagine. The parentification, abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, social and spiritual) exploitation, manipulation, neglect, scapegoating, abandonment, endangerment, shaming and gaslighting are nauseating. 

For most of my life, I've excused and defended them. I believed their gaslighting that I was the problem for everything. I was selfish, a liar, a show off, childish, too sensitive, a burden, a nuisance but also a servant, responsible for everyone. But if I needed proof that I wasn't making it up I had only to look at myself in pictures. The CPTSD, toxic shame and rigid fear were written all over my face. 

I wasn't just awkward, I was turned inward. My face was usually screwed up with my mouth in a tightly controlled grimace, like I was clamping myself shut lest something escape. I know now that it was terror that the truth of what was happening would come out. See, I felt responsible for it all. When my dad beat me, my fault. When my mom's boyfriend screamed and threatened me, or sexually harassed me, my fault. When a kid in my mom's foster care tried to rape me, and she didn't believe me, my fault. When I didn't mother my dad's wife's kids to her specs, my fault. When my mom did or allowed weird, dangerous, sick things to happen to me, my fault. When she abandoned me, my fault. When my dad told me he was gonna kill himself and there was nothing I could do, my fault. 

So they didn't take many pictures of me. I was the invisible kid. Most are ones Grampa took. But they all show me obviously miserable. What I was holding in so tightly was toxic shame, rigid fear and all those secrets that caused them. I was literally trying to keep my mouth closed to keep from screaming. Or throwing up. And I was so ashamed of myself and crippled with fear. And it wasn't just in pictures that this showed. My cousin whom I do not remember meeting despite him saying we hung out fairly regularly, says I always seemed distant, preoccupied, closed off. He thought I was a snob. But the truth was so much different. 

By the time I was 16, I'd experienced countless things that made me believe that I wasn't fit to live. CPTSD. And it just got worse. And it shows. But now that I'm an adult, and not keeping secrets anymore, I see myself differently. I see the terror and despair. I remember the feelings and why I felt that way. I remember the cruelty and it fucking nauseates me. I realize that I'm ashamed but not of myself. I'm disgusted by how my parents treated me. 

I contrast it with how I, even flawed as I am, treated my kids. I see how this toxic shame and fear made me do things I wouldn't  normally have done. How I spanked my kids because my parents hit me and told me God expected me to hit my kids. They didn't hit their other kids and then shamed me when I obeyed them. It's all so disgusting hypocritical and backstabbing. 

I have a long way to go to get to a better place. But at least seeing the trauma in my face, affirms that despite their gaslighting, it did happen. And sorting out who was injured and who was to blame, helps too.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

How gaslighting about narcissistic abuse turns to auto-gaslighting and then CPTSD

Hello my friends. Lately I've been diving deep into my childhood trauma to figure out why I'm having such horrendous and constant  nightmares. Come to find out it's CPTSD, complex post-traumatic stress disorder from malignantly narcissistic parental abuse. And the nightmares aren't so much dreams as flashbacks. If you've stuck with me, you know that for the past few months I've been opening up about a lot of shit that happened and would continue to happen if I let it. 

Today I'm looking at how gaslighting about the narcissistic abuse I suffered, turns to auto-gaslighting. AKA, how being told I wasn't abused (emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually and socially), neglected, abandoned, endangered, parentified, exploited and manipulated led to me gaslighting myself that it didn't happen. 

And I in turn wonder if you who are reading this, believe me. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. I didn't believe me. That's why it took six decades start talking about this. Toxic shame, fear, lying to myself and covering for the perpetrators, kept me locked in. It didn't help that I had four narcissistic parents, each with his and her own spin on the abuse, to juggle. Or that I was completely alone in it.  None of their other kids had to deal with it. I was the only child of the marriage. They are all much younger,  don't have stepparents, don't believe me and have participated in the abuse as adults. 

And why did I just roll over and let them? Because that's what I do best. I learned from the time I was a tot, to let mom and dad and later, their new families do what they wanted. That there really was no treatment low enough. And worst of all, I was taught, that this is what God expected of me. He did not, however, expect anything of them when it came to me. 

They knew the honor your parents part very well. But the, take care of your kids, don't anger them, love them like yourself parts, not so much. Apparently, it was perfectly okay with God, if they hit me, scapegoated, took advantage of, exploited, shamed, left me behind in strange cities, let me wander around alone at 5, manipulated, worked me like a mule, made me parent them and their kids, let people molest me, deprived me of a home, a bed, food and medical care, mocked me, screamed at me, stole from me, lied to me, expected me to act like an adult when I was a kid. With all that gaslighting in my head, it's no wonder I started to believe it. 

Pretty soon, they didn't even need to make excuses for their shitty treatment of me. Not that they really ever did. They were so deep into their narc fantasies that they were untouchable, they thought. But very shortly, I was making up all kinds of excuses for them. I actually believed that they loved me despite their very best efforts to prove they didn't. And there was all the fear. I'm so afraid of them that I never confronted them about anything. Any time I try with my mom, it meets with lies, gaslighting and shaming. My dad's wife was so bloody self-righteous, control freaky and passive-aggressive, I didn't dare. And my mom's husband is just too aggressive. 

My dad did listen when once I let my guard down and told him off. But he just dismissed it and said it was "covered by the blood" whatever the hell that means. Actually I do know what he means but he's wrong. He says Jesus forgives him but Jesus isn't the only one he wronged, and he never said he was sorry. And he never extended God's mercy to me. For me, it was fire and brimstone. My dad gaslit me with that shit till he died. For such a Bible beater to others, he missed that these things applied to  him too. Oy vey. I pray for his and his wife's souls. 

Cut to the present and I'm all torn up with this crap. It's hard turn off the gas once you start doing it to yourself. I doubt very much that I'll ever be up to having it out with the two that are left. They're just too far gone in their malignant narcissism. So I avoid them for the most part and paste a smile on when I have to see them. I pretend all is well because that's what is safest for me. 

It sucks. I'd love to keep taking her out for lunch, buying her treats and generally being the kind, loving daughter I've always been. I spent all Mother's Day crying because I realized I don't have a mom and never have. But now that I know, I can't unknow. In order to have contact, she'd have to actually be a mother to me. She have to give as well as take. Now I know how one-sided it's been, I can't go back to that And we'd have to have conversations about all her exploitation, abuse, betrayal, neglect, parentification, endangerment, abandonment of me. And her approval of her husband doing likewise. She'd have to admit to all of this.  And I don't see that happening.  

 And you know, I don't really want it happen, if I'm honest. Because given her track record, it would be just be lies and gaslighting. That's why her husband divorced her. It would be all about her and miserable for me. I would have to experience all those things all over again. And she would be dismissive and supercilious and smug. Or feign dementia. Or say she can't remember. (She once said she didn't remember kicking me out of the house when I was 16. ) Or she'd play the innocent victim-martyr. Or triangulate me and her husband. Honestly, that woman has played us off each other like pool balls the entire time we've known each other. Or  it would come back to bite me. Or, and this is most likely, all of the above. I don't have that much fabulous in me. 

If she did apologize, it would only be  to get more out of me. Money. Pity. Doing for her. Taking care of her. Taking her shit. It will never be about helping me. She made that perfectly clear when I once, once, reminded her how she left me alone to care for all her special needs foster kids (two babies, a toddler, and preschooler) for a week to go to some pyramid scheme "sales training." when I was 11, while her live-in boyfriend (my now stepdad) abused and harassed me. He didn't lift a finger to help  then lied and said I shook the baby (I only just realized it was a lie fabricated to cover his sorry ass). And she BELIEVED HIM and punished me. By paying me only  half the promised $15. 

I'm sure anyone reading sees that for the shitshow it is. But as usual, I'm late to the party. I have to reason my way through. If they really believed I'd shook the baby they'd be getting me counseling. But they couldn't do that because they'd be found out for the shitshow they were running.  Or they wouldn't let me care for the kids again. But oh wait. That'd mean they'd have to move out of their lil love shack in the basement and upstairs so they could actually care for the kids instead of having me sleep in the room with all of them and get up at night with them. 

I now think the real reason was they just didn't want to pay me and made up some BS reason, not to. Duh, yes! I'm just realizing this as I write it. They never intended to pay me! Wow. And malignant narc bonus added, they got to scapegoat Mary and make her the bad guy. Then mom had the balls to play the forgiving parent, saying we'd never mention it again. Buuuullllshhhittt! We'd never mention it again because she didn't want me squealing and bringing CPS down on her! Turns out, it was just prolonging the inevitable. She lost her license a few months later on charges of child abuse, all on her own. No one ever asked me about what I'd been through and I never told. 

How I fell for that shit, I'll never know. But fall for it I did and hard. I've lived with such intense self-hatred that I was sure God would never let me have kids of my own and that he shouldn't because I was such a horrible person. I suspect it will always plague.

So I confronted it a few years ago, (and only then to make her feel better about some lies she told her husband. Not to help myself, God forbid.) When I did, she flat out lied and said it didn't happen. She would never do that. Why? Not because it was insanely neglectful, abusive and a hellish nightmare that has hounded me for 5 decades. Because "I would have lost my foster care license." It's only about how anything affects her. 

Oh and, she reminded me, "you said you wanted to care for the kids to make some money."   Well, maybe if you hadn't stolen everything from me and sold my stuff, to fund your cockamamy fantasy, I wouldn't have had to earn money. The real reason is she couldn't find anyone to it so cheap. And she had to keep it in house because I doubt CPS would have sanctioned her running off for a week or having her bf live in. Couldn't risk that being uncovered. 

And that was just so much gaslighting anyway. I highly doubt I would have asked to watch four very needy kids for a week alone. But what do I know? My memories are so shot to hell with all the trauma, maybe I did. But even if I did, who's the adult here? So because a kid says they want to do something illegal and dangerous, you let them? If I wanted to jump off a building would you give me the push? Might as well have. Cuz any self-esteem I had before that was gone. But sure, paint me the villain. Whatever lets you sleep at night. 

So that experiment in self-disclosure with a malignant narcissist didn't go well. I realized that she KNEW it was wrong. It was illegal, immoral and so traumatizing for me that I almost made myself unalive over it. At effing 11. She knew I shouldn't be given that much responsibility. And. She. Did. Not. Fucking. Care.  She wanted what she wanted when she wanted it and she got it, at my expense. Way to tell me you don't give two shits about me without telling me. 

So I didn't get any closure or help. Didn't really expect any. But two things it did do was to convince that A) she didn't care about me. And B) I'm not imagining it. And that's weirdly helpful. Cuz, sister, I'm squealin' now. I'm writing and writing and writing. I'm done keeping secrets. I'm talking back to those nasty voices you planted in my brain. I'm telling my stories to trusted people about it, even though I worry that they're sick of me or that I'm a nuisance. I guess, even if I'm not getting it completely right at least I'm doing something about it. And that's got to be better than keeping silent and living in fear. Right?

Monday, May 20, 2024

How malignant narcissist parents mess up their kids

Hey friends, welcome another chapter in my deep dive into CPTSD from malignant narcissist parental abuse and gaslighting about it all. Recently I was able to finally admit that I was raised by four narcissistic people (two bio parents and their new partners). My dad was clearly a grandiose narcissist but it took me awhile to see that my mom was too. Until I listened to Dr. Ramani on Youtube, explain malignant narcissism. And then it ALLLL made sense. 

I can now see how they messed me about with their exploitation, manipulation, parentification, emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, endangerment and gaslighting about it all. It was bad enough when they were married. A lot of neglect, endangerment and abandonment, for sure. Then they went to Alaska to "convert the Indians" ( if  THAT isn't a grandiose narcissistic concept...?!) I was left essentially on my own, at 6. I have almost no memory of either of them being around. 

Grandma noticed when she and Grandpa came to visit. When Grandpa remade his home movies of their visit to VHS, she can be heard in the background saying, "remember when we arrived? Jack went one way and Nancy went the other and left us with Marilisa." (My mom tried weaponizing that to make me feel like Gram didn't want to be with me.)  I think what gram was wondering was, who took care of me when they weren't there. Answer. No one. And they weren't the only ones concerned. The Tlingit family who cared for us (and who didn't need converting, just saying) told them that I belonged with my grandparents back in Michigan. 

But back to malignant narcissism. Once in AK, my dad went out on "mission trips" (adventuring) and left me with my mom who left me to myself. She decided to divorce my dad but couldn't till they went back to MI. That didn't stop her having affairs and calling herself single. She told me, let me cry a few minutes, and then dusted her hands and moved on. I was expected me to just deal with it. No questions asked. No concern for my feelings. In fact, angry if I dared to ask. So I didn't. No other adult to help. Nada. She then decided it wasn't fair my dad was having all the fun while she was "saddled with me." She moved us to an remote island 800 miles up the inland passage to be a youth leader (in her mind) and left me with strangers to go to Seattle. 

And then things really went downhill. She moved us back to MI (dad stayed and played in AK) probably so she could get help from family with me. She had one affair after another then finally shacked up with the worst of the lot. Enter narcissist authority figure #3. Dad finally moved back and began dating a 17-year-old. (He was 34 and I was 9). Finally her parents quashed the relationship. Then he hooked up with another woman, narc 4. I'd  have preferred the 17-year-old. 

So what does this have to do with malignant narcissism? Well, I think the narc part is pretty clear. It was all about them. They made up rules for me to follow (like obey these random people we've dumped on you). They were above rules and expectations of parents. They did outlandish, dangerous, risky and bizarre things to me and allowed others to do likewise. They took good care of themselves and ignored me. 

I was told I was in the way of them doing whatever it was they imagined they were doing. They weren't missionaries. The church of the moment (they changed churches more often than underwear) that they were in didn't sanction them. She was not a youth leader. She had no education or training and churches on remotes islands in 1970 would not pay a man to do that job let alone a married woman who was running around on her husband, with a kid in tow. 

Then she started a foster care home with her live-in boyfriend, in which I did the bulk of the childcare, including sharing a room with four kids under 5 while she and bf slept downstairs. I've said before that lot of lies had to have been told to get away with that one. And my dad did the same when his kids came along. Made me servant, surrogate spouse, surrogate parent and scapegoat. And their shiny new families did likewise. 

But still, how is this malignant narcissism? Because of all the exploitation and cruelty. I learned at about 5 to give my parents exactly what they wanted. If my dad wanted tell me he was going to kill himself, it was my job to talk him out of it. When any of them snubbed, shamed, lashed out, abused, parentified, exploited, manipulated me, it was my job to let them. When they said jump, I said "how high?" It was like being in one unending boot camp. 

How did they do this? With constant, cold, calculating, cunning, cruel and creepy control freak anger. I was kept in a state of perpetual fear. Attacks came from all sides and always unexpected. Even now I feel the sick pit of my stomach terror. What I was afraid of I don't know. But it sure as hell was scary. That's why I'm just now, at almost 60, saying what happened. It's still very scary. 

What made them malignant narcissists was the fact that they were so good at hiding it. Only I really saw it. It was reserved for me, because I was the throwaway kid.  Or at least I think they were. As I've gotten older, I'm beginning to think, based on things I've  heard, is that others saw it too. Even I haven't really acknowledged it. Till Dr. Ramani explained it. 

I've always sensed a venom under the thin veneer their smiles. I've seen it come out but I never admitted it. I know now the cool detachment was really cold callousness. The fake humility covers raging arrogance. The projected Christian image is not in line with the rampant, self-centered, unaddressed unBiblical behavior. And the helplessness is a facade for out-of-control need to control me. 

But we are all flawed, right? Absolutely. BUT, while some of us admit it, my parents and stepparents, never did. They were never wrong and always right. If confronted, they get angry, vindictive and malicious. They lie and gaslight, blame and shame. And somehow, that kept me in so much fear that I can't even think about crossing them now and two are dead. It's why, for me, going suuuppper low contact is the only option. 

So what if the other two read this? Well, that's a chance I take. It has to come out. I don't think I can survive much more of this horrendous CPTSD and terrifyingly nightmares. . I've got to stop the auto-gaslighting. The Bible says the truth will set us free. I surely hope so. 


Monday, May 13, 2024

Parental narcissitic abuse at birthdays and holidays: so much hypocrisy, toxic shame and gaslighting


Hello friends, lots going on around here, as I source the toxic shame and CPTSD from bio parents and two stepparents and their new families. Yesterday was Mother's Day and it was  hellish for me. Not because of my husband or children. They're the joy of my life. The pain came from the fact that I didn't have a mother or father.  Only demanding, parentifying, exploiting, abusing, shaming, neglectful, manipulative, gaslighting authority figures. It brought up very unpleasant memories and realizations that their combined narcissistic abuse was particularly bad around holidays and birthdays and celebrations. 

The disparity between how I was celebrated (not at all, really) and how I was expected to celebrate others, particularly their golden kids, is appalling. I don't remember my birthdays being made much of a deal except by grandparents. There's a picture of me at two with my cake while my mom has inserted herself, posing and  my dad basically has my arms behind my back in a death grip. 

I recall one party only at the beach (no dad or his other family). Mom is running around in her bikini. That was a fun party. However, I was throwing and hosting parties for my parents by age 11. I recall my dad saying he wasn't going to make a deal over me because he wanted me to stay humble. While he and his wife had lavish birthday parties every year for their boys. 

My mother has actually told me that she spends tons more on my sister than me. She wants me to know, I guess, how little I'm valued. A few years ago, I got a shirt from a free table from one of her food pantry visits. Yes, they live off food pantries. It was too big, wrinkled, unwashed and still smelled like a thrift store. I was informed that sis got a new laptop. I'd given her flowers, expensive chocolates, and a new phone. Which she promptly lost. 

For one birthday, I'd taken her to the doc and she was asked what she was doing for her birthday. In front of me, she said "my family is taking me out to dinner." I was not invited and never have been. I was told that I could take her out to lunch in a day or two,  for her birthday, as she knew I had to get to work. For my birthday that year, I got a text with emojis. 

I was not invited, as in a guest to their parties. I was expected to attend every party and bring big, pricy gifts which I could not afford and didn't have time for, being in college and working full time.  I recall them getting annoyed when I brought a homemade gift. And another time when I was unable to be present due to time constraints. My dad was really pissed off about that. So in guilt I rearranged and made it work. Both he and his wife were very cool with me. My grandma, (God love her) said snarkily to me, "you'd think it was a holy day of obligation." It was. 

Christmas was really rough. I recall my dad screaming at me because I went to try on my new sweater from gram and gramp after dutifully asking his wife. I missed a few moments of the elders opening their gifts. Mind you the other kids were off playing their toys and not paying any attention to the elders. Grama chimed in and told him to chill but I was already in tears. No apology ever from him. 

I thought maybe I was misremembering but my husband whom I was dating remembers them making enormous deals over their other kids birthdays and nothing over mine. They even did it to my eldest daughter who had the temerity to be born a day after my bro St. "Mike". We celebrated their birthdays together ( he was 10 and she was 2) and his nibs pouted and sulked the whole day because Molly got some attention that he felt he was due. 

My father scolded me for having a group party because Mikey was left out. He wasn't. And the party wasn't just my idea. I  guess I was supposed to feel guilty because people wanted to celebrate my sweet little girl. My husband was so angry that he vowed to boycott all future parties involving their kids. I was so proud. Wish I'd had the courage to do that. 

The weirdest time was one I just remembered and had never considered. When I was 14, my dad and stepmom gave me a slot car set. I hadn't asked for it. It was okay but certainly  not what I wanted and not an appropriate gift for my age. Of course their boys were always pestering me to play with it. And I had to set it up for them and play with them. I just realized a month or so ago  that they had spent all the money they had for their boys gifts but still wanted to get them this race car set. So they just gave to me, expecting me to "share" it. And they got bonus added hours of free babysitting too. I gave it to them after a year or so. Which is probably what their parents expected anyway. 

I was gaslit about that for years and gaslit myself. My dad was pretty misogynistic and not one to get boys gifts for girls. In fact, he had an awesome Lionel train from when he was a kid that I would have loved to play with. I've always loved trains. He never let me play with or even encouraged me to take part. It was just him and grampa. Grampa was the one who let me use it when dad wasn't around. 

But I got the last word. Mikey, who had been entitled and catered to so much, grew up to be an adult baby who doesn't take care of his kids, lives off welfare, doesn't work and spends all his time and money on his hobbies. I say his  money but actually it was Dad's money. He sold off most of his stuff to fund Mike's hobbies and gave him money every day for $13 cigars. (He didn't even know my grandchildren's names). 

When Dad passed I asked for the train set. Mike had taken pretty much everything else that was left (family silver, coins, guns) and didn't want  me to have even the train. There was only the engine, coal car and a few pieces of track. Dad had sold off the rest so Mike could buy his axe heads. Yes he had an axe head collection. Don't ask my why. Kind of like Bert from Sesame Street and his paper clip collection. Only more expensive.

Well, I got the train and it was with great delight that I passed it on to my grandson, who adores steam trains more than life itself. And I enjoy playing trains with him. Is it enough to make up for being left out all those years.  Yes and no. The past will never be any different than it was. But I can change the now. I do things differently than was done to me. Not prefectly, but to the best of my ability. 

And my real family, my husband, children and grandchildren, make up for it every moment of every day, as Mister Rodgers says, "by just their being themselves." 


Friday, May 10, 2024

How parentification ironically infantilizes: inappropriate adult expectations destroy adulthood

 I've been blogging a lot about how I was parentified as a child and teen, by both my parents and their second spouses. If you're unfamiliar with the term parentification, it's also called role reversal. The parent (or in my case four adult parental figures) behaves like an irresponsible child while expecting the child to think and act like an adult and thereby parent them. In my situation, it also included caring for their other children in ways parents should.  (in my mother's foster care and later children with her new husband and my dad and his wife's children. Why I no longer call them halfsiblings is for another post). 

This parentification is part of a pattern of narcissistic abuse (forcing adult expectations) neglect (of my basic care), endangerment (leaving me in situations that would frighten adults), abandonment (literally leaving me behind) scapegoating (making me the cause of their problems), exploitation (forcing me to do things that were unsafe and not good for me), manipulation (abusing their authority to get me to do for them what they should be doing themselves), toxic shame (making me feel it was my fault, responsibility, etc.) and gaslighting about it all (lying, blaming me, minimizing, dismissing and twisting Christianity to suit their twisted ways of doing things). 

I've said before that I was made to be  the 5S's: self-sufficient (being unsupervised from age 4 or as far back as I can remember) surrogate spouse (for each of them) surrogate parent (for each of them and all their kids), scapegoat and staff (housekeeper, cook, nanny, counselor) for them all. I was gaslit into thinking that this is what God expected. But for all that adult expectation and responsibility, I have always believed I was immature, irresponsible, untrustworthy, incompetent, childishly oversensitive. Believed, because I was told I was, by parents and stepparents. Other adults, friends, teachers, extended family, said I was very mature and competent, overly so. 

So there irony is triple-pronged. Child me was expected to think and act like an adult and parent, by adult parents (and those put in authority over me as parents) who behaved and thought like children and teens. Another edge is that I was told I was immature and irresponsible when I WAS TOO YOUNG TO BE mature and responsible. I was told I was childish WHEN I WAS A CHILD!! I was told I was inept and incapable because I was not able to live up to inappropriate adult expectations. I wasn't taught how to do things, just expected to know. I was expected to provide care and parenting to the very people who owed this to me. And the third edge is that adults who acted like adults and expected age-appropriate things,  saw that I was very mature. 

In short they expected too mature behavior while treating me too childishly. I consequently thought that I was inept, ignorant and immature EVEN THOUGH I was keeping up with their expectations pretty well, considering. Certainly better than they were. I was even able to manage without anyone's support or assistance. No one knew how dysfunctional my family system was or if they did, they never said anything to me. The disparity between my life and those around me was patently obvious, especially with grandparents and extended family. And because I was the only child of two divorced parents with other families, my situation was unique. 

So why did I never say anything or object or stand up for myself? Four reasons. One, I am by nature an empath. I care and feel too much about what others need, want and feel. Yes, you can care too much if it is harmful to you. Second, a lot of systematic gaslighting went into keeping me in this bizarre paradox. And it was very goal-oriented and self-serving on their part. Marilisa doing all the heavy lifting while thinking she's just a nuisance? Works for us. We get to act like childish kids while still looking like functional adults. And bonus added, her feeling so low will keep her right where we want her. 

Third, and this might be the most insidious. God, the Bible, Jesus, the Holy Spirit were all weaponized to make it look like I was doing what God wanted instead of just what they wanted. They pratted scripture at me to justify their actions. I was drilled on being a servant. But  no one else was being a servant. I was bound up to burdens no one else carried. And their behavior even aside from their treatment of me, didn't bear much scrutiny. Divorce, remarriage, living "in sin", pedophilia, not supporting their families, child abuse, exploiting people and systems, anger and resentment,  abandoning and neglecting me. I can read scripture too. And I know and maybe knew then that this was all just a load of hypocrisy, mind effing, gaslighting, shaming and exploitation. 

So the fourth reason and one I've just realized, thanks to wise thoughts shared my beloved daughter. I've always said that I didn't know that it was wrong for me to be treated this way. Yet I knew it was wrong for others to be treated this way. She (and others have) pointed out that I didn't perpetuate this on my children, which I would have if I didn't know better. So the reason I didn't object and just fell in line? It was unsafe not to. I've blogged before about their extreme vengeance and retribution when they just thought I was defying them. So what do we do when we can't safely express something? We find a workaround. And mine was to shove the feelings as far back in the closet as I could cram them. And then, shut and bolt the door. Now the closet is full to overflowing and the door couldn't always stay closed. Sometimes it all comes exploding out, seemingly of nowhere. 

And that's where I am now, cleaning out the closet and organizing the stuff so I can figure out how to avoid these impacted explosions. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The weirdest way my Dad and his wife exploited and gaslit me

Hi friends. For the  past few months, I've been blogging about life with four narcissistic parents. My backstory is pretty much one unending spiral of abuse, neglect, exploitation, scapegoating, endangerment, abandonment and gaslighting about it all. It was a really weird, messed up existence. 

One of the weirdest, in a plethora of weird things, that my dad would say, after divorcing my mom and getting remarried was to his second wife, about me. Whenever she was pissed off, lazy or in a mood, (most of the time) was “Maybe Mary could…(fix it, help, yada yada).  He would invite her to think of things I could do to make her feel better.  Watch the kids. Take them somewhere. Do some chore or other. Make dinner. Things I was already doing regularly anyway. And so, on top of my already very long list of chores, I’d be expected to add whatever it was Her Majesty wanted. And then that just found its way onto my permanent chores list. I did it without complaining and I never remember feeling angry or frustrated. And whatever it was Mary was supposed to do, never made her feel better. 

This started when I was 12 and continued till I was 20 and had moved back to finish college. I was  working fulltime, driving their kids to school, driving myself to school 45 minutes each way, taking classes and loaded down with homework, beside doing most of their work. 

I never thought about it until a few months ago, but there really wasn’t much I didn’t do, including sleeping with their babies and getting up with them in the night. Adding it up, I can’t really see what she and her boys actually did. Or my dad come to that. I was gaslit into believing that I had to pitch in  because they “worked.” But my brothers didn’t work and they never did anything. And I was holding down a job plus full load at college and homework. They just couldn't think of enough ways to exploit and parentify me.  It just occurred to me what  good deal they got in me. And what a really shitty deal I got. 

For all this childcare, nannying and maid service. I got a tiny child bed in the baby's room. We were locked in at night. No dresser, desk or space. I had loads of textbooks and materials for my college coursework and needed a workspace. There was a beautiful desk upstairs that no one used. I only got to dust it weekly. For my schoolwork, my dad allowed me to put a child's desk, that my grandpa had gotten me when I was 7,  in a corner of the basement.  I couldn't even sit in it anymore. My 8 year old grandsons would be too tall. I don't know if Dad was serious or just being a dick. 

He wouldn't allow me to store anything down there or use the space as an office. Just the desk. He said there wasn't room. The basement was empty. I finally just gave up and stored all my stuff in my car.  Now I think he was trying to make me ashamed somehow, about going to college. He'd always make rude remarks about how I shouldn't show off and that college wasn't for everyone. Despite the fact that he believed he should be given jobs that required a college education when he had no training. I've learned that's a trait of  narcissism. I think he wanted to ram home how little he really thought of me. I got the message. Somehow, I've always felt a little ashamed of my success in school. No one was ever proud of me, that's for sure. 

So why did I hang around for that? A good question. Because they had so gaslit me that I thought I had to because I was a "family member." (That one-sided lie was weaponized often enough). I thought it was all good enough for who it was for. I never realized it but in all my special education training, I was one of the abused, neglected kids I was reading about and learning how to teach. Unfortunately I didn't realize till I was a grandparent. 

My dad used to say that “we” must be good servants because that’s what God expects. But “we” shouldn’t do it with any thought of reward or appreciation. That would be selfish. “We” should just joyfully serve and serve and serve and never complain. I believed him because I did see passages of scripture about that. And so I did. And I got very good at expecting no reward. In fact, if anyone had complimented me or praised me, I’d have been uncomfortable because Dad said this would be wrong. I needn’t have worried. No one ever praised and usually found something to find fault with.

And this “we” he kept referring to. My dad must have had a mouse in his pocket because all the other “we” in the family certainly weren’t servants to anyone, least of all me. What went around, did NOT come around. They didn’t do what would be their reasonable share in the work. Or even take care of themselves except to make sure they had what they wanted. That fell to me. I was so busy fulfilling all these expectations for me that I never took time to ask what I was getting in return, out of this so-called family. Looks for damn all like upstairs downstairs to me now.

So what was weird about that? Well, you may not believe this, particularly if you have good self-advocacy skills or a healthy self-image. But I honestly don’t know. Or at least I can’t articulate what was wrong with it for ME to experience. I know and could say what the problem was if it was  happening to someone else. I definitely can see why it would be wrong to do this to my children. I could defend them if someone did it to them. But then, the rules of how we treat people have only applied to me, not to how I should expect to be treated.

So I need help to know what’s wrong with this picture. And my husband and some friends have been helping me with that. First, dad hinting that maybe Mary could help, fix, etc., was super backhanded. If I’d said “what Jack? What should Mary do now, that Mary isn’t already doing? And why am I expected to fix YOUR wife?” He’d have backhanded me. Mind you I was an adult at this time. But I was so used to kowtowing to Jack and Ginny and Nancy and Bill that I just did as I was told.

He wasn’t volunteering me, he was voluntelling. Also, at no time, did he ever volunteer to step up. He knew she was never happy and he wasn’t about to stir his selfish stumps to try to help her feel better. He knew she was just weaponizing her  “bad back” or “tiredness.” She was flat out lazy and that’s a fact I now see. He knew that. But he wasn’t man enough to admit it. Or call it what it was. He just wanted her to shut up so he threw me into the breach, bullying and shaming me into thinking that “Your Mummy” needs you. Selfish, lying, passive-aggressive jerk.

So why didn't I move out? More gaslighting, about how I couldn't afford it, wasn't mature enough (laugh, that, being as I was pretty much running their household). But doing the math I realized that without all the maid service and nannying I provided, THEY couldn't afford it. I finally did move out after my mom offered to pay for six months of rent. An offer that turned out to hidden strings attach. I'll blog more about that shitshow later.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

What I learned from my CPTSD nightmares is terrifying but helpful

Hello friends. I'm back with another snapshot from the CPTSD trenches. Just recently, I realized I've lived all my life in a gaslit world of my four parents' narcissistic fantasy. To support their individual and collective fantasies required me to be systematically abused, neglected, endangered, exploited, manipulated, trauma and shame dumped on, parentified, exposed to off sexual behavior, inappropriately expected to behave like an adult so they could be children, role reverse, scapegoated,  abandoned, frightened and had my empathy weaponized. From that, I developed CPTSD (chronic, complex and/or childhood PTSD). 

What is CPTSD? Well, for me, it's constant nightmares, an endless fugue state of self-loathing and confusion, no boundaries, security and safety and zero resources to cope. I've recently had some big Ah-ha moments in which I was able to see myself from a different perspective, inside out as it were. 

I've realized that I've existed in a self-sabotaging, boundaryless, miserable, toxic shame-based no-man's land for the past 6 decades. I've somehow managed to maintain a home and family but I'm not sure how. My entire being has felt disjointed, senseless and just so wrong. I can't win for losing. I never make the right choice and fail all the time. I live in extremes and generalizations, all or nothing, good or bad, right or wrong. Perfect or evil. 

Which I realize is not healthy, functional or how others see the world. It's just my disturbed, insane view. How did I finally see that? By beginning to really pay attention to my CPTSD nightmares. I'm starting to see the patterns in the dreams and connect the dots to find out what they are saying to me. What I see is that they have pointed the way all along. 

I've had chronic nightmares since childhood. I can't remember a time when I didn't have bad dreams. I also can't recall  a time when I had anything like a normal-ish childhood. I can't remember a time when I felt really safe or loved. My parents were very irresponsible and narcissistic. They went to Alaska to be missionaries the Indians (their words). They weren't sponsored by any church. In fact the one they happened to be in at the moment flatly said they should NOT be doing this. I was left to play alone, ignored, endangered, neglected and ultimately abandoned by them both, thousands of miles from my home. I was expected to parent them but also implicitly obey or face harsh, arbitrary punishment. 

Then they got divorced when I was six and hooked up with other incredibly narcissistic immature people whom I was also supposed to both parent and be subject to. Then I had to parent all four of their foster kids and bio children. And do the housework like an adult. I even had to sleep with their babies like a parent would. As my husband put it, I was an afterthought who was only good for what they could get out of me. 

I was forced into one bizarre and frightening situation after another. I've seen my mom get beat up by the wife of a man she was having an affair with. I've been left to care for four special needs kids alone. I've been booted out of bedrooms so random people could have them. I've been locked in a bedroom with a baby. I've been kicked out of the house. I've been verbally abused and threatened by my mom's boyfriend. I've been sexually assaulted and subjected to very inappropriate sexual behavior. Religion has been weaponized to shame me. And not one part of  this was ever acknowledged. In fact it's been lied about. I was told I was just showing off. My life has been like a crazy patchwork quilt with each tiny piece sewed up neatly and all the trauma self-contained and sealed over. 

It was so bad that I didn't realize how bad it was. I thought because they'd told me that it was my job, my lot in life. That good things like love and care didn't apply to me. I've always been the orphan looking in the window. And consequently, I've not developed self-care skills. I basically learned that it was selfish. My boundaries don't exist. I'm not a person. I'm a reflection of  others, a human doing, a nuisance and a parasite. My four parents were God. 

But while I didn't know this was wrong for me, I knew this wasn't right for others. Without having a clue about taking care of and defending myself, I've known how to care for others. Ironically, I had to parent myself and everyone else. And while I don't know how to parent me, I am pretty good at parenting others. But it's not good for me to be so ultra responsible for others. I'm far too empathic, as my nightmares prove. 

Every night,  multiple times a night, I dream that I'm in an unfamiliar place, in dire situation in which many ridiculously impossible things are expected of me and me alone, by oppressive forces. Many babies to be cared for, dangerous situations, missing children, piles of laundry, mountains of food to cook, lost items I must find, huge things to move. I have to transport groups of people over treacherous terrain in bad weather. I'm too young to drive or the car turns into a Little Tikes car or I'm trying to drive from the back seat. Adults are just laying around issuing orders. They aren't helping and expect to be waited on. They make fun of my efforts. Then scenes shift and orders change without warning. I have no idea where I am, how I got there, what exactly is expected of me and how to manage. Other people are doing off sexual things. I feel guilty, ashamed and that everyone is angry with me, though I've no idea why. I'm always doing something wrong, never right. The nightmares are terrifying, constant, detailed, vivid and disturbing. 

I've been praying for years to be freed from them. I've tried natural remedies and nothing works. Sleep meds make them worse. So finally, I started listening and watching them. And that's what is saving me. I realize that the dreams make perfect sense given my life.  Because I'm seeing that in many ways, these aren't dreams but memories. Or at least how my young mind perceived experiences. 

I'm overwhelmed by expectation in my dreams because I've been overwhelmed by expectation in life. I'm exploited because I've been exploited. There's so much work to do because there always was too much work to do. I'm confused in my dreams because my childhood was so confusing. I feel in the wrong because I've been gaslit to think I'm doing wrong.  I'm ashamed because I have always been shamed by family. I'm expected to parent others because I've always been expected to parent others. I'm in dangerous places and situations because I was so often endangered. I'm doing it alone because I was abandoned. I'm left to care for others and don't know how because I was inappropriately left in charge too young. Off sexual things happen in my dreams because they happened in real life. People are angry with, blaming and punishing me, because I always was the scapegoat. It feels like damned if I do or don't because it always was. I'm not imaging it. It  happened. Because I'm dream-remembering it and because no one can make this shit up.

I've heard it said that CPTSD is actually brain damage. So my nightmares come from my damaged brain. And my brain was damaged by narcissistic abuse, childhood trauma that I suffered through alone, lack of care when I was ill, being shut down when I cried, lack of food, no bed or bedroom, scapegoating, parentifying, being left out, neglect, chronic parental anger, violent punishment, toxic shame, abandonment, endangerment and most of all, gaslighting. 

I experienced all this alone. I cried alone. Bit myself and rubbed out the marks, alone. Hurt alone. Was scared alone. There. Was. No One to help, explain, comfort or defend me. That's hard to realize because I adored my grandparents. But truth was, not one of them ever asked or even acknowledged what was happening. And the people who called themselves my parents certainly never acknowledged any problem. Because to acknowledge would have meant having to admit that THEY were the cause. were selfishly abusing, exploiting, manipulating, endangering me. But I provided too much for them, and they were sure as hell not gonna stop taking. 

So they had to spin it as my fault. Each one of the four people who were supposed to protect me, in his or her own way. The dog doesn't like being kicked. So kick the dog until she shuts up.  She failed to make you happy? Don't ask yourself why the fu-k you're expecting her to. Don't ask yourself why you're so effing needy and entitled and selfish. Put that on all on her. Make her feel like the wrong one. If you say it loud enough, she'll believe you. I mean, for eff's sake, look at how eager she is to please. Oh and don't forget to double down the God's Will, be a servant, honor your parents, religio-babble shtick. Work that! And we can all get back to our pathetic narcissistic fantasies. It's all in how you write the narrative and who gets their version in first. 

So yes, the nightmares are bad. Debilitating, even. And that's exactly the point. Life was bad and debilitating for me. They are the wakeup call I need. They have been trying, for decades to get me to see that the abuse, exploitation, etc, I've been describing did actually happen. That any version to the contrary is them gaslighting. This CPTSD brain damage was inflicted by them for self-serving motives. 

I think the nightmares are also God's way of telling me that all that happened did happen and that it was wrong. It's impossible to please everyone in my dreams because they were wrongly expecting them to make them happy. They were not leaning on God but me. That I'm not actually doing everything wrong because no one gets it wrong all the time, just like we don't get it right all the time, as my parents said they did. That is sick and dangerous playing God. 

I think God wants me to know that none of this was His will for me. That there is a God and it's not them. Like I said in an earlier post, that I'm having to get through this by relooking at God. That the God, Holy Spirit, Jesus presented to my by my parents, was wrong. Because they made themselves gods and very punitive, spiteful, backstabbing, cruel, mocking, shaming, manipulative ones that pulled me down instead of lifting me up. And set me up to burdens they didn't carry (witness the dreams). And twisted the Bible to match their narcissistic fantasies. 

All the senselessness of the dreams all makes sense now, if looked at as memories. I see now why they did what they did. It was wrong and wicked but I get it. They're self-centered and delusional. I was a convenient prop for those fantasies. I don't like it but I accept it. And now that I have figured out where it all went pear-shaped, I can set about righting it. 

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