Thursday, April 11, 2024

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. 

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