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.  

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