In the holiday spirit many people get messages from their abusers who believe their pets who went no contact weak and susceptible to manipulation. My parents thankfully go for all out ignoring all year round as punishment. But the messages from other abusers to their pets had me reminiscing. So I thought I’d go back to messages my parents have sent me to analyse them a little. Let’s start with what was the pinnacle of my parents we get what we want or else. Which is arguably in the middle of it all. The brief story is I had a fight with my brother, my mother would not stay out of it despite being told repeatedly to do so. So escalation and subsequent no contact. My parents tried to bribe me back by organising a roadtrip to see a show together, laid guilt trips, played victim, feigned ignorance of what is wrong, graciously allowed me to come crawling back and apologise to get abused some more and so forth you get the picture. Fast forward 1.5 years in my father gets very very sick very suddenly. I’ve been told consistently by numerous family members that he was either in life threatening condition or at least feared he was going to die. communication from my parents at this time was a bit weird. So here is what my mother wrote translated into english:
Hello, 20th Oct 2012 18:21 Your father has been admitted to the hospital yesterday. We have called an emergency physican [yes i translated my mothers spelling mistake] yesterday morning. He almost couldn’t breathe anymore. After several tests he presumably has a delayed pneumonia and water somewhere at the heart where it isn’t supposed to be. We are happy and thankful (!) that it wasn’t a heart attack. He will be in hospital until the end of next week. Mommy
So I recently read this where she describes a struggle many people face one way or another. Your brain kinda sorta decided it’s time for you to fret over whether or not drinking coffee right now will mean the end of the world as we know it or you personal early death in gruesome pain. Or it decided you should stay in bed all day in constant pain or completely devoid of energy or whatever have you for no reason other than your brain said so. Or you are hearing those voices again. It’s scary and humans are kinda help- and clueless what to do about it. Some drugs help encounter some effects of mental disorders but by and large it’s a really really hard uphill struggle each and every day.
So why can’t we talk about it? That is the question my fellow blogger asked and I’d like to give my own idea of an answer. Why is “it’s all in your head” a perfectly socially accepted response to any and all kinds of mental problems? Does it being all in your head make it any less real? Shit no! Ask anyone who recently had a nightmare, who is grieving a loved one one way or another, the pain, the fear, the complete and utter intensity is very very VERY real. So what is up with that cute little piece of violent minimisation and gaslighting being thrown at us whenever we voice some sort of grief? Why is showing emotions such a forbidden fruit in so many cultures? Yes no one should be a crybaby, but let’s face it grown up people crying in public or even around friends is really a rare sight. It’s not about not being a crybaby anymore rather it’s about not showing the struggles you go through at all as far as my own experience tells me. And the accusations are always a variation on the theme of do not show what you are feeling or you actually do not feel what you claim you feel. Again minimisation and gaslighting.
It’s true we should not throw our emotional state randomly at everyone to deal with, grieving and pain should be something to be done in selected company, but I have already been openly accused by random strangers on the street for looking like I’m in a bad mood. And this is where the line is firmly crossed. The people who make a very intense show out of their pain normally have a messed up head as well (narcissists out for their supply come to mind). The line is also firmly crossed when seemingly 90% of the population think it’s alright to further hurt the one who needs support because no one knows how to deal with this.
So I have recently been doing what I always do when I do not understand something- I abandon almost everything else to the point of starving myself in extreme cases and read and read and read and google and chat and join groups until my fingers break off and my sleep is thoroughly disrupted again. At least I’m getting better with eating by now. So here is what I learned:
Most of the advice, groups, blogs, forums and whatnot I have found and scouted are geared towards Adult Children of Narcissists (ACONs). The narcissists prime way of abusing people is to get narcissistic supply, hence the advice is all about emancipating yourself from their destructive messages and thinking it’s your task to either supply them or get them to see reason. Fair enough.
The thing is I now understand my parent prime abuse technique has not been to manipulate me into doing their bidding but to ignore me. My emotions were all by and large met with the same reaction: none at all by father and from mother either none as well or finding the worst possible motivation I could have for behaving and feeling the way I did.
A textbook example of the ignorance is my mothers advice for me having been lovesick at age 14 having broken up with someone the first time. She told me to eat the apples she bought before they go stale. It wasn’t even about apples being good for me either during time of distress or as a growing person, it was about what she wanted to happen to the apples. Completely disconnected to my situation. She would have told anyone including the canary bird to eat the apples. My father was just never available period so I can not even give an example of him ignoring me because I didn’t exist enough to even be ignored.
After I have been sharing some “cherished memories” from my past with you over the last days, I thought it might make sense to share some things I found were helping me get through this.
Get more information
Try and figure out the things that kept you in a miserable situation. Read about other peoples accounts of similar situation. Look for ideas what to do to improve your situation, especially how to get rid of the things that keep you miserable. The idea is you can not go overboard with this. This is about your well being. Precious little is more important than that (of course taking prioritising your own needs to the extreme is called narcissism but we will get to that.) So read, read, read some more, talk to other people in similar situations, look for people who used to be in similar situations, look for professional help and whenever you feel you do not know if this is a right idea, google it, ask someone, read about it. Talk about it with people who are likely to give insightful advice. Look for a mentor and / or a therapist. Being knowledgeable about the dynamics of abuse is your strongest weapon.
Experimentation with what might be helpful
There is an art to getting better. That’s the reason why so many traumatic experiences get passed on from generation to generation despite each one vowing to do better. There are MANY different strategies and ideas out there what to do and in the end none of them is the ultimate solution. Because this is a highly individualistic situation. Most run of the mill relaxation programs do not work on me because I try way to hard for example.
So this is the continuation post to the ruminations about how to categorise or not categorise my parents concerning personality disorders, which I did here:
(I feel a bit silly and very self involved for posting a link to a post I wrote only recently and which is all about myself but I am telling myself I’m doing this for your convenience. 😉 )
I forgot to mention dissect the idea of which dysfunctional family role was assigned to which of us kids. Because strangely while we were two siblings there was never to my memory a golden child. Some teachers golden childed me, because I was always followed leads obediently (read: willinglessly). Such a perfect kid, let’s just all ignore they do not want to live. Early into our lives I performed much better than my sibling in school and I did not get into fights. To the outside world I was on track to become elite while my sibling was a problem child.
Somehow while being deeply obsessed about “what other people think” that never was very important at home. Maybe because I was also more compassionate. A classic sign of a scapegoat. At home I was a mix between the scapegoat and the lost child while my sibling was perhaps a mixture between a scapegoat and a clown. I was too withdrawn and I don’t remember much, so a lot of guesswork here. My parents might well have been too caught up in the storm between other peoples opinions about their kids and their own unwillingness to deal with us and their internal drive to assign role the very reverse of what everyone else said. Anyhow the bottom line was always we both were annoyances to our parents. My father once called my sibling a [insert terrorist name from the news here] for grown ups. While my sibling and I were present of course. That was after my sibling was diagnosed ADHD.
There is this nice blog from musingsofanaspie who details how very well functioning labels work for autistic people:
Decoding the High Functioning Label.
My personal favourite excerpt is this:
“You must be very high functioning. You don’t seem autistic.”
“Why, thank you. And you’re not especially ugly.”
In the spirit of this blog post I thought I’d compile my own list the two extremes of me.