Wake Up Call

I have wondered many times whether my parents would have stayed married if my mom had had a resource like Flylady to help her get her shit together.

Now I wonder what my mom would have made of this essay by Flylady!  LOL. No one in our family has ever dared tell it like this.  Holy shit, Mom can’t possibly be responsible for any of the problem!

I have used the phrase that, “my mother liked to be taken care of, rather than taking care of anyone else.”  Flylady uses the rather more straightforward and less delicate word, “coddling”.

My mother also was not good at solving her own problems.  Her idea of doing something about a problem was to pray about it.  It worked about as well as you might think it would.

At first when I came across this essay I found it sort of funny.  Now after a second or third reading, I am finding it rather sad.

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“Anger has a way of eating at you and it really only scratches the surface toward the person you are angry with. If the truth be told and we never like to hear the truth; you are really angry with yourself and just trying to put the blame on your spouse or children. Now don’t email complaining that I have no clue how much they can mess up; because I have seen others deal with this problem and find success at setting the example for them and before you know it; they are picking up after themselves.

“So what is your problem? YOU ARE STILL PLAYING THE MARTYR ROLE! And no one loves a martyr! Even you!  I am not about to hold your hand and say there there! It will be OK, because it is not! unless you get off your Franny and do something to get rid of your martyrdom and anger toward your family!

“Yes I am tough! I have never pretended to be anything else! But I am this way because you need an attitude adjustment! Your anger is pushing your family further and further away from you and if you don’t stop this behavior you are going to be a bitter old person with no one! And do you want to know something else! YOUR HOME WILL STILL BE MESSY! All because you never learned the most important lesson I am trying to teach you!

“You should bless your home for you! Not for your kids, husband or wife! But YOU! You deserve to live in a home that is comfortable and inviting! NO WHINING HERE EITHER!

“You married your husband or wife because you loved him/her! You did not have your babies to be slaves in your home! Hold your horses here! NO WHINING ALLOWED! Finish reading this before you blast off an email! It is your responsibility to teach your children respect and love; if they see none of this from you, how are they ever going to learn it!

“Just look at the example you have been setting for them; whiny, anger, ugly hurtful words. No wonder no one wants to be around you! You have become an ogre. Your family is walking on eggshells around you and they run to keep from making you mad! Is this any way to live and treat your family! Do you want to know why you are doing this?

“It is all because you don’t love yourself enough to stop! YOU are constantly blaming others and not taking responsibilities for your own actions! If you will look around the room you will see your stuff every where too! I can hear the words coming out of your mouth now, “but I am going to get back to that in a bit!” So how long has it been there anyway! 6 months! A year! When we don’t pick up after ourselves we tell the rest of the family that it is OK to leave things lying around! Mom doesn’t mind she does it all the time. You may not say the words, but they are coming through loud and clear! It is only when you set the example and quit trying to preach what you are not practicing that your family will begin to take notice and start helping!

<snip>

I have tried every way in the world to get this across to you! Holding your hand just doesn’t do it! Because you will continue to refocus the blame! It is up to you! I didn’t make the rules either! As women we may not like it, but guess what we wouldn’t want it any other way either! So accept your responsibility for setting the tone in your home and just quit whining about it! NO SULKING or POUTING either! That is whining without spoken words.

“In the south we say, “If momma ain’t happy; ain’t nobody happy!” and I am going to add something new to this phrase! I am the only one that can truly make ME Happy! When you realize this you will be FLYing!

“Bless your home for you! Quit blaming others and set the example in love you will see a remarkable change in your attitude and the attitudes of everyone in your home!

“I love you all, but I won’t coddle you!”

 

Mr. Clean Married Mrs. Messy

Years ago, I came across an essay, probably on Flylady, about how SAHMs need to change their thinking about doing their jobs.  The basic idea was, being a SAHM IS YOUR JOB, and when he goes off to work all day and earn the money, your job is to take care of the kids and the home.  When he comes home and sees dirty dishes and a mess everywhere, he feels like you aren’t keeping up your part of the deal.  Biblical principles were invoked.

When I read that essay a light bulb went on in my head and I realized this is probably how my parents’ marriage started to fall apart.  I believe their two big issues were over cleaning and sex, and if you spend any time googling and reading mommy blogs, you’ll quickly find that these are two of the big issues for a LOT of marriages.

Now, I’m not a SAHM.   I get that the job is a tough one — as many jobs are.  And to me personally, the above biblical-based wifey thing sounds pretty old-fashioned.  But apparently there are a lot of people who still think this way even today — there are plenty of articles and sermons out there, written well after the 1950’s, that take an extremely dim view of the woman who does not keep her side of the bargain.

For example, this one, based entirely on Proverbs, calls it “lazy”.

My parents were married in 1948, and my mom was nothing if not traditional and religious.  So, it is a pretty reasonable assumption to think that these were the expectations on both sides.

The social contract of the 1950’s + traditional religious views = a woman’s job is to raise the kids and keep the home.

What makes absolutely no sense to me at all is that that whole biblical view of how a wife should be OUGHT to have been my uber-religious mother’s guideline.  And I say “ought” meaning that being religious was her choice — so if she was going to be consistent, she should have stuck with the whole program, right?  You don’t get to pick and choose which bits you follow and which bits you don’t!

For another example:

Here’s the thing, though: when you married, you promised that you would now be “one flesh”. That doesn’t mean that you cease to exist, but it does mean that what he wants needs to be important to you now, too. And we are called to consider others interests ahead of our own (Philippians 2:4). We are even called to submit.

So if your husband isn’t happy with the home, that should matter to you, because HE should matter to you.

I agree with that last concept, although I have to say I don’t need a 2,000YO book to tell me that.  That’s just what love is.  My father’s definition, which has always served me well:

Love is caring more about the other person than you care about yourself.

But, as far as I have ever known, my mom never lived up to her job.  She was a lousy housekeeper and a terrible cook.  As long as I ever knew her, she lived among piles of newspapers and stacks of magazines.  A fair share of the time I spent at her apartment throughout junior high and high school was spent doing her dishes, cleaning her bathroom, or clearing off her kitchen table “so we could have a cup of tea”.  I vacuumed, I tidied.  I dusted, I stacked books neatly.  I cleaned out the moldy food from her fridge, and took out her garbage.  She was a master at getting other people to do housework for her, and for sure that included my sister, who I once compared to an unpaid au pair.

Mom once told me a story about my oldest brother, that when he was an astonishing 2 or 3, he made his own bed, and was very proud to show her that he could do so.  Mom said, “So from then on, it became his job.”  She seemed rather pleased with herself when she said it.  She did not see the incongruity of dumping her responsibilities on a 3YO.  One of her lifelong excuses was that she had 6 kids, so she didn’t have time for housework.  Well, at that stage she only had 2 kids, so I fail to see what the time crunch was, that she couldn’t make her kids’ beds.  I could see LETTING him make his bed when he wanted to “show off” to her, but making it his job from that day forward?  Just not right.

My dad came from a home that was neat and clean whenever I saw it (granted, at that time there were no little kids in it), and from that home he went into the Coast Guard.  There is a reason for the term “ship shape”.  You just don’t have a messy ship, especially in the service.  I had a friend in high school tell me once, “Your home looks like no one lives in it.”  I admit, I have inherited or learned the “neat freak” side of my dad.  I like a neat home, and a messy one makes me uncomfortable, to the point where I would rather clean it up than spend any time “relaxing” in it while it is messy.

Come to think of it, this trait is probably what my mom used, consciously or unconsciously, to get me to do her housework.  She knew on some level that if the place was a mess when I came over, I’d be compelled to clean it for my own comfort.  Wow.  Now there’s a loving, thoughtful manipulative mother for you.  A mother who actually cared about her child more than about herself would realize this, and instead of letting it happen time after time, year after year, she would do something about it.  She would decide that it was more important to do some cleaning up beforehand, so that her child wouldn’t end up doing it, and they would be able to sit down to that cup of tea right away and spend some time together, instead of it being too late for the tea by the time I got the dishes done and the table cleared.  But hey, it was no skin off her nose to wait and see if I would do it.

At one point she was capable of this kind of empathetic, maternal thinking and action.  She once told me a story about a vase that I had never seen before — my best guess is that this happened when I was unpacking her stuff at the assisted living place.  She told me that there were once a pair of these vases, and she really, really loved them.  One day my sister broke one.  Of course my mother was upset.  And of course that upset my sister.  My mom said she saw what that did to my sister, and she told me, “So I decided that I wouldn’t let things be that important to me any more.”  In other words, she made a choice to care more about my sister than about herself.  Something obviously changed by the time I knew her.

I have looked for that original Flylady “light bulb” essay several times since then, but have never found it.  Instead, I found this reader question on another blog which expresses some of the same ideas.

I have a really hard time cleaning, I hate it and my definition of clean is more like tidy. Even that, though, is a stretch for me. When I was living at home I used to fight so hard with my dad because my room was always a disaster and many times it trailed out with me. Even at work, I am messy as I go about my business but I clean everything up at the end of the day.

Once my husband and I were married, I would pick up after both of us. I was constantly picking up his dishes and socks. So many socks. Doing our laundry, cooking our dinners… Everything that I figured would make him think I could be a good house wife.  But that’s not me. So when my husband would travel on business, I began living in my house the way I normally would. It never really got to the point that I thought was terrible but when my husband would come home on the weekends I would make a mad dash on Friday to clean the house because I knew he would freak out. With my limited time however, it never really got “his clean”.

Now we are having it out because he is home and gets to see that my daily routine doesn’t really include cleaning. He’s really upset by this and wants me to clean more, but I don’t feel like that’s me. And we can’t seem to come to a compromise. I think it’s my house, too, and I need to be allowed to set some of the standards. What should we do to get past our conflict over housework?

What’s especially pertinent about this woman’s situation is that for most of their marriage, my dad traveled for business a lot.  While I don’t know for sure — because none of my siblings will discuss it rationally — my sister has gone so far as to say, “I wouldn’t call it [the way we lived] ‘haphazard’, but…”

You have to understand that even this faint criticism of my mother is extremely unusual for my sister — so coming from her, it probably translates as “it was pure chaos.”

My dad would leave on Monday, and it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how the end of the week probably went.  Between her aversion to housework and her habit of blaming, I can easily picture my mother saying something to the kids like,

“Well, now we have to do all this work to clean up because your father’s coming home.

Not, “because I don’t want to do it myself” or even “because we all live here and we all need to pitch in and make it nice for everyone”.

Because your father’s coming home.

I know for a fact that she would keep track of all the punishments the boys earned during the week, and make my father administer them when he came home on Friday.  So many swats with the belt for this, so many swats for that.  I personally saw this happen with my two younger brothers, so I am fairly certain it happened with the older ones as well.

Is it any wonder that my oldest brother stated frankly,

“We hated to see him come home on Friday, and we were relieved to see him go on Monday.”

He says this in a recorded conversation, as though this is the most normal thing in the world.  It is clear they have no idea just how utterly fucked-up that sounds.  They hated to see their father come home at the end of the week — but they never asked themselves why, never asked themselves where that idea came from, who put it into their heads.

It’s called “parental alienation” and it usually happens AFTER a divorce, not before:

Children instinctively love both parents and identify with both as part of themselves. They feel immense stress when that love is threatened. Therefore, when a child is told that one of their parents is bad, they feel as though they themselves are bad. This arouses in them feelings of shame, uncertainty, fear and guilt.

It is critical to a child’s sense of security and self-esteem that they be allowed to love both of their biological parents. This doesn’t mean you have to condone bad behavior. It does mean though that you have to allow the child to love who they love and feel what they feel without shame or punishment or control or manipulation.

 It’s also common for people with Personality Disorders to launch distortion campaigns about the other parent and involve the children either directly or indirectly. This is toxic and highly destructive.

It is a stunning testament to the effectiveness of subtle blame-mongering over a lifetime that my nominally-genius-level sister can write to me,

“If you had a bad relationship with Mom, please think about the fact that Dad certainly colored your opinion — and as a 6-,7-, or 8- year old, you would not have even been aware of it”.

Yet she seems completely unaware that the reverse was also true — and to a far, far greater extent.

 

After the Last Straw

This was not written by me, but with a few changes (from “friend” to “family”) — it could have been.  Originally written by lightshouse, I first found a paraphrasing on a thread at outofthefog.net:

you are ASSUMING that if a big enough tragedy struck you, these people would be there for you. They would care. They would make you pots of chicken soup and babysit your children and go the distance for you if ever needed them desperately. Because they know that’s what you’d unfailingly do for them, of course.

But hold on a second — you’re the one who never troubles them. You’re the one who usually gives more than you get. You’re the one they like because you’re so “easy” to know. You don’t make requests, much less demands. You’ve been a piece of cake — a free ride.

And what kind of person really wants the kind of friend who makes sure a person never has to go out of their way too much?

A lame friend, that’s who. A self-centered, uncaring, unempathetic, fair-weather friend. They just LOVE people who never ask for things, because they don’t like giving much, and they like to get more than they give! When you are at your absolute lowest moment in life and most desperately need the support of others, these people you haven’t asked enough from are the ones who will shame, dump, and even smear you.

Fine time for someone to start treating you like garbage, right? But that’s when their true colors will come right through — when suddenly, they have to make a significant effort to stand by you. Because they won’t do it, and they never planned to have to.

All of a sudden, they’ll be telling you that you’re just too high-maintenance, and they’re too busy, too overwhelmed, or too important to support you. They’ll criticize and reject you, and they’ll try to make you feel like you’re just impossible to live with. The truth is, they’re suddenly not getting more than they give, and that’s just not acceptable to them. You have to go back to being their nice, easy friend who never asks anything of them, or you’ve got to go.

You’ll be shocked and horrified, you won’t believe what they’ll do, and you’ll wonder what is so wrong with the world that in your time of deepest need or pain, there is yet another awful realization heaped on your shoulders — your “friend” has no empathy and doesn’t like to give.

What Is Missing

Yesterday, I was talking with a co-worker about skipping family reunions.  Cathy is from upstate New York and she was saying how she is always the one who travels.  “Planes go both ways,” as she said.  And this past year, she didn’t go to hers either.

But, she went on to say that her brothers posted pictures saying things like, “It’s not the same without you!” and “We miss you!”

 

What did my sister post this year?  A picture of the other five siblings with the caption, “ALMOST all the siblings.”

I wrote to her back in ’07 or ’09 that I feel like I am invited “only to complete the set”.  If I needed any further evidence of that, I just got it.

 

What is missing is any kind of indication that I am loved, wanted, valued as the person that I am — not just as number 6 of 6.

If someone loves you, it should FEEL like they love you.

If they don’t, or they’re incapable of showing it…what difference does it truly make? You’re never really going to know. To me, it’s offering false hope, that maybe [she] could learn, or you’ll keep hanging in there, on the premise that [she] loves you deep down.

It doesn’t change the day to day reality.

But What Will They Think?

One of the things I thought about before I started this blog was, “But what will they think?”

I mean, who cares what they think?  They obviously couldn’t give less of a damn about what I think.

For a while I kind of resigned myself to the idea that while writing a blog would be therapeutic — and would get me back into blogging, and maybe even building the new website I’ve been putting off for 4 or 5 years now — and might even be fun — I wouldn’t REALLY dare do it, because of what they would think.

I’ve obviously gotten over that part.  😀  And I need to get past the impulse to be considerate of people who don’t return the favor.

But — what WILL they think?

Well, I can guarantee that their first reaction is either going to be all about them:

OMG what if someone I know has seen this?

How dare she!  How could she do this to us?

or, it will be invalidating:

Is she STILL going on about that?  It happened years ago!!

She still can’t get over it!  How pathetic is that?

 

Here’s some ideas on what I wish they would think, but they won’t:

Maybe she has a right to be angry at us for letting her down so badly, at the one time she really needed support.

Maybe we should listen to her.

Maybe we should have done something before now.  Maybe it isn’t too late.

 

I’ll give you a hint:  I can do this, in just the same way Susan and Joe were able to do what they did to me, and the same way that everyone else passively, easily, let them do it.

And some of them even asked me, or told me, that “I needed” to continue being a good little scapegoat, because that’s what is easiest for everyone else.  One even tried to guilt me into it by suggesting that Dad would be disappointed in me.  IN ME??  Holy shit.  Dad would be a helluva lot more disappointed in Joe, and he’d be mad as hell at Susan.  (Of course, that is because my dad really loved me.  That is what is missing from the rest of the family.)

So what.  As if I owe that bunch a damned thing, after what they have most definitely (a) done to me or (b) not done for me.

I DARE any of them to tell me that I can’t do this, that I am not allowed to do this.

They should have told Susan and Joe that.  I’ll be damned if I let them say it to me and not them.

 

They aren’t healthy people.  In a healthy family, one where people actually cared about each other, and cared about ALL the family members, the elders or the leaders would have talked to everyone, gotten everyone together, straightened things out — they would have done whatever was necessary and they would not have looked for the easiest way out for themselves, nor given up and just let it happen.  They would not allow an in-law to abuse a sibling, control what happened after, let it fester for a dozen years, and just hope and (certainly) pray that it will all blow over, that I will continue to let them get away with it.

They would not pretend that the issue is between me and Susan and Joe, and no one else.

They would not steadfastly refuse to “get involved.”  If they cared at all, they would WANT to get involved.

They would not have noticed me becoming more and more distant, and then instead of asking themselves whether they had done anything to contribute to that, or asking me what is wrong, complain to each other about how distant I’ve become.

I’ve made it very clear what the problem really is, and I believe they are not actually capable of dealing with it.  Either that, or I have to believe that they just don’t want to deal with it, even if it means they lose their little sister.  To them, that is less of a price to pay than to do the right and healthy thing.  They learned these “coping skills” from our mother:  to worry about themselves first, assign blame anywhere else it is possible and safe to do so, and passively pray for a resolution, instead of getting up off their knees and fucking doing something about it.

Untitled-1It’s not as if they haven’t had the tools to do so.  I sent them a fucking diagram of why people become distant.  They are smart people.  If I can do the reading and the googling and learn why things are as fucked up as they are, they can too.  If I can spend the money and the time to go to therapy and learn what is wrong with this family, they can too.  After all, they are all older than me, so they are automatically superior.  They can figure it out, if they want to.

They don’t want to.

They don’t want to.

They might tell themselves and each other all kinds of excuses as to why they “can’t”, but the truth is, they won’t.

That sucks for me and it’s painful for me, but it’s easy for them and it’s true.

Character Assassination With Sugar On Top

This is my SIL in a nutshell (where she belongs).  Read the whole article by Gail Meyers here.
“This is how a narcissist gossips without appearing to be slandering anyone. The narcissist may even be perceived as a concerned, caring person. For example, [the Narcissist]… expresses her great concern… about [The Target’s] fragile emotional state. In reality, [the Narcissist] is being abusive and [the Target] is responding to the abuse, but [the Narcissist] is using that response as proof of your instability.”

So in a very real sense, the narcissist uses your reactions of anger, frustration or outrage to their abuse, to cause you to look crazy to other people.

Apologies

Quick quiz:  which one is from the normal person, and which one is from the toxic narcissist?

My favorite part is where Susan claims she didn’t know I asked her to leave the room.  Clearly, they knew exactly what I asked them to do, because they came up with an alternative that they figured was good enough for me:  “Oh, we’ll just keep it down, keep quiet.”  If you’re going to lie, you probably shouldn’t do it in writing.

I have been told over the years — by people who have no other evidence, other than what Joe and Susan have told them — that they have fully apologized, and that I am petty and unforgiving to not accept the “fauxpology“.  That link is to a post about what a real apology is, and what this is not.  This is, at absolute best, an attempt to share the blame with me for actions that were entirely Susan’s.

Of course, any kind of apology for attacking me and yelling in my face the next day, or for the lies they spread about me afterwards, is utterly lacking.

I suppose I ought to be impressed that she was willing to admit to even sharing the blame for our “misunderstanding.”  That was probably a BIG step for her.

And oddly enough, no one seems to realize that I hold nothing against the hospice nurse.  I forgave her when I first read her heartfelt note, saying she was sorry for what she had unknowingly done to me.  There is no attempt at justifying her actions because she “didn’t know what I wanted”, there is no implication that we share the blame equally, there is no arguing over what specific words I said that were “disrespectful”.

She just expressed sorrow in knowing that she had made my pain worse, and acknowledged that she, and no one else, was responsible for having done that to me.

Teresa, wherever you may be now, I would gladly hug you, and thank you for caring about me more than my so-called family.

The History, Part 1 – Dad’s Death

And boy, is there a lot of it.

But it starts with the night my father died.

He had died maybe a half-hour ago.  I was sitting next to his body as we waited for the ambulance to come and take him away, because I didn’t want to leave him alone, in the corner of the living room where my brothers had shoved the hospital bed almost as soon as he was gone, before most of them scattered to various other rooms.

I was listening to my sister-in-law having a jolly conversation with the hospice nurse, not 10 feet away.  Susan is also a nurse, and they were merrily talking shop, and laughing, as though nothing of any significance had just happened.

I had already left the room once, and gone down to the basement, tacitly accepting that their sociable small talk and laughter — LAUGHTER! — took precedence over my wishes at my father’s deathbed.  With the help of my husband, who followed me, I decided that I would regret not having stayed by my father if I didn’t go back.  So I went back, and listened to some more laughter and happy chatter.

I finally got up the courage to say, “Excuse me.”  They were so loud, I had to say it twice before I could get their attention.

I asked, “Could you take this… this chat into another room?”

I don’t remember which one of them said it, but the response I got was, “Oh, we’ll just keep it quiet.”  Of course, within minutes they were laughing and talking as loudly as before.

I said nothing more to Susan then.  The ambulance finally came and took my father away, wrapping blankets even over his face, which bothered me.  I remember one of the ambulance attendants saying something about, “He’s a long one.”  I muttered so only my husband could hear, “TALL.  He was TALL.”  He had been six feet even.  Now he was “long”.

I waited until the next morning, when Susan’s husband, my brother Joe, was alone in the kitchen.  Almost everyone else was out of the house, either at church or their own homes.

I said to him something like, “I wasn’t happy with the way Susan acted yesterday.”

Immediately, Susan came running into the room — she must have been eavesdropping, and immediately seized the chance to be the “third man in” — and the two of them began yelling at me, shouting in my face things I thankfully couldn’t make out between the two of them.  I must have started looking down at the floor in an effort to shut them out, because I remember Susan actually bending down, the better to shout right into my face.

[ETA:  another brother was still in the house.  He recently told me he came up the basement stairs and saw me sitting in a kitchen chair.  I have no recollection of sitting, but he said he saw Susan bend down to shout into my face.  He also said he thought she was going to grab my shoulders and shake me, she was so enraged.]

any challenge, disagreement or even mildly negative remark from another person is considered criticism, rejection or mockery. Narcissists perceive these as an all-out assault or total betrayal, and go to war with the person who dares to do that to them. A mere slight is apt to result in shouting, screaming, and making absurd accusations against the victim for having such atrocious intentions and actions.

I now know this is called a “narcissistic rage attack“, but that day I had no idea what was happening.  I was just completely shocked.  My husband had come into the room, and I looked to him for help, but he was just as shocked as I was.

I fled the house, only to find later (years later) that this gave Susan and Joe the opportunity to spin the whole thing as being my fault:  to say that I had started the fight, that I had “criticized” her and her job when I had asked her to go talk in another room, that I had been emotional and over-reactive.  This threw me for another loop.  I had no idea that anyone I knew, let alone a beloved brother, could lie so deliberately and viciously.  I now know this is called “character assassination” and it is a favorite tool of narcissists.

Unfortunately, due to other circumstances in my family, it worked perfectly.  Everyone else was only too happy to accept their explanation of what had happened.  Not one person, out of five older siblings and their three spouses, asked me about what had happened — although I did get told by one brother that I “should have approached Joe alone first.”  This is what should have started giving me the clue that what everyone was told, and what everyone perceived, was not the truth.

The therapist I eventually went to never did understand why no one defended me — why no one told Susan, “Hey, lay off her.  She is our sister, and she is grieving.  Cut her some slack.”  My therapist once said, mystified, “You’re not even allowed to defend yourself.”

Even weirder — in the 3 days leading up to my father’s death, absolutely everyone in the house agreed on two things (or said they did, at any rate):

  1. I was going to take Dad’s death the hardest.
  2. We all need to cut each other some slack during this difficult time.

As my husband said in the sole group meeting we had after all the shit hit the fan (which Susan did not attend) —

You were all saying that you knew she would take it the hardest, so why were you so surprised when she did?”

Over the years I have found out some of the reasons why it all happened the way it did.  Some of it is just a “Perfect Storm”.  Susan is a toxic narcissist, and I am the family scapegoat who allows Susan (and everyone else) to pretend there is nothing wrong with her and her toxic behavior.  In much the same way, my mom was able to blame my dad for everything her whole life, and thus pretend there was nothing wrong with her.

You see, while from my point of view, this is a hugely complicated mess of a family problem that will probably never be resolved due to certain people’s issues and their resistance to working on them — from their point of view, it’s really, really simple.  This sad, tragic family rift exists entirely because I “refuse to let bygones be bygones”.

In reality, I just refuse to quietly accept the blame for the results of Susan’s vicious behavior, and the pain that behavior caused me — which is what created the “bygones” in the first place.  And I seem to bear a lot of other blame for the results of a lot of other peoples’ actions and choices, as it turns out.

The Susan Incident is what started this journey.  This website is part of the journey, and its purpose is to help me break the bonds that still hold me to the people I have known the longest:  the people from whom I first learned about love and trust and what “family” means, the people who ought to have protected and taken care of me, especially as the baby of that family — and who have chosen not to protect me now, nor allow me to defend myself.

They refuse to listen.  I have a right to be heard.

The next part of the story.

“When A Narcissist Tells You

a tale in which they are the innocent victim of some irrational monster… you are being recruited as a flying monkey.” ~~ Gail Meyers

Which is precisely what Susan did to me with my family, and what my mother also did to the older siblings.  I suppose I ought to feel sorry for them, having got out of the clutches of one, only to have another marry into the group — and someday, I hope I can feel sorry for them.  I do realize what a fucked-up mess they are, on an intellectual level, but I’m not at the point of empathy yet.

When I wrote my personal Declaration of Independence to my family in 2013, my sister wrote back and admitted that she refused to read what I had written, but nonetheless felt able to write her own angry screed in return.  Among the items on her numbered list:

(7) If you had a bad relationship with Mom, please think about the fact that Dad certainly colored your opinion — and as a 6-,7-, or 8- year old, you would not have even been aware of it.

The irony is breathtaking.
If anyone in my family colored anyone else’s opinions, it was Mom blaming Dad for just about everything, and playing the martyr to make people feel sorry for her.

Gail writes,

What I have realized is the flying monkeys generally have their own reasons for behaving the way they do…  They may know the truth, but lack the backbone to stand up for what is right. They may themselves fear becoming a target of the narcissist. They may have been a target of the narcissist in the past. They may have been taught to get along with everyone regardless. They may also be a narcissist themselves or hiding their own troubling behavior.

While the situation with my mother is more complicated — with The Susan Incident, I can put names to almost every one of those reasons.  What I can’t believe is that Gail left out the one that always worked for my mother, and works for Susan:

“They feel sorry for the narcissist.”

The full article by Gail Meyers can be read here.