Unfriending My Abuser, by Patty Hite

This may be a bit “off topic,” but I’m seeing that BPD goes hand in hand with incest, sexual and physical abuse, murder of the soul, and much much more. Talk about having to cut ties with families like this: take a look at “Unfriending My Abuser.”

I think this article is saving my life. It could be the story of my life, as a grown woman over 60 years of age. It’s just what I’m going through now.

I do have the right to be FREE to talk about what happened, tell the truth, and hope others protect their children the way I was not protected. This comes through in this terrific article by Patty Hite.

http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/11/21/unfriending-my-abuser/

Nov 21st, 2010 | By Patty Hite |

I thank God for the internet every single day, and for the courage of those who are willing to share their stories. Together we can be strong.

Note:

I refused to “friend” any of my abusive family as I don’t want to be traumatized on Facebook by seeing their images and reading what they are doing every single day, and I don’t want to have to “watch my words” even though there are a few relatives I do stay in contact with. And I told the two well-meaning relatives exactly why I’m not friending any “family.” No response of course, but we stay in touch by email. What a relief.

I have to remember that even well-meaning aunts and uncles are all part of the same dysfunctional system, and I get the same “You need therapy” from them or they say “You must have done something” when I tell what happened, instead of “the abuser needs jail time.”

I come from an Irish Catholic family, and whenever I hear them ranting and raving about pedophile priests I point out that as long as families continue protect their abusers, nothing is going to change. No response to that. Even from the “well-meaning” ones. So it’s better to keep separate and not be re-injured and further traumatized.

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52 Responses to Unfriending My Abuser, by Patty Hite

  1. Totally relevant, because whether or not abuse is sexual, abuse always occurs. It’s a violation of boundaries that I think occurs in degrees, like burns. Skerritt calls BPD and NPD “abusive disorders,” because the people who exhibit them almost inevitably try to feel better about themselves by “dumping” on those close to them.

    And “unfriending” a parent who has adamantly refused to take responsibility or engage with counseling or therapy is sometimes the only self-respecting course of action. If you’re expected to talk to a person as if nothing hurtful ever happened, while remembering how that person violated you, or simply berated or badgered you to tears without ever owning their own shit… it’s like letting them reprise the abuse. Enough is enough.

    Tangentially, I’ve noticed that people who still shoulder the obligation of participating in a relationship with their abusive parents — or god help us, taking care of them as they age — keep sharing the wealth with everyone around them; they’re still absorbing the “dumping” that isn’t their job to absorb, and inevitably turn around and pass it on. They may be hyper-responsible people, people who have done a lot of therapy, people who know their moms are screwed-up, but as long as they continue to take responsibility for Mom’s problems, they have a knack for making people feel “sad, bad or mad,” as Joanna Ashmun says. I mentioned in my post about Fixing Things a hyper-responsible woman who regularly works herself sick — a kind, warm person with a lot of perspective on her childhood. But she complied with the expectation that she give her abusive, quite nasty mother house room and eventually undertook the micro-management of her nursing home care. I have never known someone so otherwise generous and loving who nonetheless disseminated such weird, random blasts of bad feeling, centered around assertions about the One Right Way to do something (which of course isn’t the way my car mechanic or house painter did it) — the kind of remark that leaves you feeling you just haven’t met the highest standards. Fortunately I only deal with her in a highly structured setting, and I can shake off conversations that veer this way, like a wet dog.

    And I’ve just given a sort of Friendship Cease And Desist Order to an old high school friend whose mom had the credentials — all the classic Hermit traits — he’s still driving hours on end to grapple with the chronic problems she generates in assisted-living care. After getting free of a 15-year marriage to a ripsnorting borderline (a histrionic, physically abusive woman who blackmailed him with suicide threats) he got into a habit of dropping in to talk, which was fine, until he suddenly felt called on to correct my views on current events — the kind of thing where friends can always agree to disagree — in the snottiest terms you can imagine. Damn if I’m going to take that because someone really needed to say “Hey mom, hey wife, I’m not your punching bag.”

    IMHO, people need to stop carrying the karma of their abusive families for one enormous reason: it fucks up their connection with their friends.

  2. catherinetodd says:

    You have described what I think is going on with my youngest sister, who has hurt me and hit me to the core:

    “Tangentially, I’ve noticed that people who still shoulder the obligation of participating in a relationship with their abusive parents — or god help us, taking care of them as they age — keep sharing the wealth with everyone around them; they’re still absorbing the “dumping” that isn’t their job to absorb, and inevitably turn around and pass it on. They may be hyper-responsible people, people who have done a lot of therapy, people who know their moms are screwed-up, but as long as they continue to take responsibility for Mom’s problems, they have a knack for making people feel “sad, bad or mad,” as Joanna Ashmun says.”

    What a great way to put it. Joanna Ashmun really knew “where it is at.”

    Every contact I have with her, no matter how friendly or supportive it begins, ALWAYS ends up with her blindsiding me with some exceedingly cold, cruel statement from “out of the blue.” This is standard procedure in my family, and it’s like having acid thown in my face. This is a huge reason I stayed away for more than 20 years, and now – even by email – any contact results in exactly the same forum. A coliseum of cruelty and abuse. All learned “at home,” from the EXPERTS.

    My youngest sister, the “good child” that our mother loved, turned into a carbon copy of my mother and now that my mother is dead has apparently decided that it’s her role in life to pick up the cudgel and carry the flag. Meaning pound me in the ground. Disintegrate me into dust. But I’m still here and I won’t shut up! I won’t go away, I won’t die and be silent just to satisfy them. I’m sure they would be happier if I were dead (just like my mother wished I were gone) but I’m not and I’ll never kill myself just to satisfy them. Even though as a child, I felt I had “no right to live.” That’s how I was made to feel. It was being born into a concentration camp with prisoners and guards at every door. And they haven’t changed a bit. And a part of me is still a “prisoner” in my mind.

    That’s what I have to still work on: how to find the KEY and open the door. And leave mentally and spiritually, not just physically the way I did when I was sixteen.

    I’ve said all my life to various people, when I finally found the courage to leave:

    “I’m not your punching bag. Find somebody else.”

    But then I’d go out and find their twin or their clone. I’d say that finally now, at age 61, I’m finally learning to stay away from ANYONE, male or female, who makes me feel “sad, bad, or mad.”

    I knew better when it came to men, but could never stand up to females since I wanted my mother’s love and my sisters friendship. Now I can see, after all these long years, that their jealousy and hatred is real and hard and hurtful and there’s nothing I can do about it.

    JUST LET GO.

    • Don’t I know about that knack for finding people that dish out the same abuse. I’ve probably been hypersensitive in some cases over the years, walked away from a few people that might not have been guaranteed to keep producing putdowns regularly — you know, sometimes people just are having a bad day — but I can’t afford to hang around and find out once a certain line has been crossed. It’s like throwing out stuff that’s been in the fridge past the sell by date.

  3. catherinetodd says:

    “I have never known someone so otherwise generous and loving who nonetheless disseminated such weird, random blasts of bad feeling, centered around assertions about the One Right Way to do something (which of course isn’t the way my car mechanic or house painter did it) — the kind of remark that leaves you feeling you just haven’t met the highest standards. Fortunately I only deal with her in a highly structured setting, and I can shake off conversations that veer this way, like a wet dog.”

    What a way to put it. That’s EXACTLY how things go with my youngest sister, except her “right way” is asserted in telling me how WRONG I AM. Always. It always starts out so cheerfully, and ends so full of trauma. I *almost* feel sorry for her. But I think it’s hopeless.

  4. Catherine Todd says:

    Dear Ms, you always hit the nail on the head! You wrote:

    “Don’t I know about that knack for finding people that dish out the same abuse. I’ve probably been hypersensitive in some cases over the years, walked away from a few people that might not have been guaranteed to keep producing putdowns regularly… but I can’t afford to hang around and find out once a certain line has been crossed. It’s like throwing out stuff that’s been in the fridge past the sell by date.”

    Wow. What a way to put it. Can’t wait to see this in your book. It’s funny (*almost*) because I’ve pretty much broken myself of my bad habits of putting up with so much garbage from men, after YEARS of “fighting back” against repeated verbal and uncaring abuse… (fighting back – arguing, but taking a year or more to walk away!) and now I’m trying to deal with the negative FEMALES in my life. I either put up with so much garbage or I avoid them within the first five minutes of seeing what kind of people they are. It’s the one I make excuses for, or decide to “give another chance to” that are the ones who deal the greatest blows. It might take them a year or more, but get me they do. And I would have seen it from the VERY BEGINNING but IGNORED IT. So I really have no one to blame but myself. Salt in the wound, but at least it’s happened enough times that maybe it’s penetrated my “thick head.” And my “thin skin.”

    I have never really dared to take females on, since they are all my “mother” or my “sisters.” How do you fight back against your own mother?

    Mother and sisters who I wanted to “love me” all my life, so I never – or rarely- said anything back to my sisters until I would just BLOW. I never talked back to my mother… that was VERBOTEN to the extreme. That woman always had the last and final word. You learned that early on.

    But my sisters would needle me or say the most horrendous things – throwing acid in my face – blindsiding me until I just couldn’t take it any more. They would push those buttons with a vengeance, over and over again. And being raised together, they knew just where and what hurt the most. That’s how we were raised! Go in “full metal jacket” and make it hurt… as my mother would say, after she would say or do the cruelest most painful things, and I would say “Ouch! Why did you do that?” And she would say “Good! I wanted it to hurt! I want you to know what it feels like!”

    For whatever you had done wrong, as a kid. It was horrible to see that look on her face saying “GOOD I WANTED IT TO HURT.”

    This is how we were raised. And my sisters have followed suit. They are carbon copy clones of my mother, mean as all get out. Nice and smiling and friendly one minute, and turn on you in a second.

    Getting angry was how they would win… and was sure to ruin any “rightness” I might have had. But they would keep needling me over and over again until I would finally get mad and then – guess what? They WON. It was a terrible game they play and it doesn’t happen around anyone else, or at least if it does I have the good sense to stay away from those people, instead of wondering “what I did wrong” or “why don’t they like me…” There’s always a selfish motive involved with people who want to keep you off-balance, whether it’s money, power, greed, superiority, or whatever. It’s like dogs fighting to be the leader of the pack, and I don’t have time or interest in any of that. None what so ever. EVER. NONE EVER. NEVER.

    I want to LIVE. Thanks for keeping me alive… my spirit, mind, heart and soul. Really, what else is there? I want to BE HERE NOW. And BE HAPPY HERE AND NOW.

    I read somewhere that “life is a school and we are here to learn a lesson” and Lord help me see what this one is! I have had to try and overcome my own desire for vengeance and coming in, in full-battle dress mode, at the drop of a hat. I have had to fight MY SELF all my life.

    • Bull’s eye several times over. Yes — there are few things so awful as knowing that your own mother “wanted it to hurt” — as if you were somehow the author of everything that had ever hurt her, and she imagined she was inflicting her just payback. I really believe these are people whose inner selves are so chaotic that they actually CAN’T tell the difference, on an instinctive level, between whoever hurt them when they were young and the people close to them in the present day. But as children, we had no clue what was going on. They saw themselves as fighting for their lives in some demented way; we were just trying to get *through* life.

      And of course it leaves you with a susceptibility to engaging with the same kind of person. Hey — it’s what we know how to do; it’s what we’re used to.

      I think a critical step here is accepting that we’re orphans. We really have to become something not programmed into the human genome — an individual without parents, without a “tie” to a tribe or gallery of ancestors. I used to imagine myself being born from some sort of natural feature like stone or water, the sort of thing you read about in children’s books of myths.

      It takes a long time to find the equilibrium to deal with those people who needle you until you lose it, and then they win… the curse of my school years, which I now realize I was conditioned to in the cradle. But oh, the quiet that descends every time you realize that that is what someone’s trying to do, and say in whatever way fits the situation: “I won’t let you do that.”

  5. Catherine Todd says:

    Standfast, I can’t believe you brought this up – i.e. “being an orphan.” Or WISHING I was an orphan! That would have been a thousand times preferable to the life I was raised with. My favorite book of all time – and the one that “formed me” the most when I was about ten years old – was about The Boxcar Children.

    I read this book over and over again and was DETERMINED to find myself a home that I could make for myself out of an old unused boxcar from a train. I just looked up the stories on Amazon (I remembered the title as “The Boxcar Twins” but it’s The Boxcar Children”):

    The Boxcar Children Books 1-4 [Box set] [Paperback]

    5.0 out of 5 stars Four plucky orphans take on the world
    This pleasant story opens as four tired and hungry siblings, aged 5 to 15, press their noses against a bakery window, eyeing the lovely goodies inside. They have recently lost their parents and are on the run from their mean grandfather, whom they have never met. They find an abandoned boxcar in the woods, set up housekeeping, and live quite happily on berries, bread,…
    Read the full review › …more http://www.amazon.com/Boxcar-Children-Books-1-4/dp/0807508543/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    I actually found the first book written with the story about hanging curtains in the boxcar, and keeping their milk bottle cool down by the creek, and getting groceries every day for running errands and sweeping out the nice old couple’s grocery store… I couldn’t believe that this little think illustrated story set me on my path for life.

    Here’s the original one I grew up with, which would have been around 1960:

    http://www.amazon.com/Boxcar-Children-No-Mysteries/dp/0807508527/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310535363&sr=1-1

    Publisher info: Children’s NOTES Boxcar Children Redux Two titles mark a landmark anniversary of a classic series. The first, The Boxcar Children 60th Anniversary Edition by Gertrude Chandler Warner [born April 16, 1890]…

    I could be an orphan, and with or without siblings or support, I could support my Self.

    But I never believed it, come Thanksgivings, Christmas, Birthdays and Holidays. No matter what I did during the rest of the year, nothing but nothing made up for not having a family for holidays. I tried to make my own family but that didn’t work. Now I have “family” for the first time with Georgina here in Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. I have found my grandmother’s house where I am welcome and wanted, for the first time in years. It makes all the difference in the world, just having ONE PLACE where somebody wants you!

    Just like these wonderful websites we have all discovered and are creating TOGETHER.

    Miracles never cease. Gracias por todo. Amen.

    I’ve been wanting to “run away from home” my entire life, but an finally finding a way to create my own Home, inside, which I carry wherever I go. And I’m 61 years old. Thank God for the internet. Without it I might well be drunk, drugged, or dead. Or a very prolific writer!

    • Oh yes, I read the entire Boxcar Children book in one “”sitting” (hiding behind my history book in third grade, I think…)! Decades later I found a copy on Amazon to have for my own. Yeah, it would be better to be an orphan than a lot of the situations we’ve known about (mine was really on the thin edge, because despite all the crap I took there was some adherence to a certain level of parenting, and no overt physical or sexual abuse, but I fantasized about it nevertheless).

      I’m really allergic to holidays. Another thing that Skerritt demystified for me — one of his later books had some material on how a borderline caught up in the narcissistic defense struggles with the need for perfection in the spotlight context of a holiday observance. And of course you, their child, must also be perfect because of the reflection on them. (Spouses can find themselves in the same pickle). Except that, of course, if they begin to feel the least bit shaky they will look for someone to throw under the bus, and that will be you. Which makes them feel even more insecure because someone has now seen their mask of perfection waver. Meltdown is inevitable. Reading his discussion of this in a draft update of “Tears and Healing” that was available for download made my whole life pass before my eyes. I actually avoid holidays, celebrations, special events, festivals, anything where there’s a time limit on your chance to “do it right,” because I just don’t want a replay of the goddam pressure. But I do know what you mean about there needing to be a place where you’re welcome. I haven’t found it yet — or rather, I’ve concluded that it’s in my own living room with my cats.

      There’s a checkbox that appears under the comment form and it should turn on comment notification.

  6. Catherine Todd says:

    Notify me of comments…

  7. Catherine Todd says:

    Where can I find “Tears and Healing?” Would like to read it.

    I know exactly what you mean about holidays, but I want to spend it with CHILDREN. That’s when I have been the happiest, and I was surrounded by children for many years. It’s time for more. No grandkids of my own, unfortunately (but it’s fortunate actually since my only son is an educated alchoholic like so many of my relatives). So all the “orphan” children – or those with absent parents – have always gravitated to me, but now I don’t even do that because then I have to deal with the parents. Too much like what I grew up with at home, as they are usually abusive parents in one way or another, or their children wouldn’t be desperate to be near me. But I love children with all my heart. Would love to find more.

    • http://tearsandhealing.com/
      It’s sold rather pricily, but Skerritt features lots of excerpts on the website and will send them by e mail subscription as well.

      I avoid children actually — they seem to me too much like my mother, pushy, loud, intrusive, callous and inconsiderate. (I had to restrain myself from exploding yesterday in the grocery store the third or fourth time two gradeschool-age boys ran down the aisle, nearly colliding with me, while they took turns yelling “Yuck! Yuck!” over different foods they saw on display and their mother did nothing to put a stop to it.) I never see that wonderful sweet tender aspect of childhood that people keep talking about — I see only thoughtlessness and self-centeredness, and I have had enough of that to last a lifetime. (Remember Joanna Ashmun’s observation that a narcissist is a lot like a normal six year old?) . I do care about my teenage friend and did when I met her at the age of eight — she is no miracle of unselfishness, except that I have seen with my own eyes what she’s gone through, and I have heard startling maturity and reflectiveness from her lips, the kind of thing I never heard from my peers when I was the same age.

      At least there’s a balance when some people are like you. As long as children are around, they need someone to have time for them — just don’t anyone ever ask me to be that person.

      (One of the reasons that books like the “Boxcar” series caught my imagination, I think, was the amazing presentation of children who weren’t as cruel, vicious and superficial as the ones I had to deal with in school every day — I think that children’s books with actual sensitive, good hearted protagonists kept me from completely despairing at the prospect of having to live in the world.)

  8. Catherine Todd says:

    It’s good that you are with teenagers, as I don’t know what to do with them. I left home at age 16, and from 14 on was pretty much tortured by my so-called peers. So we do have a balance here. So many things I have *almost* completely forgotten about, but it’s all shaped me so far. Very far.

    What you wrote about the Boxcar Children was probably why it was so incredibly popular. Once children get to be a bit older, they can get so mean. It’s unbelievable. I don’t know what the metamorphosis is, but morph it does and morph they do. And it’s not always a pretty sight. That’s something I wonder about often. So many times it can be just a few, or the evil Triumverate of “mean girls” who start and maintain all the trouble. My mother was one of those in our family, but she felt excluded herself by the other girls when she was thirteen. She talked about it often as if she had never gotten over it. She was a mean one.

    I will be glad when verbal bullying is illegal just like physical bullying is now. Finally.

  9. Catherine Todd says:

    Looks like I lost a long comment during WordPress “maintenance” (can’t remember enough to rewrite it) but good to read the above. Almost too good. Really looking forward to re-reading all this again – and again – and again – when I get “time.” It’s so good to work on this and then quit for awhile and work on my “work.” Both at the same time. My whole life’s work.

  10. Alas, there will never be a way to stop verbal bullying just by prohibiting it (people can hiss poison into a person’s ears in a split second, as our own mothers proved). But I do hope for a day when the people in charge of schools and similar grasp that they cannot get themselves off the hook by placing the onus on the victim of gang-up bullying to “ignore it” or “deal with it” or “make an effort to make friends” or any of the other absurd crap that I was fobbed off with.

    Anyone remember the movie “Carrie,” and the gym teacher who lines up the nasty little rich-bitch bullies and tells them unequivocally that what they did was a really shitty thing and she was ashamed of them? She was my hero. The person who did what I wished one responsible adult after another would do.

    I suspect that a lot of the kids who get bullied are the ones who are unsupported at home, already visibly flinching, used to coping with abuse — often borderline or narcissist abuse. the other little predators smell blood. They may have their own issues of course, but it doesn’t entitle them to a pass any more than BP parents get a pass.

  11. I always have wondered why I was bullied and tormented so badly as well… going to public high school was the most (one of the most) painful periods of my entire life. I came out of a sheltered Catholic school with uniforms and kind nuns and everyone lined up silently in a row… into a den of chaos and iniquity and I can’t believe I even survived it. It was hell at school and hell at home and if it hadn’t been for ONE ART TEACHER who would take me aside and tell me that IT WOULD GET BETTER once I was in college… and she took me under her wing and gave me clothes (she must have seen the rags I was in) and gave me attention and made me feel like I was something in this world… not something special but not something to kill or maim either… I wish I could remember her name. She saved me just like that female juvenile judge saved me as well. Champaign Ill. and it was the darkest time of my life but those two angels appeared.

    God is Good.

    And I still think that verbal abuse should be illegal, whether we can actually stop it or not. It’s just like murder is illegal even though people still do it. And defamation, slander and libel is considered “murdering one’s reputation,” and is treated the same in a court of law. We need laws that protect people so that wrong-doing can at least be attempted to be controlled. Bad behavior has to be punished in one way or another, or how else do some people learn?

    If those “mean gilrs” and “bullying boys” had to go to real detention, like incarceration for a day or two, maybe they would learn to shut their mouths. That or get their mouths washed out with lye soap.

  12. Catherine Todd says:

    And thank God we aren’t still telling children to “ignore it and they’ll stop.” What a lie that was! And then when they didn’t stop, it became MY FAULT.

    Ignore them and all they do is get worse and worse and worse. Just like a virus that keeps on spreading…

    My above post sounds like my angels that saved me did the same thing that you are doing for your young friend. And you asked what other people did that helped… I guess this is part of the answer. Thank God for those few kind souls we gravitate to in this world. The accepting ones, the loving ones, the ones with true kindness in their hearts. So few and far between, but they are sparkling like diamonds and jewels, in the muck and the mud.

    ~~~~~~

    I actually took some neighborhood bullies to court a couple of years ago. They had been tormenting me for four long awful years, and after I finally called the police when things got really out of hand (threatened me with bodily harm and more), the policeman insisted that I go to court. He said “Until you do, they are never going to stop.” And he was right. The day we were in court, the judge said for them to leave me alone and we should both stay out of each other’s way, and they had to pay for a lawyer because they knew they could go to jail, and I WON.

    Judgment didn’t have to be “in my favor” or grant me any damages, because all I wanted was for them to stop and they did. It was enough to put them on notice, and if they did it again to me or to anyone else, the judge would “remember their name.” That’s what he said and they knew he meant business. I couldn’t believe that I was so frightened to go to court… scared out of my wits but I did it and the minute I legally stood up for myself it all ended. That moment. Why I waited for four long, miserable years is beyond me. I kept thinking that “surely they would want to be friends” and stop all this hatred. Stupid me. We used to be on good terms when they could get something from me, but with their constant drug and alcohol BPD rages, why did I think that things would be different with me?

    Just like my family, except my family is “educated” and if they use drugs, they are prescription drugs and any alcohol is more expensive brands. So I wished that they would be “friends” just like I wished my family would one day be “friends.” I waited and waited and waited for nothing but things to get worse and then I went to court, shut the gate, built a fence and used our back driveway.

    Lo and behold, PEACE REIGNED.

    Those people still fight with all the neighbors in their little corner of hell, but I now look out towards the garden and peace and quiet reigns. Just like when I finally left home.

    • That’s fairly amazing. It is true that when you show your teeth, sometimes wretches will back down, but I’ve never found there to be any workable solution other than putting distance between myself and these people. When it’s someone like my mother, or like the “quacks like a borderline” people that I’ve gotten entangled with through the seduction of familiarity later in life, the only peace available came from being able to decree that we would not see each other again.

  13. Catherine Todd says:

    Ms, You wrote:

    “I’ve never found there to be any workable solution other than putting distance between myself and these people.”

    That’s TRUE. Hence the fence, closing (locking) the gate and using our back driveway. But it’s my mind I’m concerned with, the constant “wishing that things were different; wishing that we were friends” that keeps torturing me. That’s what I don’t know how to deal with. I ask God every single day and every single night and as often as I can during the day to release me from this kind of thinking, and let me come to some kind of acceptance, but EVERYONE becomes my mother and my sisters who I wished (wish) were my friends, instead of my enemies. That’s what I don’t know how to handle.

    This looks like a great website:

    Borderline Personality Disorder and Buddhism (III)

    http://americanbuddhist.blogspot.com/2008/09/borderline-personality-disorder-and.html#uds-search-results

    I can never find this blog with google search. Is there something that needs to be turned on? CT

    • Probably just not high enough in the Google results. That’s why I picked a kind of weird site URL, “triumphtreehouse,” not common but something not too hard to remember — words that don’t usually go together. Try using that if you need to search from an alien computer. :)

      I like the Buddhist weblog posts. Because I’m impressed with some of the strategies in Dialectic Therapy (which truly recruits the thinking brain in a way that doesn’t disease-ify or belittle the person in therapy), I’m attracted to this sort of discussion. I note that the various other sites linked from that blog — I had quite a long surf — contain a lot of material from borderlines working on themselves who hate being stigmatized as intractable, unfixable, incurable.

      And that is something worth keeping in mind, because as children of borderlines we have most likely caught some of their behavior patterns, and we would hate to be declared unfixable. The critical point is that some people recognize that their lives are screwed up by a personality disorder and actually engage with therapy and set a goal of ceasing to hurt those close to them (as well as themselves). I think those of us who reacted so strongly to Christine Lawson’s book and similar material did so because we never got any validation that the person abusing us was the one with the problem — certainly not from them, and possibly not even from witnesses or other family until very late, if ever. We dealt with people who handled their dysfunction with denial; they had learned the narcissistic defense, it was all our fault for being wrong or bad or disappointing in some way, they were enduring their terrible child (!) as best they knew how (and often terrible spouse, terrible friends, whatever); their position was “I am not going to any shrink” (I will never forget receiving a short note on white bond paper with that sentence written especially large across the middle of the page). They had, as in the Dante line I treasure, “lost the good of the intellect;” sometimes it felt as if they hadn’t just lost it but thrown it as far from them as they could manage.

      We do have to remember that people with personality disorders aren’t intrinsically bad or necessarily lost, but that is the extra-cruel tragedy of the ones who are so unable to deal with the idea of being flawed that denial and projection are never forgone. And if BPD sufferers are reading this at any point, I want them to know that at least in my view, the fact that they identify as experiencing the problem means that I honor them. I may not want to interact knowingly with people who are still prone to BPD drama — I’m too hypersensitized. But it’s a relief to me to think that there’s a culture of recovery for those who are prepared to engage.

  14. Catherine Todd says:

    You wrote: “We do have to remember that people with personality disorders aren’t intrinsically bad or necessarily lost…”

    They aren’t? Hard for me to believe, considering the attacks I’ve suffered for over 60 years. But I’ll try to see it “their way.” But all I know is that a pit bull should be chained and kept away from people, and when certain people finally die or disappear or go away somehow, everyone around them finds instant peace. And I can’t be but glad for those favors. I’ve known too many people that dominated whole groups and attacked at will. They need to be put out of OUR misery!

    No, I have no sympathy or compassion for them. The best I can do right now is not wish them ill, and put it in God’s Hands.

    • That’s about the best perspective any of us can have. The one thing that is NOT required is that any of us continue to suffer from the projections of people who are fragmented in this way. They’re like a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower that works some of the time and then periodically shoots out bullets like a machine gun because something’s gone wrong with the inner works. Only unlike a machine, they have the inborn capacity to realize — if they only can muster the gumption — that something IS wrong. Some do. And you’re right, some are lost — but only because they choose to stay that way. In some of the Gnostic heresies even Satan repents and confesses at the end of time. But meanwhile we don’t have to stay in the path of the bullets. It’s not our job to fix them but, still, I recognize that all that malfunction had its origin in some kind of suffering.

      We aren’t responsible for what they project on us — for instance my mother envied her youngest sister, I suppose she was the “favorite” in the family, and somehow that all got muddled with me being the “baby,” and when she was upset, I was expected to pay the price for things that happened before I was born. SCREW that. There was no validity in that and nothing I needed to “see her way” unless it were to help me understand why I was being blamed for things I hadn’t done. But people don’t just become out-of-control bad for no reason. I also remember hearing that my grandfather beat all the kids with a belt, except his youngest, who instead got her own playhouse and new clothes. And what makes someone beat his kids with a belt? Hard to imagine someone just wakes up one morning and decides to do that.

      They fuck you up, your mum and dad;
      They may not mean to, but they do.
      They pass on all the faults they had
      And add some extra, just for you.

      But they were fucked-up in their turn
      By fools in old-style hats and coats
      Who half the time were soppy-stern
      And half at one another’s throats.

      Man hands on misery to Man.
      It deepens like a coastal shelf.
      Get out as early as you can,
      And don’t have any kids yourself.
      –Philip Larkin

  15. anonymous says:

    My father used to come into my room when I was asleep and beat me with a belt, his heavy military shoe, a hanger, a scrap of 2×4: anything at all. I was the nightmare queen for most of my life and I could NEVER go to sleep “easy.” Always afraid of “what might come.” Always on edge, could never relax. That man “suffered” from rages all right, and took it out on all of us, and my mother blamed ME as a child for ALL OF IT.

    Both of them can burn in hell for all I care. It matters little that they may have “suffered” in some way to be that way… and it’s true I finally found a bit of compassion for them both. That’s why I didn’t buy a gun and get on a plane and kill someone. I prayed to God every single day to grant them forgiveness because I couldn’t find it in my own heart. And in doing so, 18 months later, I was free. So far it has actually worked. At least I don’t wish them “ill” and figure they have had to suffer their own life. Along with ours.

    If this hadn’t worked, I’d be in prison right now and I’d have to ask God for forgiveness for taking a life. But they didn’t mind taking mine, and threatening to “kill me” every time they got mad. I grew up in fear for my life after being strangled on more than one occasion, and much worse than that.

    The Buddhists had compassion for their torturers, “knowing the karma” their torturers were building up for themselves. The Dalai Lama says the monks had no PTSD symptoms. Can you imagine?

    I’m still suffering from it all and it’s been 40 years.

    I’m like an emancipated slave, or a Vietnam Vet who had been captured and tortured for sixteen years, still suffering from battle fatigue and post traumatic stress. When will it ever end? I’m sick of this same story that I escaped from when I was 16.

    And we, as children, are now “diagnosed” as if there is something wrong with US. WHAT DO PEOPLE EXPECT?

    I’m 61 years old. Time to come “home.” Find a home, create a home, learn how to make a home… learn how to love and forgive? I WILL FIND PEACE.

    This is all dredging up so much it is making me sick. But I feel like it’s “getting the toxins out” if there is such a thing. I’ve never done a physical “cleanse,” but this feels like an emotional one. But when will it end? Feels like NEVER but surely the sun will rise again, blue skies and blue water all around. At my lovely Lake Atitlan where I’m blessed to be right now…

    And with all this I bid you good night. I’m so glad others have a better perspective than mine right now. Hoping some of it will rub off. And soon!

  16. Catherine Todd says:

    Look what came today from Gratefulness.org. I’ve read this before, but what the heck am I supposed to do with it as far as “curing the past?” Or even curing the present?

    How are CHILDREN supposed to view this and act on it? IMPOSSIBLE. The only thing I can be glad of is that the laws have changed and those criminals who abused us as children would be in jail today. That’s the one thing that keeps me sane.

    Quote:

    All attack is a call for help. When you know this, you begin at once to look deeply into the question of what kind of help is being called for.

    Neale Donald Walsch
    Tomorrow’s God

    • I think I see the point of the aphorism, but absolutely it cannot be applied to children who are being attacked by the person who is supposed to care for them. (It would certainly apply to witnesses, who might be in a position to render help that both the attacker and the child need.)

      We got to this back in the Amazon conversation — “forgive” vs. “walk away.” Believe it, I have graphic fantasies of slamming my mother’s head against a tile wall (for some reason, it’s a tile wall; harder, I guess) until flesh pulps and bones splinter; that’s the only thing that expresses the rage that builds up when someone has shown over forty years that they see no conflict between saying they “love” you and then mocking, vilifying and trying to crush you. And there wasn’t even any real physical beating involved; I can only begin to imagine the work involved in neutralizing those feelings. The important thing is we didn’t do what she did, what your father did — instead of working on themselves, they passed the pain on to another vulnerable person.

      As I’ve commented before, I see some of the most striking bad behavior of a borderline flavor from people who have not repudiated the abuse they were themselves subjected to. My mother rejected any real criticism of her family and the way she was raised, even though I heard all these gripes about favoritism toward her sister, he was a mean man and beat us with belts, etc. etc. I was the “bad person” for not wanting anything to do with them — a position I took up and stuck to when I was fourteen, after having two uncles and one aunt (!) cop a sneaky feel off me (granted, the goddam family was so large that one of the uncles, who was drunker than a skunk, probably didn’t even know who I was at the time — I’d never met him, he’d never met me). Several states separated us so I was able to stick to my guns. And my father validated some of my observations in a half ass way, but never stood up to his wife and expected ME to protect HIM when she went crazy — then kicked me to the curb when I didn’t facilitate HIS “escape plans” the way he demanded. Years later I have a few clues about what had been inflicted on both of them, but I don’t mean to imply that I have given either one a pass for having a kid and then expecting that kid to take the crap they couldn’t handle themselves.

      Comprehension or even pity aren’t the same as forgiveness, which I think is over-rated — I certainly can’t imagine how you could make yourself forgive someone who hurt and violated you over and over when they had to know better. But every bit of understanding that we can achieve about *why* people behave this way is a step towards making sure some other innocent person doesn’t get treated like this.

  17. Amen. Thank you for putting so much of my feelings into words. So much of me has been “silent” until now, even though I’ve never shut up!

  18. FreeWillAstrology.com ~ How to Tell My Story?
    How does he know?

    Rob Brezsny’s Astrology Newsletter

    July 20, 2011

    “AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): You really need to tell your stories. It’s not
    just a good idea; it’s downright urgent. There’s a backlog of unexpressed
    narratives clogging up your depths. It’s like you have become too big of a
    secret to the world. The unvented pressure is building up, threatening to
    implode. So please find a graceful way to share the narratives that are
    smoldering inside you — with the emphasis on the word “graceful.” I don’t
    want your tales to suddenly erupt like a volcano all over everything at the
    wrong time and place. You need a receptive audience and the proper
    setting.”

    *********

    Rob Brezsny’s Astrology Newsletter

    June 29, 2011

    AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): “Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you,”
    sang Bob Marley. “You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” How
    are you doing on that score, Aquarius? Have you been discerning in
    picking out allies whose value to you is so high that you’re willing to deal
    with their moments of unconsciousness? Have you created a family and
    community that bless you far more than they drain you? The next ten
    months will be an excellent time to concentrate on refining this part of
    your life.

    Posted by Catherine Todd at 7/19/2011 08:40:00 PM 0 comments Links to this post
    Labels: astrology, horoscope, tell my story

  19. Baranowski says:

    “Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you,”
    sang Bob Marley. “You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.”

    Love this Catherine. I am having a discussion with my step-brother at the moment about “how people talk to each other these days, tolerance, listening, etc…

    When do you persist with someone, when do you let go? I think it is paramount (for me) to understand that tolerance is not appropriate when talking about abusive behavior. Can you believe I DIDN’T GET THAT UNTIL RECENTLY?

  20. Catherine Todd says:

    I can believe ANYTHING that we go through, year after year after year. I am 61 years old and only NOW realizing that my family has ostracized and belittled me my entire life for their own agenda… and it had little if anything to do with me. But I have blamed myself and tried to alter my own behavior and engaged in years of wishful thinking… thinking that “one day” we would all be friends; they would finally see things my way; they would be sorry for how they have treated me, and they would love me and welcome me into the family “once again.” Or at least once.

    Of course, none of this ever came to pass. How can anyone ever “tolerate” abusive behavior in another is beyond me, except when it comes to tolerated abusive behavior towards me. I’ve put up with it in one form or another my entire life. TIME FOR IT TO STOP. And the buck stops with ME.

    Now, I just want to know: What to do about it?

    I am preparing to file a defamation, slander and libel suit against my sister and her pastor husband, who have exhibited some of the worst behavior towards me. They have made my life hell and caused me so much extreme emotional distress, and I put up with it because to my face she would present such a “loving sisterly front” when the reality was the complete opposite. I even overlooked it thinking “she really didn’t mean it,” when she meant WORST.

    When will I EVER WAKE UP?

    I hope the truth will come out in this lawsuit and I will see the TRUTH FOR MYSELF.

    That’s the only way I am ever going to heal. These abusive people are never going to change, or it they do it won’t be because of any change in me. I have to learn to stand up for myself no matter what happens or who is doing it. A lifetime of abuse has taught me to cringe and blame myself. Those days are OVER. NOW.

  21. Catherine Todd says:

    I can believe ANYTHING that we go through, year after year after year. I am 61 years old and only NOW realizing that my family has ostracized and belittled me my entire life for their own agenda… and it had little if anything to do with me. But I have blamed myself and tried to alter my own behavior and engaged in years of wishful thinking… thinking that “one day” we would all be friends; they would finally see things my way; they would be sorry for how they have treated me, and they would love me and welcome me into the family “once again.” Or at least once.

    Of course, none of this ever came to pass. How can anyone ever “tolerate” abusive behavior in another is beyond me, except when it comes to tolerated abusive behavior towards me. I’ve put up with it in one form or another my entire life. TIME FOR IT TO STOP. And the buck stops with ME.

    Now, I just want to know: What to do about it?

    I am preparing to file a defamation, slander and libel suit against my sister and her pastor husband, who have exhibited some of the worst behavior towards me. They have made my life hell and caused me so much extreme emotional distress, and I put up with it because to my face she would present such a “loving sisterly front” when the reality was the complete opposite. I even overlooked it thinking “she really didn’t mean it,” when she meant WORST.

    When will I EVER WAKE UP?

    I hope the truth will come out in this lawsuit and I will see the TRUTH FOR MYSELF.

    That’s the only way I am ever going to heal. These abusive people are never going to change, or it they do it won’t be because of any change in me. I have to learn to stand up for myself no matter what happens or who is doing it. A lifetime of abuse has taught me to cringe and blame myself. I have kept silent thinking that surely if I say nothing, those bullies will stop. But we all know that doesn’t work.

    Silence is deadly. Those days are OVER. AS. OF. NOW.

    Baranowski, tell me more about what you are talking about when you wrote:

    “I am having a discussion with my step-brother at the moment about “how people talk to each other these days, tolerance, listening, etc…When do you persist with someone, when do you let go? I think it is paramount (for me) to understand that tolerance is not appropriate when talking about abusive behavior. Can you believe I DIDN’T GET THAT UNTIL RECENTLY?”

    ???

  22. Baranowski says:

    Hi Catherine…more…hmmm. This is a work in progress and also something I think all humans deal with. (who do we let in, how long, when is it time to let go.?) We, perhaps more, because we were CONDITIONED to accept abuse and make it our fault, no nuturing; for me, that has translated to No Growing Up–incredible self neglect and lack of self care–still focusing on myself makes me feel incredibly selfish and that has left for me a gaping hole–my interests, growth in any direction — lack of self development (though one of the things that “keeps me keeping on” is knowing that there is a person here, a natural person who would have grown given encouragement, love, nuturiing (you know THE PARENTS JOB.) That is not an indictment of me or anyone else. What I am seeing as a pure fact. I told someone once that I was trained to be the perfect wife of an abusive alcoholic.

    On the specific tolerance is not appropriate when talking about abusive behavior. There is no real relationship once there is abuse. That’s it it is over from that moment on. The rest seems to be only more torture of ourselves—trying, trying trying trying and all forms of trying. I am trying to head this off at the pass and have no relationship, hence the need to interact with ANYONE WHO ABUSES OR DISRESPECTS ME. If it becomes obvious that this is “normal” behavior for them, I am becoming very willing to Let them Go.

    I say that today dear C, but, you folks will have to keep me honest on this one. I need to be inspired to live, sometines just to get up in the morning. Glad you liked the PC, I will send you more because I am always happy when someone likes my designs. Hugs and love,
    Ann

  23. Catherine Todd says:

    Thank you Ann. Terrific answer and explanation. I need to read MORE. I’m starting to write my defamation suit and Lord there are so many examples; how could I have ever bought their lies? Need all the confidence I can get. I used to be a big ZERO and have been feeling like a big fat FAILURE all over again, trying to deal with and accept the horrible things that have been said about me by FAMILY MEMBERS, all because I told the TRUTH. They have no right to abuse me and I won’t stand for it any longer. These people that I haven’t seen for 25 or 30 years still have such a hold on me, and I have to erase them from my own “picture.” I am a real person who deserves courtesy and respect and since they seem to be incapable of the simplest courtesy one would extend to a stranger, I have to say NO MORE. ADIOS. GOODBYE. And do it with anyone else who crosses my path that feels like “family” to me. I’ve put up with mistreatment from “friends” (frenemies) for far too many years. They are not friends, they are enemies and growing up the way I did, I can hardly tell the difference.

    Those days are going to change. Even for an old dog like me. New tricks every day. I will stand up for my SELF.

    Keep those emails, cards and letters coming… love them every day!

  24. Catherine Todd says:

    AB, you wrote:

    “We, perhaps more, because we were CONDITIONED to accept abuse and make it our fault…

    no nuturing; for me, that has translated to No Growing Up–

    incredible self neglect and lack of self care–

    still focusing on myself makes me feel incredibly selfish and that has left for me a gaping hole–

    my interests, growth in any direction — lack of self development…”

    * * * * *

    That first sentence grabs me “by the balls” and I don’t have any! That explains why I always described my self as “the big zero,” as I was a ZERO – NOTHING – ALL MY LIFE.

    No More. Now I DO have a “self” and I can take care of MY SELF and I DO. It has “only” taken six years of being in Guatemala at lovely Lake Atitlan where I could rest and relax and afford how to live and learn how to pray. God sent me there by being broke, so the economic crash actually *worked* for me. Everything fell to pieces so I could rebuild. I guess I am a kind of Haiti or Japan “in progress.”

    Keep writing… makes such a difference. So much at stake here.

  25. Hi guys — sorry I’ve been so scarce. No real catastrophes, but life’s just been one damn thing after another. I get all the comments in my e-mail and keep up even when I can’t stake out enough time to write a decent response.

    The last several comments have evoked yet another of those “Oh don’t I know it!!” reactions.

    It was really only about 15 years ago — after I’d already told my mother she was not allowed to call or see me, though at that point I still thought I could talk her into counseling by exchanging letters — that I processed the idea “My upbringing has trained me to tolerate the intolerable.” That was in the context of deciding to get a divorce. My husband was a very sweet but hugely dysfunctional man, really a child psychologically, who simply expected me to be responsible for everything. And I was already experienced in being responsible for people who were psychologically children AND openly abusive, so it felt like I was moving up the world, y’know?

    In fact my ex-husband — he’s dead now, mostly because of his own inability to be an adult about anything — was “worth suffering for,” as in the Bob Marley song, but even that had to be measured and limits drawn. You cannot be married to a child, who fails to follow through on any adult responsibilities and tries to cover up the derelictions as naively as a child lying about undone homework. I remember thinking that I would probably have not been able to pursue the divorce I finally sought if I had not already drawn the initial lines with my mother. Even if we draw those lines for the first time because our backs are finally to the wall, the experience teaches us that we can.

    But I’m still more susceptible than I wish I were to people who want me to carry more than my fair share of weight, or place everyone’s needs and wishes before mine because they know I’m tolerant and patient. Abuse and exploitation go together, but sometimes you just get exploitation, and it’s a sneaky damn phenomenon. Someone who calls you a bitch gets his walking papers on the spot, but when do you identify the point where chronic lateness ,or failure to communicate, or repeatedly getting your needs bumped for someone else, crosses over from mere thoughtlessness or an occasional necessity to habitual devaluing?

    I fell in love with a series of books by a writer named Donald G. Smith, who promotes what he calls “negative thinking.” Every now and then I re-read his rodomontades about the right to say No when your tranquility, personal space, funds or time are threatened by people who try to cajole you into being a good sport. I’m rather good at applying it up to a point, but I still can’t imagine the existence of people who will treat me right because that’s what they feel IS right. Do they exist? Am I just overlooking them because of my lifetime conditioning? I’m still waiting to find out.

  26. Catherine Todd says:

    Standfast wrote:

    “My upbringing has trained me to tolerate the intolerable.”

    “I still can’t imagine the existence of people who will treat me right because that’s what they feel IS right. Do they exist? Am I just overlooking them because of my lifetime conditioning? I’m still waiting to find out.”

    Wow. Me, too. What a reply. This discussion is changing everything for me. God does send us what we need when we need it. God bless. CT

  27. Catherine Todd says:

    “My upbringing has trained me to tolerate the intolerable… I still can’t imagine the existence of people who will treat me right because that’s what they feel IS right. Do they exist? Am I just overlooking them because of my lifetime conditioning? I’m still waiting to find out.”

    Again. Me, too.

    Listening to “Gillian Welch – Everything Is Free”

  28. Catherine Todd says:

    PS: I have four people in my life right now that DO “treat me right.” I still keep waiting for the “other shoe to drop,” but it hasn’t happened yet and it’s been going on six years. So I think I might be “home free” – and safe – at home. And I’m 61 years old. I pray to God every single day to “show me The Way.”

    And with all the others: the signs were all there right from the beginning. I just ignored the signs or didn’t know what else to do. Now I am learning to “just say no.” And Run the other way!

  29. Catherine Todd says:

    You wrote:

    “But I’m still more susceptible than I wish I were to people who want me to carry more than my fair share of weight, or place everyone’s needs and wishes before mine because they know I’m tolerant and patient.”

    Everyone knows I’ll carry more than my fair share because I’m a fool. And I still do this. I’m learning learning learning but when will I UNLEARN?

  30. Baranowski says:

    These people that I haven’t seen for 25 or 30 years still have such a hold on me–Oh, Catherine, I struggle with people who have been dead for 10, 20, 30 + years.

    Lately I caught myself getting into the “Everything I do must be wrong” thinking. Constant dissatisfaction with anything — always finding fault with every action, thought, anything.

    I now am wishing I had a computer at home, but, I don’t. Cath, MS. I really cherish, enjoy everything you write; anyone who blogs here really. I need honesty, because I still HIDE everything, even from myself.

  31. Baranowski says:

    I was stunned. It never dawned on me or obviously to Oprah either, that we had a right to stay away from our abusers. We could put our foot down and make a statement that we refuse to be a part of their lives.

    This is priceless!! Thanks!!

    • It’s amazing, isn’t it, how little reinforcement there is for the right to simple dignity and freedom from abuse?

      Many, many years ago I read a news story about a boy of ten who filed, through a legal representative, a plea for “divorce” from his mother. It’s so long that I don’t remember the exact circumstances; I have to assume that another relative or estranged parent was prepared to assume custody. I don’t even remember what behavior on his mother’s part was being cited as justification for the request that all legal ties and relations between the two be dissolved. I just remembered that it electrified me. At the time, I think I assumed that she had probably actually beat him or something, but given the number of times I had pleaded with my screaming mother to “just hit me and get it over with,” it left me with a nugget of possibility to cherish. Of course the press treated it as a wacky curiosity.

      Later I had to cite those leaflets that women’s shelters distribute to incredulous friends who couldn’t believe I could actually cut my mother out of my life. You know the ones that list the behavior of abusive and controlling husbands — why do so many people assume that only men can abuse? “My mother did all of these,” I would say, ticking off items from the list, like

      “Does your partner:
      humiliate or yell at you?
      criticize you and put you down?
      treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
      ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
      blame you for his own abusive behavior?”

      Just a sampling from an online “how to spot an abuser” page. You know how the lists go on: does he try to control your relationships, put down your friends, break or destroy your things… “She did all those and to the extent she can, still tries to do them,” I would explain, “so why shouldn’t I do just like the leaflet says, get away, and stay away?” People who had only seen our relationship when I was straining my brains out to make the best of it, or had knuckled under to way too many of her demands and isolated myself from almost everyone else in order to have a calm relationship with her, couldn’t wrap their minds around it.

      And there are people who will still say unthinkingly “But she’s your mom.” Gawd, everywhere you turn there’s some hymn to motherhood being sung or some self-appointed spiritual leader banging on about the sacredness of the fargin’ family.

      So it’s no wonder it’s so hard to come to that point of realization that a person has a fundamental right to get away from ANYONE who habitually mistreats them. And I didn’t even have other family members trying to drag me back in.

  32. Catherine Todd says:

    Amen to you both. Write more! I need it. I’m going to file a legal complaint after all regarding the defamation by my family… it’s a kind of “honor killing” that they have done to me and my reputation. One’s reputation is legally considered akin to a person and defamation, slander and libel can destroy a person’s reputation, thereby committing a “murder.” Finding so many others on the internet who have gone through exactly the same thing, whether incest was involved or not, makes me think I have to do this.

    I will need all the understanding I can get – understanding of myself and the “others” so I can write this lawsuit in a way that shows how our culture must change. I have the legal right to do so and have to now find the courage to do so. Reading that these things can continue to hurt us long after the people are DEAD really makes my wheels grind… it’s time to take action and find a way to combat this and find a way to heal.

    Dear God heal these wounds that will not heal; heal these wounds that have not healed; heal these wounds and show me The Way.

    I have to find a way to do this with justice and mercy at the fore. It’s time for “honor killings” to end. These soul killers have to be stopped before they do us all in.

  33. Catherine Todd says:

    AB, you wrote: “I need honesty, because I still HIDE everything, even from myself.”

    Amen! Don’t I know the feeling… but even worse, I can SEE everything and STILL continue on! That’s the height of STUPIDITY. That’s what needs to change. In. Me.

    Sinead O’Connor wrote a song about her mother (who was very abusive with her) and talked about how her mother is “still torturing her from the grave” when the woman has been dead for some years, or something along those lines. That’s what made me redouble my efforts to “get to the bottom of things” IN ME before my mother died, or at least since she died (two years ago). I have actually made progress there, but still have the rest of the family to deal with. Particularly my mean and cruel sisters. But I will soldier on, as it all comes down to what’s going on IN ME. Has little, if anything at this point, to do with THEM.

    It’s really ALL ABOUT ME.

    Peace. Out. Write. More. Looking forward to it. And thanks.

  34. Baranowski says:

    “But, she’s your mother.” (Look at it, no, she really isn’t) “There is no real relationship once there is abuse. That’s it, it is over from that moment on. The rest seems to be only more torture of ourselves—trying, trying trying trying and all forms of trying. I think this is the nature of our anguish…trying to have a relationship that doesn’t won’t and never existed. In the meantime, we sacrafice our development, well-being, all our energy–to us, they are human, to them, we are a prop in their drama–we don’t really exist to them as another human being: Trying to have a realationship with our family, lovers, etc., who are abusive…is like trying to get to understand have a relationship with a stranger who beat, perhaps raped, stole our money, humiliated us in an alley. For some reasn, Stockholm Syndrome is really coming to mind.

    Glad to be posting more regularly!!! Hugs to all!! Ann

  35. “to us, they are human, to them, we are a prop in their drama” — perfectly put.

    I caved in more than once because I felt bad for my mother, and felt she was unhappy and suffering, plus when she was good she was very very good — so that it wasn’t glaring that the “good mom” was using me as a prop just as much as the “bad mom.”

    The scary thing is that there is a terrible intimacy — the person who’s getting something from an ongoing pattern of abuse reveals him or herself and creates a bond, which is exactly the way Stockholm syndrome works if I have understood the discussions about it. And people want intimacy; they want to be known. Tearing that up by the roots and throwing it away was almost as daunting as dealing with the sheer taboo-ness of breaking off with a parent. We are not to blame, though, if someone with more power and leverage has taken that human need and used it to manipulate us in contradiction to our own well being.

  36. Baranowski says:

    The scary thing is that there is a terrible intimacy — the person who’s getting something from an ongoing pattern of abuse reveals him or herself and creates a bond, which is exactly the way Stockholm syndrome works

    A terrible intimacy that is in reality no initmacy at all. I am seeing my “way out” more and more is to dissconnect from the abusive non-relationships; and to use all that wasted energy on the ones who inspire, sustain, and replenish, encourage and truly love me. While we were given as a gift to our parents, Stockholm victims are kidnap victims…when all is said and done, both are not asking ot be where they are.

    Cat: One question: I know how deeply you feel about the over the top intrusion into you life by your family; but, don’t they keep you connected, absorbed, entrenched in their game by makeing you feel you need to “make a stand” make them see (which they never will.) I think we will always have the history of trauma to deal with. But, why keep it fresh. Let those bastards stew in their own hell, and you get as far away as fast as you can. Start using our amazing energy on the wonderful life you have created for yourself.

    “Let the dead, bury the dead.”

    HUGS,
    ANNIE

  37. I think it is a real intimacy –it’s just unequal, and always will be because the disordered person in the equation can’t imagine a close relationship that doesn’t involve control. If they give up control, they expect to be controlled. In the most tragic situations, that is the life perspective they teach teir children, which helps pass the disorder on.

    If you want to control someone — even half consciously — you study them, you learn what makes them tick, or as one client of mine used to say “your mom knows how to push all your buttons because she installed them.” In a healthy family that is a low-key matter that all parties can laugh about. Our buttons got connected to pain and panic circuits.

    I’ll always wonder what it is about people like us that resisted the idea of “control or be controlled.” It’s hard to shed the need to control a whole lot about ourselves or our environment but I remember being aware very early that I did not want the responsibility of having to control another person, even to the point of being “a boss” or manager in a work situation, and that I equally did not want anyone to control me. One of my cardinal errors was imagning that I could bring my mother around to the same way of thinking; it took a long time for me to realize she wasn’t accessible to normal logic or reason.

  38. Catherine Todd says:

    Ann, you wrote:

    “The rest seems to be only more torture of ourselves—trying, trying trying trying and all forms of trying. I think this is the nature of our anguish…trying to have a relationship that doesn’t won’t and never existed.”

    That’s exactly what I’ve done my entire life, and when it didn’t work with my mother or sisters, I went and tried with other abusive, controlling females (i.e. “best friends” who were “just like sisters,”) trying trying trying to understand what was going on. All it got me was hurt and financially and emotionally drained all over again. And again and again and again. I’m only NOW looking at my poor relationships with females. It was easy to stand up to men, since my father beat me and I stood up to him – but the girls? My own mother? Never!

    How could you stand up to a mother with polio and crutches – who used to hit me with those crutches? How do you stand up to a cripple in any way, who used their infirmity to keep us all in line? I grabbed that crutch once to stop her from hitting me and she almost fell over. Good Lord, how could I protect myself?

    Maybe if I “just kept quiet long enough” or “didn’t rock the boat” or didn’t do ANYTHING they didn’t like (but what was that? What they “didn’t like” kept changing like the wind, or was so far-fetched as to be inconceivable) … maybe just maybe they would “be my friend.” Maybe I would be loved or at least accepted by the spawn of the cesspool of emotions I was born into.

    Alas that was not to be. Nothing has changed in over 60 years, but I have a life-time of negative females in my life as I continued to replace sisters and mother with stick figures who did almost as much damage, all in the name of “trying to understand.” To this day I can’t believe what I put up with trying to have a “family.”

    Now for the first time, having had a light shone on this kind of nasty female behavior, and finding that many people know the “evil queen,” I’m seeing that just maybe it’s “not my fault.”

    I think Stockholm Syndrome really does have a lot to do with it. Growing up in a war zone with the great physical and mental risks we went through has warped my foundation greatly. But there’s still time left. For that I thank God every day.

    And I will survive. And I will succeed. Greatly, with God’s Grace as s/he “shows me The Way.”

    Whether it’s a Higher Power, or the Divine (as I like to call him/her/it), there’s definitely something that works to protect and save us, and we can call on that savior that angel at anytime.

    Angels have been around me all my life and protected me, or I wouldn’t be here today. That’s a certaintly. Whatever that Protection is, I’m glad I have had it. Now I will ask for Understanding. Perhaps that will come and we can share it all today.

    Amen. My Self. Protect and Love My Self.

    * * * * *

    Re-reading more:

    “your mom knows how to push all your buttons because she installed them.”

    OMG (Oh My God). Ain’t it the truth? “Pain and Panic buttons”… Oh Lord Save Me send Your Saving Grace. I pray for healing today. Release me from the faulty foundation I was built on. Heal me Today.

    Stockholm syndrome – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome
    In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive …
    Rape trauma syndrome
    Stockholm syndrome (disambiguation)
    Victimization Symptoms
    Stockholm Syndrome (band)

    Mary McElroy (kidnapping victim)
    Stockholm Syndrome (song)
    Norrmalmstorg robbery
    Flattery

  39. Catherine Todd says:

    Ann, you wrote:

    Cat: One question: I know how deeply you feel about the over the top intrusion into you life by your family; but, don’t they keep you connected, absorbed, entrenched in their game by making you feel you need to “make a stand” make them see (which they never will.)

    Good questions, but I’m not filing a lawsuit against them, really, but to make a legal record that includes MY SIDE. I will not go to my grave with the defamation they have perpetrated, as this affects my own son and any children he may have. The terrible things they have said about me have tarred and feathered me all my life, and I won’t stand for it any longer.

    “A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth.”

    I read that somewhere and it changed everything for me. By filing my complaint (and I assume that is what you are referring to), I will have a legal record with FACTS and not gossip and lies. I did this one other time in my life and I was amazed at what changes it brought about inside. I was STRONG for the very first time, standing up to bullies which I have never really done before. Emotional bullies. I can handle physical threats with ease… for some reason, I have always been very strong in that way, but the emotional ones and verbal ones just kill me. It’s my Achilles Heel.

    So I am going to learn to stand up to WORDS. That’s my weakness, and speaking WORDS OF TRUTH will set ME free. With the court as a witness, I will finally BELIEVE. I won’t have that horrible triumverate chiming in: “guilty, guilty, guilty.” It will be THEIR SIN that is exposed. And I will be washed clean.

    Really, this is all that deals with what goes on INSIDE OF ME. It’s meaningless to the outside world, except for the fact that other victims can use my legal method for justice, not revenge. Justice counts and why shouldn’t we use the legal means at our disposal? They are there for OUR PROTECTION. It’s only when people don’t stand up to their abusers that abuse continues. Standing up for ourselves is NOT continuing to be “entrenched in their game.”

    When there are consequences to negative actions, the game will change. I don’t care what they “believe,” I care what record is left behind about ME. And people will find that there are consequences to defamation, slander and libel. If people didn’t use the court system for justice, what would we do? Return to sticks, bricks and bats?

    Honor killings are wrong and so is the “honor killing” of someone’s reputation. I won’t stand for it anymore. I’m 61 years old and it’s time for it to stop. This “blood feud” is time to STOP. These people have no legal exemption just because they are “family.”

    If people can sue for damage to reputation against strangers, they can and should do the same when it’s FAMILY, who are “supposed” to love, care for and support each other. I have been stoned almost to death by the female members of my family, sent after me by who? Why should I stand there and let this continue? When there’s a family funeral, am I not supposed to go? Am I supposed to go in fear for my [emotional] life? I should have the same rights of protection wherever I go. You don’t know the depths of anguish these people have caused me (well, maybe you do), and there is no reason for me not to stand up to them. Finally. At long last. I have the legal right to and I will.

    I didn’t go to my mother’s death bed or her internment after the horrible emails I received from my sisters. Even if my mother had been horrible with me, I still wanted to be able to say goodbye. I didn’t go. I won’t be afraid of those wicked sisters anymore. My mother is dead and can’t hurt me anymore. I can’t wait for the sisters to die to feel free or not afraid. They are younger than me! I will leave a legacy of TRUTH behind me, and I will not allow them to write the FAMILY HISTORY as it pertains to me.

    The time to stand up for myself is NOW.

    I’m doing this FOR ME. Not for them. They have nothing to do with it anymore.

    —-

    See more: Honor killing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor_killing
    Jump to Honor killings in history‎: Matthew Goldstein has noted that honor killings were encouraged in ancient Rome, where male family members who did …
    Honor killings in history – Definitions – Locations – As a cultural practice

    Gendercide Watch: “Honour” Killings and Blood Feuds
    http://www.gendercide.org/case_honour.html
    Jan 20, 2008 – (Nebehay, “‘Honor Killings’ of Women Said on Rise Worldwide,” Reuters dispatch, April 7, 2000.) Link to Crimes of Honour (Video Documentary) …

  40. Catherine Todd says:

    “Let the dead bury the dead”

    I looked this up (having always wondered what it meant). Here’s one answer that makes sense. Maybe AFTER I have told MY STORY I will be able to do that. Until then, I will stop running and hiding. I have not seen these people in 25 or 30 years yet they continue to torture me. So “staying away” doesn’t change anything. It’s time for me to clean house. And I will. Then the dead can go to hell or wherever they belong. Here’s one answer:

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/ask-teacher/32064-help-what-does-let-dead-bury-dead-mean.html

    “It’s used in the Bible and means that you make ‘a clear and total break with the spiritually dead — that is, with the spiritually ‘dead’ world you’re leaving behind. ‘” Let the dead bury the dead : Christian Psychology

    I believe:

    “A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth”

    I won’t wait to write a tell-all book after people are dead.

    It’s time to tell the truth right now.

  41. Baranowski says:

    Let a lie be and it becomes the truth. C, I really admire this and you are handling so many different paradoxes right now. But, what better way to get clarity: It may or may not be gruelling for you, but, feel free to talk about what goes on–I think we all need that. It was you who finally let me know that talking about our stuf was exactly what blogging is for. Left on my own; wow, that is a dangerous thing. A small or large insight, a story of what someone else has been through–it has save my tusch more times that I can count.

    Right now, my impression of the therapist I am seeing is that he is going to continue to focus on my boyfriend and how I need to get rid of him. I am wanting to deal with the trauma of past experiences. My therapy is becoming about my boyfriend and my tendency to avoid. Honestly, I am not ready to “get rid of him” the same was I am not ready to ski down a really dangerous hill—I want to learn some things. so, as per one of our very first discussion, I am going to look for a new therapist. and try to get the work I need to be doing, going. ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH CATHERINE. SOMEHOW, I THINK YOU ARE QUITE GOOD AT IT.
    PS: Could you or MS. email me and show me how to become a member? I think I am still in “guest” category and sorry I can’t figure it out.

    Keep up the GOOD fight!

  42. Catherine Todd says:

    Dear B, you don’t know how important all this “blogging” (discussion) is for me, too… I wouldn’t be able to do any of this if I didn’t have the two of you! This is where I get my clarity (what little there may be) and I am able to resolve the important issues and leave the rest behind. Such as:

    “A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth.”

    A gun nut posted this on the internet and I finally tracked down where the quote came from. Even though I don’t have guns in my house (and wouldn’t, ever) this statements still holds TRUTH.

    It’s funny where “inspiration” comes from, and lots come from you and Standfast. Reading her take on Rumpelstiltskin made another truth come alive. Looking forward to MORE. Much MORE.

    BTW, I agree with your therapist about the boyfriend. I went through YEARS AND YEARS of taking care of others in my relationships, and never getting any thanks for it. It wasn’t until I was 56 years old and went to Guatemala by myself, and took a vow not to “take care” of anyone for an entire year that I started to get better. Why? Because I could / had to / finally focus on MY SELF. I didn’t know what to do for me… I didn’t have a self! I didn’t deserve a self! But when I broke that vow, with all the good intentions in the world, it came back to bite me in the worst possible way, so I learned quickly to JUST SAY NO and go for my SELF. It’s been six years now and every time I fall into the trap of “helping” someone else, it always ends badly, so now I’m confining my do-gooding to helping a school or hospital that helps the multitudes. I’m helping the street dog program, and paying half of medical expenses for my artisans when I can. That’s a work benefit. No more “individual donations” and no more people living with and off me. I’ve done that all my life. I’m codependent to the core. I have to watch vigilantly for I will fall back immediately if I crack open that door. Just like lighting up a cigarette… instant addiction.

    It’s time for this, too, to END.

    So glad you wrote back so quickly… I was actually a little bit afraid to “disagree” but felt like I HAD TO because it’s my mental and emotional and therefore physical well-being that’s at stake here, and I can’t live knowing that I let those lies stand. It’s been five years since the truth was revealed (about what they were saying to me) and I wasted those five years trying to get my sister to “talk about it” and “surely she would see and accept the truth,” but No. Blame me for everything and now my crime is that I “engaged in inappropriate behavior speaking out about what should have been kept as a family matter.” This from a 50 year old pastor’s wife!

    No more. I will speak from the rooftops until child abuse is curtailed. My name and reputation will be restored.

    * * * * *

    The Drama Triangle: The Three Roles of Victimhood
    http://www.angriesout.com/grown20.htm
    The three roles of the Drama Triangle are the three main positions that unhappy … alcoholism, abuse, incest, scapegoating, manipulation and codependency.

    Thanks again for writing. Don’t know what I would do without you all here. Love, Catherine

  43. Catherine Todd says:

    B, you wrote:

    “It was you who finally let me know that talking about our stuf was exactly what blogging is for. Left on my own; wow, that is a dangerous thing.”

    AMEN. DOUBLE AMEN. SHOUT IT FROM ROOFTOPS AMEN!

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