Letting Love In

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When I was pregnant with my first, I remember going to watch a movie and as I felt her move inside my body, a magical feeling surfaced, one that I had not felt for so many years. That feeling was love, and it scared me. So much so that I immediately felt pain and fear. And I pushed that euphoric feeling of love away. Since then, this has happened quite a few more times when I have looked at my children and husband.

This love bubble rises through my stomach and as soon as I feel its presence a sharp pang of fear and pain follows. Up until now, finding my voice in the aftermath of childhood abuse has been a focus. And now, at this stage of the healing I see a new goal. And that is allowing myself to feel love.

I understand why the love and pain co-exist. Children in abusive homes never blame their parent. Instead, abuse is internalised. It must be my fault: I’m not good enough, I’m not loveable, I am stupid, I am dumb. A child will always blame themselves. In this experience, any love felt toward the parent becomes toxic. Always trying to please, or in my case, playing along with twisted little narcissistic games that I was too young to fully understand.

I have been switched off from love, I believe, in an attempt to protect myself from imagined fear of abandonment. And now this no longer serves me. There are two precious kids that need me to be open to the experience of love. As much as it hurts, my mission is to let love in. To feel it, allow it to wash over me and through me.

To let that little tortured girl who exists in the cells of my body, know that she doesn’t need to be afraid anymore.

Narcissistic Mother Threats: All you did was rent a womb, the rest is up to you!

Oh how I know you so well! Three years no contact and the threats continue. But I remain strong. With a supportive husband by my side I am lucky to have someone there to hold me up when the weight of guilt bears down. That “guilt” I feel is societal guilt, this idea that because someone is your Mom they somehow deserve this unwavering devotion and respect.

It is not easy to go against the grain, to have those sorry faces apologising for my no contact. To see those judging eyes, perhaps wondering if I am the one who has done wrong. To those people, I say, do not feel sorry for me, I am the strongest and happiest I have ever been in my entire teenage and adult life. I no longer meet the DSM-V criteria for bulimia nervosa. An eating disorder that bullied me over 15 years. My borderline personality traits are under control, I am not depressed and I am no longer on medication.

The person I used to call Mom, knows all my triggers, she continually tries so many different tactics to wear me down, to make me react so that she may get some narcissistic supply that she so desperately needs. Going no contact has lifted the veil, I see the wizard behind the curtain.

I see her true motives, there is no love.

Narcissistic parents WILL inflict their abuse on their children’s children. They have no boundaries, they have no awareness of their impact on others, which for typical people would ordinarily sway them towards social cohesion. And if you dare to go up against them in a futile attempt to repair what you think is a broken relationship, YOU will be made out to be the crazy one. This is called ‘gaslighting’.

I have experienced gaslighting first hand and it leaves you questioning your entire reality. Being exposed to this form of abuse as a child and then as an adult led to a complete loss of identity. I did not know how to trust my own experiences of the very world I lived in. Narcissists thrive on their victims self-doubt, it’s what keeps them going. Going no contact means that I now have opinions, I engage in healthy debate with others, I am considered and thoughtful in my interactions because I trust myself. And in no way am I perfect at this, but I am allowing myself to grow. There is no one there to criticise me, put me down, make me question my reality. There is no one trying to belittle me and cause unnecessary drama.

The strongest motivator for me is to protect my children. Witnessing the mother play favourites with my children, her complete disregard for how we choose to parent, her complete disregard for my children’s feelings and thoughts was the final straw. It’s been three years and my children still remember me crying after her visits, they still remember me having to leave the dinner table and then come back looking angry. This is what the narcissist does, they will trigger you in public and they are the ones who will remain calm so that YOU will look like the crazy person.

There is no repairing a relationship with this personality disorder, it permeates every aspect of the fabric of your life. The only option is to go no contact so that there is some opportunity for you to repair and ensure your children will grow to have self-worth and self-love.

To everyone out there experiencing this personality disorder with their immediate family, my heart goes out to you. Find a way to distance yourself, stay strong, get support and learn to love yourself. It’s not easy but it is possible.

All you did was rent a womb, the rest is up to you!

 

 

 

 

Permission to prostitute

I have been writing here for a few years now, and this is one part of my story I have held back for reasons that will become obvious. So here it is, my mother gave me permission to prostitute when I had just turned 19  – one year out of high-school.

I was quickly becoming a financial burden, and the person who brought me into the world did not hold back in letting me know how much she resented having to pay anything towards my existence. What I know now, but did not know then is that she is a narcissist. As I grew into a teenager, the name-calling and psychological abuse worsened. She was hateful, spiteful, vindictive and manipulative. And I suffered.

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I attempted suicide three times, each time landing me in hospital. I was bi-polar, I had bulimia, I self-harmed. I hated myself. All the while, the mother swans about letting everyone know she is a victim of me.

At 18, I am slowly becoming heavily medicated on Efexor. At the highest dose I was taking two 150mg and one 75mg capsule every day.  If you know anything about this kind of medication, it means I was like a zombie. I was numb. But I was alive.

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Around the time I am heavily medicated, I have an idea for me being a financial burden. I walk into my mother’s bedroom and say

“I can be a prostitute”. She says, “you can help pay the bills”.

Now you may wonder where this idea came from. I had read a book titled ‘Pretty Baby’ when I myself was a child – a story about a girl born in a brothel. My reading skill was good for my young age, and with so much lack of parental supervision, living in a hoarder home of all kinds of books and magazines, I read a lot of material not appropriate for my age.

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So, that’s what I do. I get on a train, and go to the nearest brothel. Knowing where to find one was easy. During high-school, one of my friends lived a few blocks away from a large very well known brothel. And when we walked past I remember we would laugh at people walking in or out.

I enter the brothel, the lady behind the desk says she thought I was a child crossing the street and that she was surprised to see me enter their establishment. She takes me to a room, checks my arms for track marks and asks why I want to work there. I explain that I’m a university student and that my course is very expensive. She makes me feel like she really cares, and seems worried about me. She’s also worried that my hair is very short, but says I’m young so it shouldn’t be a problem.  She shows me the rooms and then takes me to the girls change area at the back. I look at my reflection in the mirror and the whole room seems to spin behind me…and then I need to go to the toilet.

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My bowel is having an evacuation. In retrospect, I think my body was reacting to fear. However, I don’t have the insight to understand myself at this point. And so begins, a life as a ‘working-girl’, which I learn is the correct way to refer to a prostitute. But not just that, I feel as though I’ve found my true family. The receptionists, the other girls, these are my real friends and the people who truly care about me. The brothel felt like home. And that is how it was for a significant period of time.

I look back to that fork in the road and am filled with the utmost of hatred towards ‘my mother’. How could she be so blasé towards me. I needed a mother and she failed me in the worst way possible. She kept me in a child-like state, I may have been 19 but I knew nothing about the world. I knew nothing about how to find a place to rent, how to connect a utility bill, I did not know how to cook, I did not know how to take care of myself.

I had slept with two boys and had very minimal sexual experience. I learnt everything about sex in a brothel. I was a teenager. And that’s the kind of clients I attracted, men who wanted the youngest girl possible.

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For so long, my life was about recovering from mental illness. It was about staying alive. I have fought so damn hard to turn my life around. This woman who brought me into the world took away so many possibilities, she took away my innocence. And, I don’t think I can ever forgive her. When I asked for permission to prostitute, why didn’t she slap me?! Why didn’t she shake me?! Why didn’t she get angry with me?! The only reason I can think of, is that at the very core of her feelings towards me, is that she didn’t care. I didn’t really matter. And I internalised her hate for me for a very long time.

Although I still struggle with symptoms of depression and managing my triggers, I never gave up believing that I was going to have a better life one day. In and amongst the poor decision making and drug addiction, I studied my way through three degrees. I learned how to learn. And then I became a social worker. I got married. I had children. And I continue to work hard to build the life I  know I deserve.

I now live with the darkness of the past, wondering if it will affect my future. The stigma of having been a prostitute. At the end of the day, stereotypes do exist. People generally don’t understand and people do judge, it’s human nature. How does one find peace and reconcile the past? This is the part I still struggle with.

When I look at myself through my own eyes, I am proud of the woman I am. I am a survivor.

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When I look at myself through the eyes of the wider community, I feel ashamed and as if I don’t have any right to exist in the life I’ve now created.

I want to be proud of myself, I want to scream from the roof tops “I SURVIVED!” I want the world to see that it is possible to turn a life around, it is possible to create a value system, create goals and live by them. That people can and do change. That stereotypes are just that, they are not representative.

Most of all I want to be accepted and forgiven. But in doing so, I first need to accept and forgive myself. And that is something I don’t know how to do. Or perhaps, something I am yet to do.

Despite these feelings, in some ways, and rather counterintuitively, this decision made at the age of 19 marked the very beginning of being able to heal from childhood trauma. I was forced into another world, and in this world I found the strength to stop anti-depressants. I realised I didn’t want to die. I began to live a life.

That being said, in no way am I here advocating for this decision, but having gone through this journey it’s only natural to search for silver lining of experience.

As an adult, I look back and see there was a perfect storm brewing and it culminated in me travelling a path less travelled. I can only hope that this path is leading somewhere great, perhaps my story can inspire one person not to give up on themselves, because that would be great.

 

 

photo credits

Mary Lock – Depression

James – efexor

kika – Boudoir

Michael Ferire – Mieux 

tdion15 – survivor

Spilt Milk

Screen Shot 2019-07-11 at 12.52.42 PMNo doubt you have heard of the saying “don’t cry over spilt milk”.

Now that I am a mother, this is something I have taken quite literally.  When food and drink spills and makes a mess, I don’t freak out or get angry or blame. I’m not so sure it would have been the same when I was growing up.

The other day, my daughter knocked me and I spilt a glass of water over the table, she and my other daughter laughed and made some comment about me being clumsy and helped me clean up. There was no fear, no worrisome looks my way. They are not scared of me.

It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to know that whilst I am still battling my own internal triggers, that whilst I still struggle to remain calm and not be the parents I had growing up, my children are happy and joyful.

Not every moment is perfect, but this one certainly was.

 

 

Photo credit: Awaiting September 

Narc Stunts 101

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  • Make sure gifts are given with an audience!

It was my daughters birthday last week and the mother literally placed a blanket on the footpath with 10+ bags of presents and a bunch of balloons outside our home, so that my children would see this spectacle whilst trying to get them to school.

Now lets break it down. We’ve been no contact for 2 years. This means if we were to drive past all these presents with ‘nanna’ standing there, my children would not understand why they wouldn’t be allowed to open all these gifts. They are too little to understand the reasons why. Hence, me and my husband become the bad guys in the children’s eyes.

The Narc Mother stood outside our home for at least an hour, chatting to anyone walking past. It was embarrassing, annoying and gut wrenching all at the same time. This is what she’s done time and time again, play the victim, beg for forgiveness although there’s never any admission of any wrong doing.  And in the past I would have fell for this act, allowing her back in my life, believing that she will change because she’s promising to listen to me this time. LIES! I’m not falling into this cycle again.

Eventually she left because we threatened to call the police and began filming her. And of course, the follow up e-mail a mile long. In the past I would feel compelled to respond, she knows all the trigger points. But the great thing is, she doesn’t realise how much stronger I am now. Even with her saying she’s enrolled in a university course so as to follow my own career path.

What a jealous little evil person. She wants to do the same degree I worked so hard to complete. The same degree that was questioned time and time again. This is not the first time narc mother has shown her jealous colours, it has happened with boys I’ve dated and general interests such as loving fairies and frogs. Being raised by a narc meant that any spark, personality or extraversion was squashed down, laughed and scoffed at. Yet, each time I rose above my interest would become her interest.

This is the disorder, this is what it is to have mental illness in a family. Right now there’s no escape. And I find some comfort knowing I’m not alone. All of us raised by narc parents have similar themed stories, the patters are evident in the narc parent and there are patterns of behaviour for children born to them.

Now more than ever, I need to check myself. Empathy is key.  As dawn breaks, and I step away from my laptop I will focus on meeting  the emotional needs of my children and taking care of my husband, be kind, listen and respond appropriately.

This is the legacy of being raised by a narc, a constant self-monitoring. But if that’s what it takes then so be it!

 

 

 

Window of Experience: Adult Child with a Toxic Parent

What does narcissistic abuse from a parent look like when you’re an adult with your own family?

It’s so pervasive and unrelenting that it colours your entire reality, it can affect how you see yourself, relate to your husband, wife, children, friends and work colleagues. I was in this half reality for so long and did not even realise how affected I was until going no contact for a length of time. The more time that went by without seeing the toxic parent, the more I was able to see just how damaged my perception of reality was.

Let me explain, before seeing toxic parent, I would strategise and have a plan if certain behaviours were to occur. I was not to allow myself to get baited by her unrelenting comments that were usually highly critical, undermining, and essentially said to try and get a reaction from me in public (so that she could look like a victim). After being in the company of toxic parent, I would de-brief and cry most of the time because she was just so damn mean and dismissive. For days afterwards, my mood would be low, my general interactions with my husband and children would be affected. A week or two goes by, I feel better. Then it happens all over again with the next visit. This cycle of narcissistic abuse continued for years. It wasn’t until going no contact for 2 years now, that a veil has lifted.

Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m happy all the time and completely healed, what I do have are better coping strategies with life in general, I understand self-care, being forgiving of myself and others more easily rather than hold grudges and negative energy. I can handle small obstacles and bumps along the way without over the top reactions, and if I do react, the moment passes quicker and I am able to press on with the day.

A toxic parent stunts your growth as an adult. After such a traumatic childhood filled with all kinds of abuse, I still had so much growing up to do even in my late 30’s! There’s still such a way to go, but I feel confident that I have the skills to continue living a good life, make good decisions and go on protecting my own children from this most toxic person I used to call Mom.

I do not advocate for no contact as the first port of call, each person’s journey is unique and their own. For some, clear boundaries and low contact can work. For other’s it doesn’t, and that was the case with me. Honestly, it wasn’t until I witnessed the same psychological games being played on my children that were played with me that I finally had enough. Not everyone can understand my decision and that’s because I won’t tell everyone all the details. There’s no point re-living this experience just to help someone else make sense of it. The more time that goes by where I remain no contact, I stand on firmer ground and become stronger emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

MIRACLE

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How can one describe a moment of true healing? One where your past behaviour did not dictate an action taken in the present. That is what happened today!

In a moment of feeling stressed and at tipping point emotionally, I reached for a trigger food that would have begun the beginning of a binge. And something happened, that has happened before, but this time the voice was LOUDER. A voice in my mind said “NO!…NO!…NO!”

I’ve heard this voice like a faint whisper in the past, but today the voice was LOUDER and STRONGER.

Today I listened to that voice. And I stopped.

Instead of binging, I had a cup of tea.

And I cried.

I sat with my feelings and felt the weight of the world.

I cried for myself, I cried for all the suffering I see in the news everyday, I cried for feeling like a bad person, a bad mother, a bad wife. I just allowed  myself to cry. I allowed these feelings to exist and did not run away from them. I felt the despair and grief and refused to let it dictate destructive behaviour.

Today I realised there can be no more running away from myself. I have to face this deep ball of sadness and despair that lives inside my body. I’m so tired of carrying it around with me everyday. Today, my inner voice, my true self, fought destructive behaviour and reminded me I am strong. And that I am healing.

 

 

Photo credit:Jose

 

 

 

 

A Shining Light

“Your love heart is not cracked anymore….I love you mummy”

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 9.29.43 AMWow! What a thing to hear on a sunny winter morning. My four year old said this to me as I was washing the dishes. What seems to be a regular morning of random conversation carries a much deeper meaning.

It is a morning I am not impatient, I am not rushed, I am not angry, I am not sad. This shining light on the path of healing affirms the effort and reflection practiced daily so that I can step away from effects of childhood trauma.

After my second child I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and went on anti-depressants. Two key things stand out as I reflect on this period of time;  intrusive thoughts and anger. Both of these were very distressing and led to one and a half years of anti-depressants. This morning is a sign post showing me how far I have come along the journey of healing. As I I think about these precious words, it brings a smile to my face, a warm feeling that I am on the right path. As I listen to my daughters playing, laughing and expressing joy, I am grateful to give them a better life than what I had growing up.

My love heart is not cracked anymore. Honesty and wisdom out of the mouth of a babe.

How did I get here?

One of the first things I have committed to is being able to REPAIR. This means saying “sorry” when I have done something wrong. In no way, is this a free pass to do whatever I want and then say sorry. It is quite the opposite, it is the awareness that I have done something wrong, saying sorry and reflecting on how NOT to make the same mistake again. That being said, when I do make mistakes I remind myself of the 80/20 rule, it is impossible to be perfect all the time, in fact it is unrealistic to teach our children that anyone can be perfect all the time, we all make mistakes. The lesson is HOW do I handle myself when that does happen. This been to repair, reflect, forgive myself and keep trying.

Another thing, and perhaps the most important from a child’s perspective is PLAY. Making the time to play. This is how children CONNECT with us. Their invitation “come play with me” is a child reaching out. In order to make this achievable I aim to dedicate anywhere between 10-20 minutes for a play at the end of the day.  The beauty of this is that as a parent, I don’t even need to do anything. I follow my child’s lead, watch what they are doing and join in. And on the weekends, we DANCE, I put some music on and we jump around the room, spin each other around and be SILLY!

BREATHE. During those moments I am triggered and past traumatic feelings present themselves I walk away and I breathe. I remind myself that the feelings are a product of my own trauma and are more an indication of my experience rather than anything my children are doing. Once back to a calmer place, then I can re-engage and deal with whatever the situation is. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that children are at different developmental stages, they can and will do things that are irrational, they will not know how to handle their BIG emotions. I am the adult, and I have the cognitive capacity to react appropriately. And this has been my mission for years now, heal from  my trauma so that the cycle of abuse stops with me.

And a lovely resource I’ve been following for some time is Aha! Parenting. You can find their website HERE. I’ve found it useful to sign up as many different parenting newsletters as possible so that I receive daily reminders and reflections to keep me on a steady path.

Last and not least, is my husband. I have been fortunate to marry a man who is intelligent and philosophical about life. He knows my deepest, darkest secrets and loves me anyway. He knows my stories of abuse and has allowed me space to heal. He is my confidant and biggest supporter in life. Whilst marriages are not always perfect, with each person bringing their own trauma, issues or what ever you would like to call it, one thing we do have is a commitment to make it work. Both of us have had very poor role models when it comes to love and marriage. The ironic part is that my dad, the one who was physically abusive has helped us through some of our biggest conflicts. My dad may have brought heartache into my life as a child but there’s an element of peace that has been found. For that I am also grateful.

photocredit: Jodie Dee

Boundaries

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On my journey of recovery from childhood abuse one of the steepest learning curves as an adult is learning BOUNDARIES.

This is something I still struggle with as I am a people pleaser. Always wanting to say yes, and never wanting to let anyone down. This kind of self-sacrificing approach no longer serves me in this life.

Yes, it was necessary as a child, for my very survival to be on high alert, tip-toeing around parents without any recognition or awareness of what my own needs might be.

Not. Any. More.

I am allowed to politely say no to people if I can not do what they are asking of me.

It. is. OK.

Practicing boundaries is something I will most likely continue to work on for some time yet. Visually, I am beginning to post look-outs on my boundaries, scouring the scene ahead, little protectors that put me first. And I mean this in the most un-egotistical way possible.

I believe, for anyone recovering from trauma, knowing your own boundaries and what your limits are, needs to be a part of that therapeutic journey.

Boundaries.

Yes Please. 

Survivor of Family Violence and Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother

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