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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 

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

A 180° Turn

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.38.01 AM.pngAs of this last week, my story of healing has taken a large step in the opposite direction. Unfortunately these maladaptive ways of dealing with my feelings and thoughts has reared its head again. In the lead up to attending a mediation assessment at the request of the Mother, I am overwhelmed and unsure of what the future holds. I am having catastrophic thoughts of ending up in family court and her wanting to see my children. I keep thinking how am I going to protect my children from such a toxic person if a judge thinks she has rights.

I wonder if all the emotional abuse in childhood, as well as adulthood has any weight in the eyes of the law? So many questions and no clear answer has resulted in me stuffing my thoughts away with food. I know I’m attempting some kind of escape but can’t stop. Sometimes when I’m driving alone, I put the music in the car so loud to drown out all these awful thoughts about how my life would look with the Mother in it. It’s unbearable. It’s the ‘not knowing’ part that really gets to me.

So far, I’m doing everything in my power to create a different life for my girls, one where they are not abused, they are not toyed with, manipulated and used as a weapon for another’s gain. I have happy little girls who get to be who they want to be. They are accepted for all their quirks and cheeky antics, they have firm and reasonable boundaries that don’t change according to a parents mood. Without the stress of the Mother my girls have a Mum who is happier. Right now, thinking about some end point where I am in court having to deal with the Mother and all her manipulations makes me worry and loose touch with the present moment of all the joy that’s right in front of me.

How do I put these thoughts aside in a way that isn’t destructive to myself? Am I supposed to breathe them away? Distract with exercise? How do I make the worry stop?

Right now, much like the photograph attached to this post, I am in free fall. Falling down with no end in sight, how on earth do I float back up? I want to be able to rise above, in spite of what is happening that is beyond my control. Perhaps writing this post tonight can be my first step back towards the light and away from this dark patch.

 

 

Photo Credit: Sebas Oz 

 

Story Of Healing

My blogging journey began with the memories and now it has transformed into one of healing.

NARC WHITE

When I first began the journey towards healing from the past, one of my first steps was joining lots of different narcissistic support groups on Facebook. Reading other peoples posts of information they’ve found, books they’ve read as well as questions posted helped me feel that I am not alone. In my life, I am surrounded by family and friends who do not understand what it is like to be raised by a narcissistic parent. They lack the insight to provide any kind of support. Which of course I understand, to describe even the smallest thing I’ve experienced at the hands of my Narc Mother leaves people either laughing, speechless or looking at me like I might be too sensitive. Because after all, she’s your mother right? How could a mother really want to hurt her children? Generally people find this hard to comprehend because it goes against everything  society holds dear about Mothers’.  I get told, “but she’s so nice” or “she’s your mother”. That last one really gets to me; so because she’s my mother I must excuse the fact that deep down there is no genuine love for me? No genuine interest in who I am, no acceptance of my dry sense of humour. I must excuse her for belittling me in the company of other people because “she’s my mother”?

And then when I let people know I have no contact with the Mother, I get the ‘I’m so sorry’. To which I reply, there is nothing to be sorry about. Since going no contact I am the strongest I have ever been. I am more sure of myself, more conversational, more connected to other people in my life, friends and acquaintances. The best part is that I am actually feeling my emotional states rather than trying to suppress my feelings with destructive behaviour as was the case for most of my life. A great example of this is when we had a planning meeting at work and my manager cried at the end because she was so happy with all our efforts and where we are going in 2018. Before I would struggle to connect and feel empathy towards another in this situation and would engage more in what I think was a cognitive empathy rather than a deeper feeling state of empathy. Seeing my manager’s happiness expressed through tears brought tears to my own eyes, and I allowed myself to feel that connection. I did not push it away and nor did I feel ashamed.

A month or so later this happened again at my little girl’s school assembly. The Grade 6’s had made a beautiful video of children in the school celebrating their values each had written onto posters, things like being a good friend, sharing and kindness. These children were expressing themselves in a way that was unique to them, and this was a cause for celebration. Watching this video brought tears to my eyes and I stood there allowing the waves of feeling to rush through my body, I allowed my heart to fill with the love and there was no shame. My expression of gratitude was accepted by my school community, everyone shared in the emotion.

This is healing!

 

 

 

 

Autism and My Girl

Autism Awareness

photo credit: Susan Lecente

One day my daughter will be old enough to read this. And when she does she will already know that she had a mum who fought against the odds to help her reach her full potential. I love you to the moon, around all the stars and back to the earth a million times over. You are my sunshine, and an absolute delight. Everyone who meets you adores and cherishes your humour, kindness and empathetic nature. We are so lucky we got you.

To get to where we are now was a long journey, one where I researched and found the best people qualified to assess and diagnose autism in girls. That is the crux of it right there. So many professionals do not have the right knowledge to diagnose high-functioning girls. They may have had years of experience, but do they have experience with girls and autism? This was the question I always had in the back of my mind. And when I came across GP’s, Paediatricians and Speech Therapists who would tell me there’s nothing to be concerned about, I knew better. So I persevered and found the right people to do assessments and eventually a diagnosis of Autism was confirmed.

From having a diagnosis, we were able to access funding to begin early intervention. Without this funding money we could never have afforded the level of intensive early intervention required, and even then it still wasn’t enough. Coming to terms with not having enough resources for the level of intervention I know has better outcomes was one of the most heart wrenching experiences. Eventually I found solace in the fact that she has me as her Mum, someone who has studied psychology and trained in behaviour therapy. I was doing so much with her everyday and well before a diagnosis that her potential would be reached. And it has. My daughter is starting school, she does not have an aid and has begun making friends. Yes, there are going to be challenges, as social life becomes more complex I will need to be attuned to my daughter and where she is at emotionally and psychologically, so that the right kind of support can be there every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

Surviving the Narcissistic Parent: ACoNs (Adult Children of Narcissists)

Below is an informative and insightful piece on what it is to be raised by a narcissistic parent. Being able to read this and identify with what is said is part of my healing. More specifically, what I experienced was real. The subtle and pervasive abuse of a narcissistic parent can leave you questioning reality. And here I find comfort that I am not alone.

At this present moment, I have no contact with the Mother, other than through her lawyer. Upon reading this article and seeing that narcissistic parents go on to further traumatise their grandchildren gives me faith in my instinct to protect my children from her. When our first child was born, my husband and I agreed that the Mother would have supervised contact going forward and that she would never have any significant amount of time alone with our children. At these points in time, the Mother had a boyfriend who took on the role of step-dad for me. He is what the article below refers to as an ‘enabler’. If any long period of time went by, I would inevitably get a phone call from my step-dad telling me how sick the Mother is, that she’s really unwell and needs to see me. Or my step-dad would facilitate contact via encouraging lunch and dinners out at restaurants. So eventually we would always see her.

Prior to seeing her, my husband and I would discuss strategies around how I would excuse myself from the table if the Mother was triggering me via mean, subtle sarcastic comments or undermining my role as  a Mum; I was to say I had a phone call and leave. Breathe. Come back. This was for the sake of our children who I did not want seeing their Mum get upset. After seeing the Mother, my husband and I would debrief, I might cry out of the sheer frustration of being in her company and feelings of grief that this woman continues to find happiness in my pain.

Over the years of the Mother having contact with my children, it has become very clear she has a favourite. One Christmas, her favourite received a robotic unicorn that talks and sings (for a great article about Narcs and gift-giving see this link here). My other daughter whilst still young, cried and didn’t understand why she couldn’t play with the unicorn. The Mother refers to her favourite as a small version of herself, always making comments that my daughter is just like her, that they are very similar and “I was like her when I was little”, she will tell her “I love you” and then turn to my youngest and say “oh yes I love you too” with disdain in her voice.

The Mother comments on her ‘favourite’s’ blonde hair and then in the same breath says some comment that my other daughters hair is dark and not as appealing, whilst in their presence.  This kind of subtle emotional abuse of pitting one child against the other based on physical attributes begun very early for my children and did not go unnoticed. It triggered many memories of how the Mother played my brother and I against each other based on looks. I pulled her into line, thinking that I might be able to stop her, this was foolish and I now realise she will never stop. Creating division is what she does, it’s how she creates drama and maintains control over the long term. I know there is no true genuine love for my children, they are merely props to her. Props to make her appear to be a doting grandmother and props for photos. The Mother would yank dummies out of their mouths as babies, making them cry, demonstrating no regard for their wants and needs, only that she requires the perfect photograph. This continued into early childhood, observed by her interrupting their play, forcing them to pose, shaming them for sitting incorrectly. It continued to be point of tension for us, even going so far as to give her a certain number of photographs and my step-dad would then remove her phone.

I have now removed her from our lives and a weight has been lifted. Maybe now I can truly begin to heal. No more preparing, no more debriefing, no more worrying that the cycle of narcissistic abuse will continue.

 

The Invisible Scar

narcissistic-mothers-smApril is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month. At The Invisible Scar, we are focusing on emotional child abuse, such as the various types, how to help emotionally abused children,  resources for healing, adult survivors of emotional child abuse, and the special case of narcissism.

Adult children of narcissistic parents (ACoNs) know a special type of emotional abuse in being raised by narcissists. (Biological mothers, stepmothers, biological fathers, and stepfathers can be N parents.) 

Before we discuss the special case of narcissism, please note that not every emotionally abusive parent has the narcissistic personality disorder. In some circumstances, an emotionally abusive parent who is not a narcissist can change and improve his or her parenting.  The same is not true for the narcissistic parent, however. Every narcissistic parent is an emotional abuser.

A narcissist is a person who has the narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one…

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