I was originally prompted to write my pain scale post (click here) by my siblings’ efforts to sustain one of my mother’s more overt patterns of harassment. But what I am finding is that search terms that bring the most new readers and followers to my blog are from the posts on my health, my surviving a narcissistic dysfunctional family, and shamanism. In response to this interest, I am going to add some context to the last post, and I will continue to write on all of the above for those who struggle with similar situations.
The family context is that my mother’s cyclic pattern of harassment and abuse would begin with her waiting for an opening where she could attack me in someway ranging from derogatory statements to me and others to actual malfeasance. When I made efforts to set boundaries, to contain and minimize both her behavior and the resulting social debris, her response would be to withdraw from direct contact. I would be punished by her denying me the dubious pleasure of her company and conversation for a period ranging from six to eighteen months while she prepared the ground for the next step. She was among the first cyber-stalkers and would seek out any activity and contacts she could find, and study them. Then there would be an approach cloaked in some sort of praise based on that information.
The subtext, which was soon verbalized as her program progressed , was that in focusing on my own health and survival I was solely responsible for purposefully, willfully, and maliciously causing her harm and denying her the veritable fountain of joy, love, and creativity in her life that she was entitled to. To maintain this fiction, she had to insure that any physical or financial issues I might be dealing with would be cast as evidence of my moral turpitude. When I was not receptive to taking on full responsibility for her well-being and happiness, then the overt attacks would be renewed and the cycle continue. If this sounds calculated, it was. As one overwhelmed and disbelieving therapist blurted: “She is the epitome of the bad mother!” My mother’s deathbed enlightenment was the realization that conversation was possibly an exchange of information, not a just a tool for manipulating others behavior. The idea that she might have to listen as well as speak was quite literally a revelation she could not live with.
Since agreeing with her was financially remunerative for my siblings, they played my mother’s games with gusto. She died in 2007, and in as much as they need to justify their malfeasance in the process of settling her estate to themselves, they continue the pattern. It is important to understand that secrecy, apparently even from oneself, is required to perpetuate this kind of behavior, and in my situation that appears as my siblings’ selective amnesia. Therapists call it dissociation and it is a sign of psychological if not physical abuse. According to my therapist brother, I am the only person among the eight living siblings that has a chronologically complete and coherent memory of my life. I am also the only one that could or would confront my mother. In one of her perverse flashes of insight, she once declared that I was the only child of hers that truly loved her because I was the only one who saw through her games to who she truly was.
In as much as I may have any remaining obligation to my family matrix it is simply to see and speak clearly. It is a peculiarity of my family that we respond differently to spoken information than to written information. In general, the spoken word is easily (and purposefully) forgotten because it only serves to gain one whatever immediate advantage is desired while what is written down is real, enduring, and true. In writing this down, especially in a public forum, I break the code of secrecy because the written word has so much greater potential for breaking through the dissociation. And a public forum changes the social context.