"It was your choice not to come to Christmas."

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Bonnie78

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"It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« on: May 19, 2018, 12:36:37 PM »
As a few relatives tell me how sad my mother is that I'm not speaking to her, it upsets me that she has managed to impose this version of events on people.  But this has always been the way, and I shouldn't take it personally that people don't understand, because for the longest time, even though it was happening to me, I didn't understand either.

One example comes to mind.  My brother was violent from an early age.  When I was 2 and he was 5 he shoved a curtain rod down my throat and I had to go to the hospital.  It didn't get better from there.  (He also became an alcoholic quite early.)  My mother enabled my brother's physical abuse of me my whole life by not giving him any consequences (actually rewarding him a lot of the time) and even telling me it was my fault for making him angry.  When I was 22, my cousin got married and I was in her wedding.  My brother and father both got so drunk at this wedding, and I spent the whole time trying to corral them or get them to sober up or apologizing to horrified family members who kept coming up to me to complain and tell me to do something about it.  Later that night, I was sitting in the kitchen of our father's house, crying from exhaustion and humiliation and shame, and my brother, still drunk, actually apologized for his behaviour and hugged me.  (This is maybe the second time in my life I got a hug from him - usually any physical contact from him was abuse.)  I was so happy to be hugged!  Then he ruined it by trying to have sex with me.

I got angry with him and told him off, but I was so horrified by this turn of events.  I had thought the wedding was bad, but this was a thousand times worse and I kept wishing for it not to have happened, asking myself why didn't I just go to bed?  Why sit around in the kitchen crying?  I didn't ever want to see my brother again.

Before the wedding, I had asked my mother if I could borrow her car for the weekend to get there.  She agreed, but only if I promised not to tell her anything bad my brother did that weekend.  (To be fair, she was probably anticipating his drunken antics at the wedding and not that he would come on to me.)  So I felt bound by this promise and I didn't say anything about what he did and I just avoided him.  I knew he would be at Thanksgiving, so I didn't go.  My mother was irritated with me and I told her that I was respecting my promise not to tell her what he did at the wedding, but that he did do something that made me not want to be in the same room with him ever again.  She obviously didn't want to know what he did, so she left it at that and I spent Thanksgiving crying, going to a movie and walking around the city by myself.

When Christmas rolled around, I decided I couldn't do that again, it had felt so bad to be alone.  And I was mad - why should I be isolated when he was the one who was abusive?  So I told my mother and my father what my brother did.  I'm not sure what I expected, but they honestly could not have cared less.  My father wanted to know what I expected him to do about it and my mother was sure my brother was too drunk to be responsible for his actions.  I said I didn't want to see him at Christmas and my mother accused me of trying to make her choose between her two children.  She told me if I didn't want to see my brother then I shouldn't come to Christmas.   So I was alone that day too.

Years later, when I told her how hurtful this had been, she told me that SHE was the one who had been hurt.  Because "It was your choice not to come to Christmas.  You rejected us."  Classic covert narcissist abuse.  Make the situation so intolerable that you have to walk away, then claim to be abandoned.

The truth is, she rejected me a long time ago and I had no "choice" in the matter.  I am just finally accepting things the way they are.

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Amadahy

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2018, 01:44:55 PM »
Oh, Bonnie! This is heartbreaking! You chose wisely and compassionately to protect yourself.  Well done!  Too many times I have given in to being around predators just for the sake of the appearance Nmom wanted to convey.  Your mum is not "sad" because of you -- she chooses this image to absolve herself of responsibility. 

Holidays are so very difficult!  Perhaps next one you can plan something lovely for yourself or something to serve others.  You deserve it!!  :hug:
Ring the bells that still can ring;
Forget your perfect offering.
There's a crack in everything ~~
That's how the Light gets in!

~~ Leonard Cohen

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Bonnie78

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2018, 08:01:19 PM »
Thank you Amadahy.  It is the right choice, definitely.  The thing about NC is that one is officially out of denial.  And the more time that goes by and the more you get used to being treated well and to treating yourself well, the more you realize that your family was even worse than you thought.

It's hard not to regret the wasted years though.  The damage that was done emotionally and physically through the constant stress.  I wish I had gone NC years ago.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2018, 02:10:20 AM »
Gosh Bonnie78 I am horrified and so glad you stay away from your family for now. How painful to be reminded that your mother never had your back, not even when she learned what your brother did. You must have felt so alone and betrayed on those days. I hope you are taking good care of yourself now and treat yourself with kindness.
Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.  Nelson Mandela

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Bonnie78

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2018, 11:46:25 AM »
Thank you, notrightinthehead.  I am getting better.  One of the difficulties - that I think probably a lot of us have - is that adverse childhood experiences dramatically change your brain.  They set you up for depression and addiction.  It's a lot of work and trial and error to figure out how to live your life in a way that heals it.  No Contact is essential for that, I think.  But also therapy, mindfulness, avoiding too much stress, getting enough sleep and balancing good food and exercise.  I try to be very careful not to throw myself off balance in my daily life. 

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Summer Sun

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2018, 12:37:04 PM »

Classic covert narcissist abuse.  Make the situation so intolerable that you have to walk away, then claim to be abandoned.

The truth is, she rejected me a long time ago and I had no "choice" in the matter.  I am just finally accepting things the way they are.

I can so relate.  Exactly!  I am sorry for all you’ve experienced with your B and FOO.  It hurts like hell.  It sounds like you are doing great with understanding, acceptance and healing. 

Hugs,

Summer Sun
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 12:39:42 PM by Summer Sun »
"The opposite of Love is not Hate, it's Indifference" - Elie Wiesel

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MargaritaBulgakov

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2018, 05:51:49 PM »
Thank you, notrightinthehead.  I am getting better.  One of the difficulties - that I think probably a lot of us have - is that adverse childhood experiences dramatically change your brain.  They set you up for depression and addiction.  It's a lot of work and trial and error to figure out how to live your life in a way that heals it.  No Contact is essential for that, I think.  But also therapy, mindfulness, avoiding too much stress, getting enough sleep and balancing good food and exercise.  I try to be very careful not to throw myself off balance in my daily life.

Thank you Bonnie. This is really insightful. I too have to manage my days so as to avoid depression, anxiety, and OCD with compulsive thoughts. If I take care of myself just so, I have a pretty good day but it takes an enormous amount of mindfulness and proactivity. I too have wondered if/how much the way I grew up has affected has altered me.

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Bonnie78

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2018, 01:12:34 AM »
Thank you Summer Sun!  I really appreciate your kind words.  I am sorry you have been through it too :( 

Margarita, it is definitely a challenge to stay balanced!  But it seems to come more easily with time.  It was really helpful to me to read about brain function and how it is changed by abuse.  It allowed me to let myself off the hook a bit and realize that feeling bad wasn't a choice I was making, it wasn't something I could switch off using will power, it was a state I was in because of what I had been through.  And of course if I look back at my childhood, I cried almost every day and by the time I was 9 years old I was pulling out my own hair.  The anxiety I experienced was overwhelming and it was constant.

Prolonged stress alters your brain structure - your receptors and your hormones.  Once I understood that, I focused on doing things to support healthy brain function.  A lot of supplements actually - they really help me.  And I know sugar throws me off balance, so I don't eat it at all.  If I miss exercising for more than two days, that also throws me off.  When I do everything optimally, it makes a huge difference.  But you are so right, it does take an enormous amount of mindfulness and proactivity.  There is a certain serenity that comes with no contact though - a certain acceptance.  I think it is similar to the AA serenity prayer about accepting what we can't change.  Once you do that, you are no longer spending energy on the losing battle of trying to get your parent to act like they love you.  You have energy to love and look after yourself and learn to be mindful.

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Bothar

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2018, 05:23:08 AM »
Thank you Bonnie78 for your wise words!  I am full of admiration for your fortitude.  How strong you have been in the face of so much.  Your comments regarding the brain and maintaining balance have really given me a shot in the arm.  I know this too but sometimes my thoughts fall through the cracks and I think I'm imagining stuff or that I'm still the odd one.  Kinda like 'why can't I just deal with my NF and get on with it.'  Your comments reminded me that there is a definite reason why I feel so stressed whenever I think of the possibility of having to deal with him again.  Exercise too is so important.......getting up from the TV and going out for a simple walk.  Thanks again for sharing this x

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Starboard Song

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2018, 11:38:14 AM »
I shouldn't take it personally that people don't understand, because for the longest time, even though it was happening to me, I didn't understand either.

Those are brave, strong, generous words. It is not easy to be so understanding of a phenomenon that can cause so much pain.

Thanks for being among the bestest!
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
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Bonnie78

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Re: "It was your choice not to come to Christmas."
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2018, 01:06:33 PM »
Thank you Starboard Song!  You are always so encouraging :)

Kinda like 'why can't I just deal with my NF and get on with it.' 

Hi Bothar.  I have often felt this way.  Angry with myself for not being "better" by changing my mindset.  But I think that comes from two things:

1.  Narcissistic abusers commonly tell us we are responsible for out own pain because we are "taking it the wrong way."  Telling us that the way we see things is not the way it is, and if we would just change the way we look at it, we'd be fine.  So it's easy to fall into that pattern oneself, but the truth is that things are not fine.  Even no contact, while much better than active abuse, is a stress, because you are in a state of being cut off from family.  Just because our families are toxic doesn't mean that we stop having a need for family.  So I don't say "There, well, I got rid of them, now I'm all better."  It requires constant mindfulness to deal with the discomfort and find alternate sources of family and community.  And to change the disordered thinking that comes with abuse.

2.  Society is big on self help and "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps," etc. I used to believe this too.  That if I could just come to a point of "understanding" then I would be fixed.  And if I wasn't fixed, then it was my fault, because I should be strong enough to turn this around by sheer will. But that's not how we humans work.  If you've secreted high levels of cortisol for a long time - which most abused people have - then your brain structure has altered and you are programmed for more stress and less happiness than other people.  You can't think your way out of that, you have to behave your way out of it.   And also, I don't think this can be done in isolation.  We need other people.  Communities like this, fellowship groups, therapy, good friends, family of choice, etc.  I think they all play a role too.