Here is my story.

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Cerulean

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Here is my story.
« on: January 26, 2020, 08:30:12 AM »
I started going to therapy four years ago, the triggering event being workplace harassment that brought up a lot of issues for me.  And also, for just generically feeling "broken."  I went through a number of therapists -- some helpful, some who retraumatized me -- but nothing really struck a chord until I started reading about narcissism.  It was shocking -- and life-changing -- to read about family dysfunction and personal difficulties that so perfectly matched my own.  I approached it all with skepticism at first.  I didn't want to buy into something hokey.  But I have been researching it for three years and now I am 100 percent sure that my father is a covert narcissist, my mother enables him, my twin brother plays the role of golden child and I am the scapegoat.  And, shamefully, for years I subconsciously recreated these dynamics in every part of my adult life. 

I have been lurking around this website for a year, and am ready to write something.  It's a little rambling, but it's a start.

My father, and mother by proxy, were always very good at making me feel like there was something wrong with me.  That the very things that made me "me"  were stupid and misguided, and I should hand over control of my life so they could "fix" me.  That despite this fact, my father still loved me, and that I should be grateful for it.  That I owed him for loving me when no one else would.

When we were kids, my brother showed a talent for music.  My dad became a "stage" dad  -- the house revolved around my brother's music career and it was taken very seriously.  My parents pushed me to go into music as well, which in general I think is a good thing to do for children.  But in our house it was taken to extremes.  I wasn't as into music as my brother, and less willing to be controlled, so I was kind of "dropped."  Every dinner conversation was a business meeting about my brother's music career.  My father regularly put down other families and other kids, for not being as talented and amazing as we allegedly were.  The tone was always condescending and domineering.  He was obsessed with exceptionalism: either be the best, or fuck off.  It was obvious he was living vicariously through my brother. 

I recognized that my parents treated me and my brother differently.  No matter how hard I tried to be the perfect child, my parents would find reasons to punish me, although I can't remember my brother being disciplined in any way.  If I complained, I was "jealous."  It was well known among my friends that he was the "favorite" child, and in away, it became a huge part of my identity.  Whoever succeeded the most, got the most attention: both in financial resources and emotional attention.  But my brother always won.  I just thought I needed to try better, be better.  I didn't realize that the game was rigged against me, that it wasn't about me at all. Even now, I feel silly and jealous for writing this.  I don't want to complain or come across as a victim, because i'm not.  This is just how it was.  I was a child, and I didn't know how to recognize the situation for what it was or how to deal with it.

So where does this story cross the line from my dad being your standard difficult person, and having a personality disorder?  Two things, I think:  the relationship he has with my mother, and the way he reacted when I started standing up for myself as an adult.

My parent's relationship was always tense, although it seemed like I was the only one in my family who noticed.  They weren't really partners -- it was more like the three of us were his children, and we were all competing for his attention.  His ego was fragile, and there was an environment of constantly walking on egg shells.  He always had the final say, and my mother had no voice in anything.  It was submit, or suffer.  Black or white.  With him or against him.  That relationship isn't sustainable, so she often took it out on me.  I would overhear conversations she would have with my father, about how awful I was, how I was such a "bitch."  The stress in the house was always high.

In my mid-20s, I started to pick up on the fact that things weren't "right."  My brother scored a contract with a music label, and I had a breakdown.  I ended up living with him during and after college, which turned into an extended adolescence in which i could never break free from my family or figure out who I was.  I hated myself more than ever, and believed I would never catch up to him professionally and socially, and therefore I would never be loved.  I also (as referenced above) was being targeted by a bully at work.  So I started to distance myself from the family and seek therapy.  I remember my parents came to visit to talk to me, and my father gave me a speech about how I was "jealous" and needed to get over it.  It delivered in that oh so familiar way:  "you're immature and in the wrong here, your feelings aren't real, but we still love you.  Come back into our embrace." It all felt off.

In disrupting the dynamic, I must have triggered something.  My mother also had a breakdown and started going to therapy.  She threatened divorce.  She would call me hysterically on the phone, crying.  Her therapist advised that she carry around a notebook, in which she would write everything my father said and did, so he couldn't gaslight her later.  It was also this therapist who suggested that my father may be a narcissist.  Still, she would never leave him.  To her, my father's behavior was an unavoidable malady that we had to learn how to deal with, and something that would get better.  She treated our mutual suffering at his hands as if it was a way in which we could bond.   It was like she was on a sinking ship, and was dragging me down with her so she wouldn't be alone.  In all of this, I think my mother's story is the saddest.  She's a difficult person, and emotionally, she is a child.  I think she's that way so she doesn't have to take responsibility for anything.  She regularly plays the victim card.  But she is really sweet and well meaning, and she deeply and unconditionally loves both me and my brother and wishes the best for us.  She's been trying to make up for our childhood relationship by being extremely supportive of everything I do these past few years.

Eventually, my mother "calmed" and things went back to "normal."  I, on the other hand, applied for a visa to work at my company's office in another country, for more reasons than just to escape my current situation.  I liked the team there, and it was a good move professionally.  My father noticed that I was distancing myself from him, and that's when shit. hit. the. fan.  Perhaps I'll go into more detail about everything that happened another time, but in short I began to stand up for myself and insist on healthy boundaries.  In response, he bullied me, taunted me, gave me the silent treatment, gaslit, and relentlessly poked at my vulnerabilities until I broke.  Holy shit.  Did I break.  It was the hardest he ever went at me, but it also wasn't surprising, and confirmed exactly why I was so scared to confront him in the past.  Because I knew this would happen.  My mother witness all of it, and offered a shoulder to cry on, but nothing else.   Same with my brother.  I felt alone.  My father is charming and fun at the surface, so my friends were sympathetic but confused if I tried to broach the subject.  "Just tell him to fuck off" or, "just talk to him."   I was in a secret hell, with no one to protect me.  The shame stuck to me like tar and felt impossible to shake off.

I decided to go no contact.  Every few months my mother would reach out to me, saying something along the lines of:  "Your father really misses you.  Try giving him a call.  He cares about you a lot and  you should call."  Out of guilt, I would, and then the rage would come pouring on me with force:  "who do you think you are?  After everything I've done for you!  I gave you the world!  All you ever do is cause pain!!  I hope one day you find someone who loves you as much as I do, because all you do is cause pain."  I'd hang up the phone, shaking.   He would be his cruelest when there were no witnesses, which is how I know it was his intention to inflict pain.  After a year of painful conversations with my mother, she finally stopped pushing me to contact my father.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much more to say about my father, my mother, my brother, my life now.  But I needed to start somewhere and I think now is a good place to pause.

Despite all this clarity I now have on my past and my family dynamics, and although I am no longer in contact with my father, I still feel not quite "right."  I'm doing (really) well at work, but  I don't think I'm a well-adjusted adult.  I have never had a serious or long term relationship, which is a great source of insecurity for me, as I am in my early 30s.   I'm concerned about my future and not sure how I am going to heal.  My brother, who has gone low contact with our father and has struggled with anxiety, says he gets what I'm saying and is supportive of my decision to go no contact, but he doesn't understand why it's so much worse for me than for him. 

I've recently reached out to a couple of therapists who specialize in narcissistic abuse, given my experience with regular therapists has been bad.  I'm hoping to find a professional who can finally give me the help I need.  But I know all the hard work will have to be done myself.

Thanks for listening.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2020, 10:51:22 AM by Bloomie »

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SparkStillLit

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Re: Here is my story.
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2020, 11:05:26 AM »
Hey. Wow. Welcome. You're NOT alone. There's a PD parents board if you want. You can read stories and find support with those of us that have those kinds of parents. Everyone is super helpful and supportive here.
I like to read through different boards. It helps me realize I'm not alone and not crazy and not unfixably broken. You aren't either.
You've done a lot of steps in the right direction before you even got here! So bravo! Keep going!

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FogDawg

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Re: Here is my story.
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2020, 06:13:29 PM »
I've recently reached out to a couple of therapists who specialize in narcissistic abuse, given my experience with regular therapists has been bad.  I'm hoping to find a professional who can finally give me the help I need.  But I know all the hard work will have to be done myself.

You just confirmed what I said in a different thread, that therapists can sometimes do more harm than good, as not all listen objectively and are supportive. I hope that you manage to find one who is helpful in getting over your trauma, at least as much as possible. The sad part is that the majority of the work in getting healthier is required to be done by the person who should not have been beaten down and given these issues to overcome in the first place. Best of luck to you.

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Here is my story.
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2020, 09:01:55 AM »
Hello and welcome. This site can help you to see that we have been through many of these things as well. I spent years trying to find good counselling, and now I know that most counsellors in the 2000s where I live, had no deep understanding of PD abuse and c ptsd.

They were all so focused on depression and anxiety which are different from c ptsd. I spent hours with people who tried to treat me for something I didnt have, and ignore what I did have. If that happened in a medical sense people would see the disconnect but for mental health there is still that disconnect and we're caught looking for our own treatment and we often become more adept at things because of the lack of the right mental health services for us as survivors.

The most important work to recovery will be done by you, and possibly the most important moments in your recovery will happen outside the counsellors office. There are losses you've endured, that your mother may or may not ever truly acknowledge . it sounds like she is not as aware as you are right now.

Best of luck on this part of the path OOTF. Making the work transfer was a good idea. Finding work outside their geography helped me too.

Trees

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Cerulean

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Re: Here is my story.
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2020, 06:52:11 PM »
Wow.  Thank you so much for the supportive words and the validation.  It means a lot to me.