2017; A Wrap

In rereading, I realized my last regular post here was almost one year ago; some things have changed, others have not.

I’m currently well, in fact I don’t think I have ever felt better in my life.  I understand that even when symptoms aren’t present, the underlying condition isn’t gone, merely dormant, but it is great to feel this good.

It’s been just about a year since I last heard from Ed – he tried being assertive, which was downright laughable; I informed him that not only had I done nothing wrong, even citing the valid legal argument and precedent behind my position,  I had kept all of his email, and his notes were quite damning in a legal and personal sense – replete with confessions after all. I then let him know that any potential suit he brought  against me would be met by my suit against him; he let it all go, just as I knew he would.  Ed’s a coward, making a grand show for people he wants the world to believe he cares for. He is infinitely pitiable and disgusting.

It’s Christmas again, which means family parties and events in healthy extended families – not so much in mine.  My wife has been in contact via text messages with my sister these last couple of weeks, but other than that we’ve not been in touch.  My aunt still hasn’t seen my mother (but has remained in very welcomed contact with me).  To the best of my knowledge, there will be no rekindling of family ties this holiday season.

An article I stumbled upon recently stated the holidays were infinitely painful for those estranged from family, but I have never seen evidence of this in mine. For the most part, I think my parents, especially Pat, felt well rid of me by the time I cut ties with them; if they felt differently, they did not share or elaborate.  And me, well I was far too busy enjoying my first taste of true happiness to feel saddened by the estrangement, even in those first few holiday seasons.  Now, many years later, I cannot imagine any of us miss the others just because it’s Christmas. This fact speaks volumes as to the depth of dysfunction that was always so much a part of who we were as a family.

I have given extensive thought as to the direction Silence Shattered will take in the new year.  I will be posting frequently again, with a focus on my original mission: to explore the link between child abuse and mental illness; the evidence is conclusive, compelling, and it must be shared.

Last week, I was contacted by a contributor to BetterHelp.com, the largest online platform for counseling services, and asked if I’d share as infographic on Silence Shattered, as well as a link to their depression resources.  The infographic is forthcoming in an upcoming post, and the link is below:

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New World and Me Too

Image result for quotes a change is coming

 

It’s been a while since I updated here, but the recent trend in outing men with a past that includes sexual assault, sexually inappropriate behavior, sexual abuse and misconduct is relevant given my having exposed Ed here …

Society is changing, redefining acceptable and unacceptable at a furious pace; gone forever is the naive notion that what happened in a man’s past has no bearing on today.  A man’s past has always mattered; people do not change – finally recognizing this as a collective can have only positive impact on society.

The solution, at least for now – in the early days of this revolution, remains exposure …

When I was about twenty years old, Ed won a cruise for selling a specific number of insurance policies, and he took me with him on this vacation.  The entire ship was filled with insurance agents who had sold the requisite number of policies, as well as their guests.

There was a woman – this is better than thirty five years ago, so I do not recall her name, but she was the guest of a colleague of Ed’s.  During the cruise, she became deeply offended by Ed’s unwanted touching – he would put his arm around her in group photos, try to hug and kiss her when she came to dinner, or when he saw her on excursions.

I told him to stop, that he was making her extremely uncomfortable, but he wouldn’t listen to me, and he didn’t stop.  She finally spoke up, after suffering through several encounters with Ed, and he thought she was, “extremely rude.” She did nothing but set him straight.

My wife’s own “Me Too” moment was given to her by Ed; just like the woman on the cruise, Ed was always touching and trying to kiss her …

and when I told him to stop, that his unwanted affection was making her uncomfortable, he acted as though she had the problem; he was, after all, only being friendly and polite.

Men like this do not alter their behavior, because they do not believe they are the problem.

Decent people have the right to know when they are exposed to those with a history of sexual misconduct. It’s that simple …

so tell your story, and hold them accountable.

A man’s past is an accurate prediction of that same man’s future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reconciliation: A Caution Based on What I’ve Learned

Image result for quotes injustice

You begin to heal when you say, “No more.”  It took me a long time to recognize that – to feel the efficacy within “No More.”  It happened gradually  — when I realized the balance of power had naturally shifted because I had grown up. Eventually, I shut the door and never went back.

For me, no contact was the answer, and I maintain I had no choice, but many abuse survivors don’t walk away – for whatever reason, they hold on to dysfunction, often enduring a lifetime of abuse.

The attempt at reconciliation with Ed was a mistake on my part – people do not change.  I still believe people can change, but it takes a level of focus and commitment few possess.  It’s hard enough to make subtle changes – to lose weight, or resolve to save more money; changing the whole of who we are is damn near impossible.  And when dealing with an abuser, the need is a change in everything they are.

So I’ll amend that; I believe we can change aspects of who we are, but we cannot change our essence or our core.  A man who can beat his child – brutally and without mercy, will always be that man …

Real change begins with deep personal reflection, devoid of any and all denial, and progresses to the assumption of full responsibility for what you did and for what it caused. Finally, it entails making amends – not just with yourself, but with everyone you have hurt.  This last part can take the remainder of an abuser’s lifetime …

and those imbued with the capacity to abuse aren’t the kind who invest themselves in taking care of the wounds of others – they remain readily able to inflict pain, but not to soothe it.

Reconciliation with your abuser is a risky proposition, and it almost always fails.  In the trial, we are reminded of the pain – it can be a living hell.

I went to dinner with my father, sat beside him at a ballgame or theatrical production; spoke of trivial things, and not so trivial things, but it never felt right – or OK.  I was always his child in those moments – something I did not want to be, something I never wanted to be, something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy; he was, and ever will be, the father who beat and tortured me, the man I so feared and despised.

I learned a great deal in our correspondence, the written word so revealing of who we are inside.  He was candid, very matter-of-fact in his narcissism and grandiose belief in who he is today – so delusional in his own certainty in who he is:

Excerpt – 10/25/2014

“I have been thinking that one of my favorite Plays , and recent movie, Les Mis, has much meaning to my life with Janet. (Janet, my sister with developmental delays) I’m not good at character names, but I ‘m sure you and Rachael (my daughter) can follow along.. I’m thinking Janet and myself as the characters the ex prisoner and the woman’s small child. If I hadn’t stepped up to take care of Janet she would have remained in the State Hospital system and would have died simply a lost sole and her beauty and love cloistered from the world.”

Very determined to make me believe he was different, he played upon my compassion and empathy – he tried desperately to manipulate my feelings:

October 12, 2014

“Tim,

I came back early from my retreat at the Camaldise Monastery at Big Sur, I usually go off for a retreat at least once a year and alternate between Big Sur and the Monastery of the Redwoods, west of Garberville.

I usually go to get away for a few days where I can just be alone – fitting for the Introvert I am. The first day is mostly meditating and falling asleep as I meditate and simply catching up on needed rest. So why is this important?

During one of these sleeping meditations I woke up and realized I was crying. At 1st, I thought I was happy because of the wonderful “family” e-mail I had received before I left for the monastery. It took only a few seconds to realize that was not it at all, I was extremely sad. It was because into the middle of the ideal family e-mail spanning 20-30 years, there was a period of horrific pain, anger and mental distress for which I was responsible, and the pain hurt

.

I got up, closed the door to my room and sat with that pain, crying some more, then sat there and thought how I was going to say this to you. I came home a day early, thinking the long drive would help me decide how to tell you and arrived late last night. I was too emotionally drained and tired to put this down in words last night so I went to bed and am writing it now. This is how it came out.”

 

When considering reconciliation with an abusive parent, there is a ten-point check list to determine your own readiness, but perhaps the single most important consideration is this:

  • Have we both experienced significant emotional growth and change since we estranged? Or, are we the same as we were at the time of our estrangement?

 

I will say that it is crucial that you have grown and healed, but it is far more important that your parent has grown – and this growth MUST include the ability to accept without comprise all of what they did, all of what it caused – and they must be willing to make it right, whatever that entails FOR YOU! And all of this must be sustained throughout the course of any relationship that follows.  

Be careful if it seems too easy – never have the words “if it seems too good to be true it probably is,” been more true.

Be alert and ready to recognize false remorse, manipulation and gaslighting.

And don’t feel like you have to forgive until you are ready – and if that time never comes, understand that that is OK.

Just as it took time and contemplation to understand exactly how damaging my abusive childhood was, it will take time to fully process the impact of my failed attempt at reconciliation with my father:

It’s painful to realize your parent is a monster …

but it’s even more devastating to recognize that in the years of estrangement, all they have done is sharpen their claws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts At The End

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me to know that Ed got away with child abuse, rape and God alone knows what else, but it is less important than it once was.  In some small way, knowing the people he has fooled into believing he is a good and decent human being – the people who are, in reality, nothing more to him than props necessary to support his own self-delusion, know the truth.  They. Know. The. Truth …

what they do about that is their concern.

I’ve been silent for a few months, taking stock and reflecting.  That I saved all of Ed’s email, and thus his admissions that every word of this blog is, indeed, truth gives me an almost unimaginable upper-hand.

And yet, I don’t feel any sort of closure or relief.  At the end of the day, he proved me right; People Don’t Change – that is not solace.  He knows what he did, but he doesn’t know, or care, what it caused … how deep and dark the abyss he left his children in really is.

And when the chips were down, when he could have found redemption, he turned his back on all responsibility for who he is, and what he’s done, in favor of a life that is nothing more than a cover-up, and lie.  No father – no decent man does this.

So when you read this, and I know you will, remind yourself that while he appeared to be protecting you – the only person he was protecting was himself.

Obligation

There was a time when I hated my parents.

Then, for the longest time, I was indifferent.

Now, all I feel for them is pity …

and a great deal of nothing.

In recent email with Ed concerning my sister’s current crisis, I have realized a few things – and when I say realized, I mean not only a certain recognition, but also a deep understanding …

He has no idea how to be a father.

I don’t even think he knows what it means to be a father.

He does things – always the wrong things, that would never even occur to me … or anyone else who has even the most basic idea of how this, I am a parent, thing works.

When Rhonda emailed him several years ago, during my emotional breakdown, to let him know not only that I was very sick, but that it was all his fault (along with Pat) I was sick, he did not respond in any way; no call, no visit, no email reply.  Nothing.

When told Elizabeth was ill, his response has been two fold;  “I hope Pat does something to help her.”  was his first response …

and it was followed by his telling me that if she is a threat to herself or others, I can call Adult Protective Services.  He then explained that because he has had no contact with his daughter himself, he cannot make this call.

Seriously, I just had to shake my head.

His child is sick, and in crisis, and he knows exactly why she is sick … knows and acknowledges that his abuse (along with Pat’s) when she was a child is to blame for her state of mental health, and what does he do?

He sends her an email!  He hasn’t seen her in more that thirty five years, she is mentally ill and in crisis, and he emails her!

When I pointed out that this might not have been the best way to approach her, he agreed with me.

If it weren’t so damn tragic, it would be funny.  How can anyone be this daft?

It is his mess.

She is his child.

And still he does not take responsibility …

still he refuses to fix, or even attempt to fix, what he broke.

He lives in a world where nothing that happened prior to his marrying Marie matters;

nothing before 1985 is relevant:

Ed did not abuse his children.

Ed did not rape his daughter’s fourteen year old friend.

Ed did not fail to live up to even the most basic of obligations to his children.

He has hidden and lied for so long he actually believes he is good.

His children create cognitive dissonance – we are a stark, cold reality – a reminder that he isn’t who and what he believes himself to be.

I get it.  I do.

As sick as he made his children …

he has made himself even sicker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of What We Claim

Quote on mental health - I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.

Last week was rough; it was emotionally draining and, in the end, it felt unproductive.  I was merely the support system, my aunt took the brunt of the storm – she was deeply exhausted when it was over.

It has me thinking about what I did to my family when I was sick, how tired they were – how hopeless and helpless they must have felt at times.  Untreated mental illness wrecks havoc with the lives of everyone it touches.

It is different – being on the outside, being well and trying to make sense of someone else’s illness; I now know the despair and helplessness of watching a train wreck; it’s going to happen, but all I can do is watch.  I can’t stop it.  I’m powerless.

I don’t like being a victim – so I won’t own that terrible, vulnerable dark place in the soul that knows only cries that are never heard …

my sister, on the other hand, seems to have found a home there.  She blames everyone, but is never introspective.  She is always the victim.  She is always the wounded.  She is always the down-trodden.  She alone hurts.  She alone has been ill-treated.  She is unloved.  She is unwanted …

It is all ridiculous, of course, but she has told herself all of this so many times she actually believes it is true.  She is perpetuating her own illness, actually making herself sicker.

She has been a victim – she was our parent’s victim; today, she is a victim only of herself. And her self-abuse is, in many ways, worse than anything our parents did to her.  They made her comfortable being a victim, that is fact, but she chooses to own victim-hood now.

She owns victim-hood, but not her story.  She is too busy wallowing to understand the strength it took just to survive Pat and Ed’s House of Horrors.  Too busy claiming virtue in her pain to realize she beat the odds, once.  Too mired in her self-created loss to feel good about who she has been, and who she could still be.

Owning her story has the power to heal, and set her free.

And it is the only thing that does.

Forgiveness and Restitution

“Forgiveness is created by the restitution of the abuser; of the wrongdoer. It is not something to be squeeeeeezed out of the victim in a further act of conscience-corrupting abuse.”  

 

Upon learning of my sister’s latest crisis, Ed sent me the following note:

 

… “Yes Pat and I are both responsible for what happened to both of you and where you are today.

 

 

I don’t know how to reach out to Elizabeth or even if I should. Hopefully Pat is able to do something for her.”

 

 

Thankfully where I am today is not cause for alarm …

 

 

despite his admission: “Pat and I are both responsible for what happened to both of you and where you are today.”  There is no personal accountability, no need to do what’s right in the face of the destruction he has left in his wake  …

 

 

How does anyone admit life-altering abuse and then leave it all up to someone else to take care of?

 

 

Pat has disowned Elizabeth in every way that matters, there will be no assistance from Pat.

 

 

Ed,

 

 

As far as not knowing how to reach Elizabeth, there is Google.  She is not difficult to find.

 

 

Or, here’s a thought …

 

 

you could summon the courage to ask me.

 

 

Or you could do something anonymously …

 

 

Or you could simply thank Bev for attempting to clean up your mess.

 

 

If it mattered, or if you understood, you would find a way – even  small, indirect acts of restitution have meaning.

 

 

Hoping that Pat does something for her is laughable …

 

 

Pat, the mother who beat her?

 

 

Pat, the mother who abandoned her physically and emotionally for her entire life?

 

 

Pat, the mother who portrays herself as the victim of her adult children’s cold and callous neglect …

 

 

Pat, the mother who still denies she did anything at all wrong?

 

 

Whether or not you should reach out to Elizabeth … ?

 

 

That all depends on what’s stopping you …

 

 

Is it unconditional love for your daughter?

 

Concern that seeing the monster who caused all this would only make her sicker?

 

 

Or is it your own inability to face her?

 

 

Your own fear, weakness and cowardice?

 

 

Once again, you’ve made everything all about Ed …

 

 

when it should be all about what is best for your child.

 

Narcissistic Parents

The target of the narcissistic mother is treated with disdain within the family. No one believes her/him:

 

Although I didn’t tell anyone all of what went on in my parent’s house as a child, it was occasionally noticed; bruises from Ed’s beatings were not always easy to hide.  When I was asked, by a teacher or my grandmother, where the bruises came from, I was truthful, but I also took the blame by stating I had deserved it … after all, he told me I did.

My mother was very good at both psychological and literal abandonment of her children.

When the truth came out, I was middle-aged … but I was lucky; almost everyone believed me.  The only family member who did not was one of my father’s sisters, an aunt whose denial of the multi-generational abuse rampant in the Shockley family is foundational to her very being.

I think my sister has suffered more from the disbelief of others than have I.  A lot of this may have to do with her illness(es); she is prone to intensity of emotion and reaction, therefore she overstates reality; she embellishes …

in the case of Pat and Ed, the truth itself is more than enough.

People don’t seem to have a problem believing Elizabeth where Ed is concerned – she kicked him to the curb, rightfully, when she was very young, but having kept Pat in her life for as long as she did made it difficult for some to believe and understand the truth about Pat when she finally dared to share it …

Pat beat her.

Pat manipulated her.

Pat abandoned her.

Pat verbally and emotionally tortured her.

Pat is not now who she pretends to be …

and never has been.

 

Pat, a Narcissist?

Her pathology is classic – and so is Ed’s for that matter.

I used to wonder how their marriage lasted as long as it did, now I wonder why they broke up …

they are perfect for each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Key

alt

If he had assumed responsibility for everything he’s done, the ending may have been different – I may have been able to accept his apology.

I tried, but apology devoid of willingness and ability to hold himself accountable for what he did to me was empty and meaningless.  “I’m sorry,” turned out to be only words.

He has himself to blame, for everything.

I’ve done some soul-searching, and I know I gave him an honest chance; somehow, I was able to do that.  I sincerely wanted the ending to be different.

But it isn’t enough to apologize, you must – absolutely must, endeavor to make it right if you want your apology to feel sincere and heartfelt.  He would not do this …

“I’m sorry,” was all he had.

All he was willing to give.

And after everything he did, a willingness and desire to make it right was imperative, crucial, and necessary.

He’s plays the victim, or worse, a martyr …

His thinking is self-aggrandizing and somewhat disordered – definitely out of touch with the concept of taking any real responsibility for anything he has ever done.  I am basing this conclusion on several months of email correspondence with him; notes that left me stunned, shocked, speechless and in utter disbelief.

I kept every email he sent – allowed a few trusted friends and family – also my therapist – to read them, just to see what they thought about Ed; the consensus was unanimous and supports my beliefs; he was a cruel, abusive father who failed to meet even a single obligation inherent to the role of father, who now sees himself as someone good, someone other than who he really is – and worst of all,  he is incapable of taking responsibility for what he did to his children.

For my readers struggling with this issue in their own lives:  the surreal and disconnected attempt by an abusive parent to reach out to you years later, to apologize without taking any responsibility for what he or she has done, who offers no real attempt at making amends …

You are not alone; sadly, this is not an uncommon circumstance for survivors of child abuse to find themselves in.  As grounded as I was, as resolute as I had become: no contact with my parents again, ever, I gave him a chance … and I was moved by his apology devoid of denial – I tried to believe that was enough.  My attempt to forgive is well chronicled on the pages of this blog; I wanted what he was willing to give to be enough …

But it isn’t enough, it can’t be enough.

If someone can admit they beat their child – viciously, cruelly, and in ways they found sexually gratifying – time and time and time again …

If they can admit they were never there for their child; provided no emotional or financial support, little to no nurturing or affection …

and yet they do not feel compelled to make amends – to at least try to make up for all they have done, and what it has caused …

who can assume no responsibility beyond saying, “I’m sorry” …

I must conclude this is not a stable, emotionally mature man – and I do not want him in my life.

Perspective

your

 

It took a long time for me to understand my life – to develop my own philosophical point-of-view.  My early influences were not conducive to learning to think for myself.  When I look back on the boy I was in my late teens and early twenties, I no longer recognize him.

I was cynical, sarcastic and completely shut down emotionally.  I was all the things my childhood had groomed me to be.  If I had any sort of philosophy at all, not that I defined it then, it was ‘put one foot in front of the other and do the best you can until you die.’ Life was a struggle, and that was all it was.

I cannot recall my mother ever being happy.  She hated her job and her employer – whatever and whoever it was at the time.  She came home from work at night and drank, a lot.  She was very good at letting everyone around her know just how unhappy she was.

My father was always an odd duck.  I was, for whatever reason, acutely aware of this.  He  made me nervous and uncomfortable even when he wasn’t raging, which wasn’t often.  He was always mad.  Always. Yes, I was hyper-aware of my father’s moods, but perhaps I was even more cognizant of the fact that he was just so strange.

I didn’t really develop a perspective on any of this until I was an adult and able to see for myself the way other people lived, engaged and interacted with each other; comparisons to my own family were inevitable, and eye-opening.

Behavior that was normal in my house – raging father, caustic mother who tried to make everyone else as miserable as she was – wasn’t even tolerated in most others.  There were standards for respect and emotional support in families I didn’t know anything about – these standards certainly didn’t exist in my family.

It was a whole new world, and I felt like a complete outsider.  One of the first arguments I had with Rhonda ended with her telling me that if I wanted to keep her in my life I couldn’t continue to behave like an asshole when I was mad, frustrated or upset …

but I didn’t really know anything else.  That was about the time I confided in her – gave her an outline of what Pat and Ed had done to me – told her a little bit about ‘normal and accepted behavior’ in the Shockley house.

I wanted a different life; hell, I wanted A Life, period, and I knew enough by that point to know if I didn’t develop a new and emotionally healthy perspective, I’d never have a life worth living.

You don’t escape an abusive home and toxic family just by growing up and moving out, it isn’t that simple.  Years of fear, pain, pernicious influence and shutting out the world emotionally take a toll – they alter who you are fundamentally; survival is all you know, and that is largely instinctive …

to escape forever, you have to learn to live.