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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suggested Friends

Image result for quotes when parents hurt their child

Facebook suggested Pat as a possible friend today; for all the sophistication of that platform, it does not comprehend Complicated or Estranged.

Per the meme above, I have often felt like a refugee from childhood; my childhood was definitely something I had to endure, then overcome.  But until I saw Pat’s picture this morning as Facebook suggested I might Friend her, I hadn’t much considered how she may feel about her own childhood.

I was never close to Pat, so we didn’t discuss her relationship with her parents, and I actually know very little about it.  I know a few facts, for example; her parents wouldn’t speak to her for months after she became pregnant and “had to” marry Ed, whom they despised.  But even as she told me this story, she never indicated how it made it her feel – in retelling she was cold and detached, as though it had happened to someone else.

Looking at it through my now fifty four year old eyes – with the heart and mind of a man who has gently raised three children, not speaking to your daughter because she got pregnant is a cruel, brutal and cold thing to do.  At a time when she needed them more than she ever had before, they turned away.

She HAS to feel something about this – retrospectively, as well as in the moment, but she didn’t express feeling of any kind to me – not anger, betrayal, pain or outrage … nothing. No. Emotion. At. All.

Was she an abused child?  I know Ed was, but was Pat?  My mother’s parents were always good to me, but that doesn’t mean they were always good to their children.  Case in point, I’m told my mother is a good grandmother to my niece – and my aunt tells me her mother was a good grandmother to her children, but Pat was a terrible mother, and my aunt says her mother wasn’t always the best most nurturing mother either.

My mother’s grasp on reality has always been tenuous, my aunt’s has always been razor sharp …

From what I recall, Pat was the dutiful daughter, and she thought highly – at least she behaved as though she thought highly, of her mother.  My supposition is that the relationship – my mother for her mother, may have been based in a form of Stockholm Syndrome …  very much like my sister and Pat.

Something had to be amiss in Pat’s life for her to be able to do to her own children all the cruel and terrible things she did.

  • Abuse is [almost always] generational
  • Abusers aren’t born, they are made

Why Pat is as she is doesn’t matter to me now – it can’t, because I’m in touch with my own why and you can’t ever go back to what made you sick.

But maybe her answers don’t lie only in what she did to me, but in what someone else did to her …

she won’t look, and she’ll never question; she just isn’t built to think critically or in complex ways, so her answers will always elude her;

It’s so much easier to blame than it is to understand.

No Facebook, Pat Shaw and I can never be Friends.

I Will Tell My Story

“Violators cannot live with the truth: survivors cannot live without it. There are those who still, once again, are poised to invalidate and deny us. If we don’t assert our truth, it may again be relegated to fantasy. But the truth won’t go away. It will keep surfacing until it is recognized. Truth will outlast any campaigns mounted against it, no matter how mighty, clever, or long. It is invincible. It’s only a matter of which generation is willing to face it and, in so doing, protect future generations from abuse.”
Christine Oksana

I will not go back to silence, to a time when not proclaiming my truth made me complicit in Pat and Ed’s lies.  I. Will. Not.

This blog has given me catharsis and solace – and an unmitigated view of the events that shaped my young life and led to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.  It is my story, and I will tell it.

For others – the perpetrators of abuse, this blog is a stark, cold, bleak mirror reflecting the darkness of their soul. It has led to embarrassment, shame, and even confession. It has brought fervent denial, offered in vain; disbelieved by those who matter most.  It has exposed character flaws and vile, repellent acts committed only by the cruel and depraved. It has shined a light on generations of abuse; morally bereft parenting practices that have led to estrangement, alienation and mental illness.

It has brought me peace.

I have been fully well for a long time now; my thoughts clear, my feelings and emotions tempered only by what is real and true – it is good, so good.

I do not do this out of a need for revenge – nothing I could ever do would be enough anyway.  I do this because it is right, and it is true.  I offer no apology to those who would be far more comfortable with my silence – I did not ask to be Pat and Ed’s child.

“So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was—and am—innocent.”

The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis 

When we give shelter to those who have abused and tortured, when we cloak their sins and embrace their lies, can we really believe in our own goodness and integrity?

Trying to Understand Narcissism

alt

In speaking to family members I hadn’t spoken to in decades, more and more is making sense …

what isn’t clear to me is how a Narcissist operates – how premeditated are their actions?  Do they scheme and connive, or do they fly by the seat of their pants?  Are their manipulations as delicately orchestrated as they seem – fine tuned to consider every possibility, or do they enjoy changing things up as the situation unfolds?  How are they gratified by what they do … ?

Don’t they understand their sarcasm isn’t witty or humorous?

Don’t they realize most people don’t simply banish family from their lives, or levy ultimatums that lead to conflict and estrangement?

Don’t they have some understanding that they are not entitled to happiness at the expense of others?

What is the source of their cynical and spiteful nature?

How is it they are able to convince people in their lives that others are damaged, disturbed, evil or flawed?

How can they make everyone around them accept, almost without question, a story so ridiculous, so filled with holes and out-and-out lies, it is obvious at least mild skepticism is in order?

And how is it we, those of us who have had our lives twisted and contorted through interaction with these people, cannot see with complete clarity – though we may have known on some primal level all along, as I did – just how ruthless and disturbed  the Narcissist is until we have gotten away from her?

Pat was safe until we all started talking to each other – her story only what she wanted it to be.

There has been much hurt, regret, remorse and sorrow as a result of her orchestrations and manipulations – and I am deeply ashamed of what I considered, albeit fleetingly, my father to be guilty of … things Pat led me to knowing they were false.  A Narcissist can take the mistakes of others and twist them into something  more; something dark, terrible, evil and willful – until you begin to question yourself, and what you believe.  Even now her lack of empathy staggers me.  Where is morality, decency and propriety – what fills the space inside where her heart should be?

I am angry, intensely so, but also relieved to know my assessments of her were never too harsh – if anything they weren’t harsh enough.

Naively, and despite some real evidence to the contrary, I believed I was her only real victim – but my sister has fared far worse than I have, and what she did to my father is unconscionable. And then there are the wives, or ex-wives, of the sea of married men she has seduced – one of which told us, after he’d gotten away from her, just how insane and disturbed he found her to be.

But that’s just it; you don’t fully realize, until you’ve escaped, exactly who and what she is.  I knew I didn’t like her, knew she had the morals of an alley cat, knew she was an abusive mother …

but until I left home, I had no idea how damaged I was as a result of having been her son.

And until I began talking to others she has hurt, I didn’t know their experiences with her were similar to, or even worse than, my own.

Does she not consider the consequences of her actions?  Or is her behavior indicative of cognitive shortcomings derived from a static mental state permeated by distortions and misperception?

Are Narcissists sick, and therefore deserving of compassion?

Or are they inherently vile; devoid of empathy and therefore evil?

And what happened to my mother … was she born this way?  Is she the Bad Seed?

Or did someone hurt her and cause this disorder in her personality?

In a case this complex, where so many lives have been damaged as a result of her actions, perhaps I shouldn’t even concern myself with why …

Maybe this time, only the acceptance of what is is appropriate …

because when dealing with a Narcissist, the only person you can save …

is yourself.

Inability to Love

alt

I have said here that my mother doesn’t love – doesn’t know how to love, doesn’t even know what love is; I sincerely, and very sadly, believe this to be true.  I don’t know  why she is as she is, I never have; I concede now that I have never really known her.  I recognize Pat only in psychological profile – something necessary for my own diagnosis, before that she was a complete enigma to me.

I do not think she is inherently evil, or even bad per se, but she doesn’t know how to love – doesn’t understand love as we do.  Her internal process is unique, and it appears to be flawed in ways that cause pain and damage to those she should value, respect and protect; it leads her to act in ways thinking, feeling people simply cannot comprehend.

She issues edicts and ultimatums, and when they are not honored she cuts you out of her life – snidely, sarcastically, suddenly and cruelly – with no emotion at all.  She can, and will, turn on anyone at any time – I’ve seen this happen several times in my life; I’m seeing it happen right now.  I have been the object of her disdain, been disowned and forgotten for not bowing down to her – for not honoring her demands.  She knows not of loyalty, no one is sacred.  If you love her, God help you.  If you want to keep her in your life, never, ever cross her.

For reasons I do not understand, Pat doesn’t want anyone in my extended family to speak to me, and she damn sure doesn’t want them to have a relationship with me. She says it is because I ‘tell horrid lies on the internet,‘ but even if her false perception were true, shouldn’t she simply state her opinion, love her sister – my aunt who wants to have us both in her life – and go on?  We, adults, can have meaningful, viable relationships with people on opposing sides of the same important issues.  The saddest part of this story is:  I told my aunt when she first contacted me in July that this would happen; I cautioned her and asked her to make damn sure she wanted to get to know me again because my mother would never tolerate such a relationship – she would see it as betrayal and act accordingly.  I don’t know Pat in a personal way, but I am intimately acquainted with her psychological profile …

Nothing has changed.  Thirty years ago she created drama around something that never even occurred, issued an ultimatum and hasn’t seen me since.  Now, she is creating drama around a situation that isn’t even a situation and cutting her sister out of her life for good and all.

That isn’t love.  If she can so easily dismiss people – her son and her sister – from her life [over perceived slights that are factually non-existent] who is sacred?  Who in this world can believe they mean anything to her at all?  This is the kind of thing I knew I had to protect my children from … unstable, turbulent relationships characterize this woman.  As does a lack of loyalty, genuine warmth and caring, and an inability to demonstrate love as the rest of us understand it.

Her abusive parenting cost her her son.  Her denial is upping the ante – she has a frantic need for everyone to see her as she sees herself, but her actions just don’t support this view.

It is sad, tragic even, when people disallow real love in their lives.  The inherent vulnerability of love is tremendous, we all know that, but what is the alternative?  A life where control and manipulation masquerade as love – as caring and concern, until one day you go too far and demand something another is unwilling to give so they choose to leave you rather than live their life according to your desires?  Your misconceptions?  Your inability or unwillingness to see and understand the truth?

In my case, I’d have ended up estranged from my mother even if it hadn’t happened when and how it did – I just do not like her, cannot forgive her, would never, ever have allowed her around my children and could not trust her with my feelings and emotions … but my aunt is a different story; she loves my mother, genuinely.  She cares about her and about what happens to her.  She accepts her for who and what she is, flaws (and we all have them) and all — isn’t that the kind of person Pat should want in her life?  The kind of person she should value most?  The last person in the world she should discard?

Living Well and Revenge

As I’ve already stated, I’m not truly vengeful, nor am I vindictive – and I have subscribed to the view that Living Well is The Best Revenge for a long time …

but, on occasion, I’m not so sure that it is.

There was a time when I believed that not seeing me, or having the privilege of knowing their grandchildren, to be a very high price – the ultimate price – paid for having failed so miserably as parents.  Perhaps I even thought there to be some justice in my course of action, and my decision to cut them out of my life so completely.

Now, I don’t really believe any of that matters at all – not to them; for that to matter they’d have to be the kind of people who were incapable of intentionally hurting their children to begin with, and they just aren’t.

Their thought processes and feelings must be very flawed, and very different from my own.  They don’t feel the pain of others, even when that pain belongs to their own child, so not knowing me now, and not knowing their grandchildren, can’t mean anything to them … it is a loss they have never felt.

Still, I am happy with my life – very happy in fact.

Whereas that isn’t exactly revenge stemming from a well lived life, it does feel damn good.

Demons

We all have our demons, and my parents aren’t exempt from consideration here; most of us do the best we can to manage our lives, read: Play The Hand We Are Dealt.

If Ed is to be believed, he was beaten by his parents.  I did not know my grandparents well enough to draw my own conclusions here, and Ed isn’t well known for his honesty or loyalty to the reputation of others, but his having been abused might explain why he thought it was OK to abuse his own children.

Pat’s family I knew a little better.  My grandfather died when I was young, my grandmother lived to my adulthood.  They were kind to my sisters and I, and they took us to their mountain cabin with some frequency, but I really don’t know the content of their character.

My parents married very young, with my mother pregnant at the time.  She once told me that her own parents were so upset with her for becoming pregnant they wouldn’t speak  to her for months; she received no emotional support at a time when she desperately needed it.

Neither family, according to the story, liked the other … leaving a seventeen year old girl and eighteen year old boy alone to manage in whatever way they could.

My oldest sister contracted spinal meningitis when she was about eighteen months old; the resulting fever left her with irreversible brain damage and she never progressed developmentally beyond the age of two.  She was later institutionalized as it became impossible for Pat to care for her at home – I think I was about seven at the time.

My parents divorced when I was about fourteen, and by the time they did so there was bitterness and resentment on both sides.

During their marriage my father had been a shoe salesman, then later a camera counter salesman and money was a constant issue – there was just never enough.  They both drank, and Pat claimed Ed drugged her so that she would be less inhibited sexually.  It is some kind of miracle they were married as long as they were.

I have tried to view Ed and Pat through a lens of compassion, with a realization that their lives may not have been easy.

And I do recognize their demons, but I cannot act out of empathy for them – I can’t even view Ed and Pat as human much of the time.

They were cruel and violent, acting out of rage toward their own children; in my book that makes them monsters.

Patricia, An Introduction

As with my father, I refer to my mother by her given name, Patricia.

For a very long time my feelings for her were defined by ambivalence, a push – pull kind of casual indifference.

While it is true that she gave me beating after beating, she also pinched me, threw water in my face, slapped me – and she once left me alone in a grocery store parking lot while she drove home and subsequently put away all the groceries she had purchased before deciding she should come back for me … I was about six years old and had apparently embarrassed her by playing along with a teasing clerk as he filled our grocery bags – I had a more difficult time letting go of an idealized notion of my mother than I did of my father.

And a part of me always believed my father hurt her too, that she was afraid of him.  As terrible as her beatings were, they didn’t compare to his, so in my child’s mind I came to believe that she was just trying to make me behave so he didn’t have to do it.

And then …

She  told me that every so often my father “had to beat the hell out of me” — I was probably ten or eleven at the time.  Her words were stark and cold, delivered to wound and induce fear – I have never forgotten them.  In adulthood, and in therapy, revisiting them was haunting.

And the ambivalence died.  I began to see her as loathsome and repugnant, and her mothering was nothing short of reprehensible.

I understand now that she was, in every way, complicit in what took place in Pat and Ed’s House of Horrors; she condoned his beatings, and she had all along.