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.

Narcissistic Parents

Several months of recent correspondence, as well as occasional visits during this time, have given me a very good understanding of who Ed is today; the same man he has always been – a child abuser, coward, rapist.  He is also, in my informed opinion, a narcissist who suffers from cognitive dissonance and self-aggrandizing delusions.  He has not changed, but he has become adept at hiding who he really is, rendering him capable of surviving among the good and decent people in his life today.  He, in some ways, is the luckiest man alive; the Teflon-Man nothing ever sticks to, and he is so good at selling himself; there is a different version of Ed for every man, woman and child in his world – past and present.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen or spoken to Pat since early 1983; she attended my wedding in 1986, but the only exchange we had that day was her telling me that she approved of the new me – whatever that meant.  I  kept my distance; I didn’t want to know her anymore.

There was a time when I knew her far better than anyone else, and despite our lack of communication for more than three decades, this, I have found, is still true.  In fact, I actually know her – I don’t think many other people do …

Kind, thinking, good people assume we all share basic values, and our understanding of mothers comes from the precept that all mothers love their children.  We believe that every mother is dedicated to nurturing and guiding her young children, and is desirous of a solid, affectionate relationship with her children when they are grown.  Mothers who do not reflect this archetype are virtually inconceivable to the rest of us.

When my aunt contacted me after decades of estrangement, she was excited to share with her sister that I had responded to her message wishing me a happy birthday.  My aunt thought my mother would be happy and excited too – she thought perhaps this might give my mother hope that one day I would speak to her as well.

My aunt didn’t understand then that my mother is the antitheses of the mother archetype.  She didn’t love and nurture when I was little, and she damn sure didn’t want a relationship with her grown up son who had lived the truth she had lied about for almost three decades.

When my aunt came back into my life, Pat simply shut her sister out of her life.

I may not have recent personal communication with my mother to offer as support, but the evidence is pretty compelling; she is the same abusive, narcissistic drama queen she has always been.

I used to wonder how Pat could possibly be happy, given everyone she has hurt, but now I understand that she never cared to begin with.  She put on a passable face, said the right things for a time, behaved like people she knew who actually did love and care for their family, but it was never real for her – and her love  was never, ever genuine.  It’s easy to be happy, despite the pain and damage you have caused, when you never cared about anyone other than yourself to begin with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flag Day

Flag Day – obscure holiday that it is, is also Pat’s birthday.  I do not know the date in June designated as Flag Day, and I never have, but for some unknown reason I have never forgotten that Flag Day is also Pat’s birthday.

Mother’s Day, where Pat is concerned, does not leave me sentimental; in fact, if I think of her at all it is usually in realization that I feel nothing for her.  I don’t hate her – I don’t wish things could be different, but I don’t hate her; I don’t even resent her.  I simply feel nothing when faced with subtle, yearly reminders of her.

I have been told she is very ill; this news has left me unsympathetic.  I realize now ambivalence is a better descriptor of what I feel for Pat than is indifference; despite my having used indifferent for decades, ambivalent is more accurate: I may not wish any ill to befall her, but I also don’t care if it has.

Knowing I feel ambivalence, for anyone, was a sobering reality for me.  I’m compassionate, deeply so, and I care, in a humanitarian way, for everyone; I’m empathetic – occasionally to my own detriment, and yet, somehow, I am also capable of not caring at all – of feeling Pat may have finally gotten at least some of what she deserves.

My emotional response – or lack thereof,  was shaped by enduring years of her neglect, abandonment, physical and emotional abuse – and perhaps even a little of her own ambivalence and indifference.

Still, I don’t like how I feel …

I had a more difficult time letting go of my idealized notion of Pat than I did of Ed; she, at one time, had me all but convinced that all her wrongdoing, all of her flaws, all of her poor choices were Ed’s fault.   And in the end, after she divorced Ed, she justified everything she did under the guise of deserving to be happy – no matter who got hurt, because of all the suffering she had endured while married to him.  It was Ed’s fault she was an abusive mother, and it was Ed’s fault she slept with married men after he left – but nothing was ever Pat’s fault, or Pat’s choice.

She is a champion manipulator, and classic narcissist; God help anybody who believes she actually cares for them; she has no idea what love is.

I feel what I feel – I can’t change that, but it’s going to take me a while to become comfortable with knowing I’m ambivalent …

even where she is concerned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters From Ed

 

 

The first selection is Ed’s response to my pressing him for his thoughts and feelings about what he did to me when I was a child; it took months of trying to get this.  James and Garrett are the children of Ed’s step-son; they are currently about three and five years old.

The second selection is Ed trying to make sense of his position now.  Mary Ellen is his sister.

Both selections were written in the early fall of 2015.

Ed’s words are in italics and have not been edited in any way; spelling and grammatical errors are his.

 

Selection 1:

Hi Tim,

 

I have been struggling with how to answer your questions. My problem was I couldn’t put it into an emotional context until this last weekend. It was James birthday and I truly enjoy and love James and Garrett very much and it dawned on me”how would I feel if I were to hurt either of those 2 boys?”. This might sound a bit out of context, but it did get to the heart of what made me realize the pain I caused you.

 

I can’t even imagine how or why I could hurt those boys and when I realised you were their age when I beat you, it stopped my heart cold and i couldn’t even talk for a few minutes. When Marie asked me what was the matter, I couldn’t even answer her. The emotions were horriable, [sic] devisating,  terrifing,  it was llike  a building crushing me,  And I had done that to you.

 

Selection 2: 

I an working on becoming “emotionall present” and have found myself several times wishing “Why wasn’t this me/us”. One specific example was Mary Ellen’s and my trip to Half Moon Bay last month to celebrate the 50th anniversay of her oldest and dearest friend. The 2 of the met while working for me at Karl’s Shoes in SSF and therefore i was invited. We were probaly the only non-family there. The 3 children had pulled everyone together as far away as New Mexico, Arizone, S Calif for the celebration. There were 4 generations there, 5 if Maria’s Mom hadn’t died last year.

Watching the entire family interact between the top and the bottom generation and then intergerenatally caught me emotionally. Mary Ellen and I both commented on how that never happens when our immediate family generation gets together whenever.

 

The rest of the 2 hour drive home I thought about why it doesn’t happen between us and what I did to you to cause the place were we are now.

 

I’m also reading a book by Richard Rohlhauser a Spituital Psycologist who talks about Men Blessing other men, most specifically their own sons. If hard for me to read today what i should have done 50+ years ago to you then and continuing forward to even now. To start that with you today would be like trying to throw a 50 ft rope across the Grand canyon. Too little too late.

 

What is my only reprive is the love and joy I have and give to Jeff’s and Sally’s sons keeping them away from the Ed you remember. To them that Ed doesn’t exist, and I plan to keep it that way 

 

So where does that leave us after your 50 years of pain and suffering, I see you as the “emotionall present father” to your kids, the respect and love you give them and Rhonda too, yet I am at the bottom of the Grand Canyon hoping to reach a 50 foot rope being tossed down from the rim. So for now I’ll just keep craweling up the cliff until something happens, or never happens, whichever comes first.

 

There is much I could say to these passages, and I can’t tell you have much thought I’ve given to his words …

I could tear him apart for replacing his son and grandchildren with surrogates – if only in his mind, as though people are somehow interchangeable …

I could cruelly explain to him why the Shockley family does not enjoy multi-generational celebrations in love and tenderness …

Or, I could explain how difficult it was for me to read his words and not be able to decide whether he was actually trying reach me now, or trying to manipulate me into believing he had changed.

Do I feel pity?  Compassion?  Something else …

I just don’t know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Conclusion:

A non-linear background:  Close to four years ago, in the midst of recovery but already emotionally stable, I reached out to the woman Ed raped when she was a child.  I had no idea if she would return my call, and I certainly didn’t want to cause her emotional pain or distress, but I needed answers only she could provide.

And provide them she did.

By this point, I had had three psychiatrists and three therapists – including those who treated me during a brief out-patient hospitalization – all share with me their belief that I was sexually abused as a child …

To this day I don’t remember being sexually abused … but I do recognize that beatings given in the way my parents, particularly Ed, gave them are a form of ritualized sexual abuse, and that only a sadist could actually do what Ed did to me time and time again; the beatings were perverse and I’ve come to believe, in large part due to admissions he made in our email correspondence, they were sexually gratifying for him to give.

Diagnostically, my medical team also took into consideration Ed’s conviction of Lewd and Lascivious Acts With a Minor, and my sister and mother’s allegations that Ed had molested both Elizabeth and Janet when suggesting I had endured sexual abuse …

and they stated there were probably more I didn’t know about; sexual abusers do not usually have a single victim – (Bill Cosby, anyone?) which I learned was true when I began speaking to my aunt Bev again.  Secrets in abusive families are dark, deep, tangled and common.

And I could not ignore the fact that my illness is consistent with sexual abuse in childhood …

So I reached out to the woman Ed raped when she was a child.  She is pretty amazing.  She was honest and forthright as she shared with me the details of what was the worst moment of her life.  Speaking to me was difficult for her on many levels, but she was gentle, and as kind as she could be, in telling me what a monster my father is.  She believed she had to speak to me – had to answer my questions because I had to know what Ed was capable of doing to a child just in case there were children in his life currently.  She asked how Elizabeth was, and wished her well, and she was very glad to learn Ed had no contact with his grandchildren.  She spoke with complete emotional candor that reduced us both to tears …

When Ed and I began speaking (emailing) he was reluctant to share with me the details of his depraved act against this innocent young girl, claiming this incident had no impact on my life – my growing up or my childhood.  (yes, he really said this) When I finally insisted he speak to me about it, he told the story from a very cold and sterile perspective, a  perspective that considered ONLY his feelings — what she must have felt wasn’t even a mention in his narrative.  His facts were similar to hers, but only to a point; he raped her; he took something from her that was not his to take.  She was victimized and sexually violated, and she has lived with the consequences of his actions every day since then.

In conclusion:

I believe in fact, evidence and science.  The case against Ed is pretty damning, and there has been no redemption, no change in heart or soul that I have witnessed.

I remain fearful for the young children now in his life, but I am thankful Elizabeth and I weren’t foolish enough to allow him a place in the lives of our own children.

I understand now that Pat’s motivation – making me hate my father – does not mean that what she said about Ed isn’t true.

I will never know all of what happened to me, or my sisters, when we were children;  I’m strangely OK with that, for now; however, I would still welcome the answers to questions no child should ever have to ask.

There will likely never be a complete conclusion.

Turn The Page

Ed has not changed.  Ed – has – not – changed.  Ed. Has. Not. Changed.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve pondered our email conversations spanning more than eight months, and I’ve considered our face to face conversations as well …

and it always, without fail, comes back to Ed.

He knows what he did – and there isn’t a shred of denial, but it is always about what he feels, and how he has suffered.  It’s really strange; he lacks the ability to connect on an emotional level with me at all.  He can discuss his feelings, even until eternity, but when it comes to my feelings, “there’s nothing I can do about that now,” is his response.

One of the things I did with my therapist several years ago was create a psychological profile of each of my parents based on their behavior when I was growing up.  These profiles aren’t meant to be diagnostic of abusive parents, but intended to help abuse survivors understand they weren’t bad children; they had bad and/or ill parents.

A lack of ability to connect emotionally with one’s own child is indicative of some serious deficits and character flaws. Combine that with cruelty, physical abuse and neglect, and you have the profile of an abuser.

Ed has a grandiose and false view of himself which is mind-boggling and deeply troubling.  He sees himself as a literary hero, caring for his sick child against all odds.   It isn’t about the truth – how he failed his children, it’s about his attachment – unhealthy attachment, for my poor sick sister who couldn’t tell Ed to go to hell as Elizabeth and I did.

He hides in today, pathetically shielded by people he has managed to manipulate, and fool.  People who do not understand that anything positive they get from Ed is only pretend; he is incapable of anything real or meaningful.

And so I am done.  I am wiser than  I was when I walked away thirty plus years ago, and wisdom is its own reward, but I’m not content with the final understanding that I was right:  people do not change.

Many of my questions were answered, the rest will likely go unaddressed forever …

every therapist and psychiatrist I have seen tells me that in addition to the physical and emotional abuse I suffered as a child, I was very likely sexually abused, too; I have no recollection of this, but I don’t doubt it either, not growing up in the house I grew up in.  My sister has said she remembers being sexually abused by our father, but she will not delve into it with me, or anyone …

so when my therapist again cautioned me to trust my instincts about Ed, and followed it up with the question: “If your children were little, would you leave them alone with Ed today?” …

I concluded that I don’t want him in my life, or the lives of my wife and children.

Final words to Ed:

I walked away from you thirty years ago in order to survive – I had NO choice, stop believing I did.  This is part of accepting responsibility for what you did.

You are a coward for not reaching out to Elizabeth; she has the right to spit in your face for what you’ve done to her.  I never told you not to contact Elizabeth – that was not my choice to make; I told you to be prepared for her wrath if you do. You are so afraid of rejection – rightful rejection on her part, that you won’t own what you did to her – and that is despicable.

You made your abusive parents my business the moment you used having been an abused child yourself as your excuse for beating and abusing me.

And, you are absolutely correct when you state that what I say about you is true.

Time to close the chapter, Reconciliation; it has come to an end.

No One To Blame But Yourself

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I’ve learned a great deal in the last several months; I do not regret having given Ed a second chance, but I now understand why reconciliation seldom works in situations such as ours.

I once thought a sincere apology for everything he did – an apology devoid of denial  that recognized where his disgusting behavior led – was most of what I needed.  And in part it was; it helped me let go …

but it wasn’t enough for me to see him as different now.

Within apology there must be remorse, a defined sense of personal guilt and shame – and if he were truly different, truly sorry and repentant, these emotions would be there – part of him; stark, cold and haunting.

I wonder if I expected too much, and then I realize I must have; anyone capable of doing the things he has done is without common goodness or decency.  Moral Relativism?  Perhaps; he was in a bad marriage, not ready to be a father, no money, no family support, an abused child himself.  He can view himself in light of the less than Ideal on many counts.

If this brings him comfort, soothes whatever emotion he feels, I understand.

But I do not excuse, nor do I recognize his circumstance(s) as valid … not for beating his children, or finding personal solace and absolution for a mis-lead life now.

If there had been regret … remorse … shame … guilt — something I could see as human to make me believe he may have changed, maybe I could have found it within me to forgive.

But in his mind, everything is about how it effects Ed.

And this is how it has always been.

Understanding Today

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I’ve gone back and read much of this blog in its entirety – the last time I did this was before I reconciled with my father.

I feel something – not sure what to call it; it is less than regret, but more than bad, for my part in thirty years of estrangement.  I had to do what I did to know the wonderful life I have known, and thankfully he understands that, but I am still feeling that indefinable something.  

When I stop to consider, I realize what I feel is connected to all he lost – and what is lost to time is irretrievable.

He missed my wedding, the birth and childhood of my children, holidays, birthdays, graduations, family vacations; I missed being there for him when my oldest sister died … the list goes on and on, and it staggers me – humbles me.

The past several months, since talking to my father  has brought me a more complete understanding of my childhood, I’ve compiled a mental list of wrongs committed by mother.  I did not intend for this to happen, did not set out to accomplish this task, but I realized as I read back through the pages of Silence Shattered I have done just that.

It’s odd because I don’t have a need to assign blame – I never have.  My need is, and has always been, to simply understand.

My mother assailed my childhood, left me devoid of a connection to my family for years and years, made me believe things that are untrue, led me to question my father’s intentions, integrity and sense of morality, turned her back on all three of her children  … and she now uses the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder, a disorder she gave me, in an attempt to exonerate herself – to support her denial.

She feels no shame, no sense of remorse.  She accepts no responsibility for the lives she has complicated or destroyed, feels no sorrow in knowing the unbearable pain she has caused.  In her own words:

” I will take this opportunity to just bow out and save myself the headache of dealing with it.”  

That’s what she does, she wrecks havoc with people’s lives and then she walks away – from everyone.  A woman who can turn her back on her children is a cold-hearted bitch who is capable of ANYTHING.

There, I said it.  I’m not proud of myself for expressing my pain and anger in such a crass way, but there it is – and it is appropriate; I, her only son, am a ‘headache,’ not to be dealt with.  Cold-hearted bitch.  She is truly vile and despicable.

My need was to understand:

but I am incapable of understanding a mother who is devoid of love for her own children.

Incapable of understanding hatred so deep and all-consuming she would destroy her own children in order to hurt the man she was once married to.

I can’t remember if she ever mattered to me at all;

I think she must have, because I feel betrayed …

She did not win, did not succeed.  I love – intensely, deeply and forever.  I am not like her.  I cannot understand her.

My father, for all his mistakes, loves too.  Loves his children, all three of us – and his grandchildren, those he has met and those he has yet to meet . He forgave my need to walk away, even comprehends why it was necessary.  In the end, my mother didn’t get what she set out to get – and she lost ALL in trying.   She condemned herself.

If not for the pain she caused my father, me, Elizabeth (and by extension our spouses and children, her grandchildren) and Janet, I’d feel vindicated in my final understanding, but …

there can be no real satisfaction when so much was taken from my father, my sisters and I.

It is, however, freeing and cathartic to know that ultimately …

she, Evil Incarnate, did not win.

For now, that’s enough.

The Narcissistic Mother

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Do I have a Narcissistic Mother?

1.  Is everything All About Her?

2.  Does she demean, criticize and make derogatory remarks about others – or you?

3.  Does she respect your boundaries and your privacy?

4.  If you have siblings, is one of you the Golden Child and the other(s) a second class citizen?  Note:  if your mother is a narcissist, her Favorite Child can and does change according to her mood.

5.  Is she excessively critical of you?

6.  Is everything she does deniable or justifiable?

7.  Are cruelties couched in loving terms?   Aggressive, punitive acts paraded as thoughtfulness on her part?

8.  Does she make YOU look crazy when confronted with something SHE has done?  Does she say you have a vivid imagination? (common in abusers; denial and invalidation of your experience with her abuse) Does she say she has ‘no idea’ what you’re talking about?

9.  Is she jealous of you; things you have or your personal accomplishments?

10.  If she has money, does she use it to win and keep the affection of those whose loyalty she desires? Does she use money to manipulate and control?

11.  Does she seek to negatively influence your opinion of your father, grandparents or siblings?

12.  Does she lie to you, or others?  With you, she will lie blatantly – even attempt to convince you of things you know cannot be.  With those outside your immediate family – her friends, co-workers and extended family, she will lie thoughtfully and in ways that can always, always be covered up.

13.  Does she manipulate you constantly?  Does she seem gratified by the emotional pain her manipulations cause you?  (This behavior is so common in narcissistic mothers therapists refer to them as, “Emotional Vampires.”)

14.  Is she self-centered and willful?  Does she insist you act in accordance with her desires or risk her rage, wrath, punishment or exile?

15.  Is she childish and petty?  Does she feel a need to ‘get even’ with you if you dare cross her?

16.  Is she exploitive?  Will she do whatever it takes to get what she wants?  Did she marry for money?

17.  Did she shed her parental persona as soon as she was legally able to do so?

18.  Did she use physical and emotional punishment to control your behavior as a child?

19.  Does she ever admit when she is wrong, or apologize for what she has done?  Does she try to convince you, and others, she is innocent and you are the one who needs to apologize?

20.  Does she seek to impress others with her beauty, charm, ability to seduce men, or money?

21.  Is she obsessed with how your family appears to others?  Does your immediate family have one face for friends and extended family, and another at home behind closed doors?

22.  Does she demean and belittle your father’s abilities as a role model and provider?

23.  Are her thoughts, opinions and feelings important while yours are insignificant and meaningless?  And, does she project her own negative feelings, emotions and beliefs onto you or others?

24.  Does she begrudge having to care for you when you are sick or emotionally needy?

25.  ***Does she lack empathy?  Is she unaware that other people have feelings?

***The lack of empathy is the defining trait of narcissism and it underlies most other signs on this list.

” I do not love; I do not love anybody except myself. That is a rather shocking thing to admit. I have none of the selfless love of a mother. I have none of the plodding, practical love….I am, to be blunt and concise, in love only with myself, my puny being with its small inadequate breasts and meager, thin talents. I am capable of affection only for those who reflect my own world.“ ~Sylvia Plath