Tag Archive | Dysfunctional family

Letting go of Guilt – Telling my truth


Guilt is heavy and can squash us. I carry so much of it for a multitude of reasons, many that are not my guilt to carry. I have been carrying this guilt that I was unable to visit my mom while she was sick, before she passed away. I wanted to. I tried so unfathomably hard. If you don’t understand, then you don’t you understand how one tries and fails at seeing someone. But I did. I didn’t have enough time to work through the anxiety, the deep dark hole of depression I was in at that time.

This is so humiliating to describe how I existed after my release from the psych ward. I was completely agoraphobic. I had complete and total social anxiety. I did not speak to anyone other than my husband and children and some days even that was difficult and I barely made eye contact with them. I did not make phone calls, could not call the pharmacy or order a pizza. I did not answer phone calls, texts, or God forbid, knocks at the door. I hid while panic flooded me. The panic that would rise in me was overwhelming at the very thought of any human interaction and I went numb, disappeared into myself. The world was terrifying to me.

I was alone. I was broken. I could not think or function. Light and sound hurt me. I spent my time in a darkened, quiet room unable to concentrate. Not really living. Partially from the severe migraines, partially from the terrible pain in my back and leg, partially from the severe anxiety and depression from PTSD and a total nervous breakdown. I generally did not move. I remember this, sort of, it is blurry though, like that year was a nightmare, not my real life.

I was in that state when my brother texted about my mom’s surgery and cancer. At first it did not sink in. I did not know what to do. I froze. I wanted to move, to act, to call her, to drive up there, but I was stuck. I had not spoken to her in so long, maybe over a year at that point and it all seemed impossible.

I finally was able to tell all of this to my oldest brother. I went to his house for the first time in years. They accepted me and understood. They did not hate me or think I was a horrible person. They could see my pain and let me cry –  many times. I was given kleenex and ice water and allowed to talk.

That may have been enough to let go of some guilt, but there was more.

My brother deemed me strong enough to fill me in on some of the story I missed while I was mentally away. He tried to contest my dad’s will on my behalf, saying it was cruel and that my pain and suffering was costing me all these medical bills and that I deserved some of his estate. He said that he contacted the lawyers and that I would have had a case. He said he wrote letters detailing what he knew about the abuse, my pain and suffering, and my medical costs to the lawyers and my dad’s siblings, the other heirs.

The lawyer told him I would have a case if others were willing to support me as well. If my mom and other brother and my husband were willing to support me.


Yeah well they would not submit statements to the lawyer on my behalf. They all said no.

So I took that part in and he added another level. He said he could have built my case without that based on the police report or records from when I accused him and moved out when I was 16. My brother checked the records and did some digging and could not find anything. He asked my mom what year that would have been and she told him she never filed anything, she never pressed charges.

My head was spinning at that point as I tried to recall being 16, being interviewed by child protective services. I guess it stopped there, nothing criminal, nothing public.

Then there was more. Another punch in the gut.

My mom and other brother said they never believed me. It wasn’t that bad. My mom and other brother had actually supported my dad all these years in telling everyone I was a liar and a troublemaker. I always felt that…I always felt that in my heart but to hear this as fact was something else.

She never pressed charges. I always thought there was at least a ding on his record, some little bit of my voice saying what happened. I had no idea. I am betrayed by her all over again, that she would not stand up for me – ever, not then, not a year ago.

I have never cared about money or attention. But oh my god does this hurt. That this other brother got over $50,000 reward money for protecting a pedophile, and I think he thinks he has done the right thing, because mom told him I was lying. Why should he believe me? Well why shouldn’t he? Why would I tell these horrible stories, what benefit has it brought to me? It does not get me attention when I am isolated in my dark, quiet room. It does not get me fame, glory, money, or anything that anyone would desire. It is difficult to get angry with him when he was a victim in my messed up twisted up family too. It really just makes me sad. It is so effed up.

So my oldest brother wants me to speak up now and I am going to. I don’t think it will get me any money, but I feel it is time to insert my own voice and detail the abuse I endured from this ‘generous’ man. My brother is going to help me write a letter to that lawyer stating that I have been so disabled and dysfunctional that this is the first time I have been able to contact him since I received the will. I want to notify the other heirs, my other brother, my aunts and uncles, that I stand firm on my ‘story’ because it is my truth and it has devastated me, and nearly taken my life several times. I thought it was better not to bother anyone. Now I’m thinking they all need some bothering.

I called child protective services to get my records of my accusation and interview, and basically hit a dead end there. They could not guarantee the record still exists after 24 years, and if it does, since no criminal charges were made and nothing in the court system to make it public record, I would need a subpoena to release the file that may have been destroyed. I don’t think I will be pursuing this. A quest for truth is one thing, but spending my money on a wild goose chase seems silly.

But I do feel ready to do something more. I figure my parents are gone now. I am safe to speak up publicly, and my brother already started it for me. I am so grateful to him. He also lost his inheritance, as punishment for sticking up for me. Because in my world, the good, the kind, the ones who tell the truth are stepped on and spit on and ridiculed and hated.

As hurtful as all of this information was to learn, it has lifted some of my guilt and grief, validating me for where I was and how I got to be in such a state. I know I tried and that has to be good enough. Knowing that I tried so hard for all of them. Knowing that I loved all of them. And now knowing that even when I begged them for help and thought they did the right thing, they did not. Of course not. How stupid of me. That story would have gone public. How shameful. How could mom deny it if she pressed charges? Much better to say her daughter was insane. It actually makes sense now, for the type of counseling I received when I was 16. I bet mom told them I was a liar and needed ‘help’. I never got counseling for the trauma, help with processing, only stress management and relaxation and it was so patronizing.

It all makes sense now.

Of course I am still grieving her loss, but somehow knowing mom never believed me and would not speak up for me has lessened my pain. I was torturing myself thinking I was horrible to stop speaking to her, horrible to not make it up to see her before she died. I don’t feel so horrible now. I can see the events with more compassion as they actually happened and know I was struggling and doing the best I could. And that my best never intentionally was trying to hurt anyone, which I cannot say about her actions. She knew her actions were hurtful and chose to do them anyway. I think I understand why…but that is for another post.

Sadly, Hubby was also not willing to stand up for me last year when my brother asked for his help. I am still processing this information. I confronted him about and it was not a pretty conversation. I asked why he refused to talk to my brother? He said he didn’t want to cause me ore stress. I said how would him talking to my brother cause me stress? I think he didn’t want to cause himself stress, that he was avoiding the situation, that he didn’t want to deal with it. Like with so much of my illness, it is easier to pretend I am fine, and not sitting alone in my room with suicidal thoughts. It is easier to take no action or yell at me for being frustrating than it is to comfort me, offer a strong shoulder to lean on.

I am feeling like he turned his back on me when I needed him the most, when the darkness was swallowing me up, when I believed I was unlovable, that he was fine with my public shaming and felt no need to stand up for me when I had no ability to do it myself. This is no longer a man I feel good about. I have asked him for an in house separation, to leave me alone, give  me peace while I work through all of this. He has not even been acting as a friend to me, let alone a husband. Although sad, this distance has made me feel stronger. If I am released from obligation to keep trying to be a good wife, to fix a broken relationship day after day, maybe I can use my teeny bit of energy I muster up for each day more wisely.


I am Grief

It is starting to feel like I am grief, not like I am grieving, not like it is a process, or an emotion that moves through me, but a state of being that is me and completely has consumed me from so many directions.

When I allow myself to feel the sadness, I can’t see to type through the tears, so I need to hold it back to that familiar dull choking feeling that is now my life. That no one wants to see or acknowledge. Yes I am still sad today. Yes it sucks. Yes I need more time. I don’t want to apologize for how I am any more. I don’t want to explain it any more. I want it to be understood. But this is my life – I don’t get what I want.

I do feel moments of happiness with my kids, I do, but it is heavy, weighed down by this sadness, like I have an upper limit, or this shadow turning everything good a bit blurry.

I miss my mom. So much. So many things I want to show her, share with her, apologize for, explain to her. I see her everywhere, the songs she liked, the candy she liked, flowers she liked. I have paintings I started for her

I am also hurting as I realize I have not been treated very well here. I realized I did not receive one sympathy card, no flowers, no casseroles. Not even from my in-laws. Nada nothing. I did get one phone call from an aunt, the wife of my mom’s brother checked on me. That’s it. No one else reached out to me at all. Same for when AF died the year before. I know that was complicated, but everyone pretended it didn’t happen. I have lost both of my parents in the space of a year and a half, both were not even 70.

Then AF declared for the world to see that he never loved me, in his Will.


That broke me. I crumbled. Whatever was holding me together for so many years was shattered then. I lost myself. I became suicidal. I lost my job. I was hospitalized. Then as I was recovering my mom got cancer and didn’t tell me. I had pushed her away while I was healing. I didn’t speak to her during her last year on earth because AF broke me. He stole her from me again. Just like as a child, he kept her from me, creating fear by telling me she hated me and never wanted me.

Hubby is still not understanding. He is not gentle or comforting for me. His volatile moods and rough responses are too much for me to handle right now so I generally avoid him. When I do specifically ask him to do something for me and I think he understands, he does not follow through, leaving me hurt and confused, feeling betrayed all over again. I say please don’t tell ___ to your mom, it will get around to your sisters and come back to torment me and I don’t want to deal with all of that. He agrees. Then an hour later I hear him, he is telling his mom ___ on the phone. (Next day his sisters text me about it…I hate drama, wanted to avoid it, none of their business, didn’t matter, leave me alone, I give vague responses until it settles down) I ask him later why he did that? He yells at me. It is my fault again. How was he supposed to know. Sigh. Do I give up or do I try again?

I don’t understand. I have such little trust as it is, these events don’t help. I am spiraled into emotional flashbacks because he can’t do what he tells me he will do. Did he not agree with me in the first place? Am I not important enough to grant or remember this request? Was he lying to shut me up, make me happy, with no intention of not telling? The doubts flood my brain as I try to make sense of what happened. And he says, Sorry (but he says it so rough like a bark, not sincere), whatever, What’s the big deal.

Then we are trying to plan a party for his parents. It keeps getting more and more complicated, with his one sister coming in from out of state, the one married to the guy I accused of being a creep a few years ago. That plus they are adding more events to the day, a family photo, lunch, dinner, coffee and dessert, all in different locations. I told hubby that I was concerned I may not be able to do all of that. Then he said to his sister on the phone that I may be too tired, not have enough energy to do all of that. My heart sunk. Is he ashamed of me? He can avoid this topic but not the one I asked him to? So I texted his sister after he hung up “Hey I’m not sure he explained it very well, I want to do everything you have planned and it sounds like a great day for everyone and your parents, but I am still struggling with social anxiety and other symptoms of ptsd that may make it difficult for me to do so many events all in one day. I don’t want to let you all down, I will do my best to manage but wanted you to be aware.” She texted back “ok”

So I am trying to be real with the only people in my life. I keep hoping they will one day be more accepting, accommodating, instead of only me being forced to hide my symptoms and smile pretty for them so they aren’t uncomfortable. I have no idea how I married into such an unsupportive group, I suppose some part of me knew this, guaranteeing my isolation and continuation of what was familiar. They aren’t pedophiles and psychopaths, but dysfunction runs rampant.

Maybe a supportive functional family is a myth.

I am trying to manage this grief that keeps trying to swallow me whole. But I noticed I have forgotten how to smile. It is no longer natural. I started practicing in a mirror and those muscles feel so heavy and I can only produce an odd crooked grin.

I am turning 40 very soon. I have no plans. No party. No friends. No extended family, just my kids.They are the only humans I feel safe with, can feel happy with. I hate how much I need them. My daughter is my best friend, we talk about everything. I already fear the day when they grow a bit older and I lose them. Then I will truly be alone on this planet. Until then I will try to cherish the moments and try to make this creepy grin into a real smile and try not to think about how unimportant I am to everyone else.

Mom’s memorial service

Mom’s memorial service was beautiful, but not in the way of music or flowers. I’ll try to explain and hopefully my words are not lacking in meaning because this post is important to me. I’ve waited to write it until I have a clear head and some rest and perspective.

I’m not done telling my surgery story, but this needs to be told next before moving on to the next day or it won’t make sense.

My mom passed away in March. My youngest brother scheduled her funeral during the week of my back surgery, in April, so I asked my oldest brother to arrange a memorial service I could attend prior to my surgery. The only day that could have all of my brothers attend with me, was the day before my surgery.

We got everyone up and dressed, loaded in the van at 6:30 am for the 2 hour drive to my moms church. My kids were all angels even at that early hour, I was surprised no one was too grumpy.

We arrive at the church just a bit early so they can have a snack before going in. As we are munching, my in laws arrive: mom in law, dad in law, sis in law, brother in law. I was so touched they drove out so far and so early to support me.

We enter the church and head for the restrooms. I am surprised to find them in the old part of the church, the gymnasium where mass used to be held when I attended as a child with my mom. I was prepared for flashbacks, but instead, I was filled with joy. My mom was there and it felt like a bright warm hug. That was our room and I felt so connected to her, even though it was an unused, dusty old gym now. The fancy new chapel was lovely, but meaningless to me.

I shared some memories with my kids and hubby, absorbing as much of that room as i could, then we headed to the small chapel where weekday morning mass is held.

I saw my oldest brother and sat near him. It has been many years since I’ve been in a Catholic Mass, but I found myself responding at times with the correct phrases. My kids were mesmerized and confused, and well behaved.

The priest mentioned my mom’s name as a lost soul and everyone prayed. The regulars all came over at the end to wish us well and comment on my beautiful family.

I looked for my other brothers and spotted them outside the door. I was afraid they hadn’t come. My youngest brother barely looked at me but gave me a hug. Middle brother asked me to come to his car, he had something for me. He had a photo album mom had put together for me in her last weeks of pictures of me and my brothers. He also gave me a vase I had given her as a gift, and some paintings I had painted for her.

I lost it. Uncontrollable sobs racked my body so hard I thought I might break right there in the parking lot. My brother looked so uncomfortable. He said he had to get going, he had an appointment soon. (He would be living on his own now, and had to see his caseworker daily)

When the others came out, we decided to go to breakfast at a nearby restaurant. We were seated when we noticed the man at the next table said hello with a smile – it was the priest that delivered our mass. He said our mother has been mentioned in mass every day that week. It felt extra special to dine with him, like mass was extended now.

We waited for youngest brother and realized he must not be coming. We tried texting but he did not respond. Oldest brother said this was typical behavior for him recently.

We all had a nice, warm, loving breakfast. My oldest brother was kind and gentle with me, showing understanding, and support. He shared some concerns about youngest brother, apparently attempting to swindle us out moms money. Not that she had much, but it seems he wanted it all left to him as the only good son, just like he managed with dads money. Wow, had he grown up to be a cold hearted manipulator? It looks that way. I don’t care about the money, a few thousand makes no difference, and I can’t believe he is willing to lie and deny to get it.

He says we had an idyllic childhood and are ungrateful and undeserving.

Oh….Idyllic must have a different meaning….

I am grateful my brothers were there to help my mom. But youngest brother prefers to think I’m a bad person, not that I was struggling and in need of help myself. I was not in a position to help anyone. But to believe that means believing my childhood was not idyllic…so he is stuck in denial where he is right, where he feels safe. It’s alright. I understand. I’ll be here if he ever feels safe enough to come out.

After much thought, I feel at peace about my mom. I feel connected in a good way, and like I was able to hold onto the good that she tried to do for us. I feel I see it clearly, the good and the bad. I accept the life we had. I’m happy she didn’t suffer long. I feel an immense relief now that both of my parents are gone. Like I can just live. Like I don’t have to expend so much energy protecting myself and my kids. I feel free.

Or more accurately, I feel I could be free now if I let myself. So I will continue with my therapy program to heal the roots of PTSD and I will see what happens.

Mom’s Last Words

Cancer has taken my mom. So swiftly, it devoured her in only weeks, leaving all of us wondering what the hell has just happened.

Mom is gone. I’m taking solace that she is no longer suffering and pray she has found peace at last from the tortured life she had here. She wanted to go. She was ready.

I did find the courage to call her last week, and I’m so thankful that I did, not knowing her time was almost up. I still couldn’t dial the phone or stop the tears, but I knew it was time to do it anyway, so I had Hubby dial the phone, say hello to mom and then hand me the phone.

It seemed mom was waiting for my call. She had so much to say and really didn’t allow me to speak. I kept trying to get my turn but she talked the entire time nonstop. Ha. I guess nothing ever changes. This call was for her peace of mind not mine. She did say some kind, loving words, and some disturbing ones of course. I’m going to try to recall and document the conversation here, both for my ongoing story, and as a keepsake as her last words to me.

Mom:Hows my girl? My good good girl. I’m so happy you called, I was hoping to hear from you. Do you have any questions? I’m not sure what you already know and I don’t want to stress you out too badly.

Me:1st Brother has filled me in. I don’t really have any questions I just wanted to talk to you. I’m having a really hard time with all of this. (I barely got these words out, choking on tears)

Mom:Oh ok good he filled you in. It is ok to cry a little but don’t cry a lot. It is natural to cry for someone you care about but I need you to stop at some point. I need you to be ok. Death happens to everyone, everyone has to die some time and this is just my time. It might be days and it might be months now, we don’t know. I’ve got everything taken care of, planning to cremated with no funeral or viewing (I started crying harder at that – I already knew this but hearing it from her was awful. she had no emotion in her voice at all) Do you think that’s alright?

Me:I said I thought it was fine and really whatever she wanted.

Mom:I spoke to the priest and he said this was fine that many people do it this way. He performed some of the last rites and forgave my sins so I am ready any time. I’m sorry I don’t have any money or nice things to leave any of my kids, and I’m not preparing a will for the items I do have. If there is anything you do want I’m asking you work it out with your brothers without fighting or drama. I put together some photo albums with pictures of you when you were little but you don’t have to take them if you don’t want them.And you don’t need to come to the funeral mass, I need you to keep getting better and taking care of yourself and your little family. You’ve always been such a good girl, a good, good, good girl and you deserve to be happy. We’re asking that no one sends cut flowers since there won’t be a funeral or grave and we won’t have anywhere to put them. If you feel I need flowers because you know I always loved them please get a potted flower bush for me that could be planted in a garden.

You know how I always have a silly sense of humor? Well I still have it. The hospice nurse came over to introduce herself and asked me if I’ve ever used hospice services before, and I said No, I’ve never been dying before…And we both laughed. She said she meant for someone else, another family member, but yes she could she she didn’t word that in the best way.

I’ve been feeling alright, but my throat was killing me last night so I had to call a nurse in the middle of the night, they gave me extra meds and throat spray that helped a lot. It only takes a few minutes when I call they come right over.

Me: So you don’t have a nurse there with you all of the time?

Mom: No, I could if I want to but I didn’t want that yet. They’ve all been so nice. But my ears are so blocked I can barely hear, they can’t seem to fix that, and my sore throat. And I have elephant legs from all the fluids during the surgery and in the hospital they gave me lasix and I have to keep my legs elevated until the swelling goes down. They’re huge. (She started laughing) Sorry your bratty brothers are being bad, they are always so bad. (She laughs some more)

Me: (I’m thinking, Mom, I wish you had told me sooner, I wouldn’t have stayed away so long, I thought we had more time, I wish things were different, I’m sorry you have to suffer, I would have brought the kids to see you for christmas if I knew it was the last one, how long have you known? Why didn’t you tell anyone? It isn’t fair, it isn’t right, to give up on all of us without a fight and leave us all here to sort it all out for ourselves. But she never stopped talking to give me a chance to say anything)

Mom:I’m so happy you called and I need to keep taking good care of yourself because you’re my good, good, good girl and I love, love, love you. But I’m so beat, so I’m going go now.


Me: I love you too mom

I’m not sure if she even heard my response before she hung up. The next day they moved her to the hospice full time center, and the following afternoon she died. Just like that and she’s gone.

So I’m doing alright. I don’t have any illusions that even with 20 or 40 more years that we would have had enough time to form a close bond, something out of nothing. But I did love her, and I did want a mom to love me and support me. Although I find it disturbing to be called a good girl, in her eyes there is no greater compliment, so I’ll take it. It means I’m not a failure to my mom which I didn’t know was important to me until now. I’ve worked so hard to keep her at a safe distance, but underneath I still wanted her approval. That’s all we really want, isn’t it? To be loved and accepted by those closest to us? I can accept and forgive any pain she may have caused and mistakes she may have made if I know the love is there, and I do believe her, that she loved us, that she wanted the best for us.

Unlike AF. See, I think he delivered the final crushing blow in the awful Will, when he stated he didn’t love me. Somehow that was worse than all of the abuse I endured and I snapped. As much as AF hurt me, I still loved him. Children love their parents, I no longer feel guilty for loving him and needing him to love me.

So at least that is the last words my mom said to me, and that is a gift I will treasure in my core. No matter our troubles and differences, I needed that.


Addendum: Found out the Funeral mass for my mom is scheduled during the week of my back surgery! I’ve been doing all of this work and planning getting myself ready to be able to go. I need this, I need to say goodbye, my kids need to say goodbye.

I call 1st brother to see why they are waiting so long? 2nd brother is going on a cruise so they are waiting until he gets back. Oh. And they can’t change the date now it has been printed in the obit and planned with out of state friends and family. Apparently 2nd brother called everyone except for me to make sure the date would work. Apparently it is more important that her neighbor be able to attend than her daughter. Apparently I am still nothing, non-existent – not even an after thought, I’m not a thought at all.

Before my trauma therapy I would not have spoken up for myself. I would not have known how or that I had a right to do so. I asked if we could have a 2nd service, a smaller one before my surgery? So this is not ideal at all. The day before my dreadful 12 hour back surgery, I need to drive 2 hours away to my hometown, see my brothers that I haven’t seen in years, to attend a memorial mass at the crack of dawn. Or I don’t attend at all. How am I supposed to be in the hospital knowing I didn’t attend? I can’t, I won’t. So I dig down deep, find that reserve of strength and do what needs done. I know mom said I don’t have to go. But my heart says I do. Even if it isn’t the REAL funeral mass, it will be real for me and my kids.

And maybe this is better, that it won’t be everyone there. Maybe it has worked out this way for a reason. I only have to deal with my brothers, not all of the aunts and cousins and neighbors and friends too. I’m already going to have flashbacks, so many triggers, we’ll be in the childhood church, the one I went to each week with mom growing up, when she dressed me in pretty dresses and I had a tiny white bible, a tiny white purse to hold the bible, and I sat there as her perfect, pretty little good girl. I loved it though. I loved singing the hymns and mom always seemed so happy there, peaceful. She loved showing me off, people always said I was so pretty and well behaved and she would beam and look proud. I didn’t get much of her attention at home, but at church, I was her good girl and everything seemed good and right in the world for a moment.

So I’m going to shake and twitch as I enter this familiar building, it will be difficult to keep myself grounded in reality. But I don’t care. I’m going to my mom’s memorial mass. I’m allowed to look a bit crazy eyed, cry and stumble. I’ll use all of my new skills to help me. I’ll feel what I need to feel. I’ll have Hubby, my kids, and my sis in law there to support me.I’m doing this as much for my kids as I am for myself, to show them death is a part of life, that it is ok to cry, that we shouldn’t avoid the bad stuff or the hard stuff, and that we get through it together.


Trying to break these rules, still

Dysfunctional Family “Rules”

Adapted from J. Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You. From: http://www.thewellspring.com/flex/professional-integration/2455/dysfunctional-family-rules.cfm

Control—One must be in control of all interactions, feelings and personal behavior at all times—control is the major defense strategy for shame. Yes, I’m still caught up in this one. I have only rarely simply let a day happen, let a feeling happen. I can’t simply let thoughts happen – too many of them are full of darkness and lies. The feelings may be flashbacks. I don’t think giving up control is an option for me.

Perfectionism—Always be right in everything you do. The perfectionist rule always involves a measurement that is being imposed. Fear and avoidance of the negative is the organizing principle of life. Members live according to an externalized image. No one ever measures up. Yes this ruled my life for 20 years. Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect job, perfect dreams, perfect smile. This is easing up. a little.

Blame—Whenever things don’t turn out as planned, blame yourself or others. Blame is a defensive cover-up for shame…Blame maintains the balance in a dysfunctional family when control has broken down. Me, blame me. 

Denial of the Five Freedoms*—Each freedom has to do with a basic human power—the power to perceive; the power to think and interpret; to feel; to want and choose; and the power to imagine. In shame-based families, the perfectionist rule prohibits full expression of these powers. Wow. Yes I was denied each of those freedoms.

The No-Talk Rule—This prohibits the full expression of a feeling, need or want. In shame-based families, members want to hide their true feelings, needs or wants. Therefore, no one speaks of the loneliness and sense of self-rupture. Shut up and smile.

Don’t Make Mistakes—Mistakes reveal the flawed vulnerable self. To acknowledge a mistake is to open oneself to scrutiny. Cover up your own mistakes and if someone else makes a mistake, shame him. Yes. Mistakes prove your as bad as they say you are. I’ve gotten so much better at this. I won’t say mistakes don’t bother me and i don’t torture myself with them a bit, but it is no longer so serious and passes quickly. I have accepted i am human and treat my own mistakes as i would someone else’s, with forgiveness and understanding.

Unreliability—Don’t expect reliability in relationships. Don’t trust anyone and you will never be disappointed. How sad that I lived there. I trust in my marriage now. I trust my children. I have some trust for my inlaws and some for a few friends. That is huge progress. I’ll take it.


These rules are still there, deep inside me – where I turn first, driving my underlying motives, thoughts, fears, actions, etc.

I’d like to say otherwise, but it would be a lie. What I can say, is that I am aware of it, and gently trying to approach the world – and myself – differently.

so hard to go home – triggers everywhere

Holidays and dysfunctional families. It seems to me that every family has some level of dysfunction, but only a few are truly toxic or unhealthy. It impossible to have so many different beings, different ages, different personalities in one room without some conflict or clashing.

I am still working on enforcing my newly found boundaries and each holiday brings an onslaught of new decisions as I keep myself safe and also expand into the uncomfortable to keep growing.

I had a strained, but not terrible time at my inlaws for Easter. I had some honest conversations with them, which was nice, being able to be me there. I spoke of my AF’s poor health and did not have to feign much sadness over it. I only spoke of it because they asked about him. But some of the other conversations could have been from “Mean Girls'” with all the back stabbing and two-facedness going on. My FIL thinks my SIL kids are overweight, ridicule them and blame SIL completely. They offer all kinds of ways to fix the problem  – but not to her face. Then they attack her for making the family late to this gathering because she always has to go overboard with her baking. MIL said she doesn’t need anything fancy, just wants the grandkids to get together. She made her feel guilty for having to hold ‘dinner’ past 12:30. No time was ever given to us, no time is EVER given to us, but whoever is last is late and made to feel guilty. As soon as SIL re-enters the room, the topic is changed. I chose to stay silent for that one. (I did ask SIL later about the fancy breads she baked, they were all done the day before, and she was not the reason they came later, but that’s an entirely different story. I asked her why she worked so hard – did she enjoy it or did she feel she ahd to go overboard to be ‘supermom’ or get inlaws approval? She said she truly enjoys baking and feels happiest in the kitchen and the only time she allows herself to get creative is for holidays.)

I can’t argue every out of line comment. I’d wear out in less than an hour. Besides I needed strength to battle the next ones.

Next they asked about my brother, who has been in the divorce process for over a year now. His wife left him and the kids and is living with her boyfriend. They speak of her like a less than human whore. What she did was heartbreaking, but she does not deserve their judgment, they didn’t live with my brother or grow up in her shoes. MIL said something like, “well your brother better hurry and make that divorce final or she may decide she is bored with the boyfriend and want to come back home.” Then FIL said “can she go stay with her parents?” I said “no, she is happy with the boyfriend, and she would never go live with her parents, because she hasn’t forgiven her dad, and her parents are divorced, he was an angry drunk that used to beat her and her sister, and her mom is a messed up piece of work. I remember the bruises in high school, and she basically lived at my mom’s house all during high school”

Thinking that was the end of it, until FIL said, “Well you know some women like that. ”

The whole room was silenced and open mouthed.

“What do you mean?” I said. He said, “Some women get off on being dominated, some men too, and they do crap to get themselves beaten.”

I said, “you obviously don’t know what you are talking about, and should go read 50 shades to see how domination works. Her dad would drink and beat anything that came in the room, and then would hunt them down and beat them if they didn’t come in the room. He was mean and scary and hurt his entire family. No one wanted it or made it happen, he was out of control. None of those girls deserved what happened, it was not their fault.”

FIL said, whatever, MIL told him to shut up, he sounded like an idiot. I felt very sad.

What happened in that generation of men? FIL is a good man. He has never hurt his family. And yet he believes that most men hurt women ‘for a good reason’. I was done, I can’t change his mind. No more energy wasted that day, I went off to work on the computer and avoided any more conversations.


Next day I was thinking it would be nice to see my own mother. I hadn’t heard if my family was gathering for Easter, they still keep me out of the invitations at my own request. I don’t want to feel obligated or hurt them when I’m not up to going. Not yet. So I called my mom in the morning and said we were going to a park near her house and would like to stop over for short visit. I told her what time and made sure she had my cell number.

Now it was gorgeous sunny, 70 degree day and we went to a state park with amazing cliffs, ledges, and huge stony outcroppings. I had not been there since I was a child on a school field trip. I could not believe as we pulled in that I remembered the path I took with my friends almost 30 years ago. It was such an amazing feeling reliving a HAPPY childhood memory. And even better seeing my kids having just as much fun being mountain goats, exploring mini-caves, crevices, and climbing the rocky path as I did. I was thrilled to discover I had enough strength in my weak leg to do some easier climbing along with them. I couldn’t keep up, but they would go ahead, find a great scenic spot to rest and wait for me. It was pure joy. Exhausting – yes for sure, we were all sweating tired and hungry at the end of it.

So we eat our picnic lunch, and head to my mom’s house. We get there and my brother that lives with her says she is not home, that everyone is having Easter dinner at my other brother’s house. So decision time. Do I go over there?

No one had called me. I later found out she had emailed me this information, even though she knew I was going to be out all day, not at home checking emails. I thought maybe I could do it and we started driving towards my bother’s house. As we got closer, the panic grew. I started shaking, and picturing the room and the lock on the door that used to hold in my AF. He’s only been gone a month or so. I did not want to gather in that house, see the marks on the wall where his scooter scratched everything, see the missing door lock, see any sign that he used to live there. I decided it was too soon and we headed home, knowing it would be impossible to make an escape with the kids with us. If they saw the cousins on the trampoline, how could we leave?

So I got home to another series of emails from my mom. Sigh. Old habits, she had to lash out a bit because she was hurt that I did not visit her.

First email: Sorry I missed you. (That’s all it said)

Next email: If you let me know you were there I would have driven to meet you alone.

Next email: We had a nice dinner at your brother’s, salmon and chicken on the grill. the kids all played on the trampoline and swingset. I got to see all of my other kids and grandkids at least.

Next email: Here’s a photo of my cousin’s Easter gathering, all of her kids came to see her.

I did not respond to any of those emails. They were meant to hurt me and cause guilt. I am the only child that did not come to see her. I’m keeping her grandkids from her. Even her cousins get to see all the grandkids. Yes I get the point. I felt a prick of pain, but I only allowed the point of the sword to touch me, I did not allow it to plunge too deeply, because I know better.

I think I need to start with lower pressure, non-holiday visits. It is just too triggering and difficult still. But I hate keeping my kids away from the cousins. One day, it will happen. I am not rushing this one.

I asked Hubby why my brother with schizophrenia is not given guilt trips for staying home. Hubby said, “He avoids all social situations, and for you it appears you are only excluding them, so it hurts them.”

OH! That made sense. I am functional in every other social area now, I only avoid my mom and brothers, and their houses. I feel afraid of them. Too much I can’t control. Too many triggers and memories still floating around. I do love them though, and I appreciate that they don’t hate me, and mostly support my decision to avoid them. They want me healthy, but they also want me to join in the family fun. And maybe these events are not scary anymore, without AF in attendance. I don’t know.

All I know is I’m all good, I think I made the right decision this time, and will take the next step when I feel prepared for it.




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Holiday Greetings from a Psychopath


I have to share the email my abusive father has sent to all of his children. I guess I choose door #2. I am happy he is leaving my brother’s home. I am happy he is leaving the state. I am happy he is going to a senior living community. I am not happy he is going to be alone, but I don’t feel any guilt, as he has done this to himself. We have all given him so many chances to be a part of our lives, and all he has done is hurt us repeatedly. He is done pretending to be charming and shows his true ugly colors now. So this is one more attempt to hurt us and make us feel guilty, and if you’re fluent in psychopath like I am, you will also recognize the attempt to tear us siblings apart again by implying that one or more of us may choose #3. He doesn’t understand that these attempts are futile, and that what worked in the past, on his young children, no longer works on his adult children. We all see him for what he is. We all tried to help him and move past our history. We all see he is incapable of human emotion, feels no remorse, is incapable of change, and is a truly hurtful person. I believe very few of these people actually exist in the world. His brain is not wired to his heart. He is incurably cold. And unlike the Grinch, seeing us all happy and singing does not make his heart grow, it makes him angrier. He used to feed on our pain and sadness – he was happiest when we were all suffering.

Here’s his message to his own children, that I found in my inbox last night cc’d to all my siblings:

Just a quick word to friends, family, and local email folks:

I bought a place to live in central Pennsylvania and will be moving there tomorrow if the weather holds.

 I suppose this is addressed to three categories of persons.

 1.      Those who could care less, and if it is you quit reading now because it just doesn’t matter.

2.      Those who are glad to see me go, and if it is you, then you just got an early Christmas gift. Hooray for you.

3.      Those who will miss me and prefer I stay, and if it is you, I already know it and will see you in the future. 

Here’s hoping celebrating the birth of Christ brings you peace and Joy…


I am sorry for any who may cross his path in central PA, but otherwise I do feel peace and joy as I celebrate Christmas with my beautiful family, that I make sure knows every day that I love them. Even though I have a hole in my heart where parental love and support should be – I have found it in myself to give exactly that to my own children. Their biggest concern today is which flavor of candy cane to eat first, and if the gingerbread cookie they decorate should have a bowtie, buttons, or a hat. They hugged Santa yesterday and believe in the magic of Christmas, even though the oldest knows Santa himself isn’t real, she still had to hug him. Because they also believe in themselves – because they were never told not to.

I kiss them each night and watch them fall quickly asleep, safe and secure. They do not know the fear and pain of neglect and abuse. I pray they never will.

I am hopeful that this will be the last attack from my abusive father, but I am doubtful he will let us all go. It is in his blood to torment us. But these words are just words, and no longer hold power over me. They make me sad, of course, give me that empty feeling of longing, that fleeting wish that things could be different. But it is fleeting, and only exist at all because I am not a psychopath, and not completely immune to the feelings of others. His power is gone, because I am starting to believe in myself, and when I don’t, when I falter, I have so many others right there that do believe me in me now, from my blogger friends to those in my real life.

I am loved, and feel truly blessed.