My mother psychologically groomed me

 

Lately I’ve been considering how before ceasing contact with my mother, I was on my way to narcissism town. Despite being fundamentally a soft hearted person, over time I felt less and less of the ‘soft’. It was replaced by frustrated annoyance, sarcasm, and rage.

This has been coming up for me because my relationships with loved ones are truly transforming. D & A remark on how I’ve changed and continue to change. Their lives are better for it; which was the initial reason for making drastic alterations to my life. Other people have noticed too.

Today I decided to write a never-to-be-sent note to my mother. What emerged from that has surprised me, but it also makes perfect sense. Another piece of the puzzle clicks into place.

Since my early 20’s when I had my daughter, until age 33 when I finally woke up enough to cease contact with my mother, I truly believed she had changed.

This was the woman who drove off to work with a distraught child (younger sister) begging her not to leave us alone with father. Grovelling on the ground at her feet in the rain and mud. Clutching at her ankles. Mother’s persistent neglect allowed the incest & other torture to happen.

This was the woman who plopped me unsupervised in a very cold swimming pool when I was 3 years old. There was only the plastic siding for me to cling to and when it got wet I slipped and went topsy-turvy in the water. Somehow managed to come up spluttering and grab for dear life back onto the side. I remember the pebbly brown concrete that surrounded the pool and the tips of my fingers grating on it. My mother (watching from the shadows inside the house?) came out then, stood about 2 meters from me and said flat and cold “That was your own fault.” before turning and going back inside. I remember the painfully slow process of waiting for the plastic to dry a bit in the weak sunshine and then inching my way towards the pool ladder to get out. Each time I moved, the siding was sopped with water again. So I waited. Moved. Waited. Moved. Finally I reached that ladder and escaped. I was a very smart kid. This is what I did, and I remember it like it was yesterday. My whole life back then was geared at surviving the abuse and neglect; via plans, probability, exit strategies. Like I’ve said before, I was mute about the abuse. I lived inside where the plans were.

My mother was also the woman who said

“You only wish you had a stalker.”

and when I explained two detectives had visited the house that day to say they’d been to the ex con’s house and threatened him with breach of parole if he didn’t leave me alone;

“Well, it’s your fault for going out walking all the time.”

When I was on my knees by the side of her bed one night during my late teens and I begged for help because I was suicidal, she looked right at me and said in that same flat, cold voice:

I wish euthanasia was legal for people like you.”

And finally; shortly after I’d met D his first experience of my mother was her spitting the word “whore” at me. D immediately moved me in with him. He said that he knew I was in mortal danger from my family. He never trusted my mother the entire time he knew her. I can only imagine the suffering D went through watching me try for a healthy relationship with my mother for over a decade.

 

A was born when I was 21 and I believed this woman, this same mother of mine, had changed. Like magic. After all, teenage-parent relationships are always strained, right? I haven’t bothered to mention my institutionalisations nor all the other abuses mother committed against me over the years…

I wanted this new caring mother to be part of our lives. To be a gran for A.

 

My mother hadn’t actually changed. She merely changed tactics.

She psychologically groomed me. This is what I uncovered via journaling today:

Mother,

Every interaction with you was a covert power-play. I see that now. Your penetrating look and carefully selected words. The way you groomed me by pushing the envelope on an issue; making a nasty statement and gauging my reaction with a keen sideways glance and lick of your lips. You always licked your lips, like a predator surveying prey.

You watched for my reaction. Rejection? Acceptance?

My acceptance was met with an immediate lightening of your mood.

Rejection was met with you looking like a slapped child. I always felt guilty about that.

Ambivalence on my part was met with another little nudge. You always looked for either acceptance, or rejection. You needed the information, and stored it.

Over and over and over…

This way, over 12 years or so you inched me in whichever direction you wanted me to go.

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

I was your enemy. Without doubt. I’m somebody who holds information about you that you do not want others to know.

During my early adulthood, I believed you’d changed; that you’d become my friend. I became accustomed to your f*d up perspective of other people. This perspective took up residency within me. I always looked to you and acted according to your will. You were my first person to call. Never mind about poor D.

If I became you, I’d no longer pose a threat I guess.

Your sly, protracted effort to assimilate me failed.

 

*         *        *

 

After ceasing contact with my mother A came to me one day and said she was so glad Gran was gone and that she hoped to never see her again.

Amongst other things, A told me the last time her Gran took her to camp she nearly drowned in the lake and her Gran just watched her struggle, from a distance. A’s friend ended up rescuing her. At that point she was clinging to a plastic bouy but kept slipping off over and over. When A got back on land her Gran coldly berated her, blamed her for what happened.

I’d told D about my mother leaving me in the pool as a 3 year old, but A had no idea about it. When she told me what happened at camp it was hard for me to grasp. I still haven’t fully grasped it, to be honest. Occasionally I get glimpses of my emotions surrounding that. In those moments I want to hunt my mother down and knock her block off. I remember the day mother dropped A home from that camp, and how A hid in her room as my mother spun me a bullshit story about an argument they had during clean-up (“I think A might be pissed off at me…”). I still recall the nervous energy pulsing off my mother. Her sideways look, the lick of her lips. I should have known. I should have decked her then and there for fucking with my child.

One of the family stories recalls the time my grandmother, a harried sociopath with 7 daughters, attempted to drown the younger children in the bathtub. The older kids (my mother being one of them) had to fight her off and rescue the little ones.

How my mother went from a rescuer to perpetrator, I’ll never know. Or do I? Was she groomed too? Worn down over years, decades; her psyche morphed into something hideous?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defending others, abandoning oneself

 

I’ve decided to stop acting as the ‘defence lawyer’ for others who I perceive have hurt or mistreated me.

Journaling helped me see that this is a distinct habit. I abandon myself, my needs, my feelings… and step over to advocate for the other person; argue their case to the best of my (well honed) ability.

I shame and talk myself out of my feelings. Invalidate myself and my rights.

refuse to do this any longer and am making a conscious change to my thought patterns – steering myself away from this old habit again & again.

The thing is, other people are plenty good at justifying their behaviour without me helping them along. Who defends me when I abandon myself?

Last night A sat here with her bandaged up wrist that was injured during P.E class. Another child decided to absolutely boot a soccer ball straight at A and she barely managed to react in time; raised her arms in front of her head. She had to ice her arm twice at school and asked for a bandage as soon as she reached home.

Anyway, before bed she explained what happened and began defending the boy who was playing silly buggers and injured her.

She began defending him.

A minute prior, she’d also pretty obviously been downplaying the pain in her wrist when I did a quick check on it.

Right then and there I stopped A and said ‘Think about it hon. What really happened is that you had a relief teacher during P.E, this kid was messing around, and he did something stupid and injured you. He hurt you.’

A gave a sheepish smile (a grimace, basically) and said ‘Well, yeah… yeah, he did.’

Let me get this straight. Nothing more was said about the boy. No insults, no aspersions cast on his character. There will be no complaint put in at school (unless A’s wrist turns out to be more seriously hurt than it currently appears to be, that is). But it was important to me that A acknowledge she was hurt by this boy’s momentary thoughtless action. It is what it is.

I’ve taught her some terrible habits. This one might be the worst.

 

Many many times since ceasing contact with my family of origin 20 months ago, I’ve had to step out into thin air. I’ve moved in opposition to the teachings of my childhood; the conditioning that effectively had me doing my abuser’s work for them.

Ceasing to defend those who have hurt me, ceasing to talk myself out of my feelings is a massive leap of faith. The biggest so far.

I don’t yet trust my own right to feel what I feel, nor do I believe in my perceptions – but I’m going to give myself that agency anyway, and see how life changes.

A person who doesn’t back themselves – who can be moved on almost any matter – is a magnet for mistreatment and neglect. That is not my natural unaffected state of being, but a product of wrong teaching that benefitted my original abusers. Time to deprogramme.

 

 

Today I cried

 

Big, fat, salty tears.

Didnt abandon myself, or my feelings.

Pressed palms against my heart.

It hurt.

Sometimes, it seems like the whole lot hurts.

I was held in grace.

 

For my sisters, who harmed me and turned their backs on me for reasons beyond my heart comprehension. Maddening reasons. Reasons I don’t want to waste any more time trying to fathom…

Landslide – The Smashing Pumpkins

 

I will never abandon myself again.

A homecoming has occurred, and it’s for good.

 

P.S I’ve decided not to act as though people don’t just do hideous, undeserved things to other people sometimes. This has been part of my life experience – in deep, dark ways. Denying the reality is another way of stuffing down my feelings I suspect. I am indeed no helpless victim, but I have been terribly, incomprehensibly, abused by my family of origin. They have committed crime after crime against me.

Let the hurt come; sit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow Work

 

I’m embarking on a journey of regular shadow work. This seems to be something I’ve already begun without realising there was a term for it.

Currently reading ‘Shadow Dance’ by David Richo. A wonderful book for those interested in the aspects of themselves they’ve packed away out of sight.

Here is a transcript of an interview between Scott London and Connie Zweig – a ‘shadow expert’:

Illuminating the Shadow

Also sharing a link to a YouTube vlogger named Kelly-Ann Maddox who has created some fantastic, gritty & down to earth videos about shadow work:

Kelly-Ann Maddox: Shadow work playlist

 

During my epic clearing/decluttering/tidying binge the past couple of months, it eventually dawned on me that in my mania I was neglecting my physical health as well as my psyche. I’m beginning to feel more grounded, and am able to behave in closer alignment with my intention towards my loved ones once more. It feels like a relief, to come back into my body again and back to my self. I do think the environmental clear-out was necessary though, and don’t regret it.

 

Back to shadow work: based on my limited experience thus far, shadow work (coupled with vital self love & acceptance) is bringing me face to face with my own power. My sovereignty. I am not a victim, tossed about on the waves. I am an active participant in life; equal to all participants.

I can be a user, too. I’ve attempted to use other people to fill the holes in my heart when I was too lazy or unwilling to do the work myself.

Fancy that – I feel empowered through considering myself to have the capacity to use others for my own ends.

Not such an innocent victim after all. Not when I look at situations meticulously, and honestly. I am not an unusual waif, set aside from others, born merely for victimhood then death. No. Not me. I contain all things.

 

Best wishes all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To where it began

When I was 15 years old, I ran away from home one night and was arrested the next morning along with the group of people who’d kindly looked out for me.

My father was at the house when I returned home.

He was going through a (limited) repentance phase due to attending counselling sessions with his new wife, and decided to let me know that one day when I was an infant he couldn’t stand that I ‘wouldn’t stop crying’ so he shook me and shook me and nearly threw me against the wall.

So that’s where it started. Except not really. I obviously was not wanted, goodness knows what happened to my mother whilst she was pregnant with me…

And before all that: my mother as a child, my father as a child – what those young ones went through. And their own abusive parents, and theirs before them. I’ve heard some of the stories.

I need to go back. Looking back and into a traumatic past is a bit like falling down a rabbit hole though. Where does it all begin? Where do I draw the line?

Do I start with the shaking? Seems selfish. A lot lead to that point.

In truth, I’ve realised that going back is necessary and it feels awe-full. Really overwhelming. Like willingly throwing myself into a gaping maw filled with a timeline  of criminal acts; blood against blood.

Generation upon generation acting out a subconscious desire to end the line, end the suffering?

Ours is a miserable, grim lineage. We laid curses on each other. There is no love traveling the line of my family tree. Nobody knows how. Nobody.

And here I am, with my trusty friend (an internal part almost completely missing neurosis) learning, absorbing, transmuting, patiently teaching me…

Geared up, ready to go spelunking together. Into that dark, cold, cavern.

Why?

Because souls lie restless, including my own. They need to be heard. They need the light of understanding and compassion brought to their dwelling place.

I’m scared. Frightened. My toes curl and I want to turn back. But more than all that, I desire to heal this family line; create a new inheritance for future generations.

A giant work.

My life’s work. Successful or not.

 

 

“I am acceptable as I am and I can smooth out my rough edges. I am both all right and in need of some change.” 

Pg. 109, ‘Shadow Dance’ by David Richo