Author Topic: Hello - need support  (Read 725 times)

erniec

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Hello - need support
« on: April 18, 2018, 12:51:19 PM »
Hi. I'm a Canadian and new to the board.  I struggle with 'voicelessness' in a really serious way, and due to living in part of North America where no professional psychologist i've encountered understands this issue, I shut down about it quite some time ago.  All I've ever gotten from professionals in this field on this has been invalidation, judgment, "I don't understand what you are talking about so it must mean there is something wrong with you", rote dismissal, or accusations from a former GP/narc lackey of my father that I was the narcissist.  I am living in a large city in western Canada, and I've just come to accept is that this ultimately is not my problem, it's just a really backward and unevolved place with way too many backwards and unevolved people.   Most of these in positions of power over others. 

So, because I'm new to talking about this subject, I'm just going to say whatever comes out today and whatever resonates with others, please just go with that if you choose to comment. 

I grew up with a not very book smart father who was somehow a remarkably gifted manipulator of people and one of the two most gifted, effective narcissists I've ever encountered, and a doormat / closet narc mother.  She has presented herself as a victim of him as well but part of me doesn't buy her story - part of me doesn't know what to believe of what she says.  She presents as remorseful now but thats after years of me badgering her to acknowledge what went on.  Regardless she is and was a complete doormat and the perfect foil for my father do to whatever the hell he wanted.  He died several years ago (I am happy he is dead, and I don't feel bad about this) and in the period watching him die of cancer it was clear he was child until the day he died. I don't think he matured past the emotional age of an 8 or 9 year old his entire life, despite being quite successful in the business world. I also have one sister who has adopted my father's path, and who ended up marrying a much less messed up version of my mother but still with major doormat tendencies and he lets her walk all over him without compunction.  His own father is an incredibly shallow narcissist himself, who is more shameless and obvious in his narcissism than anything.  It's so obvious, he's a rather buffoonish character and difficult to take seriously. My father, and other narcs in my life, were much more subtle, harder to detect, and remarkably skilled at avoiding detection. 

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 16, and had no idea why - my family did everything to cover it up - until I learned about how narcissism affects the victims sense of reality.  Narcissists naturally distort reality to fit the world into the conception of it they want to be real, which, to me, makes them profoundly mentally ill to the point that when they are identified, they should be diagnosed with a dissociative identity disorder and locked up.  My only sin was being open / trusting to these people and not knowing they were destructive and that I should not trust them.  I now understand this event as a very understandable psychotic break due to the extreme unreality of my family environment.  Other than chronic depression that has never gone away, I've never had any other psychotic "breaks" like this, for some unknown reason.  I think it's more to do with the main defense mechanisms I used to cope for decades, which was profound denial and disappearance into other realms of life (obsession with collecting a variety of things, zoning out). 

Narcissistic people like the ones I've known in my life are shells of human beings who I half seriously question whether they are even alive and not just some matrix like concoction of some messed up computer program.  These people bring nothing but destruction into the world via their own profound unconsciousness, and the saddest part of all, there is literally no hope for these people.  They are human write-offs.  Too bad some insurance company can't allow us to cash on a policy and give us a real functional human being in return. Sometimes I take a Christian perspective to understanding these people's behaviour towards me and this has helped me a lot come to terms with understanding the gravity of their destruction and setting clear boundaries with them; these people to me are evil, pure and simple. While I do not consider myself Christian (not many Canadians are, one of the many ways we are a lot different than Americans ;-) ) I consider these people to be disciples of Satan, doing his bidding causing pain and destruction on earth. 

My father had a brother who was the same as him, just another willy loman wannabe, who has a daughter who was also diagnosed with schizophrenia as well, but who's diagnosis continually shifted - its like they could never quite nail it down.  It was this, it was that, it was something else as well.  Knowing my family, the piece of the puzzle they are missing is the narcissist piece.  My relationship with her ended several years ago not long after my father died.  I contacted her to see if she was coming to his funeral and she never responded.  I haven't heard from her since (6 years).  I suspect she is lost to the unreality of her family's world.  Her father, in his will, made his a-hole son in law (remarkably successful businessman) the perpetual executor of his estate to her such that she has to ask him for money even if she wants a coffee at Starbucks.  This guy is probably worth $100 million dollars and he makes her do a song and dance for a $5 coffee.  Last I knew, she was on welfare and had not worked in 15 years. 

What I struggle with via my my heart, not my head, is how profoundly the destruction was that these people wrought in my life, and I have literally no one to validate my experiences or provide me any kind of  emotional support.  The most Ive gotten on this issue was from a psychologist during some emdr sessions that helped but didn't go really into this subject at all.  Ive tried to access psychologists around the world who are experts in this subject for help with no success, until Richard graciously allowed me on this page to seek some support here. 

I struggled with a great deal of shame, regret, anger, frustration, hopelessness and fear as a result of a life until my late 30's when everything I'd experienced until then started to come into perspective.  I am 44 now.  Economically the depression that resulted was devastating, I once made $75,000 a year, since then I barely make 20, although I am doing a lot better than I used to.  I had a profoundly destructive situation at work from 2011 - 2014 where I was a whistleblower against a narc boss of mine, the second most destructive narcissist I've ever encountered in my life, and the company destroyed me for standing up against them (I was a social worker for Children's Services.  What happened still blows my mind, the absolute last group of people you'd expect to act so disgustingly, but they did.)  I resigned but what happened was an effective constructive dismissal.  They made my life hell because I was a risk to expose one of their dirtbag employee's behaviour, and they needed to make me go away to make it all better.  I understand in my head this is what large organizations do to people like me, but it's still very hard for me to deal with even now especially as it was for a organization that gets paid to care for and about others for a living.

I attribute my improvement to withdrawing from the world around me and ending all of my relationships (whether work or personal life) that were with narcissistic or otherwise destructive individuals.  It was all of them except two people. The more I learned about it the more I started to see the patterns in my relationships.  These people, through some unconscious process, are drawn to me like a magnet, and due to a problem with being too open and trusting (I believe I was trained as a child by my father to trust unworthy and manipulative individuals unquestioningly) I let them into my life and believed their BS sob stories.  What I see is a pattern, pretty much unbroken, of narcissistic predators in my life.  Ex wife.  ex girlfriends. friends. bosses. their bosses. neighbours.  and certainly family members, immediate and extended.  I've learned these people are literally everywhere.  I know so few healthy people, my girlfriend at present is one, but because I was so conditioned over so many years in these abusive relationships that I mistrust healthy people - they aren't f---ed up, so there's something wrong with them / with the situation.  I know that's the exact problem, but I still really struggle with this.

The predators that still lurk around (my sister, my ex, whom I share a child with, my next door neighbour) treat me with an unfailing, detached politeness now (except my neighbour, who avoids me, which is great). It's almost seems like their way of admitting guilt but I know these people are too shallow for guilt, it's just them knowing they can't feed here anymore. 

Anyways thanks for anyone who is listening or read all the way here (studies show most readers are done halfway thru the second paragraph of long posts like this).  It would be nice to make some friends here who can empathize and share their own stories of how they came to terms with their own situations so that maybe I can pull something from it.  I did thank Richard profusely for his essays, that's how I found this page - I read my experience of life in them.  PS my family is most similar to the one who lied to Richard about his friends funeral time.  Thanks   

Twoapenny

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2018, 01:13:09 PM »
Welcome, Ernie, it's nice to have you here and so nice to have a new member on the forum :)

I am literally on my way out of the door so haven't time to reply properly now but wanted to say hi and I will read through and reply to your post tomorrow (I skimmed it just now and I noticed bits that definitely resonate with me).

Anyway, for now, welcome, it's good to have you here and look forward to getting to know you :)

Twoapenny (Tupp)

sKePTiKal

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2018, 02:37:48 PM »
Hiya Ernie!

Nothing wrong with a long post (says the verbose one), especially as an introduction.

It occurred to me to respond to you - that healing begins and ends with boundaries. Yours and other people's. Maybe that's just the lesson I've learned through my journey too. Oh, another thing I learned is that none of what you've suffered through needs to be a permanent "personality disability". Yes, adult children of N's have some knowledge "gaps" that need to get caught up to your chronological age and I think we'll probably struggle with feeling we have the right to protect ourselves from that crap, forever. But it CAN get better, practicing healthier habits. Re-training your brain, and how it interprets emotional information, in other words.

Validation and emotional support are kinda essential external inputs that simulate re-parenting. We need it to come from outside of us... until we start to internalize the process for ourselves and practice it, establishing better boundaries, healthier coping mechanisms, etc.

Sounds like you're already making healthy progress!

Question, if you don't want to answer - that's ok. I realize it's kinda personal. Are you still considered schizophrenic, as in, it's a chronic problem for you? Or have the symptoms abated since starting to heal from the FOO (family of origin) torture chamber?
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

Hopalong

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2018, 06:47:31 PM »
Welcome, Ernie.
I am very sorry for all the emotional and mental suffering you've been through.
I hope you'll find many sources of healing...in my experience it's like a cafeteria thing.

It does strike me how heavy and oppressive the feeling that virtually no people can be trusted (with rare exceptions) must be. And...the degree to which you perceive Nism in nearly everyone.

It could be true or it could be also, partly, an opinion formed to protect yourself after great harm.

Whichever it is, you'll sort out over time, and with deep patience and kindness toward yourself. Once you practice that intensively for a long time, the self loathing recedes. Once it does, then you become stronger and gradually can also view others through a less fearful lens.

You're a terrific writer and creating space for that, in a private journal too, seems like a great healing opportunity for you.

Best,
Hopalong (aka Hops)
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Twoapenny

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2018, 05:51:48 AM »
Hello again, Ernie :)

I've read all through your post now and gosh, yes, a lot of what you say resonates with me and is similar to things that I (and many others) have experienced, and perhaps still do to some extent.  The good thing is you have found the forum!  And I can't tell you what a great source of help and support the people on here have been to me over the years - good advice, a listening ear and sometimes just having someone validate you, which I saw you feel doesn't happen much, is a big help and has really helped me to feel better about myself as a person.

I am sorry that the medical help you need isn't available.  We have similar problems here in the UK; it is difficult to find therapists that 'get' your situation and can help you pick your way through it and make sense of it.  But I have found the board is like having a cluster of therapists on hand, which is amazing :)

Your mum and dad, yes, it's a common pattern, one enables the other.  Very difficult to grow up with as obviously what you experience at home is what you grow up considering normal behaviour, and then you start making all your grown up decisions with that blueprint in mind and it often doesn't go well.

The mental health diagnosis is interesting, as I feel that our Western approach to medicine is kind of an unhelpful one at many times.  I think a lot of people have things happen in their lives that affect the way they think and feel.  To me that's a normal part of being human but our approach is usually to find a label and often to medicate to make the feelings go away.  But sometimes I think what we need instead is understanding, help to figure out the mess we've been caught up in and support to start making different choices - healthy parenting, in effect, although to access that in later life you often have to go to a therapist!  It's a funny situation.  I was diagnosed with various things when I was younger - bi-polar, recurrent depression, cyclothymia, cyclothymic personality disorder - and all of my symptoms vanished when I stopped having any contact with my mum.  That was eleven years ago and it was the biggest step towards health that I could have taken so I think you are on the right track with restricting your contact with certain people.

Sadly the story about social services rings true with me and will with others on the board; I have posted on here many times about my dealings with unethical public sector workers.  I think there's a very fine line between care and control, so you get some people who go into that sort of work because they care and they want to help people, and you get others who do it because if gives them power over vulnerable people who often aren't able to stand up for themselves or who might not be believed if they raise a concern.  And yes, whistleblowing, we've had some shocking stories here in the UK about people who've reported abuse or malpractice and they've been hounded out of their jobs so unfortunately it isn't unusual (although it should be!).

I can see what you mean about realising how many people around you aren't the sort of people you want to be around.  One of the things I found hardest about counselling was a growing realisation that I had filled my life with exactly the sort of people I needed to get away from - mostly self centred types who benefited from my lack of boundaries, people pleasing tendencies and inability to say no :)  I have gradually been able to change things in that way, again, largely because of the board - I found a support here that I didn't have in the real world so I've been able to weed out the cumbersome friends and hang on to the good ones, whilst being able to ask questions and rant and rave if necessary on here as well :)  It's been very good :)

In terms of how I came to terms with my situation, well, that is still a work in progress, but again, a lot of it has been because of the support from the forum.  I can come on with anything that's on my mind - small or large, happy or not - put it all down and get other perspectives, suggestions, thoughts on the situation.  And that helps me, I can run things through in my head and see how it makes me feel.  Feelings are a big thing for me now.  I was very numb for many years; a self defence thing, I think.  So all of my decision making went on in my head or was just a kind of blind instinct, a programmed response I suppose.  But these days I am more able to notice how I feel about something and then go more with what feels good.  I think it's a case of little steps (and sometimes it's two forward and three back) but I think all the time someone is thinking that they want life to be different it's possible to find some small way to do that.

It's great to have a new member and do feel free to read through some of the other threads, you'll probably find lots in them that resonates with you :)

sKePTiKal

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2018, 08:33:08 AM »
Tupp, he's going to need a lot of free time to read through the old threads! LOL.

I know I've been around the board for over 10 years now -- and there was much to read for me when I was a newbie. Our posting has slowed down - those of us still active here on a regular basis - and then, the phase of the moon or whatever comes around and we're all dealing with something at once again.

So Ernie, just because we're mostly females... don't worry. Mud, a guy, still sometimes posts. It's been a mixed group off/on over the years. We can all be mother-hens at times, or Mama Tigers, tucking you behind us while we face down your "enemy" and put them in their place. But we'll always appreciate that your journey to a "new balance" in your life is all yours and we'll be kind, respectful, and try to encourage you along the way.
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

lighter

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2018, 09:23:25 AM »
Welcome E:

You have many good responses from old timers already.

What I want to add is learning discernment.... along with boundaries, and how to enforce them.

We have to learn how to discern who we can trust, who can can trust less, and who we can't trust at all.

Througout our lives we file people in our hearts and minds according to their behaviors.

If we give trust to someone who's shown they aren't deserving... that's not on us... that's on them.

Giving second chances to people who can't handle a first.... that's something we can control.

The last thing I want to add is.... sometimes our pain and trauma stays front and center.... so very close.... to us and our lives.

So very present.

That's something we can work on. 

We can gain emotional distance, and find relief, IME. 

Again, welcome.

Lighter

erniec

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2018, 12:16:50 PM »
Thanks everybody for your kind words, that means a lot.  I honestly was reluctant to check back here as I've gotten to used to being ignored and/or dismissed, so thank you al for taking the time. To the UK writer, one of the first professionals I ever got any validation from on this subject (before I found Dr Grossman's page here) was from a psychologist in the Devon / Cornwall area of your country.  Can't remember his name...Jamie something, I think, its not important.  He was the first psychologist to tell me "what you are saying to me is consistent with everything I hear from the people I serve who have suffered the same traumas".  Canada is a progressive country, but we are absolutely clueless about this subject.  Again I refuse to seek out professional help because way too many have proven to me to be profoundly destructive and completely unconscious to their own judgments or biases or their own unconsciousness - the comment I made about "I don't understand what you are talking about, and since I'm not going to take any responsibility for not knowing anything about the subject, I'm just going to invalidate it and you and say there's something wrong with you before I skip on to a new subject that I know something about" is the rule not the exception from my experience. 

About the diagnosis, no, I've never had any further incidents.  I even used some psychoactive drugs for spell (acid, mj, PCP) and never had a break during that time either.  All I remember from doing that stuff was thinking everything (and everyone) was (were) profoundly hilarious.  I believe I was misdiagnosed due to lack of knowledge and blurred / confusing diagnostic boundaries at the time it occurred (1989).  I also had a psychiatrist who was a bit of a renegade and cultural figure up here - some of you may have heard of him, his name was Dr Abram Hoffer, he did major studies in the 50's and 60's on LSD as treatment for alcoholism here in Canada that coincided with Timothy Leary's involvement with the drug (there's a great National Film Board of Canada documentary on youtube on Hoffer and Leary and the other guy involved, a Canadian named Stephen Duckett I think his name was) which of course all went awry when LSD was banned in the US.  Well, while he was a very kind man, he had a big personality and he was convinced I was "cured" by his treatments (massive doses of certain vitamins, including niacinamide, and change of diet - no sugar, dairy or bleached flour).  He believed schizophrenia had a biochemical basis due to food allergies brought about by big industry pushing sugar, dairy and bleached flour consumption.  I was one of his pet patients and in presentations at various conferences all over the world he would specifically reference me (without naming me of course), he even did it once with me in the audience - as a success story.  I think the man was a genius - given the movement away from sugar and flour and dairy products in our society today, he along with Linus Pauling are responsible for this movement - but he was wrong about me and the origins of my disease because he didn't understand my family dynamic.  Nobody did.  One early psychologist had an inkling it was family related, and pushed us to do family counselling session - well, all they got was one, because in that one the wheels started coming off the cart pretty fast and my dad after that likely sensing a risk to being outed as the real source of discord and problems within the family shut it down. 

Sadly the therapist who had the hunch and was proven right (it was very much a family issue) didn't push it afterwards and it was left where it was.  But then again no one understood this back then.  It was all like Richard talks about, subtext.  Only the most perceptive therapists "got it".  The first psychologist I discovered that had caught on to this dynamic and understood it was through the book "Running On Empty" by Dr Jonice Webb, who I'm sure Richard knows as I believe she also practices in MA.  The UK psychologist from Devon told me that not many psychologists understand this - he said it's being understood more and more in the UK and continental Europe, and is understood by therapists on the east coast (Richard for example), some folks in California and virtually nowhere else.  So yeah, having a forum like this is vital. 

I remember them asking me the same questions over and over when they were trying to diagnose me and sometimes I would respond one way and sometimes I would respond another way because as a kid I didn't understand what was going on.  I think now I absolutely had a psychic break due to the unreal family environment as a teenager and having a more introverted personality, I went inwards.  As I grew past this, I saw people's and my family's reactions and responses which were to deny and hide it - my sister has never spoken to me once about this, nor acknowledged it, NOTHING, like it didnt exist, since 1989, but she sure had no problem directing her fury at me for taking parental attention away from her during this time - or if my parents told their siblings, to be condescended to and patronized by aunts and uncles, and this taught me to do what they were doing I think - pretend it wasn't there.  So that's what I did for twenty years after until those techniques stopped working. 

I have no problem that most of you are women, you are the more understanding and empathic gender for sure.  Richard told me this would be the case anyways and that you guys would get it and respond the way you did, so thanks for the kindness.  As I get used this environment - talking about this with peers who have gone thru the same is new to me - I'll pop by more and more I'm sure.  I really enjoy Richard's essays, that's my life right there.

Yes, boundaries are crucial, and I've heard it said that after having no boundaries people go to putting the wall right up afterwards to compensate.  I knew nothing about them as I grew up in a home where psychologically at least there were no boundaries, and none were enforced.  Some of these narcs, like my former boss, I'm sure thought I was the most perfect narcissistic supply feed they'd ever come across.  It is totally self protective, and also purposeful, to give a very strong message to the dirtbags who used to pollute my life to stay away.  I don't know if it's self loathing so much as loathing of others, the direct consequent of being treated so disgustingly and the shame I feel of being aware of it now and that I let it go on for years as I just wasn't aware of what was going on.  I feel a lot of anger towards a lot of people, these, as I term them now, psychological rapists.  While I have a supportive relationship now, I still honestly don't know how to trust other people, having been psychologically raped by bad people for so long and not even knowing I needed to defend myself against others (what, other people can hurt me? huh? lol).  I'm still in a position where I am literally afraid of coming across another one of these people.

I have a tendency to long responses so yeah, bear with me on that one.  The writing thing, thanks for the compliment, I kind of do some side work in journalism from time to time for a local rag and got banned last weekend by Peter Frampton of all people - this nice British gentleman with all these hits dating back almost 50 years did not want me to review his show (I have been a bit hard on some classic rock guys in the past, but, unbeknownst to Mr Frampton, I would have gone pretty easy on him as I'm a big Humble Pie fan) - but I've been solid into self censorship for the most part due to being chronically shut down by others...this will come in time like most have said so far.  So thanks everyone who commented and even read and didn't, I'll see you around.  Cheerio!

 

erniec

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2018, 04:30:37 PM »
I just thought of a question, some people have hinted around it in their stories, but I want to ask others how long it took them to learn how to develop healthy relationships after becoming aware of what was going on.  Also, what were some of the things people did to increase the likelihood of finding non toxic people to add to their lives in a constructive way.  Was there, like, skills they needed to learn, to identify non-toxic people, and if so, what were some of these things you learned? 

I still find myself drawn to some of these people, one more recently, where I discovered, of course, the obvious, and have started to conclude that if I am "attracted" to them or find myself thinking about them, that's the cue for me that they are toxic.  What I've learned is that my wiring for identifying healthy people to have in my life is completely haywire - its the opposite to people with healthy relationships.

Also, what were people's experiences with needing to either cut off toxic family members completely or set restrictive boundaries with them ( I know this is a nebulous question, but I've cut my entire family off, except for my mother, a brother in law who is not toxic, and while I do interact with her on a very limited basis, I have set a really high bar for my sister (no sharing of personal information or anything I'm doing, when asked, treating her respectfully but remaining distant and emotionally disengaged).  Having to write off my entire family virtually has been very difficult, even though I realize now these people never showed up for me (and would never) anyways.  Thanks!

Twoapenny

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2018, 04:32:19 AM »
Hi again, Ernie,
I'm glad you came back!  I do understand what you mean about being nervous about checking because of previous times of not being acknowledged or receiving any understanding - it's tough to keep coping with rejection or indifference but hopefully you will find things a bit different here!  There are a few regular posters and then others that pop in and out (and who might be pop in when they see someone new to talk to which would be fab :) ).  It's very frustrating that you've not been able to find a good therapist or counsellor, they can be so helpful when they get your situation, but hopefully as you post here and start to feel more comfortable you might start to feel like you're getting the therapeutic input you need, albeit online rather than face to face :)  In all honestly, while I've been lucky to have two very good therapists over time, I have found the board the most use as I can write at any time, about anything, and I always get support, good advice and good feedback.  Hopefully you will feel the same way too :)

I think it can be difficult to trust again when you've been hurt badly, and by so many people over such a long period of time.  I think the thing that's hoped me the most is that I had to learn to trust myself, first and foremost - and this kind of ties in with your question about building healthy relationships and cutting off ties with family members.

Learning to trust myself was key, and in order to do that I had to recognise and acknowledge my feelings when I was with or around people.  That was very hard for me to do (and still is, because I still fall back into my old habits at times).  But I grew up in an almost completely numb state with no real acknowledgment of feelings (in myself), no way of validating how I felt (ie, having someone mirror or demonstrate to me what was okay and what wasn't) and almost a kind of seige mentality - constantly looking for the threat and trying to diffuse it before it 'got' me.  Always looking outward, never looking inward, really.

What I try to do now is focus on how I feel when I'm with or talking to people - comfortable, uncomfortable, guarded, relaxed, accepted, having to impress (those last two are particularly big ones for me).  And then thinking about the situation and whether that contributes to the feeling (feeling nervous on a first date would be understandable - feeling nervous in the company of a partner you've been with for years wouldn't be).  And then from that trying to work out whether some of what I felt was 'old' stuff or current stuff.  So again, growing up with exceedingly critical parents meant I always felt like I had to impress and nothing was good enough.  What I tried to focus on in more recent years was whether the feeling I wasn't good enough was genuinely coming from the person I was with at the time, or whether it was an old deep seated feeling that I was carrying with me.

It was/is very difficult and a lot of hard work, and yes, as you mention, I have put up a lot of walls over the years to protect myself.  But sometimes I think you need to do that.  If you had a weakened immune system and picking up any germ could make you ill you would avoid public places and clean things constantly, so I think it makes sense to protect yourself from more damage while you give yourself time to heal.  I guess the tricky bit is making sure you don't give up and retreat from the world forever (which is very tempting at times!).  I see saw back and forth.  There are days when I know an off the cuff remark or unkind comment will tip me over the edge so I tend to stay home those days, and other days it's fine, I can cope (and then it doesn't happen anyway, I think anxiety overtakes sometimes).  So little steps, sometimes forward, sometimes back.  Hopefully now you know you have some support here you might find you can start to process things and start off loading some of the difficulty on to the board :)

With regards to family, I cut off all contact with my step-dad about thirteen years ago and my mum about eleven years ago (my dad died when I was young).  I have two elderly aunts I exchange Christmas and Birthday cards with; my uncle is quite unwell at the minute so I do email from time to time to ask how he's doing but I've not seen or spoken to any of them for about seventeen years now and am not expecting (or wanting) to see or speak to them at any time.
I've a younger sister I'm mostly in text contact with (I've been moaning about her in another thread, lol).  One older half brother I exchange a Christmas email with, another step-brother who I have some contact with because he has learning difficulties and doesn't have any family support so I do call him and take him out occasionally but in all honesty only because I feel sorry for him and he doesn't really have many people around him.  I've two other step-sisters I don't have any contact with (I call them the Sisters Grimm) and then various cousins, second cousins and so on who I wouldn't recognise if I walked past them in the street.

I do find it hard not having family, particularly around times like Christmas and birthdays.  But I often say to people that, whilst I miss having a mum, I don't miss my actual mum.  Life has been a lot easier and calmer without all of them in it.  I think the thing with family dysfunction is that everyone has to play a role.  Quieter members have to stay quiet in order to allow the abusive members to be abusive.  Some members will carry on putting up with abuse while others continue to ignore it or justify it.  Personally I didn't think I could find a way to be mentally healthy and be in contact with my relatives, which is why I have put barriers up.  In the same way that someone trying to stop drinking probably shouldn't go to a pub, I don't think that people who are trying to heal emotionally will do too well if they're surrounded by people who don't want them to become healthy.  I think that's quiet a key thing - you getting healthy shines a light on other people's unhealthy behaviour and that can make people uncomfortable.  For me, keeping them all at arm's length is the best way to go.

Anway, hope that helps a bit and hope that you pop back soon :)

Tupp :)

Hopalong

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2018, 08:05:21 PM »
Hi Ernie,
I think everything Tupp said is genius.

As to family, I can't add much. My Nmother was toxic but I loved her, and took care of her needs for 10 years. You can imagine the cost. My brother was a bully and a sociopath, which culminated in a court fight over my mother's estate, which I won.

I've come out of it now, and mostly focus on one thing: I want reality. I want to know what is real, in me, in others. I don't want romantic/victim/monster/savior delusions. None of it. Real people.

I valued the labels of Narcissist, Toxic, XXX diagnosis for a loooooong time because they were powerful tools for me to untangle my guts from the damage. Heal the wounds.

But I didn't get off scot free. My own D, who has her own set of labels, has enforced No Contact with me. So I've had to suffer through agonizing doubt, guilt, and fear that I am _____ (a whole 'nother label set) or that I caused it. It was agonizing.

Where I am now is that kindness trumps everything. Compassion. I must have it for myself first. And from there, I can look at others with less fear and more understanding and forgiveness.

I do think it's critical to avoid sociopathic people who savor hurting you (you can tell by micro-expressions of pleasure or triumph when they say something that cuts you to the heart). But the larger thing is, to me now, this is not most people.

Rebuilding my faith in that, which I believe is true, has been key to my healing. Accepting foibles and failures in myself has made it easier to accept them in others. Plus, learning the difference between guilt (a healthy emotion that can be relieved by available amends when you realize, "I have made a mistake so will do what I can to amend it") vs. toxic shame ("I am the mistake.")

I'd be into the weeds if I responded in more detail to your story, but I'm glad you're telling it.

Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

erniec

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2018, 06:52:25 PM »
thanks guys for your responses, it means a lot.  I'll kind of address what comes up for me.

Tupps I totally identify with this 'completely numb state' you speak of, that was it for me as well.  I didn't know how to identify feelings because I got so used to pushing them away.  I can't tell you how many psychologists have asked me where I feel something in my body and I can't tell them. I know I feel it, but where? That's like asking me to fly to the moon by flapping my arms, completely beyond my capacity. That question even now still confuses me - you mean, I'm supposed to feel something in a particular place? A couple I got angry with, and said "how the hell am I supposed to know where to feel something? why are you pressing me on this, I DON'T KNOW!!! followed by, nobody has ever told me this, is there a book you have access to or something that I don't that can tell me how to do this?".  I felt like it was some secret information everyone else knew but me and the way they would react - by totally dropping it, never bringing it up again - made me feel horrible, like I was unworthy of being taught how feelings are felt, and that I should be ashamed because I couldn't do this, and I'll *take the hint* that I should be ashamed and never bring it up again.  I'll tell you where I live - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - so you can PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell EVERYONE you know NEVER EVER EVER EVER live here and need the help of a competent caring psychologist because THEY DO NOT EXIST HERE.  The compassion tank in Edmonton I think drained itself dry sometime in the 1980's. 

I have to cycle back quickly as thinking about this as you can see really triggers my intense distrust of psychologists in this city.  I feel like I am stuck in this alternate reality where I read in books written by professionals like Dr. Webb about people who have issues like mine who are treated and helped profoundly by truly caring and compassionate people who "get it" but my direct experience in my life has taught me these people are either useless or destructive.  I remember this one with a buddhist slant laughing at me in session as I shared some of the struggles I've had as if my problems were so absurd they needed me to know the existential silliness of my problems.  And the sickest part is that my feelings in my life until that time had so consistently been negated and devalued I thought she was right.  I understand now that I was programmed by my father's decisions to continually decimate any sense of self I could ever have, coupled with my mother's decision to let him do this unobstructed from such a young age that invalidation of self goes right to the centre of who I am.  How would I even know what I felt if the message I received from before the time I was able to even speak was that what I felt was invalid, wrong, bad, or unworthy of basic care and concern from his/her caregivers?  The pile of those who don't act this way towards me has expanded by a couple but man oh man I was surrounded by so many poisonous, toxic human beings for so so long I'm surprised Im still a carbon based life form and not like that little creature living on the bottom of the ocean that became an arsenic based life form scientists think was due to continually being subjected to an otherwise lethal living environment.   

I understand the parts about trusting yourself and compassion and forgiveness in my head but I'm really still in the triage stage.  There had been no acknowledgement of my feelings over anything over my entire life by anyone in my family or friends or anyone else for that matter and I'm still just getting used to feeling things about these people - mostly anger, sadness, hatred, disgust, contempt, with washes of the occasional calmness that's usually the result of meds working that day.  I've started to identify and accept my own feelings around a wide variety of topics and speak them to myself once I identify them.  So, yes, thank god, I've started doing that too myself, and it helps, and it helps ground me.

I really identify with the reality part, craving it, but there's a side issue to that, that I suppose is common to everyone - where the hell do I find it with so much unreality swirling around me? - Most of the time all I see are people who are asleep, sleepwalking thru their lives or who think they are awake but they aren't, who live in a state of perpetual illusion or delusion, whether due to some obsession with the protestant ethic, mindless consumerism and achievement or competition via some sporting activity or exerting power and control over others to feel better about themselves or the biggest one, this astronomically insane need by people in our world to prove their worth constantly to everyone else around them - as if it's not a basic right or a self evident truth.  If that they were something of value was self evident, people wouldn't act this way, right?  Despite my own atrociously low self esteem, the result of being emotionally battered senseless from such a young age that the only mechanism my self could come up with to cope was to completely shut down to it, I have this value....so why don't others?  Despite all I've been through, for a reason I don't understand, no one's been able to kill this off in me.  I don't need to advertise on Facebook or virtue signal to others during some momentary moral crisis when someone in the public eye does something wrong that "look at how good I am, I would never do something like that", I automatically have value, and I know this, deeply know this and feel this way.  So why are there so many people who do no value themselves at all and are not even conscious that that they do not value themselves or those around them?  How am I supposed to navigate such a place without buying an island in the remote south pacific?  So part of me craves reality, sure, but also I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's in shockingly low supply on this planet. 

Feeding into the compassion comments, I get that, on some better days I do understand that these people who have hurt me are not to be feared but to be pitied for the above reasons.  But when I'm in a more reflective mood, I take a step back and think, what exactly does the concept of forgiveness have to do with this?  As I'm thinking right now I'm not sure it has anything to do with it.  It seems a bit spurious - my reaction during my more lucid moments on this subject are, to think, did this person ever consider my feelings in what they did? The answer: No.  So why should I waste my time investing in this "forgiving" thing regarding this moron? Right now, the answer for me is I should not.  Where I'm at is why should I validate what they did by acknowledging it, when I know very well that it happened and how it made me feel, and all I really need to do is to validate it and acknowledge the destruction to myself, all while tossing this person into the dustbin of my life?  I can do this without "forgiving" them. 

What I do struggle with and may likely for the rest of my life is the anger and the loss as the result of the destruction, whether intentional or unintentional, these people brought into my life.  I had a real hard time acknowledging mothers day this weekend, but I did, and my mom eats this stuff up, because its attention right, and while part of my reaction in part was "well, let's hope I get something out of this, I really have a hard time with this unidirectional giving stuff now".  It worked out, she ended up buying my daughter a bunch of stuff, so I was like *fist-pump*. With my sister, I was polite to her, but in no way was I going to wish her a happy mothers day, no f****ing way.   

More on the forgiveness subject.  I have a GP who is an evangelical Christian (from South Africa of all places, there are loads of South African doctors in this part of Canada) and he is one of my biggest supports and he told me flat out I need to forgive these people.  When he told me this was about a year ago and I needed some relief for sure.  I was really touched he cared enough to even bother sharing such a thing with me, so I tried a bunch of exercises he gave me.  I felt relief and some peace for awhile, and then it was like I used it all up, and the anger, pain and despair resulting from trying to "forgive" came back and started causing me more grief and trouble than ever.  With my mind the way it is I'm not sure its healthy, it gets stuck on stuff then goes out of control, like a guy hopelessly stuck in a ditch yet still hammering the gas pedal to the floor trying to get unstuck.  *tap on shoulder*, hey man, you really should just put it in park and wave for help.  I also found meditation unhelpful as well, I would try to describe to others that meditating for me was like leaving my house and crossing the street to passively observe my mind light my house on fire and burn it to the ground.  To me, it's completely pointless.  You are telling me to passively observe chaos?  The point of this, is, what exactly?  It doesn't have one, it just another bottle of snake oil that I'll be dropping off tomorrow at Goodwill after work cuz I discovered its useless.   It's presented in our society like its some panacea but I tend to think that the only thing it does well is helping people detach from the world, which is the last thing the world needs today.  I find if I can focus / distract my attention away from the subject, it helps distance it for me and make it easier to rationalize or come to terms with.  The feelings are so intense I'm not sure engaging them directly in that way would be terribly productive.   I know very well how it all made me feel, the pain of reliving it all seems like that that's only thing it would accomplish.  I find myself heading in the direction of Stoicism, kind of a like a detachment from the world around where you've come to accept most everything around us is flawed in some fatal capacity and expecting creatures in it to act altruistically, while not unreasonable, is highly unlikely and should not ever be expected in any way.  I had a friend who I did a road trip a year ago last week where we drove from Edmonton to Dallas and back (this is like driving Seattle to NYC and then turning around and driving from NYC to Denver) and despite all that fun we supposedly had, I've heard from him exactly once since then.  Forget getting him to send me a zip file of the pictures he took, he can't even be bothered to do that.  It seems the message I'm getting is developing attachments to people just causes pain, so have fun in the moment and expect nothing afterwards because humans are humans - fundamentally unknowable and unreliable. 

I'm getting better at accepting foibles about myself, but I find myself in frequent states of consternation when around people who appear to me to be unconscious of the world and others around them.  There was this person who came to the till at the post office today while I was being served by the clerk and without saying a word walked right up to the counter- forget standing in line or acknowledging that I was *ahem*  being assisted at the time - and plopped her stuff down right next to me like she just demanded the clerk stop helping me and begin serving her right then and there.  God bless this clerk, she is awesome, she completely ignored this person, did not even acknowledge her presence, as if to say, if you are too clueless to understand the concept of a queue, then you can go somewhere else, and a minute or two later this person turned around and did exactly that.  Didn't take the hint and get in line, but LEFT THE STORE.  It just blows my mind when people act like this.  Part of me wanted to give her a major dressing down about manners and consideration of others but she left before I could LOL.   I really struggle having compassion, kindness or understanding for dumb bulls**t like this, and frankly I'd rather rip people like this a new a**hole than show them any form of understanding, given their complete absence of the quality themselves.  Like, who raised you, a pack of wolves??? Do you really have to be wacked over the head with the "show respect for others" baseball bat in order to clue in?  I think where I'm at is re: the kindness part, I was too kind for too long, having no boundaries with the wrong people, and freely let them rape and pillage my life because I valued kindness so much boundaries became non existent, that now I have a relative absence of it.  Being kind for me was very destructive and together with no understanding of the need for personal boundaries, these two combined were like a nuclear bomb in my life - massive, deadly destruction.  I feel like being kind caused me so much trouble, it made me draw the wrong assumptions about others and their intentions and seemingly - I wonder if anyone else feels or has felt this way - made the person want to f**k me over even more (i.e. this person is so kind I have to take advantage of this situation for some selfish need of my own) - that it makes me wonder if it's a value worthy of being held (I still have it, just choose to dole it out with significantly more discretion).  I do understand what is said about inviting disaster into your life with poor boundaries, but at the same time I have enough respect for people that I am conscious enough not to act in these ways, and I feel bad if I ever do.   

Tupp, I have a really dumb question for you, I ask it mostly because I've never had a forum of anyone at any point in my life where I could share stuff like this and bring it up, let alone be understood by others - what exactly do you mean by the underlined segment:

Hopefully now you know you have some support here you might find you can start to process things and start off loading some of the difficulty on to the board :)

I ask this as frankly I'm confused about how I should use this forum.  I largely have no idea what I should do or say beyond this thread, I'm just so used to others not getting it or telling me they don't want to hear whatever it is I'm saying I don't even bother bringing it up.   What kind of stuff should I bring up, and how should I say it or phrase it?  Can you give me an example?  I see some other threads where people speak about some personal issues they are having and people provide feedback - is that how is should be done?   

Hopalong

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2018, 07:25:00 AM »
Hi Ernie,
I won't wade in deeply to try to restore your psyche with just the right phrase, though I sure wish I had that power. I tend to be anger-phobic and retreat from the chronically angry. Which is not the fault of those feeling angry, but my own fears and limits.

One truism I trust is that anger is always covering either hurt, fear or frustration. In my experience, sometimes someone who is literal in how they see the world and rules for behavior, and who has been judged a lot....tends to judge others ferociously. I did. For ages. It was a way of protecting myself from shame, because on Nmom's side, religion was about guilt and perfectionism. On my Dad's side, it was just about faith...in goodness and in humanity.

I was drawn more to him because he was gentle.

Maybe the Buddhist T who laughed during your sessions was trying to ape the Dalai Lama. It's a shame, because I do think a faith or practice that revolves around compassion would be a good alternative for you if psychiatry/psychology is failing you. I can't meditate either but just compassionate thoughts work for me. That and drawing when my anxiety is racing.

It took me forever to learn that loving myself could be an experience and not just an idea. Once I recognize the hurt child inside me and actually comforted her, something changed and I gradually became safer inside -- less anxious. Based on trust that I could aim love and compassion squarely into my own heart, because I deserved my own kindness. Over time, that gave me strength to begin recognizing kindness in others. Not with the dependency of my desperation any more, but in a wiser way.

I liked that postal clerk too. Best advice I can give, other than abstractions, is to gladden in people like that and when you are alone, find similar feelings in yourself. Comfortable, rather than pious, kindness toward others. Never mind the term "forgiveness" when it doesn't sit well. "Compassion" is a good one too. For me, cruelty in the world is real. I had to start asking myself, is there any reason human compassion isn't just as real? Which am I going to trust in? Which will I add to? Which will I look for and allow myself to be drawn to?

Keep a journal of things that are going well. When so much feels wrong, in my experience, expanding and celebrating and concentrating on and delighting in every single thing you can identify that feels right...that can help.

Hops

"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

sKePTiKal

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2018, 09:59:37 AM »
LOL...

Ernie, I'm laughing because I recognize myself - my own struggle - in that last post. Anger was about the ONLY emotion I knew reasonably well; abandonment wasn't far behind. I'm not anger-phobic, and in fact, it became my "friend" and a "key" for working through to the other emotions and understanding them. (BTW - I don't feel an emotion in a particular part of my body either; that's a crock of composted horse manure. But I DO tend "hold onto" emotions physically; a bit psychosomatic. Not everyone IS.)

People might react with anger when something in the world around us seems out of control and wrong. Or when a boundary has been trepassed; there is a betrayal or blatant lie confronting us. Ultimately, Hops is right that often anger is masking another emotion. But if we can learn to look at ourselves from the emotional side of our Self... like a scientist examining some molecule for electrical properties under a microscope... but with real full human caring for ourselves - as it should've been from infancy... then we can study that anger and it will guide us through to some deeper understanding.

And I think I heard something else I recognize from my own life - frustration at never finding a permanent "fix", a magic pill, or even a way to find the "buried treasure" in myself that includes the magic potion to change how I deal with all the "reality" around me that appears to be "insane". After my husband died, I have become a hermit. (It's really not for everyone, but I now recognize what lonliness feels like... LOL.) It is way more "comfortable" for me to connect with people online than face to face. Lots of reasons for that, I've learned. But I'm also getting better at the real life people thing, too. It works for me, because then I have to just deal with ME. It's not permanent either.

We tend to only be able to assimilate bits & pieces of this "elephant" of understanding at one time. We're only humans, after all. And life gives us opportunities to revisit the "same old same old" and take away a deeper revelation or understanding. I filled 16 journals just dealing with the genesis of understanding the dynamics of my family of origin and what I experienced... and organizing it into something that I could FINALLLY talk about. I was going over the same feedback loops enough times to finally see the patterns in it. The cycles. What changed; what didn't. Then my mind could tackle it all a lot more UNemotionally and solve some of the "problems" I had emotionally.

I know people here got tired of me trodding down the very same paths, over & over again. LOL. But they are very patient - and our resident "word smith" Hopalong and the others - were often able to write JUST THE RIGHT WORDS for me to solve my own puzzle of my Self. We'll hang in there with ya. It's quite the adventure!
« Last Edit: May 15, 2018, 10:04:50 AM by sKePTiKal »
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

sea storm

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Re: Hello - need support
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2018, 01:39:14 PM »
thank you for your outpouring of grief, loneliness and rage. This is a good place for this and you have a lot stored up. Oh yes, there is a tremendous amount of disappointment. It is hard to find the opening to respond to all you have to say. One thing that stands out is that professionals disappointed you and were inadequate and lacked skill, the proper education and empathy. I know how you feel about that one but I find that having a good listener is extremely helpful when I can't stand being in my own skin.
Welcome to this place and to all the anonymous loving people here. You take your chances here and can't control who says what to you but in the end there are some truly amazing, articulate, wise people who have probably gone through much of what you have experienced. They take the time to care about other people and that is part of the healing.... to get the focus away from searing personal pain and back into connection with someone you can trust. I find this is better done in tiny steps.
As for what and how to post.... there are real and imaginary limits but they are often self imposed. Who cares anyway as no one is the appointed all knowing one and there is no boss. Occasionally, there will be judgmental sorts but they tend to go elsewhere.
I am reluctant to say this..... but there is quite of lot of blaming in your post. I would not mention this, except that there are so many people to blame. This is where I begin to fear what you say is coming from a place of having fallen right off the edge. This is a scarey place to live in. Also nothing works for you.  Meditation sucks, everything sucks. You can just add me to the list if you want to. Of stupid people who know nothing and that is what you do historically. If you are really desperate and have come to the end of your rope, hopefully you are humbled enough to be teachable.
I don't think I am better than all the experts who you think are idiots  and I have no magic remedy. I don't know if you do drugs. All the blaming would be a pretty loud signal that they play a part in your nightmare. Go ahead and get pissed off at me. It seems to be the only kind of control you have.
I am not a bottomless bowl of compassion and I need to say that I think you have a nourishment wall. Everyone screws up in trying to help you. There are lots of inadequate therapists and some who use body centered therapy to get to the heart of the matter. This does not mean that the therapy is bullshit and you know it.
I hope you can open up and hear what others are saying because their intention is to help and support you. Speaking your truth and your story is huge and you don't deserve to get stomped. Voicelessness is what this is about. Having someone hear and believe your story is so important and healing and here it is often about the carnage of having narcissistic family members.

There is a lot of rage behind what you say and I think I am afraid of that, even though I know it is just another way of expressing deep depression. I am only one voice here and most people are nicer than I am and will give you empathy.

Sea storm