Author Topic: Kay's Story  (Read 45052 times)


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2011, 02:41:26 PM »
Cannot thank P.R. enough for the advice.  Did a little experiment.  Began journaling from the perspective of my inner child--easiest to feel most myself and hear my own voice when I'm writing, it's always been that way.  At any rate, I couldn't quite believe how the words spilled out.  It was like finding the direct line to the childhood emotional pain that I've always tried to numb out.  I will try very hard to keep at this. 

I don’t understand what I’ve done.  I think and ask the same questions over and over: “Are you mad at me?  Why are you mad at me?  What have I done wrong?  What’s so wrong about me?”
    My parents never answer these questions aloud because the answer is already clear: I exist. 
   That’s what’s so wrong.  That’s the one thing I can’t change or make apologies for (though I’ve tried).  I’ve written out loads of apologies on scraps of construction paper and slipped them under my mother’s closed bedroom door; half the time, I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be confessing to, but still, I’ve said, “Sorry.  I’m sorry.  It’s all my fault.  I will try to do better.”  I am always trying to do better. 
   Later, much later, I will try to mess up.  Because what’s the point in trying to do better when “better” is never really better as far my mother is concerned?  Whenever I enjoy doing something (like making art) or think I’m okay at it, here’s what she tells me: “Kay, no matter how good you think you are at something.  There is always somebody in the world who does it better.” 
   When I was four, I used to say that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, but Mom would always say, “You can’t be an artist.  Very few people can actually make a living being an artist, and even then, they have to be really really good.”  She did not have to say that I was not really really good.  One day, in third grade, we were supposed to paint roses on a piece of card paper; and I got so scared that I wouldn’t do it well that I froze up; I couldn’t do it; I started crying and couldn’t hold the brush.  The teacher had to do most of painting.  When I gave it to my mother, she had it framed in a fancy frame, which made me feel proud but also ashamed because I hadn’t done it all myself. 
   Later, when I said I wanted to be a writer, Mom said, “You can’t be a writer.  That’s not a job, it’s a hobby.”  The year I turned eleven, I started to say I wanted to be a lawyer.  Mom liked that best.  I had no idea what a lawyer did; I thought a lawyer just paced around a courtroom, arguing and acting angry all the time.  And that seemed like something I could do because I was beginning to feel angry all the time anyway. 
   My mother and father loved my sister, loved her in a way they had never loved me, which made me angry and jealous.  My mom could see that it made me angry and jealous too, and for some reason she found this really funny; she liked to call attention to it, laugh, talk about my jealousy to other people in front of me.  She especially likes to laugh about me with my sister.  I don’t like my sister, and I don’t like my mother, and I don’t know my father, who is always gone, or always boastful and loud and drunk and ignoring or acting odd and inappropriate around me like I’m an adult instead of a kid. 
   I try lots of things to make my Mom and Dad like me more.  When I was third grade, Mom taught me how to make coffee in the coffee pot, and so for a few months, I made them coffee everyday with the hope that it will make them like me more.  In the end, it didn’t work.  Mom would tell me I’d made the coffee too weak or too strong. 
   Mom tells me over and over that I’m shy, but I love making friends.  I love having friends until the moment when I have them over my house for a birthday party, which is when my mother tells me all the things that are wrong with my friends and their parents.  That’s when my mother acts jealous of my friends, rolls her eyes at them, speaks to them like she thinks they’re stupid or spoiled or badly behaved or white trash--all because they asked if they could have another glass or milk or wash their apple before they eat it or they try to help me blow out the birthday candles.  Eventually, I get to thinking that maybe there is something wrong with my friends and I ought to go out and make some new ones, but when I do that, Mom just goes after those friends too.  I try as much as I can to play at my friend’s houses, it’s much more fun than having them come to my house.
   Mom does something else with my friends: she tells me that they don’t really like me or that they like hanging out with one another more than they like hanging out with me, that they think of me as a tagalong.  It ends up becoming true.  Because I go into those play dates already feeling left out (because of everything Mom’s said), then I feel sensitive and beat-up on and get frustrated and hurt easily and pack up my toys and go home in a huff.  When I come home crying, Mom says, “See?  They’re better friends with one another than they are with you.” 
   It’s hard for me to fit in with other girls.  Here are some things that make it even harder:  Sometimes, I imitate my mother--say or do things that my mother does--and other girls find this offensive or weird.  Also, my mother dresses me completely different from other girls.  At school, I’m almost always in party dresses.  I almost always have big Christmas bows in my hair.  When I am not wearing party dresses and Christmas bows, I have some other really flashy article of clothing on: something mirrored, or gold, or flipped-collared.  Boys make fun of the way my mother dresses me.  Some girls do too. 
   I’m afraid of boys (really shy around them), but I love them too.  Sometimes, I just pick one and fall in love with him even though I’ve never really spoken to him.  If, and this doesn’t happen often, it seems like he likes me too; everything feels instantly okay for awhile, I don’t feel so lonely and out of place.  Mom does not like it that I like boys.  When she found a note from Danny in my backpack--He’d circled “Yes” in response to the question “I like you. Do you like me?”--she icily told me I was never ever to write any boy a note like that again and then ignored me for hours, cuddled up to my sister, let her eat an entire bag of marshmallows and watch four hours of TV (I would never be allowed such things).
   My sister and I are five years apart, but because my mother loves her more, it often feels like I am the younger sister and my sister is the older one.  She tattles on me constantly.  If I do something against the rules, she tells my mother.  If I don’t do anything against the rules, she still manages to invent something bad about me to tell my mother.  My mother always believes her and tells me off or punishes me.  I’ve tried to flip this around--tried to tell on my sister--but whenever that happens, Mom ignores me, or believes my sister over me, or tells me that she’s the second child and the rules that you have with the first child don’t apply with the second child because you’ve “taken a chill pill.”  “That’s not fair,” Mom says.  “But life’s not fair.”
« Last Edit: December 18, 2011, 02:43:29 PM by KayZee »


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2011, 09:45:42 AM »
Holiday Hell

I think I'm reaching my limit... Told DH last night that there might come a time, very soon, when I've had enough, when I'm going to cut off all contact between myself and FOO. 

I'm so glad the holidays are over.  This time of year is the worst for me.  As a kid, I always felt most ignored, discounted, taunted, mocked at Christmas.  It also brought out NM's disparate treatment of my sister and me. 

The holidays still bring up all those old lonely feelings.  On Christmas Eve, I found myself balling to DH in the attic, dozens of still unwrapped presents around us.  What had set it off?  Anxiety because my NM was arriving in the morning, for all intents and purposes "crashing" the party, waiting until two days before to tell us she and Co-ND were coming, even though we'd invited them months ago.  And then, there was another thing... My visiting father-in-law, who was quite taken with my brother-in-law's new girlfriend, had come up to me in the kitchen and said, "His new girlfriend fixed the air mattress.  She fixed the TV.  She found your daughter's lost toy.  She found my glass of wine.  How are you going to top that?"  Something about that.  The way he'd set me up to compete with my new potential sister-in-law hit a mainline right to my childhood grief.  Reminded me of the way NM always set my sister and I up to compete against one another.  Cue me crying in the closet, fighting with DH about Christmas wrapping and god knows what else.  I really couldn't pull myself out of it for the rest of the night.  I felt I.N.S.A.N.E.  And inadequate.  And unloved.

And then of course, the next day, NM arrives.  I'd decided in advance that I was going to do a new thing with her.  Anytime she said something critical or nasty or rejecting or weird, I was going to walk away.  Simply turn my back and leave the room because I could, because the house was going to be filled with lots of other people.

NM (in front of everyone): "You're looking awfully thin.  Are you sure you've been eating?"
Me: "I've been sick." (Horrible sinus/chest infections going on for a month.)  LEAVE THE ROOM.
Later, during breakfast in front of everyone.  NM: "You are sooooo lucky that you lose weight when you're sick.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  Really, when you're my age..."

NM (after I gave my daughter a cookie): "Your DD just played you like a fiddle.  She knows just how to manipulate you.  You're such an easy mark."
Me: "I don't mind if she does.  It's Christmas.  DD is just fine.) LEAVE THE ROOM.

NM (haughtily, trying to make herself better than anyone else and/or fishing for compliments): "I'm the only one here who bothered to dress up."

NM: "Your brother-in-law's new girlfriend is sooooooo BEAUTIFUL."
Me: Blank stare for a moment.  Because she said this in such a weird/superficial way.  A normal person would say something like 'she's really nice.  i really like her.  they seem like a good couple.'
NM (back pedaling maliciously): "I mean BEAUTIFUL in her HEART!" 
She said this in the N-way that meant, I was evil because I wasn't kissing her butt for a change.  She did it in that way that meant, if I fawn all over this person, it's going to make you feel like crap and I love that.

NM (to everyone): "Next year, we'll do Christmas at MY house!  Brother-in-law and new girlfriend, you're coming to MY house next year, right?  It will be wonderful!  It will be sooo good to have you!"
So this is what NM's entire X-mas sh*ttiness was about: She wanted us to come to HER HOUSE for Xmas.  Nevermind that we have small children.  Nevermind that we have visiting company.  We were expected to haul all eight of us three hours down the road to my NM's house. 

I can't stand it.  I've had enough.  NM was also soo weird and awful with my DD. I saw her holding DD close, whispering in her ear and I just knew she was saying something nasty to her. 

A few minutes later, my suspicions were confirmed.  NM tells me, "I told your DD that her cousin is really pissed at her. "
Me: "What?  Why?"
NM: "Because she drew on the TOY STORY stuffed animal when she last visited my house."  (My daughter is two)
Project much, NM?  YOU, evil b*tch, are the one who is mad at my two year old for drawing on a toy that ought to be hers, not yours you stunted cow.  So you called up her three year old cousin, told her that my DD drew on the doll and tried to stir up drama between THEM?  You're actually TRIANGULATING between TODDLERS?

NM is horrible with DD because DD does not respond to her tricks.  Because DD tells her "No."  Because DD is strong and assertive.  I love this about DD and, yet, I know this is why NM is horrible to her. 

I can feel NM's nastiness escalating the more I emotionally detach from her.  She has actually started becoming really physically aggressive with me.  Getting into my personal space, smashing her head against mine.  Even hugging...which she NEVER does.  She gives these horrible super-tight, full body bear hugs (in front of other people, of course...the only time there's quasi-affection). 

After NM left, I felt like a shell of a person.  I was convinced that nobody liked me, not my husband, not my in-laws, not my brother-in-law's new girlfriend.  I couldn't look anyone in the eye.  I felt two inches tall.  I hated myself and I hated my NM.  I'm so angry at myself for letting her undo me like that.


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2012, 01:45:17 PM »
Again and again and again... What is it with Ns and packages?  It's like they know that, failing all else, the postman can penetrate the boundaries you've put up.  It's like this ever-constant reminder, this ever-present (no pun intended) threat: I know where you live.

Anytime I go a few weeks without contacting NM, she sends an unannounced package.  Lord forbid, she just pick up the phone and call me if she wants my attention.  That would put us on an equal playing field and she can't have that.  She'd rather set up this endless dynamic whereby I am indebted to her and, if I fail to show endless gushing undying gratitude, then I am a worthless ingrate.  She can gossip to the rest of the family about "everything she's done for me, given me" and how I'm too heartless to care.

Tear open the package and it's filled with NM's cast-off clothes.  Exercise tops.  Evidently, my father gave them to her for Christmas, but they didn't fit her, thought she'd send them to me.  I'm going to have to goodwill them, which will only make me feel like a guilty ingrate (self-fulfilling prophesy).  But I just can't wear them.  Tried one on, looked in the mirror and died inside.  I looked just like her.  Was horrified and outraged by her endless efforts to impose her self-image on me.

But there was something else in the box...A handwritten note on a blank card she'd bought just for the occasion.  (This never happens.  Usually, these packages arrive noteless.)  In it, NM thanks me deeply for having her and my dad over for Christmas.  Tells me what a wonderful time they had.  This is weird.  This has me suspicious.  NM never thanks me.  NM never has a 'wonderful time' at my house.  Is it possible that this is a veiled apology?  That NM is trying to acknowledge how horribly she behaved while she was here?  For a few hours, I think maybe.  But then, I remember that my uncle said he and my aunt had a blow-out post-Christmas argument with my NM.  That's more like it: she was on the hunt for allies.  She was feeling short on N-supply.

Feel like a lunatic for over-thinking what other, normal people would consider to be small, random acts of motherly kindness.  But hard reality: my NM is not kind.  If she acts as if, it's self-serving.  There's a motive.

Inner Child offers this as proof:

I love field trips.  Yes, there are animals (zoos, aquariums, caverns, pony farms), paper bag lunches and the thrill of the bus.  But it's more than that.  I love field trips because my mother always volunteers to come along, and when she does, she's a different person.  On field trips, my mother does not give me the slit-eyed stare of a shark sizing up its dinner; she does not tell me I've given her a headache; she does not scream at me; she does not tease me; she's not pinching and rough with me; she does not compare me to my sister.  On field trips, everyone--my friends, the boys I like--all say they wish my mother was their mother. 

Last time we went to the zoo, the teacher said all the parents could choose which kids they wanted to supervise, bring them to the exhibits and meet back at the bus by 2 p.m.  My mother scooped up all of the good-looking popular kids, all the athletic boys and girls from rich neighborhoods (plus me) and instead of bringing us all to the bat cave or the reptile house, she brought us all to the zoo gift shop.  She bought us all kinds of chocolates and sweets.  She let everyone pick out something that cost five dollars or under and she bought it for them.  The other kids were screaming in excitement, so I did too.  But there was some nagging doubt under it all, some feeling that it wasn't right.  It wasn't fair that all the kids in my mother's group were getting sweets and toys while the rest of my class didn't.  There was something else too.  Something I couldn't quite put words too.  But much later, I realized it felt like my mother was trying to buy me popularity or friends; it felt like she didn't think I could make friends without her help.

  "Kay's mother is awesome!"  the boy I liked shouted.  "I wish Kay's mother was my mother!"  Squealed someone else.  And at the end of the day, I felt more than ever like I was a bad daughter.  Because, deep down, I didn't feel like my mother was awesome.  I would have taken any of their mothers over mine.

Back at home, after a field trip, my mother would go right back to being the way she usually was.  She'd scream at me; she'd ignore me; she'd tell me I was bad.  And I'd wonder if maybe she was a wonderful mother, and I was the bad one.  Guilty.  After all, she could be a wonderful mother to my sister.  She could be a wonderful mother to all the other kids in my class.  I seemed like I was the only one who brought out her bad qualities.  If only I weren't me, my mother would act like the field-trip mother everyday.

I don't trust my mother's niceness.  It never lasts.  And it always feels as though her 'niceness' is just another way of being secretly mean to me.  It's her way of luring me in and then shoving me away.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 01:49:51 PM by KayZee »


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2012, 05:07:19 PM »
Keep coming back to childhood memories that are perfect on the outside, rotten underneath...

NM always so concerned with appearance.  Having the "best-dressed" children with the "best of" everything.  "Hand-me-down" was the equivalent of a swearword in our house.  You weren't allowed to say it (NM said it was an "ugly" term) let alone suggest that something should be passed down from me to my sister or from my older cousins to me.  

Blah blah.  NM didn't believe in used clothes.  NM didn't believe in dressing little girls in pants/jeans.  We had to go to school in taffeta dresses, tights and patent leather maryjanes.

Blah blah blah.  NM always insisted on bringing my sister and me to adult hair salons, having the same stylist who cut her hair cut ours.  No matter how I pleaded, NM never let me get a short haircut; it had to remain at waist-length.

NM made us look so (her words) "spoiled" and "privileged" on the outside.  But what I remember now--what strikes me--is how neglected we were underneath.  And I don't just mean emotionally/psychologically (that goes without saying).  If you scratched the surface just a little bit, there was proof that she didn't really take care of us in hygienic, healthy, human ways.  Here's what comes to me over and over again lately:

- Being about seven years old, sitting in the chair at the aforementioned fancy salon when the hairstylist found a dead fly behind my ear.  She was absolutely disgusted.  NM must have blamed it on me, because my inner child just felt so horribly ashamed of herself.  So responsible.  So grotesque.  Now that I'm a mother myself, it occurs to me that my mother (who acted like she was sooo concerned with our appearance) never properly washed us, gave us regular baths, etc.  Beneath our expensive clothes, I can remember having arms caked with dirt (it looked like a tan, until you scratched it with a finger nail).  She really did treat her kids like dolls.  She thought she could just dress us up and parade us around; she didn't think we had pores, nerve endings, etc; she didn't expect us to sweat, secrete, stink.

- Another childhood memory from about the same time.... Going to an equally disgusted doctor who reported that I had the waxiest ears I'd ever seen.  Again, NM never ever cleaned them.  But who would dare call me neglected?  I went into all these places in designer clothes with my hair in perfect rag curls.

- Last week, NM reported a call from an old friend who asked her, "Do you remember the way your kids used to have all sorts of blemishes on their skin from the garbage you fed them?"  (These are NM's words.  Somehow, I doubt this woman worded it like that.)  But I do know we kept a horrible diet.  So much sugar and processed crap.  And I have really painful memories of getting my first pimples at age seven.  NM calling attention to them wherever we went.  Talking about my skin to other adults in front of me.  Pulling back my bangs and telling her friends, "Can you believe this?!  She's too young to have zits!!"  My poor inner child soo humiliated, mortified, ashamed of my skin and yet utterly helpless to stop the break-outs.  NM always talking to me like I was to blame for them: "Kay!  (gritting her teeth)  How many times do I have to tell you to KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF YOUR FACE?!!!!"  (Grabbing my hand, squeezing it so hard it hurt.)  For about a year, she forbid me any chocolate because she thought that was the thing to blame.  She told all my friends' parents I was allergic to it.  (I wasn't.)  Friends made their birthday cakes vanilla just for me.  I always felt so guilty, knowing NM was lying about this fake allergy.  But I couldn't say anything without making my mom look like a liar and without drawing more attention to the thing that made my mom soo embarrassed: the rogue pimple on my chin.

If I could say anything to NM today, it would be......  You didn't deserve us.  Not my sister or me.  You, hateful woman, were out of your demented mind to have kids.  You shouldn't even be allowed to have pets.  Every dog you've ever had has psoriasis.  Because you feed them utter crap (macaroni and cheese, dyes, processed foods, diet frozen yogurt) and because you stress them out.  Is it really any wonder I had acne while I lived under your roof?  And how in god's name could you blame a seven-year-old for that?  

One of my new year's resolutions might have to be taking better care of myself.  Not perpetuating NM's precedent of neglect.  Sometimes it's so hard to remember to wash my face, trim my nails, make and keep doctors appointments, wash and comb my hair instead of letting it turn into a mess so snarled I have to use my daughter's detangler and hack away for a quarter of an hour.  I've actually stopped buying clothes/shoes for myself; there didn't seem like any point, I was always pregnant, breastfeeding, ballooning or shrinking.  Opened the closet the other day and realize everything I own is literally threadbare.  Jeans holed.  Fabric shrunken and faded.  

Sometimes I feel so divorced from my physical self.   I'm not in anyway as in-my-head as I used to be, but sometimes I still forget that I have a body.  I should ask for more things: childless time to exercise, etc.  But I worry hubby will think me selfish.  Maybe my inner child is still always worried she's selfish.  NM told me that every five minutes for most of my childhood.  I know that was projection, but my IC doesn't.

« Last Edit: January 16, 2012, 05:10:46 PM by KayZee »


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2012, 10:40:50 PM »
Lord, I haven't been here in so long... There seemed like there were so many more pressing concerns--work, finances, childcare--and it seemed okay to take a break from thinking/writing/grieving this, but same old story: I forgot to bale myself out a little bit every day, and now I feel like I'm totally submerged again.

The feelings are different this time around.  I feel sadness (always) that no one in my family has ever known or cared about me, but lately the grief is taking a backseat to feelings of anger and fear.  I kind of hate them.  All of them.  And yet, I feel certain this is the one thing I can't ever say aloud.  Because that would make me a bad person.  That would make other people friends/husband/strangers turn away in disgust, thinking I'm an ingrate (how can I hate people who fed, clothed and put me through college?).  And I guess, I'm beginning to recognize that deep down, I think I really AM a bad person, that I live in a constant state of guilt over some nameless crime I've committed or am about to commit.  NM taught me I was bad.  Sometimes explicitly--NM (who speaks to children the way bad pet owners speak to dogs) told me "bad girl" so many times, it was like a nickname--but then too, was the pure and simple fact that she didn't love me/despised me, and sensing that, I internalized that as proof that I wasn't good enough.

Only here can I say it: I hate them.  Not only my NM, but also my Dad and sister who are too scared, or uncertain, or needy, or shallow/narcissistic themselves to challenge the scapegoating that takes places in our clan.  I can't stand my family.  They make me sick to my stomach.  Literally.  Every time I have to see them, my guts burn for two days beforehand and two days afterward (this feels like period cramps/labor pains).  It feels like my uterus is wringing its hands with worry.

That's the anger.  The hatred.  The fear is something worse because there's no end in sight.  I just feel sooo hopelessly disconnected from people.  Like, it terrifies me to even look people in the eye.  I'm so frightened all the time in social situations, even with friends I've known for years.  The only people I'm ever truly at ease with are my husband, my kids, my aunt and uncle and maybe, maybe one or two close friends.  With most people I just totally panic and tense up.  My mind goes blank.  I can't think of a single thing to say or ask them about themselves.  Every molecule in my body is looking for the door.  I would be a merry recluse (actually not so merry really, because I am always operating on low-level loneliness), if it weren't for my kids.  I want to trust people and be at ease around them because I don't want my young kids to catch my social disease.  I don't want them to be embarrassed by their weird mom.

But again, there seems like no real course of action and no way to admit this to anyone.  Besides, maybe there's no hope for me?  I heard a guy on the radio today talking about how a mother who doesn't respond to her baby/recognize its needs/ mirror it permanently changes the molecular composition of that child's brain.  I had an immature/narcissistic/secretly cruel/engulfing, at times almost incestuous mother and a totally absent father who was away for months at a time on a regular basis.  It seems quite possible that my brain reflects this.  Socially, I feel brain damaged.  That sounds melodramatic.  But, seriously, how far off base am I really?  My mother is certainly brain/damaged: she's stuck at the emotional age of a toddler.

Maybe I don't think I deserve to connect with people.  I know in my heart that that's true, but again, I don't know how to change it.  Pathetic but true: I don't feel worthy of having anyone see me or relate to me.  And I hardly know how to begin changing that.

I watched two Ted Talks recently that I keep thinking about:

In this one (, this Swami mentions how a baby is incapable of doubting its primary caregiver.  It totally surrenders.  In the Swami's words, if the caregiver compromises that trust, the child blames herself.  She doesn't even have a word for blame.  She just feels at fault and, maybe, even hates herself. This gave me so many flashbacks to early childhood/toddler years.  It made me realize that I'm still carrying around this wordless blame.  I'm carrying the blame my Mom should be carrying, but I can't give it back to her, so where the hell do I put it?

I watched this one too (  In it, Brown says "whole-hearted people" believe quite simply that they are worthy of love and belonging.  I knew in a heartbeat that I don't think I'm worthy of that.  Why?  Because NM didn't give it to me, and if you're mother can't love you, who can?

My rational, thinking mind knows this logic is crazy, but on a cellular level I blame myself; I believe I am bad; I believe I am selfish; I believe I am a freak; I believe no one cares what I believe or have to say; I believe no one will ever understand me; I believe I can't make myself understood; I believe I am ugly; I believe I am shameful; I believe anyone who is interested in me or wants to be my friend has ulterior motives.

Wow, quite freeing to type all of that.  I suppose the therapist I can't afford would say I need to reframe those beliefs with positive messages. .  .But, I can't imagine the inverse ("I am worthy") ever sinking in.  No matter how many times I wrote it or recited it or made lists of the things I like about myself. 

I feel stuck.  Choked up.  Divorced from humans/humanity.  Social anxiety?  PTSD?  I'd rather be in a cage with zoo animals--panthers or wildebeests--than I would at a dinner party.  I guess animals seem more predictable/less bloodthirsty than humans.  Certainly less than my NM.


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2012, 10:09:47 AM »
Back from the latest visit with NM...

And I'm beginning for the first time ever to truly consider going NC.  I've been LC for years now, trying to limit visits and phone calls, keeping myself emotionally guarded, sharing very little of my emotions or important life events with my parents.  But even this doesn't seem to be working, NM and I just keep hurting one another more.  Our relationship (from my end) is completely obligation-driven and contact with her makes me feel sick, anxious, angry, annoyed, sad and fed-up from start to finish.

During this visit, I found that physical contact with NM actually made my skin crawl.  It felt like hugging my rapist.  Of course, NM only made an effort to hug me in front of other people.  When we were alone together, she didn't dream of it.  When I first arrived at her house, she gave me this flippant, lip-smacking air-kiss from across the room.

I guess, the problem is. . . I don't feel enmeshed with her anymore.  I feel like I have this tenuous, but very solid self emerging and that self cannot be inauthentic with NM for the sake of survival.  I am suddenly incapable of kissing her ass or helping her maintain her self-deception of perfection.

We got into a few arguments while I was at my FOO's house.  The final and worst one happened while I was carrying a heavy nightstand down the stairs (it feels always like she goes after me while I'm struggling or distracted by something).  Anyway, NM got all up in my face and said, "You know. . . " And I felt so rundown from the visit, from ignoring all her small, stealthy verbal attacks and boundary crossings, that I snapped, "Yes, Mom!  I know!"  She fires back, "What do YOU know?"  (Implication here: "What do children, even grown children know about anything?  What could you possibly have to tell me?  When I'm perfect?")

So I fire off a list of all the things she's mentioned a million times.  ("Yes, Mom. I know I can take the legs off.  Yes, Mom.  I know I can take the drawers out.  Whatever you're going to tell me, I know.  You've said it before.")

Well she begins to leave the room, and then in typical N-fashion starts calling me names under her breath.  So I say (I feel so guilty about this): "Don't call me names and leave the room!  That's childish!  You behave like a child!  If you have something to say, come back here and say it to my face!  Have an adult conversation for once!"

So she reluctantly comes back down and says something about how rude I am.  And I say, "Yes, sorry if you felt like I was dismissive of you there."

Her: "Well, I didn't feel dismissed.  Or maybe yes, I did. . . blah blah flounder flounder.  Accuse me of whatever."

Me (again I feel so guilty I launched in on this annoying thing she kept doing during this visit:)  "Well, you know what?  Sometimes you make me feel dismissed too.  Like, during this visit, whenever I told you how I take care of my kids.  You angled your body away from me, crossed your arms, crossed your legs, avoided eye contact, and snapped, "Yes. Yes.  Don't mention it.  Etc." Like how dare I tell you anything, when you already know everything!  When you're so perfect!"

Her: "I don't know what it is about you.  Maybe you have too many old wounds or whatever.  But when we get together, your antennae goes up!  It's like you're looking so hard for things that are wrong with me!"  (Note to reader: Hunting for things that are wrong with her?  Ha! As if I don't spend the whole time confronted with a million horrible things she does/is!  I spend the whole time trying not to get upset about her cruelty/childishness because I know she's incapable of acting any other way!) 

NM (continued): "You expect me to be this model person!"  (Hello: total projection.  She expects herself to be this perfect, model person.  And lies to herself that she is!)

So here, I totally want to scream out to her and everyone within earshot that she is a f*cking narcissist!  But I guess I find some compassion or something because I look into her eyes, and say, "No mom!  You see!  I don't expect you to be anything other than you are!  And I don't expect you to do anything more than you're capable of!"  And that is the truest statement I've ever said to her, but at the same time I'm saying it really angrily because what she doesn't know and I do know is that I expect her to be a monster and I know and accept that she's incapable of human love/respect/compassion.

Maybe this was a turning point for me.  I hope so.  But seriously, I don't know if I can be around her anymore.  I come away feeling so guilty for butting heads with her.  She is crazy, I am relatively sane; and fighting with a crazy person is crazy.  I try so hard to be patient, yet maintain my small semblance of self/my authenticity.  I'm sickened by her, and then I hate myself for feeling sickened/feeling hatred.  At least, I know for certain, now, that I am not her.  We are not the same. 


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2012, 09:28:21 PM »
NM's physical reactions to me are the ones that bother me so much lately.  I guess, I've cracked the code.  Here it is:

If I physically approach her to give her a greeting hug, etc., she rebukes me.  Literally, she turns away and pretends she didn't see me trying to hug her or else, she shoves me off and tosses me some weird air kiss.  IGNORING.

But my attention is directed to something and especially SOMEONE else, she is all up in my business.  ENGULFING.  She will try to physically place herself between me and the person I am talking to.  She will squeeze my hand too hard or give me a weirdly timed hug. I hate this.  It feels like being violated.

Also, feels like being violated. . . When I stay at her house, she eaves drops on me.  This past visit, while I was putting my children to bed (my niece was sleeping in the same room), she stood outside and eavesdropped; I didn't know this until later when she said, "I was listening when (niece) told you she missed her mother.  You said just the right thing to her."  Wow, thanks mom, for encroaching. Thanks for dictating "right" and "wrong" responses/interactions, as you have tried to do my whole life.  Thanks for triggering all those childhood memories of you listening in on my phone conversations and reading my diary no matter where I hid it.

Also feels like being violated every time I wake up and find her standing over me at night.  This happens all the time while I'm staying there.  My ten-month-old son makes a nighttime peep, I go about my second-nature nighttime routine and suddenly there NM is standing over me.  WHY?  GO BACK TO BED.  GET OUT OF MY ROOM.  YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE YOUR FACE ONE FOOT FROM MY BREAST EVERY TIME I TRY TO BREASTFEED.  While I'm at it: Thank god for the lock on your freaking bathroom and thank god I remember to lock it, because there is no need for you to try to shoulder into the bathroom while I'm peeing/showering etc. without knocking.  Also: Thanks for triggering every childhood/teenage memory of you encroaching on my bathroom time.  Thanks for reminding me of the way I had to physically fight you off of me at age thirteen when I screamed that I did not want/need you to shower me anymore/I could do it myself like every normal pre-teen girl on the planet!!

I feel like I have postpartum depression in reverse.  (Disclaimer: I have never experienced postpartum depression.)  But today, in my early thirties, I feel the same revulsion and hopelessness when I am put in physical proximity to my NM that postpartum depressed mothers talk about feeling when they cradle their newborns.  I cannot stand being physically close to her.  I cannot stand the feeling that she expects me to psychically/emotionally nourish her.  I hate how demanding she is.  She is not a child and I am not her mother.  I don't have time/energy/desire to be her mother; I am trying to mother my own children.  Not to mention, trying to mother the terrified little girl (inner child) in me who trusts no one after everything she put me through.

Been thinking about that Daphne Du Maurier quote "We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle ..."  But I wonder, what the freak did I do, karmically speaking to deserve my mother?  Why does my quote-unquote "devil" have to be such a literal one?  I seriously feel like I know Satan intimately because I was born to her.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2012, 09:31:48 PM by KayZee »


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2012, 01:30:14 PM »
For the past few weeks, I've been going through something so weird and unnerving...

I guess you could say I've been having recurring dreams.  They're not about the same person.  They're about different people I've known and in most cases, lost touch with (an old friend and a college ex boyfriend)  over the course of my life.  But the theme is always the same: In my dream, I recognize for the first time how N or otherwise personality disordered these people are. I realize how closely my relationship with them mirrored the one I had with my NM.  In the dream, this revelation is terrifying. But at the same time, I still feel magnetically drawn to these people. I feel thrilled/elated to be close to them.  I know the relationships are sick, but in my dreams, I just can't help myself.  I persist anyway.  I throw caution and self-preservation to the wind.  I fall head-over-heels so to speak.

I suppose, these dreams have sort of made me realize what an inverted N I was/am?  That there's some twisted/toxic part of me (it's in hibernation at the moment) that still LOVES N-company.  That loves to fill my own personal void with someone else's big personality and emotional baggage.  That feels more comfortable with abuse than with love and respect.  That, maybe, I still don't believe deep down that I deserve love or respect.  Maybe there's some part of me that wants to keep on revictimizing my inner child, because that's what I do when I take up another dysfunctional/narcissistic friendship, that's what I do when I keep NM's abuse in the dead-center of my consciousness on a near-daily basis.

Or maybe part of me is just shocked by how many near misses I've had.  How many times I've dated N men who I would have married if they would have had me.  How many times I've had N friends I would have continued to trail around like a loyal puppy if only they hadn't devalued and lost interest in me.

Dream #1: was about a college sorority sister.  I can only suspect I dreamed of her because she reminded me of a very frightening female sociopath in a novel I just read.  She had a reputation around campus for being kind of nuts.  She was one of those people who left a path of drama and chaos wherever she went.  She would "try on" and discard lots of different personas in a short period of time: the "preppy," followed by the "sex pot," followed by the "stoner."  But she was very cruel and calculating too.  Much like NM, she began traingulating an enlisting allies against me when I stopped following her blindly and bending to her will.  (I sort of stopped being friends with her after she kept trying to pressure me to have a three way with her and her boyfriend.  Not only was that not my thing, but she was so passive aggressive/critical/etc. that the mere thought of 'being with her' was like being with a rattle snake!)  Anyway, when we started to grow apart she started telling outright lies that I couldn't refute to mutual friends.  Like, she went to a group of older, respected girls in our sorority and said I was mad at them over something bizarre and fabricated, thus enraging them at me.  She went to other girls we knew and told them I was trying to be "just like her" like single white female or something.  In my dream, we're just hanging out, talking, just reading magazines or playing cards or something but my whole body is rigid with terror.  I know she doesn't have my best interests in mind, in fact, I know she doesn't even regard me as a human being, but I can't stop myself from agreeing with everything she has to say (even when deep down, I don't agree at all).  Somehow, I'm happy too.  Really joyful that I get to be her friend and scared stiff that I will enrage her or do something to compromise our friendship.

Dream #2: about my ex, the "love of my college life."  I'll call him Z.  I've always had this horrendous pull toward Z.  Our attraction was just instant.  We recognized something in each other.  Probably, we recognized trauma in each other.  We recognized each other's opposite magnetic poles: sadist meet masochist.  We were never really "boyfriend and girlfriend," just had a really toxic flirtation/casual hook-up for five or so years.  He was one of those people who was literally incapable of saying a kind word.  Instead, he was kind of teasingly cruel (just like my passive aggressive NM).  He was like a bullying big brother ("I'm taking verbal jabs at you because I like you!").  He'd sometimes point out things that were physically wrong with me (nose).  In a very N way, he often told me that he liked me because he thought I was "unique."  "Lots of other girls are prettier than you," he once told me.  "But not many girls are as unique as you." Talk about objectifying (although I was not emotionally intelligent enough to see it that way at the time.)  Lots of people hated him.  On the nights when Z knew his roommate had an exam or paper to cram for, I heard Z would sadistically turn up his stereo full-blast then leave the house and lock his bedroom door.  I remember one of my friends pleading to me, "Why do you like Z?  He's not a good person!  He's not nice to you!"  At the time, I probably answered something like, "I just do.  You don't understand."  I felt powerless over my attraction to him.  If I could answer her from my ten-years-wiser perspective, I'd say: "I liked him exactly because he wasn't nice to me.  Because he abused and objectified me.  That felt familiar.  That felt like my parents.  That felt like the only love I'd ever known."

So in my recent dream, Z and I are somehow reunited and it feels like it always did whenever we were together: a dream come true; I feel totally complete; totally adoring; smitten; most "myself" (reality: most my trauma).  He finally introduces me to his mother, who cast a large shadow over our shallow relationship even though I never met her when I was in college.  He spoke about her a lot, left school often to take care of her and his younger brother.  She also seemed a bit cruel; he mentioned how she laughed at a few bad things that happened to him.  (In short, she always seemed a lot like my NM.)  Also in my dream, Z gives me two dalmatian puppies as a gift.  I am cuddling against Z and thinking, "This is a very bad idea.  It is a bad idea, in general, to surprise anyone with a puppy.  And this breed, dalmatians, are known for having behavioral problems, being bad tempered, etc."  Probably this is code: I know that Z is a bad breed, dangerous with behavioral problems.  And still, I shelve my reservations and thank him profusely. I take him in and resolve to start a new life with him.  So frightening.

At any rate, these dreams--in which I recognize these people as Ns--made me realize that I had another N friendship too.  My friend A.  I went to high school with A, and we fell out of contact over the course of college.  She got back in touch with me a few years later, after she read about me in newspaper article.  So A got in touch by email after four or five years with no contact, and immediately suggested she come and stay with me.  I was a little thrown by this.  I didn't really feel comfortable with it.  I didn't really know her after so much time apart, but I agreed anyway to her weeklong visit.  When she came, she said all sorts of heartfelt stuff about how she felt she related to me, how similar we were etc.  This threw me a bit too.  To my knowledge, she didn't really know me or my life experiences since high school.  But she seemed really emotional and going through some transitional stuff, and I felt for her.  I wanted to help her.  I helped her a lot in the years that followed.  She'd call only to talk about her dramas and want to see me only when she had some motive.  Could I fly out to Colorado and help her drive a Uhaul filled with her belongings back East?  Could I come visit her in England and bring her all the things she was missing from the U.S.?  I'm ashamed to say I leaped every time she said jump, and stuffed down my growing reservations/resentments.  When her fellow roommates/coursemates in Britain told me: "A acts like such a little girl.  She wants everyone to take care of her.  Why can't she grow up and take care of herself," I was quick to defend the same way I always defended my NM.  "You're wrong about her," I said.  "Or she's just going through a hard time.  You don't really know her the way I do." 

Anyway, I knew there was trouble a few years ago, when my friend A just sort of instantly turned cold against me.  She came to visit me shortly after I got married and experienced a few traumatic incidents with my FOO, and she began treating me to all sorts of scathing assessments about my character.  "You're so dumb."  "You're so passive and complacent."  She stayed with me in my then-flat in Paris under the guise of "visiting," and used it like a B&B (couldn't be bothered to hang out with me, just slipped out in the morning before I woke up and returned after dinner).  Scorned my housekeeping the whole time.  Criticized me for watching TV.

Didn't really see A again until she wanted to come "visit" me in New York City a few years later.  Lo, when she showed up, I found out that she really just needed a place to stay while she took a few meetings.  Again, she offered endless criticism of my housekeeping, my outdated electronics, etc.  About one day in, she just left and emailed to say she was staying at another high school friend's place instead ("it's this big modern building in the financial building.  wall-to-wall glass.  she has a sugar daddy and a growing mail-order-cosmetics company.  she's so cool and successful.")  A hadn't spoken to this girl since high school either, but was impressed by her impressive life and decided to reconnect.  Sort of reminded me of the way A had popped into my life all those years ago.

Whether A is an N or whether our relationship was just awfully one-sided, I don't know.  (I know A had a horrible, critical, philandering N Dad.  No doubt we'd been through some similar traumas.)  I guess the real important insight was, where was I in my life and healing when I got all enmeshed with A?  No doubt, I felt lonely.  Desperate for company and friendship but also unclear as to whether I deserved friendship.  I felt uncertain.  I felt unloved.  I felt ill-equipped to love and mother myself.  These are my Achilles heels.  These are the things I need to work on so I don't get into another symbiotic N friendship.

I can think of two other examples: the recent friend who dumped me once I failed to help her break into the industry I work in.  The guy, all those years ago, I fell madly in love with who loved to point out my physical and professional flaws and who stopped calling me the second I gave him the written recommendation he needed for a certain project.  I'm getting better, but I'm sometimes shocked by my ability to find and tolerate people who use, verbally abuse or objectify me the same way my parents do/did.

What's at the heart of it?  A confusion between intimacy and trauma.  On some level, abuse still feels like love to me.  I suppose, as a child, I once had to convince myself that it was love.  That was the only way to survive it.


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #23 on: June 15, 2012, 09:57:29 PM »
God, after decades of repression, I can't seem to stop the memories and realizations from coming.  I'm sort of at a loss for the right metaphor.  It's not that I'm on a 'runaway train,' exactly.  At least, for the moment, I don't feel out of control.  It's more like I couldn't put on the breaks and stop the momentum if I tried.  There's something propelling me through all these hard truths. 

Anyway, I got my makeup professionally done the other day (for work) for the first time in years.  I spent the whole time in the chair squirming, so uncomfortable, so irrationally terrified, truly fearful.  The makeup artist kept commenting on how nervous I seemed (he thought I was stressed out about my upcoming event/work obligation).  But the longer I sat there, flinching and agonizing, the more I realized I was afraid of the makeup itself.

I guess, I had one of those light bulb moments.  I realized that wearing makeup, fussing about clothes, generally making the effort was a dangerous thing when I was growing up.  Sometimes (when it fit my NM's agenda, and reflected 'well' on her) it was okay.  But other times, it would turn her against me and make her lash violently out.  I remember when she first caught me wearing mascara when I was fourteen, she backed me up against her bedroom door (got so physically, intimidatingly in my face) and shouted and screamed.  Around the same time, she used to barge in on me all morning while I was getting ready for school, hoping to catch me applying makeup, and if she did, she would scream with such vitriol.  She'd literally get spitting mad.  Slam doors.  Tell me she couldn't bear to look at me.

As a can't-win-teenager, the black sheep and scapegoat of the family, I was defiantly concerned with clothes, makeup and appearance.  But that was so long ago.  Sometime in my twenties, I totally abandoned whatever you want to call it (glamour, vanity, even self-concern or self-care). 

As I sat there, in the makeup chair, trying desperately to avoid staring in the mirror even as the makeup artist asked me to weigh in and tell me how I liked it, I felt horribly exposed and at risk.  I realized I've been operating under this old survival mechanism--I still actively avoid trying to look good, be the center of attention, anything that might set off NM's N-rage. 

I also realized that I don't just sabotage myself in superficial ways.  I don't just neglect my appearance, I also don't push myself as hard as I should in my career.  I don't even try to have confidence in social settings.  Outside of my life with my husband and my kids, I try to make myself as invisible as possible (and I half believe that I am).  For most of my youth, NM acted like she didn't want me to exist.  Like she could will me into dust.  And still eager to please, still thinking I can strive hard to be a good girl, that this is the very thing that will at last earn her love, I've been trying very hard to cease to exist, even to myself.  I must change this.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2012, 10:00:01 PM by KayZee »


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2012, 05:24:47 PM »
Aggggh.... No contact with NM for a month now, but my N-family still manages to slip through the cracks, make me crazy.  GC-sister called me earlier this week.  I should have known from recent experience that she wanted something from me.  Took the call because she lives near the Jersey Shore and has had a hard time with Sandy.  I thought she might want someone to talk to, might need some emotional support etc.

Well, she just launched into this really aggressive, kind of angry speech demanding to know why I haven't sent her (barely half finished) screenplay to a colleague of mine.  I responded, quite simply, I've been waiting for you to finish it.  And she went into some big, mile-a-minute explanation, blaming me for not supporting her and saying it didn't matter that she hadn't done the work, a major motion picture studio was just going to buy her idea anyway (can you say grandiose fantasy?) and assign some other writer to work on the script.  Same old deal...her feeling totally entitled to "eminent" riches and success, plus my contacts, without doing the work or having any commensurate achievement.  Acting totally victim-y and helpless all as she bullied and demanded of me.  I felt really exhausted and angry when I hung up.  But I managed to stop her mid-tirade, saying simply right then, "Are you asking me to send it now, as is?  Fine, I'll send it now as is."  I will.  She seems to think she knows better than I do, but I think I'll be avoiding her for awhile after this.  I'm so sick of her calling only when she needs something.  She even launched in on this endless rant about how I ought to send her (again, partial) idea to "everyone I know in the industry;" and I replied, quite honestly, that I don't know anyone in the industry.  I felt like she was saying, "Right, so I'm going to use you and also all your friends, anyone you might know even though I have zero relationship with you and I'm the first to gang up on you anytime it endears me to our parents."

Anyway, I was just leveling out from that phone call when I got one from my beloved uncle (the only nice family I have).  I should probably just tell him I don't want to hear anything from him about N-parents or GC-sis, but I haven't because sometimes it's really nice to be able to talk my family struggles over with him.  Ugh, anyway... He asked me if I'd heard from my sister this week, and I said yes, and recounted the above.  Then he said, she'd called him too, saying she was thinking (kind of impulsively) about moving apartments because she's too impatient to wait for the power to come back on at her place.  After they spoke (she made no mention of money), my father called my uncle up and asked him for money on GC-sis' behalf.  And uncle said he'd be glad to try to help, but he really needed to speak to her directly and find out how much she needed and what she needed it for.  Well, GC-sis still hasn't called him to discuss it, but my dad has called TWICE!  Asking each time whether my uncle has sent the money yet.  And every time, uncle replies that he isn't going to simply send a blank check to someone who hasn't even asked him outright for the cash.

It had nothing to do with me, but it really triggered me.  Because Dad is acting so much like NM at this point.  I'm sure NM would have called herself if she and my uncle/aunt were on speaking terms.  So now, it's Dad triangulating, acting like NM.  Just like he acted like NM in our recent interactions.  I know he's a victim too, I do.  And I know he's just mirroring her because he feel he can't survive any other way.  But I am so so so so sick of they're hugely dysfunctional, callous, embarrassing, childish, abusive behavior.  My sister is not a child who needs my dad's/uncle's rescuing; she is a grown woman with a four year old daughter.  And neither GC-sis nor my father have the right to go around the way they do, feeling entitled to everything that belongs to everyone else, especially when they treat us like shit to begin with.

I am trying so hard to stay out of the drama, but it finds me, and it makes me totally despair.  There is no changing my family.  No saving it.  No making it better.  I suppose it's strengthened my resolve; I am not going to have anything to do with them from now on. 


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2012, 01:04:28 PM »
So I've been no contact for a month or so.  And as much as it's been nice to take a breather from the N-sanity, I still feel really angry, emotional and almost obsessed about it all, which fills me with some serious self-hatred.  Am I addicted to the drama just as much as FOO is?  Why can't I stop fighting these battles in my head all day?  Why can't I turn off the harsh inner voice (NM's) that I carry around and stop mentally trying to contradict and reason with her?  I want to spend this brief respite, focusing on my work, my family and my goals, but I still can't seem to fully live in the "me"-place.  My mind keeps returning to those wretched people, picking at the emotional scabs, and guilt tripping me into thinking the family dysfunction is all my fault.

Maybe I'm still recovering from last week's visit from my aunt.  I love her.  She is far more compassionate and affectionate than NM, and from the time I was little I wished she was my mother.  It's nice to be able to talk to her about problems with NM a little bit too; my aunt went NC with NM about a year before I did and for many of the same reasons.  That said, even though my aunt has all the same issues with NM that I have, I feel she's harder on me and my decision to not engage.  As if being a daughter is a bigger duty than being a sister, and I ought to just "rise above" the head games and engage with NM without letting her get to me. 

To make things worse, every time it comes up, my aunt suggests that my relationship with NM is "exactly like" the one NM had with her mother.  And of course I resent being compared to NM.  I argue every time, "No... There are some major differences.  I have dealt with my childhood in therapy (NM didn't).  I've recognized and accepted my mother's limitations (NM didn't).  I've been doing the recovery work every day for years now (NM repressed all her feelings and took them out on the people around her).  I've come to terms with the part I've very willingly played in my family's dysfunction; by being the scapegoat, by dragging every skeleton out of every closet, I've encouraged NM's and FOO's abuse so they don't have to deal with their own problems (NM, on the other hand, has never accepted responsibility for anything in her life).  I told my aunt NM had lifelong issues with her mom because she never gave up hoping for her mother's loving acceptance, where as I have fully, completely stopped hoping for this; I know it's impossible.  I tried to explain that I've gone NC because there's no other way to break the cycle at the moment.  Because I am not willing to accept an abusive family simply because I'm frightened of not having any family at all.

I don't think my aunt heard any of this.  But I guess I can't expect her to understand.  She was probably one of my NGM's golden children, and she played the part of the family hero until (and long after) my NGM died.  Likely, she has no idea what it's like to feel constantly prodded, targeted and abused by an N (save for whatever conflicts she's had with my mother).

I know I need to stop caring what other people think.  Stop justifying going NC to them.  They will never be able to relate or understand.  But having to keep all this stuff to myself just feels like NM's final and most brilliant act of isolating me.  I can't confide in anyone normal because it makes me sound crazy or look like I'm being unreasonable.  Maybe that's what this low-level depression I've been feeling really is: just loneliness.  The kind that comes from knowing my situation is utterly unrelatable to most people with nice mothers and normal FOOs.


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Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2012, 11:15:14 AM »
Agggh.... With or without FOO, I still feel leveled by holiday depression.  Bickering with DH.  Feeling totally exhausted, reclusive and teary (late pregnancy isn't helping). 

Think PTSD hits me around this time every year.  I feel impending doom, totally vulnerable, as though NM is going to strike me down even if I am NC; she'll still find someway to ruin my holiday, convince me that I'm selfish/ungrateful.

Being NC this year, some part of me also feels lonely and family-less, like I'm to blame for everything that's wrong with FOO.  I read a bit about trauma bonding and it calmed me down, made me feel moderately less crazy.  It's not love I'm missing...I'm really pining for abuse or the hope for a brief holiday respite from abuse (not that the latter ever materialized).

Have decided to make a list and post it here of all the traumas/incidents of the past year, which fed my decision to go NC.  Then, whenever FOO (or my own constant sense of guilt/shame/willingness to believe I'm to blame for NM's bad treatment) attacks, I can return to the list and remind myself of the facts.  These are the reasons why I've gone NC.  These are the reasons why I've got to keep choosing to protect myself:

- NM's behavior with my old landlady.  The way she pulled her aside and said something cutting to her about the house we were renting (NM: "I just had to get the knife in!").  Then, also the way NM tried to come to me and say landlady had said I would never get a job in academia for various reasons.
- The way NM LOST my two-year-old daughter in a very suspicious way.  NM brought DD outside to "play" with my Co-ND who was vacuuming out his car and had no idea NM was expecting him to babysit; then NM hid in the bathroom for ten minutes and came out wearing a smile on her face faux-gasping "where's your DD?!"  Neither NM nor Co-ND bothered to help me look for DD, while I was outside, hysterically crying... The house we were renting was bordered on one side by a 60MPH road and the other by woods with deep gorges in them.  Found DD on the edge of the woods, where she had chased my parents dogs.... A few more minutes on her own and she might have been seriously hurt or lost.
- NM's behavior when we bought our first house.   The way she pulled the realtor aside after we'd bought it and told him that given my financial situation (which, mind you, she knows nothing about) it would be "a long, long time" before I ever managed to make improvements to the house.  Then insisted I walk through the house with her while she pointed out every thing that was wrong with it..."crack in the stair," "toilet seat doesn't match the toilet," "those blinds are dated" (no shit... shut up shut up shut up).
 - NM's behavior during Christmas 2011.  Head-butting me under the guise of a hug.  Whispering to my DD in the corner about how her cousin (not present) was "mad" at her of something DD had done; totally projecting and triangulating between toddlers.  Bitching about how she (NM) was the only one who'd bothered to "dress" for Christmas.  Comparing me to my brother-in-law's new girlfriend, trying to make me feel jealous/competitive, with lots about how bro's new girlfriend was just "so beautiful inside and out."  The way she kept leaning deeply in front of me during x-mas dinner anytime I tried to talk to anyone else, making it impossible to see around her or join the party.   
- Visit at NM's house where she fed DD ice cream sundae instead of lunch; told DD she was taking her out for ice cream without even asking me.  Also, while I was there, got a call from my bank saying my bank card had been canceled because the number had been compromised.  I couldn't get out money, and NM says, "Well, Ill just use MY bankcard to get money out of YOUR account if you need it."  Back in the old days--when I was financially successful and unwilling to see how abusive NM is--our bank accounts were linked and I used to let her take money out for things she wanted to buy for herself.  Needless to say, I've wised up and closed that account (NM didn't realize, but it didn't make me any less angry).  NM rolling around a small indoor children's playground on the floor, shrieking at the top of her lungs, being completely over the top for attention, looking like a mental patient, making me and even some strangers obviously uncomfortable--so desperate was her need to be the center of attention.
- NM completely ruining DS's birthday.  Making it entirely about HER.  Calling all my relatives, triangulating, claiming "I was refusing to let her see her grandkids," complaining "I don't want to see my grandson in two weeks, I want to see him ON his birthday." 'Til DH and I felt ganged up on and completely changed our plans to include driving three hours to spend DS's birthday in NM's house.
- NM's behavior after I got a new job commission.  She wouldn't acknowledge it except to repeatedly ask, "Wasn't it hard?  Wasn't it hard to get the job?  Didn't you really have to beg/convince them?"  As a matter of fact, NM, NO I DIDN'T.  It wasn't hard.  It was quite easy.  Her obvious disappointment upon hearing that!
- NM's behavior at DD's birthday.  Whispering cattily in the corner with my sister the whole time.  Totally ruining and trivializing our announcement that we were pregnant with a third baby.  After DH announced it, mixing in an announcement that he'd finally got his permanent greencard (he accidentally said citizenship).  NM immediately and completely diverted conversation away from third baby (didn't even acknowledge our pregnancy) and launched in on some thing about how there was no way DH had his citizenship already.  Then, when finally forced to acknowledge pregnancy, huffed and said only, "I already knew."
- Crashed in on my home after repeated (weekly) conversations about how it was not a good time to visit.  Combined with the way she attacked my character when I asked that she never ever come by uninvited again.

- Mostly, reminder to self: I have gone NC because this repeated shit is soul-crushing and exhausting and it never changes.  I get attacked, rejected or engulfed every time I see her.  And she tries to get in the middle of every one of my relationships/interactions with other people.  I can't take it anymore.  It's not my fault.  I repeat, NM's bat-shit crazy behavior is not my fault.