Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bad daughter

My father fell down and broke a rib a couple of days ago. He's OK, was told to rest and take pain medication and all would be fine. He calls once a day and says briefly he's in pain because he's not taking the medication and he doesn't go out and his GF does all the shopping. I say stuff like "How are you? Hope you get well soon. Take that pain medication!"

I'm sure I should be feeling and doing something else. My MIL told me today we should go visit him and bring him something. She's right. That's the decent thing to do. It had just never even occurred to me.

There's something horrifying about that.

If it was someone else, it would have occurred to me.

I don't know if he wants us there. Even in health, we've only visited them at their place two or three times in the 6+ years we've been married and they've been living there together.

And he's the "strong, silent type" narcissist who needs no one and takes help from no one. If I offer to visit and bring him anything, he'll probably decline.

But, on the other hand, his insistence on not taking medication and being in pain and repeating he's not going out might be a message that he'd at least like to be offered help - an echo of his own narcissistic mother's constant manipulations in which she used her illnesses to enslave her children.

My father, to his credit, has always done the exact opposite - the stoic "I can handle it and don't need you or anyone, you just go on with your life" - which always made me feel like a cold-hearted bitch, but I actually had little option except to take him at his word.

So, we decided to at least offer to go see him tomorrow. I'm disturbed that it hadn't even occurred to me. It should have. He's a human being of my acquaintance, after all. I'm disturbed that I'm apparently that kind of person.

I can't really bring myself to be disturbed about being a bad daughter. That part of the equation sounds kind of weird.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spoiled AND abused... but never loved

So, I realized I needed to lose weight again - I'd been spoiling myself with too much greasy food, beer, and sweets lately, feeling emotional and vulnerable more than usual. It was almost openly and explicitly self-destructive, and I felt with every bite how I'm ruining my body because I hate myself.

But I can only approach this task in yet another self-destructive way - by abusing my body with too little food and too much exercise. Otherwise, there's no motivation at all.

So I wondered why it was hard for me to find a balance and just get healthy. And then it hit me: "healthy" is an empty word I distrust, much like "love," "mom" and "dad."

It's not a simple matter of finding balance between two extremes - it's about loving myself enough to want good things, like being healthy, for myself, in which case there are no extremes to balance. They disappear.

I cannot do that. I can only overindulge or overdiscipline myself to an unhealthy degree.

Much like my parents did to me. Much like all parents who can't love their children do. Extremes of indulging and abusing the child all at the same time. Lavish praise and cruel put-downs, huge expensive presents and going without shoes, being allowed to drink myself half to death until 5AM and not being allowed to opt out of going to a family lunch when sick and in pain.

It's only possible when there's no love for the child. When you're unable to truly love. When you're trying to sing from a sheet of music but you're tone-deaf.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Remembering my mother

So, I had genital warts when I was 18. I'd had sex with two guys before that, mostly owing to an unwillingness to say "no" and be abandoned yet again, not because I'd really wanted to.

(My very first time was when I was sent on a skiing trip alone. I didn't want to go alone, but my father spent days working on me until he finally persuaded me to go. "The fresh air will be good for you," he said, "and you'll make friends there." So I did. There was a bartender who was kinda nice to me and bought me a few beers and pretended to be hurt by a joke I made once and asked me for sex, which at that point I felt I just couldn't refuse because I owed it to him.)

Despite overt protestations of "You can tell us anything and we'll help you" (because that's what good parents are supposed to do) on their part and "Of course I'll tell you when I become sexually active" (because that's what mature children of good parents are supposed to do) on my part, I hid this from both my parents and went through treatments on my own. I just didn't want to make myself vulnerable to them by telling them. I thought I wasn't telling them because "I didn't want to disappoint them."

But then it became apparent that I'd have to have surgery under general anaesthesia because they'd spread to my cervix. So I bit the bullet and told my mother.

She was... cold. Glad I wasn't pregnant, at least. Took me to a doctor and was clearly ashamed of me in front of her and all but apologized to this stranger in my name for getting myself into this mess.

In contrast... the doctor was wonderful. Warm, supportive, gentle. She looked me in the eyes many times and smiled. I now understand she probably understood my parents were less than supportive and was sending me a message of sorts. Even then I understood how twisted the situation was. Here was my own mother, apologizing to a stranger that I was so wayward and disgusting (not in those words, I forgot the words, I remember the feeling), and the stranger is clearly giving her the message that this was no big deal, that it happens to young people a lot, that it's unpleasant and that I should be accepted and supported, not judged.

There were painful treatments before the surgery. This good doctor was nice and warm, my mother was distant and cold. The doctor was amazed by my lack of reaction to the pain. I was simply operating under the assumption that I'd deserved this and now just had to endure it, period.

I didn't like having my mother around. At all.

The funny thing is, I was never once told that young sex, or premarital sex, or unprotected sex, were issues to my parents at all - that I'd be doing something they'd consider wrong if I engaged in this and would then deserve to be punished. They joked about sex all the time. It sounded like this cool, acceptable thing to do.

And it wasn't about the sex, I now realize. It was about causing a problem and bringing shame on the family. Embarrassment.

Then I was to have the surgery. The day before, I was nervous and wanted to cycle with a friend to the lake to relax a little. My mother forbade me and shouted at me: "Do you want the doctor to see something squashed down there because of the cycling and think you've been doing things again?" Then she forced me to scrub my feet hard in very hot water (of course I was clean - but I'd been walking barefoot and they weren't perfectly nice and tender).

They day after the surgery I was in pain and woozy.

But we were supposed to visit her sister. It was our weekly barbecue. I asked them not to go.

She was the one who said we had to.

After all, there was no plausible excuse not to go.

I don't remember if my aunt was told the truth about my surgery at some point. But I do remember barely being able to sit at that barbecue, pretending I'm fine, and vomiting afterwards.

This was my mother, not my father. The one who was supposed to be the "nice" one.

This entire thing was a very bad experience that I've been trying to forget. So I sort of did. Along with my mother's behavior through it. I just accepted that I'd been punished for "bad sex" and went on.

And then other women in my life had the same - or similar - issues. And they felt no shame or guilt. They talked about it openly. Their mothers were, of course, there for them, emotionally supported them, told them it was OK, they were OK, everything was going to be OK.

I even witnessed the same aunt my shame was to be concealed from openly support her own daughter in sexual issues.

We were different. I was different. I was not allowed mistakes. There were no clear rules, mind you - just, roughly, bring shame to us and you'll face a wall of cold punishment; bring pride to us and we'll appropriate it and boast about it.

Nothing about morality or conduct or being human.

And whatever I did, no love.

This was difficult to remember and reassess.

I'd just labeled it "mistakes of my youth and how my parents still didn't disown me."

New labels? See labels underneath: "mother," "narcissism."

She was just the less dominant one. But, in some ways, she was worse. She was the one who had problems with how I acted and who I was and how I dressed and what I believed - because it wasn't proper, ladylike, or conventional. She was the one who saw me as somehow all wrong and needing to be fixed.

My father at least let me be eccentric and pretend to rebel a little against the world - as long as he was not part of that world in any way.

They were both narcissistic parents in their own different ways. I have to face it. No "at least I had a good mother" or "at least she was affectionate and nurturing when I was a baby."

She was the one who insisted that early childhood was so important and then insisted she was very nurturing then. With the being left to cry until I passed out, I'm not buying any of it any more.

No "at least" any more.

Friday, February 10, 2012

At my older daughter's birthday. Barely Breathing. Sad. But still, only hesitatingly...

I write about this. It's both something commonly done by some parents and something I've always had an inexplicable - perhaps now a bit more explicable - extreme aversion to.

I found out  recently - from my 'father', no less, and quite explicitly - that, quite apparently, I was sleep-trained.

Well, what he actually said was, and I quote:

NF: "She (me) should just throw her (my teething toddler) into the room and close the door."

NF's GF: "But she'd just cry more, wouldn't she?"

NF: "Sure, until she passed out from crying. I put [Pronoia] to bed at 7PM and she woke up at 7AM, and wouldn't bother us then, either. It's all a matter of training (in my language, the word he used can only be applied to animals, and even then it's condescending), ha ha ha."

Before this, he "jokingly" suggested that I throw the crying toddler out the window, before which he "astutely" observed she was "only after being the center of attention" (projecting much? she actually cried more when people tried to cheer her up) and after which he cheerfully said towards the other present children: "We'll just pay attention to the good children here (the crying teething toddler is not "good")."

All this made my physically sick. I said nothing, though, except "all the children here are good," because:

a) I don't want to ever censor him. His stupid outbursts provide the only information I have about my childhood. If I react to something negatively, he'll lie about it in the future.

b) other people were there, including my ILs. Above anything else, they desire a good relationship with their son's FIL (these things are close and important in my culture).

My FIL, for that matter, chose to share a story from his youth - a story that obviously troubled and bothered him. He remembered the time when his friend, 14 at the time, was severely whipped by his father right in front of him. He carried welts on his back for a month after that, my father-in-law related, concerned and confused. What did my 'father' do in response?

Can you guess?

He laughed.

That's right. He laughed.

Because there's nothing funnier for malignant narcissists than hearing of others subdued, hurt and humiliated.

This is the man who 'fathered' me.

Of all the things, I have been grieving about the sleep training the most. I can feel it. I could feel it with my babies. When I put one of them to bed and just went to pee and she woke up and I couldn't come get her immediately - once - once - I felt like the world would come crumbling down. My baby needed me and I wasn't there. She trusted me to be near her and I failed her. It was a hell of horror that I'm sure other mothers haven't really experienced. If they hadn't been sleep-trained, that is.

I can't say against so many voices out there that this is objectively evil. But I feel it in my bones and call "abuse" on it! And them!