Friday, November 16, 2012

Stuff that always made me cry

I was given this homework assignment by my therapist as I can only afford therapy once a month: think about the music/films/books that make you cry and connect that with what you never had as a child.

(I had admitted that I can cry at music and films, but not about my own life)

These are the first few things that come to mind:

The Cranberries: Ode to my family

Why: The lyrics "My mother ... she'd hold me ... My father ... he liked me"

What it has to do with what I never had: My mother wasn't allowed to hold me - at least once I was old enough to remember. This part leaves me cold, to be honest; anything pertaining to mothers tends to; but "my father ... liked me" just blows me away. It's so beautiful and simple and real. No one liked me. They doted on me, loooved me, did so much for me, but it was so damn obvious they didn't like me.

I think my mother's stepfather liked me. I still cry when I remember him. I also think another distant relative did - the one I thought was my biological father. This idea of him as my biological father moved me emotionally too. These two older men liked me and seemed interested in me and seemed to have been able to have a conversation or two with me. This in itself is incredible.

Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah

Why: There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken hallelujah


I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah

What it has to do with what I never had: I was never allowed to be ordinary, imperfect, human, or just wrong. It's amazing to me that God doesn't require perfection or holiness - brokenness and truth are all I have right now, too. And that's fine.

Schindler's list

Why: Pretty much anything involving concentration camps deeply moves me on a seemingly too personal level. I'm not just talking about the general human reaction to other humans being inhumanly treated - it's more than that and it's personal.

What it has to do with what I never had: It may sound crazy, but I'm sure other ACoNs will understand: a narcissistic family is a bit like a concentration camp. The golden children are the capos, the scapegoats are all the others. You are afraid and insecure and vulnerable all the time. You are someone's property. Your basic humanity is denied. You are (often) physically deprived and hurt. Your owners get to define reality in which you're somehow to blame and they're just defending themselves. And there's no way out.


Why: From Schindler's list to a Disney cartoon... yeah, I know. The scene where Rapunzel's hair is cut off and she is liberated from being loved for what she can do for others is incredibly cathartic to me. It made me sob the first time I saw it.

What it has to do with what I never had: I still don't have the guts to trust my family of choice to love me for who I am instead of what I do. If I don't make enough money and buy everyone's favorite food, I'm afraid I just won't be worthwhile to them. This is not always true and I'm working on it, but I sure wish someone could just fix me in one fell swoop like this.

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Why: Maggie invests a great deal of time and energy into suppressing her immoral feelings, while still not managing to avoid the wrath of everyone she loves without really ever having done anything wrong. Finally, the river Floss floods and she drowns rescuing her brother.

What it has to do with what I never had: Wow, I sobbed while reading this book ages ago and never made any connections with anything at all - I just saw myself as a sentimental girl. I still wasn't sure what it had to do with anything until I wrote the above description.

I suppress my immoral feelings towards my parents too, and still, just by virtue of not thinking about them as wonderful and perfect, I constantly risk incurring wrath. It's easy to forget that I have never done anything wrong to my parents - really, truly, I haven't. I have merely questioned their actions and mindsets and have felt a few fleeting negative feelings towards them - much less than most normal kids do.

Water will not be put down. The river will flood. My feelings will not be suppressed forever. I hope they don't drown me.


  1. Little One, I hear your fear, I've felt that too. The paradox is they don't drown, they wash you clean.
    They save you.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. I find this is true.

  2. I like TW's comment better than my thought. I thought, "you learn to swim." Interesting homework. I took about a year before I built up the courage to watch Tangle. It was just as tough as I thought it would be. Schindler's list is on my list of not allowed to watch. I read the book "Man's Search for Meaning" which is also about the concentration camps. When I told my sister that my counselor compared our childhood to the concentration camps she first denied it and tried to tell me it wasn't that bad. After a few discussions she was shocked to realize that growing up in a family ruled by a narcissistic has similarities to being raised in a concentration camp. My counselor used books and movies to help me see things that I couldn't grasp looking at my own life. I was too disconnected from my own emotions. Like you, I could cry watching a movie but not about my own hurts. I am more and more connected with my own emotions. Hard at first, but the more I connected the easier it became to feel my feelings. You can do this too.
    I am cheering you on.

  3. Ruth, when I read "Man's Search for Meaning" I still didn't know I had grown up in a narcissistic family, but I was suffering from depression (PPD). I remember debating with Frankl: I understand how having a sense of purpose can help you survive a concentration camp, but what if your whole life is a concentration camp? How can you survive nice normal day-to-day life without a sense of purpose, when you're your own warden and torturer and your soul is your concentration camp? Only later did I realize how I came to be like this and where this originated.


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