Malignant narcissists practice black magic.

Witchcraft

This is a really powerful video by Smakintosh of Gospel Underground, who was the scapegoat and “black sheep” of his own family but because of that, is also the only one in his family who can see the truth about what their agenda really is.

I love listening to him speak, because you can tell he really feels what he is saying. He does because he’s lived it.

If your entire family has turned against you, it’s probably because one or sometimes two malignant narcissists have used cunning and deception to gaslight you and project their own evil onto you, while making themselves seem blameless and sometimes even getting others to believe YOU are the abuser and THEY are the victim. It’s a kind of sleight of hand or black magic they practice, even if they’re not aware they’re practicing it, that puts others under a powerful spell and holds them in thrall to the narcissist who has targeted you.

You may also have come to believe their lies that you are stupid, crazy, a loser, evil, abusive, or anything else that’s been projected onto you. You were the sacrificial lamb in their rite of deception.

You have been targeted because you–unlike the other non-targeted family members (or other members of a group) who are either flying monkeys or enable the narcissist–possess the ability to see the truth through the narcissist’s lies. They hate and fear that and that’s why they hate and fear you. They must diminish you and make you look bad and they are very skilled at convincing others what they say is true and you are the liar and sometimes even the abuser. They are very good at turning people against you so no one will believe you.

If someone is the black sheep of their family, or has been scapegoated or disowned, suspect a malignant narcissist in the background who’s succeeded in turning everyone against them.

The movie “Mommie Dearest” tells the story of how Joan Crawford targeted her daughter Christina and abused her for years, because Christina was able to see the empty void underneath her mother’s glamorous, “perfect” image. Ultimately, she was left out of the will and not in contact with anyone in the family except her brother Christopher (who was also scapegoated). At some point I’ll be writing up a review of the film.

The same sort of deception can be used to turn an entire community or even a nation against what is right and good, by just one or two evil people and their flying monkeys. Hitler’s Germany is a perfect example.

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Why family scapegoats become lifelong victims.

If you were scapegoated by your family, two things can happen. You can become a narcissist yourself (narcissism being an elaborate defense mechanism to avoid further hurt and abuse) or you will internalize the early message that you’re worthless, defective and have no rights. I’m going to talk about the second scenario because that’s what this video is about and it’s what happened to me.

As a scapegoat, you are trained to live in fear. You become afraid to defend yourself, express your opinions, or demand fair treatment. This attitude of worthlessness, fear and shame is carried into adult life. Other people can immediately sense you are a pushover and a magnet for abuse, rejection, and bullying, and you become a target for abuse by others well into adult life.

You can become a lifelong victim unless you find a way to break the pattern. It’s difficult to unlearn, because it was established so early in life by the narcissistic parent.

Golden children, who more closely resemble the narcissistic parent or provide them with narcissistic supply (adulation), are more likely than scapegoats to become narcissists themselves. They will often become the aging narcissistic parent’s flying monkeys against the scapegoated adult child, continuing the family pattern of abuse.

Scapegoated children are the family shock absorbers. They are the children who have been assigned to absorb and internalize the narcissistic parents’ rage and to mirror back what has been projected onto them.

scapegoat_child

This is exactly what happened to me. Although because I was an only child I sometimes served the Golden Child role, for the most part I was the scapegoat. My Aspergers and high sensitivity made me even more perfect for that role.

Today I’m the black sheep and the “loser” of my family. I’m never included in family functions because of my poverty and the fact I’m “different” than the rest of them. Although they disapprove of me, I really became exactly what they needed me to be. My becoming a “loser” ensured they would always be winners.

I’ve been disinherited because they believe I’m undeserving, a shameful blemish on the family’s “good name,” further guaranteeing I will always remain poor and therefore powerless–unless I hit the lottery (which I don’t play) or write a book, which I plan to do. The irony of all that is the book may very well be one that exposes the people who raised me for what they really are.

I’ve always been a risk-averse, avoidant underachiever. My dealings with others have suffered because of my fear of the judgment of other people. I was often bullied as a child and teenager.

I married a narcissistic man and continued to live with him and allow his abuse even years after we were divorced.

Although as an adult I’m no longer bullied (and am Very Low Contact with my ex), people still try to push me around, treat me like a mental defective, leave me out of conversations, overlook me for promotions or raises at work, or just talk over or look through me as if I’m not there at all. When I say something, people act like they don’t hear me. It’s very hard for me to make friends or fight back when I need to because I was trained from an early age to be so very afraid of everyone. I’m the proverbial shrinking Violet and wallflower–the kind of woman my mother used to mock for being so “insipid.” I seem to have the opposite of charisma.

For many years I walked around as if ashamed to be alive. I carried shame with me like a heavy burden that affected the way I spoke, the way I related, the way I thought (all the negative self-talk and self-hate), even the way I moved and carried myself. I embarrassed myself.

Since I started writing, I’ve learned that I wasn’t put on earth as an example to others of how not to be (I actually used to believe this), but that God gave me these challenges and this life to teach me valuable things about myself–but that waking up to who God meant for me to be was going to be hard, painful work. I don’t live in self-pity: my narcissists have been my teachers.

One day I dream that people offline will know who I really am. That I have a personality. That I’m funny and intelligent. That I have opinions of my own, and that I am actually good at things. But more than anything else, that I have a finely tuned bullshit detector–a gift unintentionally bequeathed to me by my narcissists, and it’s a gift more priceless than any amount of money I may have inherited.

The following video will explain why what narcissistic parents do to their own offspring is nothing less than soul murder. Unfortunately, the original video I had posted here (which I preferred) was the best one to illustrate the way being scapegoated as a child tends to continue well into adult life, with the grown adult child now unconsciously projecting a “kick me” sort of vibe in relationships, friendships, on the job, and everywhere else, and then they wonder why they continue to feel victimized everywhere they go.     It’s hard to break the pattern, but it can be done.    Here’s a different video with the same general message as the first, although the first one (which was removed) was much better, in my opinion.

Why being a Golden Child isn’t so golden.

golden_cage

I was raised as an only child–the second marriage for both my parents–in a narcissistic family. Only children are in an especially vulnerable position in narcissistic families, because they must serve as all things to one or both parents.

In families with several children, one child (usually the most sensitive) is normally chosen to be the scapegoat–to serve as the family trash can for all the narcissistic rage of the parents. Another child, usually the one most closely resembling the narcissistic parent or the one who best serves the parent’s need for narcissistic supply, may become the Golden Child–in other words, the parent’s favorite. The Scapegoat is always wrong, bad, stupid, crazy, a “problem,” etc. The Golden Child can do no wrong. Misdeeds are overlooked or projected onto the scapegoat. Golden Children may become the narcissistic parent’s flying monkeys and are even sometimes given the “honor” of helping with the abuse against the scapegoat.

I’m reminded of a book I read some years ago called “A Child Called It,” written by Dave Pelzer, who not only recovered from the horrific abuse inflicted on him from ages 4-12 by his psychopathic mother (who had been loving up until that point) and brothers (who served as her “helpers”) once he was removed from the family and placed in a foster home, he actually seemed to become stronger because of it. Today he is an author, motivational speaker, and activist against child abuse. Dave was the scapegoat of his family, and I think his mother turned against him when she realized he was the most sensitive child and probably the most intelligent one too.

But what happens when there is only one child in the family? Well, I think that child becomes both a scapegoat and a Golden Child. If I had grown up with siblings (I have older half-siblings but I wasn’t raised with them), I’m almost certain I would have been the family scapegoat. But my parents (I am including both here, even though I don’t believe my father is a true narcissist, because they worked as a “team”–he was codependent and under my mother’s thrall) needed a Golden Child too who would serve their need to show a child off as a prized possession, a status symbol of sorts: the physical proof of how superior they believed their genes to be compared to everyone else.

Being both scapegoat and Golden Child is even more crazymaking than being just a scapegoat, because you never know where you stand. You constantly feel off balance and anxious, never knowing if something you said or did will be rewarded, ignored, or punished. Life feels chaotic and unformed. You feel like you’re playing a game you never wanted to play, a game where you were never taught the rules, and most of the time you don’t even know WHAT game you’re playing, but you’re expected to play like an expert anyway.

confused_kid

There was no consistency in the way I was disciplined or the things I was disciplined for. I was punished often (for infractions that were usually fairly minor or even nonexistent–I was a “good kid” who was terrified of angering my parents until my teens), but that wasn’t the worst thing. The worst thing was that the next time, I might actually be rewarded for the same infraction!

I was often punished for things I couldn’t help. Acting “spooky” was one of them. As a fearful, sensitive Aspie child, there were times I would retreat inside myself when I was feeling very anxious or when there was too much ‘input’ from the world, and this enraged my MN mother, who would berate or punish me for this behavior. I had no idea what I had done or how to stop being “spooky.” It just happened. I think it enraged her because it was during those times I went “inside” that she could no longer reach me with her abuse.

Even though most of the time I was treated as if my feelings didn’t matter, I was often told how pretty, smart and talented I was. It’s my belief I was no more of any of these things than any other kid my age, but I was told I was “special.” To my young mind, “special” meant “different”–and most children, myself included, dread being different from their peers.

When I was bullied at school, the reason my parents gave me was that the other kids were just jealous because of my “superior” looks, intelligence, or talent. I was also told our genes were better than other people’s, and our family was of a higher socioeconomic status than my friends’ families. I know now this was complete bullshit, but it’s the lie I was being fed while I was growing up. I think these “compliments” were intended to isolate me from my peers even further, so I’d just be “theirs.” I never felt empowered by the “praise” I got, because of the way it made me feel somehow defective and different from other kids. In addition, I felt like I could never live up to the pedestal my parents put me on at those times. I was right–and as an adult, I am looked down on by my family as actually defective.

left_out_kid

The most crazymaking thing of all was the times I’d be complimented and diminished at the same time. One of the most common ways I’d be demeaned was being told how “sensitive” I was. This was never meant to be a compliment; it was meant as a way to let me know how weak I was. Sometimes I was told I couldn’t or shouldn’t do things because of a combination of my “good” and “bad” qualities. For example, when I was about 10, I wanted to join the swim team. I remember exactly what my mother’s reaction was to this. She always liked to tell me what I was thinking, which is another way narcissists make us doubt our own reality and question our instincts. She said:
“You wouldn’t like being on the swim team because you’re too sensitive and you don’t like competition, and you’re too smart to be on a team with those people anyway.”
Huh?
Left-handed compliment much? She always sandwiched her praise this way–between insults like a shit sandwich. This was just another way I was constantly thrown off balance and this led to my becoming an extremely anxious child and later, an extremely anxious adult.

In general, my family treated me like I was a huge burden and didn’t really want me around, so the praise I got as a sometimes Golden Child made no sense and to my sensitive child’s mind, never felt sincere. Even at a very young age, I knew I was being lied to. I knew I wasn’t loved the same way other children were loved, even though my parents constantly mouthed the words like some sort of tic.

Narcissist parents demonize their own children.

narc_mother_littlegirl

Most parents like to tell cute and funny stories about when their children were young, or brag about their school accomplishments or tell sweet stories that show their child in a flattering or loving light. They are also proud of their children when they’re kind and nice to others. That’s the way things should be.

Not for narcissistic parents though.

Narcissists who “erase” memories of their children.
Some narcissistic parents don’t like to talk about their children at all. It’s as if they erase any memories of their offspring’s childhoods and don’t want to be reminded of it. It’s weird. My malignant cerebral narcissist sperm donor used to get bored and annoyed if I talked about the children when they were young. Inexplicably, he couldn’t stand it and became annoyed when I wanted to put some of their baby and early school pictures around the house. (He didn’t like that I displayed our wedding photos either).

He isn’t interested in his son’s accomplishments, even though Ethan (not his real name) has recently been asked to join a semi-professional urban dance crew and has been told he is a shoo-in for the finals at the next dance competition he will be performing in next month. Ethan is seriously considering auditioning for the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” in about a year or two, when he gets just a little better. He’s completely self taught and has never had a dance lesson and yet people are always impressed by his dancing skills.

I am so proud of my son but his father could care less. I thought maybe it was because he thought dancing was “too gay” (because my son is gay or possibly bisexual–he recently told me he may have some interest in women) but he acts the same way about all of Ethan’s other accomplishments too. It’s almost as if he wants to erase him from his mind, even though he insists he loves him.

And when they “brag” about you, watch out.

too_sensitive

My mother, also a malignant narcissist (of the somatic rather than cerebral type), loves to talk about me as a child. But her “bragging” is never about the things a normal parents would brag to their friends and relatives about. It’s never about how smart I was or what a good student I was, or what a good painter or writer I was, or how kind and generous or big-hearted or animal loving I was. Instead, she tells stories that illustrate the many ways I was “too sensitive” or how much I cried as a little girl. When she talks about me, she always brings up the most embarrassing stories, like how afraid I was of thunderstorms and how I used to run into the closet in terror (I like thunderstorms now) or how “hysterical” (she loves to use that word about me as a child) I used to get when I was frustrated or scared of something (I was afraid of many things but loved a lot of things too).

Whenever she talks about me to people, she makes me sound like there was something wrong with me (there was–I was an Aspie child with attachment issues–but surely there were good things too she could choose to talk about instead of what a pitiful, awkward, oversensitive crybaby I was). She loves to tell everyone the still-embarrassing story of my first period and how happy I was when I shouted the big news from the bathroom, because I had always been “so hysterical” and panic stricken because I was slower to hit puberty than most other girls my age (I was 13 and really not far behind at all–and I never got “hysterical” or “panic stricken” the way she insists).

I no longer hear these stories because I no longer have much contact with her, but I’m sure she still tells her friends and extended family (who she has isolated from me and turned some of them into flying monkeys against me) and they still all have a good laugh about “poor, over-sensitive, ‘hysterical’ little Lauren.” I know they also laugh about what a “loser” I am today, because I’m not wealthy like most of the family is and don’t have a great number of impressive professional accomplishments. Of course, that’s all due to my “poor choices” and not to the fact my self esteem was all but obliterated during childhood and adolescence, not only by my family but also by the bullies I often had to deal with at school.

Fivehundredpoundpeep posted an article today about the way her psychopathic MN mother (who was much worse than mine if that can be believed) and the rest of the family gave her a poem for her college graduation. Instead of it being a sincere congratulations or about how loved she was and how proud of her they were, it was a “humorous” ode to how afraid of crickets she was as a little girl. Notwithstanding the fact this poem had absolutely nothing to do with Peep’s college graduation, its real intention was to embarrass her and make her feel self conscious. It was a poem that could have easily ruined an otherwise joyous occasion.

The navy blue dress.

fat_lady
What my mother saw whenever she looked at me. (Just for the record, I think this big lady is stunning.)

My mother always loved to point out my faults–even imaginary ones she had projected onto me–in public. I’ll never forget the birthday party I had one year as a teenager. My mother had invited several of her friends to the apartment and some of my friends were there too. When it came time to open the gifts, she made sure hers was the first one I opened.

In the fancily wrapped box was a rather conservative, navy blue sleeveless dress. It was a nice dress I suppose, had I been about 40. She made me go try it on and then have me come out into the living room where everyone was sitting to model it. I obeyed because what else could I do, and she scared the living shit out of me.

Now, I was not overweight. At 5’4″, 120-125 lbs was about the right weight for my frame. But my backside was a little on the big side (not Kim Kardashian big, but still pretty round) and my mother was constantly calling attention to it. It made me very self conscious and due to this (as well as my desire to rebel against the way she’d dressed me like a doll when I was younger), I had taken to wearing baggy, masculine clothes that hid my curves. She was convinced I was “fat” and was always threatening to send me away to weight loss camp. As a somatic narcissist, she was obsessed with her own weight, physical appearance, and health. She seemed to judge other people by the way they looked instead of their personal qualities. Almost every day she called attention to how much weight I was putting on, or reminding me not to have seconds because of my “weight issues.” I become incredibly self conscious about my body as a result. It’s a miracle I didn’t develop an eating disorder.

weight-loss

Getting back to the birthday party and my “modeling session” in front of all the guests, after I modeled it, she announced that the dress’s dark color and style was flattering for someone with “Lauren’s little weight problem.”

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. I think everyone was shocked at her callous and embarrassing remarks. As for myself, I was so mortified I ran out of the room crying, which of course was a huge mistake because that gave my mother ammunition to remind everyone once again about how sensitive I was (and she didn’t mean this in a complimentary way). She was always making jokes at my expense and then when I didn’t laugh or if I looked hurt, it was always “Lauren is just being over-sensitive again” or “Lauren has no sense of humor.” I’ve heard this is quite a common accusation narc parents use against the child they have chosen to be their scapegoat. They hate sensitivity and love to turn it into a bad thing because it takes the responsibility for their cruel behavior off of them and puts the blame onto the child.

This is the sort of “flattery” a scapegoated child can get from a parent who is a malignant narcissist. There are times I feel guilty that I don’t feel more love for my mother than I do, but when I think of all the years she demeaned me and put me down, always going out of her way to make me feel small and worthless, I don’t feel so guilty about my ambivalent feelings toward her.

I don’t hate my mother. Instead, I pity her for being so shallow and never having known who her true self might have been. She’s an intelligent woman but you would never know it because she never was interested in ideas or the life of the mind. Her eyes glaze over if you try to engage her in any “deep” topics. She reads pulp novels and fashion magazines, never anything scholarly or educational.

She has now lost her beauty due to age (and too many facelifts) and she is all too aware it. Knowing she has lost her physical beauty–the one thing that gave her an identity of sorts–has turned her bitter and angry in her old age.

I just get so tired of it…

rejected_child

I just read this blog post “I Would Be Begging for Help if it were Me” by Fivehundredpoundpeep. I highly recommend it to all ACONs. However, I won’t lie–her well written article triggered me, and the following may be the most emotional post I ever wrote.
This actually started as a reply on her blog, but I decided to turn it into an article because it’s very much on my mind. Tears are not far away.

The mother she describes in her article sounds EXACTLY like mine–the tone, choice of words, attitude, everything. Criticism under the guise of “help.” Dismissal in the name of love. With mine it’s always “positive thinking:”
“If you were not so negative, things would come more easily to you.”
“If you were more pleasant to be around, you would be able to make the connections to help you advance in a career.”
“You never were the competitive type.”
And always, always, “You’re too sensitive.”

Well, excuse me, Mommie Dearest, you’re too damn insensitive. You may not know it, but my high sensitivity, much as it may annoy you, is going to OUT you one day as the MALIGNANT NARCISSIST you always were, and will save my sanity. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

And then you dare to tell me how much you love me in the next line? Prove it.

She used to send me corny memes and hackneyed sayings about always being sunny and cheerful, and accepting things the way they are. Scooping all these memes together and throwing them in the blender, here’s the pureed form of the message she was giving me:
“You are a failure and will never get anywhere in this world because you’re not a fun person, you never smile, you’re always negative, but you should accept things as they are and be happy with your lousy lot, because you don’t deserve any better.

That’s what she was really saying. She’s one of what I call “the positive thinking nazis.” Actually both my parents are. There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking, of course, and it’s something we should all strive to do. But my FOO took it too far. They used it as a way to sugarcoat and deny real issues. It was like putting a Band-aid on a cancerous lesion so it didn’t have to be seen. If it didn’t have to be seen, it would go away. That was the sort of narcissistic magical thinking and insanity I had to deal with.
They used it as a way to deny responsibility. That’s the most glaring thing wrong with the positive thinking movement, when taken to ridiculous extremes. The denial of reality and rejection of responsibility.

Of course if I ever confronted my mother about this (which I never did, not directly anyway, since I was a teenager), she’d either fly into a narcissistic rage or vehemently deny it.

staring_at_wall
My mother still has the power to make me feel this way. That’s why we’re estranged.

Seriously, that’s the only kind of “help” I have ever gotten from my MN egg donor since I grew up. But I can’t be rejected anymore because I don’t ask her for a thing anymore. I could be lying in a gutter with a broken leg and no home and no way to get to the hospital, and she’d probably tell me I was just being too negative and drawing in my own bad fortune. I would rather lie there and bleed to death than beg her to help.

My whole FOO are huge proponents of the postmodern narcissistic grandiose fantasy of “you create your own reality. If you fail, it’s no one’s fault but your own. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and suck it up.” It’s The Cliff’s Notes version of Ayn Rand’s objectivism. No compassion. No empathy. No love. Only judgment, gaslighting, subtle put downs, no loyalty, and thinly veiled hatred. And unfair and untrue accusations of my acting “entitled” because at my age, of course I should not be needing any help. But I’ve never asked them for much anyway. They think I asked for too much. All I ever wanted was love. No their conditional fake excuse for love.

It made me furious to the point of wanting to smash my fist into a brick wall when well-meaning people who may have heard about my financial problems or need of emotional support, said to me something like, “Honey, don’t you have a family you can turn to?” Or “Surely your family will help you out of this jam.” Sometimes it still happens, though I tell no one IRL my troubles. But I don’t want to hear what they have to say: all these people assume that just because their own families will help them or give them a hand up when they’re down on their luck or just need a non-judgmental listening ear or a soft shoulder to cry on, then the same must be true of my family too. It’s just what everyone does for own flesh and blood, right?

crying_chld

These fortunate people with loving families may be well meaning but they assume because theirs will help them and give them unconditional love, that the same holds true for people like us. They simply can’t or won’t believe there are some parents who actually HATE THEIR CHILDREN.

I get so tired of it. So very tired of it. That’s why I tell no one my problems anymore except on my blog. I never ask my parents for help, ever, and never will again. Especially not my mother. But I won’t need to. I’m still poor but I’m surviving, even thriving now–but not because of any of their heartless and judgmental “advice.”

I’m getting better because I have the ability to reach out to my real family–this amazing community of people who have such similar stories–through a skill I’ve recently rediscovered and is the tool to my healing: my writing.
I don’t need to be my mother’s scapegoat anymore.

Targets and Victims

victim

I found another blog today written by a survivor of a sick family of psychopaths and sociopaths (I’ve added the site to my list of resources under the “Info and Support” tab in the green bar in the header. I know I’ve written about this before, but this is one of the best lists of the traits of potential targets and victims of psychopaths I have seen yet. I have just about every single one of these traits, unfortunately. From an early age, I was trained to be a doormat. I learned that lesson too well.

BEFORE: TRAITS of a Potential TARGET

Below are the traits most commonly attributed to a sociopath’s target. Every person is inherently different, and that includes each target and the traits that are most pronounced in the individual. An individual would definitely not need any of these traits to be preyed upon.

This is not an attempt to diagnose anyone.

Shyness
Difficulty communicating
A lack of self confidence
Wanting to please
A belief that if you love enough the person will change
A belief that if you love enough the relationship will succeed
Difficulty establishing and maintaining boundaries
Not being able to say no
Being easily influenced by others
Wanting to be rescued from your life situation
Wanting to rescue others from their distress
Being over nurturing particularly when not asked
Feelings of shame and self doubt
Low self-esteem
A lack of memories about childhood or periods of adulthood
A lack of motivation from within and being motivated by others

AFTER: SYMPTOMS of a Relentlessly Abused VICTIM

This is a very accurate list of symptoms experienced by someone who has had their psyche brutally victimized by a sociopath. With that said, this list is not all-inclusive, nor is it intended to be part of any diagnostic function, whatsoever. These symptoms can also be triggered by many other conditions or events.

The source of this data is from ongoing research, but the majority of the data is derived and confirmed from personal experience … the key word being “majority” There are some symptoms listed here that I have not experienced at all, though they have been mentioned enough for me to accept them as potentially common.

If you, or someone you know, has experienced even a few of these symptoms, seek professional help. Keep in mind, though, that not all “help” is equal. If the professional you choose does not seem to relate to your needs as you would expect or desire, keep looking.

Emotional paralysis
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Suicidal thoughts or actions (indirect homicide)
Loss of interest in life
Loss of energy
Insomnia
Anxiety
Depression or Severe Depression
Numbing of feelings
Disinterest in having a relationship
Panic attacks
Irritability
Increased anxiety from being alone
Increased anxiety from being in crowds
Mood swings
Source: sociopathicstyle.com [confirmed by personal experience (50+ years)]

It’s all about image: the skewed values of narcissistic families

monopolyguy

Last night I read a blog post by another survivor of narcissistic parents , and was astounded by how similar her parents’ values were to mine.

She writes that her father criticized her for being too idealistic. Now that would normally be a compliment, but because her family valued nothing but money, class and image, it was meant to be an insult. My father (who I don’t think is a narcissist, but has always been a huge narcissist apologist and enabler), said exactly the same thing to me.

We live in a narcissistic and materialistic society, that increasingly values traits that are narcissistic and exalt the individual over the community. In fact, studies have shown that a high percentage of CEOs, top executives, Wall Street tycoons, and others of the “One Percent” have narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a disorder that is very adaptive in modern society and whose traits are rewarded with money and material goods. Especially since the 1980s, with its “Greed is Good” ethos, we reward those who act in their own self interest over those who act in the interests of the community and want to help the less fortunate. There’s even a meme that’s become especially popular with narcissistic Baby Boomers: “I’m spending my children’s inheritance,” as though this is something to be proud of.

inheritance

My family bought right into this ethos. Image was everything to my parents, especially my mother. My parents looked down on our blue-collar neighbors and relatives, and my mother in particular constantly made jokes at their expense and talked about how much better we were because we had nicer things and my father had a better (meaning white collar) job in the city. Appearance mattered, and our clothes had to come from the best department stores, never Sears. We had to live in the most exclusive neighborhoods. To not have a college degree was considered a mortal sin, and even then, it was far better to be successful in the cold-hearted business world than to be a successful teacher, social worker or a nurse. Such things were regarded as jobs for those who couldn’t do anything else, and of course they required a level of idealism that my parents just couldn’t relate to. When my parents split up when I was 14, my extremely image-conscious mother took up public relations as a career, which is all about image. She had so many face-lifts that today her face looks like a mask.

Whenever my parents, my mother in particular, complimented someone else, it was always on their visible, tangible qualities–things like their appearance, home decor, financial status, and taste in clothes. Table manners were of utmost importance, but being a good person was not. I can’t remember a time when my mother ever complimented anyone for qualities such as sweetness, generosity, friendliness and altruism. I do remember her putting down others for having these qualities, calling them “insipid” or accusing them of having no backbone.

My values never matched those of my immediate family, and when I became poor as an adult (because I was never given the tools and self esteem that would have led me to make better choices) I was shunned and rejected by them. I don’t think it’s any accident that when narcissistic parents choose a scapegoat, they usually choose the most sensitive child–the one most likely to be empathetic and have idealistic values. To a narcissist, idealism and empathy are weaknesses. They truly believe that the poor deserve to be poor, and they make no exception for their own child. The child with traits that cause them to become a scapegoat (and who all too often are also bullied at school) would probably become successful if they were raised in a loving, nurturing home, but in a narcissistic home, having these traits is a curse because that child is led to believe they are worthless and this leads to cowardly, “safe” choices that are more likely to lead to poverty. They are constantly told they will fail, that nothing they do is good enough, and then are usually “tossed out to the wolves” at a young age, with no family financial or emotional support to help them get a foothold in the larger world. I have read so many blogs by the scapegoated children of narcissistic families, who were forced to make their own way in the world with no family support, even if their parents could have afforded to help them, and even when other children in the family (who were not scapegoated) did receive support when they entered adulthood.

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What is so ironic about all this is we scapegoats are rejected and hated for the very traits that were instilled in us as children! Scapegoated children are not encouraged to think independently or have ideas of their own. In fact, having a mind of one’s own is reason for punishment and abuse. We were trained to be deferent and obedient–and very much afraid. Deference, obedience and fear are not traits that lead to success in modern life. I think this training is deliberate, in that an evil narcissistic parent needs and wants someone they can use as the family trashcan–someone who can take and absorb all the family pathology and carry its burden. This child is then blamed for everything that goes wrong both within the family and in their own lives. When a scapegoated child becomes an adult, their low self esteem and fear almost inevitably leads to a life of material and financial lack, and this gives the narcissist parents an excuse for rejecting that child and refusing to help–for “violating” their materialistic, self-centered values. I think another reason narcissistic parents train HSP (highly sensitive) children to be scapegoats is because they know an HSP child must be silenced: this is a child who sees through their lies and can use the light of truth to blow the whistle on them. If they are encouraged to think and act independently, they might “out” the narcissistic parent and that is a prospect that terrifies them.

Of course, the best revenge for a scapegoated child is to become successful in spite of their upbringing–and of course there are those who have. Even then, narcissistic parents will find reasons to put that child’s accomplishments down as somehow not “good enough.” The few times in my adult life where I had some legitimate tangible success, I was never praised for it, but given some sort of left-handed compliment or told why it didn’t really count. I was also always compared with my more financially successful older half-siblings, who of course never had been designated the family scapegoat.

Narcissistic parents also don’t care if you have a mental disability. I’m a self-diagnosed Aspie (this was later confirmed by a psychiatrist) and suffer from intermittent major depression, but when I tried to tell my parents these were the reasons why I had so much trouble making the social connections necessary to become financially successful, these diagnoses were dismissed. I was told I was “making excuses.” Both my parents are convinced my poverty is my own fault because of the stupid choices I made. While I don’t deny having made dumb choices, these choices were based on the way I had been raised–to be afraid of taking any risks or challenging myself.

The only way to break the narcissist/scapegoat family dynamic (and it is probably the most toxic parent-child combination imaginable) is by cutting off contact with the abusive parent, because as long as you keep trying to please them, they will continue to attempt to break you down and make you feel insignificant. Nothing will ever please them, even if you dare to become more successful than they are. And if you somehow manage to do this without sacrificing your idealistic and empathetic values, that’s the biggest threat to them of all.

Make no mistake: your narcissistic parent doesn’t love you and never will, but it isn’t your fault. They hate you because they envy those qualities you have–empathy and humanity–that elude them. Be a good parent to yourself. Love yourself. You deserve it.

haters

Seven more years of NPD hell.

Gaslight-2

After Heather tossed Michael to the curb, and Molly returned to our new Section 8 apartment, Michael asked if he could move back in. At first I was resolute and said No (surprisingly he seemed to accept this), but he did have a job and managed to secure a place to stay for a few months–first in a basement room of where he worked (their business was conducted in a huge Victorian house) and later as someone else’s roommate.

Molly was having serious issues at school, and oftentimes didn’t even attend. Several times I was called from my job as a convenience store assistant manager to come pick her up because she was in some sort of trouble again (fighting, stealing a pair of expensive boots, acting “high” at school, etc.) When she was there, she hated it. Since I had to open the store by 6 I had to leave my house before 5 am and there was no way I could remain home to make sure she made the bus. Ethan tried but most of the time couldn’t even get her up (he was very good about getting himself up and to school). The school informed me if I couldn’t get her to school, that I could be charged with neglect and willfully keeping her out of school. It didn’t matter that I had to work and that I had no one else to keep an eye on her. Well, as it turned out, I was fired from my job primarily because of my poor attendance due to disruptions and early leaves caused by Molly, so that sort of solved the problem except she still wouldn’t get up most of the time, even if she was home.

When she was home (which wasn’t often), she was surly and snappish and spent most of her time on MySpace, which was still popular at the time. It was 2007 and she was about 15 by now. For three months she managed to keep her activities a secret from me but eventually I found out she was seeing an older man she met on MySpace (he was 23) who had a jail record for selling drugs. I had given up trying to control what she did. She convinced me not to have him arrested by saying she would kill herself, so I did nothing and prayed for the best. I knew they were doing drugs and kept begging her to stay clean to no avail. She had Medicaid, but refused to see a therapist, although she did agree to go in to be evaluated for medications and that’s when she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Countless times the school called meetings to discuss what to do about her attendance and behavior and I begged them to put her into a special program they had for kids with emotional problems but they said she would have to wait until the following school year.

One day Michael showed up at the door and informed me his last roommate had kicked him out again. He told me he’d been drunk and after he was booted out, he tried to kill himself by running his car into a telephone pole. The pole and the car were totalled, but Michael was fine. He started crying when I still said he couldn’t move back in and started the manipulations, convincing me it would be in my benefit to have him there because he would make sure Molly went to school AND he would help me with the bills. Since Molly was more likely to listen to him than to me (and begged me to let him move back in), I conceded, telling him he would have to find another place to live in three months. Well, that three months turned into almost seven years.

At first things seemed fine. Michael stayed sober, was working, and actually did contribute most of his paychecks to household expenses. Molly’s behavior improved a little–at first. She was still with the older guy but was more cooperative when she was home. However I noticed that she was in her room a lot with Michael with the door locked, or sometimes Ben (her boyfriend) was in there with them. If I tried to interrupt them or ask what they were doing, I got screamed at and told to mind my own business. I tried to listen to what was going on in there–it didn’t sound sexual (which worried me) but it did sound suspicious. One day I found a crack pipe on the floor of her room and questioned her about it. She said it was Ben’s and assured me she wasn’t smoking crack or any other hard drugs. Often I smelled pot smoke coming out from the room so I knew they were smoking pot together a lot. I didn’t think pot was so bad, but couldn’t believe her father would be so irresponsible as to smoke it with his under-age daughter.

crackpipe

I tried to talk to Michael about this, but he refused to listen, at first denying they were smoking anything, and then when he couldn’t do that anymore, telling me I had no right to tell him what to do since I had “gotten him the felony” (this was a refrain I would hear over and over again for the next seven years–he always used it as an excuse to do whatever the hell he wanted). So the three of them continued to get high in her room, leaving me out of everything and treating me rudely when they did talk to me. I was being gaslighted and triangulated against again, although this time, Ethan kept to himself and didn’t get involved in our drama. He busied himself on the computer and refused to participate in any arguments. Good for him!

In 2008 Molly broke up with Ben, but her drug problems had become more severe and I was at my wit’s end. One day I was home and Molly was out on the second-floor deck talking on her phone. I had to pick up a few things at the store and let her know I’d be right back. Twenty minutes later, I came home to find an ambulance in our driveway. My heart pounding, I ran into the house and found out Molly had been straddling the deck and had fallen off onto the ground (she was high). She was taken to the ER and it turned out she had fractured one of her lower vertebrae. She wasn’t too seriously injured but she could have been (and she’s had back problems ever since).

It turned out the be a blessing in disguise because finally, after begging for Molly to go to rehab for so long (and the school would do nothing to help), she was court-ordered to go. The one catch was that the only way Medicaid would pay for her treatment (I couldn’t afford health insurance for her through my job), was if I allowed the state to take custody of her. It was a painful decision but she was 16 and almost an adult anyway. It didn’t mean she couldn’t come home to live with me again. What choice did I have?

Molly was irate that I “gave up custody” of her and at first couldn’t understand why I would do such a thing. (Later on she came to understand and told me I saved her life by doing that).

The rehab was a six month live-in program, and Michael and I were allowed to go see her, although it was required a social worker was always present. The visits were awkward and forced, but she did seem to be improving (even though she hated it). She started gaining weight back and didn’t look so pasty anymore. Finally I felt like I didn’t have to worry so much about her.

Without Molly at home, Michael and I started to get along better, until he got fired from his job. At first he seemed to be looking for another one, but soon it became apparent he was spending most of his time in chat rooms and on political websites. I questioned him and he said no one was hiring. I offered to take him around to look but he always found some excuse. He sweet talked me into buying pot for him, even though I couldn’t afford it.

Meanwhile, Molly graduated from her program and went to live in a group home for teen girls with substance abuse issues. She liked the home and made some friends there (she is still friends with two of the girls), but since she wasn’t being supervised as closely, was able to obtain and use drugs. Pain pills were her drug of choice (but anything would do in a pinch, including alcohol), and one day she was so high she was taken to another residential treatment program in Tennessee. She called me crying, and wouldn’t tell me where they were taking her at first, but that she wanted to kill herself. The program turned out to be a sort of boot camp, where the kids lived in a rustic setting where they had to build their own fires for warmth and live in a cabin even in the cold months. But there was hiking and horseback riding. It was supposed to build character. I hoped it would. She hated every minute of it but on her 18th birthday would be allowed to return home.

When Ethan was nearly 18 he told me he was gay. I assured him I wasn’t upset and kind of suspected out that he was. He started to show more confidence and become more social. But at home he was testy and impatient with both Michael and myself. He hated all the arguing and was out more often. He made friends with a female police officer who worked at his school. He couldn’t take being in the house anymore with all the drama, and moved in with the policewoman for a few more months until he could find another place to live.

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Ethan came back home after his 18th birthday but not for long. In mid-2010 he told me he had met someone online and would be moving to Illinois to stay with him. The guy he met turned out to be a supportive and mature person and they are still good friends today although they’re not together anymore. Of course I worried at first but there was nothing I could do. He was 18 and could do what he wanted, but it was actually the best thing for him.

In early 2011, it came to the attention of the landlord Michael was living with me, and he informed Section 8. I was told to move out by the end of the month. We had very little money and had to move into a trailer in a crappy trailer park that was rife with drug and gang activity (two years ago, someone was found shot to death outside one of the trailers). The toilet in one of the bathrooms was literally falling through the floor and the tub in the other bathroom didn’t work. The rooms were tiny and the walls paper thin. The kitchen wasn’t too bad though and even had a dishwasher, although it broke shortly after we moved in. I sold most of my belongings at a huge yard sale to raise funds for the move.

It was becoming apparent Michael was no longer going to work. He had developed diabetes and complained about the food I bought–I got food stamps, but I still couldn’t afford to buy much red meat and he said he needed it to control his diabetes. He became insulin dependent but had no medical insurance so he had to go to the free clinic to get his doses. He also saw a psychiatrist who had diagnosed him with Bipolar and PTSD (!?!) and prescribed him medication, including Klonopin, which he started to sell for cash. At the end of 2011 he applied for Disability (SSI) and so now had a handy excuse not to look for a job–since he was disabled, he wouldn’t get SSI if he was working (this turned out to be false if he worked part time but I didn’t know that).

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In April 2011 Molly turned 18 and returned home. For awhile she seemed a lot better. Even though altogether Molly had probably only finished one and a half years of high school, she managed to get a GED in just one month because she is very intelligent. She started looking for a job and was hired almost right away, but she never seemed to be able to keep a job for long after that, even though she always found one quickly. She refused to attend college, even though if she had, she would have been able to get government benefits for housing and school until she was 26, as well as continued Medicaid. But she hated all the jobs she had and almost always wound up being fired for getting too involved in interpersonal drama. She told me the more I talked to her about college, the more she didn’t want to go. I left her alone after that.

She had a string of boyfriends who were no good for her, although none were as bad as Ben had been, and the most recent one was clean and sober although his future prospects weren’t that good because he only had a high school education and no ambition. He worked as an auto mechanic but only doing oil changes and inspections and didn’t seem to interested in advancing. When they were together he spent most of their time playing video games, with Molly watching.

At the end of 2012, we moved again, this time to a real house. We lucked out–it was another duplex with two bedrooms and in a nice neighborhood. It was an older house with a lot of character and the original Arts and Crafts windows, and I had fun decorating it and painting it (although I never had much furniture). Michael slept in the living room; Molly and I took the two bedrooms. Michael was becoming unbearably annoying, constantly whining about how sick he was because I wouldn’t buy decent food for him, and watching political shows on TV and whining about how much he hated Republicans (I didn’t care for them much either but his constant bellyaching was irritating and he did nothing to help himself). I told him if he wanted better food he would have to get a job. Of course he refused (“but I’m disabled!”) and every day I’d come home after a long day at work to find him passed out on the couch or ranting about politics on Huffington Post. He never bothered to pick anything up and smoked like a chimney–both pot and tobacco. The living room was a mess, and Molly and I always wound up having to clean it. He never washed the many dishes he used, and they’d be all over the place. Living with him was almost unbearable and I was starting to really hate him. When he was high he acted stupid and oblivious to everything (and was loud); when he wasn’t high he was mean and sarcastic, calling both me and his daughter horrible names. He was so ungrateful, never apologized for anything, and just did whatever the hell he wanted. He made Molly or me go pick up his pot for him (I refused to do it after awhile) and complained about everything. He bought lottery tickets or pot from the money he got from the illegal sale of his psychiatric meds (lottery tickets were another thing I refused to foot the bill for). He ordered us around and stole money from me several times, although he never would admit it and tell me I (or Molly) was imagining things. He acted so entitled. Even Molly was becoming sick of him and we started to become closer.

In early 2013, Michael decided he wanted a dog. We already had one (and also 4 cats), and had said I absolutely could not afford another pet nor did we have the space. But telling Michael no about anything was futile. He always had to have his way. So one day I came home to find him holding a puppy. I told him to get rid of it and he refused, resorting to his old “you’re just an animal hater” guilt tactic. He said if I got rid of the dog, he would kill himself. I let him keep the dog.

I love dogs, but I couldn’t stand this dog. He was a jack russel/Beagle mix, cute but the most hyper dog I ever met. Michael refused to control him or discipline him and the dog pooped and peed all over the rugs, chewed on the furniture and everything else he could, and constantly ran off and would bark uncontrollably. When I complained to Michael about it, he would make excuses like “but he’s just a puppy!” He’d say this even though when the dog was over a year old. Molly and I had no luck training him, but her most current boyfriend was able to get him to stop pooping in the house. However, he continued to run off, and many nights I’d hear him barking somewhere in the neighborhood. Three times neighbors called animal control and the third time, I told them to please just take him away. If it happened again, I would have been fined. Normally I would have felt terrible having a dog taken to the pound (because I have always loved animals) but with this dog I didn’t feel at all guilty. It’s not like I had ever agreed to adopt the dog in the first place.

destroyinghouse

Michael was livid and wouldn’t speak to me for days. He was becoming angrier and more unpleasant and sometimes he just acted downright insane. I think some of the “insanity” was fabricated so he could continue to get all the free meds and also it would help him get his SSI sooner, or so he thought. Just about everything out of his mouth was sarcastic, angry and intended to offend. Half the time he made no sense. He seemed to hate everyone and everything, especially his daughter and ex-wife who were keeping him from being homeless and sacrificing so much for him. He kept saying I needed to be more patient because he was sick with diabetes and had mental problems. He never, ever apologized. I’ve never been a mean person but I didn’t like the person I was becoming around him. I was turning into the bitch he always said I was. I no longer even tried to be nice, and tried to be away from the house as much as possible. When I was home I went in my room and locked the door to get away from him. I had no idea how to get rid of him because he threatened suicide every time I did and I knew if he killed himself my daughter would be devastated. I was afraid how it would affect her. Michael always reminded me of this too, and even threatened to kill himself in her room and warned me how that would really fuck her up. Oh, he was evil alright. He never thought of anyone but himself.

One day in February 2014 I got a phone call at work from Molly telling me to meet her and her boyfriend at the police station. She explained that Michael had lost his temper and beat her up. That was the last straw for me. I no longer cared about his excuses, I wanted him out. The police officer there told us to go to the magistrate’s office if I wanted to press charges and file a restraining order. I did but Molly started feeling bad for him (even though she had her eye blacked and had other bruises on her) and refused to press charges herself.

We arranged to go home and pretend we had all gone to the mall. Later that evening, the police came and took Michael off in handcuffs. He was released the next day but didn’t dare come back. Finally I was free! But I had a lot of work ahead of me.

I’ll write a post later (it won’t be anywhere near as long as this one!) describing what the aftermath of his abuse has been like, and the steps I’m trying to take to recover from years of being under his control.

Held hostage: living with the enemy

trapped

Finally, I’m getting around to posting this last part of my story. It will be in two parts, because it’s going to be so long.

After Michael kicked me out of our home in 2003 (which by that time was in foreclosure), I had no job, no place to go, and no friends or family who would take me in. Michael told me I couldn’t take the children with me, and since I had no place to go, it was obvious that for the time being they would have to stay with him.

I had just been released from the psychiatric center for Major Depression and severe PTSD, and I still wasn’t all there. I was medicated too, so that numbed my emotions even more. So I didn’t try to fight his demands, even though I could have. I could have gone to the local chapter of Helpmate, an organization that helps battered women. Even though I wasn’t battered physically (usually, unless he was drunk), the type of abuse I had just suffered was even worse because it was so insidious and soul destroying.

As for the children, I didn’t think there was anything I could do. I had no place to go, and couldn’t them with me to wherever I’d have to stay.

I had 30 days to leave. I wanted to leave right then and there, but my daughter’s 10th birthday was coming up so I wanted to stay around for that. But the next two weeks were torture. Michael and his flying monkey Rachel amped up the volume to full blast on their mind games and gaslighting, and the shitty car I had access to was taken away from me so I couldn’t leave until they wanted me to. Rachel took away my car keys. If I needed something, I had to ask for it. I was a prisoner in my own home. I’m convinced they wanted to keep me around just to torment me.

My daughter’s birthday was miserable. Molly was depressed. Michael and Rachel used her to triangulate against me and my son, who was also treated horribly. I think a part of Molly hated being in this role, but she knew she didn’t have a choice if she didn’t want to become a target herself. It was an awful thing to do to a child.

I left the next day. I had $1,000 in my pocket and the old car. Michael and Rachel didn’t say goodbye. Ethan wept quietly in his room. Molly said goodbye but didn’t hug me. Paul was the nicest. He came over to the car window as I was pulling out of the driveway and whispered “you don’t deserve this.” I don’t know if I was imagining things or not, but I thought he had tears in his eyes. Paul was a nice guy, but was very weak willed and as much under Rachel’s control as I was. The only difference was he wasn’t a target. He had pretty much kept to himself the whole time they lived with us, staying out of the hate campaign but not fighting against it either.

So I drove 11 hours to New Jersey, where an old friend was letting me stay with her for a week. Somewhere in Pennsylvania, I became fatigued and had to find a motel to stay in for the night. In my room, I thought about the gravity of what had just happened. I thought about my children and wondered if I’d ever see them again. I thought about how emotionally damaged they both were by Michael’s mindgames. I thought about Ethan’s love of Twix bars and his silly grin and hair that stood straight up when he got up in the morning. I thought about how sweet Molly could sometimes be and the way she still slept with her threadbare puppy at night. I thought about the way they both ate cereal straight out of the box. And for the first time in many months, I cried.

car

But I had to keep going, somehow. The next day I met my friend in New Jersey and accompanied her on her pet sitting job. I helped her with the animals. The animals were therapeutic for me, and I felt almost happy when I watched them or stroked their fur. I felt like they understood me and what I was going through. I would have liked to stay with my friend longer, but it wasn’t possible, and after a week I drove back to North Carolina, and crashed with another old friend for about a month. Things didn’t work out too well and the friend resented my having so much “stuff” (I had only brought 4 bags out of the car) and finally told me it was too crowded (it was a one bedroom apartment) and I would have to go.

I was almost out of money. In the nick of time, I found a job in a gas station and moved into the local women’s homeless shelter. The shelter actually wasn’t too bad. It was midsummer and there was no air conditioning (and I had a sore tooth that later had to be pulled but the pain kept me up at night), but the rooms were okay, and I only had to share my room with one other woman, a crackhead in her 60s. We didn’t get along. So I stayed out most of the time, if not working, then just going to the library, walking around the mall, or driving around. A few times I went to church to pray. I didn’t have the money or energy to do anything else. There was no room in the room for any of my stuff, so I kept everything in the car. I had to bring up my change of clothes from the car every night and lay it on the bed for the next day.

During this time I had several conversations with my parents. My mother feigned sympathy but offered no help. She kept asking me “what are you going to do about the children?” or saying things like “A good mother would keep her children with her.” Oh, the hypocrisy was stunning–these words coming from a woman who had given up her own two daughters for a man. She knew I could do nothing and had no place to take them. I think she was deliberately taunting me by bringing it up all the time and making me feel like a horrible mother.

It was my father who finally came through. In spite of his drunkenness and physical punishments of me as a child, I don’t think he was psychopathic. Under all that anger, I think he cared about me and the children. But he was deep down a weak man who always allowed himself to be manipulated by narcissistic women. The first time I had asked for his help, his wife (a narcissist who controls all their funds) said no. She told me I was an adult and had to pull myself up by my bootstraps and shouldn’t be asking them for help. I never felt so unsupported. No one cared!

As a requirement for staying in the shelter, I was seeing a counselor, who asked me if my parents would help me pay for a small place I could take the kids. I told her they would not, but she took it upon herself to call my father anyway. Somehow hearing a professional voice instead of mine convinced him, and his wife grudgingly agreed to help me pay for an apartment on a month to month basis.

So I moved into a cute one bedroom. During this time, the kids had been living with Michael, and because our home had been foreclosed on, they had all moved to a rented house in town. I found out my poor son Ethan was required to do all the work and made to sleep in the basement. He didn’t get one of the bedrooms, though everyone else did (even though the two girls had to share). Ethan was constantly taunted about being gay (even though he was years from coming out). When he fell down on his bike one day, Rachel just stood and laughed at him. This shattered my heart.

The kids moved in with me. Ethan was thrilled, even though he had to sleep in the living room (Molly and I shared the only bedroom). At nearly 14, he was developing a love of computers and spent hours playing with the boxy old desktop I had picked up at Goodwill. We had no Internet (I couldn’t afford it, or cable either) but he had loads of games he would play and he opened up Word to write poetry and song lyrics. He was a quiet and well behaved kid, who also loved to ride his bike and sit outside on the tiny deck, watching nature. He was fascinated by weather, and set up a little homemade weather station outside he had put together with a kit.

computergeek

Molly was sullen and clearly didn’t like being with me anymore. She thought I was boring. Molly was then and still is addicted to chaos and all too often, the wrong kind of excitement. She can be a drama queen. She may be borderline or God forbid, even narcissistic, but she, like me, has been diagnosed with severe PTSD.

It was 2004 and Molly was 11, turning into a physically beautiful girl, but preteen angst mixed in with hatred for me, fueled by the brainwashing she had received. Our time together was awkward and forced. When I’d tell her to do something, she’d refuse or make a sarcastic remark, usually repeating something Michael and Rachel had said about me. Most of these things were lies. The worst was when she told me Michael and Rachel had told her the reason I left was because “your mother is selfish and doesn’t love you anymore.” I was stunned by this incredible lie. I told Molly it wasn’t true at all, and I loved her very much and she shouldn’t listen to them, but I don’t think she was convinced. To this day, there’s a rift in our relationship due to their gaslighting and triangulation that made her believe I didn’t love her. It’s gotten better and she does realize now she was lied to and manipulated. But the wounds haven’t completely healed and it’s still having repercussions in our relationship and her behavior today. She is also showing disturbing early signs of being narcissistic. But more on that later.

I wasn’t thinking straight and was making terrible choices. I got back together with the man who had gotten Michael and I in trouble for the marijuana 3 years earlier. This was a huge mistake, as he tried to take over and criticized how I was raising my children, who he thought were spoiled. They both couldn’t stand him, and after a few months, I decided I couldn’t either, and gave him the leave ho. He continued to call me for a couple of years after that, but after a while, I just started hanging up on him. Finally he gave up.

In the meantime, Michael was trying to worm his way back into our lives. Rachel and Paul had thrown HIM out of the house, and he started love bombing me and the kids, acting all simpering and apologetic, even saying he was sorry for everything he put me through. He bribed me to let him live in our tiny one bedroom by promising to be a better dad, and cooking dinner every night. He also had a job and offered to help me pay the bills. Mainly because Molly did seem much happier with him around (and I believed his empty promises) I stupidly conceded.

Michael didn’t become abusive this time, but he became loud. He was never a quiet person, but he was smoking pot constantly and when he was high, his voice became loud and he blasted his horrible music. The downstairs neighbors, who were elderly, complained the the landlord several times, and we were finally asked to leave.

Luckily I had a better place to go with the children, and the timing was perfect. The apartment we were living in had been a month to month arrangement, and my father had told me he could no longer afford the rent payments (actually his wife just didn’t want to foot the bill anymore). I didn’t earn enough at my job at the gas station to pay the whole rent, so we had to leave anyway.

I had been working with an organization called Interlace, which works with single mothers and children who have been victims of abuse. They’re a fantastic organization, and they provide free housing on an 18 month basis. The only thing they required was covering the utility bill, being available for weekly home visits and attending monthly group meetings. The group meetings were fun. Dinner was always served, and after the meeting, there was usually some group activity, usually involving arts and crafts, that both mothers and their kids participated in. They also sponsored group picnics and other events.

So we moved into a clean, well kept 3 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment with more storage space than I’d ever had in my life. There were two levels and there was even a tiny room (really an oversized closet) under the stairs that the kids had a lot of fun redecorating into a little private domain complete with large pillows, stuffed animals (both kids still loved their fluffies) and an old black and white TV that actually worked.

There were rules too. The most important one was no overnight visitors, even family members. That didn’t stop Michael from trying to manipulate and sweet talk his way in. He convinced the kids (even Ethan) that we were better together as a real family and they needed a dad. I told him it wasn’t allowed but he promised to be quiet and never answer the phone or the door. I was so broken down and afraid of him I broke the rules and said yes. Every day I was terrified we’d be discovered (we could have been thrown out), but we never were. Fortunately the weekly home visits were scheduled ahead of time, so I always made sure he was out when the counselor came over. No one suspected a thing, and the neighbors didn’t care.

But Michael didn’t stay long. After a few months, he started acting cranky again, and he was out a lot more. I didn’t mind his absence, but Molly did. She was still sullen and snippy and her grades dropped from A’s to mostly C’s and D’s. She acted like she didn’t care about anything.

It turned out he had a girlfriend. She had her own apartment and asked Michael to move in with him. Strangely, I was jealous. Or maybe just resentful because I felt I’d been duped and used. After all the hell he put me through, he actually dared to leave me? But overall, I was relieved–until one day Molly told me she wanted to live with him and not me.

Molly had been spending a lot of time with Michael and his new girlfriend (I’ll call her Heather) and always seemed in a much better mood after she had been with them. She spent less and less time at home, and there came a point where I hardly ever saw her anymore. Michael and Molly both told me Heather was a much happier and more positive person than I was, and they both preferred her company to mine. Later it turned out she was a drug addict; that probably explains the “happiness.”

Molly said if I didn’t allow her to live with them, she would hate me forever. Oh, she was good at manipulating her mom–she had learned from the best. She actually cried and said if I made her stay she’d be so miserable she might kill herself. I didn’t know what to do or say, so I allowed it.

punkgirl

Finally, in early 2006, the divorce came through. I had agreed to joint custody, not wanting to anger Michael and fearing what he might do if I “took his kids away from him.” I also didn’t want Molly to hate me by not allowing at least partial custody. So although technically we both had joint custody, the kids were allowed to choose. Ethan remained with me and occasionally visited Michael and Heather (when they wanted him around, which wasn’t often–he got on their nerves), and Molly of course got to live with them.

If I had any idea of what was actually going on in their home (I was so naive and trusting back then), I would have grabbed my daughter and ran.

Michael was regularly drinking again, and now mixing alcohol with pot AND pain pills. Heather turned out to be a pill addict and also a heavy drinker, and a number of times Molly couldn’t get to school because no one was sober enough to drive her (and there were no buses in the rural area they lived in). There were parties every weekend, where Heather’s friends, a motley crew of crackheads, meth addicts, drunks and assorted addict, came over to the house. Molly was only 12 going on 13. But that didn’t stop Heather from letting my daughter try “just one pill”or have a drink or two.

The police were called on a couple of occasions because of the fighting. Michael and Heather got into violent arguments. Unlike me though, she wasn’t afraid of Michael. She finally reached her limit and one night tossed him out, along with all his belongings. Molly had to come back home with me, but by now she had developed a taste for both drugs and alcohol, thanks to Heather’s “education,” and became worse than ever.

pills

Michael disappeared after that. I had no idea where he was and none of us, not even Molly, heard from him. Molly hated this and missed her father, but I was relieved and secretly hoped he was dead.

At the gas station, I was promoted to assistant manager, and although were were still pretty poor, I could afford a few nice things now and a new car. Our 18 months in the Interlace apartment were up, and just in the nick of time, our Section 8 came through. We moved into a charming Craftsman style two family house. We rented a three bedroom apartment on the ground floor with a front porch and a deck in the back. Section 8 paid half of the rent. And we were finally allowed to have a pet–one dog only, but that was fine. Daisy, our dog who had been a gift for Molly’s 6th birthday, been living with Heather and Rod (and various friends before that), but she was growing older and was a little arthritic, so she came home to live with us. Daisy was so happy to be home.

Molly’s drug problems were beginning to affect her at school, and her behavior at home was becoming frightening. She started wearing long sleeves all the time and when I asked why, she changed the subject. But one night I saw red marks on her wrists and forearms. She was cutting herself. When she was in 8th grade, she was caught at school with several Klonopins (she said she had gotten from her dad), which she was sharing with her friends. She was caught, and suspended for two weeks. It was at the end of the school year, so even though she got her diploma, she wasn’t allowed to attend her own graduation ceremony.

I was slowly becoming fat. I smoked too much. I was stressed and miserable, and other than work, I had no interests except eating, reading crappy novels, and watching court shows and sometimes movies on TV. I was becoming the “slovenly” mother Rachel had accused me of being several years before. I was emotionally numb, yet also prone to to occasional fits of anger that at times became violent. Either nothing affected me, or it affected me too much and I overreacted. Most of the time I felt like I was an autopilot, just going through the motions of life. There was no beauty or joy in my world, and all I could see ahead was a vast emptiness that stretched out until death. But I plodded along like an ailing cow, accepting that this state of affairs was normal. In fact, I was showing symptoms of unresolved PTSD.

My only ray of hope anymore was my dog Daisy, and my son Ethan, who was becoming a sort of guardian angel to me. By default, he was now the man of the house, and became a responsible teenager, getting himself up for school and always at the school bus on time, and always doing his homework. He had always been a B and C student, but he began to apply himself more and started getting A’s and even on the honor roll. When he was home, he was quiet and spent most of his times on the computer playing video games, posting on entertainment and racing forums, and setting up his own car racing forum. He also started making short films with his beloved new digital camera my father had bought for him. From the get go, it was evident he was talented. Soon he transferred from the regular public school to an adjunct school that specialized in computers and technology.

The more mature Ethan became, the worse his sister got. She was addicted to MySpace (we’re up to 2007 now, and that was still the most popular social network of the time) and without my knowledge, met a man online 7 years older than herself. Ben had been in prison for fraud, but passed himself off as a “good guy.” He wasn’t.

I need to take a break and eat something, so I’ll post the next part of this story in a little bit.

My son is “furry”–got a problem with that?

mexnyman

So far my blog has been pretty inoffensive. Well, I like to think so anyway. But I knew the time would come where I’d have to post about something controversial and now is that time.

My son is a furry. And not only do I not have a problem with it, I’m damned proud of him. Yes, I really did just say that.

I know what some of you are probably thinking.

“What kind of a ‘parent” are you?”
“Furries are a bunch of perverts! How can you accept your own CHILD being one?”
“You are depraved to be writing bragging about that.”
“Ewwwwwwwww!!!”
“You are going to hell and so is he.”
“You are SICK!!!ELEVENTY!!111!!
*puking sounds*
“MAKE HIM STOP!!!”

Let me explain. My son, now almost 23, was, along with me, his father’s scapegoat during most of his childhood and teen years. Like me, he’s a HSP (highly sensitive person) and HSPs and psychopaths as parents do NOT mix.

His father, Michael (not his real name), nearly destroyed my son’s self esteem. As a child, he was easily hurt, withdrawn to the point I thought he was autistic (he isn’t though your truly is), and was told (and began to believe) he couldn’t do anything right. Michael called him stupid, sissy, a wuss, and constantly told him he’d amount to nothing. Like me, my son had few friends in grade and middle school. He was bullied. I identified with him (and tried to protect him from Michael’s narcissistic rages) because well, he was so much like me.

I already told you earlier how Michael’s flying monkeys bullied him just prior to the divorce. Ethan (not his real name) was about 12 during this time and that’s a vulnerable age for even the strongest, most confident kid.

Fortunately, Ethan decided to live with me instead of his father after the divorce (my daughter chose her dad, and that’s another story I’ll get into in my next post). I don’t like to toot my own horn and I certainly wouldn’t have qualified as “Mother of the Year” but I like to think I did a pretty good job as Ethan’s mom, and some of the damage that Michael and his team of flying monkeys had done on my son was repaired. Or at least kept him from becoming one of those hardcore emo kids who writes freeverse poetry about suicide, rain and darkness and may even attempt the ultimate self destructive act. Or kept him away from drugs and early drinking. Or becoming a Narcissist himself. He never became any of those things, and in fact was always pretty straight edge. He told me (and I believe him) he never tasted alcohol until he was of legal age. He never liked pot and certainly never touched anything harder. He always did his homework. In high school he was one of those computer geeks and found he had a fascination with photography and art, something I also was involved with when I was his age.

Ethan wasn’t popular and seemed to have no interest in girls. He had a few friends he hung out with to play Age of Empires,” “Legend of Zelda” “Black and White,” and other video games. He was really good at the games and started his own forum about auto racing (something he’s still passionate about). But he was still painfully shy and lacking in confidence.

Two things helped to improve Ethan’s self esteem: Outward Bound and Kung Fu. His 8th grade graduation trip, instead of the usual “fun” trip to New York City or Washington DC, was a physically and mentally challenging 4 day Outward Bound expedition to the mountainous wildnerness right here in western North Carolina. I won’t get into detail about his trip (that’s a story he can tell), but he came back a little different, a little more mature, a bit more confident. When I asked him if he had fun, he said not really, but it was a trip he would never forget and that taught him a lot of things about himself.

When Ethan was 15, he decided to take Kung Fu classes. He was pretty good, and stuck with that for 3 years, advancing to Green Belt, which is more than halfway to Black Belt.

Ethan was keeping some secrets though, and admitted later on he was still deeply unhappy. I didn’t know this at the time, but I did know there was something he wasn’t telling me, and I could have guessed what it was. But I had to wait for him to say it.

At age 17, Ethan came out as gay. He was afraid to tell me, but I told him I had known for a long time but was waiting for him to say it. Ethan was relieved, and now that he was “out,” his confidence level went up a little more, and suddenly at school he was considered “cool,” something he had never been.

It’s so funny how kids will bully another kid they suspect of being gay but who isn’t “out” (and he was definitely bullied about that), but as soon as they’re “out,” they become accepted and cool. It’s a paradox, but it really isn’t–because it’s really not about gay vs. non-gay, it’s about self esteem. Bullied kids are kids who are too outwardly sensitive and have little self confidence. A kid with confidence, even if different from the other kids, is accepted, or at least respected. And I think that’s what happened with Ethan when he came out as gay.

After Ethan graduated from high school in 2010, he came out as “furry.” At first I didn’t even know what that meant, and Ethan didn’t want to explain it to me so I had to go online and do some research myself.

There’s been a lot of negative publicity about “furries,” especially since an infamous episode of the TV show CSI, in which a serial murderer was a furry who liked to kill wearing an animal costume. But this negativity isn’t deserved or even valid. Most of the criticism of furries is related to their alleged depravity–furry detractors insist furries engage in bestiality, or at best, have a fetish about having sex dressed up as animals.

While I won’t deny there is a subset of the furry community that may have a sexual “fursuit” fetish, it’s a small subset from what I’ve seen (and I know a lot about furries now) and the idea that they’re into bestiality is a ridiculous claim with nothing to back it up.

My intention here isn’t to give you a history of the furry fandom (there’s plenty of other places to read up on that). But a little background is required. The furry fandom grew out of the science fiction community back in the early 1980s. Most furries are geeks–comic book geeks, computer geeks, sci-fi geeks, Dragoncon geeks, art geeks, and among Millennials, animated cartoon geeks. Millennials grew up inundated with a huge array of the best made animated films and shows Disney had to offer; and because their stressed out parents were often working or busy with other things, cartoon animals like Mufasa, Timon and Pumba from “The Lion King,” CatDog, Bolt, and the Animaniacs were often left in charge as surrogate babysitters to entertain them.

Naturally a lot of Millennials developed a special affection for these cartoon critters who gave them so much laughter and comfort as children, and some of them continued this fascination into adulthood.

Enter the furries. The vast majority of them are Millennials (born from 1982 to 2000 or so) and there are a surprising number of female furries and heterosexual furries, and many of them are married. There are furry conventions that are becoming more popular every year, the most famous one being Anthrocon, which is held in Pittsburgh every year. Most furries are involved in art–either visual or performing art. I’ve talked to furries, and as a whole they’re a creative bunch. Furry isn’t a perversion; it’s a hobby, no different than someone who attends Star Trek or comic book conventions.

Being a furry has helped Ethan find his creative outlets. Ethan is naturally rather shy and reserved. Dressing up as “Mex” and his other “fursona” has allowed him to discover his outgoing and sociable side and that he has a love of performing (dancing and acting), which is something he might not have explored had it not been for the costume where he feels more comfortable experimenting with that side of himself.

He showed interest in photography and art at an early age, but has developed these abilities, and is now a fledgling filmmaker with a professional eye. He took up filmmaking in college and now has a degree. He makes his own music videos and has posted many of these on Youtube. Not all are about furries. Although none have gone “viral,” several of his films have received thousands of hits. He also is a competent artist, and draws well, although I think he’s more naturally talented at photography and filmmaking.

Here’s one of his videos from his music channel, Radio Recall.

What he’s proudest of is his dancing. He’s been training himself in street-dancing for two years. At the past two conventions he’s attended, he entered the fursuit dance competition. At the most recent one, he was one of the finalists, and he told me being accepted as a finalist was the happiest, most validating moment of his life and the high from it lasted for days. Now he’s working hard at getting even better so he can possibly win one of the Top 3 awards the conventions give out to the winners.

Here’s a video of his performance in the dance competition at a convention in Florida.

Ethan has shown me what can happen to a highly sensitive person who is able to escape from psychopathic abuse when still young, and then is given validation and encouraged to follow their own path, even if it’s not a path most of us would take. He’s shown me what I could have become had I been given such an opportunity (or taken advantage of it) when I was young. Not a furry or dancer or filmmaker, but someone who chased my dreams and never looked back. Ethan has shown me that none of us is a hopeless cause, and it really is possible to free yourself from the barbed wire prison of family psychopathy. Instead of being attacked by the flying monkeys and having your wings clipped, you can learn how to fly.

And that is why I’m proud my son is a furry.