Have you ever felt that you couldn’t let go of something until the other person knew how much they hurt you?
Until the other person truly understood their role in your sadness, anger or downward spiral?
Have you ever felt that incessant need to confront and beat the point home until they understood the pain they have caused?
You are not alone.
In healthy relationships, being honest about where you are and how you are affected by certain behaviors is important to heal and move forward. But we are talking about something completely different. We are talking about someone who has no intention of ever fully taking responsibility.
For so much of my young life, I believed my word meant nothing.
I was never asked my opinion or thoughts on anything.
I was never asked if I was okay with something and if I was crying, I was ignored or told I was over reacting.
The frustration would build and build until I exploded and instead of hugging me or meeting me in that space, my parents (especially my mother) used my outburst as ammo and chose to punishment me instead.
I couldn’t go to dances, get togethers or use my computer.
There was no room for me to feel.
These practices instilled in me that conflict was terrible.
I saw it as negative and that if I spoke how I felt, that meant I got in trouble or that someone was giving up on me.
It was within all of that internalizing and constantly building resentment, that I spent years and years after my childhood, at war with myself and those around me.
It was no joke.
And if you have experienced narcissistic abuse as child, you know what I am talking about.
I was mean. I was ruthless. I was angry.
What was happening internally, I recreated externally.
Because I never built the proper coping mechanisms to deal with my emotions in addition to never feeling comfortable with owning how I felt and communicating it, I’d hold everything in and only express it when I truly had enough.
And it was never really a conscious decision.
I wasn’t in control.
I knew I had enough when I would explode or just completely cut someone out of my life.
It was the only way I knew how to communicate.
It was the only way I felt I could get the attention. —
My mother followed me into my adult life for the first 8.5 years of it.
So, as you can imagine, the patterns from my childhood and adolescence, came along too.
Everything about my mother irritated the fuck out of me.
But before I started getting educated and figuring out she was the problem, I took on a lot of that responsibility.
I thought it was my fault.
I thought I wasn’t working hard enough.
I wanted a mother I could be proud of. One that could be proud of me.
A home that I could have friends over and not feel shameful or embarrassed.
I wanted that soothing and loving relationship with my family that I saw so many other girls have.
I worked so hard on educating myself and being the ‘smart one.’
But it didn’t matter how much I was trying to accomplish and mold on the outside.
I had so much deep deep resentment on the inside that I wasn’t addressing.
My mother was RARELY available to the truth.
We rarely spoke about my perspective of my childhood and how I was extremely suicidal for years.
And in order for us to ever really connect, I would have to bring it all forward and she would need to show up with that same vulnerability and I eventually realized that it was impossible.
I thought I had to just get over it.
‘You’re an adult now. Grow up.’
I took on her resistance to reality and instead of dealing within, I just became more productive on the outside.
Still, even in those decisions, I was searching for that acknowledgement.
The little girl inside of me was desperate to feel heard and understood.
Desperate to feel safe.
The times that my mother was available to ‘the truth’ it most often it came with an agenda.
She needed advice or insight on something and knew that I would need to express myself or opinion in order to get that.
It was also such a mind fuck for someone to show such disgust for me but to then also want my advice. I suppose it was the only thing she thought was valuable about me, …
‘how smart I was.’
Again, these weren’t conscious decisions or thoughts I was having.
Although, there was a part of me that somehow knew I could get some of my thoughts out about how I really felt about her and her choices through this conversation and I took advantage.
I actually wanted to help her and show her the way. I thought there was something I could say or do to influence her development. I was still unaware of how much she created a dynamic where she was the basis for everything, my entire life. (Codependency AF)
Speaking of codependency, I also knew her very well. How could I not when I was conditioned to please her my whole life?
With that, I knew her stamina was short and that if I got too real, she would either walk away or she would create an argument out of it to then blame me for not letting things go.
I remember moments of her asking for advice for my brother and how to reach him (he battled drug abuse for a very long time) – and I would start to tell her that I think he’s lonely. I think he needs real and consistent love and nurturing to feel worthy of a better life. I used to drive myself insane looking for solutions for her and for him.
And I would mention that she never taught us how to properly exist in society.
(I also was so unaware of my strength and wisdom at this age, that it’s almost frightening to look back now)
I would tell her that I was terribly depressed as a child because of how much she ignored me.
And this is what hurts me the most;
The first time I said that to her, ‘Amanda you are wrong. That is not what happened. You had a great childhood.’
I remember feeling infuriated.
She not only told me my memories were false but she also completely dismissed my feelings surrounding this.
And she did this my whole life.
I was so upset. I started to scream at her.
Are you kidding me? Choosing a pretend father figure over your children is love? Do you know how much you harmed our relationship with men? With trust? With EVERYTHING? Why do you think I go to therapy?
But you always had the school supplies you needed and food on the table.
And then she walked away.
AGAIN, I was ignored. Again, she couldn’t see my anger as sadness.
She needed to believe that providing physical needs was the same as emotional nourishment.
She had no idea that she bought the supplies in colors we never wanted.
That most of the time, we would shove half eaten pieces of her food in a napkin, because we never liked the taste of it.
But still, …
I wanted my mom to see me.
I wanted her to change.
Why did I need to be cut open and bleeding on the floor to get any recognition?
Still, I couldn’t give it up.
I screamed and let go of my power in those moments.
And there were many after that.
Every time I had an opportunity, every time I felt the need to get it out, ..
I went for it.
I was desperate to feel heard.
I was living a double life and my home was the only place that any of that came out.
Almost every time, she would either scream, doubt me or walk away.
I would then go to my room or go to work and debate for hours if I saw things wrong.
Debated if I was too much.
If I was overreacting.
I was so used to being questioned and told I was incorrect, that this was the mental cycle for me.
Most of the time, I ended up so exhausted that I would give up the fight and things would ‘go back to normal,’ the next day.
But I still couldn’t see that this was all strategy for her.
That she would never be able to fully meet me there.
That I was punishing myself by consistently going into a battle that I would never win.
And to be honest there were some short lived times that she would cry and say she was sorry but there was never any consistent action taken afterwards.
She believed ONE CONVERSATION and a half ass apology meant that everything needed to be forgotten about.
She had no regard for how long and often the effort and consistency would need to be for us to ever trust her again.
She used my anger towards her as a reason to never try.
She would use every vocab word I discovered (emotional abuse, dismissive, codependent, etc) against me and say that it was actually me being the bully to her.
And honestly, for awhile I almost believed it.
Until I didn’t.
Until I started to get over how exhausted I was after talking to her.
Even being around her.
How angry I was at her refusal to not only acknowledge what she has done but her refusal to put the work in to make it right.
I had to stop taking on her lack of effort as a reflection of my worth.
My father was long gone by this point which wasn’t helpful
And combined with her lack of effort to really be there for us and to understand the struggles, was so painful.
If my own parents don’t care enough to be there for me, who else would?
My parents don’t even give a shit about me, so why should I?
It was the acceptance around what my reality was, that really propelled me to the next level.
It was not easy.
I had to realize I recreated that pattern everywhere.
I didn’t feel worthy of anything positive or loving.
My friendships, my relationships and most importantly, the dynamic with myself, reflected those same beliefs.
It was a humbling but transformative time.
A lot of what I learned I reveal in my recovery program but the most important thing I learned is, …
I know the truth. And that is ENOUGH.
I spent months looking at her, as we shared a space for a long time, and I started to feel nothing.
Yes, her voice drove me crazy.
Her choices and body language really fucking bothered me.
But my need for her to understand me, to love me, to tell me that she hears me and she’ll put the work in? Started to diminish.
I began to fully and completely understand that she couldn’t feel long enough to ever make any changes.
It was too difficult for her and while I understood the challenge, I no longer was lenient with the lack of effort.
She wanted us to forget and move on so we would never ask questions.
But I wanted to be different.
I started to believe I could make the changes on my own even if I was consistently misunderstood in that process.
I made the decisions to stop shining less for her to be more comfortable.
Which led me to finally stopping feeling responsible for her happiness or well being.
That’s when I knew I was ready to let go.
That’s when I knew I had to give myself the permission to surrender that.
My ego no longer was bruised or affected by her behavior.
This fight was over.
I spent the time learning and educating myself about the truth.
I started FOR THE FIRST TIME to believe my own thoughts.
To believe that what I felt and went through was accurate.
That no one could tell me otherwise.
I didn’t need her to see me anymore.
I was finally free.
And there are times when I still think about it.
Times when I am frustrated or wish I had a parent to call for insight on something, ..
And while I give myself the opportunity to feel that, I make sure to remember to check myself and not let that frustration overstay it’s welcome.
Because I know where it will take me.
I’ll pick up the phone, reach out, put myself in danger and start the cycle all over again.
But now I know better.
So it’s my responsibility to do better.
And I remind myself, that I can do this.
How I feel about me, is what matters.
How I feel about what happened in my life, is enough.
And I take a look at the evidence at how much I’ve been through and conquered already and remember that, if I can do all of that, …
I have the strength to overcome anything.
I know that.
I believe that.
And that is enough.