Recently I became fed up with the lies, insinuations and manipulations of my parents, so I wrote a blog post about my love story to set the record straight. As you can imagine, it set off fireworks in my parents’ household and sparked outrage in some of my siblings. It wouldn’t, shouldn’t, have, except my parents have done a marvelous job indoctrinating their children from birth in their fundamental, patriarchal, narcissistic thinking and belief system.
You see, they neglected to indoctrinate and isolate me from birth, but started rather late, around the age of eleven or so and then, shortly thereafter, joined a cult. Not that I didn’t enjoy the same Bible-thumping, hell and damnation, you’re-a-sinner-and-you’ll-always-be-a-sinner teaching that my siblings got. However, by age 12 I had already enjoyed too much freedom to observe how other people interacted, decide how I was going to behave in any given situation, and begin to decide if I agreed with my parents or not. To them I was a rebel; how dare I question them on anything, think what I wanted instead of what they expected, and try to be an individual apart from them.
Since their cookie cutter daughter wasn’t behaving as desired, they decided they would have to start over with a new batch of progeny, but this time they would do it right. This time around the children would be isolated from birth, taught only and exactly what mom and dad wanted through home education and little to no outside interference. But since I was still a minor and living at home when they began to add their next six children, I had the privilege of being the live-in nanny, most-of-the-time cook, work full time (forget school, even though I was 16), and do more than my share of the chores.
Yeah, I couldn’t wait to get out.
Fast forward 22 1/2 years. I now have a husband, four beautiful children, a fabulous son-in-law, a grandchild on the way, and a wonderful life. Sure, I went through several bouts of counseling sessions, anti-depressants, countless hours of grief, rage, confusion, self-blame, before I was able to move out of the mire that my narcissist parents had made of my mind. The two constants in my life are my loving husband and the God that I have come to know away from the screwy, squirrel-like god that my parents taught through example.
I had made my peace with my past, forgiven my parents their neglect of me as a young child, then their constant religious barrage on my mind and my father’s sexual harassment/mental incest of me. I had moved on and could treat them with respect, be loving, while not liking their behaviors and speech. Then they began to try to influence my children, and not for the good. They began to practice their gas lighting, humiliation, and manipulation techniques on my kids. And worst of all, some of their kids, my siblings, began to do the same to my eldest child. My husband and I quickly put our foot down, drawing the boundary lines and pulling back from too much exposure.
So, naturally, my mother began her sly smear campaign to undermine my relationship with anyone that we might mutually know, including, most especially, family. She made herself and my dad out to be the victims of lies that I supposedly said and attempts to tear her family apart. My siblings began to treat us differently, as did perfect strangers, when we visited. Which, of course, made it obvious that they were talking about us. I started hearing murmurings that they didn’t know what was wrong with me, that I just didn’t want to talk with them, and they had tried to make things right with me.
Bullshit! Outright lies. I took matters in my own hands by writing my love story, which then set off a chain reaction, which I was counting on. My mother wrote me, “Alexa, your post has been forwarded to us and perhaps you and yours would like to get together to discuss this. Mom”
Heck no, to the N O!! My past experiences with them gave me no confidence that they would hear what I had to say, or acknowledge their actions and words ever. I also refused to be called to heel and controlled by them. Since they kept complaining that I wouldn’t talk with them, I wrote a letter stating all the times that they pounced on me with no warning (meaning they never asked to talk with me) and all the times that I tried talking to them since the age of eleven or so. In this letter, I not only laid out the times they blindsided me with their verbal attacks (starting with the most recent), but I also laid bare intensely private things that happened to me because they made rotten choices (or deliberately ignored my pleas) that failed to protect me, from others and them. My letter was 13 pages with 8,000 plus words.
I received silence in return.
On the 5th day, or so, after I sent it, my dad called inviting me to a family reunion on an upcoming Saturday (to which I had already rsvp’d no to my aunt about) and for a family get together the following Sunday morning. He mentioned nothing about what I wrote. I told him we couldn’t because we already had plans that weekend to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. He promptly sent an email out to my siblings and me saying, “We expect to have a great weekend of visiting: saturday afternoon (2 till closing), family reunion at Judy’s house in roanoke. I remind you that Isabelle’s 14th Birthday is on Thursday. Wouldn’t it be great to help her celebrate? In fact, I invited Alexa and Family to come be a part this weekend – perhaps some of you will encourage them to come. Since the brothers and sisters will be at our house this weekend, we could spend sunday morning from about 10 ’til noon getting resolution among ourselves and Alexa. Come one come all. Papa Bill”
Um, manipulation much? I quickly replied, “Hi Everyone, I talked with Papa this morning and told him we have a birthday party scheduled for Izzy on Friday and a couple of engagements on Saturday. So we won’t be able to come up this weekend. I want to continue our talk through email for now. Thank you, Alexa”
I sent my letter July 16th. The next email I received (about a month after mine) from my parents was an invitation for a family beach trip for the following year. Really?! Nothing about my letter. They didn’t write back to respond to me until August 24th, my husband’s birthday. I refused to read it until the next day. As expected, it was sadly lacking in any correct, normal parental response to a child that was hurt. In fact, 99% of it had nothing to do with anything I said.
I took a few days to respond, to make sure I didn’t answer out of anger, hurt or guilt. The first thing I had to remember was that, since they have twisted, narcissistic thinking, whatever I wrote would be used against me. Realizing that, I wrote a short, to the point answer, hoping it would give them a very small amount of fuel to use against me with my siblings.
Sadly, during all this, most of my siblings were silent as well. I had no idea what they were thinking, if I had blown any chance of furthering a relationship with them, if they thought I was crazy, nothing. Two of them still haven’t contacted me at all, about anything. However, at least two others have called me to talk, one about the issue, the other about life in general. Four of them have told me that they don’t see our parents behaving the way they did when I grew up. However, by their own words to each other they are contradicting themselves and not being completely honest with themselves and each other. They initially said that they agreed with everything I said concerning our parents, except the sexual harassment, or mental incest as I call it. When I stated that our parents are narcissists, that’s when they started back pedaling. I have witnessed a few of them behaving exactly like our parents, so I know that they are blinded to the reality of their thinking.
I recognize that I have roughly 23 years of being away from the insanity of our parents. Time to have worked through the mental disturbance caused by them. Time to be an adult without them constantly telling me what I should do or what I’m doing wrong. Time to be away from the head games, manipulations and humiliations that our parents excel at. So that’s what I’m giving my siblings – time. I’m 16+ years older than all of them. I’m more of an aunt than a sister. I love them and want sanity, peace and joy for them; the things I have found away from the horrible, manipulative, lying that surrounds any and all narcissists.
From everything I’ve studied on narcissists, the best way to handle them is to not! You should stay far away from them and have no interaction with them, because they are incapable of mental change and seeing life from anyone else’s perspective, and they thrive on controlling you, making you jump when they say jump, and seeing you be an emotional wreck. In my 41 years experience with my parents, I can say that the only times that were happy involving them, were the ones when I stayed away. Every time I thought that they might have changed and I should give them a chance, every time I let my guard down, they immediately pounced with their gas lighting, manipulations and, in some cases, lying.
You might be asking why I have shared all this personal information. As someone who has survived emotional and mental abuse, as well as involvement in a cult, I want to shine light on all abuse. Abusers flourish in the dark, but shine a light and you can see exactly what they’re doing. I hope to help others who’ve been abused and possibly help others to avoid abuse. We’re taught early in life to respect our elders, don’t question them, be nice to everyone no matter what, and, worst of all, we’re taught to ignore those internal warning bells that tell us when something isn’t right. Respect for others should be taught because it’s right to show respect to any person, or thing. Not because that person is older, stronger, meaner, family, in authority, or think they’re right and you’re wrong. Questions are always good – how else do we learn? Being nice is all well and good, but when the hair on your neck raises and your gut clenches at actions or words that someone else is using, there’s nothing wrong with saying “no.”
Here are some helpful links on narcissism that I’ve found and if you think this will help someone, please pass it on! I’ll write soon on how I found a life of grace and peace, despite, or maybe because of, the insanity that was my life.