I have a moment burned into my memory that I cannot let go of. I would have been about 20, freshly left my husband, and was living with my folks until I could find a place on my own. I received a call from my sister, she had not come home that night; everyone had been worried, but she was adult so what were we to do? She called me around 8 or 9 to come and pick her up, which I promptly got up, dressed, and drove to pick her up. I did not question her about what was going on, or why I needed to pick her up. She is my sister, and that is what sisters do. That is what families are supposed to do.
Turns out she had stayed the night with a friend, the rest of the story is hers so I will not tell it. However, it was clear that she needed time to be with her then fiancé to talk about their relationship dynamic, and if it could be salvaged. I decided to go to brunch with my parents.
As soon as we drove off, my mom went into a tirade about how ungrateful my sister was. I mean she really laid into her. It was the moment that she called my sister a “slut”, without justification, that I asked my dad to turn around and take me home. I was not going to sit there and listen to that speech against my sister. I could not stand the hatred flowing from our mother. It was tangible.
I reflect on this as a woman of 31, well in May I will be 31, and realize how insane this entire situation was. Here was my mom making assumptions about what happened, and my dad sitting quietly as she yelled about raising a “slut”. He never said anything to contradict her, how strange. I could not even fathom talking about my children like this. I could not fathom allowing my spouse to behave that way to my own offspring. There is something that happens when you have a child for most people you see, you bond with them, their needs and feelings matter to you more than your own sanity. My children are the reason I am on medication to handle my trauma based mental illnesses, they deserved to have a mother who could take them to a park, and be there for school plays without continuously looking for the exit signs for the “just in case” moments.
I realize now that my mother was projecting. She wanted everyone to believe that her family was perfect, and if you deviated from that model then you were ostracized. Once I began my journey of discovery of the truth behind things, by asking family members that were there, they describe much of the same scene. Mom freaking out because someone didn’t keep their mouth shut about something. What a strangely obtuse way of thinking.
I have started to join groups for child abuse victims from the narcissistic parent, and all our stories are eerily similar. We deviated from just believing what mom said, and then we were the enemy of the family that needed to be punished. The severity of the punishment is always altered; some people were beaten, I was just psychologically manipulated into thinking that I had been crazy from the time of birth.
I guess what I am trying to get at is: if you are a victim (yes you are a victim, do not make excuses for the lack of empathy, and boundary violations from your parent) it may be time to start detaching yourself through love. This is not an easy thing to do from what I am reading. I come from a family of four siblings, so there is always that “oh come on” moment. No one believed me. However, one night when my sister was staying in Florida with parents she saw what I was put through. She called in tears, and said she finally believed me about my mom. I didn’t even say I told you so, I said how can I help; hell, I even asked if I could help pay for a hotel room to get her out of there. I did not want her to go through what I went through.
Still to this day I do not want her to go through what I go through. I know she will, and that is her choice. I still have that weird feeling that I just don’t want it happen.
I guess this is where the quote “live and let live” comes in.