Saturday, March 26, 2011

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

I was thinking of this old adage the other day and as usual it got me pondering. How many times have I, or others, heard this and incorporated it's meaning as we shift through our ideals, beliefs, etc. in our life? How many companies operate under this veiled message? I guess people assume that as long as things are going great in their life, or if a company is experiencing record sales, then everything must be fine. So let's keep doing it, right?

I've come to find that in many cases the phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is just a load of crap!! No one can argue that life is meant to be an ongoing sea of change. We see this everyday from watching our kids grow, experiencing our own changing likes/dislikes, weather, political shifts, demographic shifts, and so many others to list. Life, along with everything and everyone, is not meant to be a static object stuck in a particular moment of time. We should be continually moving, growing, learning and most of all - CHANGING! This means that sometimes things are broken and will need fixing from time to time.

The idea of 'good' and 'bad' are really subjective to our own ideals. If something is broken then it must be bad and in the same respect, if something is working then it must be good. This lax and flexible rule applies to our own personality traits/behaviors. Yes, you can be a 'good' person, but in relation to what or whom? To your neighbor? To your boss? To your spouse? Anna brings up a good perspective in her blog:

"If good is used for the evil purposes of predators then good itself becomes dangerous. We really must make determined efforts to not allow good to be used as a cloak for evil, especially if that good resides in ourselves. . . There is something fundamentally wrong with our idea of how "good" people should be if we are not discriminating enough to make sure our "good" is not used to facilitate evil. If the "good" qualities we boast of are used as weapons in the hands of a predator then our "good" is actually turned to evil. This is very serious business."

What about the narcissist? How many dysfunctional families utilize the aforementioned hidden message under the guise that everything is fine so don't try to 'fix' things by changing the status quo, speaking out, ignoring the 'white elephant in the room'? This message is highly orchestrated by the narcissist because they truly are static beings who don't believe they are broken or need to change - yes, in their mind they are inherently 'good'. And it is expected that the non-narcissist, enabler, co-narcissist is to exhibit certain 'good' qualities of their own. Some examples Anna gives of 'good' qualities expected by the narcissist are:

*deeply empathic
*people pleasing
*slow to judge
*excessively tolerant
*belief in the basic good of others

When we bestow these graces upon evil people we can safely state that these qualities become evil themselves.

I have allowed myself to be stuck in these 'good' behaviors. These characteristics in and of themselves are not 'bad' but like Anna points out, when we exhibit these qualities in the dynamics of a relationship that continually allows someone to harm us, then these traits are no longer 'good' and healthy. I've been so quick to please and very tolerant believing in the good of someones' intentions that on too many occasions I've overlooked and ignored someones' harsh criticisms, devaluing me, belittling me and my kids. I've even kept quiet when these tactics have been used on others - either overtly or covertly in the form of gossip and false concern. Thus allowing someone's evil to permeate my own heart and that of those close to me.

It's looking at this in hindsight that I realize that some of my family members are broken and YES, I am broken as well. I need fixing!! If you look from a more spiritual perspective, we are all broken. Jesus didn't come to earth to help an intact, 'good' group of people. Jesus came to offer hope and salvation to everyone because we are all broken and riddled with sin - we can't save ourselves. I think realizing this is a step in a positive direction towards healing. Not only do I have my heavenly Father's help towards changing what's broken in my heart, I can also draw on the strength of no longer being afraid to question the status quo, rock the boat and confront that nasty white elephant sitting smack dab in the middle of the room!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Little Girl Lost

Little Girl Lost
Written June 2007 / Finished Jan. 2008

Here I am alone, sitting in the corner as I cry
So much anger built up inside constantly questioning "Why?"
I remember his distance to me; quite aloof and somewhat cold
Mostly speaking if I made a mistake with a distasteful tone in his scold
Never measuring up to his standards no matter how many times I overachieved
Now locked in this world of perfection with disappointment; never relieved
And I remember her compassion yet tempered with chaos and constraint
Never allowed to disagree; only to back down and forced to compensate
I remember finding her one time crying on the floor in her despair
Her struggles put above our own and now I’m the one sitting there

I am a little girl lost
With my writing as my outlet; my voice
Though you choose to stay in denial
My heart doesn’t have that choice

I’m empty and so confused, admittedly ashamed of whom I am
So many things to be thankful for which is why I cannot understand
Yet I constantly feel inadequate and my self esteem is at an all time low
Subconsciously waiting for your permission to tell me which direction I should go
Are you even aware of what you did by overly suppressing the child inside?
You’ve muted the voice I held within and even in adulthood your grip won’t subside
Maybe if you admitted your mistakes because more than a simple ’sorry’ has come due
And stop the negative cycle of guilt you project to play the victim like you do

I am a little girl lost
Riddled with guilt and emotional decay
In a place separate from reality
As my identity has withered away

I am constantly in a struggle and getting lost in this situation
Forced to pick sides between parents and sibling triangulations
Pitting us against each other through your manipulation while being subtle
Always quick to blame who’s doing wrong, leaving you on your faultless pedestal
And I can’t forget how easy it is for you to withdraw your love and turn your back
If we try to be adults and disagree, our independence yields your verbal attacks
It’s been an unspoken rule to let the past go, or has it really been just your choice?
Since you’re unable to confront the pain you’ve caused as you fight to stifle my voice

I am a little girl lost
Acknowledging the hurt and trying to restrain
Your conditional love and constant demands
Because I know you’ll never change

The struggles I now face in adulthood are too apparent to hide
Feeling lost and unloved amidst the pain as I try to push it all aside
Struggling with this fa├žade of perfection reaching for a goal I cannot attain
Constantly pushed because of your own shortcomings while I’m left with nothing gained
Must be nice to sit in your world of that delusion where you have sole control
But I’ve moved on into reality now and to your suffocating grip I say "No More!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Healing - not all about forgiveness

Healing is not as easy as saying "I forgive you" and then it's done, especially with a narc. How do you even touch the emotion of forgiveness when the perpetrator admits to nothing and blames all but herself? Convenient for them, huh?! The damage is done yet the narc claims no responsibility to clean up their own mess. One site that I've looked at a lot recently for this purpose, to not only work on my own healing but also spiritual growth, is Luke Ministries.

After going 'no contact' for the time being from some family members, I felt an overwhelming feeling of guilt and couldn't understand why. Why should I feel guilty for cutting people out of my life who continually hurt, emotionally abuse, and criticize me - especially when their toxic behavior was starting to spill over onto my children - just because they're 'family'? It just didn't make sense. I felt like a 'bad girl' for not sticking around, submitting to their manipulations and just taking the brunt of the crap they fling at me. Truly this isn't the way one is supposed to live but I've had many years of emotional conditioning where it wasn't MY feelings I was apparently worried about deep down.

After reading more on the concept of forgiveness and contemplating on my own comfort level in dealing with these family members, I've come to realize that my healing is not dependent on giving them forgiveness; my healing is dependent on keeping their toxic behavior far away from me, my husband and my children!! Refusing to acknowledge their wrongdoing, twisting things to make it look like I'm at fault, and lying/gossipping about me behind my back just proves they are not looking for forgiveness. One only seeks forgiveness when he/she honestly feels they have done wrong and wants to make amends with the person(s) they've hurt. Forgiveness means the offensive behavior is to cease, if not greatly diminish, which has yet to ever happen.

No, a narcissist and his/her enabler isn't looking for forgiveness because they don't want to change, admit they are wrong, accept responsibility. All they want is to keep you around to cut down/abuse in order to lift themselves up. It's all about THEM, which makes it a futile effort to try and heal in that type of environment.

**Warn a divisive person once, then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned....Titus 3:10-11**

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Narcissism What??

Many have heard the word 'Narcissist', like I have, but really don't have an in depth idea as to what it really means. It is a little more than someone who just is 'full of themselves' or is conceited, vain, etc. Because the term has been 'simplified' (and isn't fully correct), it can be hard to truly convey the lasting effects one feels after being in the Narcissists' toxic presence for any length of time, let alone being raised by a narcissist parent (NP).

A quick listing of traits is given on the site - below:

Narcissistic Personality Symptoms

1.grandiosity / exaggeration
2.fantastic thinking / romantic
3.believes special / unique
4.requires admiration
5.entitled / demanding
6.exploitive / manipulative
7.lacks empathy
8.envious / jealous
9.arrogant / haughty

Narcissism falls under the Cluster B category of personality disorders - which are personalities that are highly dramatic, both emotionally and behaviorally. . . . yup, that's my Mom!! Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic, and Histrionic Personality are in this group. As one site noted: "In considering individuals who create the most damage to social and personal relationships, the abusers, manipulators, “players”, controllers, and losers are found in Cluster B."

To put it in laymen's terms with examples (which really helps me), the site has some great ones! I've added a few exerpts below based on the traits that stand out to me as being exuded frequently by my own mom:

Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers

** Everything she does is deniable. There is always a facile excuse or an explanation. Cruelties are couched in loving terms. Aggressive and hostile acts are paraded as thoughtfulness. Selfish manipulations are presented as gifts. Criticism and slander is slyly disguised as concern. She only wants what is best for you. She only wants to help you.

** She favoritizes. Narcissistic mothers commonly choose one (sometimes more) child to be the golden child and one (sometimes more) to be the scapegoat. The narcissist identifies with the golden child and provides privileges to him or her as long as the golden child does just as she wants. The golden child has to be cared for assiduously by everyone in the family. The scapegoat has no needs and instead gets to do the caring. The golden child can do nothing wrong. The scapegoat is always at fault. This creates divisions between the children, one of whom has a large investment in the mother being wise and wonderful, and the other(s) who hate her. That division will be fostered by the narcissist with lies and with blatantly unfair and favoritizing behavior. The golden child will defend the mother and indirectly perpetuate the abuse by finding reasons to blame the scapegoat for the mother’s actions. The golden child may also directly take on the narcissistic mother’s tasks by physically abusing the scapegoat so the narcissistic mother doesn’t have to do that herself.

** She demeans, criticizes and denigrates. She lets you know in all sorts of little ways that she thinks less of you than she does of your siblings or of other people in general.

** She’s a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it’s a fair bet that she’s lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her - she’ll lie to them about what other people have said, what they’ve done, or how they feel. She’ll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility.

** She has to be the center of attention all the time. This need is a defining trait of narcissists and particularly of narcissistic mothers for whom their children exist to be sources of attention and adoration.

** She is insanely defensive and is extremely sensitive to any criticism.

** She projects. This sounds a little like psycho-babble, but it is something that narcissists all do. Projection means that she will put her own bad behavior, character and traits on you so she can deny them in herself and punish you. This can be very difficult to see if you have traits that she can project on to. ex: An eating-disordered woman who obsesses over her daughter’s weight is projecting.


**She destroys your relationships. Narcissistic mothers are like tornadoes: wherever they touch down families are torn apart and wounds are inflicted. Unless the father has control over the narcissist and holds the family together, adult siblings in families with narcissistic mothers characteristically have painful relationships. Typically all communication between siblings is superficial and driven by duty, or they may never talk to each other at all. In part, these women foster dissension between their children because they enjoy the control it gives them. If those children don’t communicate except through the mother, she can decide what everyone hears. Narcissists also love the excitement and drama they create by interfering in their children’s lives. Watching people’s lives explode is better than soap operas, especially when you don’t have any empathy for their misery.
The narcissist also uses favoritism and gossip to poison her childrens’ relationships. After her children move on with adult lives, the narcissist makes sure to keep each apprised of the doings of the others, passing on the most discreditable and juicy gossip (as always, disguised as “concern”) about the other children, again, in a way that engenders contempt rather than compassion. The end result is a family in which almost all communication is triangular. The narcissist, the spider in the middle of the family web, sensitively monitors all the children for information she can use to retain her unchallenged control over the family. She then passes that on to the others, creating the resentments that prevent them from communicating directly and freely with each other. The result is that the only communication between the children is through the narcissist, exactly the way she wants it.

. . . . It is for these examples/reasons given above that I have chosen to distance myself from the flagrant toxins that are dished out in my family. It is hurtful, disappointing and it's apparent that some have made their choice to function through life this way, no matter who they hurt . . . . but I no longer can. :(

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A New Reality

WOW - I haven't written in FOREVER! To be honest, I sort of gave up on it since usual time crunches didn't make it easy to add to the daily agenda. So why start up again now? As usual, life goes around & around, stuff happens and I need to get it out . . . sort of akin to an emotional purging.

So much has happened since last July that I don't know where to begin. But I'll cut through all the mess and basically say that w/in the last 8-9 months, I've learned a lot about God, a lot about myself and even more about my dysfunctional family. And NO, my family doesn't put the 'fun' in dysFUNctional! ;)

Simply put, I believe my mother suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) along with some other cluster B personality disorder traits - Oh Joy! My sis didn't fall too far from that nutjob tree herself. And my father?? Well, he's the epitomy of enabler or co-dependent. It's always been about mom, no matter what/how she's hurt us kids. *Sigh* It's all just been a whirlwind to say the least and for the time being, I've cut contact with the three of them until further notice. I've tried to 'play nice', swallowed too much self-denial, and let too many wrongs go that were done to me. Not anymore!

So needless to say, this blog is going to take a more dramatic turn for a bit as I continue to research, discover and heal from the 30+ years of emotional and verbal abuse. It's time for me to discover who 'Brashley' really is and begin to piece the brokenness together again as I build a new reality along the way. :)