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Symptoms => Symptoms - Other => Topic started by: Ambassador on October 01, 2019, 04:28:10 AM

Title: Cognitive Dissonance
Post by: Ambassador on October 01, 2019, 04:28:10 AM
Hello all. I was hoping to get some opinions/suggestions on some cognitive dissonance I've been having lately.
Recently I've begun to comprehend that my childhood was abusive. Specific chunks of it at least; moments that are blatant enough they can't be explained away anymore, especially on my dad side (my parents divorced when I was young, so I sort of feel I have 2 childhoods). That one I can accept.

However, as I explore my memories on my mom side, as well as my years before 6, I hit a couple of walls. For the earlier part, as a very young child pre-divorce, there's a lot of positive and "normal" memories; it's very middle class home, two loving parents, stay-at-home mom, safe friendly neighborhood, golden retriever (very '90s). The problem with this is it doesn't entirely match up with my symptoms, and a couple of little memories, and there's a sense that it's almost... too perfect. But I can't think of anything that stands out as particularly damaging, pre-divorce.

On my mom's side of childhood memories, there's mostly a lot of guilt. Though I remember a very distinct feeling of being alone emotionally and sometimes physically (not to the point of physical neglect, but because we lived very rural, no neighbors or friends), I also have memories of periods of time where there was more casual lightness; like joking and watching tv shows together. I also know that my mom tried her best and was simply overwhelmed with being a single parent of two kids, during the recession, with at least severe depression. There are also a number of memories where she was very comforting, especially in the first couple years after the divorce. The challenge has also been compounded by the fact that recently she and I have spent some time together, and she's made a lot of progress with her own therapy to the point I'd say our relationship is healthy. All those contribute to a sense that it's unfair for me to consider her a neglectful or abusive parent, despite other memories that fall along those lines, and some very distinct periods of time where I felt outright abandoned.

So my questions here are: how do you reconcile being unable to recognize/accept a person as abusive (or previously abusive) with such conflicting memories, especially without delayed resentment affecting the present, and is it even necessary? Or would avoiding labeling it be denial? Any advice/insight would be helpful, and I do recognize the answers of what works are highly individual, so I'm largely looking for what works for you guys. Also, I do intend to bring this issue/dissonance up with my therapist as well.
Title: Re: Cognitive Dissonance
Post by: Blueberry on October 02, 2019, 03:41:11 PM
I'll try my best to give you an answer.

I have heard that if childhoods were 100% rotten, we wouldn't have survived at all. There would have been nothing for the children we were to keep going for.

Sometimes it takes a while for memories to come. I used to think my early childhood up to about 6 years old was good and normal. Then I realised that it wasn't. It was just a lot better than what came later.

The divorce itself could have been damaging, traumatising even. Just because divorce is commonplace doesn't mean it can't damage/traumatise a child.

It's good to hear your M has been in therapy and making progress (more than lots of parents of mbrs on here) but that still doesn't take away the harm or neglect you experienced at her hands. She may also not have meant to harm you, but something about the situation or her actions did. A parent actually wanting to harm their own child compounds the trauma. cptsd can occur without that though.
Title: Re: Cognitive Dissonance
Post by: Kizzie on October 02, 2019, 04:03:37 PM
It's tough one Ambassador and I struggle along the same lines. My parents both grew up with a lot of trauma themselves which is how they developed NPD so they continued the cycle (both their parents had a lot of trauma as well). At the same time they abused & neglected me and that's been so debilitating to say the least for all my 60+ years. 

The best I can do is to feel some compassion for them as people and what they went through but not forgive their behaviour.  To forgive somehow seems like a betrayal of my self and I think would cause me to push down the anger and grief I need, at least right now to work through my trauma.

I don't know if it's reconciling the two for me, it's more a case of trying to live as well as I can with dissonant feelings.  :Idunno:

Title: Re: Cognitive Dissonance
Post by: Ambassador on October 04, 2019, 05:40:37 AM
Thank you for your responses. I'm still processing that trauma can still happen without (as much) direct intention, but your words help me accept it a little easier. I think with time things will get clearer and make more sense.

Kizzie, it's sort of bittersweet to hear you say you've struggled with it for so long; I often find myself expecting that healing means completely "getting over" it and not being dissonant ever again, so to know that it may not happen like that takes the pressure off. I'm hoping that there's a way to at least live somewhat peaceably with the memories at least, and not so controlled by them.
Title: Re: Cognitive Dissonance
Post by: Kizzie on October 04, 2019, 04:01:31 PM
I should have mentioned that people with NPD like my parents don't think they have a problem, rarely go to treatment and don't get better so on top of the dissonance there is no chance of them making things right. 

Your M on the other hand is trying and from the sounds of it is making progress so at some point she may be able to right the past to some degree. That wouldn't erase the past but it might provide you with some relief.  I hope so  :)
Title: Re: Cognitive Dissonance
Post by: Ambassador on October 04, 2019, 06:29:53 PM
Thank you for clarifying. I don't believe my mom has NPD, but there's a strong my chance my dad does, and her depression was largely in correlation to that. And yes, with her improvement there has been a lot of relief and some reconciliation, though it's where the dissonance comes from; kind of a blending of experience of comprehending the past as bad as it was, with trying to have a relationship with her in her more respectful present state.