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Topics - LittleBoat

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Family of Origin (FOO) / Death of an Abusive Parent
« on: June 29, 2020, 12:05:03 PM »
Hello.  Please direct me to the right discussion area.  I am the survivor of childhood abuse at the hands of my parents.  My father was physically violent and threatening.  When he died, I felt relief.  My mother was emotionally abusive and neglectful.  She is now in her final days in a nursing home.  Her dying is more complicated for me than my father's was.  I am feeling enormous ambivalence, guilt, and a bunch of emotions I can't even unravel and identify.  Please help me to find the right topic area to discuss the death of an abusive parent.  Thank you.--LittleBoat

Trigger Warning.  Content of a Sexual and Violent Nature 

Is there information anywhere in this forum about repressed childhood memories and how they might present themselves many years later?   These memories are of incest at the hands of my father.  They're pretty visceral.  Nothing specific like a clear flashback.  But something is leveling me, and I have some suspicions.  And what makes it especially hard is how much I'm beating myself up:  questioning myself, my "motives."  Like....Why would I want to "hurt" my deceased father's memory by "telling" on him?  Why would I cause pain to my family?  I was seriously gaslit as a child.  I was the Scapegoat and always at fault.  And I now have trouble knowing what is/was real.  My aunt (my father's sister) told me she is quite sure my father was sexually abused by their father.  And she is also pretty sure my father sexually abused my older brother.  And maybe my older sister.  I remember having night terrors into my teens, and dreams/fears of a dark figure in my room, as well as frequent dissociation, floating out of my body while in bed.  I also recall "playing dead" while in bed as a child so I wouldn't get hurt by some inchoate force/being that was nearby.  I had long thought these issues were caused by my father and mother getting into physically violent fights all the time, after I went to bed.  But now I'm not so sure.  Any suggestions for where I can get more information or sharing about repressed memories (other threads in this forum or some external resources) would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.  LittleBoat

That must sound like a very basic and perhaps naive question.  I know there's estrangement.  I just didn't expect to go through it so quickly and so nastily.

I was the Scapegoat child.  I was NC with my sociopath/violent father for several years, until he died.  Now I'm NC with my elderly NPD mother.  I am very LC with my older brother.  And now I've just gotten into a fight with my older sister, who has tried to stay in touch with me, more or less.  But I never liked it.  It felt fake.  My mother was the white elephant in the room. 

My sister has cancer and is now showing more curiosity, I guess, about our family, my mental health problems.  But how can you suddenly just talk?  Be honest?  Our last communication turned into a big fight.  Quickly.  There were misunderstandings.  I was quite frank in my observations about our family dynamics.  Too frank, I guess.  She finally just wrote, "I'm done."

And I really don't expect to hear from her again. 

I'm blaming myself for this.  She's blaming me, too.  Am I supposed to love her, now?  Protect her?  Expect her to finally protect me, at this stage of the game, when she never protected me before?  And my mother, I'm sure, would be glad to stoke some flames. 

So, yes.  It seems that I'm embarking, at the age of 58, on a new chapter in my life.  One where there is essentially little to no family.  But there's, at least, some truth floating around in the air.  Truth ain't so great.  At least it doesn't feel that way, right now.  My sister will die soon, without the magical family reconciliation she seems to want before she goes.  And unfortunately, now we can't eke out a little bit more time to figure out a way to stay in touch, even if it were to mean more lies and eggshells everywhere. 

If you've been there before.  Or if you know of any resources, articles, other posts in this thread, that would be very useful, right now.

Thank you,

Ideas/Tools for Recovery /
« on: June 18, 2019, 11:32:09 AM »
Hi there.  I stumbled upon this group yesterday.  I couldn't find a physical location for them.  They do have a facebook page, however.  Is anyone else familiar with this organization?  Has its resources worked?  Thank you.  LittleBoat

Hi all,

I am having boundary problems with an ex-boyfriend.  Very Ex.  Say over 35 years ago Ex.  I will call him S.

When S and I were going out in college, we got very involved in poetry, and joined up with C, an amazing poet.  We worked hard on our poetry, and we were seen as a poet-trio, asked to do performances and readings quite often.  It was a wonderful synergy that the three of us shared.

So many years have passed since S and I were involved as a couple.  I am happily married to another man, retired, and my memories of my relationship with S have faded.  We dated a LONG time ago.  He is also married, with two grown sons.

Well, in the last year or so, C and S have gotten interested in poetry again.  They want to work on poetry and do readings and performances as a trio again.  Fine, okay. 

Problem is that S, my ex, and I had a disagreement on the phone about how one of these performances should be handled.  There was anger.  He said some weird things that upset me.  I emailed him that we should just let it lie, as we weren't getting anywhere.  And I just put it aside.  There were things going on in our household.  Health problems, including a cancer scare.

Maybe 2, 3 days passed, and he started in.

And with your kind permission (and patience), I'd like to share the emails he started sending to me.

Here's the first: 

"It’s painful to me to feel separated from you, I miss you, N."

That flummoxed me.  My husband wasn't happy with it, either.  Inappropriate? 

Here's the second:

"N, I am really concerned about what's going on / not going on with our friendship.  It's not like you to not respond, and I haven't heard back from you.  I don't like to jump to conclusions, and in the absence of information, i go in different directions, unsure of what's real, what's really going on.

If I've become a persona non grata to you (which i sincerely hope I haven't), this will be the last time i reach out to you.  I don't want to cause you more pain.

But, jeeze, how could that be?  How could you throw the baby out with the bath water?  If I've displeased you (again), c'mon, I'm a flawed human being.  So are you. 

The problem with trying to talk to you in the absence of your responses, is that I really don't know what's going on.  You may not being responding because of a million things in your life unrelated to me. I don't know.

You mentioned (pre-)cancer treatments and scares, alluded to a really rough patch mental-health-wise recently, and of course there's stuff with caring for Stephen post-operations, etc etc.  I don't need this to be about 'me', if it isn't.  I'm not really sure what's going on.

I wish you'd throw me a bone, if you could.  I don't know if you're waiting for an apology from me, or if I'm a mosquito-fart in the dessert of other issues in your life.  But about fifteen years ago i must've said something so terrible to you that you stopped speaking to me for years.  This looks like repeat #2.  When we got back in touch a couple years ago, we've had so much more fun and benefit -- that I don't know how or why you'd toss me.

N, you're great.  I love you.  I support you.  If you're mad at me, be mad at me.  Tell me.  I'll fight for our relationship, but i don't want to hurt you.  If my trying to reach you hurts you, I'll stop as of today.--S"

I wrote back telling me he was jumping to conclusions.  My husband and I were dealing with health issues, as I said, including a cancer scare. 

His response was how relieved he was, as if he didn't hear anything about our health troubles.   

We spoke on the phone today, and I told him that both emails were inappropriate.  And man, my husband sure didn't like either one of them.  But S argued, and I felt confused, gaslit.  He was talking circles around me.  He said I was jumping to conclusions.  He spoke about something that happened between us 15 years ago.  I have zero memory of that.  He tried to argue that if I didn't remember 15 years ago, then the email didn't mean anything, right?  It was just a misunderstanding.  And N, you are mentally ill, so.....  That was his trump card.  Pull that one out a couple of times to make me doubt my perceptions.  Then he got angry when I told him he was not to speak in that way to me anymore.  He said he didn't like "taking orders."  I asked, "Would you have sent that yearny, frantic, romantic-y email to C?"  And he said, "I don't really talk to my male friends.  I expect more from you."  And I said, "I don't want more expected from me."  That made him angry. 

Then the inner stuff started in me.  Memories long put to bed opened up about our break-up years ago.  Very painful.  I started remembering things he did when we dated, which hurt me very badly.  Unspeakable, weird things.  I started thinking about how he felt the need to zing me.  Just say something a little mean, but ambiguous, so if I were to call him out, he'd just say, "What are talking about?" 

I'm really distraught.  Do his communications with me sound inappropriate?  Sound like something that would upset your spouse/partner?   Sound Narc-y?

Any advice?  I don't want flare-ups. 

Thank you,

Friends / Narcs on Parade
« on: May 14, 2019, 10:02:45 PM »
When does it stop?   Do the Narcs of our past conspire to come out of the woodwork at the same time?  I feel like there’s one of those little circus cars following me around, and they’re tumbling out like clowns.   First, on Mother’s Day, my Narc mom came out in full regalia and played a game of “gotcha,” figuring out a way to reach me and try to hurt me on Mother’s Day, and I’m NC with her and very LC with most of my family.   But.... gotcha! 

Now a man who I dated in college and broke up with in 1983 is back in my life, along with some other college friends, to collaborate on some poetry projects with me and one other poet fellow.  The reunion of Old Boyfriend, me, and the other poet fellow was happy and very constructive and creative.  For a while. 

But now ex-boyfriend keeps sending me inappropriate, frantic, accusatory, yearny texts and emails more and more frequently.  He has been married for decades to the same woman, and he has two grown sons.  I am in a very happy, straightforward second marriage, myself.  These missives sound pretty Narc-y to me, in that, he’ll do or say anything to get a rise out of me.  Creepy.  It’s like he is in some kind of “I don’t want you to break up with me/ you’re so mean” loop. 

I am just recovering from my mother’s nonsense.  Now I see her in his behavior. 

And it makes sense.  How many of us get romantically involved with someone who exhibits the same pathologies that we grew up with?  Why?  Because it’s all we know?  Because it’s familiar and somehow comfortable?  I left my mother’s house, met this guy right away in college and fell in love.  Now I can see this pattern.  I left him and married a guy who also turned out to be a Narc. 

My current husband says I need to tell him to knock it off.  The plan is, ask him if he would send frantic, romantic emails to our other poet friend fellow.  Or if he would cc these rants to his wife?  Or to my husband?  Or, how would he like it if I forwarded them to his wife, to the other poet fellow we’ve been collaborating with, to the other poet fellow’s wife, to my husband, and, why not, the larger group of college friends we’re now back in touch with?

That way, I guess, he’ll have his own tiny clown car with all those folks spilling out into his little world?   I like the idea of nipping it in the bud this way.  My concern is that he will only ramp up his communications to the point of harassment.  I mean, really, how could I be so mean?


Thank you,

Mother's/Father's Day / Mothers Day Abuse by Proxy
« on: May 12, 2019, 05:07:26 PM »
It's been a while since I've posted, so thank you OOTS, as I don't know who to talk to today.  Mothers Day.  My mother (with whom I'm NC) was at least a Narc, although there might have been other pathologies operating, too.  She was an abused wife, and in turn, I was her abused daughter.   She was verbally and emotionally cruel to me, alternating with being neglectful.  I was pretty much trapped in a very messed up and dangerous household for most of my childhood.

My father, a sociopath, died a few years ago, and I have felt nothing but relief since I heard the news of his death.   It meant he couldn't hurt anyone anymore.  My mother is in her 90s, and she is still capable of wreckage and cruelty and dishonesty.  My aunt lives one property over from her.  My aunt is also in her 90s, but she is the only one in my family, who believes me about the extent of the abuse, as she was badly abused by my dad (her brother).   

Okay, that's enough back story for now.  Suffice to say that I TRIED.  It's one of the worst days of the year for me, but I really tried.  I woke up, determined to at least be pleasant, even if I felt triggered and traumatized.  I watched old movie musical numbers, worked out in my mind that I would make no major emotional demands upon myself, etc. 

Now I'm ready to break dishes.  See, I called my aunt this a.m., and wouldn't you know, she launched into a tirade about my mother being cruel to her.  I listened for a few minutes, and then reminded her that I am unable to talk about my mother, at all.  She has been aware of this, but she is old, and well, if a Narc sprays you with nerve gas, as my mother is doing to her, you're pretty worked up and need to, at least, vent. 

My mother is tricky.  Very tricky.  She might be hurting my aunt because it's satisfying to hurt my aunt.  But my sister might have mentioned to her that I was in contact with my aunt.  The little kid in me might be doing some magical thinking here, but is it possible that my mother is "killing two birds with one stone"?  She never liked my aunt, so hurting her would be satisfying, but is it possible she knows this is a way to get to me? 

I can't help wondering about this. 

I can't shake the suspicion. 

Anyway, here's all the best to the strong members of this wonderful board, Kizzie et al.  I am so so glad this space exists.  I've learned a lot because of it.  May we all have a comfortable day.  As comfortable as possible.  Thanks for listening.--LittleBoat

In my recent experience, there seems to be an increase in toxic masculinity and men getting away with a LOT of bullying and messing with your head.  I thought it was just my C-PTSD acting up, but when I brought up some recent incidents I've had with different men online and in person, my psychiatrist confirmed that things just *feel worse*, as she has been harassed more than usual, of late.  Like there's something in the air.  Some kind of permission for men to act or say whatever they want, which is manipulative, hurtful and designed to keep you in your place.  The Kavanaugh situation is a huge cloud, as well.  I am now housebound, with a general feeling of "what's the use....I'm gonna get slammed again if I venture out."   I honestly can't tell if I'm sick or just appropriately angry.  I just feel like there is something pathological in the general air.  A cultural pathology that seems to silence women, with more and more "effectiveness."  But I am pretty messed up, confused, gaslit, and can't trust whether this is an accurate observation.  So I'm pretty cobbled.  Anyone else having this sense that it's not just us having C-PTSD symptoms, but that something is actually going on, which makes it more difficult to trust what men might do? 

Thank you,

Hi all.
It's been a while.  But I've basically been hijacked by my Outer Critic.  It is virulent and makes me bed bound. 

I read and re-read Pete Walker's wonderful work on the Outer Critic. 

But what happens when you bring social injustice into the mix?  Things like overt sexism, misogyny, sexual violence, racist violence, or attacks specifically targeted toward sexual preference and gender identity?

Attacks, assumptions and oversights (and actual danger) occur daily because of one's gender/race/class/sexual orientation/gender orientation.  I also deal, at this point, with ageism and classism.  I know this looks like my Outer Critic is trotting out a laundry list of reasons to frighten me (and judge others) even more deeply.

But social injustices are real and can be deeply damaging and dangerous.  Sometimes fear or anger in response to other's prejudices and untrustworthiness seem like accurate and honest modes of self protection.

Overall, my question is:  How to disentangle the Outer Critic from actual injustices and dangers?   

Hey All,

Not sure where to put this.  Having trouble getting my mind around the definition of dissociation, so not sure if this is the right place.

Over the last five years, my mental health has deteriorated quickly.  I have had cognitive difficulties, difficulty carrying out simple administrative or household chores, short attention span and poor short-term memory.  I have C-PTSD and PTSD, along with bi-polar and serial suicidality.  Additionally, I am on anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.  (I mention these drugs, as they may be a factor in my problem.) 

I got a "clean bill of health" recently, after many tests:  No Lyme Disease, MS, or Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I don't feel that I have symptoms related to autoimmune diseases, which would cause brain fog.  In addition, various brain scans showed healthy brain tissue, as well as healthy operation of the fluids/blood circulating around my brain.  No signs of memory degeneration related to Alzheimers.

So....Why can't I (a former English Professor and Grant Writer, with a Ph.D.) have trouble reading books above a 10th grade level?  Why can't I focus for more than a few pages at a time?  Or even focus on getting through one page?  What happened to my attention span?  And why can't I fill out a bank deposit slip?  Why do I get daunted by a pile of laundry that needs folding?  Why do I lose the capacity to keep things straight when setting up an appointment?  Why do I lose words when I talk?  Why can't I find my way around when I drive on routes that used to come to me automatically?   Why can't I make plans and carry them out?  Or multi-task at the most basic level, even, say, doing two small things at a time or writing something down while someone is talking to me?  I used to be a terrific multi-tasker, which helped me personally and professionally. 

My world is becoming one of Post-It Notes stuck here and there and then I just lose them.   

After my positive doctors appointment, I asked her if childhood trauma could cause cognitive faltering.  She said, Yes.  As can the meds I'm on. 

I am also realizing that, while I have a slew of flashbacks, my memory channels of GOOD things and times with old friends are hampered, disjointed, with blank gaps, which make me feel like I'm sort of just pasted together without a clear, linear how things have unfolded in my life, how I've made decisions, and how I've developed. 

Any clues?  Is this dissociation?  Is short and long-term memory re-gainable?  Can anyone steer me to research on this subject?

Thank you,

Hi.  I've been posting about inner and outer critics and grief, lately.  And I guess I'm posting about that stuff again.  I don't know (or trust) how accurate I am when reacting to somebody's words or actions.  I very much fear I over-react to things that others can simply brush off as small misunderstandings.  Very afraid of coming across oddly or impolitely or over-dramatically. 

A little background:  I needed to quit a successful career and go on disability, followed by a series of hospitalizations for mental illness.  I was popular and respected before these occurrences.  But once I got sick enough for the hospital, friends disappeared, almost overnight. 

Now I am finally re-establishing some connections, alliances and a small new handful of friends.  But the critics (both inner and outer) are so prominent, as is grief, that I fear I might be too much for people, that I will trigger them, or frighten them, or misread them, thereby angering them, and I will lose people again. 

I am NC with my mother and have very little contact with my FOO, because we have different perceptions of our upbringing.  I was the scapegoat.  I also never had children, and I am of the age where I am old enough to even have grandchildren.  My husband is a saint.  He takes care of me, and he also lets me know why I am a special person.  It is very important to me that I feel I am making a positive contribution in the world, that I'm adding value, that I can retain thoughtfulness, self-awareness, and be kind.  But there's so much going on in me, both through healing CPTSD and also my precarious mental health, that I lose track.  It's like I'm in a storm, and the sail has ripped, and I'm hugging the mast.  Just.....precarious.

So I am suffering.  And lonely.  And I just so fear "using somebody up" or burdening them or saying one thing too many, finding myself without friends.  Thanks for listening.  --LittleBoat

General Discussion / Grieving.
« on: June 29, 2018, 09:42:17 PM »

I've been having more grief, lately.  Some of it has been troubling and full of despair.  But those periods also made me realize that there is a hole in my core that can't ever be filled by other's love.  It's a hole from, I'm pretty sure, a very young, pre-verbal place.  It was dreadful to sob in a ball, feeling so desolate.  But I am glad to have learned this.  Because now I won't be looking to others to fill that hole for me.  It isn't their job. 

Today I was writing to a dear friend, and I started thinking about how our culture does a terrible job with teaching people how to deal with others' grief and suffering.  I began to sob, but this was different than the desolate feeling from the day before.  I felt a sense of relief and hope and being in the present moment.  This is what Pete Walker stresses:  That grieving cleanses.  It was a short-lived but remarkable re-attachment to my present life and things that offer the simplest of pleasures. 

It is now the end of the day, and I don't feel that sense of relief and hope.  I just feel spent, exhausted, and depressed.  I think, for the amount of inner work I've been going through, that such feelings are to be expected.  Like running a marathon inside your soul.

I am wondering if, as a person moves into and through the grieving stage, the window of relief and release grows wider.  I am wondering if it is "normal" to feel just a crack of light, a small sliver of hope and cleansing, during the earliest stages of grief, and that maybe, with further grief work, that crack, that sliver, will widen slowly over time.  I hope so.  I really do.  Can anyone relate?  All best, LittleBoat

General Discussion / How to Handle Current Events? Trigger Warning
« on: June 19, 2018, 01:54:49 PM »
I have read the guidelines, but I will add a trigger warning, here.  Kizzie, please contact me and remove if you think this isn't appropriate or can cause friction.

I am in a bad place, as it is.  A lot of grieving the severe abuse I received at the hands of my parents when I was little. 

But I am so triggered by the camps set up at the border, in which young children are being forced to stay.

Is there a place, here, where this topic can be discussed?

Thank you,

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Just a big mess (potential trigger)
« on: June 05, 2018, 12:30:47 PM »
Does anybody get stuck?  Unable to do anything?  Unable to keep simple tasks straight in your head?  Unable to carry out even the simplest "Activities of Daily Living" without some gnawing dread?   I struggle with Bi-Polar, in addition to C-PTSD, so maybe it's related to that.  But right now, I can't fold laundry, go through piles of old paperwork, organize my poetry (I'm a poet, full time), do banking, go food shopping, go to my writing workshops, take a shower, get dressed.  I feel like I'm just sitting in a big mess.  Each little task reminds me of a bigger, more challenging task that takes me to more challenging realizations:  Money issues, being potentially unsuccessful as a poet, needing to go on Disability and leaving a great career, not having a sense of inner strength, losing a lot of friends.  See?  It gets big really quickly, so I just sit in a big mess, unable to move.

But I think the big mess was what my parents were.  Just a big mess.  No love to give, both extremely abusive, a lot of violence and daily chaos.  I was a good student, always.  But I do remember having trouble keeping paperwork together in my room when I was about 12 or so.  I remember the floor being covered with books and papers and I was just sitting in the middle of all of it, unable to figure out what to do.  My mother stopped by my door, saw the situation, started screaming and pulling at her hair, her face all red.  She was having a fit.  She had these stupid fits, apparently about me, and they really messed with me.  To this day.  But, you know?  The mess on the floor was the mess in my head caused by the mess that was my daily home life.  The mess they caused.  The mess that they were.  This "fit" must be a flashback, because it runs like a movie in my head.  It is very very difficult to separate the mess that was my parents from the mess I perceive in myself and in my current, adult life. 

Does this register with anyone?  Thank you,

Well, It's started.  The grief, the deep deep grief.  Pete Walker talks about the steps to recovery, from just learning about C-PTSD and what type of survivor you are to learning about Inner Critic, then Outer Critic, and then....Grief.  I am reading the chapter he wrote about that topic very slowly.  It is exhausting.  I am exhausted.  The full emotional "memory" is all-encompassing abandonment.  Being alone and scared and bereft.  A lot of mother stuff coming up.  Not so much what she did.  But what I didn't get.  What I needed, which was bare minimum care.  Security not danger.  Not cruelty.  The visual image I have is me being curled up on the floor in a corner, hugging my knees to my chest, sobbing, calling, screaming for some kind of help from somebody.  But there was no help.  I was a hostage.  And all these years lost to this horror.  I grieve the utter lack of love.  Of even the most basic recognition or regard or minimal politeness that a stranger might expect.  I think I will need to find another therapist.  One who can accompany me through grief, this deep place in my psyche.  Is there anyone else who experiences grief?  Do you have any suggestions?  Thank you, LittleBoat 

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