- We met up with our best friends and new friends to plan a road trip to Traverse City, Michigan this spring. We ate supper together, played a game, and laughed a lot. It was a fun evening.
- Angel’s mole that was removed is benign.
- Angel just signed up for her first half-marathon. It’s pretty cool she is following in my footsteps.
- Volunteer time, it feels good to be able to help other people.
- Couples therapy, I think we are making a lot of headway.
- We hosted a planning committee for the summer sailing season.
- I did a lot of planning this week for work and for fun. I could literally sit and plan for hours and enjoy it.
- I’m grateful my son is spending his time when he works limited hours to work on the garage apartment remodeling project. There are two unfinished rooms upstairs. One that is very small which he wants to use as a recording studio. His buddies and him are putting up the wall and put in a door. Then there is a very large room which they are planning on making into a living room that they are drywalling.
- This seems to be a relative period of harmony where everyone is working together. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.
- I was able to spend time with my kids this week and that is always a good thing.
- Paul, Dan, and Alex are working on my son’s car today as some parts came in. It is bitterly cold outside so the car wouldn’t start. It looks like my husband finally got it started.
- Fires in our fireplace on cold winter evenings.
- Arabella went through with the wisdom teeth extraction even though she couldn’t be sedated. (Although now she has dry socket, so…hopefully next week’s gratitude will be that she is feeling better).
- My son’s girlfriend bought cookie cutters and sprinkles on clearance and came over to make Christmas cookies with me. We talked about making cookies at Christmastime. I didn’t think it would happen, but it did.
- Clean sheets.
- My son’s car ended up being totaled after someone ran a red light on Christmas Eve and hit him. Thankfully my new son-in-law knows a lot about cars and is helping my husband and son in the restoration process.
- It’s been a rough week. I just haven’t been feeling good lately and feel exhausted. I’ve been struggling a lot with depression too, but here I am.
- I’m looking forward to doing some large scale planning this week.
- Time spent with family.
- Angel had a large mole removed this week and everything went well. We are just waiting to hear back with the test results.
Arabella had her wisdom teeth removed yesterday. Although it’s a relatively normal routine experience for someone of her age, there was nothing normal about her experience.
Will and I went with Arabella for her appointment. The paperwork part seemed to take forever. Maybe because she lost the paperwork they sent her so she had to fill it out there. The forms asked for all of her medications and dosage which we didn’t have with us.
Arabella asked Will and I to come in with her for the surgery consult. The nurse asked questions about her forms. She also asked when was the last time Arabella smoked marijuana to which she replied last night. The nurse left the room then Arabella and Will started arguing rather loudly. Will said she wasn’t supposed to smoke and Arabella said it didn’t matter. She was screaming and swearing at him asking how he would know he never had his wisdom teeth out. I told my daughter to stop, she did.
Then the dentist came in. He told my daughter he was refusing to sedate her because he wouldn’t sedate anyone who smoked in less than 24 hours, preferably 48, because he said there is an increased risk of cardiac arrest with anesthesia. Then she said it was probably 24 hours and Will said it was definitely not which started another round of screaming. The dentist said she could stay awake during the procedure or reschedule for two months from now. My daughter freaked out in a full blown panic.
By this time the nurse was also getting upset saying she could drug test my daughter and told her they had other patients scheduled for surgery after hers and they were behind now. They did thank her for being honest but said she had to hurry up and make up her mind whether she was going to do the surgery or not. She decided to go ahead with it. Will and I quickly left the room. I saw the dentist in the hallway and apologized for my daughter’s behavior stating mental health issues blah blah blah. She was quite agitated when we left her in the room. The dentist said he could stop the surgery at anytime if it wasn’t going well. She did have the option of laughing gas.
Meanwhile out in the lobby I told Will I didn’t like how my daughter was treating him. I told him I was going to tell her that her behavior towards him was totally unacceptable. He asked me not to because it would only make things worse. I asked him why he puts up with it and he sadly said because he loves her. I truly believe he does. I think he is good for her but I can’t say the same for her. For the longest time I’ve been her scapegoat for her rages and mood swings. Now it is him. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him yet relief it is no longer me and I don’t have to live with her anymore.
I was in fight or flight mode pretty much the whole consult and when she first went into surgery. It was very triggering. It also brought back feelings of going with my mom to take Matt to doctor appointments when he could attack people. My new therapist said triggers are good because they show areas that still need some work. But I wonder what she would say if I told her I get triggered every day multiple times a day. I don’t think that is quite normal. Maybe I’m a long way from being healthy. It’s such a depressing thought that it could be an unattainable goal.
Every time the door would open and a nurse would come out I thought they might be coming for me with something wrong. Plus I don’t numb to local anesthesia so I worried she could have problems with that too. Instead they were calling in other mom’s with their teenagers for a consult. I envied them for their normal routine wisdom teeth extraction mother/daughter moment.
Will told me not to worry everything was fine. Arabella sent him a message that she loves surgery shortly after they started the laughing gas. It reminded me of the time I took my MIL in for a breast biopsy that gave her the diagnosis of breast cancer. Arabella is a lot like her. Once medicated my MIL said she loves biopsies and how she could go in and have a biopsy every day. I was finally able to relax a little with that thought.
After another hour of waiting, they called us back in. The surgery went great, better than expected. I’m sure their expectations, along with mine, were pretty low. I wondered how often they see someone with mental health issues like my daughter’s. They sometimes need routine surgeries too. Maybe that is the only thing normal about it.
- A lunch date with my friend Jen.
- My best friend came over and surprised me with a gift, a beautiful design she cross stitched and framed for me.
- The salvage yard came and took my son’s car which hasn’t been running since this past summer.
- Volunteering and feeling like it makes a difference. A woman came in with her baby. It was cold outside and the baby didn’t have a jacket. The woman found a sweater for him to bundle him up in. I’m grateful to be a part of an organization that helps families in need.
- My husband and I had a nice visit with my cousin from out of state.
- I started working on my book again.
- A lunch date with my husband and daughter Angel.
- My cat is back on his meds. With the vet office closing, I had to switch his OTC arthritis pills around. Also, his thyroid meds were on back order so he didn’t have any pills for several days. I noticed he seemed more agitated than usual. He was crying more, scratching, and biting at his paws. He is 16 years old and sleeps 90% of the day. He was awake a lot more and uncomfortable. Now he is back to normal and that is a good thing.
Last week was a hard week for me. Although I’ve been toying with the idea for years, I think I’ve finally accepted the fact that my mom is a narcissist. It threw me into a PTSD loop of nightmares, insomnia, panic, hopelessness, and despair. My normally high hypervigilance skyrocketed. One night I even awoke in terror because the furnace was making a different humming noise in the vent of my bedroom. I had to constantly tell myself I wasn’t in danger and I felt frequent paranoia I was.
I had plans with my mom on Wednesday which she cancelled and pushed back until Thursday because she heard the weather might be bad. It wasn’t all that bad, schools weren’t cancelled and my son wasn’t called in to work. So I made other plans for Wednesday. I had a lot of errands to run and was getting ready to go when my mom texted me saying she changed her mind and wanted to come over on Wednesday instead. I told her it wouldn’t work out and she said maybe Thursday which I replied okay.
Thursday morning came and went without a peep from my mom. Then she texted me saying she was going to come over after lunch. I told her it wouldn’t work because Arabella called and asked me if I could take her to her doctor appointment since she didn’t have a car. The morning would’ve worked but the afternoon didn’t. Then my mom asked me what time the appointment was and said she would come over an hour before I had to leave to go for a walk with me. I told her it wouldn’t work because an hour before I had to leave just wasn’t going to work for me.
Then I asked my mom if she wanted to go along with me on Sunday afternoon to do some volunteer work. She said she had other plans which was fine. Then she asked me when we could get together instead. I replied I had a really busy week but could get together on Friday, tomorrow. Then she asked me if there was any way I could make room for her in my very busy week. Again, I replied yes on Friday I have the whole day open.
On Saturday night I planned a birthday party for my best friend with our husbands and another couple. We had reservations to go out to eat and to a comedy show. Shortly before leaving my mom tried calling and I didn’t answer. While out with friends I got a barrage of texts from her. Are you mad at me? Why are you avoiding me? She asked if I was angry because she gave Angel a hard time. Lately my mom has been getting a rise out of me by targeting my daughter. My mom said everything was fine because she apologized to my daughter and I shouldn’t be angry with her about that. I ignored the texts because I was out with friends and wanted to be in the moment with them. But it was very upsetting to me.
On Sunday morning I texted my mom back telling her that she cancelled out on me and I had made other plans. I told her I tried to get together with her on Sunday but she had plans. She did not acknowledge anything I said and asked me again if I was mad. Then she wanted to know what I was so busy doing I couldn’t get together earlier. Well, yes, I am feeling quite pissed now. I hope tomorrow I get COVID or the stomach flu. Her controlling and manipulative behavior was very triggering to me.
I never considered until this past week that I endured a lifetime of narcissistic abuse from her. It was so subtle. She wanted to force a life for me I never wanted. She picked out the clothes she wanted me to wear. For example, for junior prom one day she came home with a prom dress for me to wear. I hated it but wore it anyway. She tried to dictate the music I listened to and even my relationships with other people. I was her best friend and she openly disapproved of everything I wanted that she didn’t want for me. She guilted me by always being the victim. I had to comfort her but she was incapable of comforting me. She is never happy for me. She never wanted me to leave her and live my own life. She always had her best interests in mind front and foremost. I never really looked at that fully until now.
Now as I look back at my life I feel this overwhelming grief. I lost my childhood. There was never peace and joy in my household just pain and suffering. Why do I expect to experience something now I’ve never experienced before? I have no idea how it works. Something as simple as peace.
I should have left a long long time ago. I grew up with my dad being emotionally/verbally abusive. He constantly told us we were stupid and his favorite thing to do as a dad was to terrorize us by the things we were most afraid of. Then there was Matt, my autistic brother who physically abused us. It was pretty bad. Then my mom with her narcissistic abuse. I am angry at myself for not walking away. I put my life on hold because I was the dutiful daughter always ready to help. My mom needed me. I went to the college closest to home. I went to college with dreams of being a counselor because I felt pretty confident I could do that. Then I could take everything I learned and fix my dysfunctional family.
The problem was that I cared too much. I got suckered and fell into the manipulation and control. I thought I could change things but instead over time there was new and creative ways my family of origin caused pain and suffering. If I could go back in time I would leave home and go to college in a place far away. I would’ve went to school for microbiology or God forbid be an English major working as an editor or writer. I didn’t even start writing until I was in my 40’s. (I did have diaries as a teen but my mom read them and got angry for what I wrote). I would’ve joined the college choir. But I wasn’t good enough. I was too stupid. An idiot who didn’t know how to do anything right.
I want to leave, I really do. What’s worse is that my son’s girlfriend comes from a family like mine. Because she is kind and compassionate I see them doing to her what my family did to me. When I hear about the things they do that hurt her I want to tell her to leave because it is never going to change or get better no matter how hard she tries. I want her to leave her abusive relationship with her parents. But how can I tell her that when I won’t leave mine? My therapist said it’s not too late to leave but I don’t really know how. At this point I feel like it’s too late.
This past week I finished reading A Father’s Story, a memoir written by Lionel Dahmer the father of notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. I found a renewed interest in the story after watching the Dahmer Netflix series. I remember the story unfolding as a teenager in the early 90’s. At the time I tried to find out everything I could about the case which wasn’t much because…well…pre-internet and 4 TV channels. I did read a couple books back in the 90’s but nothing like this.
I gave the book 5 stars. The memoir was very emotional, dark, and painful to read. I could find myself relating to Lionel. I have to think that every good parent tries to seek the answers deep down within themselves as to why their child went astray. What did I do or not do that could’ve caused this? What part of me do I see in them? Why do we have this need to know or blame ourselves or others?? It was very clear to me that he was reaching at every little straw to blame himself for what his son did. He could’ve trashed his ex-wife but he didn’t. He blamed himself for his traits he saw in his son. He talked about the hopes and dreams he had for his son before he knew he was a killer. He wrote about thoughts and feelings every parent has.
At times while reading this, I found myself in tears. I could relate to Lionel’s analytical mind and his tendency to throw himself into work as a way to cope. Although I can’t relate to what it is like to have a child who is a killer, I can relate to how he felt. The book was challenging and triggering to me at times. It’s impossible to not blame yourself as a parent. I still struggle with that as a parent of a child with mental illness. I had big dreams for her before this all happened. We were going to go on college tours. But instead of going off to college, my daughter spent the end of her senior year in a residential mental health facility after multiple hospitalizations, threats of suicide, and an outpatient program.
My dreams of her living a normal life were gone. Just seeing her is a painful reminder of that. Her body covered with hundreds of self-harm scars so deep they will never fully heal. I feel somehow that some of it was my fault. I remember at one of her earlier hospitalizations one of her doctors blamed me for her condition. The research says that Borderline Personality Disorder is a trauma based disorder a majority of the time. But not always? I don’t want this kind of life for my child. She has a hard time taking care of herself and holding down a job. Nobody cares. The system doesn’t care. The dozen therapists she burned through don’t care. The multiple doctors and health care systems don’t care either.
It falls back to us as parents. Investing our time and resources trying our best to help her help herself. That’s not the life I wanted for her or myself. It’s painful especially after my daughter accused me of abuse and neglect, others thought poorly of me, and I’ve blamed myself. I can relate to trying my best and sometimes it is just not good enough. There is grief in letting your dreams for your child die. It’s so painful that at times I deceive myself with false hope. It’s awful having a child who wants to kill themselves. I can’t imagine the weight of having a child who kills other people.
The other day my son walked in while I was crying for one of the first times. I didn’t want him to see me like that. He choked up with tears in his own eyes telling me he felt sad by my pain. He tried to comfort me in the moment. He was calm, kind, and empathetic. I showed him a side of myself he doesn’t usually see and in return I saw likewise. It feels good to have the support of my spouse and other adult children for the times I blame myself for having a child who is not everything I dreamed of her being.
This week I’m reading I’m Glad My Mom Died, a memoir by childhood actress Jennette McCurdy. Oh boy, it might be a long week…
- I’m grateful this past week is over, it was a rough week.
- I had my dentist appointment with no problem areas.
- I went thrifting afterwards to treat myself. Although I didn’t find much it was nice to take some time to do something I wanted to do.
- One of my favorite cousins from out of state will be visiting and spending the night here in a couple days.
- Last night my husband and I went out with a group for my best friend’s birthday. We ate at a new to me Mexican restaurant which had the best Mexican food and went to a comedy show.
- It felt good to laugh. I haven’t done a lot of that this past week.
- I think there is a lot of potential that we will become friends with the other couple we went out with for my friend’s birthday. Possible new friend group??
- Today I went out to eat at the Indian restaurant with my daughter Angel and her husband. Afterwards Angel and I sorted donations at the place my husband and I volunteer at. I’m always grateful for the time visiting my daughter.
Last night I had a dream that I took 2-year-old Arabella to my parent’s house knowing everything I know now. For most families it probably wouldn’t be a nightmare, but for me it was. I didn’t feel she was safe around my dad without me and I had to go to the bathroom. I remember waking up with the knowledge that I had opened the door and once open it would be hard to shut all the way again.
It wasn’t the first time I felt this way in real life. My brother Matt heard voices that told him to hurt people, mainly little girls like me. He listened to those voices throughout my childhood and into my adult years up until he was medicated and those voices stopped.
In May of 1997 I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in both human development and psychology with an emphasis in counseling. I was fresh out of college ready to change the world, or at the very least fix my family. In August I got married and by October I was pregnant. I applied for a couple jobs that I didn’t get. So I decided to continue to be a caregiver for my brother. I didn’t want to put my baby in daycare and I had zero family support. I was the family support for my family of origin and I was since I could remember.
Everything worked out well for awhile. I was able to care for my baby and Matt. Matt didn’t hurt babies. But then my baby grew up and I got pregnant with my second baby. Matt started obsessing about my daughter Angel. He asked what would happen if he twisted her arm or held her head under water in the bathtub. By the time my second baby was born I no longer felt it was safe so I stopped watching Matt.
I still had Matt be a part of my children’s life for big things like Christmas or birthday parties. It was on Angel’s 4th birthday when Matt attacked her in a room full of vigilant adults. With as many watchful and experienced eyes, we couldn’t stop it from happening. Afterwards, I told my mom Matt was not allowed around my children until they were big enough to defend themselves against a grown man.
A month later I was pregnant with my third child, a girl. I kept the sex of my child a secret because Matt was always more fixated on hurting girls than boys. My mom knew I was having a girl because if I wasn’t I would’ve told everyone. That was probably true. I was worried if I had a girl she would get hurt and if I had a boy he would turn out like Matt. I felt screwed either way.
Then the time came for me to have my third child. It was a scheduled C-section. I decided to have the baby later in the week so my husband wouldn’t have to work and could watch the other kids over the weekend while I was in the hospital. He had just started his own business which was the only means of supporting us financially so he couldn’t take time off. In those days, working out of the house was not yet an option.
My mom stayed overnight the night before then dropped the kids off at the hospital the following morning so she could take Matt to the dentist. She wasn’t going to help me further unless Matt could come along. I don’t know if I can ever forgive her for that. Less than a week after having a major surgery I was home alone taking care of a colicky newborn, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old.
For the next several years after the attack my mom fought back hard against my boundaries of no contact. I was constantly stressed out during my pregnancy and for years afterwards by her actions. My mom at times would randomly stop by just to have my kids wave to Matt from the window. She was constantly trying to get Matt back in our lives again. She was always offering up help if I would just accept Matt in again.
Last week Paul and I were meeting with our couples therapist. She talked about trauma and how it could start even in the womb. This therapist also saw my mom and both of my daughters. She told me she thought I experienced trauma in utero. Maybe there is something I don’t know. But all I could think about is that I am to blame for Arabella’s mental illness. I am to blame for her being a difficult baby because all of the stress hormones surging through me while I was pregnant. I know I shouldn’t think that way but I can’t help it. Never mind the smorgasbord of mental illness coursing through my husband’s and my genetics we already knew about and the random smattering from an unknown bio dad.
After several years, I opened the door. I allowed Matt over for a brief period of time during Christmas at a party I was hosting because yes I was hosting all the family parties in my 20’s. That was okay, but other things were not? My brother Luke had some of the same issues I had with my mom and brother Matt.
The dream awakened all of this within me. But now it also has to do with my dad. All I could think about is one of the images Angel told me about that she found on my dad’s computer. It was a photo of a naked little girl crying. That was one of the tamer pictures but maybe the one that hit me the hardest for some reason. I keep imaging that little girl as myself, the picture of what my inner child must look like alone, vulnerable, and crying. By the time these images were found and my daughter went to the police, my kids were almost fully grown. Luke, however, had two little girls the same age as the images of the children. It felt like it was starting all over again but this time instead of being Matt it is my dad. All of our children with the exception of Arabella have not seen or spoken to my dad in over three years.
I’m not sure if I will ever get over the trauma. I feel like I’ve wasted so much of my life stuck in other people’s problems, people who should of been my rock, comfort, and support which were not.
- A new year feels like a fresh start.
- We had a successful New Year’s bash.
- The police didn’t show up at my son’s party this year so that is a win. LOL! His party seemed pretty lame this year so that is good. No one freaked out and got disorderly. (Last year a girlfriend of a friend’s cousin got drunk and had a domestic dispute).
- I was able to get out and go snowshoeing.
- We figured out the problem we were having with the garage/apartment pipes. Apparently the garage/apartment has a totally separate septic tank from our house we didn’t know about which was full. Thankfully the pipes did not freeze over the cold snap we had. We’ve been living in our house for over 4 years and we are still learning new things. LOL
- Arabella was sick at Christmas then Angel got sick. Thankfully they were both feeling mostly better for New Year’s.
- I had my mammogram today which came back normal.
- We took down our trees and Christmas decorations yesterday. I hate to take everything down but it is nice not to sneeze and feel stuffed up from my tree allergies.
- I’m grateful to have a husband who is a hard worker and likes to complete projects.
- It’s now puzzle season. I probably got 6 puzzles from my mom alone for Christmas.