One rule an ACON has to learn and pretty fast, is the only people who will get this whole narcissism thing, are other ACONs and those who have gone through what we have. We have to learn to drawn boundaries because this abuse thing is so complicated. More secrets make us sick and having our speech censored sucks but we have to protect ourselves. I have adopted the strategy of implying I simply have no family of origin, as if they all died, instead of getting into the whole sordid tale with newbies who ask questions. Narcissism is bad enough but how do you explain complete sociopathy or that your mother hated you from day one? It's better to keep your mouth shut in some settings.
While every family has faults, normal people cannot conceive of families that operate like this and where people are not loved. People see those who do not have good relationships with their families as toxic. If you are thrown away by your family, many "normal" people will consider it "your fault" and that there must be something "wrong" with you to have something like this happen. They think you drank, drugged and fought your way into rejection. At churches, people always ask about your family and that can be difficult. One day I had an Aspie moment, and just said, "I have no family!" which put me on the weirdo roster immediately. The less you say among the "normal set" the better. Otherwise some may think you are a nutjob.
The outside world just does not understand how these people operate. The ex-friend chided me for being "unforgiving", and seemed to have this idea, that if I went to go talk things out with all the members of my family, that bygones would become bygones. Such an idea is ludicrous. There is no "talking" things out with narcissists or sociopaths. That simply does not happen and you open yourself as being vulnerable, when you do. How many times did we all try to "talk" it out begging them to see the light and for them to acknowledge how they have hurt us? Many of us have spent years doing so with a litany of emails, cards and more. Mine writes basically like OJ Simpson in every card to me, "I didn't do it.". This is not someone who is ever going to admit any wrong-doing or question her own assumed superiority. I will be banging my head on the wall forever more to try and "work" out anything with that person.
Counseling is a fore-gone conclusion and can be dangerous with someone high enough on the narcissistic or psychopath spectrum especially if they succeed in bamboozling the counselor or if a counselor with narcissistic tendencies enters the mix. Most narcissists would play "nice" and "fake it" for the sake of the counselors. Sadly as many ACONs attest, most counselors who have had normal families and never been through this type of abuse, do not understand the dynamics. I had some good counselors but then any who did not understand the dynamics of abuse, I simply could not connect with. I felt judged. Anyone who has been with a counselor tricked and manipulated by a narcissist within a family court system or other court-ordered counseling, knows what hell is. It is rare one ever enters a counseling office unless ordered to.
ACONs are shamed by the outside world for not loving their families. For years many of us will be told to love our narcissists and abusers and if we do not, that we are cold horrible people. Love comes natural to normal families where there is true sharing and relationships. When it comes to people with normal loving families, I've tried to put myself in their heads watching from afar. Their families really are places of love, solace and fond memories for them. What stands out to me is how they are treated like they matter and are important. They are listened to and validated. Even if there are disagreements, it's not winner takes all and revenge tactics between those who are in a debate.
People with loving families don't understand that this doesn't happen for all. Even the basic things of loyalty or visiting someone sick while in the hospital was lost for us ACONS. When someone does not love their parents, they are called out as being a horrible person and told they are "not right in the head". Teachers will shame students who will say "Mommy and Daddy do not love me." instead of getting to the root of the cause and listening to an abused student. What does loving people that abuse you do but create more self-loathing? Many of us are familiar with the guilt imposed for not having these normal loving relationships. "What is wrong with you?" people will ask. Sadly here the victims of abuse can earn more censure and put-downs.
One thing that happens is people are scared by what happened to us. Even the fact that a little baby can end up with a mother that hates it, freaks people out for good reason. They can't deal with and often they just want to shut it and you out of their minds. The idea of parents plotting to destroy a young adult child is frightening. Their minds close these things out because they are too awful to contemplate. There is a major risk of a person who has not faced horrendous abuse, closing you the ACON out if you disclose too soon. Some will lack the ability to handle your tales of abuse.
Many ACONS who still live in the same town as their abusers, often will face the problem of not being believed. I disclosed to three old classmates, a couple who had their own stories of abuse to share and was told that my parents, appeared as very "nice" people. One old friend and classmate told me that my family seemed "close-knit". The public images the narcissists will weave do work, and they will appear as "nice" people to the outside world. Another old high school friend who used to be friends with my sister, I described to her how I was abused behind the scenes as she was friendly with my parents. Her and her own mother were deeply close. She was around me long enough to know something was wrong even if she could not put her finger on it. One irony with her is my parents once called her their "other daughter". My old school mates, told me that I was very quiet and extremely withdrawn in high school. This pairs with my own memories.
I was fortunate these people all believed me but it was a long time in coming. It also made me realize how absolutely silent I was about all my abuse until I was away at college. I wasn't even telling friends I was abused in high school except the very closest. The fear factor alone kept all that inside. Around the narcissists until I lived long distance, their public face was definitely winning the day.
Today, my close friends find out with time, but there is a long list of "happy acquaintances" where I have said absolutely nothing. When one is middle aged, it is seen as odd to talk about childhood abuse. We are old enough supposedly to have found "ourselves" and gotten our life together. A few outer circle friends, get to hear a watered down version, where I just say there is estrangement. As an Aspie I had to learn the social rules, in what I told people, and that circle grew tighter and tighter. Even sharing that one is no contact with their entire family is risky unless it is a very close friend and even there be careful it is someone with the context to understand.
Another thing people will say to you is "You need to get over your childhood!" and "forgive your parents and relatives." There is no explaining to those people how the abuse continued far beyond childhood even into one's forties or what it is to sit in a room among relatives that mock you with derision. One thought I had is how I was treated like an absolute child until I was 44 years old and went no contact. One horrible thing about being so poor, is this feeling of never obtaining a proper adulthood, it burdens me everyday.
Maturity melts when one doesn't have the right money to be a "good adult" but that was no excuse for the fact my mother talked to me for eternity like I was five years old. Most relationships in good families mature with age. The older adults, are treating middle aged adults like they are grown up. It was disgusting that here I am with gray hair, and using a walker, and almost ready for the senior center or the PACE program [a day program for the elderly disabled] and being talked to like I was a child by my mother. Sometimes I have this odd thought, that I am the only sibling who actually grew up in my family. My sister and brother are still both scared of my mother even though their degree of financial independence is higher especially in my sister's case and still living according to her edicts.
The rest have been forced into permanent childhood via my mother. I'm broke, and barely able to take care of myself in the financial sense, and on social security but I finally only answer to myself, husband and God. Some scapegoats in narcissstic families are kept in a place of suspended animation and never allowed to mature. Here Aunt Scapegoat is an example. She was always taken care of and never left home ever even living next door to my grandmother in a broken down trailer into her 50s. She never has been "on her own" in any adult capacity. As narcissists and sociopaths break down people sending them into depression, they successfully thwart their growth.
It is strange, I keep having new memories coming back. One new memory came back to me, it's funny how much I blocked out, and this was before I hit my twenties and stood up for myself, but I remembered moments of laughter in my mother's family when I was visiting my grandmother's house and how often they would make me the center of jokes. Some would say to me, when I burst out into Aspie tears or got angry leaving the room, "We are not laughing at you, we are laughing with you" but I knew the laughter was directed at me. I was often made the butt of jokes.
Abuse can continue late into adulthood. Some of us end the overt abuse where we stand up against insults or walk out of the room and drive away but it does not end the covert abuse and continuing abuses for decades. There are times now two years into no contact where I wonder why I put up with so much abuse? I have forgiven myself for it but am upset at my silence during her overt sociopathic displays. Why didn't I say anything? I was so afraid to.
I had a weird moment the other day when the oil light came on the car. Our dipstick is not working any longer to show the car's true level of oil since there is a leak, and we put more oil in the car immediately and it was okay. We change it often enough too to keep track of where it is at. I kept thinking how when I was in contact with my narcissists, how one car slip-up or break-down mean endless abuse. I was relieved thinking now I no longer have to explain myself to those people. Those who want us to "forgive and forget" childhood, don't get the fact most ACONs did, and then got steam-rolled over as adults. To go back to being treated like a worm and like a brat that never grew up, would be to destroy myself completely. I could end stuck on the bus, but now I only have to worry about answering to myself.
Those of us who walk away often are seen as monsters by a world that does not get it. "How can you walk away from your whole family?" "What is wrong with you?" They don't get in many cases, we were abandoned long ago and that in many cases the narcissists just kept us around enough for the narcissists to keep track of us. I have had to face the facts, my family does not care about me and I will never see any of them again in person even the ones I am low contact with. My few low contact relationships are ebbing away with time. Even on a social website, they are all talking to my mother and ignoring me more and more. How many times can a person reach out only to get slapped back? There were so many ignored cards and emails. The one niece did write me back but even there I feel the separation of the future as the others turn her against me.
Sometimes it felt like a kick in the gut every time some of the people around here including the ex-friend would talk about their families. I had to learn to rein that in and not let envy ruin relationships. I would rather no one suffer what ACONs have. They had a cousin, sibling, or other family member around them it seemed at every moment. They were part of each others lives, I was long forgotten about. We can't begrudge people having things we missed out on, but I wish I had been wise enough to realize someone that had such a loving and close family, was not going to have any understanding for me. Some may try to have empathy for us but they lack the ability to understand. Some of the people who don't get it mean well but because their experiences were so different where they had loving parents, they just are unable to. People who post memes like these, just do not understand our experiences.
Here ACONs need to protect themselves. I learned to be quiet and only share my pain of abuse with a support group, on this blog and with close friends. Even with the friends you choose to share it with, be careful. If they are someone who has never gone through abuse, they may not get what you are talking about. We have to avoid those with narcissistic tendencies, who may use the vulnerablity of exposing past abuse to hurt us. Don't show your blog even to a friend of 4 years [now ex-friend] who never has been abused. I made a giant social faux paus there. Avoid anyone who tells you that you are "unforgiving" or that you "ruminate" too much, or that you are a horrible person for having nothing to do with your family. Protect yourself too, and realize that in some cases with these issues, the less some people know the better. At the same time though, do not be hard on yourself. We spent enough of our life being shamed by others and being told what to say and think. Our days of having to explain ourselves to narcissists and others are over. Protect yourself but don't blame yourself. We don't have to be the narcissists whisperers and we aren't responsible for educating every person on the planet, some of whom refuse to learn.