Now I am free
Don’t judge yourself by what others did to you.
C. Kennedy, Ómorphi
It’s a sad commentary on a 63 year (so far) life that I can finally report that I have no abusers in my life. It’s the first time I can recall being able to say that.
I was abused from birth. For the first three weeks of my life, I waited, forgotten, in an adoption nursery. Maybe they thought they had called my adoptive parents — maybe they just spaced me out. Week followed week as I lost weight from my small birth weight of 6 pounds, 9 ounces down to 5 pounds, 13 ounces by the time they remembered I was there. Some call it failure to thrive but the reality is, babies will die of loneliness if they aren’t loved.
I also have a deformity of my right collarbone which suggests it was broken when I was tiny. Did a worker perhaps get irritated by my wailing and yank me up? It could be. It’s a visible malformation — clearly visible under my skin.
My older daughter recently shared with me a chart describing growing up in a narcissistic family — how one child is favored while the other is a scapegoat and the price paid by both kids. The favored child becomes a twisted, bullying, manipulative person bent on keeping that favored status at any cost. The scapegoat spends a lifetime feeling worthless, which can lead to a blighted life and even suicide. In the eyes of the narcissistic parent, the favored child can truly do no wrong and the scapegoat can never, ever do anything right.
This was my life with my nuclear family until the day each one of them died. But it wasn’t enough that they imposed this crap on me — they recruited everybody for the fun. Most of my family was absolutely on board — the ones who weren’t didn’t spend much time with me or nobody else liked them anyway. This terrible, horrible child was ravaging my poor, noble parents and saintly perfect brother. Why, if it wasn’t for me, we’d be a great family, but you can see, can’t you, that with her around, that’s impossible. They told their friends, who treated me with the same contempt the rest of them did.
What the ever-loving fuck did they tell them? To this day, I have no idea.
If you are raised to think you’re worthless, you will carry that with you everywhere and it’s blood in the water to bullies. Teachers, other kids — they reaffirmed every day that the cruel prognostications of my parents and brother were right. I was absolutely unlovable and nobody anywhere ever would. I don’t recall many days where I wasn’t bullied. At home. At school. And later, constantly and shamelessly at work until my last supervisor, who was a peach and will be wearing a halo, as far as I’m concerned, for the rest of his days.
Here’s another aspect — when you grow up in such circumstances, you will either attract or find people who repeat the same damned patterns that damaged you as you grew up. That person who electrified you so during courtship was probably that electrifying because they were just like the narcissists who raised you. You’re electrified because this person feels so right, not realizing that the reason why they do is that they are versions of the old, familiar monsters who harmed you when you were a kid.
So, of course, that’s just what I found. From the platonic friend who used and abused not just me but my older daughter to the person who just sat with me in the courthouse, filing divorce papers.
But now, my nuclear family is gone. Passed away, father, mother and brother. My cousins live their own lives, far from me and only my sweet aunt from my parents’ generation remains. I am retired and beyond the reach of the bullies who made me wonder how I was not blowing my brains out in the office bathroom. And just this last week, my ex and I sat in that courthouse while the nice lady reviewed the papers, made sure all was in order and stamped them in. While it won’t be final until the court date of June 21, the reality is, I’m actually, for all intents and purposes, divorced. And he flew off to his second home abroad — the one I’ve only seen in pictures — as far from me has he can possibly get.
I have been in therapy since the end of January, 2018. General therapy combined with EMDR for severe, combat-type PTSD. It’s a bit of a drive, and as I travel, I cogitate on what’s up for the week. I was driving on the pretty road that leads to the freeway entrance, past the vast lake that glitters and shimmers, obscuring one’s view of the bobbing water birds with its light and movement. And suddenly, I realized — I’m free.
I have nobody in my life to abuse me. Every person I now see is a joy. It’s all positive. I hear “I love you.” I hear, “so good to see you.” I feel valued. Cherished. Valuable, which is its own, unique category. And despite the fact that life’s vagaries can hit without warning, I feel safe from the only thing I no longer have the stamina to endure — abuse.
It’s a revelation. I’m happy. My angry internal child — isn’t so angry anymore. I’ve remembered how to laugh and smile (one can forget how — I’ve done that many times). I’m singing and whistling again. I’m creating! I’m following artistic pursuits I’ve always loved — and I’m learning or developing new ones!
At long last, at 63, I am really, truly alive. Not just enduring until I could escape in sleep but truly, deliciously, intoxicatingly alive.
I want you to promise me something. If you feel worthless, unwanted, unwantable, rejected, I want you to take a good look at the people around you. Is it worse when you’re near them? I’m betting you’re in the same trap that held me for decades. It’s quite possible that you’ve been snared by narcissists and, skilled predators that they are, they have convinced you that it’s not them, it’s all you. That’s not too damned likely, actually. Take a good hard look and if you see this pattern, run, don’t walk. Don’t worry about their feelings or their dependency or their martyr complex. Choose you. Choose joy. Walk toward happiness. Because even if reincarnation is real, you will never be this person again.
Please don’t waste it.