Untangling Part 1: On The Road to Enmeshment And Becoming The Executive Function Of Another Human Being


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I am married. I have been married to the same guy for the last 28 years.

About halfway things started to change. Ever so slowly and ever so unnoticeable. But change it did.

First the joy disappeared. Then the sex disappeared and then  he more or less disappeared while still being there in the flesh. Then the migraines came and finally last Friday two years ago when his eyesight started to disappear the doctor finally took our complaints seriously and he ended up visiting an optometrist. This was four o’clock in the afternoon. Five o’clock the optometrist arrived back at the office as he was already on his way home. Six o’clock my husband was in a bed in the hospital.

The optometrist had told him to take the letter he wrote and go to the emergency ward where he would be taken to the overnight ward to have an MRI scan taken the next day. He was told not to go home for anything but go straight to the hospital.

When we arrived he was rushed past everybody else and the doctor made sure he was in  a ward withing 20 minutes.

I went home to our lonely place in the country to a cold home and in fear for my husband.

You ask, “why didn’t you leave when all the joy the sex and the rest disappeared?”

To be honest I don’t know. We had been to hell and back together. We had to leave my country of origin because we crossed the path of a psychopath who destroyed everything in his path and we thought that we were both suffering from CPTSD. We had both been prescribed anti depressants and we both took it as a part of our new reality that we were damaged goods. He took a job as soon as we arrived in our new country and God knows how he got out of bed in the morning but he did and he worked and provided and never ever gave me the feeling he didn’t love me anymore.

It wasn’t until he was admitted to hospital that my feeling of utter desperation at having to live like we were for another 30 years started to make sense.

Finally we had something tangible. It wasn’t us. Something was physically wrong with him and we had just slowly, over time adapted to our situation as it developed.

It turned out that he had a tumor on his pituitary gland and as it grew it had stopped the gland from producing Growth hormone first. The Growth hormone is not just responsible for growth but also for feeling happy, confident, sociable and wanting to be with other people. The second hormone to disappear was Testosterone. His body hair disappeared, he lost muscle tone, sex drive and masculine behaviors. Then his thyroid function started to disappear and he was tired and cold and lastly his cortisone function started to fade. Cortisone is what you need to be able to deal with stress, accidents and other unexpected situations.

And when the tumor grew bigger it caused Migraines and finally it started to press on his eye nerves making him go blind. The national insurance much later agreed it was medical misadventure which meant that, while you don’t get big pay outs here, you do have financial back up when you need it even with regards to your income.

My husband had an operation within a week and as we didn’t have the insurance paying for it at the time he had to go back to work well before he should have and 18 months later he hit the proverbial wall.

After he worked 6 weeks of 70 hours each under harsh, below zero, conditions, which would have been trying for a healthy person without his new condition he came home and after a couple of days had a blood nose which lasted and lasted.

I brought him to the hospital and when we told them the blood nose had lasted two hours and still going and he was on cortisone replacement he was once again rushed past everybody else and given an IV to pump him full of Cortisone. He would have died in another hour if they hadn’t. That’s when it hit home how serious his new condition of complete hormone replacement was.

When the National insurance finally admitted that his predicament should have been diagnosed 5 years earlier my husband was finally allowed to take a break and when they asked him to do a psychiatric assessment it really was not surprise that the psychiatrist concluded that he needed at least 4 months off and therapy to help him deal with his new conditions and with the major depression and anxiety disorder he was suffering from as a result of firstly the long and undiagnosed period leading up to the operation, the sudden and traumatic period around the operation resulting in three complications and his return to work having to work way to hard. Not just as a person with hypo-pituitarism but too hard for any human being period.

So in November 2014 my husband came home. It was the beginning of a long and arduous journey for both of us of which we haven’t seen the end yet.

For starters, I picked up a new function over the long years of deterioration and physical recovery while working way to hard leaving no time for recreation and relationship: I became my husbands Executive or Cognitive function.

As his ability to make Cognitive or Executive choices slowly eroded I started to pick up the slack and made them for both of us. It was hard work and very unhealthy for both of us and it came with a huge cost!

Read more in part 2 appearing tomorrow 1-6-2015


Twilight: Between Gaslighting and Denial.


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A couple of weeks ago I had contact with my family for the first time in about four years. I had against my better judgement decided to inform my stepmother about what had been going on around the will and inheritance of my mother who passed away four years ago.

I did so in order to prevent having to deal with my NPD sister in the future. My stepfather had decided to give us both our share of the inheritance bequeathed to us by my mother. If you recall he did so after a tumultuous year in which my sister bullied him successfully into parting with personal belongings he inherited from my mother with whom he had been together with for neigh on 35 years.

He did so he could sever all ties with my sister (I had severed all ties with my mother for more  than 25 years already) and her family, including the two young people he accepted and loved as his grandchildren the day they came on this planet.

In order to do so he hired a notary to take care of all the legalities and she took it upon herself to be the barrier between him and my family. A wise decision I thought.

When my sister once again reneged on a promise she made primarily because she did not want to spend the money (Something she hates to do) I decided that if I was needed for any formalities with regards to a death in the family I would under no circumstance want to have to deal with my sister in one form or another  and I decided to write to my stepmother advising her to appoint an executor in the case of my fathers death.

This in order to have a person my sister could not bully or manipulate, as a bulwark between her and my sister.

Predictably this resulted in an email back including a paragraph or two from my father whom I banned from my email list about for years ago.

My mother in law is not a bad person. She has stuck it out with my father even longer than my stepfather stuck it out with my mother. She loves her grandchildren even though they are not her flesh. The children of my sister grew up with her as their second Grandmother and she loved them wholeheartedly.

She paints, she is sociable and I don’t think she has a bad bone in her but…..

I remember a meal in a restaurant in the early days of my fathers relationship with her while her father was still alive and I think that my father fit the bill. A Narcissist, cold, unaware of the effect his behaviour has on other people and completely oblivious of other peoples needs but housebroken enough to be passable as a husband. He uses a facsimile of human kindness to hide his inability to really care and they seem to have found a middle ground on which to coexist.

Good on them.

It only goes wrong when I enter the fray. And of course I did when I wrote the email.

After about 9 years in which I only had contact around the death of my mother I have learned a great deal about the role of the black sheep and the personality disorders crippling my family and I was this time in a perfect position to observe instead of absorb.

I was also able to apply my pattern recognition tool constructively.

Here are some of the observations I made. When I pointed out that my sister had been so destructive in her relationship with my stepfather that the man wanted to not just break with her but with the whole family my stepmother and my father both responded by reducing this to sibling rivalry. Never mind that my stepbrother and my stepfather and my stepsister had all come to the  same conclusion as I and that a relationship with her was not conductive to their well being.

My father who on several occasions had created incredibly hurtful and nasty family situations by allowing himself to be manipulated by my sister and effectively choosing to destroy any chance of healing rifts when family members tried to help us sort out our deferences stated that he could not choose one over the other as we where both his children.

My stepmother said that we all had our own memories about the past without taking into account that my stepfathers decision to break off any contact with my sister and her family was very much in the here and now.

When I told her that my in-laws never judged me and never excluded me and that I wished I had had a family who like my in-laws accepted me for who I was and did not ban me whenever they felt I transgressed this was translated as being homesick.

My father left the conversation after the few paragraphs in my stepmothers email and my stepmother did what she has always done. She did the hoovering with little gestures of interest (And I am sure  she has interest) but it was all very half hearted the moment it became clear I would not give up my new found boundaries and they opted for what has become my families MO:

No relationship with me in the real world, with who I really am but with the imaginary person in their heads. That way they get to tell their friends and family that while I am sometimes homesick, I am happy where I am (I told my stepmother that I had finally found stability which is still very far from actual happiness but that seemed to suffice). My stepmother wanted access to me so she could tell me if there was a change in the robust health of my father at 85 and that of course will be the next exercise in hoovering and dysfunctional family tragedy. Whatever will be will be. One thing I won’t do is go back to Europe for any reason. Whatever grieving I will have to go through I am happy to do it here.

Anything is better than to have to be hyper vigilant and have to be on high alert to avoid the button pushing and gaslighting from my sister who is not just in denial but who has actively created an past that fits her better and the feeling of bewilderment with my stepmothers denial.

I gave my stepmother my Facebook pages in case she really wanted to keep abreast with developments in my life but she has still to make a Facebook profile to check my very public profiles out. Making her interest in the real me very doubtful and that is fine by me.

So here I am back in the twilight zone between gaslighting and denial. Existing but than again not. A familiar feeling. At least it is very far away from the people doing it. Thank God!

I Remember: My Marriage Or How I went No Contact With My Mother


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The memory I am about to write down is one of those which changes depending on the mood I am in. Do I feel confident and at ease with myself? I can remember and shudder because looking back knowing what I know now it was all so transparent but if I feel insecure and isolated as I do regularly, I feel engulfed by toxic shame, humiliation and betrayal and also I very much remember feeling invisible and worthless.

It started like this.

When I was about 30 I met a man. He was from New Zealand and would only be in Holland as long as he could or until his big trip overseas would take him elsewhere. He was 7 years younger than me and we started to see each other regularly during his stay. We lived in squats and after a courtship of two months and going out together for only a month I asked him to marry me. It was done jokingly but we had it good together and for the first time I felt that the person living with me was respectful and did not make me feel a stranger  in my own home. I had been alone for the best part of three years and had spend a lot of that time trying to find out why I had this penchant for “dangerous” boyfriends. My husband to be as it turned out was not one of those. My “in Love” feeling was, unlike before, not as intense as it had been with the “dangerous” boy friends but I wasn’t looking for that anymore it seemed. I was looking for a real person I could communicate and grow with for longer than the intense first year or so. And I knew I had found that person in him. He was one of those men who had no problem committing to someone while still able to respect both his and mine boundaries and that was something that was very attractive to me.

My husband to be laughed and said I was nuts and we went back to being lovers and and boy/girl friend. I wasn’t until it became clear that we would be separated much to soon for our liking as getting a work and stay permit was not an option for him that my repeated invitation became more serious.

We decided that since we really wanted to be together we would marry. We also decided that we would marry under a prenuptial agreement and that the marriage would last at least on paper for the three years it would take for him to get his permanent residency. After those three years we would reconsider and make a list of good things and not so good things and make new decisions as to what our future would hold.

We  also decided to make it into a small gathering for the few friends we had and for the parents who could be there, which would be mine, with their new partners. My husbands parents lived in New Zealand and they had never traveled abroad and he did not want them to come over. We did not think of it as the wedding to surpass all weddings but more one borne of practicality and since his father was a Methodist minister he felt that his parents would make more of it than we felt merited it. And while they worried  that my husband to be might have fallen under the spell of a wicked woman, that it was just a phase or that their son had impregnated a wench and felt it was the right thing to do they respected his wish and stayed in New Zealand.

It wasn’t until we told my parents that the true magnitude of my families dysfunctionality manifested itself.

I can say that now but at the time I was overwhelmed by the response our announcement generated and I remember the huge waves of conflicting emotions I had to deal with and if it hadn’t been for the way my partner responded to the challenges my parents presented I don’t know how it would have ended.

First of all my parents, divorced and each having a new partner for a considerable time, both started to laugh when I told each of them separately. Not the laughter of people happy to see their daughter happy and ready to face life with a partner of her choice but the laughter of ridicule and disbelief. They didn’t think I was the marrying kind they said and they didn’t think my soon to be husband wasn’t up to much and would he stand up to my personality?

I felt uncertain and humiliated but undeterred. I also felt confused about what had just happened. Now, 27 years later in July of this year and still happily married with that man, 7 year my junior, with whom I survived many trials and tribulations and who has always had my back and who grew with me as we learned about ourselves and each other I can look back and see that perhaps they felt threatened in their control over me. My father had most certainly never accepted any of my boyfriends and had actively sabotaged my relationships with them. Maybe he felt that this one was not as threatening and perhaps could serve as Narcissistic supply and my mother? God knows what she thought. Her emotions usually swung from high to low in record time and where more often than not totally unpredictable. that was when she was sober. Throw some alcohol in the mix and the outcome could be devastating.

This wasn’t the only reaction to our news

The period leading up to our wedding day must count most certainly as one of the most unnerving, soul destroying and emotionally exhausting of experiences in all of my life to this day.

First of all days that should have been special to me such as birthdays, school exams or events in which I partook where never about me. They where always about my parents and their marriage. From the moment of their divorce especially the tension would build up weeks in advance to culminate in specially arranged separate events that had nothing to do with me celebrating another year of my life with friends or family but everything with the parent and how they suffered in the marriage that was dismantled for as long as the marriage lasted.  At the time of my wedding they had been married fro twelve years and they had been separated for 12 years. The both had partners they had been with for at least five years and they both had completely separate lives.

This time the period leading up to the event wasn’t a mere couple of weeks but three months. Three months of being invited to talk about our marriage. Not about how we would like to celebrate our special day. Not about what my parents could do to make it a special day. How would we pay for it all, did I need help with my dress or would they need to help with preparing food or others issues to make it a combined effort to celebrate our union but three months of arguments about who could come and when. About why we should understand that our day really was about them.

We listened mostly and for the first time I had someone by my side who was not an emotional wreck or as dysfunctional as my family. We listened through the rages, the emotional manipulation, the hoovering and the threats and if I remember anything positive about that time it was my wonder about how simple he made it all because after we listened and listened and listened we made the decision to not accommodate their narcissistic needs but we told them that since it was our day we invited the people we loved and that we did not want to fragment the day into a couple of sub events. They where free so we told them to come or stay away. If they loved us, we hoped they would be able to behave like adults and make this a good day for us. What made it easy in the end was a remark my husband to be made.

He said after all is done and said events such as marriages where about the entire family and all of its dysfunctionality. There was nothing we could do but make it our day no matter what happened and if needed we could build a little boxing ring in the cellar of the place where we would celebrate and let them get on with it. Nothing would destroy our day and thanks to his attitude which gave me the distance and the strength I needed I could enjoy my union with the man who is still my partner and whom I love dearly.

The period I wrote about above did not end on our wedding day. We where married in July. We left for our honey moon at the end of that day and tried to go back to our lives after we came back but the period before our marriage and the way we had chosen to respond had changed me irrevocably. Through the independence of my husband I had been able to gain some autonomy for myself. I began to look at my parents behavior from an independent mindset and I did no longer see myself as the trigger for their behavior. I did not automatically react like the black sheep they had been able to count on  and while they could still push my buttons like no other almost a year later two weeks before my birthday when my mother attempted to start the old seesaw of stress building to culminate as usual on my birthday I was able to tell her not to come on my birthday and that I in fact never wanted to see her on my birthdays again. The last time I saw my mum was when I walked out on that conversation and I had to protect my eyes from being gauged out. That was 26 years ago. Apart from one attempt at contact which I now recognize was merely a week attempt at hoovering she never contacted me again until I left for New Zealand 9 years ago but by then the hoovering was so evident it was not really that difficult to walk away from it

Two More Blogs Added To My Blog Roll



Today I have added two more blogs to my blog roll. They are, like mine, blogs from people who survived the onslaught of a family of origin marred by Narcissistic dysfunctionality.

One is The House of Mirrors and the other the Narcissist’s Child.

Reading some of the memories as written down by the blogger running the Narcissist’s child I got inspired to follow her example. Like her I keep being interrupted by memories of situations and many of them are from situations in which some of the veil of enforced secrecy of what was really going on was lifted. I think that while awaiting the final events regarding my mothers estate I will write some of them down to serve as a cathartic exercise and perhaps as illustrations of Narcissistic behavior that might serve others as guidance when confronted by confounding, confusing and aggressive behavior from the Narcissist(s) in their lives.

The Letter



My sisters preferred weapon is The Letter and I am sorry to say I have used it too. It was after all saver than the direct confrontation. My father was also good at giving lengthy sermons and edicts through the written word.

When I decided to go no contact at the ripe old age of 49 about 9 years ago I made sure that I left no forwarding address, no email and no other means of contact giving me a blissful letter free time until I made the mistake of trying to contact my niece and nephew when I thought they where old enough to make their own decisions about which people they would like to have relationships with. I made the severe mistake of giving them my email address but had not counted on the control still asserted by my sister and “The Letters” started coming hard and fast. I also found “Letters” (or as Ursula from the upturned soul blog calls them “Word storms”) send as comments on my blog in which my sister, in a brutal attempt at smearing, tried to “Expose” me as a “fraud” and other charming epitaphs. That blog is about politics and attracts several hundred people a day with about a 170.000 or so unique visitors. The damage to my reputation  and the blog on which people rely to find information not given in the Mainstream media of primarily New Zealand would have been considerable if I had not had a spam filter in place allowing me  to dispense with them without any damage done.

It wasn’t until then I began to conceive of the true nature of my sisters disturbing behavior and how little chance I had really stood during my life in my family of origin.

In my new world far away from this family I have unlearned “The Letter” technique and I have come to the conclusion that if you have the urge to write “The Letter” you are probably better off walking away from the relationship altogether. It means after all that the space you need to negotiate the relationship reasonably is not there in the real world to begin with and letters will do more harm than good to you and the person you write it too.

In earlier posts I write about the fact that my mother has left me something in her will and it wasn’t until my step brother send me an email notifying me of this fact that I became aware of it. What was also apparent was that while my stepfather is under no obligation as stipulated in the will to give us our share until he passes away or wants to marry again amongst others he has decided to give us our share now rather than wait until later.

The reason being that my sister angered by the fact that she was not involved in the cleaning and emptying of the house when my stepfather decided to move out of the home he shared with my mother after a respectful two years of grieving made such a ruckus, that he decided that 35 years of contact with my family was enough and he wanted nothing to do with her and her children he had been a granddad to from the moment they where born some 22 years ago.

I had chosen to go no contact with my mother over the last 25 years and quite frankly think he was either a very strong man for sticking it out or a sucker for punishment but I give him stickability and a high degree of integrity. He did not have to let his son get in touch with me after all.

In the course of the two and a half months it has taken so far to negotiate the signing of the deed between the three of us (My sister, my stepfather and myself) needed to liberate the funds, my sister stalled and hesitated to sign the deed several times but when she signed it she decided to do so accompanied with one of her “Letters”.

I had blocked my sister’s email address from sending her missives and after I had to block several new email address she made in order to get around my attempts to block her and a strange guy I didn’t know but who seemed hell bend on getting her point across from contacting me, she had gotten the message and I had a blessed silence for a couple of years but this letter was send to me via the notary who was hired by my stepfather to mediate the entire process. I should of course have instructed her to not send any of my sisters “Letters” but I didn’t and since the “Letter” was not directed to me as such it gave me an opportunity to observe and not absorb.

The “Letter” was a classic example of the warpedness that is the Narcissists mind. It started with the sentence that the “Letter” was not about the personal relationships between the recipients and the writer after which she spend three pages about why my stepfather made the grave error not to involve her in the cleaning and dividing of the property which he, according to my mother’s will, had sole ownership over.

The whole letter was of course written about nothing but personal relationships and why my stepfather had failed in his moral duty of care for her. She described herself in third person singular in order to make it less about her and more about how there is a “natural way” for people to deal with a death in the family. She also commented on the recombinant nature of people who later in life chose new partners who also have children and why the children are the vulnerable victims. It was disconcerting to read my sisters description of herself as a vulnerable small child while in reality she is a 56 year old woman who is anything but vulnerable. In fact I think of her as one of the toughest, hardest souls I have had the displeasure of having to deal with in my entire life.

While researching the “Letter” and blame/word storm phenomenon I stumbled upon the way Narcissists typically present their emotions as facts on which the base their diatribes on and I think I counted at least five examples of this technique.

As the letter was not directed at me it was easier not to give in to the kneejerk reaction of wanting to defend myself or my stepfather. The letters directed at me where of course always designed to exact the maximum emotional response. Preferably in letter form so they would serve as more rage generating fuel giving her at once confirmation of my horribleness and her righteous anger. The letter directed at my step family was no different.

The letter was hugely confusing as it rambled on in order to justify her anger at not having been involved in my stepfathers moving out of the house he shared with my mother and I can only imagine what the impact is on them.

My advice when receiving a “Letter” from a Narcissist is to either dismiss it and walk away if at all possible or allow your amygdala to calm down for at least a day or so before  responding.  If you really need to respond (Like in a legal situation) desensitize your self by taking at least several days to calmly read it again and again until you have no more stress response. Your stress and panic are the narcissists best friend in the “keeping control” department. You may need to deal with it but nobody can make you respond to it straight away. You are in control over your life and just because someone tells you to jump doesn’t mean you have to.

The Worst Thing Is The Confusion



Over the last two months I have had the misfortune of having to deal with my sister and even with a Notary as a go between this was and stil is extremely stressfull.

What made it so stressfull is because like a moth to a flame I get sucked in and loose all my boundaries. It is a bit like trying to swim away from a vortex in a river. Best not jump in hte river but what happens if you get thrown in like when official business having to do with the death on one of our parents needs to be sorted.

Fro me the worst thing is the confusion. the overwhelming all controlling confusion mixed with short bursts of certainty only to be wiped away when the next email comes with more disturbing information?

I found this video and will probably watch it everytime this inner chaos erupts until business has finished:

From Ross Rosenberg, Observe, don’t absorb:


Exercises For How To Deal With Toxic Shame


Another good Spartan Life Coach video. This time some good excercises to help with toxic shame. I found them quite confrontational and frightening because you have to speak out loud and confront your abusers and even now, especially while waiting for my sister to start behaving like an adult in a very emotionally laden situation, and my family is half a globe away I find it very hard.

I Remember My Sister: The Chocolate Incident. The Moment Cognitive Dissonance Set In.


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I don’t trust words, I even question actions, but I never doubt patterns. Unknown.

In an earlier post I wrote about how pattern recognition for me is key to holding on to some form of reality and the person who coined the above phrase couldn’t have put it better.

One of the most troubling aspects of C-PTSD is the layering of trauma. It is not a bomb blast or some other wham bam event that has you trembling in your shoes and that you relive until you get help and finally learn to deal with. It is not coming back from a war that taught you how to kill innocent people that keep you up at night and that leave you damaged beyond repair, homeless and drug addled. It is the layering of little things, numerous betrayals to small to mention, the constancy of the hurt and the feeling you’re nuts for even trying to deal with it. Shit happens to everybody and they get over it, right?

Well yes and no. Shit happens but if it happens often enough and pernicious enough and unrecognized enough, in the end you don’t get over it anymore because like it or not the hurt keeps coming back in self hurting and damaging patterns. Unless you understand what happened and how and when, you will find it almost impossible to walk away from those repeating patterns.

In my quest to understand some  of my own patterns I came across one of the most formidable gate keepers any human being can come across and it wasn’t until a female friend I got in a fight with wrote the word Narcissist in the dirty back window of my car some two years ago thst I knew I finally had to feel the fear and face that gatekeeper anyway and face what is known in Psychological terms as my Cognitive Dissonance in order to gain insight into what had been one of the most troubling repeating patterns in my life.

I started, after having come too from the predictable shock of being called a Narcissist (which I am happy to say after two years of study that while I imbued with some serious narcissistic fleas probably not applies to me), on a terrifying journey of discovery in my quest to understand what Narcissistic PD entails and in doing so I started to slowly wean the source of the pattern from the turmoil this caused and will cause for the foreseeable future.

Here is the pattern that has had me dumbfounded for a very long time.

For as long as I can remember I seemed to be attracted to friendships with women that I knew from day one where to involved, to symbiotic and to roller coaster to be healthy and invariably those relationships ended badly.

I wasn’t attracted to these women sexually as apart from one failed experiment in my youth I have never toyed with the idea of exploring my sexuality towards my own gender due to lack of interest (which was not lacking when it concerned the opposite gender) and the attraction wasn’t physical but emotional and intellectual.

What characterized these relationships was my sense of powerlessness and a sense of foreboding and as I grew older I knew to recognize them and keep some distance but never the less I always ended up involved more than was good for me and invariable a hard swift end of the relationships occurred every time. In fact the argument I mentioned above that triggered my journey was at the end of one such relationship.

My role in these relationships always seemed to be the one of the older permissive but also strangely powerless sister. I was also always the needy one even when I didn’t feel particularly needy but I seemed powerless to assert myself in a healthy way and during the course of these relationships I always seemed to become more needy. It was like I was not allowed to just be me and I was always acutely aware of the fact that these relationships would end abruptly when I asserted myself and would ask for reason rather than emotional turmoil.

These women without fail showed a keen and apparently compassionate insight into what drove people and they where always surrounded by needy, damaged women they where helping while they themselves where mostly engaged in relationships with either damaged guys or single. What was a dominant theme was their emotional superiority while also being a victim. (As I write this I just become so much more aware of this and it just hits me how clear all this should have been so long ago) A victim of her guy (often alcoholic/addicted, commitment phobic or otherwise unavailable), burdened by her female incompetent needy friends, doomed to be the beacon for all these poor suffering souls but also strangely filled with anger and disgust at all the flotsam and jetsam that kept, like me, landing on their magnanimous shores.

These women always seemed to appear when I was down or vulnerable. It always ended when I felt strong enough again to be an equal friend and I felt my neediness was a burden on our relationship. In other words when I proposed reciprocity and a return on their investment (to put it in understandable terms) after they  helped me in my time of need I seemed to unleash the rage I described above leaving me devastated and confused as I was only proposing a more equal division of the friendship. One in which they could count on me to share some of the burdens as well as the joys.

I can’t count the many times I was left blasted by this and why I didn’t recognize what was happening at the time is beyond me as now it is so abundantly clear, now that I faced down the Cognitive Dissonance that kept me from going there where my hurt at an earlier betrayal (or rather many, many small little betrayals) lies.

What finally forced me to go where I have tried with all my might not to go was that shortly after I started this blog I received news that I was named in my mothers will.

She died three years ago and I wasn’t that bothered about not hearing about a will during that time as I realized that leaving my family for “no contact” probably wasn’t conducive to being named in a will or having my family get in touch with me for it.

It wasn’t until my stepfather whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in 25 years decided to ask his oldest son to take over handling the estate in order to escape what was for him an extremely unpleasant situation caused by my sister that forced to be back in some vicinity to my sister that the quarter finally fell.

After many years of therapy most notably during a period in my twenties when in group therapy I learned about projection (Most notably my own) I developed with the help of some awesome therapists the tools I use today to build healthy relationships with people. It is easy to for me (and I do it diligently) to scan the patterns in other peoples lives because it helps me understand what makes different kinds of people tick which helps me to keep relationships on an even keel as it enables me to respect their sensibilities without feeling too responsible for them and it is also relatively easy for me to address patterns in myself that allow me to take responsibility for my actions and make amends in relationships with friends after they point out to me that something I did hurt them.

The last four years I have had to work hard to rebuild bridges with some people I love very much for example because due to my C-PTSD triggers and being in a very bad place four years ago I damaged these people when acting out to “protect” myself.

But apparently, as I have learned over these last two years, what is not so easy for me is to recognize patterns when those patterns in myself or others  indicate that the relationship I have with them is of a particular dysfunctionality that can not be resolved by negotiating reasonably in order to achieve mutual love and respect.

And as patterns are won’t to do you repeat them until you get where its coming from and you can give it a place in the Pantheon of hurts you have to get over if you want to get on with your life.

In this case a memory I have over the last 24 hours came back to the fore and in hindsight, armed with the last two years of study and the discovery of the term Covert Narcissist fell into place with the thunder and lightening of sudden insight. Not because it was so very hurtful in and of itself  but because it was the first time I started to consciously feel Cognitive Dissonance and that event was one of the first times a pattern was set which let to me getting into relationships I could not properly assess because of it.

Here is what happened;

My parents, sister and I where on a holiday in what was then known as Yugoslavia. We were staying on a wild campsite on what is now the Croatian coast. It was on a little peninsula into the sea. We learned how to use a snorkel and I was at that age just before boys but old enough to listen to adult music. I remember being independent enough to be allowed to swim long distances out of the coast alone and look at the seascape for hours with my goggles. I remember learning Croatian words that charmed the shit out of the local restaurant owners and teaching my sister little dance steps (with her competing but being just that little bit younger for me to be able to hold onto that older sister behavior). It was hot and my mother found a scorpion in her little sewing kit and I was the one to tell her to get her hand away from it. A snake used to hang out in the shadow of our car and it was wise to shake out your sleeping bag before going to bed. In fact we  slept outside often because it was to hot to sleep in our tent.

It was in this environment that one day my sister and I were given a bar of chocolate and during what was a pleasurable time my sister suggested we share a bar of chocolate and I took mine out and we shared it while having sisterly fun.

It wasn’t until a little bit later at the hottest part of the day during the time everybody was under a tree or somewhere in the coolest of places that my sister disappeared. When I found her she was in her tent. The hottest most uncomfortable place to be and she was eating her bar of chocolate. Alone.

I remember the sense of betrayal at her dishonesty and calculated callousness in manipulating me to share my bar of chocolate with her while knowing full well she was going to eat hers without me. Her hiding in the tent to do it made it clear that she had no intention to share even a small part of it with me.

But what made this a crucial event in my life was not that my sister chose to behave this way. What made it crucial was how my parents and more specifically my mother reacted to the event.

When I pointed my sisters dishonesty out to my parents they did not interfere in the situation by finding out what my sister was doing and pointing out that since I had shared my bar with her maybe it would be nice if she shared her bar with me too. In fact they did not interfere at all. I was told to respect that, while I was willing to share my bar with her, my sister was entitled not to share her bar with me. It wasn’t so much a “Wow, your sister is showing herself to be quite selfish and that should teach you in the future not to give her anything” as a “you’re the oldest so you should be above this and she can do whatever she likes”.

It was the first time I found myself in this situation of enforced powerlessness but it was a pattern set from that day on I now realize looking back.

What makes it so hard and dangerous now, in my adult life, is that to this day my sister persists in this pattern and why wouldn’t she? It never had any consequences for her other than that she got better out of it. I don’t know if she remembers the incident but it was the first time I can remember where she gained the advantage with the help of my parents and to this day she uses them to keep it that way although now her children have also been recruited in the isolation game.

It is for this reason that I am so incredibly anxious (and I can see it so clearly now) about  what comes out of my native country while awaiting my sisters signature on the deed activating the will of my mother (or the decision to fight the will). It is as if my sister has taken the bar of chocolate being the will of my mother to her tent again.

I know one thing, my father will not take the bar away in order to make sure she shares it with me. All I can hope for is the fact that Notaries on the whole are applying the law and the will as it is written is perfectly clear and maybe the notary acting on behalf of my stepfather will be able to finally pry the bar of chocolate from my sisters hands to make her share.