Window of opportunity has cracked open…
solitude again, at last, albeit brief…
fresh air of relief washes over my face
even as fear and apprehension taunt me.
Am I brave enough?
I’ve ruined or missed
every chance I’ve had in this life.
It’s clear I’m nothing but mass destruction,
bringing heavy misery to all I love.
Cursed like Cassandra to carry the burden
and weight of truth in a world
where only pretty lies are valued
Can I believe in myself just enough
to stop the incessant suffering I bring
I must have a zillion pictures of you and Savannah, yet I had to steal a photo from your old Myspace! I’m sure I could find 100 on my Facebook if I cared to browse those memories…but I don’t. So, this stolen photo it is….
We moved in 2009 into that house on Roosevelt that we all loved so much. I told Savannah she had the choice to keep schools or change. She chose to change, You were Savannah’s first friend. I remember the first day I met you…hoping you were a nice girl and not mean…praying you’d be a real friend to my daughter who’d had some mean girls at her former elementary school.
You were. You are an amazing human being! You were a great friend to my daughter, I adored your funny, unique style.. I loved that you weren’t trying to be like everyone else in that awkward, insecure time of life. I thought, this girl…this beautiful child… will see my daughter’s beauty and appreciate her spirit. She’ll see the sun in my child that makes the other girls insecure….and she’ll love it…
And you did. You were the friend I’d prayed for for my child..the one who would encourage her individuality like I was trying to!
Who could have known she’d turn against me 3 years later? No one would have guessed that.
But you… YOU…among all those lies and false accusations, you are LITERALLY the only person among a million adults who knew better, only you who stood up for me or said, “huh? what are you talking about”?
And you were there almost daily for the 3 years prior.
I’m sure I wasn’t the perfect mom..but I was a good mom! And I loved my children! You knew that even as they started their lies.
Thank you for being my daughter’s friend in those tough years and thank you for being a good human being. I’m scared to love anyone anymore, but I love you like my own and I hope maybe my daughter learned a little about good people from you, if not from me.
You’re my hero….for a zillion reasons…
There it was.
gross and grotesque
like intestines spilled out for display
at a homicide scene…
and yet beautiful enough to steal the breath from
There it was
the heart that went missing
5 agonizingly long years ago.
A Starbucks table full of older children…
I wondered why the others were turning to stare
when I saw it.
The smoke and ashes of a soul’s empire
lovingly built, brick by brick
sitting nonchalantly at a table
surrounded by friends,
who turned to stare
at the lonely old has-been crazy woman
in her car,
waiting at the drive-thru window
My very own heart
pretending it didn’t see me
purposely looking straight ahead
as its friends turned to stare…
I recognized it though.
After all, it’s my heart….
It choked my throat…
floods of hugs and kisses
long talks at the dinner table
giggles making up silly stories
and how the number 3 makes a heart
…for a reason…
There it sat,
surrounded by friends,
pretending it didn’t see me….
my very own heart…
splayed out on that table
I never existed
Maybe I never did?
Does one really exist without a heart?
So I forced a laugh, alone in my car…
trying to turn the choke of memories into laughs
hoping my empty, gaping chest
wouldn’t show itself.
I no longer
Dr. Philip Zombardo who pioneered The Stanford Prison Experiment defines evil psychologically as “…the exercise of power. And that’s the key: it’s about power. To intentionally harm people psychologically, to hurt people physically, to destroy people mortally, or ideas, and to commit crimes against humanity.
Evil and malignant narcissism sees love as power – nothing but a way to feed off of and control another human being.
Love is the ultimate power we willingly hand to others to wield over us, trusting they are decent and good and will not use that power to destroy, destruct, or dehumanize us.
I fully understand that I will never, ever feel safe to love someone again. I’m also unable to hate, but now I’m unable to love as well. What is life without love anyway? I could never allow anyone that power over me again. I could never be so naked and vulnerable emotionally to let love flow through me, well up inside me, open myself up to being vulnerable under another’s power. I learned this from my mother, overcame it, then re-learned it from my children’s father, then overcame it, in order to freely love my children and always believed loving my children could never be something used to hurt me. Believed that could never be an unsafe place to love!
Ohhhhhh I was wrong…it is the sharpest sword, the most vile hammer of destruction – the unconditional and infinite love for a child is the most destructive weapon of all when placed in the controlling, sadistic hands of evil.
Dehumanize: to deprive of positive human qualities.
In the recent wake of an unexpected and unannounced visit from my oldest daughter, I’m shaken, shattered, and thoroughly discombobulated all over again. I use the term “visit” loosely here, as no visit was intended whatsoever. As per a few years ago, she “had a friend waiting outside” and thus declined my offer to share the lunch I’d just been preparing for myself. A visit, it was certainly not.
It wasn’t five minutes until she was using the word “fuck”, as though there could ever be a single thing I’m permitted to say, do, or feel at this point which would not be scoffed, belittled, twisted, or flipped.
I’d been watching the documentary The Stanford Prison Experiment. And it occurred to me quite painfully after she left, that dehumanization is the key to it all. Dehumanization is how mother abused me for years on end, sometimes without lifting a finger. Dehumanization is how my children’s father did the same.
“How we went about testing these questions and what we found may astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life had to be ended after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please read the story of what happened and what it tells us about the nature of human nature.”
“In only a few days, our guards became sadistic…and our prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.” Likewise, their kind, thoughtful, healthy minded (all participants in the experiment were carefully interviewed prior to being chosen) peers – the one chosen to be the guards by a coin flip – became almost immediately “sadistic” toward the ones randomly chosen to be prisoners.
In fact, the cruelty and dehumanization the guards presented escalated so quickly under the established circumstances of being given power and the situation of encouragement to wield that power however they saw fit, that the two week experiment was shut down after only six days! Only one guard presented feelings of guilt while watching the sadistic mental cruelty grow more evil day by day and under the circumstances, he chose not to speak up and went passively along with the more assertively cruel guards – he never spoke up.
These people in the experiment were healthy, strong, college kids from good families and the prisoners weren’t physically abused at all, merely dehumanized and made to question reality and constantly put in no-win argumentative situations with people in power over them; these healthy, loved, psychologically normal young men only lasted 6 days before breaking under the stress.
I’ve been living it for over 5 years now, since childhood really if one starts counting there when it first began. I had about a 15 year break though in the middle when I was raising my children free from my mother or their father’s power over me.
Even when I saw it was she at the door, I instantly felt twisted in knots…the same way I feel when my mother is even mentioned, much less in my presence. The same way I feel when my mind flashes back to being raped, to being beaten, to those miserable, futile, desperate days jumping hoops living with her father just hoping for a crumb of kindness…the mind games… the utter helplessness of the unknown… would she be kind? Would I believe it if she was? Was she here to spy and run back to her fascist tyrant father with updates? Would she be cruel? Would she be conniving? Would she fling herself against the wall screaming OMG STOP CHOKING ME!!, as I politely offered her iced tea from the next room?
My own child fills me with terror.
She swore at me for no reason, so I swore back. She said she loved me “even if I didn’t believe that” and I said, I appreciate you saying those words so much but it’s really hard to believe that Lexi, when you treat me like less than an annoying dog begging for love for over 5 years straight now. That sure doesn’t feel like love to me. She didn’t reply to that.
I was determined not to present myself as the dog who’s been whipped for 5 years, huddling in the corner…flinching and waiting for the next random attack. After all, if I grovel for their love, I’m “pathetic and disgusting” and accused of trying to “manipulate and guilt” them into loving me.
Because, like the dog in this video, THIS is how I felt inside.
I tried not to beg. I tried not to be in the “victim” mindset, waiting for her to jump at me. I tried to smile. I tried to act naturally, as my stomach did flip-flops and my legs shook. I attempted to behave as a grown ass adult who has done nothing wrong except love this child apparently far, FAR too much… thus, giving this previously loving, kind, thoughtful child unlimited power over me with that love. So, I attempted to at least pretend I felt I was standing on solid ground and fake like I wasn’t afraid….or desperate…or clueless…or spineless…
My children have become experts in dehumanization. If I lack self esteem, I’m criticized for having low self-esteem. If I attempt to defend myself, no matter how righteously albeit humbly, I’m difficult and impossible. If I have human emotion, it’s wrong; it’s criticized. If I’m sad or cry, even unintentionally, I’m manipulating. If I’m angry, I’m abusive or hateful.
This is precisely the environment a malignant narcissist creates. Denying truth, denying fact, belittling feeling, ignoring to demean as worthless until the target is so confused, so desperate for acknowledgement, so pathetic for recognition of being a worthwhile human being, begging to witness a crumb of humanity, pleading for any tiny token of kindness; until the world just makes no sense anymore. Up is down and round is square; blue is orange and right is wrong; good is bad.
My children are now experts at this. Not only are they genius as dehumanizing, but they’ve been taught somehow that this is appropriate and acceptable.
She hugged me at one point and I tried with all my might not to cling to her or sob or shake, but I started to anyway. I enveloped her with my arms, closed my eyes and silently pleaded with God to let me see my child in there somewhere; to let me hold my daughter just one more time… Please? PLEASE???
She wasn’t there though; I could feel that this wasn’t my child at all. Even her hugs don’t have her in them anymore. She is a shell of a person, like my mother, like her father. She is an illusion of humanness, built on lies and betrayals, schemes and cruelty…power trips, judge and jury, and greed.
She wasn’t even there at all.
What is the dividing line of differentiation between those resistant to evil and those more likely to allow/follow/act on the power of evil?
Dr. Zombardo said of his experiment, “So my book, “The Lucifer Effect,” recently published, is about, how do you understand how good people turn evil? And it has a lot of detail about what I’m going to talk about today. So Dr. Z’s “Lucifer Effect,” although it focuses on evil, really is a celebration of the human mind’s infinite capacity to make any of us kind or cruel, caring or indifferent, creative or destructive, and it makes some of us villains. ”
Dr. Zombardo concluded that given the power and authority to dehumanize someone, being in a situation with power, along with encouragement and support that it’s okay to treat another human being cruelly, that nearly anyone can flip from good to evil.
Parental Alienation has made my children dehumanizing, cruel, heartless monsters. Their father is this way when it suits him and they’ve been expert pupils.
I haven’t been a mother for 5 years now, but now I realize and fully see that I no longer have any children at all. They no longer exist. They have been successfully eradicated and replaced with minions of their father, a pathological narcissist.
Listening to Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and Led Zeppelin while I read the words, understanding, and compassion of a child alienated from her parent in Mother Erased: a memoir on this Father’s Day – without either my father or my step-father, and without my children due to their father, her words strike me in both my deepest fears and my greatest hopes. Of course, heavy thoughts of my daughters weigh my heart down.
But I’m also reminded how diligently and covertly my own mother attempted to do this to my father and me. I’ve not had many great gifts in my life other than my children and my dad, but I’m reminded to be grateful that in spite of my childish, innocent, desperate adoration of my mother, her alienation tactics didn’t work. Sure, she succeeded in creating and maintaining a great deal of physical separation between my dad and me while I was growing up. Yes, she succeeded in planting ugly lies and accusations in my head regarding my dad too. But it never went to my heart nor did it ever fully cloud the truth I saw with my own eyes. My dad was my only enduring and reliable source of truth and compassion and joy for me as a child. He didn’t live in a huge, brand new home or have much money like my mother married into after she left him, yet I greatly preferred my dad’s tiny little meager house to the big fancy one I lived in miserably with mother. Money just never mattered much to me. I preferred joy and laughter, safety and understanding; of which there were plenty resonating throughout my dad’s tiny home… and none in mother’s palace.
I have always had the cursed blessing of a great and uncanny depth of intuition. And although at that age, I couldn’t possibly have believed mother would (ever!) lie …yes I’m snickering/scoffing/psh-ing at that ludicrous thought now… I just couldn’t reconcile the off feeling in my gut that something about her words just might not be exactly true. I mean, back then as a child who blindly worships their parent, I was sure she wasn’t lying exactly…but something seemed off, felt dirty, smelled fishy every time she’d tell me heinous things about my dad…
And just five minutes with my dad would shine light and fresh air on that ugliness she regularly planted and spread, until it either didn’t really matter if it was true ( I would love him anyway!) or I maybe convinced myself it was some kind of misunderstanding between mother and daddy.
My sister didn’t fare as well, but then my sister is a replicated minion of mother now, so I’m not sure if that was a success back then or if it grew into it as the years passed. Nor do I really care at this point.
Mother was still trying to plant ugly, nasty ideas in my head when I was 19 and had lived, alone, several years with my dad and her physical power over me had greatly diminished although I still very much wanted her love.
I think of how desperate those continued attempts were. It borders on ridiculous. I was living with my dad for years; she had cruelly abused me my whole life up until the point when she kicked me out to live with my dad, and still she believed her power of persuasive ugly suggestion to me might overcome the truth I lived every day.
In hindsight I realize it’s because she had wanted me to be miserable. She had hoped my dad and I would have constant problems! We had a typical teen girl/ dad relationship. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good. This was not the punishment she’d wanted to inflict on me by kicking me out – not happiness???! Not LOVE?!!?? NOT laughter?!?
My dad and I had a couple of conflicts, all of which I would consider very normal for my age at the time and never was my dad unduly cruel or out of line in his parenting tactics. I was punished when I deserved to be, but properly and justly so, not cruelly, excessively, indefinitely punished for any even slight typical childhood infraction.
This drove mother crazy! So, she continued her interference and her little evil plantings and ever-so-subtle persuasive, factless suggestions long after I lived the truth!
These tactics while I was even a young adult worked well though, to alienate me from my step-father. She has full control over him and his knowledge of situations, unlike with my dad and me; she only maintained some intermittent control over what we believed versus what we knew was true.
As much as my 6th sense has been a challenge in my lifetime, this is one instance where I consider it a great blessing. I think of this blogger who finally saw the truth and thankfully, isn’t suffering the worst of the lifelong after effects of parental alienation (like I’m desperately afraid my children might), but I realize my mother’s non-stop efforts to destroy the greatest, truest love I’ve known in my life – that of my incredible dad’s – and I can’t help but feel the hugest sense of relief that I did not miss out on that like she desperately wanted.
I would be truly beyond lost if she’d succeeded and if I’d seen the truth when it was too late and he was already gone.
I blame myself often for this now – the innocence, the stupidity, the childish faith and trust in the goodness of people and the inherent honesty and depth of love for a parent’s child to supercede and rise far beyond any evil personal agenda. I blame myself, but my experience is the exact reason why, short of murder or molestation, I’d have never ever, EVER have kept my daughter’s father from the beautiful gift of a relationship with his daughters. Mine with my father is what sustained me. Except for their own protection or safety, nothing that man or my mother could have done to me would have made me hurt and punish my children by poisoning that possibility of love from family for them in their lives.
My children’s alienation with the combined efforts of their father and my mother, has been remarkably, wildly successful and thorough. I don’t believe my children will come to the truth ever. I hope I am wrong about that, but the alienation has been so successful that at this point, knowing the truth of what’s been done to (and taken from) them, might destroy them as much or more than the lies they choose to believe. It’s a great catch-22 within itself… a web of tightly woven lies surrounding them that might choke them should they ever attempt to wiggle free.
So I’ve great fear my children may not be as fortunate to not suffer the long term effects of alienation, but I still have great hope that their first 13 and 15 years of living with a mother who encouraged and assisted them to have all the love in the world that was theirs, might some day still be deeply embedded in their souls and at the least, maybe help keep them from being the worst of the parental alienation statistics.
I imagine that Father’s Day is an excruciating day for alienated fathers, just as Mother’s Day is for alienated moms. Today, my heart is with you, all of you fathers who cannot be with your beloved children.
I have seen your pain. I saw you in Boston and New York and on the pages of your blogs and in the messages you put out for your children, hoping that they will read them. I saw the tears in your eyes and felt the love in your heart.
You only want the chance to love them. How could anyone believe you are unworthy of this? It makes no sense. I know you are treated as the disease, the outcast, the dangerous one. And I know that is a lie- the most destructive lie that can be told to a child.
This pathogen is the disease, the virus, the destructive force…
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Once she wrote
flowers dangling from her pen
words dripping onto the pages
flowing from a place inside
that hid itself away
like a little girl punished in the corner
not allowed to dance or play
doing twirls in her mind
playing with friends
being loved in big warm imaginary families
inside two covers on pages that came to life
inside her mind
Writing was her interpretative dance
oozing all the hidden emotion,
dancing playfully…or lovingly…or angrily…
Now, the words spit – projectile vomit
in between heaves and gasps
8 hands choking
Choking on the very words
which beg for oxygen
thoughts dying to dance in the sunlight
choked back inside into oblivion
4 hands squeezing her heart
scrambling the flowers
4 hands ripping off the petals
I found the perfect song for my children. I always said this to them when they were little. I stopped saying it because it just seemed to sound stupid as they got older….
As though I’d have forever to show them this was true. As though anything I could ever do or have done would have been enough for them anyway….
seems so ridiculous now, really.
I loved them so much I’d have died for them…
And it just wasn’t enough.
And, I guarantee their dad wouldn’t have, but he’s the hero and I’m the dispensable, worthless one. I guess loving someone so much you put their life and happiness over you own just makes you not lovable at all. Selfishness is in style, not love.
I’ve so much more to say…. but I just can’t.
Sometimes I doubt myself. I doubt everything I know is true. I doubt what happened, I doubt what was done, I doubt the evil intention. I know so much I’m my father’s daughter because he refused to see evil in people also. He was just smarter about it somehow….
Sometimes it’s so bad that I need reassurance that the color orange is, in fact, orange. Does this mean I’m crazy? Sometimes I wonder… But the memories, the details, the proof is out there (for most of it, at least). Still, I desperately need just one person to affirm the obvious – what’s true. I don’t mean like a narcissist, to just tell me what I want to hear, but the truth of the obvious.
Maybe someone could say, You’re right, that is orange or Having sex as an adult is not a sin and it doesn’t mean you are a bad mom or if you want to drink a bottle of wine after you tuck your teenaged kids in bed, that’s not a crime and it doesn’t make you a bad mom. The silly little things that I know in my brain are just basic logic, but my experience has made them bizarre in my head and I long for reassurance of the obvious.
This is the legacy a narcissistic mother leaves. You can’t be sure the sky is above unless someone, anyone, reassures you, Yes, that IS the sky up there. But then you’ll grow up to have children and they’ll hate you for your insecurities, your lack of “self esteem”.
So, the biggest things narcissistic parents leave us desperate for – love – validation – reassurance – are the very things we can’t accept. The legacy is strong.
Sometimes I wonder – and that’s ridiculous, I know – but I do. Sometimes I wonder what my life might have been if I’d lived with my dad as a young child; if I’d not gotten the job in college that placed me on my ex’s narcissistic platter. I had an abortion once….the love of my life…but I was young and he smoked pot and I actually was scared back then of having children with someone who smoked pot!
Instead, I had children (daughters!) with an abusive man who is sexually preoccupied with young girls; a narcissist who could not let them love me, who could not co-parent, even after I trusted that his sexual predilection for young girls wouldn’t harm our female children and DID NOT prevent or prohibit his relationship with them based on that or anything, but he in GREAT IRONY, mutilated me for having sex as an adult woman, within an adult relationship.
Sometimes I wish I’d understood pathological narcissism earlier in my life. Maybe I wouldn’t have been quite such an open, easy target?
Sometimes, I’m proud of myself that my conscience is clean. Sometimes, I’m angry at myself because if I’d been more narcissistic or sociopathic, I would never be in this awful position.
Sometimes, I feel badly that my children are so misinformed, deluded, and manipulated, that they don’t even realize that their Papa would be so deeply ashamed of them, while refusing to see that I am my father’s daughter.
Sometimes doesn’t matter. Yet, my mind still goes there…
Sometimes I really want to write about my dad’s air conditioner, but I get swallowed up in pain, injustice, lies, and agony….