I have a story to tell.
A few nights ago, it became crystal clear that this is what I need to do. This is the next step. I tried really hard to talk myself out of it. Put it off. Delay. Distract. It worked for a minute and then I was in a waiting room, digging around in my work bag, attempting to be productive while getting my tires rotated. I ended up dumping the contents of my bag all over the floor. As I was trying to play it cool, like it was no big deal for paperwork, pens, tampons, and books to scatter everywhere — while everyone was staring at me, yet pretending not to stare — I picked up Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly which had landed open, this quote staring me in the face, “We have to be vulnerable if we want more courage; if we want to dare greatly. But, as I told my Harry Potter friend, how can we let ourselves be seen if shame has us terrified of what people might think?”
Okay. I get it. It’s time.
This is where I get stuck. I get stuck on the need to create engaging, meaningful, directed content. Not rambling, poorly grammared Dear Abby material. All my SEO boxes are red. My readability is poor, I don’t have proper keywords in place, I have no meta description. I get stuck in the need to have a carefully outlined article that clearly identifies the problem and offers a solution — and a call to action. Never forget the call to action. I get stuck in the ‘how dare you’ and ‘who do you think you are’ and ‘these words are not for the world to see’. I get stuck in the fear of who may read this and the problems it may cause.
But, today, I say fuck that. Today, it is time to tell my story.
My mother is a narcissist. Not in the overused, misunderstood definition of narcissist that is simply an entitled brat. I’m talking full-on, diagnosable, Narcissistic Personality Disorder — like the deluxe package, complete with; gas lighting, destructive boundaries, no sense of reality, and a side of zero empathy.
That’s a hard gig to navigate when you’re young. Being used as an object — as opposed to being loved as a child — that does something to a person. It’s hard to make sense of. Especially when the reality was so warped and the secrets so tightly held that no one else saw it, or if they did they sure as hell didn’t acknowledge it. As a child I was frequently sent to see therapists, school counselors, and a number of other “interventionists” because clearly something was wrong. Early on I tried to tell the truth of the situation, and surprise surprise I was seen as and called a pathological liar. No one believed me because my mother did such a wonderful job of playing her game — even with the professionals. So, I stopped talking about it. I stopped talking about much of anything with anyone. I was on my own.
I was twenty-three years old before anyone validated my experience. Twenty-three years of this psychological warfare before someone looked me in the eyes and said, “Yeah, I know. Your mom is batshit crazy.” It has taken another fifteen years to write this. Secrecy and shame runs deep into my bones. It has been ingrained in me not to talk about. Don’t put words to it. Don’t look it straight in the eye. It goes against almost every fiber in my being to write this down and not delete it. But I have to do it. Not for me, because all in all, I’m doing just fine. Thriving, even, in spite of it all. I’m doing it for you.
I’m doing it for every person out there that is being subjected to this crazy making. For every person whose reality is being denied, their boundaries viscously broken. For every person who is made to think this is their fault, their doing. For every person who dreads family gatherings, who pukes in their mouth when someones says, “you’ll regret this when your mom is dead”, who hides from the world because they’ve been shown it is not a safe place, who was not taught how to become a woman, how to become a mother — this is for you.
For every person who has decided it’s easier to crawl into an emotional void — this is for you. I see you. I believe you. I get it. I don’t want anyone to have to wait until they are in their thirties before they feel brave enough to speak the truth. To know they are not alone. To know that they have the power to change this. To know that they are worthy of sanity and boundaries and love. To know that they are seen. To know they have the ability to stand tall, look this beast in the face and say, “not today”.
That is why it is time to tell my story.