This sentiment has been running on repeat through my brain for 72 straight hours. I sit on my bed and stare at myself in my dresser mirror. I am struck by the brutally wounded facial expression staring back at me. It’s a small but significant change from the “girl with the far-away eyes” look that I normally don, a result of living for so long in a self-protective fugue state. Through my hazy fog of pain, I am slightly surprised. I truly thought I had proactively destroyed my capacity to feel any emotion whatsoever, be they positive or negative, after I was told that I was the sole cause of my parents’ marital strife and family discord and was so hurt that I had my first and only dissociative event. I guess I was wrong.
The wound is inflicted for reasons that would perhaps be easily dismissed as unintentional or accidental in different circumstances. This is not the case in the context of the personal hell I live within. The crime is vicious and vengeful and soul shattering. The perpetrator? A parent, who I believed (despite all the character assassinating and denying and invalidating and demonizing and projecting) did love me, somewhere, buried and hidden deep down in a trench. I humanized her mental illness through voracious reading and academic research and time spent with her childhood abuser, my grandmother; I justified her bad behavior by ascribing it to be couched in well-meaning and good intentions; I tried so fucking hard to suppress any indignation or anger when she engaged in highly offensive and violating behaviors. I accepted that I was the reason for, the fault behind, the cause of, my own abuse in life. I took accountability for someone else’s actions as a condition of being allowed to remain a member of my dysfunctional family. I did everything I thought I could to furiously repay the “debt” I believed I owed this parent for being so magnanimous, for allowing me the undeserved privilege of tainting her world simply by existing.
The wound inflicted has, however, proven that my parent has never loved me and in fact, that she is quite incapable of ever loving me. The motive of the crime is simple. It’s the punishment she believes I deserve for bending to her increasingly unreasonable and psychotic will 999,999 past times in my life, but refusing to continue to do so with the 1,000,000th request.
To summarize the feelings of my maternal marauder:
You did me a favor, but you did not do it at the specific time I expected you to do it – a fact that I conveniently did not communicate to you – something which my narcissistic personality disorder requires you comply with. This is a pass/fail. If you don’t do it exactly to my specifications, you fail. 99% is not good enough. 99% allows you the ability to give input or exercise freedom of choice, which are things I hope you don’t even know about. Ignorance is my accomplice. I might actually die on my own sword trying to prevent you from finding out that I’m a fraud, that your gut was right all those times you felt violated by my engulfment and tried to distance yourself from me because you sensed that something wasn’t right. In effect, today I’m setting you up to fail because you have been resistant to my pushy, outrageous demands for the past 3 months, and my deeply-seated resentment about this needs to be expressed. Obviously, I can’t come right out and say my rage is due to you no longer agreeing to the abuse cycle of my narcissism, and this provides me with a more legitimate reason for launching my full-throttle rage at you. I want you to really know how much I hate you. I hate you. So. Fucking. Much. In fact, you threatening to cut the inappropriate puppet strings that I use to manipulate you into living your life to satisfy my vicarious needs resulted in a last-minute birthday gift: I have unilaterally eliminated you as a member of our family, permanently.
After inflicting a retaliatory wound in misguided retribution for what I perceived to be an injustice to my narcissism, I expected to be able to derive pleasure from watching you bleed out. Your exsanguination sustains me. I am an addict short on supply. I’m fiending for your pain. So when you tried to flee in self-protection, I threatened to take away the only social support system that you have left. You don’t have a single friend, or a boyfriend, or even just a boy. You don’t have anyone to offer you comfort in the form of a simple hug, which is all you feel comfortable asking of anyone since my social crippling techniques were so effective during your adolescence. There is no one left for you on Earth except us, and now we’re gone, too. Gotcha good, huh bitch? Our five-person dysfunctional family contains the last relationships in your life that are crucial, perhaps even critical, to your survival. Of course, I know this, and I plan to exploit it in cruel ways that make you wonder how a parent could grow to despise their own child in such a bewildering way. I will make the Amish look open-minded and forgiving if you leave here before I grant you the permission to limp away. You will be ‘forcing’ me to shun and ostracize you by default, and I expect that the rest of our family will be only too relieved to be free from the cancerous lump that is you. If they don’t resent you as much as I do, and they do (I trained them to!), then I know they would comply anyway at my demand, because these people would bite the heads off of live puppies and kittens just to avoid being the recipient of my narcissistic wrath. I will invent lies about you so horrific and terrible, I will castigate and demonize, I will curry pity and sympathy and everyone will blame you, because I am expert at manipulation and you should have known better than to take me on. I will smear your name at every chance I get if you don’t agree to sit and die in front of me right now, for my amusement. I know your major rejection issues preclude you achieving any self-preservation from my poison, and that pulling the nuclear family rug out from beneath you will cause you to implode in on yourself like a star committing suicide. You will become a meaningless empty nothing black hole, and then I will have achieved total destruction of your soul. And when you’re gone, I will erect a tombstone that says ‘We Are Richer For Having Lost Her.’ Happy birthmas, motherfucker.
The fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve has always been an embarrassment of mine, and something I tirelessly work to change. I hate this particular flaw as much as I hate the rest of who I am at my core. I understand the danger in the display of any emotion. To show feeling is to show vulnerability, and to show vulnerability is to hand my worst enemies the most efficient, deeply cutting and customized personal killing tools. Being violated emotionally by someone who uses your shared confidences or deep-seated fears to punish or exploit you is terrifying and sociopathic, and so intensely painful that for the first few seconds after infliction you feel as though you can’t breathe in or you that might actually vomit. (I frequently do the latter.) The physical reaction to the emotional cutting is evidence of its cruelness and brutality.
When you are in the presence of an emotional hoarder who lives for the moments that you reveal a flaw or a weakness, you instinctively develop the hyper-vigilant sensory system that will serve to remind you that you can never, ever relax. Your guard must remain up at all moments. CONSTANT VIGILANCE. If you slip up once, I can assure you that you will never make the same mistake twice. These people are scavengers who live to destroy you piece by piece. Even when you think it’s safe, it’s never safe. Even when you truly believe that there is no way in which these vultures will notice the weapon that slipped out of you before you could catch it yourself, they do. They always do. They’re much quicker than you. Then the terror kicks in. You may sit and wait with dread until the moment they pierce your skin, or you may not have even realized you were displaying an exploitable human quality, so that when it’s used against you, one brutal statement is all it takes to sever your jugular, your carotid, your aortic valve. Catastrophically, swift, cutting you clean through.
You will eventually construct an entirely manufactured, superficial and above all personally disloyal persona that you can put on, like a Halloween costume. A Teflon suit you can don in the company of these individuals. You deaden the parts of your personality that recognize how dysfunctional this defense mechanism is. However, at the heart of your core, you feel so inherently flawed and worthless and undeserving of any love, so maybe being a phony disingenuous caricature-like version of yourself is still way better than actually being yourself. On the worst days, you feel like a defective piece of electronic equipment that everyone keeps trying to return, but not even the store will accept. No one deems you “capable of refurbishment.” Broken beyond repair. Totaled, psychologically. It’s your job to protect everyone in your life from exposure to your flaws that run so deep because you have been told that loving you is impossible due to your inherent character. You yourself are one giant mass of fuck-ups in human form. You feel like the carrier of a contagious disease; like a festering infection you never had a chance to treat. To know you is a burden. To have a relationship with you is to suffer. To “care” about you is a never-ending, long-suffering martyrdom. It would be unkind of you to inflict yourself upon others.
And if you do? How dare you. How dare you exist. You should know that being so unlovable renders you undeserving of any basic rights; you’re barely human. Why are you acting as though you are capable of feeling loved? Why would you mistakenly believe that it’s okay to have needs of any kind? Beyond that, why would you deliberately have your own thoughts, feelings, or beliefs? How dare you challenge those who habitually violate your personal boundaries! You are ONLY deserving of a punishment cruelly created with malice aforethought and an arsenal, a lifetime’s worth of your most shameful and humiliating mistakes and scars and open bleeding weeping wounds. Nothing will put you back in your place of bare existence more quickly than an emotional backhand before you have to do something personally taxing or important, preferably where you will have an audience who can view the metaphorical slap mark that you cannot conceal, right upon your face. Your embarrassment and your shame have been put on display for strangers to gawk at like the bearded lady of a freak show. This is personally the most painful part for you because of the deep-seated shame you have for yourself, so you will concede any individuality to avoid receiving this kind of punishment again. Now you know how limited your rights are, so don’t make your captors remind you of the power and control they can exert over you with the threat of exposure.
Don’t believe you are deserving of the chance to grow or change. Your existence is a horrifying blemish upon the Earth, and all you are worthy of is diminishment and invisibility. Don’t think you could ever be valued at more than your abuser’s initial appraisal, because your value will never go up. In fact, every second you live, you are devaluing, and the emotional abuser will not hesitate to coldly state your lowered worth and all of its associated reasons. In this world, you only get one chance to make one mistake, and your dye is cast. You don’t even get an opportunity to correct the first mistake, because that would be counterproductive to gaslighting the seed planted long ago that has you questioning your own mental stability. To insist it is unreasonable to allow your child one mistake per lifetime is how you wind up with the following labels: “mentally unstable,” “crazy,” “insane,” “selfish,” “irresponsible,” “unaccountable,” unrealistic,” “avoidant,” – unattainable. You are so valueless and unlovable that everyone else on the planet would have rejected you eventually anyway. You’re just lucky that the people responsible for your personal invalidation and inherent rejection were “caring and brave” enough to tell you so. They are really doing you a huge, inconveniencing favor by allowing you to continue appearing as a pockmark on the planet, so don’t rock the boat, capisce?
The rejection that you feel runs so deep that it’s actually integrated itself into the main elements of your personality, your being, who you are fundamentally. Someone else’s detailed, bulleted list of grievances against your core character is adopted into your building blocks, like a retroviral DNA strand. You expect to be disliked and dismissed, because if your family deems you undeserving of love, then how could you expect anyone outside the bloodline to love you? Rejection is the name of your life’s game, and it colors every type of relationship you have – friends, lovers, coworkers, bosses, teammates. When you meet someone new who doesn’t seem immediately repelled by your presence, you’re angry. “How cruel of this new acquaintance to drag out and delay their eventual denunciation of the person I am! What could I have possibly done to deserve this torture? Getting my hopes up regarding the possibility of a potential friendship or relationship, ONLY to more sadistically dismiss me later, is what I assume is the universal M.O. I go to sleep every night praying to wake up as ANYone else, and everyday I am forced to live the disappointment and shame of still being me. Isn’t that enough hardship in itself? You don’t need to dog pile. I’m not enjoying one minute of my day.
You may not know this yet, but you don’t want me. And if you don’t know this yet, then please figure it out right now. Can’t you see what everyone else knows me has seen? I’M UGLY! I’m the human embodiment of HIV, AIDS, & Hitler; the freshwater amoeba that eats your brain. So don’t even bother trying to knock down my walls, because I built them for your protection. If you’re dumb enough to pursue knowing me, helping me, accepting me, or – God fucking help you – l-o-v-i-n-g me, well… now, I’m really pissed. I’m irate. Since you can’t seem to find the fatal flaw in me fast enough, I will rip myself apart and blind you with the horror of the ugly monster I am inside. My outward appearance beguiles you and intoxicates you with lust, but I will not allow your impaired judgment to refuse to see the worst parts of my darkest places. I will not only hand you the knife to stab me with – I will stop to sharpen the blade for you, too. I will personally inflict the first slices, stabs, and wounds, so you don’t even have to get your all that hands dirty. Just, please, grant me the mercy of leaving me the fuck alone. I’m languishing alone on my 26th birthday for a reason.
With each rejection, your deepening ugliness grows. The only thing worse than receiving the rejection of one person who castigates and dismisses every inner kernel of your being is to have two people, or three, or four people do the same… Self-defeating behaviors have fallen by the wayside, replaced by intensely profound self-hatred. You can feel yourself exuding this massing ugliness in every way possible, and although this type of ugliness is not tangible, it is palpable. You know everyone can feel it. If they can’t, you force them to. If they try to see past it, you cannot allow them to. If they try to love you in spite of it, you hate them for exposing you to the vulnerability of personal rejection once again. You can’t believe in human kindness and compassion because you have never seen it acted out. Trusting someone enough to allow exposure of your vulnerabilities is just another mistake people make before they realize that love is purely a myth and everyone is purely self-serving.
You are going to leave me eventually, because everyone does. The difference between you leaving right now and, oh, say, 7 years later is that I might only suffer a surface wound today; with 7 years to learn all of the facets of my complexes & fears, you have accrued a lethal amount of weaponry. You will destroy parts of me and burn me down. Your rejection is murder by a thousand cuts. Mercilessly, I am acutely aware as each element of who truly I am is dying. The pain is so intolerable and it never ebbs. It sits and festers and spreads and intensifies, it metastasizes in you until the necrotic tissues falls off the bone and you are simply a skeleton in skin.
“Happy birthday, nobody loves you.”
Well, to be fair – how could they?