I have decided to start this diary as a way to process my own thoughts on my journey of re-learning if you will, a sort of self-counselling. In January of 2021, I turned 26 years old. As I am approaching my 30s I am more focused on wanting to move away from my childhood trauma and re-learn the way I have been navigating the world, of course, this is much harder than it sounds. If you’re someone with experience in this arena you will surely understand, even when we finally feel like we have overcome our demons, you catch yourself slipping into not so useful thinking patterns and behaviours.
I do believe that most of all, I ruminate too much, I analyse the past and can find myself feeling quite bitter as a result. Maybe if I externalise these thoughts via diary, it will allow me to move past this stage which I so often fall back into. First – the trauma which I have identified:
I was born in Poland, to a mother who spent her young life in the care system, had a very broken relationship with her mother and an absent father. My father on the other hand was raised by a single mother in the 60s. As I have analysed my parent’s behaviours over the years I am pretty sure that my father is a narcissist and my mother suffered from an emotionally unstable personality disorder or as it is sometimes known, borderline. They both developed alcoholism and had a pretty volatile relationship which led to my siblings and I witnessing domestic violence. This consisted of physical, emotional, psychological abuse and extreme control/coercive behaviours, mostly from my father. My mother just smacked us about when she couldn’t handle us. I honestly believe this was less damaging than my father constantly belittling and doubting me. As mum and dad were very busy with their own lives it was hard to get their attention at times, and even harder to trust them with important things… this ended up in my sexual abuse at the hands of two cousins going unnoticed, although I think being raised catholic did help to instil the shame I felt.
Fast forward to when I was 10 years old, our father moved us out to England which seemed like an amazing adventure but quickly turned into greater responsibilities being forced upon me. I had to translate everything for my parents, I was constantly trying to peace keep at home and help my parents with their alcohol addictions. This ended up in failure after failure and my mother became ill with liver cirrhosis. I was 15 when I was told she had around 5 years left to live if left untreated. I could not cope with feeling out of control and knowing that I would lose a parent and would be left to raise my siblings without her supervision. I was desperate to understand them and find the answers, as you can imagine this led to an interest in psychology, I completed a degree in the field and now work in the criminal psychology field… I also spent around 2 years in counselling.
She passed away in 2019. My younger sister was 6 months pregnant at the time, my little brother was 16. It brought up a lot of anger I have felt towards my father and for the first time in my life, 2 years later I decided I am no longer going to give in to his manipulations. I went no contact in January 2021 after he refused to spend Christmas at my home because I was not prepared to go to his address to clean his house and cook him a 12 dish feast like I did last year. I have to say it does feel liberating but it does also make me feel so guilty at times.
It was his 60th birthday last month, I spent 2 weeks tossing and turning wondering if I should send him a card with well wishes. I reminded myself that he did not bother to wish me a happy birthday the month prior. I don’t want him to be miserable, I do not want him to be alone, but he treats people so horribly and never takes any accountability. I thought this may change after my mum died, maybe he would recognise how his actions have impacted our family, but he did not want to accept it, and immediately set himself up on social media a couple of months later to find another woman he could be with. I can understand that no one wants to be alone… but he now just wants to dispose of his responsibility as a father and spend the rest of his life with a woman he barely knows. How can I support him when he’s not willing to support his children? He wanted to leave us with the responsibility of our youngest brother. I failed to mention he had another child with another woman prior to him meeting my mum, he cheated on his wife and then left his son and wife behind to start a new life. He never paid child support and left his son to be looked after by a woman with learning difficulties.
Whatever you say to him, it’s like he can’t understand the concept of anyone else feeling any type of feelings and it offends him. It is offensive to him if you try to express emotions.
As you can imagine there are several ways this impacted me growing up and even as an adult. I am quick to blame myself if something goes wrong, I am a people pleaser and I have sacrificed a lot of myself in order to better others. I am much better at this now, I am setting boundaries and saying no, but the backlash I receive from my family as a result of this is very intense at times. I could never go no contact with my siblings, however, I do think in some ways they were not as resilient as me and it has had a tremendous impact on them. I myself experience a lot of anxiety and PTSD like symptoms on a daily basis, I used to experience a deep depression but since I left the family home this does not escalate to suicidal ideations. For the most part I have a pretty regular life now, I work, I have a good partner, a few good friends. I like stability and this is reflected in my current environment. This is not quite the case for my sister who I believe may have a personality disorder herself. She has no sense of identity, really struggles in relationships, both intimate and friendships and her moods are easily changeable and at times vicious. I do struggle with our relationship at times as when I try to point her to support and solutions I usually get my head bitten off and I am immediately verbally assaulted. But I brush it off and try again, she is my sister after all and I know her experience. My brother is even harder to deal with, very narcissistic at times but I have hopes that this will pass as he is only 18 years old at the moment and has a lot of growing to do. I suppose we are all a little bit self-absorbed as teenagers.
If you know anything about dynamics in a narcissistic family these were mine:
Scapegoat – I was definitely the scapegoat in my family, whenever something goes wrong my father would immediately blame me. This is despite the fact that I did ‘everything right’ – I got a job to put myself through school, never asked for money, went to university, graduated, got a better job, moved out… basically tried to play the perfect child.
Invisible child – this was my sister, I believe that in many ways no matter how well she did it would not be recognised as she did not do better than I did, she definitely cried for attention a lot and in the process often self-sabotaged.
Golden child – My little brother. Always got the best of the best, anything he asked for, was never held accountable for any of his bad behaviours. He was the perfect image of my dad, his chance to live out his fantasies through him.
I have to say when my mum was around I could communicate with her about these things and she did have some understanding, but no matter how much I encouraged her to leave the relationship, I think she was too afraid to do it on her own. She did not have the emotional stability to provide a living for her children, she really did struggle in the world.
So now that I have externalised the core issue. I can begin to chip away at some behaviours I do not like but recognise that I do and try to unlearn and change them.