I was raised in an ideal family, according to most people who know them. Relatively high standing in their community, very well known and respected in their religious network.
But behind closed doors, my parents and my siblings bullied me mercilessly, usually amongst themselves but sometimes in front of others too.
This trend has continued recently, as they have been ‘framing’ me online.
What has been most devastating is that everybody seems convinced that they are wonderful people and believe their lies, but nobody will believe what I have gone through.
They think that I am crazy (which my family freely implies). Maybe some people are aware of who they really are, but they’re afraid that they would be on the receiving end of their antics if they show any sign of siding with any of the people they pick on.
I cringe when I recall how I was unable to avoid the abuse due to the way that I was raised to be such a ‘good girl’ no matter what happened to me. In the network people think my parents are brilliant parents because they appeared to have such nice children. I was actually inviting and drawing abuse to me like a magnet.
It was not until I had some space from my family and children of my own that I realized how terribly my own mother treated me and managed to step away from the toxic network that I was raised in. I could never treat my own children the way she has treated me; nor would I allow anyone to. I want to raise my children in a way that they do not tolerate staying around for anyone who tries to hurt them. The love for my children has been a huge inspiration for me in my healing.
My family enjoyed pushing all my buttons to provoke me and when I snapped they would shame me for being so terrible and call me crazy. I now realize this was gaslighting. At the dinner table, they would call me names and make fun of me: they told me that I would be a lonely old spinster with cats that nobody would want to be around. I was afraid for years that believing this was becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One sibling would do all in her power to destroy my friendships, to have them only be friends to her, this also applied to my boyfriends. Another would do all in her power to have my boyfriends date her.
I was madly in love with one boy and foolishly confided to her that I knew he wasn’t the best looking guy ever…but that whenever I saw him my heart skipped a beat. The relationship started to go downhill very fast after this.
When he broke off with me angrily saying that ‘I wasn’t so good looking and he could do better than me’, I realized what had happened. One of my siblings begged me to lend them money when I had just gotten paid. I explained that I really needed that cash for my rent at the end of the month. They insisted they would have the money back to me in time for when the rent was due. When I followed up on this they told me they had sent the money to my mom’s account, my mom denied receiving it. I was left in trouble to pay my rent and to this day I don’t know who was lying about the money.
In desperation, I stopped bringing home any of my friends or boyfriends. I met a man and without their interference, things progressed and we got engaged.
One month before I was due to be married, my younger sister (who had previously said she would never get married), announced that she was engaged to be married. The wedding date? One week before mine.
I asked my mother (who was splitting the money she was contributing as her gift for my wedding with my sister) how she could let my sister do this. My mother’s reply was ‘Do what?’
This was my life. I asked my mother who is famous for her baking if she would make my wedding cake, and she agreed. The day before the wedding, I learned she had changed her mind. She had no intention to make the cake.
I was amazed…she is the woman who is always there for anyone who needs it at church, having made so many wedding cakes for my friends. She makes them beautiful wedding shawls and knits blankets for their babies.
But when it comes to me, nothing.
My sister couldn’t have her wedding the week before mine, as she had forgotten to sign a document and instead, she got married on the day of my husband and my wedding reception in his country.
I was unable to attend her wedding.
I couldn’t understand what it was for the longest time… that I seemed to be surrounded by awful people and I believed that I must be imagining it.
Was I imagining it or was it really just me?
It turns out that it actually was me, but not how I expected. I was attracting these kinds of people into my life and allowing them to stay.
And in the meantime, they were not giving any room for healthier relationships to draw close to me.
I had had enough.
In one year, I cut contact with three women that I considered to be close friends because they all were becoming increasingly abusive toward me, verbally and emotionally manipulative. Then my own mother in law physically intimidated and threatened me in my home in front of my children. At this point, I started to make the connections to my upbringing and the dynamic that I had been drawn into.
I had never challenged anyone before and my mother in law did not take the “no contact” kindly as it threatened her reputation. My MIL took the opportunity at a family wedding to try to create a scene to make herself look innocent and me the aggressor.
I had one of my children with me and I realized at this point that she would stop at nothing to protect her facade. So refuse to allow the children near her without close supervision. I hadn’t recognized her narcissism at all until that last time she would be in our home and then it came super clear from every single interaction after that.
She told me to forgive her and get over it. She referred to my husband only as ‘My son’ and the children as ‘my grandchildren’ as though they were not people in their own right.
She emailed me, copying my husband, and implied that I was sabotaging his birthday and not allowing him to spend it with family.
The truth was I was actually quoting what he had told me to write so it backfired somewhat. She almost did succeed in splitting up our family as my husband struggled to accept the reality of his mother and how she was affecting me.
Virtually his entire family are in denial and downplay what she does. I can see that my husband is like me in ways- a people pleaser.. and I see that as I have gotten stronger and happier, learned boundaries and no longer apologize for doing what works for my family, so has he too.
We are are in our 40’s and finally have allowed ourselves to have peace and be truly happy! My heart is with you who feel alone navigating this in your life. Do not let the bastards get you down. Do not let them push you into choosing to isolate yourself further.
I almost deleted my Facebook account several times. Had I done it, I would have cut myself off from what would become my largest support while coming to terms with everything. For a long time, I thought that maybe it was all my own fault as I was told that I am deserving of the treatment I received, but now I know that it is not.
I never go out of my way to hurt anyone. I still feel I’m doing something ‘wrong’ sharing this even though I know in my head that I’m not. Just part of the process of healing.
Be patient with and kind to yourself. Reading and learning as much as you can can help with healing. I’ve learned ‘not to wrestle with pigs, because we both get dirty and the pig likes it.’
When one door closes it truly does allow space for another to open, and you can choose to keep it open or close it to make space for another if it does not bring a mutually fulfilling and rewarding relationship. Big hugs!
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