I was sitting at my desk bawling one day (after a phone call with a rude scheduler at my doctor’s office) when the doorbell rang. I wiped my eyes, but I didn’t even get up. I figured it was one of the many neighborhood kids who practically lived there during the summer.
But when my son yelled, “Mom, some lady’s at the door asking for you!” I jumped up. At the door stood a beautiful young woman with a concerned look on her face.
“My name is Jane and I’m with child protective services,” she said. Noticing my tear-stained face, she said, “Oh, are you okay?”
I nodded and briefly explained what had happened with the rude lady on the phone, and then asked her how I could help her.
“Uh, we got a call from someone who said your children are being neglected,” she said, almost apologetically. “I’m here to investigate.”
I felt the blood rush to my face and my heart was suddenly pounding. I have never been perfect, but I’m a good mom and everyone who knew me knew how much I love my kids.
“What? I don’t understand,” I said, feeling dizzy. “Who would do that?”
She told me that someone had called saying that my kids didn’t have food to eat and that there was trash and junk all over my house. And that my oldest child was reportedly raising the others while I just left them alone all the time. Of course, none of this was true and the problem was quickly resolved. But what that event revealed would change my life forever – and not in the ways one would expect.
The Betrayal That Would Change My Life Forever
Once she had determined that I was not the neglectful, abusive person someone had claimed I was, and that my children were, in fact, safe, healthy and happy, I asked the social worker if I could read the report that had been taken when this supposedly anonymous person had called the CPS hotline.
She agreed, and as I read through the report, I was shocked at how bold and unfounded the claims of neglect and abuse actually were. And then it happened. I read the line: “Her oldest son is raising his brothers and sisters.”
I felt the wind knocked out of me. I knew in that moment exactly who had made that call. I knew without a doubt. I knew because I had heard that same language a thousand times growing up.
It was my own mother.
Not only did my oldest child only have one brother and one sister (not plural brothers and sisters), but my mother had said over and over again throughout the years: “I had to raise my brothers and sisters.”
I couldn’t breathe. My head was spinning. My heart had dropped to my stomach and I felt like I was going to throw up.
How could she do this to me?
I knew she had never approved of literally anything I did. I knew she didn’t like me as a person.
But I had believed her when she said she would always be there for me. I had believed her when she said family was forever, and that no matter what happened, she’d always have my back.
I had believed that, though she’d gossip and lie about me to the family and probably her friends, when it came to the big important things, she would never betray me. I never, ever thought she would call CPS on me. Not in a million years.
What Led to the Betrayal
I’d always had a strained relationship with my mother, to say the very least. We had conflicting personalities. She believed I should be a carbon copy of herself, and I could never quite make that happen. Anytime I tried to go “rogue” and do something outside of the lines she had drawn for me, I was doing it to “hurt her,” she thought and said. If I had an opinion or a thought or a feeling or a belief about something, it was quickly poo-pooed, brushed off, minimized.
Growing up, this led to my feeling completely and totally worthless. The one thing I wanted from my mother was validation. I wanted her to be proud of me for something that was all me. I wanted her to say I was good, that I mattered. That I was important.
But she couldn’t. Instead, she would just look down her nose at me and judge me. When it came to me and who I was becoming, she would alternate between feeling shame for having a daughter like me, and rage that I wouldn’t or couldn’t stay within the lines that she had drawn for me.
Fast-forward several years. I was on my second marriage and my third child. My youngest was a year old, my oldest, the only child of my first marriage, was 11.
I had been arguing with my mother for several weeks. It seemed that she wanted to take my oldest son on vacation with her to California to visit my brother. I had agreed, because even though I couldn’t always afford such experiences, I didn’t want to take them away from my child if she was offering.
The thing was that this was the first year that my little family could afford a “real family vacation,” and we had planned a trip to Florida, where we were going to show our kids the beach for the first time.
I told my mother that as long as her trip was after ours, it would be okay. She agreed, and things seemed like they’d be okay.
But a few days later, she called me while I was getting the kids out the door for school, and my husband out the door for work. She said that she was buying plane tickets for their California trip and needed to know RIGHT NOW if the dates she had chosen would be acceptable.
I told her that I would check my calendar and call her back after I got everyone out the door, 15 minutes later. She said she couldn’t wait. She needed to know right now!
I reminded her that I had told her my dates before and she could just refer to those. But she said she couldn’t remember the dates, and in the moment, neither could I.
So I asked my husband about the dates she mentioned, and he said it was fine with him as long as it was after our trip. I explained this to my mother, and she said, “Fine, I’m buying the tickets now.”
But when I went and checked my calendar 15 minutes later, I realized the dates she had chosen were the week before our trip had been planned. We had already paid non-refundable deposits on the condo we rented on the beach and it had been set in stone.
I quickly picked up the phone and called my mother to ask her to reschedule, and was quickly informed to “get over myself” and that she would not reschedule. When I tried to ask her to do so and explained my reasons (that I wanted to be the one to show my son the beach for the first time), she acted like that was the dumbest thing she had ever heard and brushed it off before completely losing it.
She started screaming obscenities and insults at me and before long, hung up the phone on me. Moments later, the phone rang and it was my dad, who had raised me since I was six. He informed me that I was a complete piece of shit who didn’t deserve anything and that I had horribly upset my poor mother, who was only trying to be nice. He said he had never really liked me and had only put up with me “for her sake,” and that this was too much.
I can’t remember what I said to him after that, but I am sure it wasn’t very nice. I remember a lot of crying and angst after that.
I decided in that moment to pull away from my parents in order to preserve my sanity. But since I didn’t want to take experiences away from my son, I allowed him to go on the vacation, and I allowed him to go to church camp with my mother and brother that same month. I still maintained my distance from her and kept it “all business, all the time.” I’d only discuss the business of her being a grandmother to my child (and I didn’t say “children” here because she still to this day hasn’t bothered to be much of a grandparent to my youngest two, save for one or two half-hearted attempts early in their lives).
The day before my son was due to go to church camp with my mother and brother, we were getting together his suitcase and supplies for the week. He was being his usual self, preferring to play video games instead of doing what we needed to do. He haphazardly gathered up the clothing needed for the week at camp and when I asked him where his shoes were, he said he didn’t know.
I had just bought him brand new name-brand running shoes the week before, and he refused to find them. Instead, he found a pair of shoes that was a little too small and kind of falling apart.
I told him he would be miserable in those shoes all week. That they wouldn’t support his feet and that they would hurt. He told me to stop worrying so much, that they would be fine. He reminded me that the camp papers said to bring old shoes you didn’t mind ruining.
I told him I didn’t care if he ruined the shoes, but I wanted him to take his new ones. I wanted his feet to be comfortable and I didn’t want people to think I didn’t buy him shoes when he needed them.
He brushed me off and said it would be fine, going back to his video game.
In frustration, I said, “Fine, if you would rather play video games than spend five minutes looking for your shoes so you can be comfortable at camp, that’s your choice. But I promise you’ll regret it by Tuesday.”
He told me he knew what he was doing and again said he’d be fine. And at that moment, I decided to let him learn his lesson. Maybe with sore feet for a week, he would finally realize that sometimes, being prepared is better than playing a video game.
Right or wrong, that was my parenting decision at that moment. And it would come back to bite me in a way I would never have expected.
See, while he was at camp, he complained to my mother and brother that his shoes hurt his feet. They took pity on him and zipped into town to buy him a new pair, and when they arrived to drop him off at the end of the week, they said nothing about the shoes.
But I noticed them right away and asked about them.
They both looked down their noses at me and informed me that his shoes were too small and all torn up. I explained what had happened, thinking they would understand and even be on my side. I offered to pay my mother for the shoes. She declined.
After that, I continued to have what I would now call “low-contact” or limited contact with her, focusing only on the business of her grandparenting my son.
The Final Disappointment
Weeks later, I called my mother excited because I had received the proof copy of my first book.
“Mom,” I said. “I can’t believe it! My name is on the cover! This is such a big deal!”
She said nothing about the book and instead told me she was very busy and had to go, as she had been doing for awhile now.
I was disappointed that she wouldn’t be happy for me. I wanted her to be proud of me, as I always had, and as she did as she had always done.
I felt that old familiar lump in my stomach. But I tried to push it down and celebrate with my kids instead.
Later that day, I had to call my doctor about an issue I was having – and after hearing some upsetting news, was sitting at my desk in my converted garage-office area, sobbing quietly so the kids wouldn’t hear me.
And that’s when the doorbell rang.
The Truth Comes Out
My heart was pounding as my eyes raced along the words of that CPS report. There it was in black and white. In addition to the outrageous lies and assumptions they had made, there was the language used – and then, there was the mention of the shoes. I was in shock. I could not believe this was happening.
I would learn later that it was even worse than I thought. She had “turned” my brother on me. He had fallen for the lies and made-up stories she told him about what a terrible mother I was. She had “whipped him up into a frenzy,” as she was prone to saying, and made him believe I was neglecting and abusing my children.
It seemed that, along with my brother, with whom I believed until that moment I had a positive relationship, she had created a made-up story about how I was parenting my kids, who my kids WERE and how my household ran.
The social worker interviewed me, my husband, and my children, and she looked around our house. She checked to see that we had food in the fridge and pantry, she looked in our drawers and our closets. She looked at the kids’ bedrooms and in our back yard.
Finding nothing wrong, she closed the case the same day.
She put her hand on mine and told me not to worry. She explained to me that there are a lot of folks who waste the department’s time with what they call “revenge calls.” And, she explained, this seemed to be one of those.
Something Broke Inside Me That Day
That was the day I went no contact with my mother, and it’s the day that my whole life changed. For my entire life, I had felt obligated to her. I felt like I needed to keep her happy, and that I wasn’t ever good enough because I couldn’t be whatever it was she thought I should be. (I’ll leave it at that because to explain the details would take hundreds of pages.)
She had betrayed me – THEY had betrayed me, in a way that I could never have imagined that they would. It completely changed everything for me. It woke me up and fast.
At the very moment I realized that my own mother had wilfully done this to me, attempted to have my children taken from me (or at least risked that), I almost physically felt something break inside of me – that cord of obligation that had always been there and had always caused me to bend to her will – it broke.
In one single moment, I lost the ability to care how she felt. And more than that, I lost the fear of her. She had always intimated that if I stopped doing what she wanted, or refused her too many times, she would abandon me and then I’d have no one. I lived in that fear for 35 years.
A Moment of Clarity Launches a Movement
Before that day, I thought that even if she was a hard person to deal with, and even if she rarely ever validated me or attempted to understand me, and even if she didn’t seem to care about my feelings, at least she had my back when it came to my family.
I could never have imagined (nor would I have believed) that she would stoop so low to hurt me. I cannot even come up with the right words to describe the way I felt – it was almost like the time I was running in the dark as a kid and tripped over a branch, knocking the wind out of myself. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me.
But then, I got mad. Well, not just mad. After years of being a people-pleasing, self-hating codependent, I was filled with blistering, blinding rage.
Soul-twisting, screaming, ugly rage that comes up from deep inside and nearly forces you to take swift action. The kind that causes you to get crystal-clear on what you want and what you deserve real quick. I was filled with what I now know is justified rage. I was indignant. And in that very instant, I was done. I went no contact and I have not looked back.
But it wasn’t so simple. Even though I officially ended contact in that moment, it took a long time before I could see that there would be a silver lining to all of this.
Going no contact was instinct for me in that moment. I did not fully understand why I was doing it, but I just knew it had to be done. At that moment, as with many other moments in my life, my decision was based on my desire to protect my children. Not myself. As usual.
But I felt myself changing somehow.
This event launched a period of reflection that started a whole movement in my life. Suddenly, I could see everything clearly – and as it turned out, I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. I had spent my life trying to be something that someone else wanted me to be – but I couldn’t be that thing because it wasn’t, well, who I was. This led to me questioning literally everything I believed, thought, felt and did up to this point.
Later, I would also discover that my first husband had been a toxic narcissist as well. It shocked me because he had seemed to be almost the polar opposite of my mother. But that’s when I learned that there were different kinds of narcissists and that their toxic behaviors could manifest in different ways.
In time, I started to see things more clearly. As the psychology of it all started to make more sense to me, I started creating some real positive change in my life.
I recognized and eliminated a couple of key relationships – very toxic ones that I couldn’t even see until after I had this moment of clarity. It was the beginning of my personal evolution, and while I wouldn’t wish this experience on even my worst enemy, I have come to be grateful for it, because it led me to my life’s work, and it led me here, in this moment, to you.
While I had been professionally blogging for a few years about work stuff, and while I was a journalist by profession, I needed a creative outlet as well. That was why I had a personal blog where I wrote about what I was going through and ways I was handling it. I wrote about how I was managing to deal with the “difficult” people in my life – and how I was changing my perception in the process.
But back then, I didn’t understand what was happening in my life – not really. It took me several years to realize that I was also blogging for thousands of other people just like me – people who were survivors of narcissistic abuse. At that point, I didn’t even know what narcissistic abuse really was, nor did I recognize myself as someone who was dealing with it.
(These days, someone tells me nearly every single day that I have helped them in some way – often that I’ve saved their lives. Just because they read or watched or heard me say something that resonated with them or woke them up. It’s an amazing gift that comes along with the kind of work I do.)
But what so many of these amazing people don’t know is that, inadvertently, they have saved ME. See, it was through my work blogging that I started sort of trying to figure out what was really wrong with me – and as it turned out, it led me to discover NPD abuse and C-PTSD.
Writing My Way to Sanity
I’ve always written my way out of trouble. This began with a pink diary with a little lock on it at age 6, continued with handwritten journals into my 20s and eventually, led me to blogging in my early 30s.
My first blog-therapy (as I like to call it) experience was with weight loss blog on BuddySlim – a website that was dedicated to diet and exercise back in the early 2000s. This was a community blogging site, and it provided some much-needed validation for me at the time. It took my own “journal therapy” idea to a whole new level – I was getting valuable feedback from my peers – and WOW that was a beautiful thing! Heck, I eventually lost 100 pounds!
Fast-forward a few years, and I had decided to become a stay-at-home mom. I love my kids so much! But to be honest? That worked for about 10 minutes before I decided I needed some intellectual stimulation. This, of course, led me, a journalist by trade, to blogging professionally.
I founded my first personal blog, In Pursuit of Fulfillment, in 2006. That site was originally created to allow me to share my own journey to personal fulfillment in an effort to connect with and help others who were on similar paths.
As the blog and the community around it grew, I grew right along with them. Over the years, In Pursuit of Fulfillment became Project Blissful, which included the original content and new content that was at least half weight-loss and maintenance focused – but also mindset and perception-focused. I had learned that choosing your perception was a big and important thing to understand in weight loss – and that a lot of the problem, for me, was a huge lack of self-love.
This grew my community and I later wrote a book with the same title after having lost the weight. During this time, I found myself researching my situation with my mother.
After digging through many psychology books and reading many research papers, I realized what I should’ve known all along: I had been dealing with narcissists who were abusing me in my relationships. More than one – and boy, had it started early!
QueenBeeing is Born
This led to the development of QueenBeeing.com, the site you may recognize among all of these. Perhaps I’d have rethought the name if I had realized that a quarter of my audience would be male.
Either way, while I was originally writing about all sorts of personal development stuff, eventually, I recognized that my best work was about narcissistic personality disorder, narcissistic abuse recovery, and the related topics. I knew this because anytime I wrote on these topics, people flocked to my blog – and they started reaching out to me, asking for my personal help with their situations.
Having realized what I had gone through was a huge breakthrough in my life – it literally opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed! I found myself having realization after realization about what I believed, what I thought and what I knew to be true. It turned out that, at age 35, I had to rethink everything I believed about myself and even the world around me.
Narcissistic Abuse is Subtle, All-Encompassing and Soul-Crushing
Narcissists have this way of shoving their twisted perceptions right into our brains – and this is especially true when we’re dealing with a narcissistic parent, but also when we’re in any sort of long-term relationship with a toxic person.
This creates some major issues for us as we develop and grow in our lives. We learn to doubt who we are, what we are – what we see and believe. We are taught that we’re not good enough – and after enough brainwashing, we start to believe it.
I remember thinking I wasn’t even a real person.
Thankfully, life is so much better these days. I’ve gone no contact with the narcissists in my life. I’m married to my best friend and have a beautiful family. And I spend my days doing what I love – what I really care about: helping survivors of narcissistic abuse find their way to freedom – and to their true selves. This is truly one of my biggest (and most divinely driven) mission in life.
As I always say, I can’t complain!
Every day, I learn something new, something that makes my life just a little bit better. I have learned how to use intentional thoughts and to choose my perception in order to bring about positive changes in my life, almost without fail. It really is “all in your head.”
That’s why it’s my mission to teach others what I know to be true: you really can create the life you want.
The truth is that life can be beautiful, and you can have everything you want–it all starts within you. Your perception builds your world, and the best part is that you get to choose how you perceive literally every thing and situation in your life. You can be happy, right now.
You truly can enjoy the journey to personal fulfillment, personal development and true passion—AND you can look and feel amazing while you do it. How? You start with YOU – start with yourself.
Take care of your body, take care of your soul. Nurture the real you, and introduce him or her to the world. Be comfortable in your skin, and in your place in the world. Take your spot, take it now, and the universe will take its cue from you.
- Read Next: The Art of QueenBeeing
- You might also like to read Coach Lise Colucci’s story, right here.