Tweetle Dumb, and Tweetle Dead to Me

Ok, today will be a more positive blog.  I am still grieving, I do have suicidal ideation, and   I have run, as fast as possible, from my family, excluding my nieces.  No matter what their mother has told them, I will be besotted until the day I die.  Even if they turn into flying monkeys:  I will click my ruby slippers twice and return to my home, my man, my amazing life.

Because I am just realizing the truth, I have made a few mistakes.  One was telling my brother John that I had relapsed this week.  He had text me that he was going to call me today, and right away I said:

“Okay, but no talk of Sarah, I have already taken a drink this week.”

Why?  Why in the name of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the angels and saints; WHY DID I TELL HIM THAT?  My best friend warned me that he would be in touch the second his plane landed in L.A.  He called my husband the day I slipped, they talked for twenty minutes.  When I asked about the conversation?  Dwain told me he wasn’t gonna bite, that I have already said my goodbyes.

I’ll tell you why I told him that:  there is a very human need to be loved my your blood.  So the first sign at his possible empathy for my truth?  I go and give him my dirtiest dirt.  His response?  Nothing.  No text back, and I am sure he is blabbing to the narc as we speak.

Here are five misnomers about narcissists and their flying monkeys:

  1.  The narcissist loves you.
  2. There is hope for your relationship.
  3. The flying monkey will eventually see your pain.
  4. It’s “all in your head,” and finally:
  5. You can “fix” them with your love.

These are extraordinarily hard truths to swallow.  If your narc is a family member, or worse, a partner, run for the hills and don’t look back.  They don’t see you.  They never did.13130949_10204574467921122_5502413690823925160_o

Michele Elkins-Hoffman is a writer who concentrates on the notion that we are all here to love and help one another.  She lives in the sleepy town of Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania with her golden retriever, seventeen cats and  pet raccoon.

Tied to the Whipping Post

Hello again.  It’s me, (isn’t that a Neil Diamond song?)  I have an update on the impossible implications of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and how the symptoms can affect your sobriety.   The odds are, that if your narcissist is a sibling, he or she will turn your family against you, with nary a thought at the crippling pain it will unleash.  Yesterday, I received an email from John, my flying monkey of a brother, and here is one sentence I will share:

“Sarah and I love you very, very much.  You seem to go from zero to one hundred, that must be very hard to live with.”

My brother had been staying at the narc’s house, in town for a concert I did not attend.  There was much more, but I came away with the feelings of guilt, shame and unknowingness.  To put this in a better light:  I have been sober for ten years.  I have been through tremendously stress ridden times-with my marriage, my disease, my relationships.  Yesterday was a different story:

While sitting at my pc, in an amazing mood considering, our electricity went off.  This happened immediately after I read John’s sheepmail.  I took my pup outside to the shade trees, no relief.  My husband called and said he was sending an electrician, as we live in an old farm house and the breakers were ancient.  Hot, dirty from gardening, my mood slowly sinking from the family drama….I had a brilliant idea.  (insert sarcastic emoticon)  “I will go get a bottle of vodka, a small one, and mix it with cranberry juice.  I need and deserve a drink.”  I proceeded to put the pooch in the jeep, turned up the air, and drove to the liquor store.  No voices telling me to STOP, turn around, throw your change out the window (I have no money of my own, and I couldn’t very well use the credit card as my husband would see it-so it was with quarters and nickels, dimes that I paid the nice cashier in the air conditioned store.  As I walked in, I immediately sensed the employees knew I was an alcoholic; looking at me through beady eyes, suspicion on their collective faces. Continue reading

Come As You Are………..

This is a story about how God moves in our lives.  He has certainly made his glorious presence known in mine, and my heart sings his praises.  It amazes me how visible Jesus can be, if you keep your eyes and heart wide open.  My story is one of hope and heartache, and if anyone knows his amazing grace and bounding love, it is this girl who sits here today, alive when I should have been buried ten feet under; and in love with the Prince of Peace I remain.

So many of us get it wrong.  Raised in the Catholic church, I was brutalized by the image of God that portrayed an angry and vengeful deity.  I remember in kindergarten, my OCD already ruling my life, I was terrified to do anything.  If I stepped on a crack, well, I knew that was going to “break my mother’s back.”  As a teen, when the boys came a knocking, my mother told me the story of the birds and the bumbles….

“I think you should know a thing or two about boys and sex, Michele.  Kissing is a form of rape, and if you get close to a boy’s private area, you are going to get pregnant, and I don’t want my daughter to be shunned by God.  I mean, Jesus, Christ, Mary and Joseph……WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS THINK??????”

That little conversation affected me so strongly, that after 25 years of marriage?  I am still closing my knees to the point that my husband has to pry them apart.  I wish I was kidding.  I once saw a nun slap my brother, hard, after he waved to me in line for a movie.  That evening I went home and spoke with my father.  Needless to say, we didn’t go back to CCD.  And I left the church, forlorn and out of my mind anxious.

Years and years later, my mother in law sent her church elders to pray for me.  I was accosted the moment I opened the door:  no warning, just a gaggle of church ladies pouncing on me…….and I was angry.  I was polite, but this did nothing for my faith, let alone my relationship with the monster in law.  (She has narcissistic tendencies-combine that with 15 years of my drunken antics and well, let’s just say we coexist.  She and her husband live across the street.  One day, after going on a scavenger hunt which involved having a drink at each bar we visited, my friends dropped my drunken behind off at home.  My husband was hunting with his son, and I soon passed out on the bed.  After waking, I saw the clock, which read (in my stupor) 7 o’clock a.m.  I thought my husband hadn’t come home from the “night before.”  Not only did I chase him around the maple tree in our front yard (broad daylight), for reasons unknown to me to this very day, I stripped off my clothes and proceeded to sit on the roof top, screaming “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK WHAT THE NEIGHBORS THINK!!!!!!!” My in-laws had company that day, church company….I shudder at the memory.  (I laugh too, but not in front of my husband.)

Ten years ago I was given the strength (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!) to quit drinking after an attempted suicide.  I came out of it in the hospital to the sound of my husband saying, “She held a knife” at my throat over a bottle of wine.

“Why?  Why would you lie like that?” I stammered.  He then put his weary head in his hands and wept like a child.  That frightened me so badly, I quit drinking that very day.  It hurt me to see him so defeated.  I truly thought there was no hope for me, between depression, suicidal ideation and addiction?  I never for a moment thought that God still loved me, I was full of shame, remorse and self hatred.

I was working as a private duty nurse across the street from a Methodist Church.  One day I walked out to get the mail and saw the pastor across the street working on the marquis.  He invited me to join the congregation the following Sunday.  He spoke these words, and he will never know how they changed my life:

Come as you are.”

Sweet Baby Jane this Sucks Ass

babyjane004 I want to thank the folks who liked my last three blogs.  Narcissistic Abuse, and the ensuing mental anguish (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is a mother fucker and, excuse my language, a soul murder-heart rape.  I have set my mind to writing about this subject often, as I believe it resonates with people, way too many people.

Well dudes, the concert in Philadelphia never happened.  A day I have looked forward to for months, was violentis interuptis.  Yes, I did make up those words-I do it often and with great aforethought. I told you in my last blog that the vacation was off.  I told you that there have been a handful of shot gun blasts in my back yard as well; now my husband is directing me to call the State police at the next occurrence.  The minute he leaves the house in the morning, I am full of dread, anxiety, paranoia.  I carry mace and a 90 pound golden retriever with me at all times.  Something as simple as the buzzer ringing can make me dive for cover.  I am assuming this behavior will recede, in time.

So, my husband and I were so excited for the Wayne Music Fair in which there would be a Huffamoose reunion.  We had planned to spend the entire day, and were getting ready to pack our chairs and coolers into the truck when I received a return email from my brother.  It was a response to my email in which I wrote, “I have come to the conclusion that it is a bad idea to vacation with our sister.”  Don’t ask me why, but his agreement, (even though I had rescheduled our cabin for September,) it would have been nice to hear even a word or two of protest.  This lack of understanding hit me like a freight train.  The last thing I wanted to do was to see the Anti-Christ at an all day event which featured my brother’s band coming together again. Nope.  I cried on and off the entire day.  Sweet Baby Jane “wins” again.

She has taken so very much for me, but I will not continue the victimization.  This is my curtain call for my family:  Exit stage left……….

She’s Come Undone

I never imagined that blogging would become a daily discipline.   As a matter of fact, I wish this whole Hitchcockian scenario would end; but I fear this is only the beginning.

What fresh Hell did I suffer today?  Yesterday?  It appears that we have a neighborhood sniper on our hands, and if I wasn’t afraid before, well I am downright petrified now.  We live in the middle of nowhere in a town of 250 people.  Kleinfeltersville is the sleepy town of country folk, incredible beauty and, to be honest, a few of us aren’t wrapped too tightly.  It is not uncommon to hear gun shots, as our neighbors have a shooting range next door.  Enck’s Gun Barn is right down the road, although he has moved his business, and he is far enough away that I don’t hear those random shots in the middle of the day, or night.  We are surrounded by hunters, including my long suffering husband, who was not alarmed when I called him yesterday, hysterical and barely able to take a breath for the panic attack was full blown.

“Someone just shot a raccoon in the back yard.  The shot CAME FROM OUR YARD.  Should I call the police?”  I think it worthy to note that I love animals; everyone and any one who knows me, knows this.  I am the proud owner of a cat shelter, where my feline friends are free to roam the seven plus acres at their leisure.  The sight of that poor raccoon led to a melt down, and it was in this precise hysterical state that I found myself blubbering to my man.  He tried to calm me by giving me a multitude of explanations, although not one of them panned out.  I put this into the archives of my exhaustive brain files, and went to bed a bit more at ease.

This morning I stuck to my routine.  Up at 6:30 and out the door by 7, I heard another gun shot, coming from the same direction as yesterday.  Hindsight is 20/20, and I know now that going into the woods, mace and rake in hand, was as dangerous a thing as I have ever done.  I knew this random lunatic could shoot me, yet I was so enraged that I screamed:

“Don’t f*** with a mother****er.”  I cried out today, as I did yesterday, and asked who was in my yard.  No response.  I phoned Dwain, and received the same response as yesterday:

“Honey, your sister is not on the farm trying to shoot you, if that’s what you think.”

If he only knew.  If he would just listen, and trust me-he might be as alarmed, if not enraged as his wife.  I wanted to call the State Police barracks, but what will I tell them, pray tell?  I put my golden retriever in the jeep and started off down the road.  (After a knock down, drag out argument with God, in which I asked him had I not suffered enough through my life?  I ranted and raved, then ended up on my knees, asking for mercy and forgiveness.)  I prayed, and I asked him to please send me someone who cared enough, was safe enough, and who truly believed my plight.

Driving down the dirt road, I ran into my loving and validating neighbor Rosie.  I stopped the jeep and interrupted he walk with her pit-bull.  I told her my story, Reader’s Digest version of course, and awaited her response.

Michele, I heard those shots myself.  It concerned me because every one is working, and it did indeed sound as if it came from your place.”

I am not sure if this makes me feel better, or outrageously worse.  And as I hiked the hills of Camp Mack this morning, I found myself wondering how much a bullet proof vest would run me:  tomorrow is my brother’s concert in Philadelphia.  She will be there.  Sadly, knowing the children and husbands will also be attending, that is of little if no comfort at all.

Needy Baby, Greedy Baby

I just came out of a two day depression that had me in bed, shut down and emotionally drained.  Everything I thought I knew about my sister, the good, bad and the ugly-was brought home in an email that sent my heart into a tailspin.  I hadn’t any idea of how sick she truly was, and now that I have been “enlightened” I found it necessary to cancel the plans for our part in the family vacation.  I couldn’t put my brother or my nieces and nephew through any more pain or tension-they have been through enough.

Sadly, as my sister admitted, she had kept my nieces (my Godchild) and nephew away from me for ten years.  For you to understand the toxicity of a narcissist in your life, you need to know that she and her family live 45 minutes away.  She methodically and systematically ruined each and every attempt that my husband and I made to see the children that meant the world to my heart, and I am sure that she has turned them against me-how else could she explain her behavior?  She has to make me the bat shit crazy person, think about it:

“Aunt Michele is an addict.  Aunt Michele is a cruel and demonic entity.  Aunt Michele is sick, honey.  Aunt Michele didn’t want to go on vacation……”

I once asked my therapist this question:  Do you think she will turn the children against me?”  Her response:  “She already has.” I cannot and will not feel sorry for myself.  I am going to beat this CPTSD (complicated post traumatic stress disorder) for my sanity, for my marriage and because of the faith that I have in God.

I looked so forward to my first family vacation ever.  I imagined the kids (now grown but delightful and disarming, they hold my heart and always will.  They are my beloveds) and I swimming, hiking and playing charades; long walks and girl talk.  The get away is planned for July 29th, and I have already packed (and unpacked) my suitcase.  I bought outfits and jewelry, fantasized about the pleasure of spending a whole WEEK with my blood.  I was over the moon ecstatic.

I know that Sarah did not want me on this vacation.  My brother gave me the information in March, she had not said word one to me about the plans or destination.  Shortly after she found out about our plans, she set to breaking me down, “putting me in my place,” and terrifying the bejeepers out of me with her last email in which she turned everything around on me.  I have never, ever intentionally hurt her in any way, shape or form.  I was good enough to take care of her and Emily (her first child) for a week.  The second and third pregnancy were no different.  But I am not dealing with a sane personality here.  To have been made to think that I am the sick sister, and her proclivity to tell anyone and everyone she knows just how “sick” I am?  Well, it’s only sinking in now.  I am enraged, broken hearted and the very worst part is, I have no desire to go into any details with any one, not even my brother or husband:  I have a deep seated fear that they won’t believe me, so why should I bother?

My poor husband and brother have been on the phone trying to come up with a solution.  My brother suggested a conference call, when he arrives here for a concert he is doing in Philadelphia.  I don’t even want to go there in my head, what a train wreck that would be~  No, I will remain diligent in my avoidance of her.  At the age of 56, I have no intention of allowing her to harm, invalidate or gas light me.  I know the truth now.

Of course, I will attend his concert.  Am I prepared for the imminent run-in with the Anti-Christ?  Hells bells no.  So say a prayer for me, I have two days to prepare, and I have nothing.

 

Twisted Sister

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I know I haven’t written in some time.  I succumbed to this place where I had not one iota of creative energy left in my Lyme riddled body.  And family drama.  That’s always enough to bring you to your knees; especially when you suffer from Chronic PTSD.  I always assumed that my PTSD stemmed from my emotionally abusive mother, who suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder and NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder.)  I thought I had rewritten my story, as my pastor would say.  Years and years of professional therapy later, I thought I was healed.   Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.

I am not a complainer.  I used to walk around the house, a virtual Irish Sigh, bemoaning my interpersonal relationships and the fact that I couldn’t find a job that wasn’t riddled with office ladies’ drama.  And then I went into nursing, and was very happy with the change.  I began healing in earnest, when my CPTSD became so damaging, I had to stop working for fear of an utter shut down of my mental and physical health.  That was over 2 years ago, and I can say that as much as I love working with the elderly, Alzheimer’s and the families affected by it, there is no possibility that I could handle a job-the stress would kill me dead.  Just committing to anything, whether it a doctor’s appointment or weeding the church gardens, well, it cripples me with anxiety.

So, after a year of recovery and self care, I began to see my creativity returning.  I love to paint, write, take photographs, garden……….and the more I did these things the better I felt.  I was coming home to myself, who I really was…..when the shit hit the proverbial fan.

My sister was born 5 years after me.  I have memories of loving her beyond reason, her long curls and infectious laughter filled my heart with joy.  I took care of her when my mother fell into a coma, and my poor father-who suffered from alcoholism-could do nothing but drink beer, cry and sit in the antique rocking chair.  I was eleven, but did my best to ensure some sort of dinner was on the table, the breakfasts and lunches made, and the house in order.  Little did I know how drastically things would change when my mother recovered and returned home.  Unimpressed with my attempt to hold the family and house together, (I have an Irish twin-my brother) she lashed out at me the minute she came through the door in a wheelchair.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  How much do you WEIGH?”  

I was crushed.  I had put on extra weight, due to my inability to cook, Stauffer’s frozen mac and cheese, and our neighbor’s carb filled meals, delivered at least twice a week.  Back then I ate to calm myself, bring comfort -I had no support system.  She insisted I get on the scale in front of my father and siblings.

“150 pounds!!!!  That is UNACCEPTABLE.”

Long story short, after losing the unwanted fat on a Weight Watcher’s program, I was sitting in the kitchen eating my favorite snack at the time, carrots and mustard.  Gross, I know, but for crying out loud, low calorie, right?

“I just read an article in the Ladies Home Journal.  Did you know how fattening carrots are?”  In one of her narcissistic rages, my mother made her point alright.  I developed anorexia and bulimia, and at one point put hockey pucks in my sweat pants as the doctor was threatening to put me in the hospital.  I weighed 73 pounds at that time.

Flash forward a bit.  My father was a travelling salesman, and the family dynamics were worsened by the fact that during the week he was on the road, and we were left with our seemingly schizophrenic mother, whose mood swings were feared more than any scary monster you could dredge up in your mind.  She once beat my brother black and blue with the door knocker.  I stopped her from killing him.  His crime?  Knocking more than once.

But my sister was the golden child.  Untouchable, she learned early that she could scream for our mother and my brother and I would instantly be disciplined.   I can tell you that we would literally walk into a room and the howling would begin.  Embroiled in a battle we could not win, John and I became very, very close-we were all each other had and we were inseparable.  Years later, when I was in my first year at Villanova, my father was diagnosed with pancreatitis.  His drinking had become a 24/7 addiction.  He would start out in the morning with gin in his tea.  Soon after his hospitalization he slipped into a coma from the withdrawal, or delirium tremens.  Dad was my only friend in the universe, and I dropped out of college as I had no interest in anything but my father’s recuperation.  He came out of the fog a year later, and had to learn to walk, talk, and function in a world without the crutch of beer and booze.  This was the conversation at the dinner table the first night he was home:

Why is Sarah in a high chair?” he asked my mother.

My sister was thirteen years old at the time.  Dad was horrified, and I remember my mother laughing, and then bringing out an adult chair for Sarah.  She cut my sister’s meat until she was 15-and in doing these things my mother created the Golden Child who could do no wrong.  My father caught her, in her bedroom, smoking weed with friends one evening.  “Just keep it from your mother.”  Seriously???????  My mother found the weed the next day.  She stormed into my bedroom demanding answers, and because I wasn’t a rat, I told her it was mine-further diminishing any chance I had at my mother’s acceptance, let alone love.

And so, 30 years later, I  came the crushing realization that my narcissistic sister had been abusing, demeaning, triangulating and hovering the shit out of me.  I had a codependency that allowed her to walk all over me, further pushing my self esteem into the garbage.  She had three children whom I doted on, until she took them away from me.  I had not been invited on a single family vacation for the first 10 years of their lives.  I assumed it was my alcoholism, and that was a contributing factor in getting my ass sober.  Only, when I quit drinking, her behavior towards me became sadistic, demonic and very, very real.  The family vacations continued, but I wouldn’t find out about them until after the fact, when one of the kids slipped…..or my brother commented that I should join them now and then.  You see, Sarah lorded my disease over my head, but my sobriety enraged her-I was the scapegoat, black sheep-the better my life became, the more despicably  I was treated.

I am picking up the pieces of my betrayed heart.  I have tried to help her, and have prayed and prayed and……well, prayed that she found Jesus and turned to him for healing.  But just last week things came to a head, and I mean HEAD.  I stood my ground and told her that I would no longer be trampled upon.  I was so angry that I told her not to bother coming to my funeral as she couldn’t find the compassion or empathy to treat me like a human being, to stop stalking my social media and gas lighting me to the point of a near mental breakdown.  She didn’t take that very well.  I received a phone call from John, saying that Sarah was very upset.

She doesn’t have your communication skills.  I don’t want our family vacation to be strained because you two can’t get along.”

That’s right folks.  We are going on a family vacation to the Adirondack Mountains for the first time ever.  Thank God I had the foresight to book our cabin 30 minutes north of theirs, as I wouldn’t want to ruin the family fun.

NOTE: I will talk about the necessary work that needs to be done when you realize that you are a victim of this insidious disease, in future blogs.  Please know you are not alone; there is great hope and many resources for healing. I love my sister and it breaks my heart-but the truth shall set you free, and I intend to chase that truth down, no matter what the cost.