Self-help hater.

I confess it. I am a self-help hater. I have never been a fan of being given “advice” on how to be a better me. I prefer to analyse myself and be the one who gives the guidance. It stems from my father’s love of self-help books (a point I have blogged about previously). He needed instruction on how to live his life, without these books’ direction, he would not have been able to make decisions or create values. They were fundamental to who he was and detrimental to the power he possessed. It was a source of control. He used the messages in these books to dictate and order me around, to degrade my life choices and look down his nose at me. He would see it as “knowledge”. I can’t tell you how many clichés he threw at me. His favourite was “knowledge is power”. I read. Just not enough and I certainly did not read the books he was recommending. I did not want to “improve” myself. As a young adult, I was only discovering who I was. He hated that and attempted to crush and contain any self-exploration that I tried to seek.

It’s not that I am unwilling to look deeper into the depths of my character; I am. I just want to do it on my terms. I have sought out help before but through a legitimate path by seeing a counsellor. She gave me questions and ideas to think about so that I could journey through the past and present consciously to improve and develop my future.

Self-help books and ideas aid many people. I can understand that. However, I choose not to follow my life by what someone else is telling me to do.

Today, I was subjected to a little self-help. In a discussion, comments were made about regret. Someone noted a quote that spoke of how we tend to regret the things we haven’t done and not the things we have. True. Sometimes. This is a very general and broad statement. One that many people seemed to agree with. I can’t.

I don’t totally disagree of course, but life isn’t that black and white. Some of my biggest regrets in life are the big choices I have made. The biggest regret being my foolish decision to live with my father aged sixteen. The choice that upturned and capsized my life. The choice that handed my abusive parent the reins to control and mentally torture me. I regret staying with him for so long. Twelve years! I regret not fighting sooner and accepting my pathetic life. I regret so much that I chose to do.

I am not a risk taker.

I can’t imagine doing some of the things I long to do. I believe in responsibilities. I am not frivolous. Perhaps that is a bad thing. Perhaps I should be more spontaneous. Except I hate surprises. In twenty years time, I am certain I will have regrets. Not huge, life-changing ones but ones where I should have taken that holiday to the Caribbean or treated myself to that expensive bag I had been lusting after. I do not mind those regrets, they are the regrets that keep us human.

Life cannot be so straightforward nor can it be peaceful and effortless at all times. I am not saying I want a depressing and bumpy journey! I just understand that shit happens and we need to be ready to face it when it comes our way.

I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.
Katharine Hepburn

Too right! How anyone can say they do not regret a choice they have made is beyond me. How an earth can you ever repent, learn or forgive?

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Sociopath V.S Narcissist.

After researching sociopathy on the web, I came across the same definition that sociopathy was classed as a personality disorder. A website listed a few general points of a sociopath as being:

  • Glibness and Superficial Charm – my father had plenty of this.
  • Manipulative and Conning
    They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviours as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
  • Grandiose Sense of Self
    Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.” – undoubtedly another trait of my father’s.
  • Pathological Lying
    Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
  • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
    A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way – the perfect description of my abuser. Nothing stood in his way when it came to me.
  • Shallow Emotions
    When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises – yet, with my abuser, he expected my emotions to be truth, I had to feel an abundance of love for him.
  • Incapacity for Love
  • Need for Stimulation
    Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.
  • Callousness/Lack of Empathy
    Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
  • Poor Behavioural Controls/Impulsive Nature
    Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others – the abuser never had any boundaries around me. I was forbidden boundaries, he made it so he was free to enter all of my personal space.

I never thought of my father as a sociopath. I had always associated the term with criminals. It was only recently, when a fellow WordPress blogger mentioned to me that my father seemed to suffer from many of these traits did I look further into it. My father fitted into the majority of these descriptions. It’s shocking to read it out loud and see what kind of man I was dealing with for all those years.

I may never have thought of my abuser as a sociopath but I did regard him as a narcissist. My definition of a narcissist has always been of the tale of Narcissus in Greek Mythology. The son of a river god who was incredibly proud. He saw his reflection in a river and instantly fell in love with his own beauty. He became so fixated with himself that it caused his death.

I always saw my father as a narcissist; he truly loved himself. The Oxford Dictionary defines Narcissism as –

  • excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.
  •  Psychology extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

Well that sums my father up to a tee especially the second part. He longed, yearned and craved admiration. He used his cut-throat, sociopathic ways to buy and gain admiration from others. It worked with many.

It never worked with me.

Raising Awareness.

I am taking my prompt from another blogger who has inadvertently encouraged me to start researching more about the many forms of abuse. I discovered emotional incest from my counsellor three years ago. I had never heard of it before then. Discovering this new term changed a part of my life. Finally, there were answers. I began researching it through the internet and came across a book, one that I have recommended on the blog already – The Emotional Incest Syndrome – Dr Patricia Love, believe me, it’s well worth a read. Many survivors of parental abuse may not realise that this is happening to them. I didn’t.

Over the next few posts I will be looking into the information that is out there on the world wide web to help other survivors of different forms of abuse. It will be good to know what avenues there are to explore especially in the United Kingdom as when I was suffering, it was difficult to know where to go. Of course, the doctor or psychiatrist is always an option but there should be more available to help people going through these traumas.

In the book I’ve recommended to you, there is a section that asks you to “tick” off what relates to your situation. If any of you have any doubts or questions about your relationship with your parents (past and present) this is a good and enlightening task to do. BEWARE: It may bring up some revelations and you need to be ready to face them. It not only asks you to look at your relationship with the abusers but the way in which you value yourself.

I do hope this is beneficial to you as it was to me.

 Check list of Enmeshment

Part A. Indication of an Overly Close Parent-Child Bond

1. I felt closer to one parent than the other.
2. I was a source of emotional support for one parent.
3. I was “best friends” with a parent.
4. A parent shared confidences with me.
5. A parent was deeply involved in my activities or in developing my talents
6. a parent took a lot of pride in my abilities or achievements.
7. I was given special privileges or gifts by one of my parents.
8. One of my parents told me in confidence that I was the favourite, most talented, or
most lovable child.
9. A parent thought I was better company than his/her spouse.
10. I sometimes felt guilty when I spent time away form one of my parents.
11. I got the impression a parent did not want me to marry or move far away form home.
12. When I was young I idolized one of my parents.
13. Any potential boyfriend/girlfriend of mind was never good enough for one of my
parents.

14. A parent seemed overly aware of my sexuality.

15. A parent made inappropriate sexual remarks or violated my privacy.
Part B. Indication of Unmet Adult Needs
1. My parents were separated, divorced, widowed, or didn’t get along very well.
2. One of my parents was often lonely, angry or depressed.
3. One of my parents did not have a lot of friends.
4. One or both parent had a drinking or drug problem.
5. One of my parents thought the other parent was too indulgent or permissive.
6. I felt I had to hold back my own needs to protect a parent.
7. A parent turned to me for comfort or advice.
8. A parent seemed to rely on me more than on my siblings.
9. I felt responsible for a parent’s happiness.
10. My parents disagreed about parenting issues.
 Part C. Indication of Parental Neglect of Abuse
1. My needs were often ignored or neglected.
2. There was a great deal of conflict between me a parent.
3. I was called hurtful names by a parent.
4. One of my parents had unrealistic expectations of me.
5. One of my parents was very critical of me.
6. I sometimes wanted to hide from a parent or had fantasies of running away.
7. When I was a child, other families seemed less emotionally intense than mine.
8. It was often a relief to get away from home.
9. I sometimes felt invaded by a parent.
10. I sometimes felt I added to a parent’s unhappiness.
 10 or more endorsements – possibly emotional incest. Look at how the checked items
cluster.

This is an extract from the book – The Emotional Incest Syndrome – Dr Patricia Love. I ticked 8 in Part A, 8 in Part B and all 10 in Part C. Part C I feel relates to the abuse from my father in my twenties. This is not just a reference to childhood. My counsellor told me to tick as it is happening to me now. I think that is where the realisation of what was happening really hit home. Lets use this and move forward.

Let the healing begin.

Ros xx

Boiling point.

Tensions are running high at the moment. My relationship with my husband is strained mostly due to a succession of what seems like bad luck. We have been told that our landlord wants to sell our flat. We signed the new contract in June with the hope that we would have another year before a possibility of buying. However, that will not be an option now. 

Out last resort is to move back to my mothers’ which is not ideal at all. I asked her earlier in the week if this would be okay. I was worried to put this pressure on her again (we had lived with her 3 years ago in-between moves) but I needn’t have been anxious as reassured me that her home would always be welcome to us.

The idea of moving is not what we need right now. We are both stressed out at work as the end of the school year is extremely busy for me not to mention my husband’s own large workload. 

I know what we need. We need a holiday. But where will the money come from? Living is London is extortionate. Food costs, bills, travel – god, travel is so expensive! 

The idea of moving out occasionally pops into my head. But I quickly lose the thought. I couldn’t leave London. It makes me happy. It’s my home.

I just hope we regain some order and direction in our lives before we completely explode.