A New Family?

I just finished reading an article about a young woman living in my country, who had been severely physically abused and badly beaten for years on end, sometimes for things she would take upon herself in order to protect her siblings, who were all forced to live with a distant relative due to having escaped their native country on account of the situation there (the article doesn’t go into detail as to what nature those challenges were, political, economical, religious or otherwise; I’m not referencing it here as it is written in my native tongue German and as Google Translate does too poor a job on this complex a subject). The article was a haymaker of some proportion on me as it reminded me of my own abuse I have suffered growing up. Another reminder came a couple of weeks ago by way of a conversation that started out casual and then touched upon relationship issues, where the term “gaslighting” came up and how this particular person was/is the victim in an emotionally abusive relationship. Both those reminders drove the message home and revealed to me, how I had been living in denial of my own abuse in past years, naively thinking or hoping that I might manage to alter the relationship with my bio family or create a new, healthier relationship. A part of me knew then that this would equal betrayal of the inner child in me, who had been programmed to loath himself for the mere idea of daring to be an autonomous being.

That first reminder – the conversation with that person living in an abusive relationship – and the article today came as a shock and stopped me cold in my tracks. For reasons of my life situation which has become dire in monetary terms and as a consequence of no longer being able to mask the symptoms of complex PTSD at the work place – next to being embarrassed about them -, thus quickly leading to disability, bankrupcty and now 100% subjection to meager welfare, at one point I felt forced to ask bio family for monetary help in order to get to move from a place that had become torturous for me. (Prior to that, I had asked a longtime, well-to-do friend to front the realtor’s fee, but he turned me down). In retrospect, I should have asked someone else for money or simply given myself permission to turn the situation around in such a way that I’d turn all hell loose on my inconsiderate neighbour, who’d torture me with being noisy and clunky (while knowing about my condition). But we learn through our mistakes, don’t we? Long story short: I tried to talk myself into believing (or hoping) that this situation might also be an opportunity to build a new relationship. Reading my words now, I am aware of how naive and almost stupid this sounds. But at the time I had become so despondent that I truly wanted to believe that it was possible to let something new and healthy grow on the scorched earth of the past.

About three years and two massive reminders later, I have to admit to myself that I was hallucinating when it comes to the above expressed idea (hope, longing…?). Healing and forgiveness can only happen if all parties involved are willing to acknowledge their part in the conundrum, as Jeff Brown repeatedly elaborates on via his writings, and more importantly, if they are willing to make good on it as best as possible. However, a narcissist is incapable of reflecting on their behaviour in healthy ways, where “healthy” – amongst other aspects – can stand for respecting another’s personality including their needs, expectations, boundaries and whatnot. The latter is something you won’t find in a narcissist, as this article details (strong trigger warning…!). I increasingly began to feel that I had betrayed myself – in addition to the betrayal I had experienced growing up (and where I had not been able to stand up for myself like my sister did). I had traded self-respect for (material) conveniences, like payments for car repairs I was no longer able to make myself, small donations here and there when money would inevitably run low towards the end of the month (and for the record: If I was in a position to resume at least part time work, I would have done so a long time ago, albeit I’d run into new existential problems given the make of the system in my country).

That newspaper article on this poor young lady running away from her abusive family and environment concludes on stating that she paid the highest price imaginable: To lose the last family she had had until this point and effectively become an orphan (she remains anonymous in order to protect herself from being tracked down by her abusive stepmother; even that part of her story reminds me of a time of being stalked by bio family to the point where they sent the police for me). The utter emptiness and loneliness one faces when needing to make that decision – i.e. cut all ties with whatever “natural” family one may have had -, I can’t even begin to think of that. It’s an abyss of epic proportions, the terror I feel when thinking of that is inexpressable. Reason tells me that there isn’t much to lose and I want to think that things can only get better. However, I’m not exactly 20 any more and life experiences – particularly those past years – have strongly driven the message home that, yes, things can and often do become worse, particularly so when struggling with life issues as society isn’t really equipped or willing to accommodate anyone’s soul searching. This is the exact point where I’m beginning to deliberate ending it (and have repeatedly done so, in the past). Again, one aspect – I guess, the saner one – tells me: “Why would you? Why let your perpetrators win?” Another aspect of self says: “You’ve suffered and struggled just about enough. Time to end all this insanity.”

If only I was able to find a new perspective, something that feels right when contemplating it, something that reassures me at a minuscule degree that the new path into uncharted territory stands a good chance of working out for me. If only there was the slightest indication that things will be alright in the end…. But it’s all completely up in the air, unforeseeable, impossible to assess beforehand (next to my options having become very, very limited, to say the least). I can’t even be sure of what exactly it is I really want in life any longer. Guess, “peace” is the word – peace of mind and heart. Was there such a thing to begin with….? If there was, I had better found me a new family – in whatever shape, way or form this may come.

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