Things I Learned From Mother Moon And Father Saturn

Things and people have a way of coming together…

Last night I had this thought -> War is an extreme form of socialising.

I do have an excuse for being so flippant. Yeah, I’m not too keen on excuses either, my own or those of others, or the ones I make up for others, and which others make up for me, but they do sometimes explain things… if you delve into them to understand them and yourself (or someone else).

Being flippant about people fighting was a coping mechanism which developed within me to deal with the constant psychological and emotional warfare which was a constant in my childhood, my family.

I don’t think I came up with that coping mechanism on my own. I did evolve it, with lots of help from Monty Python, but I didn’t invent it.

My parents taught me to do that in varying ways.

One of those ways was to tell you they were only joking right after they’d crushed you with a verbal blow to your sense of self. Stop taking it personally, stop being so sensitive, so serious, you won’t survive if you don’t learn to laugh instead of cry.

My father was Italian. Born, bred, was conscripted, worked, lived in Italy all his life, hated everywhere else in the world (even though he did enjoy traveling, having foreign friends) because that’s Italian national pride or at least his version of it.

My mother was British. Born there, partly bred there, partly grew up in Japan, Canada, and Trinidad & Tobago. Lived and worked in the UK, but then escaped to be free in Italy and ended up escaping from there too eventually to live in many other places. Never found the just right for her place.

When I was looking for a feature image for this post, I came across this:

My mother taught me all about the value of “keep calm” even though she didn’t practice that herself but she thought she did, told herself and others that she did and was an expert at it. She would be losing her calm while telling you how calm she was…

I also recently had a thought, inspired by playing the Atlantis DLC of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey where Elysium (heaven-ish) is a far more hellish place than Hades (hell-ish), which was -> next time I feel like telling someone to “got to hell”, I should really say “go to heaven”.

That popped into my mind because my mother liked to say that she – killed people with kindness – and she tried to teach me this ye olde wisdom because it was a far far better way to kill people. But it left her far far bitter to do that… especially about my father’s way which was just to openly smack with words those he wanted dead by telling them that they should die since he wanted them dead.

Weird thing is… people thought my father was charming even when he was saying things like that to them, they did not find my mother charming even when she was being super charmingly nice. Hmmm…

My father used to say – o la va o la spacca – a lot. It means it either goes or it breaks.

It’s a mantra for DIY-ers who fix televisions by hitting them with a hand. Bash bash bash… why isn’t it working now that I’ve done that or oh look that fixed it, see and you were telling me not to do that because it might break it!

He did that with people, with me. Sometimes he’d explain that it was a character building exercise.

I’m sure that’s exactly how the model who had been posing for him (and having a sexual fling with him) saw it when he announced to her during lunch at our villa with lots of friends and family that she wasn’t as beautiful as she thought she was – her tits were saggy and it wouldn’t be long before she lost her looks as she was getting old quickly because she dieted too much. She left in a flood of tears, my mother had to drive her to the airport… which pleased my mother greatly because the model hadn’t been subtle about boinking my father while staying with us in our home.

My father liked to break people… if you didn’t break then it made trying to break you more fun for him, more challenging.

He was adept at finding your inner weakness and then poking and prodding it. If your weakness turned out to be rather strong… well, there you see, he helped you to build character!

He didn’t use physical violence. He would tell me that he was going to slap me so hard my head would fly off and end up on the Moon, but he never did it.

Physical violence was rare in family warfare probably because no one liked to touch anyone else unless absolutely necessary and unavoidable. Even our pets didn’t get petted that often, although they were stroked more than humans because they understood us, were easier to love and gave love freely instead of at a price.

Physical affection was awkward, stiff, formal, or annoying (Italians like to poke and prod you with a finger to get your attention), and only done when it suddenly occurred to one of my parents that this was something you were supposed to do with those you supposedly loved and cared about. Hugs only happened when there was an audience who expected hugs to happen in a family. Look see, we’re totally a happy family!

I did get spanked with a hairbrush when I was about 6 yrs old for a brief period by my mother. She made a point of telling me that it hurt her more than it hurt me. She stopped doing that. Maybe because it did hurt her more or maybe because it didn’t have the desired effect of taming me. I only cried the first time she did it, after that I was stony silent… on the outside, on the inside I was plotting her murder.

My father hit me a couple of times when I was… also about 6 yrs old. One time the slap was intended for my mother, but I got in the way deliberately.

She seemed physically fragile, she was always telling me about how delicate she was, how brittle her bones were, how often they’d broken in the past, and she was very skin and bones skinny. I knew I was tough, she used to get annoyed with me for not breaking my bones when I leapt out of trees, off of high places often landing with a thud, and crashed my bike (before I learned how to leap off just before it crashed).

That time I got hit I remember thinking quickly -> he’s going to hit her, her face will break, mine won’t. Mine didn’t. I didn’t cry either. It didn’t hurt that much. Besides by then my mother had taught me not to cry because crying was for cry-babies and I didn’t want to be one of those, like my mother had been and hated being when she was my age, did I? I’m not sure what I wanted to be… it was a bit early in life to make those types of decisions.

Although they didn’t have any problem throwing objects around, usually not at people.

My mother’s idea of telling me to clean up my room was to march in, dramatically sweep her arms along shelves, knock everything onto the floor and then begin screaming at me about the mess.

The screaming went on for a while, then it would become a long lecture on the awful truth about me, and… poor her to be burdened with such a terrible child. She always tidied up the mess she’d made and the one I’d made which had provoked her because I was useless at everything.

When I was a teenager I turned into a neat-freak… and frankly her room, good god what a cluttered mess! Tidy superficially perhaps but don’t open a drawer or a cupboard. Years of entropy would burst out! And she still thought she was the tidy one!?! Was it all a lie…?

Verbal violence was pretty much the only form of communication in our family.

Sometimes it was aggressive, in your face shouting at you, mouths so wide open they’d swallow you whole.

Other times it was a sniper, you’d be going about your day, tra la la and then WHAM, you were dead and hadn’t seen it coming. Not sure why you died but… you can’t know everything.

Sometimes it was a sleeper spy taking the enemy down from the inside while smiling, being nice, proper and friendly, helpful.

Both of my parents would go around talking to people, winding them up against the enemy, usually telling a sob story about how poor them this person is so mean to them and my mother/father is a nice person, so nice they can’t possibly retaliate, if only they had a hero to protect them, save them…

It took me about 20 years to find out my mother was doing that with me. After that a whole lot of stuff which had never made sense… made sense. Ah, that’s why!

A friend of hers told me what my mother had been saying about me behind my back. Why did my mother’s friend betray her confidence instead of being a good friend, protecting my mother and attacking me on behalf of my mother?

Well, my parents did that sort of shit with everyone… and got away with it as long as people believed their stories, were invested in pleasing them often for selfish social climbing reasons, didn’t think for themselves, didn’t notice red flags, and didn’t realise that it could happen to them until it did.

If a friend of yours gossips and bitches about another friend behind that other friend’s back to you… they’re more than likely doing that about you with other friends. It’s a pattern of theirs, no one is exempt, is the exception no matter how special they tell you that you are to them (they say that to everyone, but shhh don’t tell the others you’re special and they’re not).

If my parents weren’t fighting openly, they were preparing for the next battle.

You know that common tale parents tell about how as long as their children are making a noise, even if it’s fighting, they know things are okay, but as soon as their kids are quiet… they get worried. That’s how it was with my parents. When they were eerily quiet… a bomb designed to obliterate you and your momentary peace on Earth was being built, may have already been built, is about to strike.

I’ve forgotten a lot of that in recent years. Not so much forgotten as become more detached, distanced from it. I’ve worked through my attachment to it in my posts. Blogging is therapeutic.

My father died a while ago.

My mother is still alive, at least I think she is… all contact has ceased between us.

It ended when I finally admitted to myself that I was allowing her to poison those who truly cared about me through me, through my not breaking things off, still trying to be a good daughter, still trying to love her because she had no one else to do that and I owed her my life she’d almost died having me and had lost so much because of me (part of her narrative which she had been drumming into me since I was a baby), still hanging on.

She turned up when my father died, behaved like a crazed lunatic, caused explosions everywhere, blamed everyone else for her behaviour, and disappeared once she’d got what she wanted… well, it wasn’t really what she had wanted because she expected there to be more than there was. And she always wanted more.

I was reminded of all of that last night while watching a brilliant tragi-comedy show – Simon Amstell: Set Free – on Netflix.

It was like nothing I’ve ever seen a professional comedian do before.

He was flippant about tragedy – the tragedy of being human, living, life, how parents fuck you up, how society fucks you up, how you fuck yourself up, and yet you can unfuck yourself to a degree, set yourself free from the fuckery, it just may take a long while to figure out how to do that.

It was like listening to a great philosopher give an important speech only it was funny, hilarious rather than solely solemn, serious.

This morning I saw that Rory had posted a question as well as an interesting personal story about it – Life Lessons From Parents?

He asked – what lessons have you learned from your parents which you still use today?

I was actually thinking about doing a post about what I’d learned from my parents before I saw his post and question. Ah, sychronicity!

My last few posts all have a theme tying them together, it’s sort of astrological, as in I’m using my astrological chart as a template. At the moment there is a stellium (a grouping of planetary stars) transiting the 12th house (the psyche, unconscious, what’s hidden) of my natal chart… stirring up old issues, allowing me to see what may be in my blind spot normally or what I usually ignore because that’s also a coping mechanism.

The High Priestess via Aecletic Tarot

My natal Moon is in the 12th house.

The Moon represents nurturing, what nurtures us, and how we nurture. It is associated with the Mother, and is sometimes used to view how we experience our own mother.

The Moon located in the 12th house can sometimes mean that your mother is a “hidden enemy”. My mother was that. My Moon is in Virgo and I experienced my mother as very much like the negative stereotype of the sign – a nit-picking perfectionist, who find flaws, faults, mistakes, in everything and everyone then tries to fix them, hammering away, hitting it until it’s either fixed or broken.

She was a Leo sun, and viewed herself as the positive stereotype of the sign. A big beautiful bouncy lion with a gorgeous mane of hair (she did have that). Generous, gregarious, shining brightly, the life and soul of the party. A consummate entertainer who wants to please the audience, get given a standing ovation. Yearning to be loved by everyone all the time. Be seen as super special.

Simon Amstell discussed the human desire to be special, it was a stunning piece of sheer brilliant pathos and bathos, a theme which ran through his routine.

Both of my parents saw themselves as super special – larger than life one of a kind, bigger and better than anyone else.

They were always trying to eclipse each other… which is interesting when viewed from an astrological perspective since my mother’s sun sign is ruled by the Sun and my father’s sun sign is ruled by the Moon.

My father was a Cancer sun.

In some ways he fit the stereotype of the sign, he was very mothering to his own mother and his siblings. He was the eldest, and took it upon himself from an early age to earn money for his family, to be the provider because his father was often A.W.O.L – once due to being in prison for refusing to be a Fascist (or at least that’s what I was told about it).

He looked after his birth family throughout his life and they expected it, were a bit pissed off that he got married and had a child (according to my mother my father did not want children… perhaps because his siblings were already that and he just wanted some time off from being daddy to everyone).

He wasn’t as caring towards his made family.

He was very sensitive – his sensitivity allowed him to hone in instinctively, intuitively on the sensitivity of others, and then use it against them.

He did move sideways and would pinch you if you caught him – he was hard to catch, hiding under rocks, diving into sand.

In astrology the father is represented by Saturn.

My natal Saturn is in Aries and I did experience my father as a ram charging into things with hard horns, they either break or they go… get out of his way.

Another thing he liked to say was – chi mi ama mi segua – those who love me follow me. In other words you either go my way, my way is the only way, or I’ll leave you behind in my dust.

Both my natal Moon and natal Saturn make hard aspects – difficult challenges – to other planets in my chart. But not to each other, they’re ignoring each other but both demand my attention, pick a side, it’s either my side or you’re a traitor!

My parents were challenging people.

Everything was a competition.

Including being ill, it was a running joke in my family that if I got a cold, my mother would get the flu, and my father would get bronchitis – that joke was based on something which actually happened exactly like that and then became a joke.

I learned a lot from my parents.

Directly and indirectly.

The easy way and the hard way.

From them wanting me to learn from them these things they wanted to teach… and from learning about those things they didn’t teach because they didn’t want anyone to know about them.

From wanting to be like them and/or liked by them.

From not wanting to be like them.

From them wanting me to be a mini-me… but not like your father, but not like your mother, yuk, don’t be like her/him/that or else I won’t love you.

From things they said, and from things they did.

Often they’d say something and then do the exact opposite while telling you they were doing the opposite of what they were doing.

Yes, it was confusing which is why it sounds confusing.

They would also talk and talk about doing something, they talked up such a storm that they and you ended up convinced that it had been done, they’d done it… but all they’d done was talk about doing it.

They would have one rule for you and a different rule for themselves. For instance they could tell you the awful truth about yourself, but don’t you dare do that to them.

There were things they were deliberately trying to teach me… my mother very deliberately taught me to have empathy.

I remember one of the empathy lessons clearly.

My mother had decided to throw a party for my birthday and wanted me to invite all the kids in my class (it was a small class in a small school).

Having birthday parties was rare because my birthday wasn’t during school term time. I also hated my B’day as that day was often when a family bomb would explode since it came at the end of a stress-filled tension reaching breaking point pretend merry happy season.

She went through the list of my classmates as she prepared invitations and when she got to one kid’s name… I said I hated him. He teased everyone mercilessly, was rude, and obnoxious. My mother immediately took his side against me. Poor him. She pointed out that maybe he was desperately trying to be liked and doing it defensively because he was afraid of being rejected. She was going to invite him whether I liked him or not, perhaps the invitation would change things.

It did. She was right. That kid became one of my nearest and dearest friends, and is one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.

From that moment on I learned to switch places with people, try to see things from their point of view and experience. Not be so quick to hate someone… go beyond the superficial judgment and appearance.

Of course there’s a flip side to everything. A dark side to the light. A negative to the positive. And I seem to have to explore things thoroughly… learning something like empathy can make you a sucker for a sob story, it can make you forget to look after yourself because you’re so busy caring more about poor everyone else they’ve got it worse – what about you? You don’t matter!

Thanks to learning empathy I became a great excuse generator for others, an apologist for all their hatefulness, a spin doctor when they were being bad. I mostly did it in the service of my parents, particularly when they were treating me like shit.

Oh poor mother she’s hurting from what mean father did to her which is why she’s screaming at me and shredding me to pieces, I’m such a terrible person, so selfish.

Oh poor father he’s an artist and his career is more important than I am, he’s too busy to visit me, it is my fault he never sees me, I wonder if a 7 yr old can call up the airport and book a flight, I wonder if they’ll take pocket money although my parents never give me pocket money because I don’t deserve it…

Oh poor parents, having a child ruined their relationship… how can I make it up to them for being born, how can I be less of a bother, disappear, stop existing while existing.

Oh I shouldn’t hate poor creepy “uncle” who isn’t an uncle but who so very generously keeps giving me creepy dolls and who told my mother and father that he’s rather upset because I keep rudely glaring at him and telling him I hate those kind of dolls. Poor adults I’m causing an embarrassing and awkward social situation… Well screw that, I’m not that empathic.

I luckily have no idea if creepy “uncle” was really creepy, because I kept being rude to him and kept my distance.

While my mother was trying to get it through her little feral daughter’s head that she had to be a lady in social settings, which meant not hating people, not openly anyway, put a polite smile on it, dress it up in fine clothes, and put up with shit from everyone, thank them for it.

My father taught his little daughter to be rude, stay feral, especially when dealing with the male of the species. Deal with men roughly, child, don’t be all polite or you’ll get eaten by wolves.

I could be rude to my father too… he’d be rude back. We had many fights. I kicked him in the face once when he was teasing me. He took it like a man.

I could not be rude to my mother, when I was she’d go all vengeful goddess who does not appreciate tiny humans stepping out of their place which is worshiping goddess and doing everything goddess says even if it hurts you – it hurts goddess more than it’ll ever hurt you.

I did occasionally experience a different mother – a funny, gregarious, generous, vibrant, fun mummy, but since I used those moments too often to block out recall of vengeful goddess mommie dearest, to empathise with her plight, to see her pain and needs and use those to override my own pain and needs, to make excuses for her, to be her apologist, to love her in spite of all the hell she put me through… I tend not to write about those or remember them now.

But here’s one – when I was very little, at bed time, when I actually went to bed at a normal hour for a small child to go to bed, she sometimes would tell me a story (usually Goldilocks as that was her favourite – she was Goldi, looking for just right but everything was never just right, bad meanie bears!), and if I was still awake after she’d finished it, she’d run her fingertips gently lightly over my face and whisper nose, eyes, mouth… incredibly soothing.

She could be lovely, but she was so internally tormented. So was my father, who also could be lovely.

Sometimes it is better to have an unbalanced view… it doesn’t mean you don’t understand and don’t know.

Both of my parents were children during a very real and very horrific world war. Their childhood was truly a war zone. Their generation didn’t have time to therapeutically work through the trauma, talk about it with someone who was detached from it, hadn’t been affected by it, asking them how they feel about that. They had to just get over it and get on with life once it was over… and it really was never over.

It’s still going on, we’re still fighting in it… still aggressively socialising with each other… sometimes the war is visible and sometimes it’s less visible, sometimes we know what side we’re on and sometimes it’s unclear, sometimes we know why we’re fighting and sometimes we don’t but we do it anyway because everyone else is doing it, we’re afraid and want to protect what small piece of peace we momentarily have, sometimes we’re in the war zone and sometimes the war zone is in us.

It’s exhausting… but is it possible to stop, to rest?

Is it possible to be set free.

Did someone say after death… but what if this is the after death after-life?

Gosh, Aldous looks a bit like Simon Amstell… hmmm…

On that note…

That’s it from me… you’re it now!

22 comments

  1. My mother was born after the war, but her mother was an abusive alcoholic that left my mother in boarding houses during the week while she worked. My mother had a rough childhood. I understand this as an adult. As a child all I knew was that I was a bother, a disappointment and although told I was loved, rarely showed. I was responsible for my brother who is 3 years younger. That’s probably why my brother and I dont have much of a sibling relationship, I was his other mother.

    I had a hard time with the question from Rory. I dont know if you saw my comments, but all I could think of was what NOT to do.

    I did my best with my girls. I know I made mistakes. I tried to own up to them as they occurred. I let them speak their minds, even as very young children. Other adults didnt approve. Oh well. Life has plans that dont always coincide with our own. I never expected to become totally disabled. I didnt expect my husband to break 8 years of sobriety and turn into a rage monster. Life happens and now my daughters have issues of their own.

    Does the cycle ever end or does it just change shape? Maybe that’s part of our purpose in this life, to overcome our childhood issues, teen issues, life issues.

    I have moon in 12th house too, but its Capricorn. Hmmmm….
    Older daughter is a Capricorn, born on Friday 13th. Yes, everything you imagine, its true.
    Younger daughter is a Sagittarius. Her too. My ex is a Taurus. Yep…

    Its amazing that we had a happy family at all right?! But it worked for 8-9 years. Not great when the relationship was almost 22 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing, Angie 🙂

      Yes, I did read your comment on Rory’s post and his reply. For a very long time that would have been all I could think of too, in fact I’m fairly certain I said as much in earlier posts on my blog about my parents, that I mostly learned from them who I didn’t want to be and what I didn’t want to do.

      I worked a lot of anger/hurt out of my system through blogging about my story and bit by bit I’ve relaxed my defenses against my parents and their influence on me. I used to be afraid of becoming like them, but now as long as I’m open about my own messiness it’s not as much of a worry. The main what not to do I learned from them is to not try and be perfect, not try and appear invulnerable. They both were so afraid of not living up to their impossibly high standards and of being human. It’s totally okay to be a fuck-up and admit it, own it.

      There’s this wonderful post I read from a blogger I follow, wherein she talks about her mother and what she’d wished her mother had done which would have been healing – https://venniekocsis.com/2019/08/12/accountability-and-the-fear-of-judgment/

      We don’t need our parents to be faultless, flawless, always loving, in fact it’s good that they’re a mess, make mistakes, even if those can be very painful and may make us screwy. What we need is for them to admit they’re human, own their shit so that we don’t have to carry it for them, perhaps to pass it on to the next generation. Ideally it would be great if they could say to us – this thing I did to you or didn’t do for you, I acknowledge it, let’s talk about it, let’s get it out into the open, get it out of our systems, and figure it out.

      That’s my natal Jupiter in the house of values being super duper idealistic 😉 it often gets me into trouble or maybe that’s due to it being connected to Uranus who is a troublemaker.

      Often the sign the natal Moon is in shows an affinity with those who are the Sun sign of our Moon sign. We gravitate towards those of that sign for nurturing of some sort.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “II”~ I keep meaning to ask and keep forgetting…what do you think of sidereal astrology? I have a friend who is really into it and I did a freebie chart, it puts me in Aquarius, which doesnt fit the way Pisces does.
    Some people find sidereal fits better. I was just curious if you had thoughts on tropical vs sidereal

    Oh, and I pressed send on “I” before I meant to and decided to leave it as is
    💌

    Like

    • I’ve tried sidereal.

      I’ve tried just about every chart type because I’m intensely curious and must try everything out for myself to reach my own conclusions (that’s in my natal chart too), and because different astrologers prefer different systems and swear by them as the best system to use.

      One astrologer whose blog I follow wrote a really good article about that recently – https://www.bigskyastrology.com/house-systems-dividing-the-sky/

      Yesterday I was messing around with my lunar chart which makes me a very Scorpio Scorpio. I’d personally pick the lunar chart over the sidereal chart if I wasn’t going to stick with Placidus tropical because that’s the one which works best for me.

      In sidereal I’m a Sagittarius Sun, but that’s the least problematic of the changes. It shifts too much, and exploring it is interesting but it’s just not me, it’s like reading someone else’s chart.

      I had a friend who swore by the Draconic chart which is sometimes said to be the chart of your soul. My friend liked it because they didn’t like their natal chart and the Draconic gave them a chart they preferred, changed the parts they wanted changed. Draconic shifts my natal chart by a couple of degrees but stays the same.

      It’s fun to try out different charts and systems. I go with the approach of – Find the one which works for you and for how you want to explore yourself using astrology.

      Placidus Tropical is the chart system that works for me. While I don’t always feel like a Capricorn sun, and when I was younger I hated all of the stereotypical descriptions of the sign and couldn’t relate to them… I definitely am one. I am also very Virgo Moon, Virgo rising, etc. In fact I used to have the wrong time of birth, and when I realised my mistake… suddenly everything fell into place and my natal chart began to make sense.

      A lot of people use natal + progressed. I’m still not quite into using progressed charts, but it is intriguing, I’m Pisces sun in progressed 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cool link. The way she explains makes it easy to understand. I noticed on the sample charts that she’s using my birthplace and birth time. Only the date is different, obviously. Is it a another synchronicity?🤔

    Like

    • Funnily enough I had a synchronicity with her latest post 😀

      If you notice a connection and it feels like synchronicity, then it is. Sometimes it means – go this way, keep going this way – sometimes it’s simply saying – look at how everything and all of us are connected, even when we’re so far apart or feel that we are 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, so much to take in. My family were huggers, but that could possibly be because of my grandma I told you about. She was super affectionate, which sort of spread like an act of kindness. My dad would order us to hug family members when they visited, even if our arms were already out. He wanted to be sure everyone knew he was teaching us to be polite to our elders.

    My parents weren’t physically abusive either, but my mom used to hit me with her shoe until I was about 7. Can’t remember what age exactly. I felt unwanted, well, because I was told similar things as you. So, before age 7, I remember screaming at my mom, “you hate me, you hate me.” That’s when I’d get the shoe. I mean, how dare I say that to her, after all she did for me. She had to beat me into believing she loved me. 🤷‍♀️ Or, at least until I stopped saying she hated me for everyone to hear (which I said a lot, for about a year).

    I was always told I was too sensitive, but my mom DID show emotion, all the time. Only she had reason to show emotion, not me. My dad didn’t show emotion, but he had booze to help him with that.

    When you said your parents might strike with emotional warfare out of nowhere, I felt for you. I didn’t have that happen, and it would’ve been hard to take. However, my dad, like yours, knew how to strike hard if you said something that offended him. For example, if you said he drank too much, you’d get the verbal blow. And let me tell you, it only took one sentence and I (or my mom) would be down on our knees in sobs. The ironic thing was that I learned how to emulate my dad’s strikes. By the time I was a teen, he got back from me what he gave. The knock down drag out verbal warfare was explosive.

    Thanks for this outlet. Just curious…how long has it been since you spoke with your mom? She sounded a mess, and I’m glad you did the healthy thing to escape from that madness. I don’t believe we have to remain victims for the rest of our lives.

    Like

    • Thank you for sharing, Lori 🙂

      Looking back at family dynamics from the perspective of the now can be revealing and insightful in many different ways. It shows you where you are now on your journey, and what you’re ready to see, and sometimes it shows you just how clearly you saw things then but then had to make yourself stop seeing.

      Children often see so clearly… but that’s often problematic for the adults especially when the adults are caught up in veils of confusion and complication, so they convince children to stop seeing clearly, and force them to wear veils of confusion and complication.

      There was this excellent reality TV show on UK TV years ago. They created this house which was run by a child psychologist, Dr. Tanya Byron. Parents with “problem” children stayed in the house with their child/children, and Dr. TB watched them interact. Then she’d work with them based on what she’d observed. Very often the parent was re-enacting their own childhood with their child with roles reversed.

      One mother had two children, one child had been labeled a “problem” child by the mother, while the one was the “good” child. She was sort of playing out the golden child and scapegoat with her kids. Dr. TB asked her about her own childhood and her mother had done the same thing with her and her sister, and she had been the “problem” child. Once she saw that she was re-enacting her own childhood dynamic with her mother with her own children, everything started to change.

      The willingness to see her own part in the dynamic and change in that mother was nice to see because… that sort of thing doesn’t happen with narc parents.

      Occasionally narcissists have an aha moment of self-perception, but it doesn’t last, it goes back to the dark where they hide everything they can’t look at. They forget it… in fact they can have that same aha again and again, each time as though it was the first time they’ve had it. They’re stuck in a loop.

      Usually verbal warfare goes hand-in-hand with emotional warfare, since the emotions tend to fuel the words, make them more potent weapons. If you say “I hate you” with no emotion, then it doesn’t strike as hard as when it is powered up by emotion. But the emotions may be an undercurrent rather than out in the open, as in passive-aggressive. Narcissists tend to do both aggressive and passive-aggressive, depending on where they are on their loop.

      I stopped speaking to my mother about 20 years ago, give or take a few years.

      When she turned up again after my father died I did not communicate directly with her at any time. I hired a lawyer to act as a go-between. That was an interesting experience.

      The first lawyer, even though I had explained a bit about her and why I wasn’t communicating directly with her (but it always falls on deaf ears), fell hook line and sinker for her poor-me routine – she just couldn’t understand why her daughter wouldn’t talk to her, she’s such a wonderful mother, loves her daughter so much, blah, blah, blah, – and he wanted to help us reconcile. I firmly refused. Sometimes later… that lawyer asked if it was okay if he fired himself from the job because he never wanted to interact with my mother again. He never explained what happened, but he sounded very shook up, distressed. I can guess what happened because it’s her pattern – she switched from sweet damsel in distress to vicious harpy because she wasn’t getting what she wanted from him, he wasn’t following her orders, which was to get me to talk directly with her so she could batter me with her bullshit.

      I heard through someone else that she blamed my partner for brainwashing me against her… because apparently I’m just empty-headed, can’t think for myself, and have to be brainwashed.

      There is absolutely no point in speaking with my mother as she’s stuck in a repetitive loop. And speaking with a narcissist is a one-way conversation, with them doing all the talking, all their inner demons monologuing, lecturing, wheedling, whining, crying, cajoling, shouting, screaming, etc. When you talk they have their fingers in their ears.

      I understand why she is the way she is, but that’s her problem and no longer mine. Sometimes you have to be ruthless even if you’d rather not be.

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      • I completely support your decision with your mom. We can even forgive anyone for sick behavior that they have no idea is sick, but that doesn’t mean we have to live in their sick world with them.

        As I’ve mentioned before, my parents’ narcissism has softened. It’s not gone, but it’s not as harsh and over the top as it was when I was a kid. I find it more manageable to get around on my part. It made me mad at my mother-in-law, because I felt like if my crazy parents could soften, why couldn’t she? But, some are just way too far gone, like your mom and my MIL.

        I’ve been wanting to tell someone something that happened recently, and no one else would get this but you (and my husband). My brother sent a group text to us with photos of his sons starting their new schools recently. I texted back wishing them luck and told them to have fun. What did my parents text back? My mom texted all about how hard it was for HER when we were kids and went off to school. My dad texted all about what it was like when HE went to school. No message to their grandkids or even one word about them.

        (side note: I don’t have kids)

        This is not something that I had to do anything about. It’s no skin off my nose, but things hadn’t been as bad with them lately, and that reminded me that the narc in them is still alive. 😜

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        • Thank you, Lori 🙂

          I don’t have children either.

          Yep, the narc has a way of showing itself. Even the more chill narcissists just can’t quite get out of their own way. Your parents’ messages are typically narc, making it all about themselves. They probably thought they were doing it right, telling a story about themselves which had something to do with what was going on to show they were being supportive. They just couldn’t say good luck, best wishes, etc, because everyone else was doing that and narcs can’t be like everyone else, they have to stand out from the crowd.

          It’s cool that you’re cool with it, that’s a great way to be 😀

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  5. Wow, a powerful post Ursula – l know that’s not the most original answer on the planet – but is an understanding response.

    But as you have written to Angie above, l agree with you – l didn’t expect my parents to be perfect, no one is – but l was kind of hoping they would have taken ownership to their behaviour and not specifically passed it along like some kind of dead shuffle … for years l carried my parents crap, like it was some kind of strange legacy.

    I realised something the other day when we were chatting here and l admitted that l felt a weight lifted off my shoulders with regards my father’s death … it was just that. A weight, the LEGACY he left me, and l don’t mean through the Will, l mean his legacy of being my father and the very little l learned from him but carried every single lesson he rough shod into me, spanked into me, thrashed into me, hit upon me – l remember when l was 40 facing up to him and telling him l would no longer tolerate his bullying ways, nor the shit he constantly spouted off about my mother but wouldn’t tell her direct, and l was tiring of the bitterness he carted with him like a chain and ball about his regrets in life, how his children spoiled everything, the usual blah blah and the relief and release l felt that ……………. and yet.

    When he died, the reality of his death and the freedom it brought me, was not realised until recently. I didn’t grieve his passing, l never have, l never will … but l am saddened by what could have been and yet, quite simply could never have been.

    Quality post Ursula.

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    • Thank you very much, Rory 🙂

      I’m not one of those people who is going to judge you for not grieving the death of your father, and who is going to say something like – you need to grieve, if not now then one day you will grieve his passing because blah blah blah – as they need you to grieve because they can’t understand what it’s like to not feel the way they feel about their parents, and the death of a parent.

      I grieved the death of my father many years before he actually died – basically I grieved the death of an illusion, the hoped-for-father who never existed. The illusion died when I accepted the reality of my father and our relationship. It was very painful to accept the reality, but also liberating.

      In some ways you’ve been grieving all your life for your father, and when he died you could finally stop grieving. The burden of grief was lifted from your shoulders… hmmm… your shoulder!!!

      Atlas can finally put down the weight of the world of father which he’s been carrying since he was born.

      In recent years I’ve taken to viewing the shit my parents passed onto me as puzzles for me to solve. They couldn’t solve it, maybe I can. I didn’t have children because I didn’t want to pass the shit on, passing the parcel of wounding. The parcel buck stops with me. 🙂

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  6. “I didn’t have children because I didn’t want to pass the shit on, passing the parcel of wounding. The parcel buck stops with me”. …………….. l understand this so very well and more so as l have aged. I had a son once in my twenties, but life decided against that – not me being religious just a fact …. and l grieved for his loss and my fiance’s for nearly thirty years.

    When l got married in my thirties, my wife wanted children, but l had a PTSD breakdown in year 2 of our marriage and l was scared shitless of having children with her for a lot of reasons, but one of them at that point was the reason you have stated ‘what if l carried my parents shit into my childs life?’ There were many reasons, and as my therapist said at the time ‘some people Rory, just can’t have children until they have made peace with themselves, for whatever reason the peace is needed.”

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    • Having children is scary even without any parental shit to worry about passing on. It’s a big responsibility, and it goes on for your entire life even when your children grow up, become adults. The loss of a child… there’s nothing more heart-breaking.

      I’m okay with not having had children. I don’t think it’s something that everyone has to do. 🙂

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  7. I found Simon Amstell on Netflix and put him on my list. I’m looking forward to watching him. Thanks for the info about him. 🙂

    I had good times with my mother as well, but they were so overshadowed by her NPD. She also came through the war. My uncle (mother’s brother) once told me a story about how my parents escaped down the London underground to outrun a bomb. The bomb apparently followed them (and many others) down the steps and exploded as they got behind a support wall on the platform. Many people were injured or killed, but they were physically fine. Neither of my parents ever spoke of this experience to me, (and my dad only opened up about his war experiences during and after Dunkirk and D-Day after I joined the military) so I’ve wondered often about the effects on both of them. My dad definitely had PTSD for the rest of his life, but my mother’s issues seem to have pre-dated the war. From everything I’ve heard from other family members, her father (a WWI war hero who was killed during a WWII bombing raid) was a grade A asshole. At least two of her siblings were narcissists as well. I keep wondering about how much of this was genetic tendency and how much that tendency was affected by experience.

    Thanks so much for this interesting series, Ursula. You rock. 🙂

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    • Thank you very much, Lynette 🙂

      WOW that’s a terrifying experience. My mother told me a few stories about air raids. She said the silence was the scariest part, waiting, not knowing where or when the bomb would drop. My father had this story about the Nazi occupation of Italy which he told every time we drove passed a particular wall when going into Rome. It was where Nazis had killed a bunch of locals in retaliation for the locals playing pranks on the occupying forces. It was one of those – you hurt one of us so we’re killing ten of yours, the next time it will be 20 – tactics.

      Reading up on History, you realise that humans have been traumatised and traumatising for centuries. It’s really only in recent decades that we’ve been focusing more on dealing with the trauma in constructive ways rather than passing it on destructively. We’ve still got a long way to go with that, but we’ve made leaps and bounds with therapies and attempts to live peacefully.

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      • I have also heard that from my relatives – how they waited for the bombs. The Nazi wall story is also terrifying and your father clearly couldn’t stop telling this story, even though he was repeating himself. That almost sounds like he witnessed it or something, perhaps knew someone who did?

        A counsellor once told me that when something like that weighs on you, you should tell the story as many times as you need to, even to the point of just mumbling it to yourself when you’re doing yard work or whatever. The whole idea was to get it out. That methodology doesn’t really work for me as I seem to have a sort of fixed period for dealing with traumatic experiences, and I also think that doing that could trigger people in a serious way.

        I recently attended a lecture (Dr Jean Clinton at McMaster Uni – I tried to put a link in but I’m learning a new phone and it wouldn’t go) about brain plasticity and how trauma will cause the brain to rewire itself (also in good ways, around stroke damage for instance), leading to a passing on of that damage (emotionally) to the next generation. I’d read about this before but her in-depth presentation on the topic was very interesting.

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        • When I tried out Scientology as a teenager… yeah, yeah, very stupid, I know, I only did it for a couple of weeks before realising it was a dumb idea on my part… that’s the method they used in their “clearing” sessions. You’d sit in this cubicle with one of their people and they would get you to repeat the same story, usually one which bothered you, over and over and over until you were so effing bored of it, of hearing yourself tell it, that “poof” it would lose its power over you, you’d be “clear” of it, or whatever it was that was supposed to happen. They recorded everything you said… so if you told them a secret they could blackmail you with it?

          The story I told in the sessions is one I’ve shared on this blog. I didn’t find telling it over and over ad nauseum helpful, but then again I didn’t trust them so I held a lot back. It depends on why and how you’re telling it, and who is listening, why and how they’re listening. Of course the most important listener to our stories is ourselves, and whether we’re hearing what we’re really telling ourselves with that story. Sometimes we’re telling ourselves many different things with one story and it may take many years for us to hear each bit, and understand what it means for us.

          I do kind of do that in posts on my blog. There are a few stories which I’ve told over and over. I usually know when I’m repeating a story which I’ve written about before, but I also know that I’ll probably tell it slightly differently each time based on where I’m at in the now. Different things will stand out about it, sometimes I’ll recall things I didn’t recall before, see it from a new angle, not care so much about what I used to care about, not be as bothered or perhaps be more bothered because I realise that I’d been blocking my feelings about it out.

          The theories about brain plasticity are fascinating. I saw this documentary wherein they showed this test which had a person wear a device over the eyes that turned everything upside down. After only a short while the brain turned what was upside down the right way up. When they then took the device off, the brain switched things around again.

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