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I’m Finally Speaking Out About My Mother’s Abuse and Lies About Me

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Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

I grew up with an abusive father. While that trauma still affects me, I’ve been able to forgive him. He died when I was 21, the oldest of his four children. Some time after his passing, I realized just how difficult his upbringing was. While his abusive actions aren’t justifiable, it became easier to understand. He wasn’t willing and/or able to break the cycle of abuse. For me, that chapter is closed, though I still deal with the aftermath and its effects on my life.

My mother is a narcissist and pathological liar. The chapters of our story continue to unfold, but sadly, the tale remains the same.

For all intents and purposes, I’m not sure how she became the person she is. She had what would otherwise be a “normal” upbringing in a working, middle-class home with intact parents and siblings. It’s hard to relate and understand why she does what she does. After 41 years of enduring the lies and manipulations she’s employed against me, I’m speaking out publicly.

I’ve resisted for years because of the stigma. Blame. Gaslighting. Embarrassment. I didn’t want to mention my struggles, though my family and some friends are aware of them.

However, for true healing, my silence has to end.

I cannot move on without removing the weight I bear in her name. I’m not the person at fault for her lies; I’m just the subject of them and my silence empowers her.

For one, many people don’t see her manipulations and outright lies against my character as abuse. It is. Next to my “obviously” abusive dad, for decades, nobody saw her actions as a problem.

She will go out of her way to talk poorly about me to anyone who has even a remote knowledge of who I am. She’s told my boss’ husband that I’m a “b-ch that keeps her grandkids away from her” (after a six-hour babysitting gig the day before). She has told family that I “refuse to have anything to do with her” (after spending an entire weekend working on her car and cleaning her apartment).

In elementary school, she disappeared. After making calls to find her, we found out she went on a “family vacation” with her boyfriend’s children. She said we were “two too many” and it was our fault for not telling her we wanted to be part of family vacations.

She has disowned me four times, one of which was at my high school graduation.

She stalked and friended my new neighbor on Facebook, then lied and told her we were “freezing in our house with no heat at the peril of our kids.” (In fact, we were helping the neighbor restore her power at the time so she knew better.)

She continuously lies about the state of our home and marriage to anyone who will listen. When she found out we were attending Bible studies on Wednesday nights, she told family members we were really in counseling for marital trouble because “church isn’t a thing on Wednesdays.”

This is just a very small list, but I could literally give thousands of examples. At every family gathering, she causes some sort of drama, using me as her scapegoat. When I confront those lies, she attempts to gaslight me, which only makes me realize how much trauma she actually put me through growing up. It took me 38 years to find out what gaslighting is and how it affected me. Now that I have, I’m working my way through it.

For one, I had to set firm limits on what kind of time I spend with her. I’m a different person in her presence because of how she treats me. I feel anxious, powerless and sick to my stomach. Narcissists employ lies to keep power over people and situations. It’s not a good feeling. If she can’t respect me, I will remove myself. She usually retaliates, but I’m learning every day to stand my ground. Her lies hurt, but people believing them hurt more.

We hear a lot about self-care these days. It’s vitally important for victims of abuse. We have complex emotional traumas to work through that can pop-up at various, unpredictable times. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is something many of us experience. While our perpetrators might want us to feel unworthy of love and kindness, we must fight back. Each and every one of us is worthy of love and kindness. If the people we love can’t love us back, it’s time to accept and move forward, sometimes without them.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Originally published: October 5, 2020
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