I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged anywhere. No friends, a strained relationship, feeling crazy all the time, unable to reach out to family or friends, job-hopping, feeling totally alone and isolated, and totally unaware that the way I exist from day to day is ‘abnormal’.
After failing at every job I’ve ever had, desperate for a change, my partner, D, and I moved from Florida to New Hampshire to start a new life. Neither of us had jobs or income. We were idiots and thought it would be a good idea to live off the money from selling my house and ‘figure it out’ as we go. We needed to get the hell out of Florida, away from my mom and away from the heat.
We lived in a hotel for an entire month while we were trying to find an apartment to live in. It sucked to not have any of our stuff, dealing with a broken fridge, and a bed made of rocks, but we made it work. While we were hanging around in the hotel one afternoon, we randomly started watching a show. A woman started talking about her foundation for Parental Alienation Syndrome, and as I listened to what she said, something started clicking.
Parental Alienation. What is that? I started doing research on my phone on the crappy hotel WiFi, and finally, I started to put a name to the experience I had when I was growing up. Parental Alienation Syndrome. (I wouldn’t have the name for Malignant Narcissistic Abuse, Maternal Incest, Forced Sibling Incest, or Child Sex Trafficking until 5 years later). This was the moment I started thinking and putting the pieces together. It took several long years until I finally understood that the woman who gave birth to me, raised me, and discarded me once I made it clear I was done, was a psychopath.
My mother spent her time during my childhood brainwashing me to be afraid of my father (on top of all the other things a malignant narcissist spends their time doing). She convinced me that my father was evil, that the only way he could express love is through money (a lie), that he got kicked out of the navy because he was color blind (a lie), that the way he chewed food was disgusting, that the way he said certain words was horrible, that fishing is for old men with nothing better to do, that the stock market is for losers, that he molested me and my sister (a lie), that he was going to molest me again at any moment (a lie), and that he never tried hard enough to be my father (also a lie).
The truth was that she never let him be there. He did his best to take care of me despite how malicious and horrible she was to him. She did her best to make sure I was afraid of anyone who could have been safe, including my dad. There was no bottom to what she told me or did to me to make sure I could be used as a weapon against him. The things she made me say and do to him still fill me with guilt and horror. The financial abuse, emotional manipulation, and gaslighting made me feel like a ghost, unable to speak up, defend myself, or keep myself safe.
The twisting and the manipulation that does to a child sticks with them forever. It warps your perception of yourself, makes you hate yourself for not being good enough, makes you take the blame for not being able to reach out to ask your family for help, makes you feel like you don’t even deserve to exist, you are the burden to your family, and that you are unlovable and unable to love. The truth is that he wanted to see me all the time, but couldn’t get through her maze of lies and manipulation so he could see me
She made me believe that he was a monster, all while I was growing up in what can only be described as a disgusting, disturbing, twisted, nightmare. Caked up and dried cat litter matted into the carpets, inches of dust on all the surfaces (you could literally pull it off like dryer lint), holes punched into the walls from the bouts of rage I experienced when the mental abuse got too much to handle, doors broken and busted, mold and mildew taking over the shower. The air was always so thick with dust, no wonder I was hospitalized every year when my throat would close.
All while brainwashing me to make me believe that my dad’s clean and safe condo was a dangerous and unsafe place, and he was a horrible man who didn’t know how to be a father. The vision I have of my dad is tainted by her poison. Everything got tainted, nothing was immune.
Just another aspect to the abuse I guess, but one of the hardest ones to overcome. When the abuse makes you afraid of your own family and makes you distrust people who genuinely care for you, it feels nearly impossible to get help. Every time you try to reach out, you cave in on yourself as soon as the feelings of terror set in. You don’t know what is safe or dangerous, you trust the things that are dangerous, you distrust people who just want to know how you’re doing. It’s a vicious and twisted cycle that takes a whole lot of anger to break.
I was lucky that she happened to choose a man to abuse who was gentle, caring, empathetic, loving, responsible, and invested in his children. The unfortunate reality for me is that now, as a 32-year-old woman with a 2-year-old daughter, I still can’t seem to build up the courage to have any sort of conversation with my Dad. Not a phone call on Thanksgiving, not a phone call on the weekend to see how things are going. When I think about reaching out and calling to chat, I’m flooded with panic and anxiety, and immediately shut down as my mom’s voice runs rampant in my head.
And my partner is unfortunately not immune to the damage. I find myself stopping mid-sentence when I realize I’m getting in the way of my daughter’s relationship with him. I find myself trying to fight back against the toxic sludge of poison in my head that keeps telling me that my partner is horrible, unsafe, and the cause of my unhappiness (literally what my mother tried to convince me of). I find myself trying to shift the beam of hatred and anger that fills my head away from the people I love and onto the woman who deserves my anger and wrath. She is so damn slippery though, and as society tells us, you should never hate your mother. “She’s your mother,” they tell me, “You can’t stay mad at your mother”.
Well, I was her daughter, and I deserved to be unconditionally loved. And so does my daughter, which is why I am so determined to destroy that toxic sludge that seeps into my thoughts every single day.
“Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, Breaking the Ties that Bind” by Amy J.L Baker
I’m Seleste, a survivor of child abuse and neglect, including parental alienation, malignant narcissistic abuse, maternal incest, and child sex trafficking. I have devoted my life to ending the cycle of abuse by teaching children emotional literacy and helping others who are struggling with the lifelong effects of child abuse and neglect.
Visit me at www.traumauntied.com