Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have


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Understanding Is Forgiving

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To me, if you want to forgive anyone the easiest way there is by understanding them. But what if you didn’t really know them yet their existence had an effect on you. In my case I am trying to understand a grandparent who committed incest with his daughter (my mom) over the span of her childhood. I would really like to understand what caused his behaviour so I can drop my anger towards him. He’s been dead a long time but his actions influenced my upbringing since my mother sexually abused me too (primarily covert abuse). I have released 99% of the anger towards my mom but I have not released any toward the grandfather.

How does one go about understanding someone you never knew? At this rate I am not going to be able to forgive him at all. My heart is not that generous.

©Natalya Lyubov, Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2016.

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Why I Can’t Watch Compulsive Hoarders On TV

An example of a compulsive hoarder’s home. Reminds me of how mine used to look before mom died and I was allowed to clear the junk.

For about a week I was watching various compulsive hoarder t.v. shows on YouTube that captivated me because I grew up with a mother who hoarded. Little did I know how triggered it would make me though. At first it was entertaining and slightly voyeuristic for me but I noticed after a few days my mood was dipping. So I initially chalked it up to PMS but it just didn’t feel like that explained it well enough for me. Then lying awake in bed feeling sad I realised it was my shame that had been triggered watching the compulsive hoarders on YouTube. I’d been transported back in time to the days when my mother hoarded and I felt powerless and ashamed of my home; embarrassed to have friends over I identified with the other adult children on these hoarder shows as they shared how they felt due to their parents’ hoarding problem. Of course having friends over is the last thing you want when you’re living in squalor essentially because one of your parents can’t throw anything out and collects stuff to the point there’s no room for anyone to actually live in the home anymore (cleaning anything is practically impossible too).

So once I had the ‘epiphany’ about where my uncomfortable feelings were stemming from I was able to wake up the next day feeling well again. No more compulsive hoarding shows for me! It felt too dreadful being moody without knowing why, reminded me of years ago when I didn’t have awareness of my emotional states. I felt scared thinking I might be slipping back into a time where any emotional state I was in came as a total surprise to me. Fortunately since stopping watching the compulsive hoarder shows I feel better. Likely the fact I honoured my feelings helped too because I could have simply brushed off my concerns like I used to and kept on watching the shows. But I don’t punish myself anymore and forcing myself to continue watching something that triggered shame and deep sadness in me wasn’t an option.

Now I watch shows where they clean messes and the people aren’t ill like on the hoarding shows that reminded me of my mom. My favourite is “How Clean Is Your House” with Kim and Aggie. It’s not produced anymore but I enjoy the old episodes. The UK episodes are better than the American b/c the Brits are funnier (IMO).

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 


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Denial of Reality

I know I’ve written about this subject to an extent before on my blog but I wanted to expand on it a bit. My whole life I have had an inability to rationalize and normalize abnormal behaviour. It seems the rest of my family is pretty adept at it but I am not. I grew up in an atmosphere of chaos and recognized it instinctually that my family wasn’t normal. Maybe other people have this experience too and just don’t talk about it. But the people in my family seem rather good at ignoring abnormal/unhealthy behaviour writing it off as no big deal essentially. I just don’t understand how they do this. How do you see someone in a state where they are not functioning well yet nobody will admit to it.

My mother had Alzheimer’s disease and died but for many years she functioned poorly yet my family ignored it. They

Healthy brain (bottom) versus brain of a donor...

Healthy brain (bottom) versus brain of a donor with Alzheimer’s disease. Notable is the “shrink” that has occurred in Alzheimer’s disease; the brain was decreased in size. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

only admitted there was a problem after mom was to the point she couldn’t find her way home if she walked further than the end of the street. Only when she had lost significant portions of her grey matter did they accept mom was ill. WTF?! She was ill for a long time before then yet they chose to put their heads in the sand and pretend it wasn’t there.

Okay, you can say it’s normal for people to be in denial about a family member’s illness if they are an enabler or used to it. But I’m talking about family that were not around often and had fresh perspective yet still chose to ignore the obvious. Or was it only obvious to me? It would seem you need to be knocked over the head with a hammer in my family before you admit to problems existing. My sister and I both saw how ill mom was but we didn’t have any power so it was of little consequence our recognizing anything amiss.

Is it just a natural way to cope denying there are problems in your life? Or is this just something dysfunctional families do? My family is most definitely dysfunctional. What is your experience?

©Natalya, 2013.


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Distractions

Today is my grandmother‘s funeral I’m not attending on the grounds that it’s bad for my emotional well being. You see, my grandmother was severely abusive to her children and never saw anything wrong with it. Maybe it was the time my mom and her siblings grew up in but besides the physical abuse there was denial. Mom’s father sexually abused her throughout her childhood and my grandmother never supported my mother when she told what was happening. Instead she forced my mother to leave home whilst remaining with her incestuous pedophile husband and three other kids. The years following my mom’s departure from her childhood home saw no reaching out from my grandmother to my mom to make amends. Nothing. Just denial anything happened and a disgusting lack of ethics in remaining with a man who sexually abused his own kids.

So I stayed home in protest. If anyone (family) does ask I’m going to be honest and tell them exactly why I didn’t attend my grandmother’s funeral. I am sick of denial and phoniness. My aunts will hear the truth if they do phone me to inquire why I didn’t attend. On the other hand, my dad might make up a bogus story to “cover” for me. He will be covering up his own discomfort though because I don’t want him to lie for me.

In an effort to keep my mind off the funeral I cleaned this morning and afternoon. Thankfully there are plenty of things requiring cleaning to distract myself with!

©Natalya, 2013.

 


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October: The Month For Deaths

My mother died five years ago yesterday and my grandmother died this past weekend. It’s been a difficult month for me.

Death

Death (Photo credit: tanakawho)

First my grandmother took a stroke then a week later was dead. I joked with my counsellor on Tuesday that it was a pity my grandmother couldn’t have died last month so I’d only have one death to deal with this month! Of course my mother died five years ago so technically my grandmother dying only makes it one death but it’s the timing of it. It just triggers me.

Yesterday I felt extremely tired so couldn’t post anything. I didn’t do anything special to mark the five year anniversary of mom’s death either. Just couldn’t muster up the energy. Took a nap then turned in early for me (9:30 pm). Dealing with deaths and processing serious things in counselling left me quite tired.

The funeral for my grandmother is this Saturday and I am not going to attend. I discussed it with my counsellor and said I didn’t think I’d gain anything from going. Instead, I’d just be triggered by family in attendance. My sister, niece and dad are going so at least they will be there. I just can’t handle being in a place where they pretend the dead person never had flaws and speak about them in glowing terms. You may recall from my previous posts that my grandmother was very abusive to her children. The obituary one of my aunts wrote is a complete whitewashing of her life into something I couldn’t recognize.

I seriously hate phoniness and my mom’s side of the family that would be at the funeral are all phony. The ones not attending are more realistic. It doesn’t matter to me what they think when they find I have not shown up for the funeral. They can think what they like as they always have done.

©Natalya, 2012-2013.


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Self Awareness Or Lack Thereof

My parents both lack(ed) self awareness and insight into themselves. Now that my mother is dead I get to hear things my

self-awareness through habitual self-reflection.

self-awareness through habitual self-reflection. (Photo credit: m.a.x)

mother said repeated by my dad who worshipped her. Apparently, when my mother was in the last stage of her life with Alzheimer’s, she said she had never hurt anyone and didn’t understand why she was suffering. Now I am not going to speculate on what brought the Alzheimer’s on but I do know she also claimed something similar when she was more lucid. My mother hurt me loads of times, as well as my sister and my dad but she never recognized those things. Which leads me to query how someone can be that blissfully ignorant of their own a/effects on others?

I’m certain my mother had Narcissistic Personality Disorder so it could be the personality disorder that robbed her self awareness. But whatever it was  it meant my mom could be mean spirited and not recognize it. As some may already know if you’ve read my other posts, my mother abused me as a child. So clearly she was not someone who had never hurt anybody in her life. Often she hurt my dad but my dad was so beaten down by his father that he never even saw my mother’s behaviour as abusive. Even now he keeps her enshrined in his memory. His father is similarly praised in spite of the hurtful things he said to my dad all his life. Does it change anything just because one can’t see they’re being abused?

If you think it’s okay to do a particular thing but others are hurt by it then is it still okay? I don’t think so. Of course it depends on what we’re talking about but by and large it’s wrong to do anything that results in someone else’s pain. Mom never went to therapy so didn’t get the help she needed. This resulted in my sister and I being raised by a very dysfunctional woman. None of this stopped her from viewing herself as a celebrity and star however. In her mind she was special and others were just sad sacks. As a child she would tell me she was pretty much a genius and I would never be able to compare to her superior status. You may imagine this resulted in my self esteem being weakened. To this day I feel that I am never intelligent enough and always lacking. She also claimed to have superior physical prowess which didn’t exactly help me any either self esteem wise.

It’s kind of late here and I have an appointment tomorrow morning with my employment counsellor. It’s a six month follow up since I decided the employment counselling wasn’t helping me any. So I will end here even though it’s kind of unfinished-my post. Sorry for that.

©Natalya, 2013.

 


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Grandmother is Dying

Mother

Mother (Photo credit: Masashi Mochida) Likely a better mother than the ones in my family!

My maternal grandmother took a stroke on the weekend and can’t swallow so is waiting to die from lack of food/drink. She’s got dementia and is in her mid 80s so she has had a long life. She was a terrible mother to her children because she shouldn’t have had kids in the first place as she didn’t like them. But her pedophile husband wanted kids and things went downhill from there. Anyhow, my grandmother brutalized my mother and never supported her when she told her about her father sexually abusing her. Instead the grandmother told my mother to leave home (mom was 17 or 18 then).  Mom always told me when I was growing up about how horrible her mother was to her so I never developed loving feelings toward my maternal grandmother. Now grandmother is dying and I feel completely indifferent.

When I found out on Sunday that my grandmother was dying I felt the same indifference. No emotion. Just an acceptance of the fact. Does this mean I am a bad person for having no emotional reaction to the news my grandmother is going to die shortly? If I am totally honest then I must admit I felt relief then worry should there be a funeral where I’ll have to see other family there I never have contact with-or very little anyway. This concern about the funeral possibility ruined my relief over my grandmother dying. Yes, I know that sounds dreadful but it’s a complicated situation.

So what is the proper response to a relative dying you’ve never felt love for? Should I try to “act” a certain way? Or, is it better to simply be honest and not fake what I don’t feel? Either way you see it I can be nothing else but honest because I am sick of false pretenses and facades. My mother’s side of the family is the master of facades and false pretenses which is why I want to deviate from that and be honest! To hell with what they think of me. If they want to see me cry sad tears over my grandmother they’ll be waiting a long time. I cried when my mom died but they weren’t tears of sadness; they were tears of anger, grief and regret. But they never knew that. They still think I miss my mother but it’s been 5 years this month since her death and I never missed her. I only ever felt grief because our relationship had been such a disaster.

Now my grandmother’s lying in a nursing home dying and all I can think about is the phony shit I’ll have to deal with on my mom’s side of the family. They’ll likely not mention the abuse any of us suffered or the negative times that outnumbered the positive. No, that would be too much like authenticity and my mother’s family doesn’t do that. The most authenticity you get is from the ones who won’t come to the funeral (if there’s one) because they still feel bitter from the abuse they suffered as children. The rest act like nothing happened or if something did happen it’s in the past so don’t bring it up.

I’m not able to forget my childhood or whitewash it like my aunts have. Their father was a pedophile but they never talk about it. Maybe that’s normal but I figure it just adds to the shame if you keep it secret or talk only in hushed tones about it.None of that feels very validating to me and I’m not even the one who grew up with the pedophile father and physically/emotionally abusive mother. My own mother sexually abused me but I don’t think she was a pedophile but that is not an argument I want to have today.

Guess I’ll have to wait ’til she dies so I can find out how the rest of the family reacts.

©Natalya, 2013.


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Day 27 of 30 Day Challenge

Question: A problem you have or have had in the past?

Well I am late again answering this one because I saw my counsellor yesterday and didn’t have

Counseling Service

Counseling Service (Photo credit: Andreas_MB)

much energy for writing. Guess I’ll talk about the problem I mentioned to my counsellor. Recently I found some photos of my mom from earlier in her life where she looked much healthier than when I knew her. My problem was blaming myself for this turn of health in my mom like I was responsible for her becoming psychologically unwell. In a sense I wanted to take responsibility for her behaviour and what happened so I could have a bit of control. But my counsellor got me to reflect on this reasoning and realize its problems.

I was a child and didn’t have control over my mom. Her health was her responsibility and she frequently neglected looking after herself. So I was able to feel better knowing it was not something I could have done anything about. She wanted to have me and I didn’t cause my twin to die or anything else that happened after my birth. These are all things I knew anyway but the photos triggered uncertainty in me in spite of what I already knew and had made peace with at an earlier time (or thought I’d made peace with!).

It’s a complicated situation and I feel too tired today to elaborate. Ultimately, I have gone back to realizing what I already knew prior to finding those old photos and feel acceptance once again. Triggers can be tricky since you usually don’t see them coming so this has been a good lesson for me. I am not immune to triggers and need to be mindful of what my triggers are so I can try preventing them in the future (or at least mitigating some of their impact on me).

*The picture of the door is more institutional than I was looking for but I figured it would suffice.

©Natalya, 2013.

 


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Day 25 of the 30 Day Challenge

Question: Someone who fascinates you and why?

My mother fascinates me. She is no longer living but I am still trying to piece together who she

English: http://dacdirectoresdecine.org.ar/inf...

English: http://dacdirectoresdecine.org.ar/infodac65/legrands.jpg Silvia Legrand and her twin sister Mirtha Legrand in the early 1940s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

was and what made her who she was whilst she was alive. Apparently my mother was very different before she had my twin sister and I. My twin died shortly after birth and I think perhaps that changed her. She used to be more “normal” before she had the twins and lost my sister. From photos I found of her recently I hardly recognized her. It’s like she was a different person and that’s why other people had such different memories of her. I feel like I got the short end of the stick though because I never knew the woman they remember as she “disappeared” by the time I was born.

Maybe it’s coincidence but it is hard not to think something happened to make her so different from who other people remember her as. They knew her before she started loosing her sanity but I am pretty sure she didn’t have much of it when I was born. Her photos of her in her 20s vs her 30s are just very different. Maybe it’s natural for us to look different in our 30s from when we were in our 20s but it just seems dramatic. My older sister remembers her differently from how I do. I used to think I must have missed something but now I am sure it’s because she really was different before she had me.

So I constantly think about what she was like in her earlier life prior to having me and loosing my twin. Would she have been healthier psychologically if she hadn’t lost my twin? Or was her history of abuse from childhood just beginning to make her come unhinged so to speak?

Anyway, my mom fascinates me still even though she’s been dead for nearly 5 years. I feel like if I understand what other people saw in her I won’t feel so crazy for not agreeing with their version of her. People who knew her long before I was born always tell me about how wonderful she was and I couldn’t figure it out. But now I’m beginning to see they had the privilege of knowing someone I never got to know.

Who fascinates you?

©Natalya, 2013.

 


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Mother’s Day Blues

What happens when you don’t have a mother and you aren’t fond enough of their memory to celebrate? I have forgiven my mother for abusing me but I don’t really feel like honouring her either like she was some sort of saint. So I guess I won’t do anything. Anyone else have a mother alive or deceased they have/had a poor relationship with? How do you ‘recognize’ Mother’s Day in your situation? Or do you ignore it as I do?

©Natalya, 2013.