Healing the Oldest Wound


This post is an extremely emotional one for me.  I spoke with my mother today.

I spoke to her about my truth and my darkness. We spent two hours, drifting in and out of tears, talking through the nature of my disorder and its impact on my life.

A few reflections on my early childhood are needed in order to explain the point of origin and the root-cause of my ‘break’ (the birth of the FALSE SELF).  This is what I believe occurred anyway…

I was adored as a baby. My mother took me EVERYWHERE with her. She was a young mother who wanted to feel the joy of a child’s embrace. I was her first born. It was a wondrous match.

When I was 6 or 7 my parents obtained a divorce. We were living with my dad in another country – and one day we were just told that we were leaving. My brother and I flew back home with our mom. We moved in with a close family member for a while – in a tiny one bedroom apartment. I did not adapt well and began acting out – as most children would be expected to do in such a situation.

This is where my internalized fiction begins to deviate from reality; which is a clear breaking point for the emergence of the FALSE SELF.

MY INTERNALIZED SEVEN/EIGHT YEAR OLD VERSION

However, after an incident at school things shifted in a very big way.

We were supposed to travel to spend a week with the grandparents in another state. It was a great vacation – just what we needed. The catch? My mom was leaving me there. She took my little brother with her and left me behind to fend for myself for a year.

Between the ages of 6 and 8 I lost BOTH parental figures because of choices that THEY made. AND THEY BOTH LEFT ME BECAUSE I WAS BAD!

NO ONE LOVED ME – NO ONE CARED – I WAS ABANDONED – I WAS BAD!!! By the time I reunited with my mother at the age of 9, the damage had been done.

I KNOW that this is NOT TRUE! But as a child, this is how I internalized, processed, and stored this experience. It fundamentally altered my brain chemistry, structure, functioning, etc. It birthed something new from what was…

BY THE HONEST AND TEARFUL ACCOUNT OF MY MOTHER TODAY

My mom did not have the happiest of childhoods herself. I will not go into deeper family issues, but suffice it to say, we have a history of dysfunction in our family – there may even be a genetic predisposition for a brain or chemical abnormality that increases the risk of damage via psychic injury. Who knows…

My mother never really felt pretty until around the same time that I was about seven years old. It was the first time in her life that she had ever really felt pretty. Here she was, this hot divorced young woman who wanted to have some fun for once. But she had two kids. One of those kids was younger and a little easier to handle than the other – so she kept the younger one and sent the older one to live with her parents for a year so she could have some fun.

That’s pretty much the whole story. THE END!!!

IT HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!

I will repeat that for all of the ‘Good Will Hunting’ fans out there.

IT HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!!!

Now – as I write this it sounds almost cavalier on her part – and it was at the time; and she knows that. The important thing to understand though – my mom feels the pain of this decision in the very deepest part of her soul!

She has ALWAYS felt terrible about that year. Of course all along, the false self would just shrug and say – “ohhh, that’s okay mom it’s really not a big deal; I mean – yeah it sucked and all, but no harm no foul right? It’s hard to be an adult – let alone a mother”. Meanwhile I would seethe inside.

Now my adult mind must wrap itself around these two opposing records of history. My interpreted reality has governed my thinking and behaviors for close to 35 years now. Knowing that my interpreted reality is inaccurate and faulty to start with does NOT wipe away 35 years of behavioral adaptation.

When I was a kid, I internalized “I was bad so mommy sent me away”. Which BECAME – “I must behave a certain way in order to be loved. And if I fail to maintain this loveable image – I WILL BE SENT AWAY AGAIN!”

So now here’s this little kid trying to put up a false image of whatever it is he THINKS is supposed to be loveable. In order to be loveable, I needed to be smart, charming, and funny. So I became smart, charming, and funny ALL THE TIME! It didn’t matter what was happening to me internally. Because again, I’D BE SENT AWAY AGAIN for NOT being these things.

This became my way of relating to the world. But over time it became something more malignant.

At some point, internalizing any perceived ‘bad behavior’ as grounds for abandonment started to make way for a body of shame to begin forming within my mind. This shame just mounted… Behind the shame came the spark of anger that set everything else off. The narc was born.

As I grew older, I needed to adopt new ‘loveable’ modes in order to maintain my sense of self and ensure acceptance. These became my masks – and I would adjust them in whatever way needed to get acceptance. This resulted in more lies and deceptions. Which became more shame.

So on one hand I am always trying to be loveable to those externally (by being Super Loveable in whatever way I think will work best with them) while hating myself inside for all of the lies, and deception, and the fact that I CANNOT BE LOVED FOR ME! NO ONE CAN LOVE THE REAL ME, BECAUSE THE REAL ME WILL BE SENT AWAY!

And this is where my anger and my lack of empathy probably comes from! Although the empathy thing is really complex, so I don’t want to pretend I understand that component in this context.

Here’s my rational though… I’m angry that no one GETS me – that no one LOVES me – and that I HAVE to hide who I REALLY am AT ALL TIMES – it’s a lot of DAMN WORK! It’s the worlds fault that I have to hide and work like this – SCREW YOU WORLD! I’ll play your game – BUT I’LL PUNISH YOU FOR IT AT THE SAME TIME!

And empathy? I either never developed this properly, or I distanced myself from my humanness as a way to make all of my other behaviors acceptable at some level (even though the shame still accompanied them with every single act)… It would make sense for empathy to be placed on hold while this entire wheel turns… Something has to give way in-between the shame and the behavior… so empathy gets pushed out of the way to make room for rationalizations.

Now multiply this effect over the course of a lifetime!

I have no idea how much of this ‘revelation’ is real or wishful thinking, or just an attempt to come up with an answer… But this new insight feels very real to me; and I can tie every aspect of my behavior to this narrative.

MOST of it can actually be traced back to the simple childlike behaviors of a seven year-old boy who’s still acting out, desperate for love and attention.  I believe that this also explains why I behave better with those who are able to lay down ground rules in advance and then hold me accountable – just as you would do with a child.

In the final analysis, the False Self is like a wall that the child erects to protect and defend his mental castle.  He lives inside that castle and never comes out.  Every now and then someone tries to invade the castle and he repels them.  While the child lives in that castle, the false self is the only part of him that changes – morphing into whatever it needs to be in order to obtain love and attention for the child within.  The child inside NEVER GROWS UP!  He is emotionally ‘stuck’ at the age the break occurred.

This leads me to believe that my healing can occur on the following levels:

  • Dismiss the internalized fiction and embrace the true event as it actually occurred
  • Rebuild self-esteem and learn new, adult-oriented coping and interaction skills
  • Engage in behavioral retraining to address more deeply engrained patterns

With this series of realizations – and the level of understanding that I have drawn from them, I feel I’ve done enough intelligence gathering to know my enemy. Now I must embrace my enemy as myself and show him unconditional love in order to move forward.

3 thoughts on “Healing the Oldest Wound

  1. From what I’ve read, your description matches much of what self-avowed sociopaths / narcissists / psychopaths / pick your favorite label. At some early juncture, there becomes a “decision point” where they decided to be what the rest of us would consider “bad,” with traits of lacking empathy and having no conscience, and doing what they had to do to preserve the false sense of self. This must have occurred for you when you were sent away and your mother took your brother with her.

    As someone who was possibly raised by a psychopath, I experienced a similar crisis point when, after my dad died, my mother watched and allowed me to be molested by a boyfriend, and I was probably about the same age range you were. I made the opposite choice and prayed, “Please God, let me be a good person.” I am not perfect, but I AM a decent person with empathy and conscience. The sacrifice for me was that I had to become somewhat invisible to survive, and to develop no boundaries, because I thought that being “invisible” would prevent me from hurting others and possibly protect me from further harm. I endured a lot of pain for that choice. At one and the same time, I had a very strong personality and sense of self, and yet in some ways, I was very malleable and had no sense of self at all.

    It’s interesting to note that while I was involved with my *definitely* psychopathic wife, she DID behave better when I set ground rules and seemed to ask me to do that, yet at the same time, she maintained total control over me, and would not ALLOW me to set ground rules. The harder I tried, the more I got word salad, rage, and the silent treatment. As an empathic person, I tried my best to convince her that I loved her EXACTLY as she was, and that didn’t work whatsoever. Nothing I did was ever “good enough,” and no sacrifice (and I made many HUGE sacrifices) proved to her that I was there for her and loved her, regardless. It was a Shakespearean tragedy with no solution.

    I don’t recall any narcissist / psychopath / sociopath / pick your favorite label writing anything so insightful or attempting to heal or being introspective and honest. I would add to your list of steps for healing — if someone offers you genuine love, accept it, honor it, and don’t assume that they don’t truly mean it. If you don’t feel empathy, you (or at least others on the psychopathic spectrum) know how to mimic it with your charm. Used in the right way, with good intentions and without the intent to deceive, you can accomplish great things because empathy is so needed in this world. And by doing that, and by keeping that promise to yourself, perhaps you can come to understand that you are a valued and valuable person. Conventional wisdom holds that psychopaths cannot change. I would really like to see some evidence of that!! Good luck!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Dog Dharma's Blog and commented:
    I am re-blogging the following wonderful post. I commented on the post as follows:

    From what I’ve read, your description matches much of what self-avowed sociopaths / narcissists / psychopaths / pick your favorite label. At some early juncture, there becomes a “decision point” where they decided to be what the rest of us would consider “bad,” with traits of lacking empathy and having no conscience, and doing what they had to do to preserve the false sense of self. This must have occurred for you when you were sent away and your mother took your brother with her.

    As someone who was possibly raised by a psychopath, I experienced a similar crisis point when, after my dad died, my mother watched and allowed me to be molested by a boyfriend, and I was probably about the same age range you were. I made the opposite choice and prayed, “Please God, let me be a good person.” I am not perfect, but I AM a decent person with empathy and conscience. The sacrifice for me was that I had to become somewhat invisible to survive, and to develop no boundaries, because I thought that being “invisible” would prevent me from hurting others and possibly protect me from further harm. I endured a lot of pain for that choice. At one and the same time, I had a very strong personality and sense of self, and yet in some ways, I was very malleable and had no sense of self at all.

    It’s interesting to note that while I was involved with my *definitely* psychopathic wife, she DID behave better when I set ground rules and seemed to ask me to do that, yet at the same time, she maintained total control over me, and would not ALLOW me to set ground rules. The harder I tried, the more I got word salad, rage, and the silent treatment. As an empathic person, I tried my best to convince her that I loved her EXACTLY as she was, and that didn’t work whatsoever. Nothing I did was ever “good enough,” and no sacrifice (and I made many HUGE sacrifices) proved to her that I was there for her and loved her, regardless. It was a Shakespearean tragedy with no solution.

    I don’t recall any narcissist / psychopath / sociopath / pick your favorite label writing anything so insightful or attempting to heal or being introspective and honest. I would add to your list of steps for healing — if someone offers you genuine love, accept it, honor it, and don’t assume that they don’t truly mean it. If you don’t feel empathy, you (or at least others on the psychopathic spectrum) know how to mimic it with your charm. Used in the right way, with good intentions and without the intent to deceive, you can accomplish great things because empathy is so needed in this world. And by doing that, and by keeping that promise to yourself, perhaps you can come to understand that you are a valued and valuable person. Conventional wisdom holds that psychopaths cannot change. I would really like to see some evidence of that!! Good luck!!!

    Like

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