Plllleeease…. let me sleep in a little longer. ….I’m not ready to wake up yet.
The alarm clock of truth has woke me up once again and I can’t hit the snooze button of denial anymore.
Elation, joy, release, and sanity pouring like deliciously, sweet honey into my soul, and yet….simultaneously experiencing one of the deepest heartaches my conscious mind can yet fully comprehend.
There wasn’t really that much different between that day and any other day, except for just one thing. My 74 year old mother told me to sit down. She then excitedly and in a strangely childlike voice, told me she had gotten engaged. With bated breath she waited for my response. I cried.
That might not seem too incredibly significant to most people. Yet, to my mother, it was abhorrent. Crying, or for that matter any emotion that she did not determine appropriate for her schedule, her needs, or her consistently inconsistent expectations was simply unacceptable. Her immediate admonishment to my tears was, “You know, you’re just like my mother, Kacie, you always have to take my happiness away from me. Nobody else has a problem with this but you.” Typically guilt and shame would have jumped into action, but at this particular moment and on this particular day, something very different occurred.
In the past, any crying episode would be lost in translation with her and when the incident was brought up in the future, she would reflect the experience back to me entirely different than my memory served me. She’d often recount that I had raged and become explosive. This specific time she accused me a few days later that I had verbally attacked her. And yet I clearly remembered crying and asking for time. I was always questioning myself. Always having self doubt and confusion because I trusted her and I loved her and I thought she knew best. I was wrong. I knew myself best. I just didn’t give myself credit where credit was due. Today I trust myself and I am willing to sacrifice relationships with those who cannot understand that.
A few days before this encounter with my mother, I had read an online article about Covert Maternal Narcissism. Those three sentences brought her castle of cards to a complete collapse. Because in this article common phrases and insults were listed that are commonly used by a CMN. All that she said to me, matched nearly word for word, and it was like a wrecking ball came through and my denial was disintegrated. This was the “A-Ha!” moment I had so desperately needed to save my life.
You see, I am an alcoholic and a drug addict.
After numerous months of AA meetings, 12 step recovery work, sponsorship and therapy I was struggling to successfully restore family relationships. I just couldn’t break through this invisible barrier and I had no way to explain it or understand what was happening. And here’s why, because you cannot heal in the same place that you got sick. • Mind-Blown •
During my recovery I had become removed from my family and I began to get well. Once I understood, accepted and became accountable for my manipulative and hurtful behavior during my active addiction and alcoholism, I was able to heal in so many ways, I cannot begin to cover them all.
I was excited to finally be welcomed back home with all of my new found knowledge and pink cloud charisma. But rather than address any core issues within the family dynamics, everyone quietly swept them under the proverbial carpet and I remained the alcoholic daughter that had brought the family such public disgrace.
It wasn’t more than 3 months before I relapsed.
I kept going to meetings and I continued to work tirelessly to stay clean and sober and to figure out why I just couldn’t get a handle on this. And then I got to my knees and prayed.
In recovery , and with sustained abstinence, layer upon layer of denial systems are broken apart and our personal manipulation structures that we have developed over the years are examined and released. We are shown that we must own our part in our addiction and accept responsibility for the pain that we had caused others to suffer. By bringing it to the light we could then acknowledge it, accept it and own it.
There was a wise and gentle older gentleman who had 27 years sobriety. He took me to the side after one of the meetings, and he said, “Kacie, yes, you own 100% of your part in this, of your drinking, of your manipulation to continue your drinking and the damage you have created because of your drinking.”
Then his voice deepened and I’ll never forget his next sentence, “BUT, you don’t own one ounce more, cuz trust me, they’ll let you.”
So while all the fingers had been pointing at me and having been told to “get it together”, to “stop drinking”, to “go get help, you’re sick Kacie”, not a single pamphlet about alcoholism was read, nor a single inquiry online about how to possibly support a family member that is fighting alcoholism and addiction. I believe my mother went to one Al-anon meeting, now I’m convinced it was for strictly for appearance sake. Later after I had been allowed back home, I asked her if she was going to any of the meetings, she quickly replied in a dismissive tone, “No. I’m not going back. Those people are far too controlling, all of them.”
I was out of sight and by all intents and purposes, clearly out of mind. It took my youngest daughter to reach out to me before any of the others. The irony in that is that I hurt her the most severely at the end stage of my drinking. She was the one that truly took the brunt of my alcoholic rage, and yet only days after she had given birth, she arranged to meet me (by my complete surprise) and brought along with her my new grandson. And as she cautiously laid down her anger and pain, she also laid her child in my arms for the first time. She offered me compassion and tenderness that I had never recalled experiencing from my very own mother.
As I attempted to reintegrate back into the family with tools, wisdom, and experience, it was evident that no one wanted to engage in any discussions about boundaries or to learn healthy and open communication skills. I was confounded with the idea that they all wanted me to get help but no one was willing to even look at the possibility of dysfunction and toxicity within the family. I realize now that sometimes, some things can be kept in the dark and kept silent for so long that denial simply wins by default.
And up until 9 days ago, denial had held me hostage to the truth as well. Although it was a brutal awakening to my mother’s insidious psychological abuse which our entire family had endured for decades, I felt as if chains of iron steel had been shattered and I was free.
Please understand, the cognitive dissonance that was unleashed was not going to make this a walk in the park. Over the next week I went back and forth trying to unsee, what I had so clearly seen. But slowly, with my journals, letters, text messages and voicemails, there was only one truth.
My mother knew no boundaries and her control was suffocating and severe, and yet was always camouflaged under the guise of love and concern. She subjected not only her children to these constantly transitioning realities but her grandchildren and even her great grandchildren. On occasions far to numerous to count, if I did not agree with her or her revisions of my very own memories, she’d make sure to punish me with disparagingly, untrue narratives that she’d personally present to various family and friends. More often than not, her go to was that I’d somehow or other “threatened” her, and so she would choreograph whomever bought the lie to protect this “frail, loving and devoted” mother. It’s truly been a challenge to even stay alive at times. (Yeah, I’ve had a couple of 5150’s before.)
I’ve waited my whole life to start writing, The one sure gift that I knew I possessed and trusted in and yet, I couldn’t begin. Now with clarity and conviction I now know why I was not able to write before. I couldn’t write a lie. And so as long as I believed in her distorted illusion, I would never know the truth to be able to write it.
Oh, and remember how I told you that I fell to my knees and prayed? We’ll be careful what you pray for and be prepared to receive what you prayed for. Because if your feet aren’t steady and your mind isn’t ready, an answered prayer can be awfully slippery to hold onto.