chriek: (えへへ...)
bri ([personal profile] chriek) wrote2017-05-12 09:48 pm
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Not sure how much energy I'll have for this entry. A lot is overloading me and I think I've stressed myself into a cold over it. There's a 92% chance I'm going to wake up miserable and flu-like tomorrow. My throat already hurts like a bitch and my voice is going. But there are some thoughts I want to write before bed.

Even though I haven't really put a lot out there in terms of this (except for very recently), I've been doing this whole accepting-my-father-is-a-sociopath thing since February of last year. I've learned a lot and been disappointed a shit-ton. It seems like I should be disappointed over not being loved or losing a father but I've been far unhappier over the shallowness of the motivations and the stupidity of the tactics, once I began to understand how they worked. I thought I was frustrated with normal people for not being able to understand or accept that these people exist but it turned out (unsurprisingly) that the person having trouble accepting it was me. I understood it plenty. Personality-disordered people stick out in a way I never would have noticed before. But to accept what I've taught myself to understand is a whole different story.

I never used to understand what they meant by "acceptance". It's kind of like "boundaries": people say they're necessary and healthy but hardly anyone seems to be able to clearly describe what they are. The closest I can come to defining "acceptance" is to say it's when you stop wishing things were different. I don't mean that you stop having goals; but that thing that was painful, you let it be painful without explanation, defensiveness, denial, etc. (This is a poor explanation but I'm germ-filled and it's past 10 PM so this is as good as it's going to get right now.)

There are some things I accept. I accept my father can't, didn't, and won't ever love me. It was probably the least surprising realization. I accept that my parents felt envious rather than proud of my accomplishments, and that it had nothing to do with me and was in no way my fault. I accept the necessity of breaking ties to all family and friends who have any connection with my father because I know his methods and know better than to give him any access to me. So that's all fine. I accept those losses.

Loss seems easier for me to accept than reality. Or maybe it's a lack of control I can't accept yet - I'm not sure. But I had one of those moments yesterday like you see in mystery movies/series, where all the clues come together at once. I'm not surprised that I got sick almost immediately because it's been a huge shock to my system. It's the most unpleasant fucking thing I've had to go through to date.

Articles about sociopaths will go on about how they can't stand to see a good thing and they attack your good qualities and blah blah. Personally I can't get behind that sort of explanation. I think the reality is more disappointing and basic than something poetic like them not wanting to be blinded by your "light" or whatever. That kind of stuff isn't for me. The reason I even mention this is because my good points were of zero relevance to my father. They might have been annoyances, or some might have been "useful" to him in some way (which he then sought to exploit). The only thing my father is likely to have thought when I was born is, "this is mine, and I'm going to do whatever I want with it."

Not with her. With it.

I'm not offended by him seeing me as property. If I still loved him, I'd feel betrayed and heartbroken. After so many months of recovery all I think is "eh, that's par for the course with this asshole." I don't take it personally because I don't expect anything of him or... well, respect him at all.

No, the part that gets to me is all the things he did to control me. How many people can say that they really understand the experience of having someone hone in on you and focus their energy on breaking you down completely so that you totally lose your autonomy/sense of self/trust in your own perceptions/etc.? And when I talk about "breaking you down"... it doesn't look the way you'd think. It's alternating telling someone they mean so much to you and then totally shutting them out to the point where you won't even look at them. It's pointing to their mistakes as examples of their deliberate malicious intention (go ahead, try to prove your intention) or lack of commitment (because if you were really committed, you would have done it and not "made excuses" for your failure by telling them what happened). It's telling them that they don't look sad and you think they're just faking. It's diverting every valid complaint of theirs into some slight from before. It's pointing out a moment you know is embarrassing for them in public and saying "it's a joke!" It's constant comments about everything they do with an air of "you're doing something wrong" without ever actually saying the words; so that when they say, "I feel like you're judging me" you can say, "did I say anything?" and accuse them of hypersensitivity.

By the way, fuck that accusation. I am one of the least sensitive motherfuckers on the planet. I mean, I'm sensitive in the sense that I'm not going to be a dick to someone (i.e. sensitive to their feelings if they've been respectful to me) but in the I-take-everything-personally sense? Not really. I'm an incredibly direct person which, come to think of it, didn't sit well with my father. He whined about it passive-aggressively on a regular basis. I felt guilty for not taking things he said personally? It was a little strange. Some of his complaints amounted to, "how dare you not be hurt by what I'm saying! How dare you not react to me in the way I want right now!" He'd say this like "you don't show enough emotion on your face" or he'd resort to childish provocation techniques. You know how kids will repeat what you say? Or copy your movements? A grown man of 70-something was still doing that to me in my thirties when I didn't react. A GROWN MAN. REPEATED MY WORDS.


If that didn't work, he'd steal food off my plate. I mean, really petty shit. And then he'd just look at me, waiting for me to say something. It gets old fast. A kid is one thing but this was someone twice my age. Anyone else would be too embarrassed to be pulling dumb shit like that - but sociopaths are spared that emotion so they'll gladly be complete morons if it means getting what they want out of you. Self-respect isn't really a thing for sociopaths. They just have entitlement and winning. To normal people that looks pathetic but to them I guess it looks like superiority or power.

Again, I can only really say these things in hindsight. At the time, it was intimidating and upsetting. Actually, the idea of my father wanting to take everything away from me is still scary as shit. Happiness, friends, sex, freedom, reality - everything. Because all of those things would potentially counteract his control over me. I've always feared having everything "taken" from me and I could never put into words why. When someone wants total control of you like that and they have no limits, no conscience, and a strong manipulative ability... you're going to suffer. Unless you've genuinely rid yourself of the notion that "there's some good in everyone," you are going to fall for it. Or that related thought that "people who are hurt sometimes hurt others and we need to be compassionate..." No. No, no, no. I mean, yes - sometimes. But before you jump to the conclusion that someone is acting this way out of pain, make a list of what they say versus what they do. If they hurt you and apologized, did they repeat the behavior? How many times? Did they genuinely apologize or did they give an excuse? Did they say it was their past that made them act like this? If you're honest with yourself, did they show any responsibility? Or did they play on your sympathy?

These are the questions I've learned to ask. Behavior first, then compassion. Manipulators will do things like attack your character or self-victimize if you calmly point out their behavior as a reason for your lack of compassion - and that's the final indicator that you're dealing with a douche and not a sufferer. For instance: when my manipulative cunt of a (former) therapist suggested I confront my father about him doing nada the multiple times he walked in on me being molested, my father burst out, "what do you want from me? Do you want me to say I'm a bad father? Fine! I'm a bad father! Are you happy now?!" My poor father, being told in a calm tone of voice that him not doing anything about it made his daughter believe she wasn't worth anything - god, how harrowing. What's with the third degree?! It already happened so why bring it up again? Can't you let it go? Am I right????

Now I can see how dumb it was but at the time I felt so hurt that he was taking my attempt to resolve my pain as a personal attack on him. Whether he was really offended that I dare imply in any way that he wasn't the bright, shining example of fatherhood he liked people to think he was or whether it was just a way to divert me into shutting up and feeling guilty - really doesn't matter. The point is the tactic, not the motivation.

When you're with a sociopath over a long period of time, one thing that gets hard to stop yourself from doing is uttering the truth or pointing out inconsistencies. I remember I would tiptoe around saying - in one way or another - that because of my father's actions, I didn't think he loved me. From what I've read and what I'd personally do, the normal reaction to that statement encompasses things like taking the other person seriously, apologizing when appropriate, and having a conversation about how to make the relationship work. My father's reaction? "I can't believe you're accusing me of not loving you!" What's missing from that statement is the idea that this is upsetting "because I do love you (and I want to work this out because it's important to me)." What he said was I "accused" him and he "can't believe" it. That's not a denial. It's fake hurt. It's a diversion that turns legitimate anger into guilt.

And it worked, because I felt like an asshole. I felt guilty because: he seemed upset (angry, really), I don't like to tell people what their feelings are, and it was a heartbreaking notion to consider. When I gave concrete examples of his unloving behavior, his next tactic was too tell me I was demanding. The fault, according to him, was always on my side of things. I "misunderstood" him, I "asked too much", I didn't have as much life experience and was "naive" - etc. Amazingly, it was never him. Never. That's normal in a healthy relationship, right? And the reason he didn't leave or limit contact with someone who supposedly "hurt" him constantly? "I'm your father!"

100% sense right there. When someone constantly upsets and disappoints you, you demand to spend every weekend with them, right? You send them long fucking emails several times a day - yeah? And try to talk to them on the phone on top of that? Normal behavior. Everyone does that.

Except, wait--no. That's controlling behavior I'm describing. If you let your target get angry, they might leave you - and you'd lose control. If they feel guilt, they'll tolerate more - because they'll blame themselves and try to change things based on the belief that it's their behavior causing this and not yours. And the constant contact? Necessary to eat up all of their time. You don't want them having one waking minute alone or in peace. They are your property 10,000%.

The thing is, his tactics worked. I kept myself away from people because he managed to convince me none of them cared and that they were all talking about what a joke I was. I caged myself, based on his words. I thought I was preventing people from hurting me but all I was doing was playing into the isolation my father was trying to create. Because he knew that if I learned people cared about me, I wouldn't put up with his shit. Joke's on him, I guess, because even when I believed no one cared I still chose to end my relationship with him. Haha?

Speaking honestly, even I realize that my father couldn't control me in the full sense. He had to aggressively influence how I viewed myself (especially in relation to others) in order to get me to listen to/obey him. He had to lie, humiliate, traumatize - to make sure I viewed myself as unimportant, unwanted, and as a generally burdensome human being. He did this through emotional pain. Like I said above: being molested and having your father treat it like it's nothing when you're five and six is a harsh message. Having it laughed about in consecutive years and told you're being "sensitive" about it... also harsh. I never imagined my father would be out to hurt me. I felt hurt, and often - but he'd laugh it off or tell me I wasn't really hurt and was faking it, and so on. More and more treatment, more and more events - until I was so hurt I didn't fight back anymore and stayed alone. This was perfect because that's what he'd been aiming for.

It's mean. Well, if I were being clinical I'd say it's "pathological" - but really, it's mean. It's mean to wear someone down, especially when they have no recourse and no chance at knowing normality (until decades later after a bunch of health issues prompt them to do something about it). It's mean to convince someone who hasn't done anything wrong that their life has no value. It's mean to let them live that way and fuck with their head, saying they're like that on purpose when you were the one who made sure this was their life. It's mean to convince someone they're so burdensome that they can't be loved - so they hardly ever try and and even when it happens, they push it away because they think it's a trick (because tricks and lies are all they know from being with you).

People could have loved me but I didn't let them. Even now it's not an easy feeling for me. It's not because I "lack confidence" or am "hypersensitive" or any of that other nonsense. It's because my father purposely trained me to expect pain when I sought love, and because I didn't know he was that sort of person.

Even if I know now that it was all about control, I don't feel good. The pain doesn't feel good. And I think my body has shut itself down to spare me for a while.

For months I've been angry without clearly understanding why. Now that I know, I feel sicker than I have in a long time.