Tuesday, July 31, 2012

10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families, from Sanctuary for the Abused

I have found this post a few months ago and have realized that most of these were present in my FOO, disguised as love, kindness, devotion, etc. What really surprised me when I first read it was the reality reinterpretation part was. That I was raised to experience one reality, and re-imagine a completely different one in my head. And obviously believe and preach the latter.

I'm interested in your thoughts about the article.

10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Healing mantra for today

  • Living and feeling my grief does not have to result in making myself physically, mentally or emotionally disabled.
  • I cannot change other people's decisions, but I can make my own decisions about how to deal with the current situation in my life.
  • If I feel sad, I can allow myself to feel that sadness. I do not have to repress my feelings, as I used to do.
  • If I feel better, and things get easier, I do not have to push myself back into depression again, as I used to do.
  • Just because I am not happy, I do not have to give up the things I love. I can allow myself to have coping methods.
  • I do not have to act like as if everything was OK, I do not have to act happy. I do not have to jump into action with full force, especially if I realize that doing so without healing would only hurt more.
  • If dealing with the art project intensely, or any other mundane action causes me pain, I can give myself time and decide not to do it for another day.
  • Just because someone has decided not to talk to me, it does not mean that I am less loveable or valuable for either him or anyone else. 
  • I can decide to continue the art project, I can decide to show those who count on me that I am there for them. I can allow myself to be happy in it, even if my ex-friend does not participate in it anymore. I do not have to sabotage the project consciously, or on an unconscious level.
  • I can allow myself to move on. And I can take as much time as I need for that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Losing love and taking blame

I just wanted to say that I'm alive, just very, very sad.

I have lost one of my best friends. It was his decision, and there is no way he will change his mind. A few days ago, I was still sunbathing in the warm light of his love, and were happily and very excitedly planning our art project together. And yesterday, came the cold reality, that he will leave the project, and will stop talking to me. In order to save his already failed relationship.

The project consisted of several people who depended on him and me. Now everyone, including me are standing above the carcass of the unborn art we wanted to create together, petrified, not understanding what has happened. I bet there is something in the background, it just doesn't make sense for me.

I've spent so far two days with crying, completely unable to eat, feeling the end-of-the-world, grieving for our beloved project and my friend, whom I still love. And trying to find reasons for blaming myself. It must have been my fault. I've killed our friendship. I've killed the project. I'm unable to keep anyone's love and will lose everyone in the end.

I've talked to DB about this, and he empathized with me and also reassured me that it wasn't my fault. That it was the unexpected decision of my friend, and I couldn't have done nothing about it. That I didn't know about it either. That it was his problem that he couldn't handle his personal life, and blamed it on the project, and the co-leader: me. It sounded so rational.

But I'm still searching for my pieces on the floor. This project gave meaning to my life in the past year. It was something that I loved the most, above almost anything else. And to lead it together with a friend, who loved it as much as I did was simply heaven. Now it is all gone, and I have absolutely no clue about how to go on.

However, during the talks with DB, there were two things I've realized, and I guess they are common among ACONs.
  • My greatest fear is being abandoned by someone whom I love, and/or losing their love. I am sort of able to handle disasters in my life, but this, I am unable to cope with. I've realized that behind most of the things I do, there is the underlying motive of being afraid of losing love. I can devote extreme amounts of energy into anything that I think can preserve someone's love towards me. I am ready to do anything, bear any kind of pain, give up anything from myself, just not to lose friends.
  • If I'm in a deep pain because of someone else, who has hurt me or been unjust with me, no matter how much twisting I have to do in my mind, I try to turn the situation in my head so that I can realize that it was my fault. It has to be my fault. And I am the first to take the blame if someone hurts me. Because if I'm responsible, I can do something against it. I can try harder. Be better. Put more effort in it. Love more. Be more devoted. Sacrifice more of myself. But if it is not my fault, I cannot control it. And I have to realize that someone whom I love, and who I thought loved me, could intentionally cause me pain. And that is more unbearable than being responsible for all the wrongs in the world.
Did you ever have similar thoughts or experiences? Fear of losing love? Or blaming yourselves?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Email, love and pain

NM called yesterday. I didn't want to pick it up. I called her back today, for only three minutes. She managed to tell me that they, have been thinking about someone whom they could contact if something bad happened since they surely cannot count on me.

I've received a long email today from NM right after this. Just a few parts from it:

"I always hope that you are really interested in how I, we are. And then I am sad to realize, that you don't have time. As if you were saying don't bother me. You never answer my calls. I feel that we have become a nuisance for you. Why do you make us feel that you don't want to contact us anymore? I would like to invite you over, have lunch together, talk, just naturally. What should I do to change this? Is it only a dream? Have you decided not to meet us anymore? I hoped it was not only me who thought that family was important. Please don't neglect your parents. If I'm wrong just tell me, that you can meet more frequently. I don't want to tell you what to do with your life, but I beg you for your love. It hurts so much, I cry so much. Do I have to live my life without you? I don't believe it and I don't accept it. Please help to change this. I hope that we can find a solution. We love you so much, with Dad. Mum."

I feel awful. I feel betrayed. I feel abandoned. I feel so alone. This feels like a living nightmare. It hurts... so bad I can't even describe it.

I borrowed a cigarette from a co-worker after this. I don't even smoke normally.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Celebrations and family chit-chat

Thus, we visited FOO to give them a chance to celebrate DB's birthday the day before he had it, because they "had other program". And we were happy that they wouldn't ruin that day for him anyway.

Before that, I have talked to NM via phone to discuss the details. It was hilarious.

  • NM explained to me that they are so 'broke' that they could not really afford gifts. For the Christmas before, I bought a present so that they could give it to DB as a present. They have decided to give something else instead. I have suggested that they give him that present, so it would be free anyway.
  • NM asked me what to cook. I told her not to make a big deal about it and cook whatever she wanted. She told me that she didn't intend to make a big deal about DB's birthday anyway. Great. As a result the food was something she knew I hated. I wasn't surprised at all.
  • I suggested that I would bake the cake for him, and bring it over, so NM wouldn't have to bother with baking. She said alright, until I explained that it would be the 'family specialty' that she always used to bake for me when I was little, and that I always baked for her for her birthday. She told me that she hated that cake, and so that I shouldn't bake that type of cake for HER for DB's birthday.
    WTF. And thanks for making me realize that you have always hated the cake I made especially for you. Great.
    I have decided not to bake anything for that day and baked the cake on his "real" birthday, the day after. He was more than happy and told me that he loved the cake.
  • NM asked me when would we be able to talk. I told her that when we'd visit together with DB, we could. She said, "I see, so we won't talk again". She was furious because I blew her chance to be alone with me.
On the day of the family gathering, NM has quickly realized that she wouldn't be alone with me, so she rather
  • Kicked one or two into DB, so that he would know his place.
  • Also told him to tell me (while I was sitting next to him) to visit her more, because it is not "polite" or "loving" that I don't visit my own mother.
  • Then NM explained to me that I was laying the table wrong, because I didn't choose the appropriate cutlery.
  • She tossed him the gift with the comment "happy birthday, love us all". We have the habit of hiding the gift from sight so that it would be a greater surprise. Of course it was not hidden, it was displayed on the central table.
  • And then during lunch, NM explained to DB, in details, how hideous DP was, how evil and vengeful he was, and how he made everyone's life impossible, and the 'evil tricks' he intentionally invented to ruin our life. How he maliciously sabotaged everything she wanted to do, how annoying he was all the time (she never, ever said this before, she always claimed she loved him). How awful it was for NM when DP was dying, because she had to participate in taking care of him while I was working, and how difficult it was for her. She never ever mentioned how painful it must have been for DP himself. Or understood why I still couldn't get over his death.
    Another thing to hurt me with, deeply. It was personal. She knew how much I loved DP above anyone else. How he was my only friend, my only brother, my only confidante, my only connection to the human world for more than a decade, my love, my life, my everything. Everyone who knew him said that he was more than human, the most loving, kind living soul on Earth. Who taught me that telepathy really does exist. Who loved me when no one else did, who stayed beside me when I was very ill. Who has literally saved my life several times. He was my cat.
    If you ever grew up with a dog or a cat whom you had a deeply personal relationship with - and had narc parents, I think you can imagine what I'm talking about.
    Speaking ill of the dead and lying about them is the new game I guess.
Yesterday, NM called me, cheerful, she was very artificially nice and kind, and asked about how I am, how DB is, etc. Of course, she wanted me to do some stuff for her today.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

NM's most recent gaslighting session

I haven't seen NM since this incident (a month ago or so). Due to family reasons, I'll have to see her soon though. I'm not looking forward to it. I have called her today to talk about the details of our (me and DB) visit, which resulted in a stereotypical NM-backstabbing-me-with-every-word type of phone call. I would only quote one part.

"No, I'm not well at all. It is really difficult for me to put the bedsheets to their place..."
(My mind started racing at this point. What could be wrong with the bed? What the heck is this all about? Since I didn't produce the reaction instantly, that she wanted me to, she explained of course.)
"See, the shelves are too high for me, and I cannot reach them if I'm trying to stand on a chair..."
(And then it hit me. I've borrowed their stepstool ladder from them. And the chair NM mentioned was a folding chair, a real death trap to stand on, especially if you are trying to reach high from it.)

She didn't have to mention neither the ladder, nor death, but she knew I would get both messages. That it was a big mistake that I have dared to borrow anything of hers, and that I am responsible for causing her severe back pain and forcing her constantly risking death or severe injuries. Brilliant. Truly brilliant.

Another perfectly subtle out-of-the-big-book act. But what I wanted to describe in this post was the prequel of this, when we have last met in person. Well, here it comes:

I have visited my FOO. It seemed like a good idea at that time (the last sentence of all Darwin Award winners). I remember stepping inside the apartment, EF being visibly happy for seeing me. NM barely noticing me. Then mental blackout followed, and the next thing I remember was being completely convinced that I was mentally clinically insane and was unknowingly ruining my own and everyone else's life around me. I was there, exposed to NM for hours, feeling physically unable to move. It was pure horror. I'm mostly writing this down because I want to have it as a memento, to be able to prove myself that it really happened, and it was not only my 'vivid imagination', and also to ask about your opinion. So here's a list of what I've learned from her in 2,5 hours:

  • I am insane. NM knew this from my childhood that I had serious mental problems.
  • My former doomed relationships were a direct result of my mental illness.
  • It was right, logical and I have to praise her that NM made my life a living hell, since she didn't have any other choice when I fell in love with someone she didn't think were appropriate for me.
  • Obviously it is not different now, since I only choose people whom I'm unable to maintain a relationship with, such as DB.
  • This is also my fault since I'm completely unable to care and to give.
  • I only keep in touch with people whom I can benefit from, and who can tend to my selfish interests, because I'm egoistic and I only use others, and I discard everyone who doesn't exactly do what I want them to.
  • I could have a working relationship now, but since I'm not the 'motherly' type who would be satisfied by serving others (like her, who is motherly), and since I'm not like that, no matter how kind and trustworthy DB is, I will be unable to maintain a working relationship with him, since I'm selfish down to the core, and what I need from others is to serve my every need.
  • I will be completely alone in the end anyway.
  • I neglect my FOO so much, that it will have very serious and irrevocable consequences in a few years.
  • The worst will be that my own (yet unborn) children will hate me the most (and she will make sure they will do so), and that I'll get my devilish and hellish horror that I spread do everyone and NM back from my children, but a thousand times worse, in the most horrific way possible.
  • I won't ever be able to become an appropriate mother.
  • No one will ever want me as a woman, because no one needs someone who treats her FOO the way I do.
  • DB thinks this way too, that he would not ever seriously want me because of this. But there is no reason to ask him, he wouldn't ever admit that he thinks about me this way. But still, family goes first for him, and this speaks volumes.
  • If I was sane, I would have breakfast with FOO every morning, I would go home to their place and have lovely jovial chats about what happened at work, or on the public transport, or anywhere. If I don't do it, I'm insane.
  • This is also true for grandchildren, they would have to do the same.
  • It is very welcome that I'm not dealing with my hobby right now (the word hobby spat out as if I was sacrificing newborn goats for satanism and not playing a musical instrument) because of the summer break, so I must focus now on more worthy projects such as writing my fourth thesis to finally get my fourth master's degree.
  • Since I will forever be mentally ill, and I cannot do anything against it ever, it is inevitable that my relationship, and all my friendships and other social connections will be ruined my be. To be honest, I've already irrevocably ruined all of them, just wasn't able to notice the fact.
  • I want happiness so convulsively, that I destroy everyone around myself.
  • I'm incapable of loving, or any other emotion since I'm a psychopath.
  • My relationship is already doomed, since I myself have destroyed it. Obviously, I'm incapable of anything else.
  • My previous relationship with EXNB only ended because of me. NM didn't have any problems with him, but I blew it, since I was already incapable of caring or loving him.
  • I'm already this old, it's time to get myself together, of course, she remembers that I'm incapable of it, since I'm not normal, but I still would have to produce grandchildren for her, and she will spend all her time with them when they are young and cute and lovely. After that they will grow up anyway into evil abominable monsters who have friends, own interests and other stuff and ditch their families.
  • Since we haven't spoken for two days, NM and EF have become deadly ill, that I obviously don't care about, but both of them will die in four years anyway.
  • My grandmother, grandfather, and another elder relative will die also in a few months, and after that I will only be able to talk to them if I'm finally dead.
  • It does not matter that ENGF does not talk to me and spits hate and rage at me every time I call him, I am obliged to talk to him, and genuinely love him, since he is family.
  • The ideal family is my cousin's family, where everyone is perfectly happy. He spends all his time at his parents' house to borrow this or that, he does sports and hobbies with his parents, and performs chores at his parents' garden, and always brings his children along. And they rarely see his wife, but she is ugly and fat anyway, the most important is that he and his parents are constantly enmeshed. Oh and they work in the same office also.
  • It is outrageous that NM and EF cannot come and go into my apartment as they please without prior announcement or even me being at home. This means that I don't love them at all and that I consider my FOO as hated and despised strangers.
  • It is also outrageous that I ring the doorbell when I visit them. I should just walk in on them. And it is also disgusting that I text them when I arrive at home at midnight, since families work that way, that I would have to visit them at 3AM at dawn if that is when I have time for a chat, and should wake them up even if they are asleep.
  • It is insulting, humiliating, callous and evil from me, that I consider it a sign of respect to ring the doorbell when I visit someone. Sending e-mails or texting is also such a thing. As well as not calling NM on a daily basis and not spending all my days there, freely, happily, in a natural and relaxed way.
  • My hair is abominable anyway, of course I'm still basking in my early adolescent years instead of growing up already.
  • NM understands that I have a workplace, but still, I can call her while I'm working, or should have happy breakfasts with them at 5AM if I have to go to work early.
  • The fact that I don't have breakfast with them every morning, and moreover that I don't eat what she wants me to (white bread, heavy food, with artificial flavors and fat), and that I don't eat tons of food means that I'm mentally insane, and that I don't let my own birthmother to nourish her child, and that I obviously don't love them. And it is particularly sick that I have breakfast in the office, not to mention that with people who are not my parents.
  • She is so desperately sad when she is somewhere, and I'm not with her, something happens to her and I don't witness it, she would talk and I'm not there to listen.
  • She also knows that I don't know how to shave my legs properly, she also had lots of dark hair, but now that she does it properly, she has less dark hair on her legs.
  • And the details of her sexual life and the method of contraception that they use (which I now wouldn't disclose) as well as creating theories about my sexual life.
  • It was a great idea that I have agreed with EF that we could go to the family's week-end house with DB to relax and stuff, so NM has decided that they would come also, and we would be together as a happy family. Of course they would not disturb us, she has already planned all the events and places we will go together, and eating together. If we want privacy, we can still go to the other room, sure.
  • I mustn't talk to DB about this, obviously he'd be delighted to learn that FOO will also come, everyone would be happy. It is outrageous and ill-mannered that I don't want to say yes to such a wonderful idea of hers, and want to discuss it with DB.
  • I am not allowed to leave to my office, even if it results in me being fired until I'm not genuinely and honestly happy from all this conversation and does not hug NM with warm honest overflowing love.

Fortunately after a few days (and help from my therapist) I've managed to think clearly again and realize that I wasn't the insane one, but still, this was outright scary.

EF left the room when she started. He was in the next room all the way long and heard everything. When later I mentioned this scene to him he said that "yes, I've heard what she said, but you have also said some very nasty and horrible things".

Any input, comment or opinion is welcome.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From Injunctions and Drivers to Autonomy

I have described in my previous post - Injunctions and Drivers - the most basic messages that the child receives in the early ages and interprets them as means to stay alive. I have to note here, that it is possible, that the message is conveyed without the parent's intention (for example if either of them has to spend a longer time in hospital, the child can interpret it as abandonment and acquire the "don't be, don't exist" injunction).

For moving towards autonomy (consciousness, spontaneity and intimity), the goal is not to over-analyze our life-script. Realizing our own injunctions and drivers is only the means of getting rid of the life-script once and for all.

It is difficult, because these were the ones, that we believe with every inch of our body, will save us from demise. Starting questioning them usually stirs shit up, but it worths it.

The most important fact is, that you are OK as you are. Even if you make mistakes, even if you are guilty, even if you are the archetypal villain. You can always correct your faults and improve yourself. Your core, your deepest definition is OK.

Permissions instead of Injunctions

If you have managed to identify your own injunctions and drivers, or have found at least some of them, it usually results in sadness or anger. This is a normal first reaction. What is more difficult to accept is, that these were our own, very rational decisions, based on what we knew best with the mind of a small child, of course. These were useful and good decisions back then. These ensured our very survival - which is only possible that time if our parents nurture us.

It was an adaptive decision, because it worked: you are alive and grew up, and here you are, reading.

What has changed since then is only one thing: you are not a young child anymore. You can survive and live your live even if your parents don't love you.

Therefore, the once rational and valid injunctions are now invalid. Give permission to yourself to do what the injunction has forbidden you to do before. This new decision will be made with your adult self and consciousness:

  • Permissions for Don't be (Don't exist)
    • You can exist. You have just the same right to live as anyone else. You will die one day, but you don't have to bring that date closer in any way. You cannot be obliged physically, emotionally or relationship-wise to harm or destroy yourself, neither partially nor completely. You can give up any self-harming behavior and still survive life and its difficulties. You are allowed to be noticed by other people. Your life is yours alone, and you are allowed to live it.
  • Permissions for Don't be who you are (Don't be You)
    • You are who you are, and you are completely OK that way. You are generally valuable and good, with your gender, sexual orientation, personality, qualities, abilities, skills, thoughts, beliefs and preferences. Other people are OK if they are different from you, but you are OK the way you are. There can be things that you would like to improve or change in yourself, but this does not change the fact, that you are OK this way.
  • Permissions for Don't be a child
    • You can be imperfect, and you can be uninformed. You don't have to instantly know everything and be proficient in everything. You don't have to provide the maximum in every situation. You can be as free and as happy as a carefree child. You can put aside consciousness, rationality and responsibility, and you can play freely, without any specific reason. You can do things that are ineffective, irrational or not tangibly useful, for your own enjoyment. You can enjoy life as such and value the little things.
  • Permissions for Don't grow up
    • You are an adult. You can separate physically and emotionally from your parents and live your own life. You can experience your sexuality based on your own norms. You can make independent, responsible, rational, conscious decisions and you can bear the consequences for your decisions. You are able to evaluate situations on your own and phrase your own opinion about them. You can take everything you can into account when deciding something. You are allowed to prioritize.
  • Permissions for Don't make it in your life (Don't succeed)
    • You can perform well, you can achieve things, and you can finish whatever you have started. You are able to be successful, and you are allowed to succeed. You have every possibility to work for your own achievements, and you are capable to do things on your own. You be proud of yourself for your successes even if others are less successful in that particular field or situation.
  • Permissions for Don't do anything!
    • You can make your own decisions. You are allowed to make risky or wrong decisions. You don't have to escape critical situations. Your personal value is not dependent on your decisions. You can learn from your own mistakes and improve yourself. You can do what you intend to do, and you don't have to report about it to anyone. You can be loved if you are active.
  • Permissions for Don't be important
    • You are just as important as anyone else. Your needs, desires and requests are as important as anyone else's. You can be in the center of attention, and you deserve to be listened to. You can be beautiful, successful, smart, popular, and you can be loved. You have the right to have physical, emotional and social needs, you can take steps to fulfill these, and you are allowed to reach your goals. You can pay attention to yourself.
  • Permissions for Don't belong
    • You can decide to partially give up your own freedom and belong to a family, society, team, minority, movement, culture, nation, religion, band or any other group. You can have your own social connections. By belonging to others, you can still be yourself, and don't have to be enmeshed with anyone else. You can have different points of view and still belong to groups. You are allowed to agree with ideas, beliefs, thoughts that certain groups agree with.
  • Permissions for Don't be close
    • You can form intimate relationships with others. You can decide to be open and honest while communicating. You are allowed to trust others. You have the possibility to think the best of another person without prior proof. You can express your needs, feelings and opinion. You can have close friends, you can be close to the members of your family, your spouse, your children, your colleagues, your neighbor, and anyone else you decide to open up to.
  • Permissions for Don't be well (Don't be sane!)
    • You can be healthy and sane. You don't need to get attention by having physical or psychological symptoms. You deserve attention, love, respect and caring even if you are not different from others, even if you are not extravagant. You can stand out, but you can also be like others. You can live a healthy life physically, psychologically and emotionally. You can blend in if you choose to.
  • Permissions for Don't think
    • You have the right to know the world, and to form theories about anything. You can have your own opinion. You can realize problems and find solutions for them. You can ask questions, find answers and draw conclusions. You are allowed to make mistakes and be wrong, you can reconsider your previous conclusions. You do not have to stick to your past thoughts and beliefs. You have the right to think what you think. You don't have to evaluate your thoughts as right or wrong based on other people's thoughts or belief systems. Your thoughts and beliefs are your own, and you do not have to disclose them to anyone if you don't want to.
  • Permissions for Don't feel
    • You have the right to feel, and to express these feelings. You are allowed to be happy and feel good if your need is satisfied. You are allowed to feel bad, if your need is not satisfied. You can be sad because of the past, you can be angry in the present and you can be afraid of the future. Your feelings cannot be invalidated, they are neither right nor wrong, they simply exist. Your feelings are valid, and yours. You do not have to disclose your feelings to anyone if you don't want to. You can express your feelings to any extent you choose to, and you can decide whom you share your emotions with.
It does not mean that if you reprogram your injunctions with permissions, that you will become unscrupulous, or a sociopath/psychopath. By becoming autonomous, you don't inevitably become selfish as well. Knowing that you are allowed to do something does not mean that you are obliged to do it. It is a possibility, that you can decide. Redefining the values that originate from your childhood does not necessarily result in being valueless, an anarchist, or being a nihilist. You can have your own personal values, and stick to them, and if you - as an adult - realize that in a given situation it is appropriate for you to do so, you can act differently also.

To be honest, when I have learned about some of these, it literally made me cry. It was such an overwhelming feeling to even think that there is a world somewhere, where I am allowed to do those and be like that. And that I can let myself heal.

I'm nowhere near that road yet (I'm practicing one of these right now, and it is really difficult for me to forget lifelong conditioning, but I am taking one step at a time).

Permissions instead of Drivers

Drivers are usually the behind your belief that you are in deep shit and that "something wrong will happen". That punishment will come. If you have these thoughts (usually it does not even have a source in your thoughts where the punishment, the shitstorm or the end-of-the-world will originate from), it is very likely, that one of your Drivers has started operating. And, as the name shows: it will drive you like mad, to escape the perceived all-hell-will-break-loose, demise, and all the other horror. It is usually not enough to simply remove the drivers, as it is possible with Injunctions. What can help is to redefine them.

  • Permissions for Please me/others!
    • Please yourself!
    • You don't have to please your parents or others to deserve others' acceptance and love.
  • Permissions for Be Perfect!
    • You are OK as you are!
    • You don't have to be perfect to deserve others' acceptance and love.
  • Permissions for Be Strong!
    • Express your needs!
    • You don't have to hide your emotions and be strong deserve others' acceptance and love.
  • Permissions for Try Hard!
    • Do it!
    • You don't have to burden yourself with unfinished projects to deserve others' acceptance and love.
  • Permissions for Hurry Up!
    • Give yourself time!
    • You don't have to hurry and multitask to deserve others' acceptance and love.
These redefinitions are all long processes. After all it took a lifetime so far to realize your injunctions and drivers. But with practice, self-love, and help from a professional mental health specialist, therapist or even a spiritual leader, it is possible and reachable.

Note: I'm using Wikipedia, Sanctuary for the Abused, businessballs.com, Eric Berne's What Do You Say After You Say Hello book, my therapist's sessions and my own thoughts to write this blogpost.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Injunctions and Drivers

The Transactional Analysis theory distinguishes Injunctions and Drivers as the basis on which children (usually until the age of 7) build their life scripts. I will not go into details now about the theory, but rather enumerate the Injunctions and the Drivers. When I have first learned about them it was quite a revelation for me. I hope it also helps you to start identifying your own ones.

Narcissistic parents are especially adept at imposing all these (negative) injunctions and drivers onto their children. When the child is young, their most basic instinct is survival, and that survival solely depends on parents. Thus, to absorb these injunctions and drivers is a rational decision back then. However, they will not dissolve during the process of growing up, and can cause problems during adult life, when 'making parents happy' is not the only way of survival anymore.

I will use data from Wikipedia, Internet of the Mind, sessions with my therapist and my own knowledge.


Injunctions are parental messages that instruct the child what not to do. These beliefs are the "Should", "Must", "Have to" and "Ought" beliefs that we hold about how things are in the world.
Some Injunctions are good and helpful while others become limiting beliefs that can sabotage our relationships and life goals.

  • Don't be (Don't exist)
    • "If it weren’t for you children, I could divorce your father…"
    • "You were a mistake"
    • "See what you do, why do you put me through this!"
    • "I wish you’d never been born!"
    • The message can be delivered in a multitude of non-verbal ways such as how the parent cares for and holds the child, the facial expressions and tone of voice, frowns, scowls, etc.
    • Those who have this injunction can indulge in several types of self-harming behavior, or substance abuse to shorten lifespan. Or they can simply 'cease to exist' by diving into an abusive relationship, not having social life, etc.
  • Don't be who you are (Don't be You)
    • Parents do not accept the personality of the child, they would prefer to see the miniaturized version of themselves, including looks, preferences, way of thinking, career, religion, etc. They communicate that the child is not 'OK' the way he/she is.
    • An example is children who get the message they are not the sex that was preferred by their parents adopt this Injunction. A mother with four boys who wanted a girl may subconsciously make the youngest one her "daughter". Or a father with all girls may make one of them a "little buddy" by giving positive strokes for doing son-like activities.
  • Don't be a child
    • Parents communicate that the child has to be perfect and should provide the absolute maximum at all times. They have to instantly possess all knowledge. They are not allowed to 'not know' something, to be carefree, to play freely, to enjoy simple little things, to do something without a 'reasonable goal', to be free of problems.
    • Children who have been assigned the role of taking care of the younger children may have lost or given up their own childhood. They continue to function without the childlike qualities they have not yet developed. Other methods of conveying this message include telling a five year-old to "grow up!" or giving a toddler positive strokes for being "little men" or "proper little ladies".
  • Don't grow up
    • Parents communicate that the child should not make adult decisions, should not be an autonomous human being. The child should not separate from the parents, nor have their own norms, life or sexuality.
    • The baby of the family often is the recipient of this Injunction, especially when the empty nest is approaching. This is usually the case when there is not a lot of intimacy between the parents or in single parent situations. Fathers may send this message to their daughters when they refuse to allow make-up, dating, wearing certain clothes when it is really an age-appropriate thing to do.
  • Don't make it in your life (Don't succeed)
    • Parents communicate that children should not be successful on their own, or without their parents. They are rewarded for making efforts but not actually finishing projects. Or, failure. Parental jealousy is also predominant, especially if the child gets better in anything that the parent has ever done before. Attempts of being better are belittled, frowned upon and forbidden.
    • A father may send the message to "not do better than me" by quitting when his son begins to win at the game they are playing. Expecting perfection or frequently saying things like "You can’t do anything right!" or "What the hell is wrong with you?" are other ways this message gets conveyed.
  • Don't do anything!
    • Fearful, over-protective parents say don’t climb trees, don’t run, don’t try, don’t go too far, don’t play rough, don’t go too high on the swings, etc. These parents also tend to do everything for (instead of) the child. 
    • The child gets the message that they must be fragile, or incompetent, and/or every decision they face is critical and, therefore, has trouble making decisions. They especially fear to make wrong decisions. They feel that passivity is the safest way to live. They believe that the world is a fearful place, where they cannot ever be safe.
  • Don't be important
    • The message conveyed is that children should not be in the center of attention. They cannot be smart, beautiful or successful. They should not have any needs (social, physical, emotional or any other), or if they do have any, they should sacrifice their own needs on the altar of others' needs. If they take steps towards meeting their own needs, they are confronted.
    • This injunction comes from messages like "kids are to be seen, not heard", "Keep your mouth shut at the dinner table", or other discounts about how they may nothing of importance to offer. Children who are made fun of because of how they look, their race, or their social status may experience this injunction.
  • Don't belong
    • Children are expected not to belong to any group or society that are not approved by parents. They are encouraged not to have social connections, and their preferred groups, religions, societies, movements, nations, bands are frowned upon. Their attempts to make friends are criticized and are forbidden.
    • Children who move a lot are most often the ones who have learned not to attach to a social group because as soon as they make attachments they move again and have to start all over. Other circumstances include kids who were frequently put down or made fun of for one reason or another by other kids.
  • Don't be close
    • Parents usually convey the message that no one can be trusted (who is outside of the family). Everyone else has ulterior motives, and has a knife behind their back. Friends, spouses and any intimate relationship are made impossible by the family by not letting friends visit, convincing the child that the friends are not appropriate for them, and driving them away.
    • Discouraging the child from coming close, a lack of attention and affection, lack of physical touching, and a lack of positive strokes all send signals that may be interpreted as "Don’t Be close". Also, losing several people who have been close may be enough for a child to decide it is not worth getting close because "People I care about always leave me".
    • This is usually also a result of broken promises, unpredictability, emotional unavailability of the parents who are preoccupied with a problem or each other.
  • Don't be well (Don't be sane!)
    • Some children only experienced nurturing when they were sick. They grow up to use the sick role to gain attention of others and to self-nurture as well. Usually at a subconscious level, getting well would mean isolation and abandonment to someone with this Injunction. 
    • Children who grow up with a parent or parents who have a mental illness can learn how to do mental illness through role modeling. They may also be negatively stroked for healthy thinking and positively stroked for silly or bizarre behaviors. Most often, double-bind messages from parent to child where the child is "damned if s/he does and damned if s/he doesn’t" can foster this injunction
    • Being 'different' is also predominant with children who have this injunction. They think that they cannot be noticed nor loved if they are not different from others in some twisted way.
  • Don't think
    • Children are discouraged from asking questions, wanting to know the world (the early 'what's this' and 'why' questions especially), questioning parents' actions or belief systems. They are discouraged from drawing consequences on their own, their theories about the world are belittled and they are often labeled stupid. Their thoughts are measured by the parents' thoughts, and there is only one 'right' solution or way of thinking. They are not allowed to change their minds. They are often thought-policed, and parents communicate that they have every right to know about all the thoughts in the child's head.
  • Don't feel
    • Feeling and expressions of fear, sadness, anger, guilt, embarrassment, loneliness, happiness, joy, or any other are not allowed.
    • Emotions are judged by parents as 'right' and 'wrong', emotional invalidation is predominant.
    • Learning to emotionally "Numb Out" creates physical, emotional and psychological safety
In addition, there is the so-called episcript: "You should (or deserve to) have this happen in your life, so it doesn't have to happen to me." (Magical thinking on the part of the parent(s).)


Against these, a child is often told other things he or she must do. There is debate as to whether there are five or six of these 'drivers':
The basic notion of these drivers is the assumption that you will be 'OK' as long as you let on one or more of the following drivers drive your life. If you stop living your life based on these, you will lose the love of your parents (and all other people in the world), you will not be able to function and you will cease to exist.
  • Please me/others!
    • You exist to serve (your parents) others, and others only. Your needs and desires have to be nonexistent. Other people's happiness are way more important than yours. If others are unhappy, or they did not reassure you that you made them happy, you have failed. You have to perform others' requests without critique and without any hesitation. You don't have the right to say no. You should feed others but you cannot eat, you should make others feel comfortable, but you cannot rest, you have to please others, but you cannot let yourself to be happy. You mustn't pay attention to yourself, nor let anyone do it for you. You have to be like a candle: provide light and warmth for others while consuming yourself. Die in cancer.
  • Be perfect!
    • You have to be perfect. If you achieve only 99%, it is the same as if you were doing nothing, and you are worthless. If you fail, or you miss a minor detail, you cease to exist. You have to be absolutely precise in everything: work, behavior, body, choice of words, sexual life, you even have to have fun and relax perfectly. You always have to win at everything.
  • Be Strong!
    • You have to be strong all the time. There is no time to feel anything or to express your emotions. You mustn't have any emotions at all, they are for the weak, the worthless. If you ever dare to feel anything, you are forbidden to show them. You must have the perfect poker face ever, at all times. You cannot be weak, you cannot be human. You must be invulnerable, and put up with everything other people cannot put up with. You have to refuse help.
  • Try Hard!
    • Life is hard, life is a constant battle. Try. Try hard. Try harder. You cannot refuse requests. You must always get better and do more. Do everything, and even more to reach the goals and finish projects, but always stop before the end. Never finish anything in your life. You can become terminally ill, you can go crazy, you can destroy your own relationships, you can choose tasks that you are unable to complete, you can forget what you were doing, but you must never finish.
  • Hurry Up!
    • You mustn't be lazy, you cannot take your time. You cannot focus on a task. You don't have time for anything, you mustn't rest, you always have to carry on and move forward. Thinking about things, looking at them from different angles or contemplating over them is a waste of time. You have to be able to do multiple things at once, and you must be ready with everything by yesterday. So much to do, so little time.
  • Be Careful! (in dispute)
Thus in creating his script, a child will often attempt to juggle these, example: "It's okay for me to go on living (ignore don't exist) so long as I try hard".

In the next post I will describe a few 'mantras' that you can practice telling yourself to help countering these injunctions and drivers. However, I also recommend seeking a therapist (I am not one of them).

The first transition from Jekyll to Hide

I clearly remember the day. It was the very first day when I was allowed to take the bus and go home alone, instead of one of my parents picking me up after school. The first day when I had my own keys to the apartment. And the first day when I had a friend. I was 12.

She was a cheerful girl, full of life, and suprisingly, she lived only a few blocks away. She was new in class, and for some reason, she sat next to me and started talking to me (it was a new experience for me, but I'll write later about my failures in making friends). When the schoolday ended, she still kept on talking to me, and I was happy. For the first time, I felt hope, hope that someone will be my friend.

She suggested that before taking the bus together and going home, we would walk a few blocks and have ice cream. I was more than happy. Going somewhere, even for a few blocks, on foot, unsupervised by my parents, with a friend, and eating yummy ice cream - it was Heaven. We went there, ate it, and then we went home.

I have stepped into the apartment, head still in the clouds... and what awaited me there was Hell. Pure Hell. The only thing I remember is NM screaming in my face, that they were worried about me because I didn't get home at 4PM when I told them to, but a bit later. That they have already called the police. That they, and especially she has lost all trust in me, forever. That I have done irrevocable damage to our relationship between me and my parents. That they could never ever see me as they did before. That what I have done is unforgivable.

And that the girl, my friend, she has a very bad influence on me, that I just wait and see until she will drag me down to "her level", that she is "no good" for me. That she won't be as a perfectionist in studying as I was. And that I will suffer, unbearably, if I will try to continue being friends with her. That on the very first day, NM already saw that she will be trouble for me.

EF just stood there, and said that he was also worried, and looked a bit angry.

I was confused and sad, beyond imagination. Before that, everything I did was perfect (I guess I was the Golden Child back then). And now, I was the scapegoat. I didn't understand why my first attempts at getting friends and being happy with them infuriated NM so much. I didn't understand why does happiness come with such a price. I felt that I had the obligation to choose. Between my parents' love, and my own happiness.

But I hoped. I still hoped that what NM told about my future with my new friend was not true. That NM would accept our friendship. She constantly cursed my friend behind her back, to me. And I tried to protect her.

After a while my friend got fed up that my NM constantly gave her "the looks". Then she began to mock me, just like all the others in class, for my clothes, my hair. And then she abandoned me, for another. They became friends. She left this other girl after a year also. And the "other girl" and me became close friends for several years. But this is another story. After she abandoned my friendship, I thought that after all everything NM said in the first place was true. That she somehow had the powers to predict the future. That it was a proof that she was perfect in every sense and that she was always right. Obviously after the girl left me, there was never a day, when I didn't hear these from NM. I was 13. Convinced that I should trust no-one. Convinced that NM was God. Convinced that the only friend I would ever need was NM and no-one else.

When I think back on that day, when I went home happy, and instead of getting support and shared happiness, I only got punished, I only received distrust, hate and anger... I still feel that pain.

It was the first day NM openly turned from Jekyll to Hide. Little did I know that there was more of this to come...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Coffee with EF

I love EF. I love talking to him, I love his company. I know he also loves me. I have tons of amazing memories with him together. Memories about talking, being close, generally having a great time, and NM lurking over us, like the Sword of Damocles waiting to strike. She either tortured me or him (only verbally, of course), or she only said her usual poisonous words: "You are plotting something against me." "I know that you both hate me." "I am sure I am not welcome here."

Over decades, NM installed fear in us. The fear of talking to each other when she knows about it, the fear of vengeance and retribution.

I have been planning this for a week. I needed one week to be able to talk to him at all (there was a very ugly incident with NM two weeks ago, and he was there, staying out of it as usual, but that's a different story), and then I have got myself together and proposed having coffee somewhere in town. He accepted it.

As the day approached, I was both extremely happy, and terrified. And I was wondering whether he would be himself (his true identity), or the co-narcissistic self (where he protects NM over everything else and tries to convince me of lying down to her, so that he wouldn't get tortured by her even more).

He was himself. We had a great time together, and talked, just as we always did, when NM wasn't around. When we arrived home (remember, they are my neighbors), he reverted into his co-narcissistic self.

He told me that his situation is quite unbearable with NM, since I haven't visited for weeks, and she is punishing him for it. He tried to convince me that I "have to" be smarter than NM, meaning that I should give in. That I should talk to her "just for a few minutes" (these usually last hours). That I have to this, and have to that.

And finally, I stood up to myself, while knowing that this will result in him being in further pain (and me being in pain because NM is purposefully hurting someone I love, she knows that this is one of my buttons she can push). I have told him, that I am an adult, and there is nothing that I have to do. I can decide to do or not to do things, but I don't have to. I have also told him to stand up for himself. I have explained, that I will not tolerate anything from NM that I find unacceptable. That I am absolutely not willing to be alone with her, even not for one single minute. And I have also emphasized, that if she dares to do anything, ANYTHING to my future children, I will go NC immediately. I told him that as long as she is able to act human, I will contact her also, sometimes.

I have emphasized again that I loved him, I loved talking to him, and wished to keep in touch with him no matter what NM does.

I know, that this wasn't nearly as difficult as standing up to NM will be, but it still exhausted me emotionally. And I am proud of myself now.

Hair issues

My NM was always (and still is) preoccupied with how I look. My clothes, my weight, my hair, my posture, my facial expressions. She always controlled every inch of my body, to project the perfect image of me - to others. If I was less then perfect for her, or - God forgive - had my own ideas or taste about how I wanted to look like, she blew up, and I was showered with hate, disgust and rage.

My NM was always obsessed with my hair - of course when I didn't wear it the way she wanted.
When I did so - back in elementary school, in very weird-looking old fashioned pigtails - I was constantly ridiculed by my classmates, they called me names (you look like a goat), etc. I have always considered myself disgusting when I had to wear my hear the way she wanted. Whenever I tried to let my hair down - I liked it that way, and I had beautiful golden brown hair, she became furious and started pulling my hair, screaming in my face that I looked like a whore. I was still a child. As a result, after that incident, she always pulled my hair back so hard when making my hair (I wasn't allowed to do it on my own), that it hurt even after a day has passed.

Once, my Darling Grandmother (DGM) (father's mother) took me to the hairdresser, and she cut my long hair, to a stylish short one. I was 12. She was screaming at both of us and stopped talking to my grandmother for months, and called her irresponsible.

In college, I have decided to dye my hair. She approved it as long as it was blonde (she dyed hers blonde as well). But I have realized, that I hated that color, and I went for black. And she made my life a living hell, where constant criticism was the best part.

When I have planned to buy my own apartment at the age of 24, she told me that with a hairstyle like that (it was black with red streaks, and everyone loved it on me, even my boss and colleagues), I don't deserve to live in my own apartment. And, as usual, that I looked like a whore, since only whores wear black or red. (she is all fluffy pink, all the time)

Nowadays, when I wear my hair in a ponytail for some reason (weather too hot, etc), and look in the mirror, I am disgusted of myself, and feel like throwing up.

Whenever we meet in person, she always, ALWAYS has to comment on my hair, its color, the way I wear it, and of course with so much hatred, that I start to feel dizzy.

I have tried to explain (I know now, a big NO with NPDs) that I never ever commented on her hair, and I have never tried to persuade her to dye it or wear it in any other way she does, I wouldn't do it even if she asked. But of course, in her case, it is different. She only wants good for me. She only points out the flaws I have that can make my life more difficult, or make me even less acceptable. Or the other way round, that I only do it to make her unhappy. To show her how I don't value and respect her feelings.

It starts

I would like to greet you all here with love.

It was a bit more than a year ago, when I have realized that my mother is a Narcissist. I have escaped from a destructive relationship just before that and was desperate to search for answers, any answer. And - ironically - it was my mother who drew my attention to the term 'narcissism'.

I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and I have realized that my ex-narc boyfriend (EXNB), with whom I have been living together for almost 4 years was a textbook narcissist. It was shocking, frightening, I have to admit that I was terrified to death, but also in some way relieving. I have slowly began to understand what has happened to me during those years. I am sure, I will write more about this also.

And after a few months of being obsessed about learning everything I could about NPD, I have stumbled upon the article that I guess almost all ACON bloggers know now: Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers. The room started to turn around me, and I have felt that the world I seemed to know was falling into pieces with only a gaping black void to remain. And I have learned that day, that my mother was a malignant narcissist.

I have sent the article to my Enabler Father (EF), whom I have always loved and adored, but who has never protected me from the unbearable verbal assaults that my mother showered me with. He deliberately did not answer. I have brought it up in a conversation with him the next day, and he wooshed the topic away, as if I have told him that I had a faerie dragon living in my closet. And since I still trusted his judgement blindly, I have tried to make myself forget the whole thing. It was less painful anyway, to hide the truth from myself. I was way too an expert in that, anyway.

And slowly, it all creeped back into my mind, I have started reading blogs, and here I am, trying to share my own experiences and thoughts in hope that it might help you. And that you do not feel alone.

I am still in contact with my Family of Origin (FOO), one reason being my cultural background, where family ties are strongly valued. Another reason being that I am their next-door neighbor (which is another 'nice' story).

More to come, soon.


I am not a mental health professional, nor a medical expert. I have my deeply personal experiences regarding NPD, and I am happy to share all that I have read, heard or experienced, to help others who are walking in the same shoes.

I wish to remain anonymous. If you happen to know me IRL, or you think you know me, please do not reveal my identity. I intend my posts to be open and honest, and the only way I can do it is by not using any real names.

Comments whether agreeing or disagreeing are welcome. I am interested in your thoughts, opinions and experiences. However, trolling, inappropriate or rude comments are not welcome and will be deleted.