06/24/2012 § Leave a comment
When I was 18 years old, I looked at my life and saw a great affliction in the center of it. I made a Vow to myself to heal it, no matter what it took.
When I was 32, I weathered an incident in which a sibling exploited weaknesses from my still-great affliction, leaving me in a situation of danger that persists today. I renewed the Vow to heal myself no matter what, and doubled my efforts.
I am about to become 57. In the past year, twenty-five since my second “Sacred Vow,” I discovered what this great affliction is in the center of my heart, my life, my being.
I won’t waste time here describing how I came to discover all this; when I was less than 3 years-old, my mother pointed her finger at me after she made the most minor of mistakes; let’s say she left the milk out overnight; and told the family I did it. She did this to hide herself from the scrutiny of anyone about anything whatsoever. She got away with it, then she did it again. And again. Soon, my siblings, all younger than me, saw right through her, and also pinned their errors on me. She didn’t stop them, so the message was that it was okay, that I deserved it. But the deal was, we all had to pretend nothing happened and we never ever talked about it.
It was like she opened Pandora’s Box, and a million Furies were released, and they all stuck to me. No one else minded or noticed. Scapegoating me in this way opened me up to being scapegoated by other groups; school classes, Boy Scouts, work crews. I struggled with Depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, being especially clumsy and forgetful, the poverty of not being able to hold a job, shame about my volcanic anger– so like my father’s–, and being rejected by girls.
The best thing about definitively knowing about all this is that now I can tell people how bad it has been, and they get it. But I don’t usually tell anybody. The true weight of it overwhelms people; yet to me, knowing the weight is liberating. It may be bigger than a breadbox but it’s definitely smaller than infinity.
I only found out about this recently, after I came to realize about a year ago that my mother was a Narcissist, and let it sink into my head for a whole year. It seemed in poor character for me to blame my troubles on her and “make her” mentally unfit (by indentifying her this way), but then, the son of a Narcissist would think just that. It was when I came to understand how jealously she guarded her secrets that I realized that I was her decoy, and that I had been very effective at it. I’ve shut out all communication with my mother and siblings for 9 years now, ever since my parent’s 50th Anniversary which I decided not to go to because they were all so eager to provoke me. I’ve written each of them literally dozens of letters and deleted each and every one on consideration. It is totally unlike me to give any one– especially loved ones– the silent treatment, but at the end of the day, I’m less responsible for being misunderstood if I don’t say anything!
Growing up, I used to entreat parents and siblings now and again to help me get out of the rut I was in, not knowing they were deeply responsible for it. My brother always answered, “What, you think you’re different from everyone else?” I never could answer him, and was always silenced by his hidden anger. Today, I think a good answer would be, “I don’t know and I don’t care!” Yes, I was different from everyone that I was in direct contact with, and he knew it. Nowadays, he occasionally writes me letters asking me to renew contact, but he still won’t admit his complicity and hostility. Even in complete exile, its easier for them to blame me than to face the reality of the violent, dysfunctional family we were born into.
I believe that I have a higher capacity for empathy than normal, and that my mother and at least one of sibling have less-than-normal empathic capacity. This is the reason the whole savage blame cycle exists between me and them at all; my sensitivity versus their lack thereof. It made me a target, yet also enabled me to survive.
At the end of the day, I’ve survived a singular ordeal that I don’t think is less hard than more dramatic life-challenges that we hear about in the news and the grapevine. Now that I know the breadth and meaning of my ordeal, my self-confidence is slowly rising. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else in the world’s! Being my family’s “Eaten One” has given me an undeniable perspective on our society’s cruelty and dysfunction; I never wanted to fit into a society that would do this to people like me, so finding a means and livelihood to live a “normal” life that doesn’t exploit others has been crucial yet frustrating. Now, I am slowly forging an industry for myself that I can live with as a teacher, a painter, and American ex-pat in Japan.
Pleased to meet you!
Funabashi, Japan, 2012