Self-Forgiveness

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
The choices are to stop and leave, or to continue and be censored.
You were posting re: the removal of yesterday's first post.

I would feel confused, too ~ would feel I had inadvertently posted something inappropriate. Without explanation as to why the post had been removed or censored, there would be no way for me to know how to avoid repeating the offense in future.

That is the scary thing.

How can we not repeat the offense, if we don't know what it was.

It's like being a little kid again, trying to figure out the rules without a way to do it.

Nonetheless, there is a lesson for all of us here, Copa. Just as Daphne's intent in posting was to harm Serenity, but turned instead into an opportunity for healing, so we too have been given an opportunity to examine the way we are seeing and to choose whose eyes we will see through to define ourselves and our situations.

Your intention was not to offend, Copa. Whatever the reason the post was removed, it is your intention in posting that matters, for you. Your intention was a good and correct and honorable thing, Copa.

Nothing more is required.

Your intention was to share information you had searched for and found meaningful in your quest for forgiveness and self reclamation.

In other words, yours was a caring and generous act.

What more is there to say or to think about this, Copa?

Another alternative, still: Ask a question. Which were the standards offended, that the post was taken down? Let it be nothing personal to you, or to me or Serenity or the moderator, Copa. Choose a culture of guilt, where right and wrong and expiation are clear, over the cultures of burgeoning shame we each were brought up in.

It all fits together, Copa.

Just as it did, in Joseph's story that you posted for us here.

Would we have reviewed the lessons there again, learning more each time, had the post not been removed?

Or, would we have missed the essential lesson in it, altogether?

Joseph was cleansed of the instinctual need to choose either shame or guilt, in the way he understood the why of his situation.

That is the lesson.

***

I am becoming less and less angry about family of origin shunning and behavior in general (those worms) since yesterday's discussion on guilt and shame cultures, and forgiveness.

I am carrying resentment over having grown up accusing myself. I cannot place responsibility for how it was I came to do that. I cannot blame anyone else (darn it) for the way I chose to see and believe myself to be.

In a shame culture at its best, standards of personal behavior would be higher than in a guilt culture. In a shame culture at its most dysfunctional, there will be shunning, done more to keep the culture safe than to hurt the shunned one.

So I am trying to figure out who to blame. Rottenly enough, being that I am the only one who can determine how I define myself, it looks like I am the one to blame.

And I would certainly prefer that the bad guy here not turn out to be me.

But I am the one doing the thinking and labeling and believing myself into less than. The issue revolves, not so much about why I did that then, as why do I live through roles, now. How did I shame myself. What was my crime. Was expiation impossible, given that the definition of what was an act meriting punishment was forever a changeable thing...is that the why behind the creation of a shame based core self?

If we come to hate and disparage ourselves without requiring proof for why that should be, at least then we can make sense of why our adults in our lives do what they do. We gain what control there is to be taken in a forever chaotic situation where the rules seem to be that whatever we did somehow was either not enough, or was wrong altogether.

So, that's how it started, then, this business of blaming ourselves, and the shame attending that self concept. Since we could not name exactly where we went wrong, we could not name and limit and make expiation for, the sin apparently committed. Yet, in that the parent was on a wild rampage, we must have done whatever it was, or why would they be taking it out on us

Boom.

Global shame.

My mother: "Just don't think, Cedar."

I'm must have been thinking pretty well then, for her to have said that.

Good for me.

On to the sibs. Those we were somehow supposed to protect, not just because they were littler than we were...but because to us, seeing ourelves through what we could figure out about the abuser's concept of us as the bad guy, no matter how hard we tried not to offend...the sibs are innocent in a way we are not?

That would explain why I was forever excusing whatever my sister did, until she hurt my child and I snapped out of it.

There is something here about how we see and are seen by, our sibs. Something about defining ourselves through shame in relation to them that accounts for their feelings of entitlement, and for their senses of betrayal when we declare entitlement for them null and void.

***

Something here to do with those internal conversations a battered child had with herself regarding the mother she loved and feared and found less than perfect, and with the siblings she could not protect.

So, doubly damned.

Who is the bad guy here. If the mother's intention was good (as of course it instinctually was) then who is the bad guy here for condemning her for something she could not help.

Who is the guy in control of how I think about me...and in how I think about her and ~ oh oh.

I am still trying to figure out how to blame someone else for that.

It isn't going well.

I am the only one who can define me, to myself.

For heaven's sake.

***

Oh, that Joseph! Forgiving his having been sold, forgiving his having been enslaved, proceeding through his life as though whatever someone else believed had nothing to do with him.

roar

What an excellent choice Joseph's story was for us, Copa. It was perfect. I am sorry it was taken down. I had to find it online to read it again for my healing. Thank you for posting identifying reference information further down in our thread.

Rather we lose part of our best selves.
I have been thinking about that. Shame based core has been a terrible thing. Living automatic roles precludes presence. On the other hand, Cedar reminds herself, still trying to figure out how the way she sees herself could be blamed on someone else, the choice of role over real had to have been devised as a survival mechanism in the first place.

Babies are innocent.

So, we are damaged, not defective.

Cedar sails away on that one for awhile, blame banners at last flying high. Eventually, Cedar's craft bumps rudely ashore.

Rats.

I feel like the eunuch in the sultan's court. All devious, and with my eyebrows plucked.

Cedar leaps to the shore, planting her flag on whatever the territory is that has been regained.

Resolving, in future, to grow our eyebrows back and be eunuchs no more, on we go.

And just to clarify a point, there will be no more painting on of eyebrows in future, either.

Whatever browline we have will be just fine with us.

But we do choose to love and honor the eunuch. It was her great navigational skills that got us safely to here.

She can be retired with full honors to a beautiful land where precious teas are drunk from bone china cups and wear her eyebrows, secure in our affection, any way she chooses.

***

So. The essential harm, not just for the children, but for every member of the strongly dysfunctional family, is the assumption of roles; roles were required to figure out how to protect the core self in chaotic environments where the rules are never the same two days in a row.

As we are not present when we are in a role, we are not vulnerable. Behaviors and, more importantly, punishments are clear, when we are in our roles. I am thinking here that this is why, if we have been jerked out of sleep as children by an enraged abuser, part of the trauma there is that we do not have role protection when first awakened.

I wonder if every traumatic event we carry into our adulthoods has to do with times role protection didn't work. Times when, whatever role we believed had finally established a way to understand the rules of engagement, chaos erupted anyway. For us, chaos would have been less that the mother was behaving in a chaotic manner than that we could not make sense of why she was doing it, this time.

Safety, for us, was in knowing the why behind the mother's actions, so we would not break that particular set of rules in future. That is how we protected ourselves, back when we were little kids and had zero control over our environments.

Here is the thing. Our abusers were not abusing from sane minds. Though abusive episodes felt to us like something we should have been able to prevent by following the rules, the abuser was actually abusing out of a sense of rage having nothing to do with us.

But we didn't know that, then.

We could not be Joseph until we had come to terms with having been betrayed.

And until we could stop blaming ourselves or anyone else for our enslavement.

We survived; we won. This is the taste of success, that we are safe enough now to choose vulnerable, to choose real.

As little kids, we were still trying to figure out how to make our brothers (and our fathers) like us well enough not to sell us into slavery in the first place.

Back to the taste of the trauma in those middle of the night awakenings.

That we were not role protected in our sleep is why we remember those traumatic events that occurred in the night with such clarity.

No role to react from as a way of understanding why we are guilty, in a severely dysfunctional family, means the core self is unprotected. No role when, in our adulthoods our children are troubled and our families are falling apart leaves us vulnerable to our families of origin, too. That is why I believe my family of origin to have attacked because we were vulnerable. In fact, they always attacked. I just didn't hear them until the role "perfect mom" fell apart.

Back to how all this started.

We go into our lives afraid of sleeping; afraid to relax or to let down our guard because we have been traumatized when, falling into a child's total sleep, we let our guards down as children. Here is an example: So, when I was eight or nine, my mom pulled me out of sleep roaring about how I had not washed the dinner table well enough. So, whatever happened first, what I remember is sitting in the chair she insisted I sit in and stay awake in and consider my crime of not having washed the table well enough in while she roared on about whatever else it was, that night.

My strongest memory, the clearest thing I know about that time is that when, slipping back into sleep even with my mother roaring away about whatever it was, I put my head down on my arms.

And sure enough. I could smell the scent of maple syrup.

My mother was right.

I had not cleaned the table well.

Serenity has those middle of the night awakenings to a mother roaring on about something, too.

I think that is why we remember those times. We were sleeping. We were not role protected.

That is why we remember. There are other, dramatically more traumatic memories of abuse in my childhood. Though this memory carries no traumatic punch comparable to those, I have never forgotten realizing that this time, my mother was right.

Maybe, that is why I feel disturbed when things are not perfectly in order, today.

Drawers would be dumped out in my family of origin, too.

I am forever aware of it if things are not in perfect order in a drawer or a closet, not just in my home, but anywhere, to this day.

That could be why.

To be messy is dangerous. Not so much because of what the mother will do, but because we will judge ourselves harshly ~ will blame ourselves for everything the mother does (including hurting our sibs) and accuse ourselves because we were not perfect.

If, on the other hand, we can review the situation and find our behaviors were the best we knew, then we have done all we could have.

If we have been perfect, we do not accuse ourselves. We may not be able to figure out why the abuser did what they did, but we know it was nothing we did on purpose.

In real, which is messy (real boats rock), there is relaxation and playfulness and joy. But without the protection the role offers, without the protection of perfectionism, we open ourselves to the possibility of self condemnation.

This is why we do not relax, especially in the night.

***

I mean, there is a pleasure in an orderly home. This goes beyond that. Again, a matter of degree; a matter of flexibility, and a question of whose are the eyes are we seeing ourselves through.

***

Instead of trusting that we are enough in ourselves, that life is a safe enough thing that vulnerability (or joy) in the present moment can be our first choice, we have learned to defend; have learned it is best to put a spacer between what is and ourselves.

This is how we learned to defend the shattered core of self. The roles acceptable to our abusers required varying degrees of self betrayal, but guaranteed a way to learn a kind of map of survival, the most basic instinct of all. So, we sold ourselves out. Which was the right thing to do, because we did survive some pretty freaking harrowing childhoods.

***

It is a very hard thing to let go of the safety of a role. The more deeply and consistently we have been betrayed, the scarier it is to come real ~ to not erect that little spacer the role provides.

The answer to the scariness of choosing real is in Brene Brown's or Eckhart Tolle's "Sit with the feelings. There is nothing you need to do."

How does Eckhart phrase it. Something about the pain body dissolving in the simple fact, in the power of, our Presence.

That is what Joseph did.

Again, though role assumption is a form of enslavement to the needs of the abuser (in the same way that Joseph was sold), we are the ones who did the enslaving. We did it to keep us safe, to keep the core self safe, in chaotic environments where true safety did not exist.

Where safety wasn't even a concept we could regret losing, because we never had it.

Here is an analogy:

A bride walking down the aisle. That is a form of a role. It is a question of flexibility again, then. How real is the bride to herself as, veiled and with her father at her side, she walks past her friends and her family toward her mate? Which aspect, out of everything that walk symbolizes, is the bride living?

Or a President, at his first Inaugural Ball?

How real are we to ourselves here, as we symbolically walk this aisle we have decided to take?

Are we wearing a grandmother's gown, or a mother's wedding dress, or have we chosen our own?

Or are we choosing the ugliness, and the vulnerability, of naked.

Until we are healed enough to understand where we are real and where we are role, we will be choosing a gown representing hope.

We are doing well, then.

Good.

At the end, with the mate's kiss, the gown no longer matters. It's your imagery of Sleeping Beauty Copa, and the kiss that awakens the sleeping princess and changes and awakens and enlivens all things. With the princess' decision to allow the vulnerability of love, not for the prince, who she doesn't even know yet because she slept through it, but of love for herself. Of real, scary as that is, over role. The birds sing, the barrier of thorns protecting the sleeping princess for hundreds of years falls away.

The princess awakens.

Cedar


One more question.

Why have I chosen role over real as an adult.

Well okay, so that would be the shame based core developed because, when one is just a little kid, one cannot accuse the abusive adult mother of meeting her responsibilities to her children inadequately.

:O)

That is a kind of a sick joke that only those abused in their childhood's will get.

But to us, it will seem hilarious, because of the horror at the heart of it.

Anyway.

A child cannot survive without its parent; we must believe that, whatever it looks like to us when we are little kids, the parent knows what she is doing.

Well, our parents didn't know. When I would go all sanctimonious role and say I believed my mother loved me, I was choosing a gown of hope. But what if the literal truth is that my mother was scared to death in the night, too? What if she too required witness and I was the only one there?

***

As adults whose choice of role (again, a matter of degree ~ we all function through role choice on some level) has goes down in flames, all roles come to seem to us dishonest choices.

We let them go. We become present to the moment we are in, figuring things out as we live them.

Good for us, then.

On we go.

So, this part of our healing then has to do with coming honestly into self possession.

This is not an easy thing. Again, the parable of Joseph comes into play. The brothers, still living through their roles, and so, living in fear instead of flexible.

I get you now Copa, in your assessment of why Joseph was crying.

It's a matter of degree. I'm thinking again of Serenity's post on flexibility being the rule in healthy families versus role rigidity in dysfunctional families.
 

ForeverSpring

Well-Known Member
Serenity has those middle of the night awakenings to a mother roaring on about something, too.
Yes, Cedar. She used to wake me up for no reason other than to scream at me about something that had happened weeks ago that had allegedly been resolved and forgotten. When I dream about her now, every dream is a nightmare, I am always a little girl in the dream (or a teenager) and she is always mean to me.

I think I am done playing the blame and shame game. I'm not to blame and I don't feel shame anymore. More regret that I didn't stop playing the sick FOO game of "blame me" earlier. I saw a great quote in a book and I was going to post it here, but I lost my place and can't find where it is now. I can't repeat the quote, but essentially it said, "It doesn't matter why something happened. It happened. Let go of it and move on."

Where I am in my life journey, I really like that and am sort of doing it. We have already analyzed our lives and our FOOs over and over again. I can pretty much figure out where, from my point of view (which in MY healing is all that matters) how anything came about with them. I can move on. I can let it go. I can feel peaceful that I did my main work and will not forget it. I will never again allow that type of dysfunction in my life in any way again.

They cut me off/shunned me is more like it.

I accept being shunned and insist on it now. I have the final say over my own life. They can not come back. Ever. For any reason, including death or dying. Mine or theirs. I've been shunned so often that I like it now...lol. The rest of my life, however long, will be filled only with loved ones. Selfish? I don't care. There is nothing they need from me and I have nothing to give them.

DONE!!!!!!!:winnersmiley: This is how I see myself. I won. I won the right to dictate my own life and define myself. I won the right to live in peace.
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I am coming along Serenity, but I am not where you are just yet. I am with you on not needing to review incidents to change my perspective from that of the abuser abusing me, to me, watching the abuser abuse.

That was scary stuff.

The risk of sealing the traumatic event unchanged in yet another layer of shame is very real, when we begin.

I am coming clear on Copa's assertion that Joseph cried because the brothers remained trapped. But I am still seething away over compassion for the brothers who should have been decent enough to have not sold Joseph into slavery, and am still assigning responsibility for having sold myself into slavery and never getting that family dinner.

Well, okay. So I am not so clear on that part.

Yet.

I don't want to trick myself into family of origin thinking. I think that's what it is. The difference between where you are and where I am, I mean. You are sure. I am still waffling around, wondering whether selling myself out for that family dinner would be the worst thing in the world.

But once we see it, we cannot unsee it. I will come through this part shortly, I think.

Thank you, Serenity.

Cedar
 

runawaybunny

Administrator
Staff member
Know what? I edited one of Copa's posts because it was a copy paste from another site and so was copyright infringement. Who gets to handle the legal take down notices when someone copy/pastes content from another site here? I do. She subsequently deleted some of her own posts I assume because they were also copy pastes.

I didn't edit or delete any other posts. No one was censored.... but whatever.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Thank you, runawaybunny. We wondered whether that was the reason but then, we wondered whether it might have been something else altogether but we didn't know what it was. We thought maybe it was the length of the material quoted but then, that didn't seem right, either. Thank you for posting to us about it. That was kind of you, runawaybunny.

:O)

Cedar
 

runawaybunny

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you, runawaybunny. We wondered whether that was the reason but then, we wondered whether it might have been something else altogether but we didn't know what it was. We thought maybe it was the length of the material quoted but then, that didn't seem right, either. Thank you for posting to us about it. That was kind of you, runawaybunny.

:O)

Cedar
I'm this site's "Designated Agent to Receive Notification of Infringement Claims" registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. If you scroll down to the DMCA sections of our site rules you'll see the info about filing a claim of infringement.

http://www.conductdisorders.com/community/help/terms

If I come across content that has been copy/pasted in its entirety here I am obligated to edit it and add a link back to the originating site.

See the note I added after editing this post: http://www.conductdisorders.com/com...s-a-family-functional-vs-dysfunctional.61027/

To avoid any confusion I should have added it to the other post I edited too, but didn't think about it at the time.
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Thank you again, runawaybunny. I have read the links you included for us. I apologize. It states pretty clearly that decisions to edit are not to be publicly questioned, and I did that.

It will not happen, again.

I had not realized you had edited the earlier post. If we'd gone back and realized other posts had been edited, it would have felt less like we'd done something wrong when this post was edited.

I am very sorry for the misunderstanding on my part.

I hadn't been thinking about copyright infringement either, when I would copy something for one of us. I will beware of that in future.

I really like it that you wrote us back.

:O)

Cedar
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
I didn't edit or delete any other posts. No one was censored.... but whatever.
RB, I am sorry. I did not think about copyright infringement.

Thank you for posting to explain what had happened. It helped to understand.

I removed the other posts because after study, they did not seem so useful.

COPA
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
It's like being a little kid again, trying to figure out the rules without a way to do it.
Yes. Having the perspective of 24 hours and the benefit of your beautiful post, I agree with you: Where some other people have a reservoir of goodwill within them, through which to understand actions by others where intent is unknown...I can react with fear...that I did something wrong...and do not know what.

And you are correct, Cedar, that as of yet, I do not have a dependable practice through which, alone, I can come to see with the eyes and strengths of the adult I am.

For your help, I thank you. I still need help to see that I have a choice of whose eyes I see through.
so we too have been given an opportunity to examine the way we are seeing and to choose whose eyes we will see through to define ourselves and our situations.
It seems this situation is either like the earlier one with Modesta, or I remain still limited in the same way. This time I did not re-act by doing anything. But I folded my tent and left. Because I could only see the situation through a child's eyes: to accept danger or to leave it.
we too have been given an opportunity to examine the way we are seeing and to choose whose eyes we will see through to define ourselves and our situations.
I could not remember that I had decided to stay because I had decided to learn how to respond in a different way. To no longer run away or react the same way. That I had wanted to learn to respond as did Joseph. Viewing as inconsequential any actions of others, as defining him.
Whatever the reason the post was removed, it is your intention in posting that matters, for you.
You well know and said it better than can I: there is a reservoir of shame/guilt ready at hand. The self-definition as bad, undeserving of voice, asking too much. That safety is too much to ask.
In other words, yours was a caring and generous act.

What more is there to say or to think about this, Copa?
See above.
Which were the standards offended, that the post was taken down? Let it be nothing personal to you, or to me or Serenity or the moderator, Copa. Choose a culture of guilt, where right and wrong and expiation are clear, over the cultures of burgeoning shame we each were brought up in.
Cedar, I am willing to accept that there is something in me, a lens through which I am perceiving that I need to understand and to expunge. A growing sense I have of meanness. Of P/C. Of cliques. Of sorority-type convention, and shunning if one breaks the rules.
Rottenly enough, being that I am the only one who can determine how I define myself, it looks like I am the one to blame.
It is not to blame. It is to be responsible. Blame comes from the past. We seek to be responsible.
But I am the one doing the thinking and labeling and believing myself into less than.
Yes. I agree.
Was expiation impossible, given that the definition of what was an act meriting punishment was forever a changeable thing...is that the why behind the creation of a shame based core self?
I think so. Think about my Mother when she targeted my toddler son for her rage because I fell chasing him. And look at the sequence of events. The stressful conversation between her and I. His reacting to the tension by running. My falling while chasing him. My mother blaming my son. Holding him responsible.

How could a baby ever make sense of being targeted with rage....for something so far from his control or understanding, so little proximate to a behavior for which he was responsible. My mother was angry at me...for choices I had made for years, before my son had been born. She put that on him. In all of those times that that happened to the toddler and girls we were, how did we feel about ourselves and our world?

How many countless events resulted in the same self-blame...for things that only could have resulted because we were bad, undeserving children that wanted too much attention, and were too much trouble, or felt so?
We gain what control there is to be taken in a forever chaotic situation where the rules seem to be that whatever we did somehow was either not enough, or was wrong altogether.
Yes.
As little kids, we were still trying to figure out how to make our brothers (and our fathers) like us well enough not to sell us into slavery in the first place.
Yes. In my case foster care.
To be messy is dangerous. Not so much because of what the mother will do, but because we will judge ourselves harshly ~ will blame ourselves for everything the mother does (including hurting our sibs) and accuse ourselves because we were not perfect.
That is why I throw in the towel so easily when cleaning and organizing because I can never and could not ever do it well enough.
I am coming clear on Copa's assertion that Joseph cried because the brothers remained trapped..
I believe Joseph cried for sadness for his brothers, in a way. That they remained trapped in self-limiting ways of thinking. But I think he cried for himself, that he remained without family. That because they could not be different, he was alone. Just as you, Cedar, and I, and Serenity may cry for ourselves.

The example with Daphne fits this perfectly. Serenity was not in the main hurt by Daphne. She was concerned for her sister. That her sister was so worked up and upset that she would act out in this way. She sought to soothe her. To take away that which might inflame her.

And next, Serenity felt loss of her sister. And she re-examined what had transpired prior to their break, to see if there was another way to understand the sequence of events. So that she could have her sister once again. She could not see it differently. But she tried.

Joseph is to be admired (after almost 8000 years, I would guess he is), for his emotional honesty. Like you said, his flexibility. He was naked. Without judgment. Without preconception. He could own reality and himself in it.

I do not think Joseph has compassion for the bad acts of his brothers. He has "understanding" of them, in the sense of the Greek definition of forgiveness which I posted above.

Joseph is able to distinguish between the act and the person. He condemns the sin and loves the sinner. Yuck. I am not there yet.

But the thing is, Cedar, I think we love our sisters. I am enraged at my sister for being such a jerk. For the things she does to me and to others. For her falsity. For her hypocrisy.

The thing is, all this rage and contempt I feel is wasted on her. She feels not one bit of this rage. Who is all contorted and embittered trying to accommodate all of this ambivalence, towards somebody who at heart, I love? Me.

I do not know how to do what Joseph did, either.

But again the event with the removed post is an example. Fear of danger. And the need to protect oneself.

Who wants to feel weak? Or unsafe. Or targeted. Or muzzled. Not wanted. Or ridiculed. Or gossiped about.

Is it not a survival instinct to perceive danger and to respond? Does that not trump all else?

If danger has been the most likely environmental condition...is it not a basic law of survival to perceive its possible arrival? And to respond to it? Proactively.

If your internalized world...is that...danger...what is the most congruent response to an event the causation of which is unknown...when there has been recent, unanticipated danger?

My thinking about whether to continue posting here...was not a purely psychological phenomena....It was based upon recent events, my psychology, and the fact that I have been using this forum to uncover and examine scary things. To entertain the possibility of changing...by opening myself up to risk.

It has to be a rational act to examine and to re-assess whether to continue to do so here...makes sense.

But when I do so, I need to take into account factors in me that I want to change...and how I can responsibly change them...weighed against risks. That is true.
But I am still seething away over compassion for the brothers who should have been decent enough to have not sold Joseph into slavery, and am still assigning responsibility for having sold myself into slavery and never getting that family dinner.
Cedar, I read a book awhile ago. By a Russian Psychologist of almost 100 years ago. I will look for it. I may have mentioned it before. This man says this, more or less: We do not have the capacity until we are about 30 or later to really be people. Everything to this point is programming, by parents and by society and culture. We are like automatons. Like machines. He goes further and says, there is no way we can really know ourselves and to constitute ourselves as conscious beings unless we have a community of fellows, like we have created among the 3 of us. We cannot see ourselves fully alone.

From what you have shared it seems you have been in the process of self-examination since your mid-thirties. You were right on schedule.

The way you and I ended up and everybody else was contingent upon the environment in which we interacted and matured. You can say that we were unlucky. But in ways we were not. Not because anybody was able to give us anything or make it easy. But because we were forced to grow in rocky, marginal soil, with many environmental challenges, and we had to adapt and understand complicated, subtle and confounding things. Most importantly we yearned for better. For more.

How boring it could have been. How dull. How conventional we could have been. Trapped in vanilla goodness (actually, I love vanilla).
I am still waffling around, wondering whether selling myself out for that family dinner would be the worst thing in the world.
Our hope and energy is for our children. With them you are realizing your dinner. It starts as a picnic. Maybe then a buffet. Soon you will pull out your sterling flatware and Limoges to set the table with candles and a Martha Stewart tablescape.

Thank you Cedar.
 

ForeverSpring

Well-Known Member
The example with Daphne fits this perfectly. Serenity was not in the main hurt by Daphne. She was concerned for her sister. That her sister was so worked up and upset that she would act out in this way. She sought to soothe her. To take away that which might inflame her.
Cedar...thank you for your kindness in how you see me. I have not had that often, certainly not in FOO. But that isn't how I saw it, although I was alarmed she would go to that extent. I mostly felt a familiar type of bored apathy .
I should have figured she may do this. And it just made my resolve to make sure this is the final end of our relationship is necessary for ME. And right now, all I really care about in this in myself.
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Cedar...thank you for your kindness in how you see me. I have not had that often, certainly not in FOO.
That was Copa who saw you so beautifully, Serenity.

I wholeheartedly concur.

:O)

But the thing is, Cedar, I think we love our sisters. I am enraged at my sister for being such a jerk. For the things she does to me and to others. For her falsity. For her hypocrisy.
Serenity's sister exposed herself in pursuing Serenity even here. Though our sisters seem not so driven, the patterns of their behaviors toward us are as ~ as coldly, determinedly unkind, I guess. It's spooky, and I wonder what the sisters' mindsets could be, and how they legitimize their behaviors toward us, and whether that was the flavor of our growing up. I was thinking yesterday about the way Serenity's sister seems locked into ~ I don't know. Almost a sense of entitlement in gaslighting Serenity, and in publicly humiliating her. It must have been awful, having the police repeatedly called to her home, knowing which picture had been drawn for them about who Serenity was.

I am still so conflicted about my sister.

***

We do feel weak, or unsafe, or targeted sometimes, Copa.

In response to these feelings, character is formed.

I am reading Brene Brown's Rising Strong. It is about that very thing. About risking and failing and how that hurts and how hard it is to get up off the floor when we've failed. She studies the hurt of that, and the scariness of risking again anyway and that is what we are doing. We are learning to allow vulnerability and to discipline our responses. That's a really hard thing, when we think about the sisters, and about how it might have been for us growing up, and just where did they get the idea it was okay to behave toward us, or to think about us, as they do.

That is a part of why I am so sad, this morning.

What in the world were the rules, in the families we grew up in, that each of the sisters behaves as she does?

How did we ever survive that.

Yes. In my case foster care.
I am sorry, Copa. I did not know.

That is why I throw in the towel so easily when cleaning and organizing because I can never and could not ever do it well enough.
www.flylady.com

That site will take us through anything, Copa. The secret is a timer. We can do anything, stick to anything, for fifteen minutes. Set a timer and do fifteen intense minutes. Wherever you are at the end of fifteen minutes, you are done with that task for that day. She teaches how to pack for trips, how to pack and label for moving, how to organize. How to set up menus and stay motivated. The site is free, and is very funny.

Joseph is able to distinguish between the act and the person. He condemns the sin and loves the sinner. Yuck. I am not there yet.
Yuck, me too.

:O)

It's a question of the harm done me. I am so angry and then, so sad, as I come through this part. It's such an ugly, lonely little story that I hardly know what to do with it.

The essential harm done has to do with external, rather than internal, locus of control. How someone else feels about us can determine how we feel about ourselves. I wonder whether, over time and with concerted effort to reassure ourselves, we will mature into internal locus of control. It seems to me that external locus would be a necessary phase in a child's development. It isn't going to help me to condemn myself for people pleasing. There isn't anything wrong with it, really. A matter of degree, of flexibility, again. We must learn to be okay with pleasing ourselves, as well. I mean, we have to be in there somewhere in some capacity not having to do with everyone else being happy. I will read about internal versus external locus of control. I am not sure whether internal locus of control would be the development of character.

Have I shared this one already, I wonder? It has to do with character development and with the happiness and focus come of it.

http://ed.ted.com/on/G0v14Tg9

I also read The Road to Character. I've forgotten now, who wrote it, but it was very well written, and was a valuable read for me at this time.

I am so totally ready for laughing. This has been a long stretch of hard work.

We need something funny.

***

How does one forgive oneself for having been shunned? I thought bout that one alot last night, when I couldn't sleep. How does one forgive the deceitful ridicule in: "What would Cedar do?" Or the arrogance in: "I walk with the Lord."

I don't know.

roar

I don't know.

If danger has been the most likely environmental condition...is it not a basic law of survival to perceive its possible arrival? And to respond to it? Proactively.
Yes.

But in perceiving attack and to that very degree, we are seeing through our shame bases. We should be able to stay centered, to stay in balance. Like my most recent mom, Dr. Ben Carson. I love the way he stays present, that he doesn't rattle easily, that he isn't arrogant because life is a serious gift and respect is a serious thing for each of us and yet, he is so easily funny, so easy in his skin. This does not mean the decision to fight for ourselves is incorrect. That we do it, that we recognize where we are and respond to it ~ that is a win in itself, for us. It's how we do it; how we guide ourselves through it. Blessed with the intelligence to recognize what is being keyed without being overwhelmed by it...that is the difficult part, for us. Learning to respond easily and well will involve ~ I think it will involve ~ listening for our negative tapes in anxiety-provoking situations. I remember when I first began thinking, "That'll do, pig." I thought it was funny, and it was in a way. As I healed further, I recognized how sad it was that I was saying those words to myself. In a way, I was saying to myself, "Who do you think you are?" Still, it was better than the hateful things running through on those unheard negative tapes.

This process will probably work something like that, too.

We are learning.

Mistakes are just fine. Are beautifully fine things for us to learn from, but never to condemn ourselves with. That would be a good way to begin, I think.

What to do about that shame base....

Well, I don't know. Be aware of it, listen to the tone and the words, if we can get them. Character development figures in here as a guide, maybe. I keep coming back to that phrase. I don't know why that is. Maybe, character formation legitimizes what we are about here in a way clearing the shame base does not. There is something here about having healed enough to begin building, maybe. This is human; this is how it was always supposed to be, in all of our lives. The mercy of true things.

The thing is, all this rage and contempt I feel is wasted on her. She feels not one bit of this rage. Who is all contorted and embittered trying to accommodate all of this ambivalence, towards somebody who at heart, I love? Me.
I think those contorted, ambivalent, bitter feelings may be the energies fueling the shame base. That is the roaring, fiery energy we are using to condemn ourselves until we focus it appropriately. What I have found is that once I do roar on for awhile, the anger is just gone. It's as though I can see where it was. The memory of it holds no charge, all at once.

Beneath, there is the pain, that sort of dull sadness, that is the feel of trauma over time. I have been troubled by those kinds of feelings for two days. I awakened in the night with such sadness, with such a sense of the dull ugliness of it all.

This usually means I am between times.

Healing doesn't mean we get a blaze of energy or everything changes to sparkly. Sometimes, it is this dull feeling of disbelief and sorrow for what it's been, and for everything it wasn't.

Find and focus and free those feelings, Copa. They are the stolen parts of you. They are your energies by right.

Reclaim them.

The sisters have nothing to do with it.

If your internalized world...is that...danger...what is the most congruent response to an event the causation of which is unknown...when there has been recent, unanticipated danger?
Your response was perfect, Copa.

The first triumph, for us, is that response was made. We will arrive at that place where response is perfect, in our own eyes, which will be internal locus of control, in time.

How boring it could have been. How dull. How conventional we could have been. Trapped in vanilla goodness (actually, I love vanilla).
The basis of the anger I feel in the present Copa, is the time wasted. Is the vulnerability, and the pointless fear, in my life; is the bravery squandered mounting defense to family patterns of deceit, and viciousness, and trickery. It is as D H says: What might you have done, had you focused your attention on something other than trying to fit in to your family. They have hurt and weakened and sold me before, Copa.

What hurts me about it now is seeing that they've done it routinely, in every smallest thing.

roar

It would never have been vanilla goodness for us, Copa. They hurt that standard of vanilla goodness into us. We were so sure we were wrong, so sure that what we deserved was what was left.

Did this make us strong, Copa...or were we always strong.

And was our strength squandered, on them.

But again, I am the one who kept looking back.

Like Lot's wife.

***

So, Joseph.

Not some paragon of virtue, but a practical man.

Maybe, he wept for the ugliness of the brothers because at long last, he understood he was nothing like them. Maybe, he finally was able to let go of those fearsome questions having to do with how not to be them, with how not to be like them. Joseph had all the power. He had accomplished beauty for ashes. Yet, he did not require vengeance. That is when he knew.

He was not like them; he did not require vengeance, nor did he harbor bitterness. His gentleness or candor or strength ~ his character, Copa and Serenity ~ these were not matters of circumstance.

He was free.

Perhaps he was weeping in gratitude for that freedom.

Note that it did not come to Joseph until he knew, beyond any smallest doubt, not who they were, but who he was. In letting go of vengeance, in choosing instead to hold faith with himself and his God even after the brothers tried, one last time, to deceive him with the forged letter from the father, Joseph pronounced his own name; pronounced the secret name he named himself, that no one else hears.

That could be a description of internal locus of control, or of certainty of character.

There is a story, I've forgotten the title, but I think it was an Orson Scott Card. In it, those whose destiny it was to be sold into slavery created dolls out of little twists of hair and knots of thread. Naming the twists of thread and hair with their secret names, those to be enslaved passed the threads to an old woman, strangely dressed and waiting, as each was herded toward the auction block. She caught them, every one, and kept them safe, weaving them together into a multicolored ball she hung from the rafters to catch the wind.

The threads carried the enslaved person's rage, and anger, and lust of freedom, and pride, and everything having to do with dignity and soul. One night, the wind rose and rose. Howling through the rafters where the balls of multicolored twists of thread and hair hung from blackened chains, it tore the threads loose. Catching the wind, drawn by the hair woven into the twists, the threads found and re-ensouled those enslaved. Suddenly not able to tolerate lives without freedom or dignity, the enslaved revolted and fought for and won their freedom.

It was some time of adjustment, before those formerly enslaved understood and incorporated their spirits easily and completely, with grace and with confident trust. They had been so long enslaved.

Many did not remember how to be free.

***

This man says this, more or less: We do not have the capacity until we are about 30 or later to really be people. Everything to this point is programming, by parents and by society and culture. We are like automatons. Like machines. He goes further and says, there is no way we can really know ourselves and to constitute ourselves as conscious beings unless we have a community of fellows, like we have created among the 3 of us. We cannot see ourselves fully alone.
Yes, I agree, Copa.

Thank you both, Copa and Serenity. And thank you also to those who created and maintain this site, and who allowed and encouraged the creation of the Family of Origins threads.

We deeply appreciate your having welcomed and supported us, runawaybunny.

Cedar
 

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I mostly felt a familiar type of bored apathy .
As I have a second look at how I believed the relationship between myself and my sibs works, it seems so scary to me. I feel really badly for myself, the more clearly I see what it all looks like, and how it all ties together. I still don't get the win exactly...but if the win has to do with some underlying hatred ~ with some feeling so familiar to me that I had to work this hard to unravel and define it ~ man, I feel badly for myself.

I wish everything about this could have been different, for all of us.

And for everyone reading along too, if things like this are part of your story.

Cedar
 

ForeverSpring

Well-Known Member
It must have been awful, having the police repeatedly called to her home, knowing which picture had been drawn for them about who Serenity was.
If we're truth telling here, I did it back to her sometimes after she did it to me.

"See how it feels."

That's why I said we were locked into a tit for a tat.

I feel very foolish for ever having sunk that low and am embarassed to own it, but I wanted to get back at her for what she did to me. Every time the cops came, I was scared. I don't know how she felt. I was not a threat to call the cops on her unless she did it to me first so she controlled it, but I am still ashamed. I know we are not supposed to be ashamed, but I am. I could have taken a very different tactic. I could have done what I'm doing now.

Nothing. Silence. Shunning? I really needed to shun her way earlier than now. I cared about getting back at her at one time. I admit it. She will never admit sh e liked getting back at me, but she did. She liked to win. Her shun was her win. Our game was sick and destructive to us both. But it's true that she was always the one who came back and I let her in, even after cops and invalidation and knowing she had never stuck up for me to our mother. Yes, I was angry at her at times and, although she has called me a liar, I'm the only one willing to call myself out on what I did. She has never posted on her site, that she no longer can post on, that she just happened to shut me up by repeatedly calling thecops on me, even after I moved out of state. the cop she called repeatedly was a really low blow. He was the father of one of my daughter's closest friends and she told him I was bipolar, which is kind of true (I have a mood disorder not otherwise specified). But she involved my daughter in this. Or could have if he had bought what she was selling. I told him I had a mood disorder without shame (I am not ashamed of it) and he told me that his girlfriend was on an antidepressant. Her attempt to smear me to my community just made HER look bad, but wasn't that nice? Sok her cop calling didn't stop when I moved away from her.

Wonder if she ever called the cops on her abusive boyfriend. Hmmmmmmm....

I was very angry at her when she was unking to me, but I lack the ability to stay angry for long periods of time. I should clarify.

As soon as somebody says "I'm sorry" I am no longer angry. My mother never said it, never thought she had done one thing wrong, although she was wicked in her deed and intent. After all that, if she would have said, "I'm sorry" I would have forgiven her completely. That's how I used to be a nd I still am.

My sister is too sure she is in the right to ever say "I'm sorry." She never said that when she came back. She would say, "Well, it's the holidays. I don't want hard feelings" or "I want you in my life so I studied borderline..." lololol. THANKS! But I let her back in, no matter what her reason.

How would it go this time?

Daphne: "I think we should all put this behind us for dad's sake."

Me: No.

What if s he actually said "I'm sorry?" (Never happen, but I'm fantacizing)

I would say, "I forgive you. But we need to stay apart forever."

That's where I have changed. I am angry that I was ever angry enough at her to be drawn into her revenge games. I am angry at me that it took so long for me to totally get it and bow out. I am angry I wasted any time interacting with her when I knew where it would end up.

I planned an 85th birthday party for my dad and, at the very last minute, our landlord told us he was moving back to the house we lived in that weekend, making us need to find a new place to live right away. (We did not know tenant rights/laws). So I thought we couldn't go to Chicago because we had to look for a new place to live STAT, and that turned into a huge "You were horrible to Dad thing." Sister e-mailed me that brother had canceled his flight. She claims she never sent the e-mail. Whatever. There was no reason to cancel the party because of me not being able to come in. My brother had not canceled his flight and was there. My sister was there. My kids and her kids would have been there. I would have sent a gift and apologies, but we were not in a position to take even two days off to show up. More happened. This was when I started to see just how scapegoated I was. Even my dad got into the act there. If this had happened now, I just would have not gotten back to anyone until they were calm and nice. And if that didn't happen...not my circus, not my monkeys.

But I would never have planned a party, thinking my family could be functional if one quirk popped up. It wouldn't happen again.

I learned so much with you two. One is how to kindly love people even if we hate what they did.

"Love the sinner, hate the sin."

I guess I'm there because I'm in serious apathy. I hope nothing happens to my siblings. I never want to interact with either again for any reason.

I was not blameless. I am sorry, truly sorry and regretful, for anything I ever did to fight back or to hurt them in any way.

I will never hear that from them as they don't think THEY did anything wrong to me. It is 100% me. That's how they think in my FOO.

F my FOO. I don't need them. I am building my own support system with my Peer-to-Peer class and my group therapy friends. All us, as sis would say, crazy ladies who live cleaner, saner lives than her drinking, goofy friends...lol. Was that a nasty cut?

You decide ;)

Thanks for being there, both of you. You may be my best friends of all.
 
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Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I feel very foolish for ever having sunk that low and am embarassed to own it, but I wanted to get back at her for what she did to me. Every time the cops came, I was scared. I don't know how she felt. I was not a threat to call the cops on her unless she did it to me first so she controlled it, but I am still ashamed. I know we are not supposed to be ashamed, but I am. I could have taken a very different tactic. I could have done what I'm doing now.
I am proud you did that.

You might not choose it today, but ~ I mean, what are we supposed to do. The situations get ugly so fast and it always feels like we never knew what hit us. I am thinking about daughter's response to my sister, and how perfect and so clever of her that was. And then, once she knew my sister had seen it, she took it down.

Classy, but taking no s***.

But she involved my daughter in this.
This is such a horrible thing, that she did this.

But she involved my daughter in this. Or could have if he had bought what she was selling. I told him I had a mood disorder without shame (I am not ashamed of it) and he told me that his girlfriend was on an antidepressant. Her attempt to smear me to my community just made HER look bad, but wasn't that nice? Sok her cop calling didn't stop when I moved away from her.
You handled it well.

But how awful to have been put in that situation.

I feel badly for you, Serenity.

And as far as tit for tat...I never fought back, and look where it got me.

Shunned, again.
"I want you in my life so I studied borderline..."
Oh, roar.

Gaslighting. What in the world is the matter with our sisters. Why is she so determined to name you something?

Sister e-mailed me that brother had canceled his flight. She claims she never sent the e-mail.
My sister does things like that.

I planned an 85th birthday party for my dad and, at the very last minute, our landlord told us he was moving back to the house we lived in that weekend, making us need to find a new place to live right away
That took priority.

No question.

I learned so much with you two. One is how to kindly love people even if we hate what they did.
Today I hate my sister, that worm.

Thanks for being there, both of you. You may be my best friends of all.
Thank you, Serenity.

I feel the same about you and Copa.

Cedar
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
We do feel weak, or unsafe, or targeted sometimes, Copa.
Yes.
About risking and failing and how that hurts and how hard it is to get up off the floor when we've failed.
I think that is what I am dealing with. These past 3 years, however valiant I may have been, and however much I may have done the right thing, I was defeated by it. I did not have the capacity to endure what I endured. I was felled and could not get up.

However much we may not define it as a failure, it feels to me that I failed. I no longer "worked" anymore.
just where did they get the idea it was okay to behave toward us, or to think about us, as they do.
From their mothers.
What in the world were the rules, in the families we grew up in, that each of the sisters behaves as she does?
That there was open season on the oldest girl child.
locus of control. How someone else feels about us can determine how we feel about ourselves.
Yes. I am trying and trying to understand why when we are attacked, we continue to blame ourselves. Even when we know we were innocent. Like me with Modesta and Admina. I felt guilty as charged, regardless of what was said. That, I carry in me. That is how we can understand what is happening, but because we are flooded with shame, we feel we must have done wrong. It is a repetition of events that have occurred many, many times before.
I also read The Road to Character. I've forgotten now, who wrote it
David Brooks. On realclearpolitics.com there is a long editorial he wrote for NY Times. The title is something like A Formation Story for Joe Biden? Interesting.
"What would Cedar do?" Or the arrogance in: "I walk with the Lord."
I have mentioned that my sister mid way in her life began 12 step groups beginning with Overeaters Anonymous, and later AA, and began to define herself as a Recovering Alcoholic. The thing was, she did not drink to excess. Of course everybody gets to define themselves to a point. But 2 glasses of wine a few days a week, is not your typical alcoholic.

She is not alone in needing to develop or responding to a narrative of recovery and redemption. But there really was an aspect of "I walk with the Lord." She became a sponsor, gave speeches about her rise from the gutter to the heights. I mean, now that I think about it, there is a quality like Rachel Dolezal the woman who headed the Spokane, Wash NAACP who was unmasked as a white woman living and describing herself as Black in a web of lies. My sister does not lie about her biography, but there is still an aspect of artifice in her need to create this story of triumph from degradation.
Someday I will tell you my own concerns about my own story.
"Who do you think you are?"
If I had a tattoo on my forehead it would say this. It is imprinted in my cerebral cortex.
Mistakes are just fine. Are beautifully fine things for us to learn from, but never to condemn ourselves with. That would be a good way to begin, I think.
Yes.
Note that it did not come to Joseph until he knew, beyond any smallest doubt, not who they were, but who he was.
Yes. So what are our next steps?

I think it is as you say. It is working with the reservoir of shame. I think we understand when it is triggered, by our sisters, especially. Is there a way to let go of the shame? What will diminish it?
 

ForeverSpring

Well-Known Member
ou might not choose it today, but ~ I mean, what are we supposed to do. The situations get ugly so fast and it always feels like we never knew what hit us. I am thinking about daughter's response to my sister, and how perfect and so clever of her that was. And then, once she knew my sister had seen it, she took it down
Oh, my sister deliberately tried to screw my daughter too. She was only in junior high school. She knew the cop in our town (ony th ree cops) was a good friend' of hers father and if that father said anything to his daughter about me being mental, my daughter's social life could have been ruined. It didn't stop her from trying. Fortunately, it didn't work. He ended up thinking SHE was the sick one because he knew us both well, as did his daughter and ex, but her intent was black.

When I think about this, Cedar, I think sh e is nothing but a narcissist who wanted to control me at any cost, even if it hurt my daughter. Like your sister. They'd make good friends. They'd like each other.

The matter was over a stupid e-mail. She didn't have to call the police. She was not being harmed. She could have put my e-mail into spam. Why didn't I realize what a horrible thing she tried to do to Jumper? I did not and would never have ever contacted anybody involved in her children's friends. Her kids are innocent in this as are mine. She has good kids. So do I. Why try to ruin their lives for revenge over the mother?
 

ForeverSpring

Well-Known Member
I am proud you did that.
I'm not. I should have (and would today) calmly tell the police she has mental health issues, which she does, whether she acknowledges them or not, and apologize for the bother and agree not to ever contact her again. Which is sort of what I did do. None of the cops were ever angry at me. Not in front of us. Who knows what t hey said to her during a callback? This was not major stuff.
 

ForeverSpring

Well-Known Member
Why is she so determined to name you something?
I don't know. She told me straight out, from her lips, that she could tell by her reading that her boyfriend had borderline, not me. My feeling is she uses it to try to bait me, not because she thinks I have it. It's kind of like calling somebody any "bad" name.
She thought it would bother me and it did at first, b ut after affirming from therapists and psychologist that I don't have it, she can't touch me with that one. Heck,I'll never see that accusation again from her. That is over.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Like your sister. They'd make good friends. They'd like each other.
My sister seems to have more control. While she has alienated people in her work over time, she seems to conduct herself professionally and appropriately. Where I think she loses it is when the power goes to her head. I do not think her intention is to be cruel. I think her need for power makes her unable to gauge well the effects of what she does.

She hurts me over and over again. Because she oversteps her bounds and does not care about hurting me.

But then, again, I think she tries to hurt me. Why else would she respond she was expecting twins, when told her I had adopted my son. The first words. Not I am happy for you. Not great. Not congratulations. You could always posit, that she felt embarrassed because I would feel bad. But why would I?

I do feel that she is high-functioning. I wish she was not, really. Because I have always felt that I was the only one who felt her dysfunction. Until my Mother did.
My feeling is she uses it to try to bait me, not because she thinks I have it.
I think this. Serenity, There is nothing that I have ever heard from you or about you that would lead me to believe you remotely have this.
I don't know. She told me straight out, from her lips, that she could tell by her reading that her boyfriend had borderline, not me. My feeling is she uses it to try to bait me, not because she thinks I have it. It's kind of like calling somebody any "bad" name.
She thought it would bother me and it did at first, b ut after affirming from therapists and psychologist that I don't have it, she can't touch me with that one. Heck,I'll never see that accusation again from her. That is over.
Good.
 
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