Gaslighting

Reading my stepmother’s private messages from three years ago has messed me up.

I should have never read them. Though, it did give me confirmation of her views concerning me.

She’s very religious now. She likes friending Muslim men on Facebook who seem very religious as well. Nearly every post and comment she makes namedrops God, Jesus, Allah, you name it.

It’s amazing how hypocritical she is. I have always been a non-believer. I have had poor experiences with religious people and I can’t shake the association in my mind between unwarranted moral righteousness and bad behavior. She genuinely doesn’t believe her sh1t doesn’t stink because Jesus loves her. She doesn’t seek forgiveness and she has shown no indication whatsoever that she has ever considered me and my feelings. And yet, she demands that I treat her as a victim of my existence. “You were a child, you caused me hardship with your sheer being-there-ness. You were strange and unlikeable to me. Where is your slavish gratitude for my doing the bare minimums? Let’s not mention the physical and emotional abuse I leveled upon you because I’ve probably forgotten I did it anyway.”

And that’s where the disconnect comes from. I begin to question myself. “Was constant, random, unwarranted, and hateful screaming at me that bad? Was sitting at the dinner table with cold food while she screamed and dumped drinks on my head that bad? Was being forced to walk to the end of the driveway with my pants down that bad? Was constantly reading my diary and punishing me for it that bad? Was being dragged by the hair down the hallway for forgetting a baseball cap that bad? Was having things thrown at me that bad? Was my grinding, constant fear of her that bad? Was having my appearance constantly criticized that bad? Was knowing that no one was my advocate and that no one encouraged or protected me that bad?”

I need support. I need someone to say, it was that bad. I need someone to care. I try to talk to my husband about it, but he finds it unpleasant and paying attention detracts from whatever cool new project he has on his mind. My mother just.. I get the feeling she is in denial that I ever suffered. She is broken in that suffering and being nice to people who have caused you suffering is natural to her, part of her background day-to-day life. She was never my advocate, and something my stepmother told me rings true: “She is more like a sister to you than a mother.” Even a broken clock can be right once a day. The difference being, that my mother never treated me like a burden. Not even once.

I am surrounded by people who care, but don’t.. care. If caring costs them something, then suddenly it’s too much. It doesn’t do much to support my floundering sense of hope that one day I will find happiness in other people. I am, perhaps, broken too. There’s a reason I turn to objects, to fiction, to substances to find relief and release. Life has trained me to turn away from others when seeking comfort. It doesn’t help that when I do turn to others it is never what I hope it will be. Rather than connection, there is discomfort on their part. It indicates to me what I’ve always known deep down; that I will never find what I am looking for in others.

I haven’t yet fully committed to that notion, however. But I’m on a journey to that conclusion, and I’ve been forced along the path far faster than is healthy. I want to say that my husband’s love slows it down. Maybe it does, a little.

But it’s not enough.

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