P was not really deluded. On the day I married the abuser he cried the entire time. He is the logic and the strength the two have shared since they were toddlers. They are only 15 months apart in age and were about 8 and 10 when the abuser came into our lives.
By far the most abused person in this situation has been C. He was not merely abused by the N but by a Mother who lacked the strength to have belief in her own son and the power to protect him.
I NEVER lacked love for any of my children. My love was just as steadfast as it could be. Sometimes this is just NOT ENOUGH.
C was always a sort of wild child. As a young child I can still remember his jubilance, his ENERGY and his radiance. He was a beautiful baby with straight, jet black hair that looked like it had been cut, in advance, for the day of his birth. He was my little "Eskimo baby". That is exactly what he looked like. His health was pretty good while very young. He did have a period, when he began to walk, during which one leg would suddenly just "buckle" and he would fall.
My "hard-hearted" and "uncaring" first husband (labels given by you know who) seeing this, prayed to God that it was nothing serious. He made a bargain with God you see. We were both smokers...and he told God that if he would take away this affliction, he would quit smoking and never smoke again. He was willing to pay his part, in advance, and stopped smoking. After a few months, C's leg stopped buckling and he ran around full of life and love...and a bit of frustration and fury. His Father has NEVER smoked again. He openly stated that he had made a promise to God and he would keep it.
Things went along OK for C. He was tested due to his high intelligence and found to be gifted but was not interested in putting forth the effort to go into an "advanced class" His reasoning? "Why would I want to work that hard to get an A when I can get a B without even trying?!?"
I am not a pushy Mother and had no need to insist that my children put on a show for my gratification. I did not insist.
He skated through elementary school, making A's and B's and, indeed, required no effort to do so. His evenings were full of drawing and sketching and making up stories. That was, and is, his love.
At the age of about 8, he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. I look back in amazement now and see that he NEVER ONCE...balked or cried...never refused his finger sticks or his insulin shots. He accepted that those things were necessary simply because that was life and we told him they were necessary. As a nurse, this did not strike me as odd at the time because I had a very hard attitude then. 100% logic and force. Why should he balk?!? What good would it do. There was NO OPTION and it was just what it was.
The day he was diagnosed, while I was driving him home, I was crying. I tried to hold back the tears because I did not want to scare him. As an adult he told me that he remembers that day and he was comforted by my tears. He said he felt very special in that I was crying FOR HIM...that I cared so much.
So his life of counting carbohydrates, finger sticks and insulin shots up to 4 times a day was started. He just accepted it without question or complaint. His diabetes was well controlled for the first years. During that time, the N entered the picture.
P, in his logic and reality, KNEW that attempts to make the N "love" him were useless. He tolerated the N and, for the most part, did what he was told...although NEVER quickly enough...never WELL enough. He was NEVER "acceptable".
P was given the name of "Half-Way Joe" and other such derogatory terms and the N fought with them...
My two older sons have ALWAYS been VERY CLOSE. They were not twins, but they might as well have been. They spent every moment together, guarding each other, propping each other up...rarely fighting among themselves. It had been this way since they were toddlers and this intensified once they were under the "control" of the N. This became protective behavior and became crucial to their lives for a long while.
Occasionally, P would long to break away and shed the responsibility of his little brother...but his heart would not allow him to do so. He became C's protector and guard...his truth teller. C held tight to his big brother who was acting in the role of Father.
These first years saw my children constantly being berated by both the N and his N Mother. They were tortured on a daily basis and told they were useless and worthless in every word, every action. I was kept quiet with the story that I was "over-protective" and that my desire to protect my children was "harming them". Over this period of time, the N began telling everyone, including me, that C was a compulsive liar. He would set things up to prompt C to lie to avoid being in trouble...and then point out the lie. He was successful in getting his friends, his family, parts of my family and even ME to begin doubting every word that C said. Since P was so blunt and forthright...and cared so little about the opinions of the narc...he would NOT lie so he could not be portrayed as a liar. C, on the other hand, wanted DESPERATELY to be loved and cherished by the N...so he tried against all reality to prove his worth and gain his love. That was very hard to see as I knew he would never gain ANYTHING but disdain and hatred.
On the occasions when I would stand up for them, their situation always got WORSE because they were then blamed for the issues in our marriage and for MY unhappiness. His mistreatment of them would escalate and his constant statements to me of what a useless Mother I was and how they were simply malignant children without hope would increase. I truly began to turn my head the other way and buy into SOME of what was being brainwashed into me. I still stood up when I needed to, but not often enough. The only boundary that I held steadfastly to was that he was NEVER to touch them in any way.
At about age 14, C began having odd symptoms. He would be difficult to awaken in the morning and did not want to go to school. He would throw up nearly every morning and be so wiped out that he began to miss school and, indeed, was placed in home bound school for part of a year. I took him to specialist after specialist and he was diagnosed, finally, with a vague thing called "Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome" which is a diagnosis given when someone throws up repeatedly and no cause can be found. He was placed on medication which did nothing to help. He began failing at school. His grades, once A's and B's were now failing or near failing in every subject.
After about a year of this, he was sitting at the breakfast table one day and fell out of the chair and onto the floor in a grand mal seizure. This led us to a neurologist who was finally able to tell us what had been happening. It turns out that C had been having, nearly NIGHTLY, grand mal seizures which were unwitnessed as he was alone in his room. In the morning, the symptoms he displayed were the after effects of his seizures...the lethargy, the headaches the throwing up...all due to the seizures he was having on a near nightly basis.
Having this many seizures had also resulted in some minor brain damage which caused his change in personality and resulted in some learning disabilities. His IQ was not affected very greatly...but it caused him to have difficulty expressing himself verbally without frequent pauses and lost trains of thought. It also caused him to have difficulty with perceiving what he was reading and following directions.
He was also having a great deal of trouble socially as he was embarrassed by his diagnoses of diabetes and seizure disorder. He had multiple, embarrassing and very public seizures during school hours. He hid these diagnoses from his peers and teachers which often resulted in his frequent low blood sugars being judged to be "behavioral problems" and he became known as a "trouble maker" at times.
His diabetes was VERY unstable and all his attempts (and all my attempts, even as a medical professional) were not successful in controlling it. His blood sugar would frequently bounce from 25 to >500 on a daily basis. The low sugars triggered the seizures and so he routinely continued to have seizures, not daily, but often once a week or more.
He became more withdrawn and isolated, with only his brother, and my Mother who were really there for him. I loved him dearly but I was a mess by that time and knew that all I tried to do made his situation at home even worse.
The N, far from feeling ANY sympathy for C, then began repeatedly telling stories of how he looked "retarded" after a seizure and that the EMS guys actually asked once, when trying to get a history after a seizure, if he was "retarded"? This story was REPEATED AND TOLD TO EVERYONE...over and over, in the presence of my son. Then the story changed to "He was retarded due to his seizures".
My son, fearing that this might be true, became more and more isolated and eventually turned to alcohol and drugs for relief. This added more fuel to the N's stories adding the dimensions of Alcoholic, drug addict and juvenile delinquent to the stories that he told others to garner their support and to elicit their praises and sympathy for "all he had stood by me through". Before long he had made C the scapegoat of not just himself but of many who knew him.
I was impotent to help him.
I could not even see, at that time, what was happening.
Looking back and thinking about it...this was a child that the N RAISED from the age of about 8 years old. That did not result in the N feeling any tenderness or compassion for him....let alone love of any kind. To the N, he was the enemy...pure and simple...and he ALWAYS WAS.
Later I found out that this was also a lie. I was relating this story to someone else in the presence of my son, who had NO REASON TO LIE about it at all, and he stated that this had never happened. It was simply a figment of the N's imagination...or, more likely, an attempt to make me ally myself with him...and against my own son. When this did not work...I imagine he was quite shocked!
This total discard, this change of persona and the accompanying lack of any emotion, my powerlessness and his psychotic behavior was causing me to be an emotional wreck.
He ENJOYED every minute of this and always had a smirk on his face. This lasted for 3 months before we were able to get him out of the house...although he had moved all his belongings into the home of his mistress. He merely maintained a presence in my home to keep me guarded and fearful and miserable. It is nearly impossible to describe the feeling of being held prisoner in your own home, being forced to support someone whose only purpose in life was to cause you pain and fear. During this time, it was as though we were all living in a nightmare. On many nights, my three sons slept in the same room with me...using themselves as guardians against the unknown actions of a man who had no limit to his evil behavior.
These delusions of the ability to get away with anything and the lack of the fear of consequences...makes them VERY DANGEROUS individuals...loose cannons who can do physical damage to others during fits of, what they consider to be, justifiable rage.
The N has spent a GREAT deal of time and energy convincing people that C is a violent, abusive, emotionally unstable, mentally defective, drug addict. It is quite obvious that he did NOT dedicate this time and energy without having SOME PLAN for a way in which this could EVENTUALLY be utilized to his benefit!
and STILL...this young man retains the ability to feel pity for his abuser. No. This is not something that that damaged, evil, selfish little man will EVER understand. Sometimes it is hard for me to comprehend.
He has grown into a handsome man who resembles...almost amazingly so...Will Smith. He hates it when people say that and he denies seeing any resemblance....REALLY?!?
How that mirror does lie to us!
He is with me and my other children. We live together in peace and cooperation.
He is a wonderful artist, a story writer, a gourmet cook and is coming to understand that he is an empath, hurt often by other people’s emotions.
It is amazing to me that this handsome, giving young man still looks in the mirror and sees an ugly, useless slug that no woman will ever want....but he does.
That damage will not be repaired overnight.
He is not perfect, any more than I am, and we have our little disagreements from time to time... but he is also emerging from this with an understanding of how living with a DAMAGED individual can truly be detrimental to your being.
He is also TERRIFIED that if he should get into a relationship....it might be with one of these people...and so he is alone.
He would not need to be alone as he has much to offer...he just does not know this...I cannot tell him, although I try. This is something he will need to come to believe in his heart and in his soul. Perhaps it is the smartest thing he can do to be willing to wait.
We have spent many hours discussing what we have experienced...and we share a unique insight into what we have lived. He is the ONLY ONE who saw behind the MASK of the N nearly immediately...and was the one who was "not believed" for the past 17 years.
He, ALONE, knows why I gave up even trying to change the situation....and so, he has forgiven me. I have no doubt that some hurt from this will be with him for the rest of his life...I can understand that and I can accept it.
He, also, knows me better than anyone on this Earth. Good and bad. We share a history of trying to use drugs to escape although our choices in drugs did vary. We already share THAT recovery and now we are sharing another.
He is my bodyguard, my friend and the one who DARES to tell me when he thinks I am not handling a situation correctly. We are learning to trust each other again.
He spends much time with his little brothers...doing things that they ENJOY doing without attempting to mold their choices. Trying to be a different kind of role model. A model of understanding and empathy and kindness.
He is BRASH and he has a tough guy exterior...this is his protection against the world...and I can understand that!
I do not seek to change it.
I hope that one day he finds a woman who can appreciate that because I KNOW how much he longs to be independent and on his own. To have someone to appreciate him and to start his own free life. In reality...he NEVER WANTED TO BE HERE. Despite what the N assumed and accused him of, he would love NOTHING MORE than to NOT BE DISABLED...to work and be "Productive" and "Normal".
For now we are placed together by the circumstance and I guess this is where we need to be. Where there is someone who KNOWS our history and our reasoning.
We are closer, now, than I could ever have hoped we would be. Gone is the image of the "perfect mother" that haunts so many of us... giving us a goal that is impossible to attain.
Instead, he sees me for exactly what I am...another injured soul...who ALWAYS TRIED to do what was right but was sidetracked by life experiences. Imperfect, fatally flawed, nothing but a pack of flaws and insecurities stitched together with good intentions...as the post said.
He is finally coming to see that it is very LIBERATING to realize that this is what we are...what we ALL are. AND that we are worthy of LOVE and RESPECT even in being so unlovable at times.
Love does not require perfection....that is one more thing the N's will NEVER understand!
Our new, little, family is coming to accept each other for ALL that we ARE. No masks, no perfection, no lies and no pretense.
My Mother always was, and would be now if she was here, very proud of what he is and is becoming! Her years of unconditional love are a part of his core and he still retains the ability to feel empathy and PITY....for me...and even for his true ABUSER.
It is more than I could have hoped for!