Fake Kindness Can Kill…

My family was not overtly cruel all the time.  Many days they would pretend to be nice and supportive– when social custom dictated it or more surely when they wanted something from me that couldn’t as easily be taken by force.  Recently, while trying to remove accounts setup by other people and generally false information written about me online, I came across an old, inactive facebook account circa 2006.  I deleted it in a panic three years ago at the discovery that it was filled with messages and friend requests from a swarm of family members, led by my mother.  I did so without reading them at the time, but now I see that no one said nasty things or made threats, and yet that is perhaps what hurts the most.  Because I know that it is fake, that they had an ulterior motive.  I also feel some of the judgment I received in the past for not matching their moods–the accusation that they were innocent and kind and I was reacting all out of proportion for presuming to be angry about bigger things then the behavior of one single moment. 

My mother ended one of several bizarre “happy birthday” notices by saying, “I’ve been looking for you for years.”  Once that knowledge pierced through me with a terrible fear, but not anymore.  She looked for me because she wants money that I don’t have, because she wants another adult child who she can control and emotionally feed off of.  It isn’t out of any genuine desire for my well-being.  Likewise, with his friend request, my older brother sent the cloying message: “how have you been?”  An arrogant and cynical attempt to gain information to pass onto my mother.  My cousin also sent me a friend request, after openly avoiding me when we passed each other at a train station the year before; clearly negating the potential for any “friendship.”  There were others, but the point is it disturbs me how they all feel entitled to condescend to me with their fake concern.   They can’t find me, but I’m not “lost.”   

I really would rather they just be open and up front with their intentions and abusive personalities.  When I was younger, these facades confused me, they made me nervous.  The inconsistency was disturbing, but of course I so wanted to believe that the lies were true, when I was treated well on rare occasions.  There was a great deal of anger and self-hatred that came later on, when I would inevitably realize that I was lied to, taken in again.  Just seeing these messages brought back many old feelings from childhood; vulnerability, wanting to be accepted, wanting love.  For a long time I had fully absorbed the dictate that if someone is being nice to me on the surface I have to reciprocate, even when there is this history of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.   

Once my older brother “apologized” to me.  We were in the car together–he was visiting while I still lived at home, so our parents had him come pick me up without even asking if that would work for me.  I was thus his captive audience when he said “I’m sorry about those things that happened when were younger.”  He amended this statement with a quick pre-emptive claim that our mother hadn’t put him up to this, and the excuse that “I didn’t think you’d still be thinking about all that stuff today…”  He didn’t give a second thought to the days when he physically and sexually assaulted me, since after all he wasn’t the one traumatized from that experience.  But that sentiment was echoed by our parents, who claimed if I just put all of this out of my mind, it would go away.   Of course the idea that our mother didn’t inspire him to this is absurd because she is the one I opened up to about how much he had hurt me.  I never confronted my brother, or told him what I remembered him doing to me in our childhood.  And because I was still afraid of him at the time, I couldn’t respond with my real feelings; I just said o.k.   

It meant nothing to me, but the problem was, he really expected this to be something of significance.  Later that year, after I had moved across the country (but unfortunately not far from him) he invited me to go out for a drink, despite knowing very well that I don’t drink (on account of our mother’s alcoholism.) And he made the invitation through our mother, so as to score more points with her.    My sister had him over her house for thanksgiving that year without inviting me, and she planned to do the opposite for Christmas.   I quietly accepted it, but when he found out he blew up, exclaiming that because he issued these fake gestures that I had no right to be uncomfortable around him or demand that my boundaries finally be respected.  He slipped back into calling me all sorts of disgusting names before hanging up.  If he was really sorry for terrorizing, invading, and violating my body and sense of self for so many years on end, if he actually had some grasp of how serious his crimes were and how much they hurt me, then this wouldn’t have happened. 

If an abuser is really sorry, it shouldn’t matter if we decide to have a relationship with them or not, if we write a book or even take them to court.  If they were really sorry, they should be prepared to take the consequences and actually recognize the harm they did, not slip back into the same old patterns of abuse the second we offend their egos with our boundaries.  The very idea that someone who had in the past rubbed it in my face how he manipulated me into doing things he wanted, someone who showed he had absolutely no concept of my rights or feelings as a person, would expect me to change simply because he had said a few words which cost him nothing is ludicrous.  I was never going to trust him again, and there is no possible avenue to ever build such a trust between us today.  Certainly that message, sent after five years of no communication, wasn’t going to bridge the gap.   

The reality is, my family of origin are compulsive liars, manipulators, and  emotional abusers.  There is nothing they could possibly say to me that would change how I feel today or my choice that favors healthy relationships with people who don’t have a history of disrespecting me.  But that choice was very difficult to make, because the toxic cycles they initiated in me were acted out with many other people before I knew what was happening.    In fact, it was extremely disrespectful to begin with for my mother to pass around my facebook page and write those messages when I told her that I never wanted to speak to her again and wasn’t going to be a part of this sick family anymore.  It was a violation of my boundaries, and a dishonest technique to try to get something she wanted.   

These messages brought up all those insecurities I had regarding what these people thought about me, and a desire to impress or “show them.”   But today, that is neither here nor there.  They don’t know me, all they can think about me is a result of their prejudices, frozen in time from my first twenty years.   They are really no different from the billions of other strangers passing through this world and pressing buttons on facebook.   The symbolism of my mother taking out a “My Life” account in her estranged son’s name really says it all.   She thinks that she has owns my life, I recall hearing from my sister that she once claimed (before I dropped off the map) that her therapist had agreed she has a “right” to know where I am.  But she doesn’t.  In the last birthday message before I froze my facebook account, after compulsively naming how old I am, she said, “I can’t believe you’re that age.”  I know what kind of venom was really behind those words, I know the judgments that are her trademark.  But I also know that today, it doesn’t matter anymore what she says.   


About proudlysensitive

Gay male survivor of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
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31 Responses to Fake Kindness Can Kill…

  1. Hi Caden
    Wow, I could really relate to this post. The whole ‘ownership’ thing at the root of it and the whole “you are nothing and you are so beneath me” thing oozing out all over the place. The thing about your brother is so typical. They think that they can say “sorry” and then get very angry when we don’t lick their boots again and in actuality they say “ look you little nothing piece of shit, I said I was sorry, now get over it ~ what makes you think YOU have any rights at all? What makes you think you can dare to still have resentments. Just get over it so things can get back to normal around here and I can start kicking you around again.”
    And it took me a long time to see the truth that they didn’t have any love, respect or regard for me. That they were not sorry at all; they believed they had some sort of ‘rights’ over me. And it hurt so deeply to face the truth that I was ‘nothing’ to them but that is the truth that set me free from the pain I had lived in all my life. Knowing the truth cancelled all the false beliefs that I had about my obligation to them, and it also cancelled my fantasy that one day they would see me for the worthy person I am, and love me. Today I see me for the worthy person I am and I don’t think much about them anymore.
    I really love your post today. There is just something about relating deeply to another person on this journey.
    Hugs, Darlene

    • Thanks so much Darlene. That is exactly how it is; they decided a long time ago that they could define us and treat us like we were nothing, and they refuse to recognize our right to break out of that. All they felt they had to do was say “I’m sorry” while we were the ones who were supposed to change. It’s so good to be out of that bankrupt system. I’m glad you can relate.
      Take care,

  2. sending hugs & love. Keep up the great work of healing. always love teresa

  3. Red Tash says:

    This is very timely for me. I, too, was the victim of abuse in my family of origin. My mother died last Christmas and I was shut out of the family, not welcome at the funeral, etc. It has been a very tough year. Even when I knew she was not safe for me to be around for much the same reasons you are describing here, I still loved her. It was the fake kindness–or the mental illness, or alcoholism, or whatever we want to label it–that would seduce my trust. But it always ended up biting me.

    I posted some videos today of my mother, just to my limited inner circle. I loved my mother. When she was kind to me, it fed my need for her love and approval. In those videos, she was being personable. It took a lot of bravery on my part to post those videos even to my inner circle, because what if they only see the facade? What if it only makes me look like the crazy one?

    Well, honestly, I don’t care anymore. If that’s how they want to see me, then goodbye. I know what happened. I know how often and how much it happened. Just because I didn’t video tape it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    Much love to you,

    • I’m so sorry you lost your mother and have faced only more rejection from the rest of your family as a result. I remember one time when a (not very good) friend of mine insisted that because my parents ‘sounded normal’ when she called the house to talk to me, they couldn’t possibly be abusive. When in fact that is what made their abuse so effective–the ability to perform and act charming to strangers while wreaking havoc in private most of the time. Some will just look for any reason to excuse our parents and call us the problem. But we definitely don’t need those people in our lives, and shouldn’t let them silence us either.


  4. BlueMomma says:

    Can I just say that after reading this I have the overwhelming urge to hug you and tell you it will all be ok? I’m so sorry you suffered through what you have and can’t fathom the hearts of people who can do such to their families. I know my words and thoughts can’t make it all go away, but if they could? It would be all smooth sailing from now on. 🙂 Your bravery and strength is evidenced by your words.

    • Thanks for your lovely comment. It doesn’t make everything go away, but it is great to put this out there and not receive the kind of criticism I was trained to expect–but the exact opposite! So thank you for that,

      take care,

  5. Angie Sim says:

    Hi Caden,

    Again, I love the title of your post, “Fake Kindness can kill…”. Well, the “fake kindness” almost killed me yesterday, had I not learnt the truth about abusive relationships. My sister-in-law, a long-time passive abuser together with my brother, texted me to `encourage´me to call her daughter who had lied and done nasty things to me a year ago. She said Christmas is a time for forgiveness and love, that I should be the one to break the ice. I then told her briefly my side of the story, opening up and sharing with her. How did she respond? She said she doesn´t know what happened and therefore, cannot gauge. In another words, it means, I don´t care about you or your story. And despite that I knew that that was going to be her response, that hurt like hell. She is an abuser because she likes to stir shit so that I open up, and then she retracts, leaving me in the cold. She has done that many times.

    Not anymore. For the first time in my life, I basically told her that she doesn´t care about me, that unless she wants to ask about me or my family, she is never to contact me again. For the first time in my life, I told a passive abuser to get lost. That felt gooooood. I didn´t get killed, instead I felt more alive than ever.

    Thank you, Caden, for your heartfelt post, its so timely!

    Angie xxx

    • Thank you Angie, I’m glad you can relate too. It sounds like your SIL was really saying that Christmas was a time of obligation and denying your own feelings. I had that treatment too back then–from family members utterly unwilling to listen to me because the abusers were considered more reliable. I’m glad you stood up to her.

      take care,

  6. Just your blog-title alone helps me. My mother (it takes the sting away when I refer to her as my biological mother, since a mother needs to have certain ….”mothering”…that helps a child grow) called me, “So G-d-damned sensitive!” when I was a young child and teen, and onward.

    “Proudly Sensitive” [listen to my heart *breathe*] just helps at the CORE.

    …..then, to read each word of just this particular entry…. : I am filled with gratitude that you wrote, and that I was able to hear these words. Thank you for sharing seems so…light…but I hope, knowing that I’m also a sensitive person, you understand the depth of the gratitude I know from reading your words.

    • My former mother also never did anything to deserve the title; in our last few contacts before I said goodbye, I just called her by her first name. I’m glad to know that you find my blog (and it’s slogan/title) helpful, Jeannie.
      thanks and take care,

      • There’s a healing phrase: “former mother” — I like it. I call mine by her first name too sometimes, though not to her face. Fortunately, I only have seen her face at a funeral recently, and …there seems to be no more contact necessary at all.

        You have *such* intelligence and wisdom, both of which show through deeply in your blog. That plus the warmth and the healing is going to make this my new favorite place to renew (if you don’t mind!). I _am_ really grateful for sharing your healing~

  7. I know you’re writing this for your own healing, but please know that this is so helpful to mine as well. I wish I could talk to you in person and thank you.

  8. protectivewolf says:

    You are very very brave to do this. To detach yourself from your family of origin and see them who they are takes REAL inner work. You are incredibly brave and truthful to your soul. Your soul must be in peace now that you have begun your healing.

    • I agree Protectivewolf—when I detached from my family of origin, it was excruciating. It had to happen for healing to happen, and for abuse to not continue for yet another generation.

      And I’ve never known anyone in this difficult type of process to be able to move forward and live without the breaking from abuse and the abusers.

      I hope there is a deep sense of people surrounding you with strength and comfort now, instead of …what the origins were….

    • Thank you protectivewolf. It was very difficult to really take my side and go forward without my abusive family even though I had doubts about being able to survive. But as Jeannie says, it was definitely neccessary.


  9. Amber says:

    I relate to this whole blog! I will be reading through your past posts! My “family” is the same way, they are drug addicts and deny it. My younger brothers were taken from the home by the state of WV. My sister and I fell through the cracks as at the time schools didn’t have the attendance policy that if you missed so many days of school that the school would send social services to investigate. I haven’t seen my youngest brother since he was 8, he is now 15. My oldest brother of the two is now 21 and lives back with his parents, slowly sliding into the depths of hell known as addictions. Repeating abusive cycles against himself and others. I on the other hand got away as soon as I could which was before I was 18; around the age of 14/15 I jumped from friends couch to couch. Anyway, not only did I have to suffer the emotional and physically manipulating abuse from my immediate “family” but I had suffered this plus sexual abuse from my older Uncle who was only 5 years older than myself. I never told anyone, ever, until I got with my life partner of 7 years. I’d have to write a whole blog myself just to explain all of this is detail but I think you understand me without me even having to write it all out. By the way, I have Aspergers too, which flips the whole world into a different crazy direction. Thank you for writing this and sharing it!

    • Oh Amber! On one hand, it’s a relief to know there’s someone else reading this blog voraciously like me, and on the other, I’m so sad that we have this past in common. I’m hoping that as I learn of these new friends here who share so much of past [insert expletive], that we also share *strength*, tenacity, …and the ability to keep getting UP. Peace to you~

    • Thanks for sharing your story with me Amber; I do understand, and am so sorry for what you went through. My brother also descended into all of my parent’s addictions and lived his life as an amateur con artist the last I heard. I was the youngest, and sadly it took me a long time to get out, but when I did there was no looking back. My current partner is also the first person I told my entire history too.
      take care, it’s good to see you here,

  10. JBR says:

    Appreciate your honesty and sending safe hugs to you…..

  11. Caden,
    Excellent Post! It resonates with me, especially about the part that your brother can just say sorry and that’s it. His message is to forget about all that he did. Your right when you said, “If they are really sorry, they should be prepared to take the consequences & actually recognize the harm they did.” Not go back to their abusive ways. They are what they are and there is no real change, until they face their demons. I find my FOO incapable of being authentic/real…Lots of fake kindness…Pretenious is what I call them. I really wonder if they have a heart. They can not admit their mistakes, but let me tell you they expect me to be the one to look at my mistakes & to forgive them or turn the other cheek. I find that the more I speak the truth to myself & FOO, the stronger I get. Defining myself has helped my confidence too. I’m my own seperate person who doesn’t need to follow in their foot steps. I could write a book about all the dysfunction. I find myself tapping into my creativity, which is the spiritual core to me and that’s more fulfilling then my FOO could ever be.

    • I love your comment Sonia, you’ve made so many great points. My family also thinks (fantastically) that they are the aggrieved party and I’m the one who needs to change to be more accepting of their abuse and their shallow way of relating to me. It’s so good to know that that isn’t true and it isn’t going to happen either. Defining ourselves apart from them and speaking our truth regardless of what they think is so great. Creativity is also at my center, and the more progress I make the more I can catch onto it’s expansive flow.

      take care,

  12. Thanks You Caden….I love reading your post!…We are both sensitive souls 🙂

  13. Pingback: I Confronted My Abusive Incest-Family Of Origin | Proudly Sensitive

  14. Dani says:

    Wow. This post couldnt come to me at a more perfect time.

    I am in the process of releasing all of the abusers out of my life. Problem is, I’m very sensitive and vulnerable… I have issues standing up for myself because of the way my family told me that my abuse never happened. Or when they did accept something was wrong, they told me to “just get over it”. Always excuses.

    Being abused by my grandpa set me up to only attract romantic partners who lie, cheat, manipulate… Anything they can. I have Issues sometimes believing they could be so empty and crewel.

    Basically, I have broken free of my chains but haven’t bothered to move yet. This post gives me hope that one day I’ll feel empowered enough to walk away from them – without doubting myself. Or without romantisising them again in my head and choosing to believe those lies.

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for sharing your journey. I may be a stranger but I truly wish you all the happiness you deserve. ❤ thank you.

    • Dani, Thank you. I also had great difficulty standing up for myself in the face of their malicious fog and criminal behavior. That’s why I knew the relationships had to end–their very words were toxic and there was nothing left to hear from them. It took me awhile to change my geographic location again. It’s a process, but I hope you can manage to do it at your own pace.

      take care,

  15. Karen Ranes says:

    “For a long time I had fully absorbed the dictate that if someone is being nice to me on the surface I have to reciprocate, even when there is this history of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.”
    Wow that is a POWERFUL statement to me! I was always expected to behave in a loving, friendly,
    manner even though all my past history with them was abusive. And I did! Over and over and over. I was so brainwashed
    to accept absolutely awful abuse, and behave as though it never happened.
    You are right also in that the moment you “offend their ego” (I like that phrase too) the old pattern of abuse jumps right back at you. Karen R

    • Karen, I’m glad this post spoke to you. It is so terrible how we were taught to just go with their sick, abusive flow, and obey their moods and whims without any thought for our feelings and rights. That is no way to live, so these realizations are really vital.

      take care,

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