I once overheard my mother talking about me: “I wonder…that’s the same thing they said about the unabomber! That he was quiet and kept to himself as a child!” she said in a tone I found very familiar. She always acted like, and insisted that there was something wrong with me, but she never looked in the mirror and saw either that she was completely deranged or committing sick crimes against me on a regular basis. Her attempt to insinuate that I was “like the unabomber” ignored the fact that I was a sensitive, kind boy who was burdened by increasingly worsening neglect, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. And likewise she was unable to recognize what issues I really had without exaggerating, distorting, or projecting a bizarre version of what was actually happening onto me. The cumulative damage of how she labeled and defined me without my input or consent has been massive.
My brother acted out all of his rage and anger on me and people that he bullied at school. He was a violent manipulative sociopath, but my mother never implied there was something ‘wrong’ with him, or talked about how ‘strange’ and similar to mass killers he was. She was fine with him beating and raping me, and then going out to hang around with all of his numerous friends. But after that experience, after being abused and working so hard to dissociate from all of it, she expected me to do the same. To not put up a passive, ‘blank’ defense when dealing with the world when I had been trained to expect something bad to happen at any moment. I couldn’t do that, but this was not rooted in some desire to bomb buildings. I always hated violence, but I can see that my mother’s attempt to claim I was mentally ill was rooted in her hear that as the most abused child in the family I might one day shed light on her and their crimes.
When I was 12, my teachers noticed how awkward, nervous and fearful I was, and had an outside psychologist come to evaluate me at school. He interviewed my parents and I separately, but he didn’t see through their facades and nothing came of it. But because he was male, my mother made a comment that “I thought you’d like to talk to a man at your age, and be able to ask him any questions you might have.” So in her warped mind, I didn’t need counseling because of the incest in our family, but so that I could talk to some old guy about sex and puberty; as if I didn’t have sex ed at school; as if I wasn’t sexually exploited for the whole of my childhood, and as if my social anxiety would leave me comfortable talking about such a private and personal topic with strangers. She was so vapidly stereotypical and vulgar. But the point is, she saw and read sex into this encounter, just like she sold me to her friends when I was a child. In her mind this would be another way for her to intrude upon and smother my sexual development.
I truly can’t believe the amount of deluded bullshit that came out of her mouth about how and what I “should” be because I was born male. But today I realize that she was a pedophile, and a fetishist. She tried to project her perverted, obsessive fantasies about men and boys onto me, and that is the true source of her blind, dimwitted, sexist and homophobic views. That’s why these statements always made me sick to my stomach, and stayed with me for so long as shame. Today what I feel more is anger, for the profoundly insulting, sick, and wrong ways in which she tried to label and define me through her slurred voice and alcohol-drowned brain. And when she sexually abused me, at 2 or 12 or 19, that was an attempt to label and define me too, as being her property.
But I’m not my mother’s sexual fantasy. I’m not her prejudices and delusions. I’m someone very separate from all of that. I can bring up thousands of such examples, of things she made sure I overheard or said directly to me that were this sick and fucked up. Even when I was able to respond, it didn’t matter, she would come back and make the same statements again. Like how she ignored my real food allergies but insisted, wrongly, that I had hay-fever like her. She saw me as “hers” unlike her husband and my brother, I was “like her” and therefore she could dump all of her issues onto me and make me up in her head, pummeling my self-worth along the way.
The way that I was during my teen years and until I started doing this work to change has no other big explanation then my natural responses to what was done to me. With a different childhood I would have been able to forge healthy relationships quite easily, had more confidence and not been afraid of genuine people that didn’t want something form me. It’s that simple, and while there was one point where I would distract myself by looking for diagnoses, they all took me away from my life, my experiences, and who really developed the patterns I was carrying out (my abusive family, not me, not my genes or brain chemistry or anything else.) I know my mother and sister had many facetious conversations, wondering what was “wrong with him” and coming up with many self-serving explanations all designed to escape the truth and their own guilt. But I reject those.
My healing work is showing me more of the truth every day, and I’m not bound to these old, toxic belief systems that they instilled in me. I’m done feeling defective or like it was all my fault. And I’m not going to let anyone define me or overrule my self-awareness and knowledge about my life.