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#324436 - 03/08/10 08:40 AM Invalidation, Gaslighting, and Denial...
BigV Offline

Registered: 07/19/09
Posts: 84
Loc: Western Canada
It's five in the morning and I still can't sleep. I just moved back in with my parents, and it's going as well as I expected it to.

I just had another one of these really heavy discussions with my mom, because she's always over come by her doubt and skepticism. There's nothing I can say that will convince her, or my father, that I am looking for work, that my goals are still the same, and that nothing has changed in that regard. They simply can not be reassured by anything.

I can't tell them about my life’s work, it will just be dismissed, shrugged off etc. They have no interest in the fact that I'm building communities, that I'm an activist, and well respected by my community.

I keep trying to tell them that they once succeeded in getting me question my memories, my feelings, and my perceptions of my self. But they just reverse it all back onto me. They deny that they've denied my memories, even when I give them past examples of how they denied my memories, they tell me that "that's not how was" and that "I just misunderstood them."

When I showed all the signs of a child who was suffering from trauma (sexual abuse), they never recognized it. When I tried to tell them I was physically abused in Catholic school, they did nothing. When I tried to tell them about my sleep apnea and terrifying sleep paralysis, they told me they weren't going to help me (I needed $1000 for a deposit on the c-pap machine). And when I try to point out all this invalidation, they try to convince me I'm not remembering things correctly. And if I try to tell them they're denying my memories, with examples, they try to convince me that I had misunderstood what was actually happening in those examples. And when I finally put my foot down, and tell them they're invalidating me again, they try to tell me that is in fact I who is invalidating them. They just parot everything I say back to me! This will never end!

I just have to write this down right now so I can keep my bearings. I have to stay here, in this god forsaken basement until I'm ready to move out, not when I feel forced to move out for the sake of my sanity. I just really hope I don't loose all I've learnt while I wasn't living with them, but after talking to my mom, I feel like I'm going slightly crazy. Like, who knows, maybe I am just making this all up. Maybe I am remembering things incorrectly. Maybe I am just imagining that they're telling me that my memory is false. Perhaps I am just imagining them parroting everything back to me.

I guess I must be crazy.

Maybe if I just finally went crazy, people would finally start taking me seriously. I'm tired of this, of the struggle. Maybe I should just fall through cracks. To hell with all of this!

#324454 - 03/08/10 01:39 PM Re: Invalidation, Gaslighting, and Denial... [Re: BigV]
Mountainous Buck Offline

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 1631
Loc: Minnesota

I've had to put up some distinct and healthy boundaries with my family-I cannot imagine living with them and gaining strength in my recovery.

I too have struggled with supporting myself financially - and know how toxic those strings can be with my parents. It's taken me years to put up these boundaries, and the family system doesn't like it.

My past is not up for anyone's interpretation, thoughts, or opinions. That is too high a price to pay for a place to live.

We have to take responsibility for what we're not responsible for.

�It doesn't matter where you've come from,
It matters where you go" Frank Turner

#324470 - 03/08/10 04:21 PM Re: Invalidation, Gaslighting, and Denial... [Re: Mountainous Buck]
BigV Offline

Registered: 07/19/09
Posts: 84
Loc: Western Canada
Fortunately, it's not the end of the world. I just let her push my buttons, and I was in need of a place to vent. I'm sure not going to do that with friends or co-workers, unless I want to sound like a winy teenager again.

She did finally admit to erring, and eventually the conversation switched from talking about me and my issues, to her finally admitting that she has issues. At some point I told her that I was refusing to let anxiety and self doubt dictate my life, and that I wasn't going to get stressed out anymore, and then her whole tone changed.

Every once in a while I'm going to have to bitch about my parents in order to keep my cool, and this is the only place I can do I hope you can all bare with me...I'll try not to resort to self loathing and blaming my parents for much.

#324475 - 03/08/10 05:38 PM Re: Invalidation, Gaslighting, and Denial... [Re: BigV]
Charlie24 Offline

Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 562
Hey BigV I've been in this situation before and in a small way am still sorta in this situation.

It's horrible that they won't believe or even fucking really listen to you. Your crying out for help and they are saying your making shit up. How horrible.

It's frustrating and annoying.


#324504 - 03/09/10 12:25 AM Re: Invalidation, Gaslighting, and Denial... [Re: Charlie24]
Trucker51 Offline

Registered: 05/20/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
Why don't you take a look at John Bradshaw's book "BRADSHAW ON: THE FAMILY" or Susan Forward's book TOXIC PARENTS, I think that both books might help you with your family dynamics a little bit. My situation was in some respects similar, my mother could never seem to remember things the way that I did, though quite a bit later she has apologized for some of the things that she did that hurt me greatly at the time. My dad could never once bring himself to tell me that I had accomplished anything that he was proud of, all that he could do was cut me down and constantly harp about all of my faults going way back. Most people's parents don't have enough understanding to know what the symptoms of abuse look like in. Even after reading through both Abused Boys and Victims No Longer, my mother still hasn't acknowledged that she missed my own symptoms, even though she is now a Master's-level counselor. I can understand your frustration, I've experienced similar frustration myself.

It is harder when you are living under their roof, what you need to do is to learn to develop healthy adult boundaries with your parents. You can change yourself, and you can take steps to protect yourself, but it is much harder to change other people, and it may be impossible no matter how much effort that you put into it. In my own case my mother changed after she got her Master's degree in the mid-1990s, after she divorced my dad. My dad never changed, and he has been gone now for almost 11 years, he missed seeing the success of my recovery or he wasn't around to tell me what a lousy job that I had done either. Long ago I learned that I had to protect myself from him.

Hopefully you can get into a decent job soon and then you won't be in a position where you are as dependent on your parents, a position where you can erect healthy adult boundaries if you need to do so. You need to learn to do what is best for yourself, it is frustrating I know, but you may not be able to change the way that your parents view things, it seems that they are in denial. All that you can do is to take steps to protect yourself.

Both of the books that I recommended are available at most large mall bookstores. Hope that they can help you,


"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark

#324618 - 03/10/10 12:50 AM Re: Invalidation, Gaslighting, and Denial... [Re: Trucker51]
WellILikeDirt Offline

Registered: 03/10/10
Posts: 17
BigV you are not crazy. You are not imagining anything and you remember what you remember.

I still deal with my parents and have to speak with my mother (who sexually abused me throughout my childhood) who continues to pretend like she didn't touch me, rub me... who still continues to act jealous like a girlfriend who I am cheating on even though I am a married man.

You are not alone my friend and you are not crazy. I too have goals and aspirations and yet I can't seem to finish anything I start, I have been and continue to deal with self-destructive behaviour (I cut my arms, I have scars all over them and they don't even mention them.) I have attempted suicide because I just couldn't live with who I have become, all I want is to have fun, feel the air on a sunny day and enjoy it again... but instead all I can do is wait for the next thing to happen to me.

You are not alone and you are not crazy.


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