I have always been a strong writer and communicator, but growing up in a home full of narcissistic abuse and neglect, it never felt like it. As a child, I was often heartbroken and confused because I thought my parent’s inability to understand me was my fault. They blamed me for nefarious intentions I never had. They presumed malice that was never there. I didn’t get why they saw my seemingly simple requests as something to be threatened or angry about. Direct confrontation was cause for extreme reaction and punishment, so I learned not to have needs for basic things like boundaries or attention.
I tried to brush it off, but as much as I tried, the unmet need to be heard and understood never left me. Because I thought it was my fault my parents didn’t understand me, I overcompensated. I set out to express myself with as much clarity as I possibly could. If I shared my thoughts and feelings, I was very careful to not offend others in the process. I learned to explain myself carefully, stay ultra-neutral, not make waves, acknowledge the feelings of others, and absorb conflict. As an adult, I could see and express all points of view, including my own. I became an excellent communicator, but it still didn’t feel like it. As much as I tried, it wasn’t enough for my parents to ever see or hear me. And then, other people lacking empathy entered my life and reinforced the wound.
In spite of making a lifetime effort to express complex thoughts and emotions in a clear and simple way, I sometimes still carry the false notion that if someone doesn’t understand me, it’s my failure, not theirs. So today, I am making a declaration. If you don’t understand, it’s not my fault.
It boils down to this. People either have empathy or they don’t. I wasn’t successful in gaining understanding from my parents, because they had none to give. They were the wrong audience. Survivors of abuse often struggle to gain closure because they so desperately want the ones who abused them to suddenly see the light. But they won’t. It is not worth the psychic hell to waste energy on anyone who lacks empathy or understanding. Give that person a mental funeral.
Perhaps the most healing thing I’ve done is unplug my need for understanding from my abusers and plug in those who can relate. This blog has been instrumental for me in finding my audience. I spent a lifetime feeling alone and alienated, misunderstood for going no contact, feeling weird and judged for being an orphan when my parents are still alive. I had never met anyone else who had to go no contact with their parents for their own survival. Alienated, yes, but full-on leave town and leave no forwarding address, no.
Now I have a whole community of people who get it. When I started this blog a few months ago, I really didn’t set out to build an audience. I just needed a platform to have something to say. But this blog has gone viral now several times over, and I am getting messages daily from those who say it has helped them in their own journey. It’s a double bonus that not only am I free from my abusers, but I have gained an opportunity to speak to those who deserve the most attention. My audience is beautiful and sensitive. My audience is kind-hearted. My audience understands. I am forever grateful.