Tell me one of us who hasn’t been in the pit. I’ve been there, for a very, very long time. The pit is where we end up if we don’t get our shit together, if and when we pity ourselves too much for too long, and/or when we don’t have the knowledge and language to describe what we’re going through. Knowledge and understanding is key.
It pains me to know that I spent so many years not knowing what was actually going on with mom and all her relations while she was alive. It pains me that I had to spend so many years unknowing, and thus also unable to communicate what was going on inside my head and heart. So much time wasted in such a dark place, when things could’ve been so different.
It reminds me of the absolutely first therapist I went to, when I was 19. In Sweden, there was something (I don’t know if it still exists) called “Ungdomsmottagningen” – a medical care reception sort of thingie for teenagers, where they could get condoms, get tested for sexually transferred diseases – and to see a councellor. I did the last for about a year, and she was amazing. She’s the first and only one who discussed my mother at any length (until I met my last therapist). I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember her saying we should invite mom to a session – and I refused.
Had that happened, mom would’ve disowned me, and I’m not kidding.
One of the things I really dislike about growing up with a narcissistic parent is just how complex everything becomes. Where one thing depends on another that depends on three more, and eventually there’s a thousand webs criss-crossing each other, and it becomes impossible to see what begins and ends where, and how it co-relates with everything else. And that’s just the beginning.
And I wonder if that’s not where the pit is. In the midst of all these strands of web, where you’re so tied up in confusion and frustration, scared out of your mind because you can’t make sense of any of it.
If anyone wonders, I have no answer to the question on how to get out of the pit, away from all these webs of mess and misery. The only answer I have is – get a hold of one strand, see where it leads, untangle where you can, then grab a hold of another – and to keep it going. In my experience – well, that’s pretty much what I did. I’m sure it may be quicker if you have help of, say, a therapist – but it is possible to do on your own. It just takes a very long time and is extremely difficult. Perhaps unnecessarily difficult.
I guess it varies between individuals, the questions that arise when you’re in the pit. I also guess it varies, due to how the relationship with the parent looked, who they were, exactly what damage they did and the wounds that remains. For me, and for my siblings (at least to my understanding, since I’m only in touch with one of them), the damage was severe. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible, and if I’m imagining it – but I don’t think that I do. Not when the only sibling I am in touch with expresses the exact same thoughts and questions as I do.
Some of the things I found most difficult was the knowledge I hadn’t learned how to live in a normal manner, that I hadn’t learned how to regulate my emotional state, how to relate to other people in a healthy, constructive way, that everything I knew about being a human and a woman was what I learned from mom – and that I also had no idea of how to become something else, regardless of how little it suited me being what she was.
But also in the realization that the victimized mentality I inherited from her was not for me to have. Or, rather – I didn’t want it, but I didn’t know or understand how to get rid of it. Especially not since life tended to throw crap at me at any given moment. The self-image of myself as a victim was confirmed on a regular basis, and since I was unable to regulate my emotional response, everything became so extremely overwhelming for me, all the time.
And instead of focusing on those things, let’s take a look at what it’s actually like, being in the pit. Let’s remember, and be grateful that we’re out on the other side. And if you’re still in it – please, know that it gets better. You’ll have to wade through it, you’ll drown in it, but one day you’ll wake up and be on the other side without knowing how you got there.
Being in the pit, for me, was to drown in darkness. It was carrying a weight of guilt and shame so heavy I couldn’t breathe, literally. Some days I had to force my body to inhale and exhale. For years and years, I had to watch myself go deeper and deeper into the pit, to see my life fall into pieces over and over again, I lost all my dignity and more, because I didn’t understand how to stop the negative spiral with me in the midst of it. I stopped being a human and became a broken shell of nothing.
And you can’t live when you’re a broken shell of nothing. It’s not possible. A broken shell has no place in society or in life, and so I felt guilty and ashamed for that as well. And I didn’t know where to start. It took me years and years to get anywhere, and that’s only the survival part of it. And not only did I feel that guilt and shame, I was also jealous at everyone else who managed to live their lives as it should be done. I felt like such an outsider, totally alienated from humanity.
I cannot even begin to express the gratitude for being on the other side of the pit. I suppose I need to be aware that I could end up there again. For the first time ever, I feel like this is the point from which I can move forward – and perhaps even find myself a life that I can fill with myself and things that are important to me.
This blog and the coming Youtubechannel are among these things.
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