Yes, Virginia, there are real fucking monsters in this world. And, if you’re not careful, you may accidentally invite one into your life and then never be able to un-invite him.
Deal with it. [insert fake smile]
I’ve been doing really well at keeping Oscar and all the other Dreadifuss Beasts at bay lately.
Yay Me! Yay Sparkly Bangles! Yay Other Stuff!
Then I had to interact with the one, Real-Live Monster in my life.
He has a lot of names, but “Real Live Monster” (RLM) seems to sum him up pretty well. Dreadifuss Beasts can be horrible and mean, but they are also so ugly they are cute and mostly just scared and acting all big and mean so they can protect me from whatever they are really scared about. (Shout out to Havi, who taught me this important lesson about monsters/Dreadifuss Beasts) Those guys come from a place of love.
The RLM isn’t just a voice in my head (although, I’ve come to realize that quite a few of the Dreadifuss Beasts voices are really just him, in disguise) he is real and he does NOT come from a place of love. Well, not love for me anyway. Love to be “RIGHT!”, maybe. He sees the world like this: All Good or All Bad (and “all bad = kim and kim = all bad”) and this: I Deny All Mistakes & I Remember Every Single One of Yours In Vivid Detail and this: You Think You Can Leave Me? I’ll Show You and Show You and Show You Again How I’m Still In Control.
I don’t think in terms of “All Bad or All Good”, so I can’t say he is All Bad.**
The best word to describe him (in relationship to me) is:
He has a relentless fixation on making sure I know how awful I am at pretty much everything. Making him my RLM or, more precisely, my RRLM.
Needless to say, our interaction was not a good experience. And, by the time it was over, I felt like everything I have been working so hard just to fucking maintain in terms of mental health was in the process of crumbling right underneath me.
I was right back in the oh-so-familiar place of doom and “He’s right, I’m a horrible terrible very bad person and things would be better without me” that I have lived in, off and on, for almost two decades.
Then, sensing weakness, my “What’s the Point” Dreadifuss Beast broke out of his soundproofed enclosure and went absolutely fucking crazy. He’s an ass. Like a Tasmanian devil, only not cute at all and entirely hateful.
Here’s what his fit of stupid joy sounded like:
“Ooooooooo, What’s the Point?! Doesn’t matter what you do — no no, you’ve already fucked up! No point in even trying now, Kim, you’ve made soooooo many mistakes in your life that you will never recover. What’s the Point in even trying? You’re powerless. Deafeated. No matter what you do Now, you’ve still got to pay for Then. Oh, and you’ll never be done paying for Then, because you are unforgiveable. You’ve disappointed everyone. You can’t be “redeemed”. What’s the Point? And here’s the main thing: Why Try? Just give up! GET BACK UNDER THE COVERS AT ONCE! You suck, just accept it and stop trying to convince anyone (or yourself) otherwise. What’s the Point? Nothing Can Change.
You can see why I prefer to keep him locked up in a soundproof room.
To be honest, the tag-team combination of those two — the RRLM and What’s The Point Beast — knocked me completely off my feet for a few days. For example, I started this post last Thursday (5 whole days ago) and couldn’t finish it because of the crying and the buying in to what they were saying about me and the paralyzing scared-ness that this is how my life is going to be no matter what. Antidepressants or no antidepressants.
Today I decided that this setback is just unacceptable. I need to get some procedures in place for dealing with the RRLM (and his cohorts) before, during and after the interactions.
So, I’m writing a chapter in the Book of Me.
And to remind myself that (a) I’m funny and (b) I have some power. I’m starting off my chapter about the RRLM like this:
Ahhhh, if only it were that easy to get rid of the RRLM.
BOOK OF ME: INTERACTION WITH THE RELENTLESS REAL LIVE MONSTER: BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE NIGHTMARE.
Here’s the thing, sweet pea: He isn’t going away and, more importantly, he isn’t going to change. You need to stop getting excited about little hints of change because they are just used to lure you into interacting with him and once you do that the result is always the same: pain and shock that he hasn’t changed. At all. And he is still relentless.
Before any interaction:
1. Manage your expectations — history has shown that regardless of the reason for the interaction (funerals, celebrations) nothing will deter him from his primary objective of making you “bad” and “wrong”. Stop expecting anything else.
2. Define goals for the interaction — what is the purpose of the interaction? If you’re sharing information write it down and share it, if you’re expecting to receive information make sure what it is you really need to know and ask for it directly and in excruciating detail.
3. Can this be done via email? He doesn’t like email because then he has less control over the conversation. It’s worth a try, but don’t expect to get far before he demands more personal interaction.
4. Start gathering your force fields around you. Anticipate the attacks and make sure no part of you (or your force field) will allow them to pierce your armour just because you kind of, sort of believe it might be true. You know what is true about you, sweet pea, and you take responsibility for those things all the time, you do NOT need to take responsibility for what isn’t yours.
5. These attacks always come, be prepared:
– “You screw everything up.”
– “You are crazy.”
– “You’re a horrible mother.”
– “You always put your [dying] mother’s needs ahead of your son.”
– “Your father would be so disappointed in you.”
– “I don’t care what is going on in your life, but let me tell you what I KNOW is going on in your life, but I don’t care, it’s none of my business.”
– “You’re on a “need to know” basis — I will decide what information about our son that you need to know.”
– “I will bury you like a turd in a sandbox (or some other stupid colorful phrase) if you challenge me.”
– “Our son always comes first in my life…..“
During the Interaction: FORCE FIELDS!
1. Remember when the goals of the interaction are and stick with that.
2. Don’t try to reason with the RRLM – it never works and you end up going down a rabbit-hole of fucked-up logic every time. Don’t do it.
3. When the bullying starts, end the conversation.
4. If you feel yourself feeling like crying and/or screaming, end the conversation.
5. Don’t respond to the personal attacks. Let them slide off your force field.
6. Put him on speakerphone — somehow that makes the hurtful-ness less hurtfull and the crazy-ness more obvious.
7. Never ever ever ever, no matter what he says that seems vaguely human, never put your guard down. It’s like inviting a massacre, Kim. Of you. It’s a trick, don’t fall for it. Seriously. Don’t do it.
After the Interaction: Decontamination, Recovery & Rebuilding
1. Breathe. It’s over.
2. Don’t ruminate about the crazy. It’s his crazy. The more you think about it the more crazy you adopt.
4. Make sure none of his beliefs/statements about you are remaining in your force fields. Those are his, you don’t have to entertain them in your space.
5. Stop trying to figure him out. Really. You’ve spent years of your life on this particular project and it’s never been fruitful.
6. Reality Check! You know very well, sweet pea, that you aren’t a perfect parent, but you are a good parent. And a good person. The fact that the RRLM doesn’t want to let you move past the mistakes you’ve made in the past (ummmm, 10+ years ago, for the ones he mostly wants to harass you about) doesn’t mean YOU can’t move past them.
Remember this: He is NEVER GOING TO FORGIVE YOU, Kim. It isn’t in his nature. You have to forgive yourself. And you have to remember the part about being medicated incorrectly — it isn’t an excuse, sweet pea, but it helps you to put it in perspective for yourself. He is never going to have compassion for you (or, frankly, for anyone) so you need to be sure to have compassion for yourself.
7. Shake it off. Really. You can’t afford to let this get to you, destabilize you and destroy all the progress you’ve made. That would be crazy. Don’t be crazy. Move on.
**And because I know things are not All Good or All Bad I am able to see that part of him is scared and scarred and that our relationship/my behavior triggered every bad scary thing that he had ever imagined when he was growing up. And for that I am sorry. I truly am. And as much as he hates me (which is a LOT), he loves our son a billion-trillion-times more + 1. He is a good father. And I love that about him, which makes it even harder for me to see him as All Bad. He isn’t All Bad.