Survivor no more

Everyone said I was a survivor, and for a long time it was true. Whatever happened, I always picked myself up and remembered how to smile and to laugh again. I learnt to bevel the jagged edges of every cruel shard that pierced my heart, and although they resisted  eviction, my labour removed some of the sting, leaving a broad ache, but there is a limit to how much broken glass one heart can hold, and today I think mine has exceeded it. My heart appears split in two. I feel the shrapnel hitting against my ribcage; no longer contained by that sad little vessel that fought so hard to stay in one piece. Blood spits and drips down the cracked walls of my existence. I have felt almost this way before, but this time it is different. How can I survive this?

Written for The Sandbox Writing Challenge 40: What makes you a survivor?

©Jane Paterson Basil

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42 thoughts on “Survivor no more

    1. I’ve finally been faced with the fact that Paul is a monster. He ‘borrowed’ my mobile this morning – I had no say in the matter. When I got it back several hours later he’d forgotten to delete some texts. They were very revealing. I knew he was a lyer, butI didn’t know how far his lies stretched. He’s used me horribly, and had no plans for changing his behaviour. I hope that tomorrow I will have the courage to show the messages to his probation officer. He shouldn’t be on the loose.
      If I do that, he will be out of prison at the beginning of September, and I will try to find the strength to have nothing to do with him. It’s so hard – he sneaks in through the cracks whether I want him to or not.
      He’s my son. I love him, but this time he’s broken my heart. If I could find a way to stop loving him I would.

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      1. “If I could find a way to stop loving him I would.” No, Jane. If you could do that you wouldn’t be Jane. You will always find the way to love him in spite of himself. It’s who you are as a mother. I don’t pretend to even BEGIN to understand what you’ve gone through with your kids. But time after time I’ve seen you do had things that were best for Paul and Laura, and I think you will do it again. You’re an exceptional mother and woman, Jane. {{{ ❤ Jane ❤ }}}

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        1. You’re very kind. I think the best thing for Paul may be prison, and no contact with me when he comes out. He needs me more than he needs anyone, but he abuses me. I can’t stop him. Maybe if he has no access to me he will change – maybe. I don’t think so, but it’s my only hope. In any case, I can’t take the abuse any more.

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          1. Then you already know what you have to do for him and for you to protect yourself. My brother was selling when he moved in with my folks as an adult. One night some really bad guys showed up and wanted their money. They. Threw him around pretty bad. I was so thankful my folks weren’t home at the time. All they did was make excuses for him. And dad bailed his butt out of jail constantly against my and Cindy’s advice. They should have left him in there. In the end he testfied against the guy he was selling for and then got scared for his life and had to leave town in the middle of the night. Broke my folks’ heart. But he’s still alive. He only saw them a half dozen times after that. Do what you need to do, Jane. You’re at risk, too. They had threatened all of us. Wecwere plenty scared and helpless to do anything.

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            1. It’s horrible to find yourself a victim in other people’s nasty games, isn’t it. It must have been sickening to see your parents protecting him. I’m way past that, but I don’t know whether I’ll make it to the probation office tomorrow. I’ve talked to Claire about it, and I’m going to see Sarah in a few minutes. I’ll try to go with whatever she suggests – and I have a pretty good idea of what that will be. She hates seeing me hurt.
              Did your brother change his ways? What kind of a relationship do you have with him now?

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              1. No he didn’t. Not for a long time. Somehow he managed to find the same kind of trouble in Ohio where he moved to, but it never went that far again. I blame that on the girl he got involved with, though. She was VERY high maintenance and snooty and he was just trying to keep her in jewelry. When my folks passed away he took his share of the estate, bought her this huge-ass diamond, and took her to Hawaii to propose to her. Filled the room up with Bird of Paradise and Orchids. He blew it all on her. Only to find out a few years down the road (they lived far enough apart that they could only be together on the weekends) that she’d been living with someone during the week. He finally saw the light, wrote her and said it was over. She died of liver disease about three years later and he totally blamed himself. Thought if he’d been with her he could have taken care of her. He grieved so deeply he started eating and gained 200 lbs.

                Our relationship now? He is extremely arrogant and self-center. A real butt head. If he doesn’t get something from us like for his BD or Christmas boy does he get unhappy. But though we never miss sending him something, we have never gotten so much as a card from him since the very early days of his exile. He was too busy spending his money on Patty. When she passed away her daughter, Andrea, gave Mike the ring back. It was a $10,000 ring, but of course you can never get out of them what you put into them.

                I suppose he’s mellowing now that he’s going to hit 60 this year, but truthfully, I can’t stand him. You can’t even have a conversation with him because everything is about him. Today was Memorial Day. That day is always hard for me where he’s concerned. He NEVER sends any money t put flowers on our folks’ graves or anything. It make me angry.

                Now aren’t you glad you asked?!!!

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                1. Well, yes I am. He sounds like a cuckoo in the nest – are you sure you’re related to him? You must have got all of the good genes. I think you are an angel for bothering to send him gifts. I like how you
                  say ‘Somehow he managed to find the same kind of trouble in Ohio,’ as if he wasn’t entirely to blame.
                  So, memorial day always brings this wound to the surface. I’m not surprised. We can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family…

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                  1. Someday I hope he realizes how he’s disconnected from us. I talk to him a couple times a month. He’s been struggling with heart problems and diabetes since 2006. I often wonder what would happen if he passes away.

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                    1. I would say my sister and I keep in touch more out of guilt than because I’m loyal. Maybe because we know that’s what our folks would want. But he’s not a particularly nice person, and I often struggle with the fact that if he were gone it wouldn’t affect my life much at all. That’s sad…

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  1. Jane I’m so very sorry for all your going through…forgive me for being to blunt, but Paul being in prison may not only be the best for him,,,but for you as well…..give you a chance to get your bearings and figure out what’s best for you….❤️❤️❤️

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    1. It means a lot to me, you saying that – I agree, but was afraid of being judged harshly by those who haven’t been where I am, if I suggested it.I seem to have finally reached the point where I can’t take any more xx

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      1. Honestly Jane, you can’t worry about what others think..not one of those folks who would judge you are living/walking in your shoes….you’ve gone well above and beyond…..you can still love your child and not like what they chose to do with their lives….as an adult, he’s accountable for his choices….and everything he’s done or is doing is his choice………..XO

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        1. Thank you again, for those kind words. You are quite right, of course. There’s an insulting remark people used to make around here; “He’d shop his own granny,” and it keeps running through my head. I know that if granny was a serial killer or even a mugger it would be the right thing to do, but it hurts… xx

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  2. I am so sorry Jane. What you are doing is one of the hardest and bravest things a person can do. I blew up my marriage last year in part because my husband was in denial of his two sons behavior. I just couldn’t take the disfunctional family dynamic any more. My action was the wake up call that helped him see the truth but I feel guilty every day for how it had to go down even though it was the right thing to do. Look out for yourself Jane. There is no shame in that and the reality is only Paul can help Paul.

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    1. I suspected you’d had a break-up last year, but didn’t like to ask. Even when the love is gone, it’s a hard move to make, but maybe love him still, so it’s all the harder. I’m so sorry – and sorry I knew nothing of this.
      Guilt so often raises its head in places where it doesn’t belong. I hope you get past that soon.
      Thank you for your supportive words – they would have helped me to find the strength to make the right move, but I no longer have to. Providence has stepped in. I just got a call from a friendly police officer, and my sweet little shoplifting son is in the cells.

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      1. Thank you for your kind words. It was in my poetry but I wasn’t going to blatantly publicize it. Unfortunately a blogger who was of the mind to “kick someone when they were down” and who didn’t know anything about my private life went on the attack both publicly and privately accusing me of all sorts of bullshit. Oh well.
        Keep building that inner strength Jane. You have a reprieve for now but eventually he will get out and you will have to stand strong again.

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        1. What a weirdo! That must have been upsetting.
          Paul will be charming and lovely all the time he’s in prison. He’ll tell me how guilty he feels, and how he’ll never behave that way again, blah blah.
          Yes, it will be difficult. I washorrible to him when he phoned me from the police station. He was talking his usual crap and lying to me. I had to put the phone down on him in the end. He’s going to have a bad night. He hates it when I’m angry with him. Unbelievable!

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      2. I struggle with telling you this because it is incredibly harsh. A counselor that we went to three years ago asked my husband: “What is your greatest fear?” My husband said “My son will die.” Then the counselor said “You will stop being an enabler when you are willing to let him die.” It wasn’t judgmental, he was free to accept it this horrific consequence or not. But it did make the dynamic come into laser sharp focus and he was able to see the true boundaries and make decisions accordingly. And the sad truth is, even with your best efforts, they may die anyway. It is all a matter of what each individual can live with in the end.

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          1. Not hasten necessarily, just that the fear of his son’s death caused him to be an enabler, to bail him out of his scrapes. But worse was that his kid’s Mom was a full blown enabler that consistently undid everything we worked on. Then I got the blamed for being the bad guy; not loving them, not knowing what I was doing, blah, blah, blah.

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            1. People who are constantly bailed out take greater and greater risks, and become increasingly selfishSo you were the wicked stepmother, with everyone around you manipulating and playing games. It’s a terrible situation to be in, and one which kicks holes into your self-esteem. It’s good that you got out of it, and I hope the scars heal so completely that you no longer remember what they looked like.
              And – it’s not helpful to be attacked by a blogger who knows nothing about you, but I suspect he/she had similar issues to those around you.

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  3. Jane, what a tough time for you ! Just to tag onto the trail of comments here, an enabler is not necessarily someone who is enabling good behaviour. It may be that the enabler is inadvertently/unknowingly/or not, enabling dysfunctional behaviour. It’s terminology that is linked to the Games People Play, transactional analysis stuff we briefly discussed some time ago. I’m glad you have some breathing space at least for now to regroup and recharge yourself. Of course Paul hates you being angry with him – it means he has no power to manipulate you in that space. Just saying … xxxx

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    1. Thank you Raili, for the reminder of the reason that Paul can’t stand me being angry with him – if I forget that I’ll be more likely to weaken, and, more than ever, I need to be strong. He’s becoming even more determined – but he’s also getting clumsy xxx

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      1. The more you refuse to play along, the more pressure he will try to exert to pull you back in, until he gives up because you’re not responding to him. I know it’s hard Jane, but stay strong. Sending you much love xxx

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        1. Suddenly I don’t have to be strong. Something has happened over the past twenty four hours. For weeks I’ve been telling him that one day it may be too late to repair our relationship, and it could happen at any moment. I meant it. I think it has happened. I no longer care if he is cold or hungry or in pain. He has taken too much from me, and never given anything back – never even cared about me. All this time I’ve been telling myself it’s because of the drugs, but it’s not. It’s because he’s a monster.
          Maybe he will change, but it doesn’t matter, and I feel liberated. What’s more, I don’t care if people are horrified by my honesty.

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          1. That’s fantastic Jane ! You HAVE liberated yourself 🙂 No one who knows you would ever think you’re a monster! It sounds to me like you have found and accepted Paul for what he is, knowing that you are incapable of changing him. Acknowledging this has liberated you. Only he can do that. There is a peace in taking this massive kind of step. Bless you xxx .

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            1. Thank you for your supportive response Raili.
              This has been such a long time coming, and I had no idea it would feel so good. I want to take Sarah and Claire out to celebrate,though I’m not sure it would be appropriate, because Claire wouldn’t know whether to be happy or sad – she and Paul used to be very close It’s all been very traumatic for her, just as Laura’s deterioration has been very hard on Sarah – but I have to do something. I feel as if I’m entering a new stage in my life.

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