There she was, moving her young, strong body on the silks. I’m amazed at what she can do, how well she can climb, and her courage to try new things. She finished her routine, bowed to the audience, and came, clearly proud, to see me afterwards, even though it was her dad’s visitation time.
But in divorcing a fucktard, there is more to her story and mine than meets the eye. On the outside, it looked like a sweet family event. My daughter was not performing alone, but with her dad. Her uncle, a family friend, my ex’s girlfriend’s ex husband and their two daughters were all sitting in a line. My ex’s girlfriend was performing, too.
It made me think back to when I was a little girl and wanted my daddy’s love more than anything on earth. I wanted to be good enough for him. I frequently was not. Watching the enmeshment unfold in my daughter with her dad, I could not help but think she, too,wants her dad’s love. When she was introduced, I felt a tight catch in my heart when the announcer said she rides horses. The truth is, my daughter does not ride horses. Horseback riding costs money, and money is tight in my household due to the retaliative actions of fucktard. I have to worry about affording groceries, forget about lessons. But he can pay for all the circus classes in the world, and choose to not nurture his daughter’s love for horses. Instead, he sets up his daughter to chase after him through following his passions, and teaches her to learn to neglect her own. It sickens me in the stomach and makes me feel terrible for my kids. Behind the smiles and makeup and circus clothes, there is a terrible sickness.
One year, they both tried out for a circus act. He made it, she did not. I was furious with him, but she took it in stride and accepted that as normal. He called me four times in the middle of their music recital one spring, demanding to talk with the children as if I were withholding. He teaches at their school, too, so there was no reason for him to just not know that they were performing. He was in Florida with his girlfriend. He won’t attend a school performance that is important to our children, and he won’t even pay a school fee despite the fact that he works at the school.
In my head, I know this is what enmeshment looks like. Your interests are my interests. In my ex’s family, his brother in law’s house had been his parents’. They used it to store their furniture by placing the furniture in the rooms. No boundaries as to whose house is whose, any inkling that you are capable of having your own belongings or interests.
This includes children. Children are community property, they learn to be who they are as defined by the enmeshment, they are expected to share interests and memories and the distinct lack of boundaries of dysfunction. They can also expect that should they start to have their voice, they will be shunned.
So, I have a grip on the dysfunction, but why do these faking performances of seeming normalcy bother me so much? I’m still working on that one. My anger towards enablers and fellow enmesh-ees is nearly as big as my anger toward my abuser. They support abuse through their charade. It’s gaslighting and it’s dishonest. I struggle so with the existence of people like that. I was told so many times as a child that I was not telling the truth that I started to believe I was a liar. It is so marginalizing when you’ve experienced abuse to be exposed to a subtext that such a wonderful person could never have impure motives, therefore, you are the evil one. I wondered if I had anger problems, if I was the abuser, I obsessed over what label I had-could I be a narcissist? It took so much going back and grounding in reality. Years of work. I’m not a narcissist or abuser. I was pushed down again and again and again. I got triggered. And I still get upset when I see the lie, the enmeshment.
I have work to do with my kids to help them find their voice, to help them out of the quagmire of narcissistic enmeshment.
In the language of those healing from a relationship with a narcissist, the enablers and co-narcissists are called “flying monkeys.” How fitting, then, that even as my daughter is in the air showing her strength, even as his girlfriend joined the act, that they would dress up and be circus performers, flying for him, leaving themselves behind.