Independence Day Again

7 Jul

Do you have an independence day? No, I’m not talking about a national holiday, but the day you were set free because you realized a relationship with someone you loved was not going to work any more? It seems we have many independence days along this journey from narcissism. Sometimes we have to get up and declare our independence just to get out of bed in the morning, but several years ago I claimed July seventh for my personal independence day. It started because seven is my favorite number.

My Grandma used to tell me I was lucky to be born on the seventh day of the month and the seventh day of the week. By lucky she meant blessed. She believed seven is God’s special number and in her Grandmotherly way she wanted me to know I was God’s special child. So I took joy in the number seven and adopted it for my own, but the good things God provides can sometimes be misused by his enemy.

Seven years ago my family went through what I call the great divorce. Two of my siblings divorced that summer. When I stood up for a child to have access to both parents in a nasty divorce, my parents tried to discredit the truth I spoke by writing a letter to a judge proclaiming me to be a liar and religious fanatic. They said I make stuff up just to hurt people. Of course those who really know me would realize this letter was a lie, but the fact my own parents lied about me and dated it on 7/7 was crushing. Even the date on their letter seemed to taunt me.

If it weren’t for God, my loving husband, my sweet friend Mary Lou who adopted me and a father and mother in law who gave me reassuring love, I’m not sure what I would have done. Since then, I’ve seen my parents twice in seven years. The first was when I asked them to join me at the Spaghetti Factory. It ended with my mom trying to shame me for telling the truth and my dad yelling at me in the parking lot and calling me mentally ill.

A year later on a bright blue sky New Year’s Day, I was sitting in church and felt it was a good time to let bygones be bygones so I asked my husband if we could leave in the middle of church service and I called my parents and we drove to their house. I felt they loved me and wanted us to have a relationship, but sadly the relationship could only be on their terms and part of their terms was for me to stop writing about my peripatetic childhood and most importantly the use of the belt and my being refused a high school education. They believed my only goal in writing about my pain was to cause them pain.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of my journey to emotional freedom from narcissistic abuse. Back then I had no name for my distress. I would never think of my parents as narcissistic because they’ve never been vain about how they look. I had no clue narcissism is often manifested by the fear of what other people think. And this fear propels narcissistic people to control and belittle those who don’t do what they want.

When I confronted my father about the letter to the judge, he laughed at me and challenged me to tell him what it said. Then he said he didn’t remember what he said because he just wrote it to discredit me. I’ll spare you the details of our three hour long conversation. Most of it was about my theology.

Wherever I’ve lived, I never really felt I needed new friends because my main friends were always my family, but after the great divorce everything changed. It felt like most of my family died in a bus wreck—except they were still alive—just not speaking to me. I think the death of cherished relationship before someone dies might even be worse than physical death. How I wish there was some magic cure for all of our misunderstandings about God, self-protection and narcissism.

As I was working on my memoir today, I noticed the date with great sorrow. It’s been seven years since they wrote the letter and over five since I’ve seen my parents. I’ve never been a grudge holder, but I’ve discovered without honesty and respect, it’s pretty hard to keep a relationship going.

I still love my parents–both of them. But the question is do they love me enough to be honest and treat me with respect? We can’t keep calling people who have very little to say to us and we can’t make people appreciate having us in their lives. Even God lets people go to their own choices. Fundamentally these lies have broken our relationship.

I’ve even had family members say you never know how long they will live, but then do any of us have a guarantee of tomorrow? I used to be the one who called everyone in my family to stay in touch, but after the great divorce, I realized relationships are a two-way street. I still wish I could be near my parents and do things for them, but I can no longer do it at the cost of my emotional, physical and spiritual health. Even Jesus said we have to shake dust off of our feet rather than stay and fight with people who can’t support us. If we are to reunite it will be up to their choices and Jesus.

Sophia Owl,,

Prints and Accessories Available Here

Every year on July 7, I celebrate my independence day, because without that letter and the subsequent conversations, I might never have used the knife that stabbed in me in the back to cut the apron strings. Discovering the truth about narcissism a couple years ago, filled in another piece of my healing puzzle. Today I realize it’s not mean to tell my own story. As a matter of fact a good memoirist tells on herself as much as she does anyone else. This book I’m writing has been prayed over with many tears because I don’t want to hurt the people I love. At the same time, truth brings healing to all who embrace it.

So now it’s been seven years since that sad day on 7/7, seven years of mostly silence from my family, but I’m still celebrating my freedom from the control and expectations of others. I celebrate that I have a husband who has stood by my side and loves me for over twenty six years. I have now officially been with him longer than without him. I celebrate that I am loved by a loving father in heaven. I celebrate all the wonderful people who have loved me and befriended me in the last seven years.

And through my celebration I will continue to release and let go and of my own pain and expectations.  I will release art. I will release stories and books and I will release my gifts and love for God and people who are worthy of hearing my story.

So this is a little insight into my memoir writing and why I am doing less art and writing less blogs while I am focusing on my book.  I hope this encourages you if you are struggling to stand up to tell your story. Memoirs have been called modern fairy tales. We can never have too many stories because all of our stories matter.

Peace and freedom to all!

14 Responses to “Independence Day Again”

  1. Pam Baxter July 7, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    You are so right, i know I have had a few independence days in my life. But on my birthday in 2012, I the biggest firework show not only in my head but in my life. My son came to see me for my bday. While we talking about some of the narsasistic abuse in our extended family, he opened the cage door. He told me , “Mom its not going to hurt me,its past time you do something about it.” I know I didn’t really need permission, don’t get me wrong. After spending my life covering up my own abuse to protect other people,( including my child) it was unexplainable how it felt to have him say that to me. I did it. I can’t say he didn’t get hurt , he did, he became a target, (along with the rest of my children and my husband) to hurt me. But I did it. I declared independence day and my husband drove me to the court house where I talked to prosecutors and police. That little, seemingly ordinary conversation, changed my life. I stood up for my self against the biggest monsters in my mind and life. Its been 4 years and a lot of heart break, frustration, and of coarse harrasment, but Nov. 2015, the man who sexually abused me for over 9 years was sentenced to 5 years. And I now have not had any harrasment ( knock on wood) from his family or mine over keeping quiet since that day.I was 36 years old ( that abuse started when I was 4) . The freedom I feel from not being under those ppl thumbs, stalked, harrased and threatened is hard to explain. To not live in constant fear, I was literally held hostage my whole life. Any way I love your blog , can’t wait for the book.

  2. Cherilyn Clough July 7, 2016 at 10:19 pm #

    Oh Pam! What a survivor you are! Bravo! What courage that must’ve took! Thank you for sharing this with me. I see your name often and now I know a little of your story. I really feel honored that you shared this with me! Thank you! May you continue to have peace and freedom for the rest of your life!


  3. Andrea July 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm #

    I can so relate to your post and just wanted to congratulate you on deciding to use those wings to fly, instead of continuing to be stranded on the ground because of others and what they said and did. It’s ridiculously hard to get to that point, for many people I’ve spoken to. I first left home at 16, knowing full well things weren’t right, but made the typical mistake of going back later on many occasions and for much time, particularly in my 20s, because I felt guilty somehow and as if I had to make it up to them, which was a total waste of time and effort. The notion of them having anything to make up to me has never entered their heads, in all this time.

    It’s only for this past half year that I’ve personally started to feel the feelings I had to squash down to survive as a child, feelings that haunted me all my adult life and visited me as nameless nightmares I could never remember, until the pictures came back together with the emotions last Christmas, and I suddenly understood what that was all about. I used to be cry at the drop of a hat watching sad movies but could never cry for what had happened to me as a little girl. I was just numb somehow, in full intellectual awareness of past circumstances. And without access to those cut-off feelings you can’t grieve, and without grieving you can’t let it really go.

    Have just been talking to a friend, also in forties, and she said, “You’ve got to wash that dirty laundry and rinse it with clean water and expose it to the sun, and only then can you fold it up and put it away.” She says talk about it, get it out of your system, let your truth be known. She’s so right: There’s no healing without daylight.

    Thanks again for sharing your story. What perpetrators don’t seem to understand is that it’s not about them, it’s about us and about trying to become whole people after coming from a long way behind on a difficult road. It’s a jinx when image is more important to people than compassion, appearance more important than actual reality.

    What was that quote about whitewashed graves, you know, all shiny and white on the outside, but inside, full of decay and dead men’s bones?

    Our best wishes to you.

  4. Andrea July 7, 2016 at 11:32 pm #

    PS: Since you write poetry about this whole conundrum on this blog, I just thought you might also like this one, in case you’ve not heard of it before. Was listening to it on headphones one day and thought, “Oh wow, it’s about exactly that!”

    “The Troubles”

    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Little by little they robbed and stole
    Till someone else was in control

    You think it’s easier
    To put your finger on the trouble
    When the trouble is you
    And you think it’s easier
    To know your own tricks
    Well, it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do

    I have a will for survival
    So you can hurt me and hurt me some more
    I can’t live with denial
    But you’re not my troubles anymore

    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Little by little they robbed and stole
    Till somebody else was in control

    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Little by little they robbed and stole
    Till someone else was in control

    You think it’s easier
    To give up on the trouble
    If the trouble is destroying you
    You think it’s easier
    But before you threw me a rope
    It was the one thing I could hold on to

    I have a will for survival
    So you can hurt me then hurt me some more
    I can’t live with denial
    But you’re not my troubles anymore

    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Little by little they robbed and stole
    Till someone else was in control

    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Little by little they robbed and stole
    Till someone else was in control

    God knows it’s not easy
    Taking on the shape of someone else’s pain
    God now you can see me
    I’m naked and I’m not afraid
    My body’s sacred and I’m not ashamed

    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Little by little they robbed and stole
    Till someone else was in control

    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Somebody stepped inside your soul
    Little by little they robbed and stole
    Till someone else was in control

    (From U2’s “Songs of Innocence”)

  5. Barbara Womack July 8, 2016 at 2:49 am #

    Best wishes on your memoir. I hope you will share it when it’s finished! I’ve been working on memoir myself. It is a difficult proposition at best.
    I had never thought of declaring an independence day. I wish I could. My mother controls a portion of my income which she refuses to relinquish despite her advanced age. You cannot imagine the stress and anxiety this subject causes me.
    But, your posts give me inspiration and hope.
    I hope you will have a peace-filled anniversary!

  6. Bonnie B July 8, 2016 at 5:44 am #

    At 29, moved 1000 miles to escape borderline mom and narcissist older brother. Seven years later she retired, moved 1000 miles to live near me. 12 years later, had to put her in assisted living (ALZ) she bade me take her dog. Then she forgot, called ALL her friends and kin, said I stole her dog, and car and money. My narcissist brother bade her sell her house out from under me, I had moved 25 miles to be nearer her facility. My one good brother told him to leave us both alone. Then, narcissist brother wife suggest they call the police on me for elder abuse. Good brother asked her if she was out of her GDFing mind. Bottom line, I went no contact with brother and wife, permanently in 2011, AND by suggestion of my missionary mentor, didn’t visit mom for a YEAR. When I saw her again, she said “When did you get so big?”. She had shrunk. On her death bed, she called me “sweet and beautiful” 1st time I remember in 50 years. A week later she was gone, after I held her hand and prayed. NOW I am FREE and healing in EVERY way, looking to my own needs, for the 1st time in my life (this began 21 years after my 1000 mile move). I believe in the Lord and the power of 7 – and also 7 *3, because, in ’96 I rededicated myself to the Lord and every 7 years since, big things. 2017 is going to be my year! Blessings to you and your site – you are the 1st to put it “all together” for me…..

  7. Kat July 8, 2016 at 8:19 am #

    Cherilyn, you give me hope and the freedom to know there are others who understand and don’t judge. People who have or who have lost a parent they shared unconditional love with just can’t comprehend the pain in losing parents who are still living. I am grieving a loss I will have to grieve again when they do pass on. I am afraid for this day, but through their “flying monkeys” they have made it clear I am not welcome at their home (lol never felt welcome anyways) I have been written out of their will ( the only thing I ever wanted from them is NOT material- they have nothing I want) and I will not be notified of any illness or death or welcome at their funeral. Oh, yeah, and…I’m short. lol They really packed the hate in to those emails.
    Now, they plot and plan how to destroy my cherished relationships- husband, daughter, a sister…Thankfully, I do have people who love me.
    All in all, I have days where the freedom makes me happy and days where it crushes me.
    Thank you for showing me that I can survive this too. ❤ You are a blessing.

  8. Cherilyn Clough July 8, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    Hi Andrea,
    Thank you for sharing part of your story! When you said,

    “I felt guilty somehow and as if I had to make it up to them, which was a total waste of time and effort. The notion of them having anything to make up to me has never entered their heads, in all this time.”

    This really resonated with me. I too, didn’t know how to find my own feelings because I was so used to feeling theirs first. I have never felt they owed me anything, but it would be nice if they just acknowledged their mistakes and let me be free to make my own choices without constant criticism and pressure to be like them.

    I wish you greater healing every day!

    Peace and freedom to you!


  9. Cherilyn Clough July 8, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    Thank you Andrea! I am a big U2 fan! 🙂

  10. Cherilyn Clough July 8, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    Thank you Barbara! Blessing on your memoir! I am finding it is healing now that I dug up all the painful stuff, I can appreciate the good stuff like all the helpers/ real life angels God sent to help me at different stages of my life. I hope your writing is healing for you too!

    Peace and freedom to you!


  11. Cherilyn Clough July 8, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    Wow Bonnie! Thank you for sharing part of your story with me! You are an amazing survivor! All the gaslighting and mind warps from your family were not lost on me–I know only too well what trauma that was! I’m glad you are free from having to worry and deal with you mom. Too bad she never realized what she had in you, but it was the narcissism talking and when you see it that way you also can know it wasn’t you. I pray for God to bless you extra good now and in 2017!

    Our healing seems to come in cycles doesn’t it? I heard someone say once if you believe the same things about God that you did five years ago then you might not be growing. I have found that God is always seeking to lead us further on the journey but sometimes we are not ready yet, so he patiently walks beside us even when we are headed in the wrong direction. Oh what peace to know the love of God!

    Peace and freedom to you!


  12. Cherilyn Clough July 8, 2016 at 8:44 am #

    Hi Kat,

    Thank you for sharing your story with me. I can feel your pain in all of this. It is too familiar. I have had some pretty awful messages too. One family member turned everything I ever said to help them against me and my husband totally trashing both of us, but at least we have each other and know the truth. And that time, my parents yelled at me outside of the Spaghetti Factory, by the time I got home they wrote me a long email and ended with “You should read 1 Cor. 13, because you don’t know how to love.” Which this was me inviting family to dinner, bringing presents for kids and trying to live an authentic life. I realized they are the ones who lack love and I was able to keep my head on straight partially due to my friend who adopted me as her daughter. She told me about one time her son was so mad at her that he would not open his door when she went to visit him. So she told him through the closed door she would sleep in her car until he opened the door. She was nearly eighty at the time. She said he finally came out and they resolved it. But that is a parent who truly cares about their adult child. I could not understand that until she showed me.

    Yes, we have good days and sad days, but freedom is a wonderful thing. I am not missing all those family fights and all the pressure to make people happy. If I am ever sad, I pull out this poem I wrote to remind myself it is not so fun around that table.

    Oh that remark about being short, well I guess they just made themselves smaller by trying to hurt you with something you have no control over. That really shows the lameness of their minds.

    Take your freedom from clods like that and run sister!

    Peace and freedom to you!


  13. Andrea July 8, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

    Hi Cherilyn,

    Now I’m thinking about the concept of people owing each other.

    I also don’t feel my parents owe me, but for such a long time I felt I owed them. For what? For being alive? For being fed? For material care? I used to feel so guilty when I read statistics like, “It costs on average over $100,000 to raise a child to the age of 18.” I’d think, “How can I ever pay that back to them?” And with every present made to me, for birthdays, Christmas, I’d feel further in the red, and more as if they somehow owned part of me, and I hated the feeling.

    Of course, it’s irrational: I didn’t ask to be born, and when grown adults have a child, they do have an ethical and legal responsibility to provide for them materially (at the very least), in the form of food, clothing, shelter – needs if not necessarily wants. And then there’s the fact that my parents too cost their parents money to raise, and I don’t think they paid them back, like some kind of “mortgage repayments for childhood costs.”

    My parents would probably protest loudly against the idea that I owed them anything financially, were it raised with them. But, they have also been real experts at using guilt and manipulation on me from the time I learnt to walk. And when they did anything for me, it’s so often been with the expectation that this earns them some kind of credit with me: We’ve helped you, now you owe us your help, is the unspoken message.

    I do think it’s totally fair that relationships should be two-way: But as an outgrowth of unconditional love on both sides, rather than the keeping of ledgers. Perhaps what makes the difference, emotionally, is *how* someone does something for you: Is it with happiness to be able to contribute positively? With taking genuine pleasure in someone else’s happiness? Or is it grudgingly, with emphasis on the sacrifice being made on your behalf and how it’s costing them?

    I think that’s what Christ was getting at so much, when he was talking about love, what it is, what it looks like. And that’s actually, in so many ways, what saved me emotionally as a teenager. Reading about those sorts of concepts of love in the gospels on the school bus at thirteen (we’d had those little red pocket New Testaments handed out to us at school) and going, “Yeah, that’s a fabulous way to look at it, and yet what I’ve mostly seen people do, especially at home, is so washed-out and colourless and lacking in substance by contrast.” Plus, intellectually it made me aware that the basic problem wasn’t that I wasn’t lovable, it’s that people had trouble with love.

    Unlike you, I didn’t get religious conditioning at home – my father was an atheist, my mother switched to Anglican because in the citizenship ceremony she swore her allegiance to the Queen and somehow seemed to think this obligated her to take on the Queen’s official religion – from what she said about it. She was always going on about this cult and that, and their leaders, and I’d ask, “But you’re comfortable in a brand founded by someone who broke off from the previous state religion because he wanted to divorce his wives, and who, indeed, had some of them killed? Explain how he was a nice guy?” Organised religion of every sort I looked at was full of these problems, and not immune from endemic bullying and paedophilia, and that was such a far cry from what one read in the gospels. I was free to think like that, since religion wasn’t shoved down my throat in the home, and reading your story it strikes me that it must have been so horrible to have your concept of God skewed by your parents as you were growing up. Just out of curiosity, when did you realise that God wasn’t what they thought he was? I imagine that must have been really liberating.

    I’ve kind of digressed here. About the owing-people: One day I looked at the situation and turned it on its head. I thought, “They act like I owe them for XYZ…and that my life’s effort ever after wouldn’t ever make it up to them. Because they fed me etc etc. Do I ever feel they owe me because I help them out? No, I don’t. It’s more like my “obligation to repay”. But what about being beaten up, belittled, maligned, undermined in my upbringing? That was wrong, and it really cost me, do they owe me for that, and if so, what? Hmmm. It’s not about owe. But if it’s not about owe, then it’s not about owe in either direction.”

    Turning things on their head, I thought about scenarios like, “What if they actually drove 400km to visit us (which doesn’t happen) and then my husband and I holed ourselves up in the bedroom watching some show and shouted through the crack in the door, ‘Food is in the fridge, help yourselves, we’ll be out when we’re done!’? And if they complained, ‘Can’t we all sit down and eat?’ and I said, ‘You really can’t expect us to drop everything just because you’re here’…” wow, how rude. It’s incredible what happens when you turn things 180 degrees like that in your mind, and how it gives you perspective. Before you do that, their behaviour is “normal” in some way, even though it’s not. It’s this double standard: Rules for us versus rules for you.

    So does anyone owe anyone anything, in general? Do even unrelated humans have any sort of obligation towards each other?

    In general, I do kind of think everyone owes everyone else common decency and good manners, and a basic level of respect – and that’s not quite consistent with the thoughts I had above. Maybe that’s where I’ve gone wrong all those years! 😉

    I’d be really interested in what others think about that.

    Your blog is giving me a fair bit to think about! 🙂

  14. Cherilyn Clough July 8, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

    Hi Andrea,

    First of all, I agree we all owe each other decency and respect. The problem is most narc parents don’t do this. If they did, I would not need to write this blog.

    Love does not keep track of wrongs and therefore I don’t think we owe them anything, nor do our parents owe us anything. And even though love is free and should come from the heart, when we find someone is abusive to us we do need to remember they are not safe people and we do need to keep track of their wrongs per se in that way because just like the hand that forgets how to stay away from the flame on the stove, we would all be walking corpses if we didn’t remember where we got burned.

    You asked how I saw God differently. As I was growing up isolated, I was unaware for the most part of thinking differently. But a lady in our church gave us a book to read when I was a teenager called Living God’s Love. This book was my first stepping stone to seeing a more loving God. I think my parents even liked it at the time.

    Then after I left home, I met people of many denominations who really lived and loved in the name of Jesus. This woke me up to the idea that more people than I thought could love God and be his hands and feet.

    About nine years ago, I had a paradigm shift which really woke me up. I began to understand the ways different people saw God and how our views of God affect the way we treat others. In other words if we see God as punitive, we become that way ourselves. If we see God as merciful or we have experienced his mercy, we are more likely to be filled with mercy for others. Below is a video that explains some of what helped me. I had to watch it several times to get the ideas in my mind and I spent many hours studying the Bible to match it up.

    I share this with you not to push anything, I don’t feel a need to push anyone because God is a God of freedom and he wants us to love him for love’s sake. One of my favorite sayings is only by love is love awakened. This is why we cannot owe love to others and they cannot owe us. Love is not that kind of transaction–it must be free and from a heart that is free to love.

    I hope this was atleast a little helpful. Here is the first of three videos that really helped me.

    Peace and freedom,


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