Editor’s note: The Lovefraud authorEleanor Cowan, who wrote “A History of a Pedophile’s Wife,” describes what happened when she thought she could break the No Contact rule.
By Eleanor Cowan
Wow! What just happened? Whammo!
I was abused this week, completely out of the blue, entirely unexpected, and yet, oh so familiar.
I feel black and blue, and I make no mistake, verbal lashings leave me bruised too.
I invited my younger brother, a fellow with whom I’ve never achieved a mutual relationship, for a nice fish ‘n chip supper at a local restaurant. We’re both living in the same city now, and I wanted to reach out.
My bro, one of the youngest in our alcoholic family, has a history of alcoholism, drug addiction, pill popping, and jail time. “You name it I done it” he likes to say, just before he launches into lengthy expositions about his religious healing texts along with lengthy quotes from ‘A Course in Miracles’ which he then explains extensively in case I, like so many others, are ignorant. My brother does not converse, meaning shared conversation. He talks and the listener listens. This is hard on the listener, and I sense, must be very lonely for him.
Once in a while, when I’m feeling strong and up to it, I invite him to a private meal, which is the way he prefers it – always one on one.
My part in this story is that after some long time periods of doing well away from the toxic people who have affected my life, I somehow feel I can ‘handle it’, especially with family. To use medical lingo, what happens is, I ‘go off my meds.’ My meds are not pills or other mood-altering substances. My meds are rules. My policy is to stay far away from dangerous personalities. Far away. Why? Because I am not impervious. I’m a vulnerable human being who should not put her hand on hot burners.
In this story, my brother forgot his manners and I forgot the rules.
In the middle of the meal, mine half eaten and his barely touched with the fork he brandishes in the air to stab his main points about his beliefs, my brother verbally attacked me. In a sneering voice he jeered at my ‘victim’ book, about how he and his old buddy, an addictions counselor, laughed uproariously about my false representation of him as a heroin addict, about how selfish I was as a young woman, how I never did enough for the siblings I left behind in our alcoholic home. My brother is in his late sixties now and still seething with the burning resentments he hurled across the table at me. I felt his hatred. I felt the tongue lashing of a sting ray. And I’ve known other sting ray people who pretend to be loving and caring and then zing, out comes the stinger!
I told my brother that if he wished to address anything he disagreed with in my book, all he had to do was ask me to bring a copy and we could quietly and politely discuss the parts he disagreed with, maybe over tea or another dinner. I told him that adults communicate with respect and kindness to each other. I wanted to add that he might refer to the two books he quotes so much for further insights about respectful communication, but I filtered that out. I simply told him I couldn’t tolerate verbal aggression.
“I’ll just pay for my meal and be on my way,” he replied. “I’m done here.”
“It’s okay, Joe. I invited you. I’ll pay.” I said, “Unless you want to sit down, and we can work this out.”
“As I said, I’m done here,” he replied and tore off.
I stumbled to the local train station, where, as life would have it, I received two welcome texts from two friends sincerely thanking me for the excellent narration of their book. As the train flew along, I reviewed my wonderful week of work and play with my respectful friends with whom I have lovely mutual relationships. I realized, on my trip home, that just as my brother had overstepped, so had I. My brother’s big ego allows him to trumpet his lofty notions between darting verbal hate arrows to me. On the other hand, my own big ego also inflates when I’m feeling great after months of obeying the rules I have learned. Slowly, I begin to feel that I can indeed handle reconnecting with challenged family members even though they remain unchanged.
Staying a good and safe distance from hurtful people is not just a rule for me – it’s a law I must abide by now.
Just as my brother is well-advised to seek support from those in a position to help him, so too am I well-advised to stay away from him, and from all disrespectful or non-mutual friendships.
Today, he sent a text thanking me for the Valentine’s gifts and dinner, adding that he’s going to work on letting go of the past. There was no apology. There was no concern about how his behavior might have affected me. He has not changed.
So, it is I who must stop my ego-centric swinging back and forth from sunny to stormy weather. I’m vulnerable too. I must follow the rules like anyone else.
Okay, got it. I’m back on my meds.
I’m so glad I read your piece here bcz I don’t feel alone. I too struggle with breaking the NC rule out of both guilt and missing the goodness of the relationship, although the goodness may have indeed been manipulation. I’m confused about how much of it was real vs the dream I was sold. Over the course of our relationship, I tried everything I could think of to make it right. I now have turned this over to the universe. I no longer feel responsible to figure it out. This new point of view allows me to continue NC, one day at a time bcz I know the universe will not fail. The universe has my back.
tiredofthisbs – I’m glad you found this article helpful. If you think it’s likely that he/she is a sociopath, then unfortunately, everything was manipulation.
Sorry “tiredofthisbs” and what you are going through.
Be careful though, the universe has black holes!
My wife has an entire biological family locked into a narcissistic matrix that goes back several generations, however she was able to break free, but not without much loss. I ask myself with all of the mistreatment she endured, was it truly a loss? Just as I do, she believes that God makes all things new–and as soon as she trusted God without fail, he was able to restore to her all that she lost and more. Hopefully you have a support network as well to help you see through this mess.