During the first year or so of my awakening from the ACON FOG (fear, obligation, and guilt), I kept fairly quiet, only discussing what was happening with my siblings (who were unsupportive) and friends (most of whom couldn't relate). After a while, I felt bolder and understood the importance of speaking out against emotional abuse, and started to write about it on my blog, which I maintain under my real name. I started out in oblique ways, alluding to personal feelings in a way that was sharing yet not spilling all the details. I felt an ethical duty not to out-and-out flame my mother in a public space, while still talking about personal feelings. People sometimes contacted me privately to thank me for saying things that they could relate to.

At the time, I accepted the risk of my mother reading what I was writing and recognizing herself in it, although I considered the risk to be very small. I had shared my blog links with her previously and been told, "I don't read blogs." At the time I maintained a private blog with updates about my children and a public blog with more general ideas and information. While it was unsurprising that my mother chose not to read what I wrote, it was still disappointing. Didn't she want to see pictures of her grandchildren? Didn't she care about the things they were doing or the thoughts I had? I didn't expect her to stalk the blog daily, but geez, wouldn't a grandmother/mother want to at least glance over that stuff once in a while? My husband's parents, for whom I had created the blog, loved it. I couldn't - and still can't - imagine one of my children saying "here's some stuff I wrote about my kids and my  own thoughts about the world" and NOT going to read it. I hope my kids will invite me into their lives that way! But my mom was all "meh", didn't ever ask for pictures of the kids (the in-laws clamored for an annual photo calendar and more), didn't ever care about what was happening in my life, and repeatedly re-asserted her complete disdain for blogging and disinclination to read mine. 

So even though I thought I would still write what I wrote even if she were a regular reader, I felt safe in the assumption that she wouldn't ever read it. 

Then one day, I discovered a comment from her on my blog. When I looked at the page views, I discovered that she had been reading through all of the archives, late into the night and then early the next morning. This gave me pause. I was feeling bolder about speaking my truth and having discovered other ACONs online, I felt more strongly than ever about the importance of speaking out loud. Could I still do this with her watching? 

The next few months were busy ones for me and my blog's spotty entries reflect that in their scattered subject matter - entries about home projects, professional development, thoughts about emotional health. I believe there was a total of one post in a four-moth period that had anything to do with her relationship with me, and that was only in a very, very peripheral way. Around the same time, I continued to reduce my already near-nonexistent family contact. My mother, feeling angry and threatened, attacked me to my husband. She informed him that my siblings consider me to be delusional. She accused me of focusing only on negative memories (which I made up, of course) and denying all the happy family memories. She lashed out about being "attacked" on my blog and stated that the blog was "hot reading" among the entire extended family. This is amusing, because the number of posts that had anything to do with her was a tiny proportion of the total content of the blog and because it took the idea of her being "trashed" on my blog to get her to even look at it to begin with. As for extended family - I'm assuming a cousin saw a Facebook link and asked an aunt what was happening, and that the aunt riled up my mother. Both the aunt and the mother remain stalkers. I haven't noticed any other suspicious frequent fliers and I doubt that it's really "hot reading". That statement reflects her concern about controlling her public image more than anything else. 

At first I felt righteous anger. How could she not see that what she was doing was exactly the kind of emotional abuse from which I was trying to extricate myself? How dare she try to silence me via more abuse? I mean, really, abusing me so I'll shut up about the abuse doled out in the past? Really?  Narcissists would be amusing if they weren't so damaging and infuriating. The problem is, it was working. I was having a hard time writing about anything at all, knowing that she was checking for new posts almost daily. 

Then she left a comment (caught by my spam filter; I had blocked her) on a post that had absolutely nothing to do with her, unless you count the fact that the parenting philosophy expressed in the post is pretty much the opposite of how I was raised. That did it for me. Gloves off. I didn't publish the comment; instead, I quoted it in another post about her so-called "unconditional love." Following that - and following her threat to sue us for grandparent's "rights" - I called it quits. I sent her an email requesting that she not contact me, my husband, or my children in any way. I made the estrangement public because I'm tired of the triangulation and whisper campaigns. She has not, of course, respected that request.  She continues to play siblings against each other, which has resulted in tense, very distant relationships between my brothers and myself. One brother in particular lashed out at me when I had the nerve to post a status on Facebook that mentioned my parents lurking around the outside of my home and yelling up at my windows. I mean, really! When you're being stalked, you should really consider the feelings of your stalkers and their cronies. This brother called names, flung accusations, and generally unloaded a lifetime of sibling resentment (courtesy of la madre) on me. He later wrote an email message to my parents and forwarded it to the rest of us. While its gist was supposed to be a "hey, stop bashing each other in front of me," he ended up kissing their asses, telling them what great parents and grandparents they are. He also admitted to them that he was rude to me. He has not directly spoken to me since, has not acknowledged how rude he was, has not offered an apology. Like mother, like son. The other siblings either stayed out of it, gave weak support to him, or chimed in and added to the pile-on. It was a lonely, lonely time.

The long-winded point here is that I have a tortured relationship with outspokenness. I want to speak my truth, but I want not to engage. I want to be anonymous, but I also want to stand up proudly. I want to be unaffected by thoughts about which people might be reading, but I *am* affected. My public blog has suffered over the last half year, halted by hesitancy over any topic that comes to mind. Do I look trivial? Do I look bitchy? Do I look like a narcissist, like my brother says I am?  (lack of comments doesn't help...I know an unfortunately large number of people who read but don't feel comfortable sharing their own thoughts in comments) I was "out of the closet" at first, posting as myself both in my own space and in other blogs' comments. Following my brother's blowup

So, use a pseudonym, or not? Link to ACONography entries, or not? Write whatever comes to mind, or not? For now I'm linking to there from here. Someday I hope I feel brave enough to link here from there. Or even not to feel the need for a pseudonymous blog at all. I hope one day all of us can walk in the light and speak casually about our experiences, both the good and the not-so-good, without fear of censure.


  1. This is a topic very close to home. I chose to be anonymous out of LOVE for my family - because it wasn't a trashing campaign. When they found it (I still do not know how), read it, trashed it, sent it around etc., I felt like the one good place I had they also were able to destroy for me.

    I am also torn between standing proud and "protecting their privacy" (even though they shit on mine). Sometimes I'm drawn to having a locked blog, but then that feels like "letting them win." It's incredibly lonely and difficult, and to this day I still feel those back-and-forth feelings between not wanting it to impact me, and it impacting me whether I want it to or not. Just last week I decided my angry post wasn't worth it - just because I know they are reading....

    Thanks for this post, Claire. I support you and appreciate your complicated reality.

    I too am still trying to find my way :)


  2. "Complicated reality" - isn't that just what it is? Your comment fills me with YES and DITTO DITTO DITTO feelings. Sometimes I want to explode with all the yuck that I've piled up inside over the years, not because I'm currently feeling angry, necessarily, but because I'm somebody who likes to get stuff out, express it, and there would be so much value in saying it all and having somebody - anybody - read it. I don't think I'll ever name my parents and siblings here, or say where they live or work. That would feel unethical. Of course, having linked to my "real me" blog, somebody who knows us would be able to figure it out.

    I'm never quite sure what I want - to stand right in front of her (online) and let her have it, or to keep myself entirely separate from her. What a legacy a narcissistic mother gives her daughter!

  3. Oh, Claire.

    I know ... I so know this feeling. I didn't know what to do either. It's so, so, so complicated. And the only answer is what we choose to do because some folks are open, others aren't in regards to their real name.

    My name is nickname. Everything is real except the names. And the only reason, really, is to protect my career. For once, I decided to do something for *me* first without being scared of the repercussions of my FOO.

    I don't use my real name because I didn't want my co-workers, boss, etc. to know my backstory. All they need to do know is that I work hard, darn hard, and I am good at what I do.

    They don't need to know everything else. That's reserved for all the ACONs and ACON blogs that are like a spread-out support group.

    But I did promise myself that I would stop protecting them offline. In other words, if someone asks me about them, I will tell them that we're not in contact anymore. I'm not protecting them offline. No way.