8 months, 2 weeks ago #251653
Thank you, T! I appreciate your love and support.
And I have a gold sticker for everyone who made it all the way through that post. ⭐️8 months, 2 weeks ago #251381Tiffany TurnerParticipant
Just finished reading the letter Nichole. WAOW.
I’m so sorry that this has been your experience of love, support, and family.
I’m also so happy that the work you’ve done has brought you to this place of clarity.
I’m so looking forward to what you create iwth your siblings on the other side of this. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story, and please never stop!8 months, 2 weeks ago #250957
What I see is that I’m continuing to lean into uncomfortable and unknown areas that have me growing. If I’m growing, I’m supporting others in doing the same.8 months, 2 weeks ago #250748Jeff MillerParticipant
Thanks so much for sharing Nichole! It is truly courageous and exciting to see you trust yourself more and use your voice, especially with family. I acknowledge you for doing the damn thing and for getting supported in the process.
I can connect the dots myself, but in practicing using your voice on this thread specifically, what do you see the connection is between this example of bold courage and LDP for you? How will this support you, our team and the participants starting in October?8 months, 3 weeks ago #250224
In the spirit of not waiting for LDP to play for my next-level breakthroughs, I want to share some updates.
I’ve been working on a breakthrough in courage, and in letting self doubt be a fuel for courage versus something that keeps me small/stuck/nervous. I mentioned some of this during module when we had the conversation about how doubt + commitment + action = courage (I think that was the formula, I don’t have my sticky note handy). I am so dedicated and determined to continue finding my voice, amplifying it, playing out loud, being willing to get messy, being courageous, and stepping more and more out into unknown territories of leadership, all in service of submitting my forms to run for public office next Spring.
I know that as I venture more into the public space and into politics, my personal and family life is going to be under a microscope. One of the things that terrifies me about being in the public eye is my relationship with my mom. She is a loose cannon. I shared with some of you about the marcopolo videos she sent me and when I have showed them to a few friends, they all had the same fear: That she is going to try and hurt me publicly.
I don’t know how to be about this . One place I’m practicing my voice and my power and not letting my future be designed by my past is starting with my family communication. My mom has been actively trying to turn all of my family members against me. I won’t go into specifics, but just trust me that it’s getting really ugly. My previous choice was to just let her do her thing. I don’t have anything to defend. I figure in time people will figure out for themselves. But it’s reached a point where I feel like I need to stand up for myself, at least with the relationships that matter. These relationships are with my siblings, my Aunt Christine, and my Uncle Lyle. Honestly, everyone else I don’t really worry about. And these are the people who have been reaching out wondering why I’m “being so mean” to my mom.
So as a step toward opening up communication lines and wanting to create integrity in our family, I wrote a letter to my siblings and sent it to them on Sunday night. This may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was huge. I was so nervous because I was bringing up a lot of stuff that we’ve never talked about. We have shared experiences of abuse and have never talked about it. I was literally shaking and crying and felt like I was going to puke, getting ready to send this email. I got supported by a few team members to hold space for me while I sent it and immediately after when I was so shaking and dizzy that I literally couldn’t stand up out of my chair.
My fears were: What if it makes things worse? What if they can’t hear it? What if they show it to mom? What if I piss someone off?
My commitments were: To be understood, to set the record straight, to practice not being afraid to say what there is to say, to shine a light on some things that have harmed me (and probably them) that have impacted what I’m willing to put up with at this point in my life, and to strengthen our relationship.
The feedback I’m getting from my siblings is that they appreciated me sending the email. They saw things in a new light, felt seen themselves, and agreed that we should be talking about this stuff and offered their support around all the stuff with mom. So I feel really good about it. I’m incredibly proud of myself for sending it.
In the spirit of being uncomfortable, I am sharing it here. I don’t expect anyone to read it. It was 15 pages long, single spaced in a google doc!! So it would be kind of an absurd expectation. But I’m sharing it in case anyone wants to read it, to understand me and what I’ve overcome more. I think even a brief skim will have you see why it was so terrifying for me to send this email. It was really vulnerable.
Reading it back, there are parts of it that sound complainy or victimy. I’m giving myself a pass because I just had to get it all out and not overthink it. And I’m glad I did. Here’s the email…
It’s hard to know where to start this letter. I am going to start with what’s currently so and work my way through some thoughts. I may meander a little. My intention in writing this letter is to shine a light on the circumstances that have been twisted, to be understood, and to express my love and dedication to all of you. I am talking a lot about mom, dad, and Cal in here. And I apologize in advance to Calin! For you, that will be mom, Jim, and dad. But for simplicity’s sake, I kept it simple.
The place that seems logical to start is August 2017 when mom came down here for a visit. This was shortly after we had a huge blowout fight over text. We were fighting about “politics” but it’s never actually about politics. What will start as a disagreement will quickly turn personal. What I’m about to tell you might help explain why, when it comes to politics and disagreements, my old pattern has been to just shut everything down and block it out. I’ve realized recently that my own pattern of shutting people out was something I learned from mom, and I definitely do not want to be that way.
When Trump was elected into office and I was obviously very upset, mom refused to allow space and just not talk about it. She kept hounding and pestering me, goading me into fighting with her. She of course does all of this privately, then acts really supportive, innocent, and confused outwardly. She accused me of “associating myself with murderers”. I was not sure what she was referring to. I thought maybe she meant people who are pro-choice. It was just such a weirdly personal and outrageous thing she was hanging on to, that I just sort of shut down and didn’t talk to her anymore.
A while later she apologized and wanted to get back into relationship, so we did. She came down here for a visit and I expressed to her my hesitation and wanting to make sure that we had a nice visit where we didn’t talk about politics (I have text messages to back all of this up, by the way, because I’m sure she will always tell a different story).
During her visit, we had a nice time. Our last day together we were outside gardening and she brought up politics. I told her I didn’t want to talk about it. I practically begged her to drop it, but she would not. (Again, I have texts between us where we later talk about this and she admits this is how it went, which I only mention because I know she always tells a different story.) She wanted me to “know” that everyone in the family was “worried” about me and that “everyone” was “lying” to me, etc. This has become a pattern of hers, to try and undermine my support structures by making me feel like everyone is against me (side note: I will touch more on this pattern as I share some other things from life and childhood).
Despite my not wanting to talk about it, she insisted and that’s when she started to specifically call out that Dad and Chaz were lying to me and wouldn’t drop it. She brought up the thing about me “being associated with murderers” again, and at this point she was screaming at me. And you may or may not believe me when I say it was completely unprovoked. It’s part of the shock strategy of going from 0 to 100 in a snap and you are stunned and don’t really know how to respond.
That’s when she finally explained what she meant by that (yelling the entire time, by the way), because I was so perplexed as to what the heck she was talking about. Turns out, what she was referencing was the fact that I attended the Women’s March, an event with literally hundreds of thousands of people, with dozens of speakers, and one of the speakers there (who I had never heard of and I didn’t hear her talk) was a convicted murderer who had been released from prison and was speaking about women in the prison system.
So one person, in a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people, who was a subject matter expert on prison having spent time in prison, was there. And therefore, I associate myself with murderers. She was literally screaming this at me in the middle of the street. For all the neighborhood to see.
She was seething over this idea that I was “friends with murderers” for literally more than a year because I was somewhere in the vicinity of this speaker, who is now a free person, who I had never heard of. Clearly she made something up, latched onto it, and had it be the thing that made me bad/wrong and made her righteous.
This is when I realized that mom has real issues. Not just opinions that are a little whacky, but there is something seriously wrong happening.
I didn’t talk to her anymore that day and Minh drove her to the airport early in the morning. Days later I get some texts from her about how “hurt” she was. I reflect to her that I don’t understand why she feels so hurt when she is the one who attacked me. Very confusing. (Part of the pattern: After she attacks you, and there is a fracture in the relationship, she wants you to coddle her because she is “hurt”.)
Days later she reaches out again telling me that Gammy was diagnosed with ALS and wants to apologize and start over. So I say okay (and the cycle repeats, now looking back I’ve distinguished this cycle has been going on for decades).
So time goes on. I went out to Oklahoma and visited with her and Ryan and Gammy. That was a great trip. Then when I get back home, mom starts reaching out about coming to move in with me. She expressed a need/desire to leave Sonora and have a change of scenery to focus on her health.
I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want her living with me, but she had already made her mind up that she was coming (you know how she does). This is why I came up with the idea of giving her a job so she could have her own place to live. I knew that her living with me would be a disaster, but I thought empowering her to take care of herself was a win/win and could give us an opportunity to really heal our relationship once and for all and stop the cycle of fighting and whatnot.
Plus, my housekeeper had recently retired from housekeeping to become a psychic, so I really did need some extra help. I offered her a job as my “assistant”, someone who can keep up the house, and help with the kids, meal planning and cooking, etc. I gave her a salary of $45K/year so she would have enough money to rent an apartment and be able to have money left over for groceries and basic necessities. We budgeted this together.
Quickly after arriving it was clear that mom was not going to be able to work full time. I could have guessed this, but I wasn’t sure. But once she got down here, it was clear that her health was even worse than it had been and being on her feet or even upright for more than a few hours a day was tough for her. So I modified my expectations and got some back up in the areas that I still needed support so that she was not overwhelmed. I kept her salary the same, however, as I wanted her to have a decent place to live.
After about four months or so in her apartment, I found a house that had an attached studio, so when I moved into that house, we wound up moving her in there so it was easier for her to be right there with me, the kids, and Bippy.
So those are the logistics and I don’t need to get into all the details about how things went. There was some great stuff and there was some really annoying stuff. But overall it was fine. I genuinely enjoyed having mom and Cal here. It was nice to have some family around for the kids and some support. Granted, mom always found ways to make it challenging, for instance she would take it really personally that I wouldn’t stop whatever I was working on to give her attention, and she was really nitpicky about keeping track of who was making messes and feeling indignant about having to be the one to clean it up (even though it was her job), and she would complain a lot and take forever to do simple things, but I just sort of brushed all that off because it wasn’t worth it to me to try and do anything about the annoyances (even though, if she were any other employee I wouldn’t have put up with it, but whatever, she is my mom).
What I started to notice is that I was looking after her as much as she was looking after me. She was making sure someone was there for the kids and the pets if I was working late. And I would make sure her blood pressure was okay and take her to the doctor or the hospital if she needed it. I went with her to see a functional medicine doctor and tried to support her in figuring out how to receive treatment. Ultimately, I wound up paying $9,000 for her to go to rehab when it came down to do-or-die. Her opioid addiction was literally killing her at that point.
Once she came back from rehab things were really nice for a while. It was then that I first thought, maybe the opioids are the reason she had been acting so whacky for so long. I felt like maybe she was “back to normal”, whatever that meant, as my memories of mom for as long as I could think back were of her having wild emotional swings and outbursts.
I would say that things were pretty mellow and “normal” for several months after that. Again, there were annoying things like money stuff and mom was gone a lot or was sick a lot or needed a lot of support. So it was kind of frustrating feeling like I was paying all this money to support her and give her a salary and I wasn’t always getting what I needed. And a lot of the time I was getting what I needed so… it was not as big of a deal to me as the fact that mom was getting healthy and seemed happy and things were cool. So it was fine.
The original plan was for mom to live down here for a year. At this point it had been more than two years and we talked often about what was next. That’s when I came up with the idea of the Disney Diet Challenge, and that became the next thing and there was a lot of planning and excitement around that.
Somewhere in the middle of all this Ryan moved in with me (I can’t even remember exactly when or how that happened) and I also hired him to pick up some of the slack around the work that mom couldn’t take on.
So then COVID happened.
Immediately I put all of my staff on unemployment. The instant I got a whiff of what was going to happen to the market (this was even before the lockdowns started), I laid off everyone except for one person. Mom was one of the people I laid off.
After a couple of weeks, I got a sense for how the business would be affected and realized that I could bring a few people back on. I brought back three employees at part time, and one at full time. Mom and Cal and I decided it made the most sense to just keep mom on unemployment especially since she was already planning to move up to Anaheim soon and was going to be leaving San Diego in a couple of months anyway.
Well, this is the time when things went from mostly good, sorta, okay at times, great at others, to really crazy. There was a period of time in between receiving her last paycheck and waiting for her unemployment paycheck that mom and Cal were back to where they always are, which is broke. Now, keep in mind that mom has been receiving a $45K salary for two years and I have no idea how much money Cal was making, and their entire overhead was only $1400 (because I paid all the utilities). Mom has a horrible spending habit and I know I don’t need to tell you this. She had packages delivered from Amazon and whatever subscription boxes she had, constantly. She was spending literally every penny she was earning, so when there was even the slight gap in receiving income, she was back to her, “my account is overdrawn” thing that I’m sure we’ve all heard five million times.
Meanwhile, I’m busier than ever because I have a greatly reduced staff and a lot more work to do, plus the kids are now home and need help with homeschool. You would think that since I had been supporting mom for years that she would still want to help me out even though she wasn’t getting “paid”. But, well… That’s not how she rolls. She stayed down in her studio for days and didn’t come up one time to help me with anything for a full week. I wasn’t sure what to do because technically she was not an employee anymore and I just had so much on my mind and so much I do, I couldn’t even think straight.
After having a serious well being breakdown, mom finally came up and said she noticed I was struggling and offered to help me out. I told her that would be great and if she could just come up for a couple hours in the morning and help Keva with homeschool and get the house straightened up, that would help me immensely.
After about four days of her doing that, everything went kaboom.
She had given Noah a list of chores to do the day before. One of the chores, which was switching over the laundry, he didn’t do. If you ask him, it was because there was stuff in the dryer and he didn’t know who it belonged to (remember, I have mom, Cal, and Ryan all living here and doing their laundry here). If you ask her she says she gave him instructions on what to do with the laundry. Either way, those details are neither here nor there. But what happened was she got so triggered by that chore not being done, that she went off on Noah. He was sleeping on in the daybed in the living room. I was upstairs on a coaching call with a client (and this is a small house).
Suddenly I hear mom yelling. Instantly I am snapped back to my childhood. The way she was yelling, I’ve heard that before. I wasn’t sure what to do because I was literally trying to coach a client and it was really loud. I muted my call so my client couldn’t hear and I looked out my office window into the living room and I see mom hovering over Noah just yelling at him. She was yelling that he was lazy and inconsiderate and a “disappointment” and how “everyone is having to pull their weight around here” except for him. Then she started yelling about how “hard her life is” and about how she doesn’t have any money and she can’t watch TV (because she didn’t pay her Hulu bill). And she yelled at him for not helping her more and how she needs help because her life is “hard”. It was really, really gross.
The way she was positioning her body over his and the vitriol in her voice, it was just completely unacceptable behavior. She was emotionally abusing my child right in front of me. I couldn’t see it until I literally had a different vantage point, but now that I see it, and looking back on my entire life, my mind was blown at how much makes sense now. We were raised by an emotionally abusive mother. That might be hard to hear and you might be nodding or shaking your head right now, and it’s all okay. I will talk more about that in a bit and spend some time sharing more about what I see and it will make sense to you as well. But to continue with what happened to finish up the story of where things are now, I’ll go on…
I know some of you have heard about what happened next and some have not, but I’ll just share it all again. So I finished up my coaching call and then went down to talk to mom. It did not go well. She was hysterical and upset and was yelling at me. Why? I don’t know. It obviously had nothing to do with me. It also had nothing to do with Noah. When I tried to reflect this to her, that her yelling at Noah had nothing to do with him (like seriously, how is it Noah’s fault that her life is “hard” and she doesn’t have money?), she insisted that she was not in the wrong and that we’re taking advantage of her, that she is unappreciated, and these are horrible living conditions, etc. etc.
Then she goes on to tell me how the period of time that she stayed down in the studio and didn’t come up to help me with stuff was because she wanted to “prove” to me that I needed her help. So she intentionally withheld support from me so that she would feel needed.
This shook me to my core. This is when I looked back and realized that the only times when mom and I have ever gotten along has been when I “needed” her. I can think all the way back to childhood, especially as I became a teenager. When I was sick or hurting or having issues at school, she was there. When I was strong and independent, she would fight with me.
I started to think about her relationship with Gammy. Gammy is someone who mom looked up to a lot and she would talk to her every day. She often shared that Gammy was the person she would go to for advice, and even still wishes she could pick up the phone and ask Gammy for advice or help.
I think mom wishes she had this same relationship with me and she doesn’t, so she creates ways to keep me small/tired/hurt/messy so that she can be needed. When I don’t need her, she takes it deeply personal and fights with me.
I was super honest with her that I worried about her spending the time with the kids if she was going to smear that stuff all over them. She didn’t like hearing that, but it was the truth. When I tried to talk to her about this realization and about the messiness it had created, well I’m sure you can imagine how that went. She denied it and couldn’t hear anything about her doing anything wrong. So I actually said, “Fine. I’ll drop it.” But I still wanted her to clean things up with Noah, which she said she would, and she did.
But… no, no… it’s not okay to just let things go and try to move forward. She once again insisted on bringing up all of her grievances against me and how everyone else agrees with her that I’m crazy and I’m judgemental and how “everyone” is lying to my face and how Dad and Chaz are lying to me (seriously after years of having buried this one, she brought it up again… why??), and wouldn’t let it go. She just kept insisting: “They are lying to you, Nichole.”
So finally I was like, fine! Let’s call dad and settle this once and for all. And that’s when she really freaked out and chased me into my house as I was going to grab my phone and screamed at me in front of the kids. She was cursing, dropping f bombs and literally screaming in my face. I asked her plainly, several times, to leave my house. She wouldn’t leave. I had a thought then that I might need to call the cops, and thought back on all the times we’ve had to get law enforcement involved in family matters. (Not normal, y’all.) And then she literally looked over at the kids who were sitting right there, mid-scream, and said, “Your kids need to see this.” in that weird creepy-mad voice thing that she does when her lips are all tight and there’s a pool of saliva in the corners of her mouth. You know the voice I’m talking about.
That’s when I was like, okay. This party is over. Forever. I will not drag my kids into a dysfunctional experience where yelling and screaming and fighting is considered normal or okay.
I walked outside because it was clear that she wasn’t going to leave the house and she followed me outside and kept yelling. So now all the neighbors can hear. It was so outrageous and embarrassing and 100% avoidable.
The cycle was starting again. I worked with my life coach to further distinguish this cycle and see how I could bust it up. After a lot of thinking, researching, coaching, and hypno-therapy, I realized a lot of things (which I will get into) that helped me see that the only way to bust up this cycle for good is to just stop it altogether.
This is why I stopped talking to her. She is telling everyone that it’s because of politics. She tells people that because it’s what gets her sympathy. Because if she says that I am not talking to her because of politics people will be like, “Oh that’s so awful, you poor thing. She is crazy!” But if she said, “Nichole is not talking to me because I am emotionally abusive, and manipulative, and created a huge fight in her house with her kids present.” she might not get the same amount of sympathy.
This is part of her victim mentality. Mom is completely dedicated to being a victim. Thinking back on literally every situation where she has tried to (or successfully) turned us against people, it’s all positioned with her as the victim.
She was the victim with Dad.
She was the victim with Dad’s family.
She was the victim with her sisters.
She was the victim with Cal’s family.
She was the victim with Shannon.
She was the victim with me.
She was the victim with Calin.
She is the victim with Cal.
And when she is the victim, she manipulates us into protecting her.
Here’s some examples…
Do you remember when Corey was in the hospital when he was diagnosed with diabetes? Do you remember that Grandpa Jim came to visit? And mom chased him away, yelling (of course) at him for not being present and he was such a horrible grandfather and terrible person. She literally chased him down the hospital hallway yelling at him and making him feel unwelcome until he finally left.
She did the same thing with Grandma Jeri all the time. I remember she came to our house one time with a trunk full of snacks and goodies and instead of being grateful and allowing us to enjoy some time with our grandmother, mom screamed and yelled at her and made a big huge scene about how shitty of a grandmother she was.
Do you guys remember this? Those of you who were younger may not.
She ran a full campaign (much like she is doing with me now) about how awful dad’s family was. And because I was her daughter, I believed it all and was expected to have her back. I took it on and always felt angry at dad’s family, which created a rift between us.
One of my hugest frustrations, and one of the things that has, in recent years, had me look at everything differently, was how mom showed up to Grandma Jeri’s funeral and acted so heartbroken. She crashed my hotel room, which dad paid for, and I wasn’t able to sleep because of her snoring. I didn’t want her to stay there and she didn’t care. She wanted to, so she did. As a result, I didn’t get to join our family for brunch the next day because I hadn’t gotten any sleep. She was so chummy with everyone and I kept thinking, “I thought you hated these people.” Because that was the message I received from her my entire life.
That is when I noticed another pattern of hers, which is creating a narrative where she is the victim of someone, but then she is nice to their face and wants to be liked by them. You will notice this in all of her relationships with Cal’s family.
And currently with dad and Chaz. She will say the most awful things behind their backs, but she wants to be friends with them and will be buddy buddy to their face.
Do you remember when Cal was going on violent rampages? And I don’t know if you remember this or are aware or not, but mom would call me in the middle of the night and get me involved. She’d want me to come over and “help”. Like there was anything I could do? But I would. I would get up in the middle of the night and drive from my apartment in Jamestown out to West Walnut road or up Big Hill while Cal was going through the house tormenting everyone, to do what? Stand there and feel sorry for mom, basically. I would try to mitigate the situation and it didn’t work. It just added fuel to the fire.
Do you guys even know why Aunt Karen and Kiki were not at the spreading of Gammy’s ashes? It’s because they were fighting with mom. They were fighting over what to do with the ashes. They wanted to split the ashes up so everyone could have some and mom didn’t want to do that. She took control and demanded that they go along with her plan. Karen and Kiki stopped talking to her (are you noticing a theme yet?). She finally said she would give them each a “vile” of the ashes (and this was after I basically had to talk her into it and get her to see that she was being really unreasonable) and then she would spread the ashes.
So my point here is that once I got some elevation and started to see things the way they were, my eyes opened wide up. It’s hard to see a situation when you’re in it. It was hard for me to understand the unhealthy relationships that were demonstrated to us when we were growing up because we were just so dang used to it.
It was hard to understand that I was emotionally abused until I looked back objectively and with research and support. Here are the things I discovered:
Parents taking money from you is emotional abuse. Our parents have done this to all of us, I believe. But at least I know for sure me and Jeremy and Calin.
Parents making you feel guilty is emotional abuse. This, I believe, is mom’s number one strategy. She manipulates us into feeling guilty about everything that doesn’t directly serve her. If we have money, we should feel guilty. If we have a relationship with dad, we should feel guilty. If we don’t do something with/for her, we should feel guilty. If we have a relationship with dad’s family, we should feel guilty. If we have a relationship with anyone she doesn’t like, really, we should feel guilty. If we go on a vacation, we should feel guilty. If we go somewhere and don’t invite her, we should feel guilty. (But all of these things are okay for her to do.)
Yelling at children and controlling them is emotional abuse. It’s also verbal abuse. I know mom thinks it’s totally normal to yell and scream, and there was a time I might have thought that as well because I was so used to it. But, it’s not.
Making your kids kill animals is emotional abuse. And I’m not talking about hunting. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, have some conversations with each other.
Emotionally abusive parents make you feel responsible for their happiness. They co-opt your success and are opportunists. For example, mom will criticize me for working on my business, yet when my business provided her with an income, it was fine. Once that income went away, it was back to criticizing me and telling me I’m a terrible person for working and not spending all my time with my kids (will get to that more when I share the video stuff).
Mom tried to co-opt a lot of my relationships. She wanted to create a podcast where she interviewed people who were involved with celebrities and started reaching out to my friends who are related to celebrities without asking my permission. And she would use her relationship with me as a gateway to try and get close to them, and she was super whacky about it. It was embarrassing. I’m sure you can imagine.
Anyway, I could go on and on here with a bunch of examples. But I think you get the point. I want to now share the other thing I learned about mom. She is a narcissist.
I have shared with you all a bit about what happened to me when Uncle Phil was living with us. I was only a toddler at the time and I was repeatedly sexually abused by him. Even at that young of an age, I told mom what was happening and she didn’t believe me, and continued to leave me alone with him. She denies that I told her, but Dad confirmed to me this was true. (I have to have a lot of my memories backed up by Dad. Side note: If I bring this stuff up to Dad, he is so willing to talk about it and really apologetic. If I bring it up to mom, her response is almost always, “That’s not what happened.” Almost always. Which I now understand is the source of my memory loss as a child. When a parent constantly tells you that your memories are not real, you start to believe it. This is one of the reasons I am closer to Dad. He will not gaslight me the way that mom does, which I understand is a function of her trying to protect herself.)
The next thing that happened is that mom came home after letting him “babysit” and I had a handprint on my face. She asked what happened and I said that “Uncle Packy did it” and her response was, “He wouldn’t do that to you, he loves you.” It was a while after that when we were taking a family picture and he picked me up and put me on his lap and I peed on him because I was so frightened of him. Mom finally started to believe that something was up. And still she left me alone with him. Finally she caught him in the act and that’s when she kicked him out.
Now, this is something that had been brushed under the rug forever. And when I finally started to remember it more and talk about it, I was starting to process and heal from it. I shared it in the room during my coach training (it was relevant to the subject we were discussing). Mom happened to be there to observe the training and when I brought this up, she started wailing and crying and stormed out of the room. This act made it all about her now and everyone checking to make sure that she was okay. Looking back, I now see this as a theme and another pattern of her behavior.
Later on, I was getting more comfortable with sharing it and talked about it on social media. When mom saw my post she was really upset and wanted to talk. So I went to talk to her and Jocelyn was with me. I mention that so you know that I have a witness about what she said.
She was crying and going on and on about how she did the best she could as a mom and she knows she’s not perfect but she did her best (making it about her). This is a tactic to gain sympathy even when the pain belongs to someone else. I am so used to this behavior in her that I had to stop myself from consoling her in this moment and remember that this pain belongs to me, not her. Then she said, “Do you know what was the worst part of that whole situation?”
“That your dad wasn’t there when I had to kick Phil out of the house.”
That’s literally what she said and you can ask Jocelyn. The worst thing about her toddler daughter being repeatedly sexually assaulted in her own home was that dad wasn’t there (supposedly) when she “had” to kick Phil out of the house.
Now, you would never know that this was even a thing if you saw how chummy mom has been with Phil right in front of my face. There was a point in my life when I wondered if I had imagined the whole thing because everyone acted normal around Phil.
Mom making that whole thing about her and her being a victim of dad is textbook narcissism, and I can give you a bunch of other examples of this.
When she sent all those videos to me, she went down the line of all the things she’s “had to deal with” being a mom. Corey’s diabetes, Jeremy’s surgeries, etc. Those are all things that happened to her and were so hard for her. (I’ll let you guys watch the videos if you want to see the way she talks about it.)
And every chance she has to throw dad under the bus, she does. She spent probably 20% of the time in the videos bashing dad, when she wasn’t bashing me. And yet, she’s so mad at me that I ruined her relationship with him because I wouldn’t let her get away with insisting that he was lying to me. Seriously, what the hell!!??
Which brings me to my next point: Pitting us in the middle of her feud with dad is both narcissistic and abusive. We should have never ever had to hear all the details of what her issues were with dad. She overtly, consciously, and intentionally tried to get us to hate him (and for some of us it worked). Even now she likes to tell stories of mean things he supposedly said to her 30 years ago. What is the point of sharing that? It’s simply to try and cause a strain on our relationship with him. That is the only goal.
Who would do that?
She does this all over the place. She talks mad shit about me to anyone who will listen to her and then comes to me and says, “Everyone is worried about you and thinks you are an outcast.” Hmmm… Maybe they wouldn’t think that if you didn’t spend so much energy trying to get them to think that.
And 9 times out of 10, I DON’T CARE. I honestly couldn’t care less what most people think of me. I know myself. I love myself. I love my life. I love my kids. I love my work. I love my friends. I love my siblings. If some of our extended family or mom’s friends in Sonora think I’m crazy because my mom told them I’m crazy, okay fine. Frankly, the proof is in the pudding and I don’t have to defend myself to anyone.
But the fact that she is pointedly creating this narrative about me… About dad… About her sisters… About Melissa… About Ken… About almost everyone who has been close to her at some point… That is not normal. It’s just not.
I could go on and on but once again I think you get my point.
I am sharing all of this to just shine some light on areas that you might not have looked at or really thought about before. Or if you have, now you know that you are not alone. I hadn’t really considered all of this together or objectively enough in the past to see it for what it was. I was just trapped in this cycle of fighting with mom, while also protecting and defending her from the other people she was fighting with, which affected me more than you know. And once I had these behaviors distinguished and got supported (as I mentioned earlier), I decided to just cut the cord. All of the research I have done suggests that there’s nothing you can really do to “fix” a bad relationship with an emotionally abusive parent. The cycle will continue forever. And the more time goes on, I notice the cycle gets more intense. The biggest mistake I made recently was letting her get so close to me, because when the cycle inevitably reached the blow up point, it was worse than ever.
This is why I stopped talking to her. And the text message she sent to everyone about how I “turned on her” was the reason I didn’t necessarily want to jump through any hoops to celebrate her birthday with her, although I did have the kids bring her some flowers and presents.
That is another example of her narcissism. She withheld support from me intentionally to sabotage my well being so that I would “need” her, then she emotionally abused my child, then she would not leave my house when I asked her to stop screaming at me, and her takeaway is that I “turned on her”. All I did was stop getting hooked into fighting with her. I just stopped.
Shortly after that she started trolling me on social media. And what I mean by that is everything I would post, she would once again co-opt it and post something about it on her page, that was derogatory toward what I said. I didn’t notice at first (because I wasn’t following her at that point) until friends literally started to reach out to me asking what was up with my mom. Then I noticed what she was doing. That is why I blocked her. Not because of politics. Because she was using social media as a weapon and other people were starting to notice. Just so incredibly unhealthy and weird.
That was a day or so before Mother’s Day. And still I came down and brought her some chocolate covered strawberries and cookies and told her Happy Mother’s Day, even though I really didn’t want to.
She left a few days later and came and gave me a hug. It was kind of an awkward hug. Then several days later she sent me six Marco Polo videos (that I have mentioned throughout this letter) which were each about 10-15 minutes long just berating every little thing about me. I have considered sharing these videos with you guys. They are pretty gross. I just cannot get some of the things she said out of my mind. Just really, really mean stuff. In a nutshell, here are some of the things she said:
- I worship money and have made money my God
- My kids think I’m a bad parent
- She can’t wait for the day that my kids tell me how horrible of a parent I was
- I am not authentic and if people really knew me, they would see that
- I don’t spend enough time with my kids when I’m working on “Sash and lash and all that shit” (Her exact words)
- I make her look like a shit head who doesn’t know what she’s doing
- I intentionally “kept her poor” while she was living here
- All of my siblings are mad at me
- Everyone is lying to me (that’s her favorite one)
- I’m derogatory
- I’m embarrassing
- I need to “fix this” because she is going to die someday and I’m going to feel really guilty
That’s just off the top of my head. And that was the last straw that had me block all communication from her. She talked a lot about how “lucky” I am that my only complaint from childhood is that I had to eat oatmeal and didn’t get to go to a dance. She then mocked me, “Oh, I had to eat oatmeal.”
No, those aren’t my only complaints from childhood. But what she’s doing here is trying to draw a really dramatic shift between my experience and hers. Her experience is that the only things I should complain about are eating oatmeal or not getting to go to a dance.
My experience is that she was irresponsible. She left me alone with people who abused me. She abused me herself. She knew that dad was not someone who could be responsible either, and yet she stayed with him for a decade and she frequently left us alone with him or other questionable people. She did this a lot. I don’t know if you guys realize. We spent a lot of time alone with people.
My experience is that she started having children too young, couldn’t provide for them, and we had a rough childhood. We often didn’t have proper food and clothing, and sometimes a place to live.
My experience is that when she married Cal, she let him abuse us. He was physically and emotionally abusive. I’ve watched him physically hurt every one of my brothers. I watched him destroy an answering machine that we bought him for father’s day with one blow of his fist. I heard stories of him strangling Ryan and dragging mom across the floor. When I expressed to her recently that I felt Cal was physically abusive to us, her response was to tell him and then tell me that he was really mad that I said that. “He considered never talking to you again.” This was her response. I “made Cal feel really bad.” And then she went off on how he was mostly abusive to the boys and not to me, and the boys all have good relationships with him and “isn’t that ironic”. The one person who he was “nicest” to is the one who has a problem. So, no acknowledgement or accountability. Just deflection and blame toward me for “making Cal feel bad” that I brought up these issues that we’ve literally never talked about as a family. We should talk about this stuff! But we can’t because this is the reaction we get. We can’t speak up about the things that happened to us because we’re ungrateful and don’t know what we’re talking about and other people had it worse, etc. etc. etc. I realize we are used to this, but I am here to tell you IT IS NOT NORMAL or healthy. At all.
My experience is that they both stole money from me. And if I ever brought it up, I was made to feel like I was petty or unreasonable or wrong.
My experience is that I had horrible allergies and I never went to the doctor for them. I had a serious head injury in high school and was never taken to the hospital. I spent years in physical therapy as an adult trying to fix the impacts of that injury. I had a horrible hormonal imbalance, but mom wouldn’t let me take birth control pills (the only thing that would level my hormones) because she was so “against” them, so I just had to suffer. And one time at a track meet I passed out due to this and woke up in an emergency room. When I got home, mom and Cal were pissed at me because they were going to get the bill from that emergency visit.
My experience is that mom turned my burn incident into a thing about her versus dad, again making something that happened to me become about her victimhood.
My experience is that mom has fought with me about money my entire life. I remember one of the first blow-out scream fights we had was when I was 18. Sid and I wanted to take a trip to Santa Barbara and we didn’t have a car that was reliable for a trip that far, so we asked Gammy if we could borrow her car. Somehow it turned into a thing where if we wanted to take Gammy’s car, mom was going to come with us. So she and Calin both came with us and we went on this trip to Santa Barbara. But of course, mom didn’t have any money so it was up to me to pay for her and Calin. Keep in mind that at this point in time I think I was working at the Union Democrat making like $9/hour and living on my own. So it’s not like I had a lot of money. Anyway, we have the trip and we get home and the car is a mess and mom was expecting me to clean it out and do all the work. When I asked her to help and reminded her that she was also on this trip and she should help me, she started screaming at me about how horribly I treated her on that trip and that I spent “way more money” on myself than I did on her and made her feel like shit. She specifically mentioned that when we were at In-N-Out, I ordered myself a double-double and I ordered her a regular cheeseburger “because I didn’t want to spend money on her”. So I was treating her horribly.
This fight happened in the street. On West Walnut. I was 18. WTF?
Again, each one of these incidents are in my memory and I hadn’t collectively thought about it before now. And look, I’m not over here grieving over all of this stuff and wanting to hang onto it. It’s not affecting my current life. I also have a lot of lovely memories and I think about those lovely memories just as often. There are things I am appreciative of and really cherish. And that doesn’t erase the stuff that was difficult and that shaped the relationship I have with mom. The thing is, it’s impossible to have closure on all of this when every time I’ve tried to talk about any of this stuff to mom, the response is, “That’s not what happened.” Or some version of that.
She even did that to me just recently about her and dad’s divorce. Jocelyn was there for this as well, and seriously having Jocelyn around for so much of the recent conversations has been one of the biggest things for me in being able to see what’s happening because she is so objective and reflects the experience back to me.
So here’s what happened… I can’t remember how it came up, but something came up about mom and dad getting divorced and I was sharing about how I remember saying good-bye to dad on the porch. It was that house in Crystal Falls with that really high deck. We had a talk there, it was just me and him and I was crying and hugged him good-bye. Then mom says, “That’s not what happened.” And I said that is what I remember. Then she says, “Your dad was already gone before then. That wasn’t the first time he left. He was always leaving.” And I’m like, okay… Well I probably didn’t know about it and this was my memory of the actual word “divorce” and that dad was moving out. But notice her first reaction was to discredit my own memory (which I remember like it was yesterday) for an opportunity to bash dad or make herself the center of the story.
I might not have even noticed it, because I’m so used to it, if Jocelyn hadn’t immediately said basically, “WTF?” This repeated behavior over decades is why I have so much memory loss and have had to work with a hypno-therapist to get a lot of it back.
Now that I have done so much work over here to disassociate myself from dysfunctional behavior and toxic patterns, I want to keep it that way. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is why I’m no longer in relationship with mom and plan to keep it that way.
I know mom is out there telling a completely different story: one that paints her as this victim of… who knows what. And I know she will bend the ear of anyone who will listen, which at times is you guys. So I just want you to know the truth and I hope you can get something from this for yourself. I genuinely hope that nobody else has these same experiences (although I already know that Calin has).
One of the reasons I wrote this letter is because I wish we were closer with each other. I think one of the things that keeps us at arm’s length is that mom has done most of the emoting in our family. She takes up so much space with her own emotions and her own drama, that it becomes all about her and our relationships with each other are defined by our relationship with her. It shouldn’t be that way. I personally want something different. How about you?
Thanks for reading all of this and I am here for any questions, thoughts, concerns, or anything that might come up that you want to share or talk about. I don’t need or expect anyone to say anything in particular or feel anything that you don’t naturally feel. I just needed the space to be seen and heard and I want you to know I’m here to offer the same for you should you decide to take that space. I love you.9 months, 1 week ago #246021
Just re-read my post and noticed a number of typos and goof ups. My apologies, I am very tired today and have been back-to-back all week. Think I need a brain breather! Let me know if anything isn’t clear. I meant I *wouldn’t miss that pot of gold. And will coach three times per *month. And a buddy each *month. Among other typos. ?9 months, 1 week ago #245997
Such great questions, Britt! The thing you brought around 75% vs. 100% is part of the breakthrough for me, which is to not relate to this as 75% just because it’s “less” than what I’m doing now. YES, I will totally bring 100% to this. Great distinction.
Addressing each of your additional questions:
• I am talking to Barbara next Friday to explore this more. I hadn’t thought through a contract yet, but I will put some thought into that.
• I am willing to coach Lauren four times per month, and I am also having second thoughts about continuing to coach her. I may ask for support around this. The reason being, I understand that a coach/client relationship + teammate relationship can work on the leadership team. She has declared in for LDP, but has been wobbly on it lately. I have it that she’ll be in. And I am craving a different kind of relationship with her, one where we can really lean into teammate and friend. With that said, if I don’t wind up coaching her, I will keep on one of my current clients at 3 calls per week so that I have one paid client. I’m still figuring this part out, and I see that it’s figure-out-able and I’ll get supported.
• I will put more thought into how to handle my absence from calls, but my first though it is to just stay really ahead of needs and updates through the forum or maybe even a buddy system. Oooh, I like that! Maybe I could choose a different buddy each week to partner with to bring my updates and take notes for me during my weeks off. This could create some great opportunities to build relationship with the new teammates coming in next year plus build upon what we’ve created this year. The times that I get to spend 1:1 with y’all are some of my favorite.
• I do plan to be on co-coaching. Would miss that weekly pot of gold!
I think that’s it! Thanks for bringing it. I look forward to more conversations for all of us as we approach LDP!!9 months, 1 week ago #245968Brittany CottonParticipant
First of, Nichole I am so proud of you. What you create on your own without this structure has me in awe, and then what you continue to generate by adding this in, and creating breakthroughs in being, time, etc. You are truly miraculous. I want to acknowledge you for creating an enrollment for getting everything you want. What else is there to enroll people in? 🙂 I acknowledge you for CREATING what you see, outside of how it should look, or how others have done it, or needing it to match something.
I think this is the breakthrough for all of us, I know its something I am working on in my leadership- bringing my authentic self and voice, outside of what the timeline says, what I have seen, how it went last year, etc.
I am enrolled in you getting everything you want, and a stand that you do so inside of creation and possibility, and not permission or rules.
There are few things I just want to get clear on:
When do you start with Barbara and her team? And will their be a contract with the agreement of at least 1 hr of coaching per week?
We are a stand that new graduates get coached 4 times a month, are you willing to create this with Lauren inside of your structure?
Even though you won’t have participants will you be on co coaching? (minus of course the week off)?
I want to challenge you on what you put in about 75%. I invite you to not bring this inside of you not doing 100%. That landed wonky to me. I have it you will bring 100% inside of the commitment you are sharing.
What will you create in your absence the weeks you won’t be on calls? Such that the team isn’t in a negative impact of you not being there? Because as a reminder you bring gold 🙂
I am currently enrolled in what you are bringing, inside of the assumption that you will bring back responses to these 🙂
Who is next to support and bring their voice to this thread?9 months, 1 week ago #245640
Thanks, Juliana! Those are the differences, yes. ?9 months, 1 week ago #245634Juliana SihParticipant
I loved reading your post and how clear you are about what you want to create. I just wanted to clarify on a few things:
-You will not coach a new participant
-You will miss 1 week’s call per month to write, travel etc.
-You will have 1 FP client which is Lauren and a few PB clients
These are the main logistics difference that I see from this year to next year. Is there anything I missed?
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