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Gaslight Girl: A memoir of self

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Empathy and compassion for a sensitive child could be overwhelming and confronting. At times suffocating. She could feel her parents pain, yet she wasn’t offered an adult seat at the table of life. This is a memoir of moments remembered. emotions felt and thoughts resisted. Memoir of coming of age, living through the abusive relationships of narcisstic family members. It is a story of love, grief and healing.

Mary O'Musings
4.3 3 reviews
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Chapter 1

She’d always heard just how ‘amazing’ she was, told she had something unique about her. Time and time again she’d shy away from faceless, nameless adults as they reaped unsolicited praise upon her. In her mind’s eye the praise was more of a burden, unwanted noise which made her feel uneasy. She was uncomfortable under the gaze of unwanted attention as she’d learned to fly under the radar, it was safer there. The fewer waves and ripples she created the better. She believed that praise was simply the noise adults made to fill in the empty silences. She was fine with silence. She preferred silence. The silence could be trusted; it didn’t promise something it wasn’t able to deliver. The nameless, faceless adults didn’t hear the incessant names and insults that she was abused with every day. To her young 10-year old mind, how could she be amazing if her brothers told her otherwise. Who was she to believe, what was she to believe? All she knew was that according to her brothers she was a stupid, fat ugly little bitch who needed to be taught a lesson or two hundred. This couldn’t have been any further from the real truth, however in her mind she was disgusting, unlovable and not worthy of praise. Her brother's teasing and acerbic barbs filled her mind with noise and shame. They filled her heart with sadness.

Standing there is the morning light her puffy red eyes were evidence she'd cried herself to sleep, yet again. Her voice trembled as she pretends to be okay, her thick blonde hair hiding her overly expressive blue/green eyes. This was her attempt at shielding herself against the onslaught of silent threatening stares. Silent but by no means empty. Sitting in the run down kitchen, her hunger was momentarily forgotten as she braced herself for the day. With deep resolve she took a breath and willed herself "Okay you can do this". With that she smiled, helping to get her younger sisters ready for school. With her deep breath she also engaged her inner lioness, after all she had two precious younger sisters to protect.

A bright child, astute enough to know the stream of praise would run dry if the adults had been able to read her young mind. If they could see her truth, praise would’ve been replaced with condescending looks, indignation and judgement. Lucky they couldn’t delve into the depths of her mind. Lucky for them it meant that they didn’t need to face the dilemma of understanding a precocious pre-pubescent girl struggling to make sense of her world. It meant they didn't have to intervene. She was a unique girl who’d undoubtedly challenged the way adults saw themselves and the very world they inhabited. If they’d looked close enough they’d of seen their reflection in her hollowed defensive eyes, yet their incessant need for superficiality drew a blank. Where there could’ve been clarity and understanding there was simply disconnection. Where there could of been real genuine dialogue there was simply noise. Her spirit longed to be seen and heard, to be loved unconditionally. At least at school the teachers saw her, they understood her. At school she could escape into the world of sports, books and learning. At school she was free to delve into the depths of her imagination. Although. hunger pains would often make it hard for her to get through the day. She craved to have a full lunch box, instead of the shame of being poor. Having nine siblings often meant that food could be scarce.

Although young she was nobody’s fool, she saw the truth. Or more importantly she saw what she thought was the truth. Not yet skilled in the ways of the world she saw truth as being concrete, absolute and sacrosanct. Eventually she would come to know that truth is a rich tapestry of colours and textures woven together to create a semblance of meaning and order. The young girl didn’t feel as though she was gifted, she felt cursed. She was critical of the world in which she lived and even much more critical of herself, her purpose and relevance. She had dreams, aspirations and high expectations until life knocked them out of her, albeit momentarily. It would take years for her to realise her abundant gifts and abilities. Until them she focused on her areas of deficit. After all it had been reinforced day in and day out. Where there should of being rich trust, safety and protective love there had been barren abuse, hatred and spitefulness. Narcissists become skilled as gas-lighting others. This was no more evident than within her family. Her tribe seemed to be at emotional war and war was no place for children. Especially an empathetic child that noticed everything.

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