Most people have contact of some sort with at least one person who suffers from mental illness.
Many of us will personally suffer from some form of mental illness - to a greater or lesser degree- in our lifetime.
Some will seek out medical help, some counselling and some will ignore it in the hope it will go away, or not even realise that their current "straying from normal" is a sign of mental illness.
To some mental illness is their normal. Some are so used to having demons that they think that they are the epitome of normal, the one every other should envy. This is the life they have seen modelled by their own family of origin. This is how they have always lived and this is how they expect their children to live. Mental illness of this type is kind of contagious.
Any type of mental illness has a cost, not just on those who suffer from it, but also on those around them.
Narcissism is a mental illness.
I know that.
I know that but I have managed to also bypass knowing it. I have thought of it as a personality type, as a problem, as a condition, as a thing to keep secret, as a part of other problems and as a genetic trait - whilst actually using the term mental illness, yet I know it is a mental illness, and not the only one my family suffered from.
Its a thing I have been thinking about as I move into another year of no contact.
The silence is no longer deafening - the resentment has eroded away into indifference. There is a lot of peace now and as I occasionally return to write about how this feels I find I am no longer focused on the individual events that I used as proof, as clear things to pin my justification to. The story of my past has become simpler.
I found, for a long time - when I had told - however sketchily - people who were important to me - about my current situation, I had highlighted it with some of the horror stories - I felt that need for justification.
I felt the need to say, "This is where I am BECAUSE......."
So much had been secret and breaking that silence became increasingly important to me, but not being labelled as bad - that remained - I guess that's a "flea" - a nasty parasite that had stayed with me. "Bad" was a thing I had worked against all my life - a label that had been used to keep me in my box.
Yet here I am having changed my life like this and anybody who feels the need to judge me could get as much material as they liked from my current situation. They could create nasty labels galore. They could place me so far away from normal I couldn't see it with a telescope and they could twist what conclusions they liked about me from even the bare bones of my situation. But people who want to judge me like that probably wouldn't let a little thing like the truth get in their way, or reason either.
Why am I afraid of this mythical external judgement ?
Possibly because I hate to be judged, I have spent too much time pleasing others and trying to avoid impossibly harsh judgements. So for a long time after being estranged I practised telling my story, not to tell anyone I knew. People I knew outside my family had been positively celebratory about my actions and comments such as "about time" were about as harsh as it got. Non the less I continued to try to find a way to summarise this part of "my story" in such a way I could tell a stranger and get them to understand. I went over and over things trying to pick out the most revealing events, the most typical behaviours.
It turns out - as time goes by though - the story just gets shorter and simpler and shorter and simpler.
The shortest and simplest version is
"My family of origin suffered from a range of mental illnesses which largely they were unwilling or unable to get help for. "
maybe I might add,
"It cost me a great deal personally " or maybe not.
I might keep it in mind should someone feel they have the spare time to go around assessing other peoples life choices and I feel the need to indulge them.