An Open Letter to My Hook

“You may not care, but it’s your grandmother’s birthday.”

I know this game all too well. The taunting. The bait. But over time, I learned to see the hook.

It’s a tactic of narcissism. Reeling you in with a dig, but to call them out on it is to invoke gas-lighting – it’s automatically your fault for being silent. But silence is the only way to ‘win’, although truly, there is no winning against a narcissist.

The last several months have been a steady downward shift in the relationship with a family member. Constant belittling. Constant demeaning. Constant insults. Negativity, drama, pain, and suffering. Toxicity like a black cloud looming above me. I began to question my own morality, my own integrity. Was I as horrible as he made me out to be? Was I a truly terrible, monster that he said I was? Am I being reckless? Is it all my fault?

These things should have been a warning sign. But I didn’t listen. And that’s how a narcissist catches you. That’s the hook. The fish only sees the bait, but never the hook.

I was being publicly humiliated at every turn. Attacked for withdrawing from the pain that I constantly faced. No matter what the subject matter nor situation, I was wrong. Always, always wrong. Always the one inflicting the pain, though that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Everyone saw it but me. I still held out hope that things would get better. That if only I apologized enough, that it would get better. That only if I resigned to being wrong, that it would get better.

Warning. Red flag. Alert, alert.. I wasn’t listening. I was waiting for a day that would never come.

After so long, I was hospitalized for my mental illness. My life, quite literally, fell apart in front of my very eyes. I hit rock bottom mentally, and physically. I couldn’t withstand the pain I felt in my body and soul. My heart and mind were simply too heavy a cross to bear. I woke up feeling very quiet. Very withdrawn, isolated, and full of pain. Over the course of several weeks of self reflection, one thing was very clear to me. Whether blood or not, toxicity could not remain in my life. Not from inside, not from outside.

I decided to walk away from this relationship.

Here is my open letter.

“You may not care, but it’s your grandmother’s birthday.”

I do care. A lot. I don’t want to be so distant… but you didn’t leave me with much of a choice.

I’ve tried to reason. I’ve tried to discuss, adult to adult. I’ve tried to apologize. It is never enough.

I refuse to be publicly humiliated by an entire family of narcissists. I refuse to be gas-lighted. I refuse to take your verbal and emotional abuse.

Above all, I refuse to stoop to your level.

I refuse to attack you. To let hate bear weight in my already fragile, broken heart. Instead I will hold steady in my silence, nurturing a calmer, steadier mind and soul. I see your toxicity as a black cloud, vast and merciless. I will not be consumed by it. I refuse to live a life encumbered by someone else’s negativity.

More importantly, I refuse to let my son know that life either.

I feel as though a part of me has died, perhaps in more ways than one. Perhaps it was my ignorance. Perhaps I woke up and realized who you truly are. Regardless, there will always be a void. Always be a scar from the wounds you caused.

But I will never let you control my emotions again. Never again will I let you tell me I am wrong for feeling hurt. For feeling betrayed. Never again will I let you invalidate my emotions because they do not fit your narrative. I will never let you belittle me nor mistreat me. Never again will I stoop to your level of malice. Never again will I lay down and accept your disrespect.

I will choose to keep walking. Choose to stand tall. I choose me.

William Arthur Ward once said “Happiness is an inside job”. I’m choosing my happiness over pain. Joy over abuse. Wholeness over malice. I’m choosing to create my own happiness from the inside out by eliminating the weight of those who’ve hurt me, and eliminating those who are causing the hurt.

The hurt will linger. The pain will fade. But in time, I will stop waiting for an apology. I will stop waiting for the day where you admit you were wrong.

I will not take the bait. I see the hook. I’m done waiting.

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