The snarl on her face accentuated the deep bark of her punishing voice. As she entered the room with her family, a cloud of negative energy enveloped her as she lashed out for no apparent reason. These actions doused the room with her fiery rage. Her words whipped the unsuspecting who felt their sense of peace immediately evaporate. And, the happiness felt before her entrance vanished without a trace. After her tirade, she disappeared and left the room stunned. Yet, an hour later, she reentered as if nothing happened. The confused and hurt still stung from her lashing. Once again, all remained silent as the realization that their world turned upside down once again. In essence, toxic amnesia distorts reality and leaves everyone paralyzed in fear, doubt, and shame.
After years of therapy, never accept the unacceptable developed into the family mantra. These wise words became gospel as the family sought to stop the madness. Understanding and processing erratic and inconsistent behavior from the family matriarch proved to be futile.
Becoming a young bride turned out to be the event that launched her self-hatred. A mother of two felt left behind as her friends went to college in pursuit of their dreams. The consequences of her actions occurred with irreversible repercussions. Turning her inward pain outward, she projected her vileness onto others.
Having children at a young age after living a life of indulgence and ease, she built resentment towards everything and everyone. The bitterness instantly fell upon her and became her homeostasis. Wherever she went, wrath accompanied her and struck all in her pathway. Even though others remembered each encounter with her with disdain, the next time she saw them, she proceeded as if nothing happened. Her toxic amnesia distorts reality which causes everyone to question their pain and its realness.
What is toxic amnesia?
Toxic amnesia occurs when an individual inflicts abuse onto others and then proceeds as if nothing happened. The selective memory manipulates reality and distorts others’ perceptions. Through ignoring or projection, the perpetrator seeks to reinvent the past. Because the events happened, the scapegoat(s) begin to question their own observations and recall of what happened, leaving them spun upside down.
What are the effects of toxic amnesia?
Because toxic amnesia distorts reality, the targets of it develop deep trust issues. They begin to not only distrust others but also question their own interpretation of events. Therefore, without counseling to unravel the web of deceit that tightly coils them in its clutches, they may begin to accept this unacceptable behavior by making excuses for others.
Why do we excuse unacceptable behavior?
When a family member tries to negate their consistent toxic behavior through acts of giving time, energy, money, or things, we tend to see this as an olive branch. Because we crave peace, we want to believe that the last time was the last time. But the tornado of turmoil continues to rear its ugly head. Read more about the cycle of abuse here: https://www.healthline.com/health/relationships/cycle-of-abuse
Even still, most individuals who exhibit toxic amnesia never address the root issues or take ownership of their behavior. Over time, receiving their gifts of compensation isn’t enough. Resentment for the abuse overpowers us and causes us to react, recoil, and/or run.
How can we heal from toxic amnesia?
Because toxic amnesia distorts reality, dismantling the misrepresentation becomes the crucial first step. It happened. Over-giving or dismissing the events doesn’t work anymore. Nonetheless, admitting that abuse happens is only the first step. We must peel back the layers of protection and pain to heal the wounds. Then, courageously, we have to find the origin of the wound and heal it. Otherwise, we are destined to repeat it again through other relationships in our lives.
Can we have toxic individuals our lives?
Most people avoid eliminating family members who exhibit this behavior in their lives because “they are family.” In spite of relation, staying in a hamster wheel of abuse that leads to a honeymoon phase destroys our equanimity. Limiting or eliminating contact with those who engage in bad behaviors without taking ownership AND seeking healing takes back YOUR power.
If you want to live in a harmonious and joyful realm, creating your reality by refusing to accept the unacceptable becomes paramount. Otherwise, you are participating in your own insanity cycle. Read more about how I participated in my own insanity cycle here: https://tracinicolesmith.com/release-in-peace-by-letting-go/
Engage in relationships and connections that only bring you bliss. Heal from the toxicity. Then, you will reshape your reality by focusing on your life and creating healthy boundaries to honor your own inner sanctuary.