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Cruelty as a way of life



“Only one. But ze light bulb must WANT to change.”

False Memory Syndrome

Patrick Guntensperger
I used to have a sister. In fact, I used to have two of them. I don’t anymore.
Oh, it’s not that they died (would that they had; the world would be a somewhat better place); no, they explicitly chose not to be part of this family. They had decided to “divorce” my parents, is the way it was put in the letter which brutally severed any relationship and all communications for the last twenty years.
You see, for reasons of their own, and spurred on by external support in the form of pop psychology and hack “therapists”, my two former sisters decided that the best way to deal with their own internal demons and neuroses was to eliminate accountability, blame others, and destroy the lives of those who cared most for them. And the latter two things, they did.
As for their internal demons and neuroses, recent events suggest that they are thriving.
The whole sordid story started a little over two decades ago. There were at the time four siblings; besides me there were three siblings; one was my brother Norman, and the other two were women, sisters whom, as a courtesy, I won’t bother to name.
Both had had minor psychological issues all their lives; in both cases those issues always appeared to me to be a manifestation of their most salient shared personal characteristic: their staggering self-centredness. The older of the two (I’ll call her “A”) was a chronic failure. She had several failed marriages, she had gone to university on a military scholarship which she lost when she flunked out, she was an alcoholic and almost pathologically promiscuous, and she was irritatingly arrogant, condescending, and self-righteous with virtually everyone. That personality naturally rendered her virtually friendless, a condition for which she apparently compensated with her promiscuity.
The younger one (I’ll call her “J”) was, and apparently still is, a user and a manipulator. She learned at a very early age to get others to do everything for her, using pity, sex, lies, anything…and this talent fed into her astonishing laziness. Her various boyfriends and her husband, from whom she is now divorced, all found themselves catering to her every whim and waiting on her hand and foot; J never gave an iota of courtesy or kindness to anyone, yet demanded excesses of each for herself. She wisely selected boyfriends and a husband who were less intelligent than she was; fundamentally, she is easily manipulated by anyone smarter. A is smarter.
Some time around 1990, A and J’s letters to my parents began to take on a tone of coldness, bitterness, and vague hostility. Up until then they had been full of warmth, hope, and thanks for the many kindnesses, financial and otherwise, my parents had shown them and their children. After a year or so, the antagonistic tone of the letters dominated and it culminated in a letter from A in which she spelt out the problem.
It seems she had read a book called The Courage to Heal. (More about that in a later post.) And she and J had both been seeing therapists. Apparently, following the guidelines in the book and with the help and guidance of the “therapists”, they had begun to uncover hidden or “suppressed” memories.
In a series of letters and vitriolic phone calls, A and J fleshed out these “memories” and recounted them to my parents as fact and demanded “for the sake of healing” that they acknowledge their validity and beg forgiveness for their actions.
At first the co-dependent neurotic women insisted that they had suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of both parents; a claim that is palpably untrue. These accusations gained momentum and lurid detail, and, as their therapy deepened, became claims that we, as children, had been routinely subjected to forced participation in group sex, and were the centrepieces at regular orgies my parents organised and led (are orgies led? I don’t know).
Eventually, these bizarre fantasies ripened into specific memories of satanic rituals at which the children (presumably me too; I’d hate to have been left out of that kind of fun) were regularly ravaged and forced to participate; there were even specific descriptions of chanting, candle-holding black-hooded figures forming a circle inside a pentagram. At each stage of the development of the fantasies, there were demands that my parents acknowledge their culpability for their evil treatment of their (then) daughters.
Reason didn’t work; expressions of love didn’t dissuade them from the course their therapists were guiding them on. There was sporadic communication; each time, either A or J would repeat the mantra that they were only being “assertive” and “forthright” in their demands that my parents step up and admit that their evil ways were the cause of A and J’s neuroses. Only in that way, the women insisted, could “the healing begin”.
Each of these communications was deeply painful to my parents. My mother developed a sleeping disorder and could often be heard mumbling about her love for her children and grandchildren when she was able to find what should have been the balm of sleep. But making matters even worse was that my parents would receive calls or letters from distant family members.
It seems that A and J had made the rounds of my mother’s family, and those members of my father’s family that they could find, and had repeated their vile fantasies as truth and historical reality. One of my mother’s sisters contacted us to tell us that J had related her disgusting accusations and then promptly tried to turn the pity she thought she had garnered to her advantage in acquiring a place to live, free child care etc. Most of our relatives and friends didn’t accept it as anything but the ramblings of disturbed people, but the seed of doubt had been planted. I heard the expression “where there’s smoke there’s fire” more than once from people who were trying to absorb the idea that two of the world’s kindest and most decent people could have committed such atrocities on their own children.
Among the more painful communications received during this time was a call from one of their grandchildren. A’s eldest daughter, now at college age, called to ask for money. The gist of the conversation was that she wanted to know if they would turn over the college fund they had started for her when she was born or whether they would betray her as they had her mother. They sent her the entire fund, to which they had faithfully contributed throughout the time A had renounced them as parents, with a warm letter of congratulations on her academic success. Their granddaughter neither replied nor thanked them.
Perhaps this was for the best because each time the phone rang at an odd hour, my parents would jump, their hearts would race, and there was profound anxiety that on the other end of the line would be one or the other of their “daughters” with yet another accusation. Perhaps it would be a lawyer announcing a lawsuit, something A and J had suggested was a possibility.
Never… not once… did either of them offer an apology, let alone recant an accusation.
Eventually my parents had to move because they were uncomfortable where they lived. My mother had developed a sense that people were looking askance at them, thinking, “There go those Satanist child molesters”. They moved more than once for the same reason; what should have been their golden years had become a nightmare of paranoia, bewilderment, and hurt. At length they gave up hope that A and J would ever come to their senses and see the damage their hate-filled fantasies had caused.
They realised that even should A and J should recant, there was no way to undo the damage done. The people to whom they had told their fantastic tales couldn’t be untold. Some indeed had gone to their graves accepting that there was some truth to the fantasies; neither was there any way to regain the lost decade and more of suffering caused by the vicious cruelty of A & J. They talked seriously about what to do, then, years ago, they told me of their decision. A and J were now dead to them. They had to take the position that they had no daughters and put them firmly out of their minds as though they no longer existed. Their health simply couldn’t withstand the torture any longer.

They did their best to create a new life for themselves. They even took under their wing a young single mother from China and her daughter; today the daughter is in university and her mother calls my parents Mummy and Daddy while the young lady addresses them as Grampy and Grammy. The mother has graduated with an MBA and is as sweet and loving a daughter as can be imagined. I think of them as my real sister and niece.Both live in different cities but visit when they can and call frequently. Of course, somehow A caught wind of this relationship and apparently called Children’s Services and reported the young girl who was about 13 at the time as a “child in danger”. The report was investigated and dismissed as a vicious prank. Apart from that neither A nor J has demonstrated the slightest interest in my parents.
Nevertheless, at extremely long intervals my parents would receive a phone call from one or the other of the women. The content of the communication varied from an insouciant chat as though the intervening years and history had not occurred, to drunken, shouting, belligerent repetitions of their more outrageous fantasies. Each time both of my parents was devastated for weeks afterward. My mother was hospitalised when it was thought she might have had a stroke as a result of the stress and anxiety caused by one of those psychotic calls. When I was in Indonesia, they called me, utterly devastated, several times to ask for advice on how to keep what they described as “those monsters” out of their lives.
To bring this awful story up to today, I am here in Canada again. I came here to take care of my father who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my mother whose health is increasingly fragile. In February of this year, my mother was again hospitalised and I was spending every day with my father and caring for him. I wrote and published an article on living with Alzheimer’s and then posted a somewhat modified version here on my blog. Apparently A reads this blog because shortly after it ran, she tried to reach my mother by telephone in the hospital. My mother refused the call, saying that she had no daughter by that name and immediately relapsed and required several weeks more hospital care because of the anxiety caused by the call.
Once things had settled down and my mother was home again where I could care for them both, we all tried to get back to normal; we had nearly succeeded in doing so when three letters arrived in the mail. From A.The letters, one to me and one to each of my parents, were written in a sort of faux-solicitous tone and suggested that she was all concerned because she had come to understand that my parents might be approaching their deaths, and wanted offer to help with their care. She also deigned to allow that she had “long since forgiven them” for the crimes she had confabulated. Clearly smelling some kind of legacy in the offing, she allowed as she was willing to put the past behind her and do what was needed at this crucial time. There was no recanting, no apology for ripping a family apart, or destroying my parents’ lives. My mother tore her letter into pieces and went to lie down sobbing.
Later that evening I saw my mother reading the letter A had sent me. She then collapsed with what seemed to be a stroke and I called for an ambulance. My mother spent Mother’s Day in the hospital where, once again, my father and I visit her every day. We don’t know when she will be released. She begged me to keep “that monster” away from her.
I sent A an email explaining that her communications were toxic and insisting under the power of attorney my parents had assigned me that she desist from attempting to contact them directly. Her reasoned and loving response? That she would raise a legal challenge to the power of attorney, as she argues that my father was not mentally fit to have given one. And all this because she claims to be interested only in the welfare of my parents. A “concern” that is demonstrated by harassment of a desperately ill patient – one who was put in the hospital in the first place, a day earlier,  by exactly the same harassment
Today, in fact, my mother called me from her hospital bed in tears. Why? Because after my telling A that her attempt to communicate with my mother caused her grave suffering, A had called the hospital to pursue whatever her agenda is. I have begged her to leave my mother in peace. I have emailed her a scanned copy of a handwritten letter from my father in which he begs her to stop tormenting them.
Mental illness is a sad thing. It devastates families. It is brutal both on the sufferer and on those who care for those with an emotional or cognitive infirmity. I pity, but I respect, love, and admire my father for his manner of dealing with his cruel disease.
But as for the mental illness manifested by both A and J, I have little pity or sympathy. They are both purely self-indulgent, and have nothing wrong with them other than unbridled self-interest and an utter indifference to others. They know that their accusations are made up whole cloth and are complete and utter fabrications, invented for the clear purpose of saving themselves the trouble of looking at their own failures and character flaws. Rather than looking at themselves, acknowledging their defects and working on them, they chose the cowardly and hateful route of blaming the only people in the world who loved them despite their considerable shortcomings. That they destroyed the remainder of those people’s lives means nothing to them, as long as they never have to shoulder any accountability.
If there is any truth to A’s missive in which she claims to have no interest in anything beyond my parents’ welfare, let me try this, since she apparently reads this blog: In the best interests of my mother and father, and in accordance with their express wishes, please, please, please stop contacting them. You will kill them. Unless that is your intent, you will abide by their wishes and leave them in peace; you have caused more than enough pain for a series of lifetimes. Just go away and let them live out what time they have left without the agony you insist on putting them through.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Dude, I don't know how to put this in a 'Politically Correct' way, and I feel I just gotta say this after reading the previous entries, so I'm just gonna say it anyway: you've had a Rock n' Roll life. Keep Rockin'! m/

  2. Well, thanks, I guess. But, trust me…there's lots of it I wouldn't wish on anybody!

    Thanks for getting in touch!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is one of the worst stories I have heard in many years. If, as you suggest, they know that their fantasies are fictitious, then we are not talking about mental illness. Instead, there must be serious personality disorders afoot; some form of Cluster B pathology (DSM-IV) is plausible. The Narcissisic Personality Disorder, in particular, could be present. But sometimes, these are just fancy names for evil.

    You must have already thought of this: but aren't temporary restraining orders available in your jurisdiction? How about defamation lawsuits? The criteria are clearly met in almost any jurisdiction in the Western world: damaging, malicious falsehoods have been repeatedly and widely distributed with intent to harm.

    In any case, surely it is better to cease all communication whatsoever, except through the legal system? For instance – and this is not intended as criticism – ointing out that A will kill her victims might rather encourage than dissuade, especially if there is inheritance to be gained.

    These creatures had better hope there is no afterlife where they will be called upon to review their lives.


  4. Thanks for the comment, Giles!

    I agree wholeheartedly that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is likely a contributing factor to their behaviour; or as you suggested some other pathology is at work here.

    I appreciate your ideas concerning remedies for the situation and would genuinely like to employ one of or more of them. Generally speaking the laws governing defamation, libel, slander, and the like require that three legal tests be met (unless the statements were in the public's best interest): The statements 1) were made with malice.(check) and 2)caused damage or harm(check) and 3)were false (check).

    What these monsters have done clearly meets all the criteria in law to merit a rather large civil suit and attendant damages and penalties. We considered this and have been encouraged to pursue that course. Perhaps we could have done so years ago, but as things stand, neither of my parents is physically or emotionally up to the fray. But I'm told I might be able to do it under their power of attorney. It is being looked at.

    Nevertheless, with this warning as well as the ones handwritten by my parents and sent via email directly to them supported by a lawyer, if there is any attempt at communication, we will have a Prima Facie case against them for harassment and the issuance of a court order.(restraining order).

    And you're absolutely right. My greatest concern when I let them know of the negative impact on the health of my parents was severe, I thought they just might rub their hands with glee and step up their efforts. It's for this reason that I posted this on my blog. In the first place, it's made it public so the record is now in the public domain. And secondly, A is on record as saying that she reads this blog, so for legal purposes, she will be deemed to have received the warning. I even got an email from one of her friends singing A's praises after the posting, so A can never claim she was unaware of it.

    Thanks again for your input; it was very welcome!

    All the best

  5. As a quick follow up to the last post, I want to add this: I have just spoken to my lawyer and he has recommended for the reasons you stated that I post no more news about my parents or their condition; he sees a risk in allowing those two to know anything about them.

    From here on, I will give no more information about either of them in any public forum, lest the monsters use that information to pursue their own agendas.

    Thanks for all the emails of support I got from the public.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Patrick Guntensperger has always been a liar. He has also always wanted to get his hands on his parents' money. Do not believe what he says about his sisters.

  7. Nice to hear from you. I might choose to respond if you had the courage to identify yourself.

  8. Funny! Patrick has always treated myself and my family with respect and kindness. I met him when he was on the board of local environmental organization and knew this was the realtor man who we could trust with the purchase of our first house. He even stayed with us there for a short while, some time later. He is encouraging as a friend and definitely a thought provoking journalist. He happily took the role "Uncle" to those in need of one.
    Not perfect, firm in his convictions and loved by his parents; Pat is THERE when people need him. My only wish is that I had contacted him sooner, to offer respite when he needed it. It takes a loving man to care for ill and dying parents; most just pay someone else to do it.
    Pagun has my respect.

    Debra Bramble

  9. Thanks Deb…that means a lot to me!

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