Alice Goes Down the Rabbit Hole

I’ve got some reading material to recommend to you today, a website I found at once horrifying and reassuring. Hildi suggested I might want to start you off with something gentle — a bread crumb of cuteness you could reference to get back out of the Rabbit Hole, should you decide to follow me down.

She also thought a picture of herself was the best way to reach the necessary cuteness quotient.

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“It’ll all be okay, I promise. Also, have you got any snacks?”

Thanks to Natalie Luhrs and her fantastic weekly links posts over at Pretty Terrible^, I recently came across just the site that I needed — at just the moment that I needed it. Given what I know about You, my lovely Readers, I have a hunch that some of you will want to explore about this site too (or may at least find it interesting).

The website is called Down the Rabbit Hole: The world of estranged parents’ forums.

“For several years now I’ve followed blogs about narcissists and other abusers, written by victims of abuse. They’re powerful tools for recovery, and powerful testimonials to the impact of emotional abusers on other people’s lives. What’s been missing is the abusers’ perspective on the abuse. The narcissists I see online don’t write about their relationships with their children and close friends; they hardly write about their own partners, except as props in the narcissist’s ongoing drama. I assumed that there was no way to get the abusers’ side of the story, that abusers are smart enough to not incriminate themselves in their own blogs, and like hell would they get together with other abusers to discuss abuse.

“I was wrong.”

Down the Rabbit Hole summarizes a massive inquiry project begun in 2011 by the blogger Issendai in order “[t]o document attitudes and behavioral patterns common on estranged parents’ forums, and to analyze the information in light of psychological theories and estranged adult children’s experiences.”

I found the summary of hir research to be thorough, compelling, well-organized, and fascinating. [Well, and I found it all horrifyingly familiar, too — but I recognize your mileage may vary.]

“If you’re an estranged adult child and you’re looking for a way to get your parents to hear what the problem is, I’m sorry, but you have your answer already. They don’t want to know. They may be incapable of knowing. There are no magic words that will penetrate their defenses.

“The good news is that you’re free. You can stop now. If you need permission, I’ll give it to you: You are hereby allowed to stop trying to get through to your willfully deaf parents.

“Please stop.”

You can read the rest here.

And don’t worry — me and the cats will be waiting right here in the daylight for you, whenever you get done.

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“Hey! Welcome back! It’s very nice here in the sunny spot. Did you bring snacks?”

[^What do you mean you’re not already following the goodness that is Natalie Luhrs’ blog?? Well…go subscribe now. I’ll wait. You can thank me later. I’m partial to dark chocolates and bright flowers.]

14 thoughts on “Alice Goes Down the Rabbit Hole

  1. Thank you, Alice. I’ve bookmarked this for in the near future reference. Sounds like something that will require some delving and being in the right head space to take in. very much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank for the referral. I will read with interest.

    Your cat Hildi looks like our (now late) cat, Luna. Astonishingly so. Luna was a troubled soul, very anxious, and yet trying so hard to fit in. You had to like her even though it took some work.


    1. It’s striking how distinctive cat personalities are, isn’t it?? I think people who are not cat people don’t realize; they think cats are all just aloof sameness. Hildi is very opinionated and very stubborn (not always an easy combination!), and absolutely uninterested in anyone who is not her family. But once she adopts you in? She is the sweetest, truest, most faithful friend.

      Hildi and I have lived together since she came into my life as a 2-month-old kitten. She’s almost 20 years old now and in failing health — though the same bossy sweetheart as ever! I wrote this love letter to her last September, when we thought her kidney failure couldn’t be slowed:

      Such a gift that she is still here with me 9 months later, for however long. My condolences on Luna’s passing, whenever that was.


  3. More than once it’s occurred to me that my site could use more adorable cat pictures.

    (I mean that. It’s wonderful to know my site helps people, but man, the sidebar needs a hug dispenser button or a video of baby chinchillas taking a dust bath or something. Or maybe everyone who reads 10 pages gets a free subscription to poopsenders dot com, good for one delivery to the parent of their choice.)

    I hope my dropping in doesn’t stifle the conversation. Alice emailed me, and I liked her blog so much that I wanted to say hello, and thank you, and I’m glad my site helped. And sorry that we all have the kinds of problems my site can help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for commenting! 🙂

      Yes, periodic interjections of some adorbs adorable can be a helpful break from certain content. (Though I’m also *very* struck by your poopsenders idea — I’m sensing a real opportunity here for some enterprising would-be-entrepreneur…) So far, my own furry companions have appeared on the site to ease conversations about Bill Cosby, rape culture, and anti-feminist activism.

      They’ve been asking for their own agent to negotiate future starring roles, but I think I’ve headed them off for the time being with the recent acquisition of new scratchy pads.


  4. That shock doesn’t end, and is like a gut punch even though we know what to expect. I remember always trying to hold onto some hope that, if I tried just one more time to get through to her, THAT would be the time everything would change…she would change. We are so hard on ourselves as victims because we want to hold onto self-blame. I am full of thanks for myself, you and everyone who has finally, through whatever means right for them, has reached the moment when ‘breaking our own hearts’ ends. That is empowering. That is regaining and holding control over our own lives. Congratulations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Holy hell, that was like reliving bits and pieces of conversations I ran from when my mother was drunk on her lips and ranting about the terrible person I was. And I think I had it pretty mild in many ways. I totally agree that deaf ears had no capacity to listen or comprehend any reasons I may have had for avoiding contact with her. I used to blame the alcoholism solely, but as time has come and gone I have understood that this woman had psychological issues well beyond the use of alcohol that only increased her inability to see her faults. She was never wrong, ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It takes real distance — of time, as well as other things — to fully recognize the shape and heft of our parents’ own psychological issues, doesn’t it? I started browsing this site late one evening last week — and then stayed up until 2am reading and rereading, pulling quotations. Crucial preparation, even without my realizing, for this past weekend’s visit with my parents. (I hadn’t seen both of them in person at the same time in over 2 years, when I began a long period of refusing to communicate with either of them in any way).

      Seeing them together now — after all the work I’ve done to understand myself, as well as mental health in general and abusive relationships in particular — and even expecting it, I was still shocked by how profound my father’s disordered thinking goes. How impenetrable it is. And also how rapey, and textbook abusive. (Literally textbook. I was listening to him speak and thinking: “is this conversational pattern covered in Ch 4 or in Ch 7 of that book I have, “Understanding the Minds of Angry & Controlling Men”?) All weekend long, I kept repeating to myself this one sentence from the Rabbit Hole website: “Abuse destroys relationships.” Reminding myself that there is nothing *I* can do on my own to repair these relationships — not with him, not with her — and it’s okay to stop breaking my own heart trying. As long as he cannot get past his own illness, he will continue to behave these ways. And all the relationships within this family will continue to deteriorate.

      I find a certain comfort in knowing that. A permission to let go — and to forgive myself for doing so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Reminding myself that there is nothing *I* can do on my own to repair these relationships… and it’s okay to stop breaking my own heart trying.” if you got nothing out of that visit except THIS, then it might just have been worth it. i would love for you and everyone to have healthy, happy relationships with their parents, but if not, this is the next best thing. ego te absolvo.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, dear heart.

          Here’s the other thing I found after this weekend (though it’s more of a cumulative effect of long-term efforts than the result of just one trip): on Tuesday, I sat on a park bench eating chicken salad on a croissant and listening to pop music through headphones. There was a warm breeze, and kids playing under a tree in the distance. And this thought dawned on me: “I don’t feel afraid.”

          I can’t tell you the last time that was true. If ever. Makes everything worth it.


        2. wow. what an incredible realization. i imagine the relief and the weightlessness. i’m -so- happy for that respite!


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