I feel like I must’ve died and not noticed,” writes my friend Mrs. Mac. This is her story in her words. But it’s also your story.

The story of every narcissist’s daughter who was unloved and unwanted. It’s the story of the Scapegoated daughter, the sexually abused daughter. It’s the story of the daughter who gave the narcissists everything, including money, only to be kicked to the curb when the gravy train dried up.

This is as real as it gets!

“I feel like I must’ve died and not noticed. I have almost no memories and I don’t know why. I can recall certain facts when asked specifically, but cannot remember or play the film of my life. Even looking at old photographs seems alien, as though I’m looking at a picture of somebody else. It’s like I don’t exist, I’m invisible to everyone unless they want something from me. Like I died.

I’m sure I used to feel present in the world, brave and confident. Now I hide indoors, living only online, even though I’m ignored there too. The world is just too busy, too full to notice my weak little voice crying for help. I’m too insignificant to matter. I have nothing worth saying. I know I have people out there who hate me and would be delighted to know that I’m no longer, namely my family of birth.

I had a traumatic childhood, one where I was ignored and marginalized. I had no voice and no power. I was at the mercy of a family of narcissists. My father believed he was a genius who was so clever that people didn’t understand him, as he was too advanced. He wasn’t a good provider as he deemed himself too clever to work. Our precarious financial position was blamed on having children, specifically me. I was told that I’d been an unwanted accident.

My mother blamed me for her unhappiness, said I got in her way, spoilt her fun with the men she had affairs with. She also blamed me for ‘making them poor’. As a result, I never asked for anything. If I did, it resulted in a whack around the head for being greedy.

My older brother is a psychopath. He delighted in torturing me in every way possible, from physical assault, to breaking the few possessions I had, to hurting the household cat. He hurt her so frequently that she’d wet herself in fear when she saw him. He also demanded ‘stuff’ on a regular basis. This meant that there was never anything available for me. There was no concept of fairness in our house. Bryan wanted the latest toy, so I couldn’t have a birthday present as they were too poor to buy both. If anyone asked, my mother would throw her hands up and exclaim ‘she never wants anything’. It was a lie. I just knew not to ask.

I wasn’t allowed out, besides, Bryan had told all the neighborhood kids that I was weird and horrible. He worked hard to isolate me. I can recall that I had a series of ‘best friends’ growing up. I remember being astonished that their mothers liked them and were kind to them. It was an entirely new concept to me.

It was always about Bryan. He ruled what we ate, how we lived. Only his friends were welcome, and they too were permitted to rule over me. If ‘Bryan’s friends’ wanted me banished, then it happened. My world shrunk to just my bedroom, which was only big enough for a bed. What’s funny is that despite the countless hours I spent in there, alone, reading, I still cannot recall the wallpaper or furnishings. I think it had cold Lino on the floor and my mattress had springs sticking through that I had to be careful not to roll onto. That’s all I remember.

The only affection I ever experienced was when both my father and brother sexually abused me. That started when I was around 9 or 10. When I told my mother, she beat me, called me a slag and said it must’ve been my fault. It was always my fault. If my brother beat me up, I was told that “if you just kept your mouth shut, he wouldn’t have to hit you.” She encouraged the abuse. It was like a sport to her.

I met my first fiancé aged 15. He was a nice boy, from a nice family. He also had savings, which my father convinced him to lend them. I was so ashamed. They wanted me to marry him, to get rid of me and also get further access to his money. I wasn’t ready. I ran away age 18, moved into a flatshare and lived like a pauper on my tiny hairdresser wages. Nobody was bothered that I’d left home. I hoped that my leaving would ease their burdens and make them happier. Apparently they told the family that I wanted to spread my wings and was deeply ambitious. I was a hairdresser, pushed into it because my parents wouldn’t allow me to stay on at school and had laughed at my wish to go to university, saying I wasn’t clever enough. They allowed me to attend hairdressing college, although it was held over me for the rest of my mother’s life. Apparently I ‘owed’ her for allowing that. None of the family thought it odd that someone being described as ‘deeply ambitious’ had become a hairdresser. I’d gone to grammar school. I most certainly wasn’t stupid.

I bought my first flat age 21, with a 100% mortgage. I had no furniture and relied on cast-offs from my clients in order to live there. My parents then decided that having my own home made me rich. All help had to be paid for from my meager wages. If I employed an outsider to do work, an explosion would happen. They wanted me to pay Bryan, who was useless and would smash things in frustration if he couldn’t do it. I was scared of him, and kept him as far away from my home as I could.

One thing became apparent as I made my way through the world. I was badly equipped to live life fully. I allowed people to take advantage of my kindness. I worked obsessively hard, feeling as though I was trapped into a spiral of pleasing people by working longer and harder. Being wanted felt wonderful, so I pandered to them, not understanding that I could set boundaries. I was constantly taken advantage of, then mocked for allowing it to happen.

I met my now husband, moved house a few times, started a business and began to lead a more affluent life. They hated me for that, saying that I was money-mad, or all-around-a-pound. I began paying their mortgage every month to ease the burden on my dad, who was giving his housing benefit each month to my brother, who’d moved back in after his marriage had broken up. None of them ever worked during this period. They were all on benefits, apart from me.

When my father died, I discovered that they were deeply in debt. 250k in debt to be precise. Their house was worth 280k. I’d paid around 10 years of their mortgage, which amounted to just over 30k. All the people and institutions they’d shafted over the years had registered charges on the property. The only one that hadn’t was me.

They were happy for me to negotiate with all the creditors, get the debts down enough to allow her to buy a flat and be mortgage free. I even got them down enough for her to pay me back, which she did. Soon enough she wanted that money back. I gave her it. She spent it like water, then came back for more. She asked me to sell my house and give her the money from that so that she could feel rich and spend with abandon. I pointed out that it was half my husbands too, to which she stated that she wished he’d die, in her words, so that I could suffer like she has. I turned off the tap of cash I was giving her each month.

That was the last time we had a conversation. I was appalled. She later tried to claim that she hadn’t said it, and if she did, she didn’t mean it, and if she did, maybe I deserved it. I then discovered that she told the family and ‘Bryan’s friends’ that I’d stolen all her money. It wasn’t true and wasn’t fair. As I pointed out once, none of them worked, so how were they meant to have acquired all this money? And how would I have stolen it? I never had any access to her bank account.

She died in 2015. Everything was left to Bryan, who promptly threw out all photos of me as a child. He refused to allow me anything from her flat, even things I’d given her. I have nothing of hers. I wasn’t permitted to go to her funeral or even told when or where it would be. During that time, his friends tracked me down on social media to threaten me if I showed up.

I have no family at all. They all believed her, not realizing that she lied so that she could give it all to her golden boy. I was still the unloved, unwanted little girl, isolated and alone. Not even worth a photograph. When I bumped into my uncle in Bluewater, he was pretty hostile and said “You were just my sister’s kid, I never cared about you.”

This whole thing has left me with a sense of disconnect, to both my past and my present. I wish I could remember more. I’m sure there must’ve been good times. I just can’t recall any.

So I’m left with this sense that I died. I now live like a ghost, not causing any ripples in the world or making any demands. Even when people are cruel, as happened last week, I roll with the punches, not stating the boundaries I wish I could impose. I still find my panic trigger started by the same things. I still crumple at the sense of being an imposter. After writing 13 novels, I still feel as though I’m rubbish at it, that I don’t have anything worth saying. I still find myself taking responsibility for the things that aren’t my burdens to bear.

I’m still sad that I couldn’t make my own mother love me.”