Connections

*****WARNING – POSSIBLY TRIGGERING*****

 

Since my last post, I have actually recovered a memory.  I guess writing about that particular anxiety sparked some introspection into why I have that specific anxiety.

Shortly before my father abandoned me, we lived in Alabama.  My dad was stationed at Fort Rucker, and we lived in Ozark.  I was 8 years old.  I remember my father forcing my sister and I to stay outside for hours at a time.  We weren’t allowed to come in the house.  The backyard was nice.  Fenced in, and it had honeysuckle plants that I remember sucking on.  They were very sweet, I remember.

I also remember being so terrified of my father that I didn’t dare ask him if I could come in the house to use the restroom.  I vividly remember wearing a pair of light blue shorts and darker blue tank top.  I ended up urinating because I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.  I remember being in agony for a long time, just trying to hold it in.  I remember feeling really ashamed after it happened.  I also remember my father beating me severely because of it.

I’ve been thinking about this memory a lot, and it makes sense that I still have a fear that I’m going to lose bladder control.  I was beaten for it once, and that’s all it takes to create a mental disturbance.  My father beat me all the time, over little things, things that weren’t even my fault, or just because.  I’m actually glad that I recovered this memory.  I’m not overly upset by it, and it’s put some puzzle pieces together for me.

Now that I know where this specific anxiety comes from, I may be able to change it or even remove it completely.

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse – 1/28/11

Just a quick note to say that there is a new issue of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.  The World As I See It is hosting it this month.  I entered my blog post entitled Life Experiences this time.

If you are a child abuse survivor, or this issue touches you in anyway, I urge you to check it out.

The Neverending Story

I’m imploding.

I thought my depression was backing off, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  I’ve been going through a lot at work and home, and now my emotions are all out of whack.  I have to force myself to not break down in tears almost every minute of the day.  I’ve been having back problems as well, which just adds fuel to the fire.

I just feel hopeless, helpless and lost.  I feel like I’m back at square one, and have been pointing out all my maladaptive patterns to myself for days now.  I feel like a failure.  I feel like I’ll never be the person I want to be.  I feel like enough is enough.  I feel so tired.

Waking up everyday is a struggle.  Doing what I have to do everyday is an even bigger struggle when all I want to do is stay in bed all day.  I want to sleep, or at the very least, crawl into bed and read.  Nothing else is appealing to me.

Last week, I had great plans.  I got a free month membership to Curves, and I went out and bought everything I needed to start working out at the gym.  I’d also been eating healthier for a bit, and then my depression really kicked in.  My self-defeatist attitude is a real menace.  It’s like I’m expecting to fail, so I’m making sure that I don’t have the energy or the perseverance to even try.  Why do I do this to myself?

I know why I do this, and it really sucks.

It’s been talked about to death, but it’s because it is so true.  My abuse has led to hatred of myself.  I don’t think I’m worthy of anything, and my self-esteem is non-existent.  I don’t deserve to be happy.  Logically, I know this is untrue, but how do you get out of that mindset when you spent your formative years believing that to your core?

I feel guilty whenever I buy something for just myself.  I feel guilty whenever I think about spending time doing something that I want to do.  I don’t understand why I get praise from anyone.  I feel guilty whenever anyone pays attention to me.

Good lord this needs to stop.  I need a therapist.  I’m so tired of feeling this way about myself, but can’t seem to break free from it.  I want to be happy and healthy, at least most of the time.  I want to do things for myself that make me feel good because I believe that I’m worth it.

How the hell do I get there?

 

October Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse

I just wanted to make a quick post about this month’s Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse hosted by From Tracie.  I submitted a post that I wrote some time ago, but was very important to my recovery.  It is called Cycles of Abuse.

I encourage anyone who has been touched by child abuse in any way to check it out.

Thanks!

This Has Got To Stop

WARNING:  This post is about teen bullying and suicide…read at your own risk.

One of the most important things I taught my daughter was tolerance and humanity.  The Golden Rule is important, and everyone should live by it.  I’ve also taught her not to be a bully, and to treat people with respect.  It is common sense for me to teach these things to my daughter.  When I see instances of people bullying other people, or being downright mean, I wonder what the hell their parents taught them.

I’m sure most of you have read the account of Tyler Clementi’s suicide.  A video was placed on the internet by his roommate, of Tyler in a very private situation.  It drove him to jump off the George Washington Bridge.

I remember Phoebe Prince.  Earlier this year, she hanged herself after being harassed at school by a group of kids.  She was also harassed through Facebook and text messaging.

And who can forget Megan Meier, the young girl who was harassed by her ex-friend’s mother of all people.  She hanged herself in her bedroom closet.

Bullying has been taken to a whole new level with the advent of the internet, but it’s always been there.  I get sick to my stomach when I hear of a teenager committing suicide because they have been incessantly bullied.  Bullying is abuse, plain and simple.  The victim of the crime suffers lifelong damage, IF they make it through it.  It is a shame that suicide due to bullying has become so common.  Bullies are disgusting little cretins, and they make me extremely angry.

Schools need to be more concerned with this issue.  Parents need to be more concerned with this issue.  It is up to us to stop this from happening.  Stop it IN IT’S TRACKS.  If you see it happening…say something, do something, don’t just ignore it.  Monitor your child’s internet usage and talk to them about what’s going on in their lives.  Make sure your children know that they can come to you with anything, anything at all.

Our children are precious.  They don’t deserve to be abused by anyone, including their peers.

The Daunting Climb

I am going to make the necessary calls to find a therapist this afternoon.  I have the afternoon off work for a dreaded medical appointment, so I will have time to make some phone calls.  It’s hard in my little town to find a therapist who will work with my schedule, but I have to try.

I can no longer continue on this recovery process on my own.  I will obviously continue to do my self-work, but I need some outside guidance.  There’s so much here, and it’s crushing.  I am proud of myself that I was able to finally get to the core of my issues.  After all, that’s what this process has been about so far.  Rewiring my brain and overcoming these maladaptive personality traits has been my overall focus.  I have a name for what is wrong with me, and it seems to make it that much more daunting.

Thanks to my friend Faith over at Blooming Lotus (Thanks Faith!), I have been working on a bible study by Beth Moore called Breaking Free.  I have been working on it a few weeks now, and it’s really eye-opening just how hindered I am by my past traumas.  I really am a slave to them, and have been for so long.  All of these issues that I have stemming from my abuse hold me captive from having a fulfilling life.  Sure, I am able to function well enough, and I’m happy most times, but I’m in turmoil all the time.

My journey is still young.  I have to keep telling myself that instead of being disheartened or depressed, I should be ecstatic that I’m breaking through the barriers that I’ve had for so long.  I know that I am becoming a healthier person everyday.  I break little terrible patterns all the time.  I think what is most daunting is the scope of what I still need to work on.  There’s just so much there.  It’s like looking up at Mt. Everest from the base and getting dizzy at the thought of the climb.

My freedom is waiting for me at the top.  I just have to have the strength to get there.

Codependency

It’s amazing what you learn when you do a bit of research.  I always thought codependency was when two people in a relationship were so dependent on each other that they were willing to put up with just about any unhealthy behavior, simply for the sake of being together.

Apparently, this is not the case, and apparently, I have problems with this.

From the Codependency Wiki:

“Codependency or codependence is a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one’s relationships and quality of life. It also often involves putting one’s needs at a lower priority than others while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.  Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including in families, at work, in friendships, and also in romantic, peer or community relationships.  Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, and/or control patterns.”

Denial patterns:

  • I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
  • I minimize, alter or deny how I truly feel.
  • I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well being of others.

Low self-esteem patterns:

  • I have difficulty making decisions.
  • I judge everything I think, say or do harshly, as never “good enough.”
  • I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts.
  • I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.
  • I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings and behavior over my own.
  • I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.

Compliance patterns:

  • I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger.
  • I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
  • I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
  • I value others’ opinions and feelings more than my own and am afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own.
  • I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want.
  • I accept sex when I want love.

Control patterns:

  • I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
  • I attempt to convince others of what they “should” think and how they “truly” feel.
  • I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
  • I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
  • I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
  • I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
  • I have to be “needed” in order to have a relationship with others.

I exhibit about 95% of these behaviors.

Mine stems from my abuse, just like everything else, it seems.  It’s really frustrating to go through this recovery process, and find out how much my abusers really messed me up.  How people can have such little regard for the long-term effects of their abusive behavior is beyond me.  But then again, if they were any kind of decent human beings, they wouldn’t be abusive in the first place.

I guess I’ll just keep adding to my list of things I need to fix.  I think I need to find a good therapist.

Toxic Shame

I had a revelation this weekend that both nauseated and invigorated me at the same time.  I found out what lies at the core of all my issues.  I found out the reason that I am at a standstill in my recovery.  I found out what I need to work on before I have even the slightest hope of overcoming this.

I have this nice little thing called Toxic Shame, and I have my childhood abuse to thank for it.

Shame can be a good thing.  It can make you look at a mistake that you have made and not repeat it.  It can make you change your behavior so that you become a better person.  The key word here being:  behavior.

Toxic shame is when you think that your being, the very essence of you, is bad.  You feel unlovable, shameful and defective.  When you are abused as a child, your beliefs about yourself become molded by your abuser(s).  More often than not, your abuser is also the person in charge of your care-giving.  Your abuser shows you through action or flat out tells you that you are worthless, useless, unlovable, undeserving and faulty.  As a child, you accept this as fact about yourself.  After all, children are supposed to listen to adults, right?

I never had a name for what was inherently wrong with me.  Obviously, I know that I have a lot of issues and bad patterns associated with my abuse, but I always thought that if I worked on them one by one, I would eventually heal.  This could never happen.  If you don’t even acknowledge the core issue, it’s a hopeless cause.

It’s just like alcoholism…if you don’t fix the issues that made you want to drink in the first place, you can’t hope to stay sober.

I stumbled upon this when I started researching fear of intimacy.  This doesn’t include just sexual intimacy, but intimacy in general.  Not letting anybody get close to me, and not being able to show affection to anyone.  I was reading some articles, and after a bit, my heart started racing and I felt my breath catch in my throat.  It was like a beacon of light was shining on this piece of paper in front of me.

There it was.  The core of my suffering.  The reason I am stuck.

Fear of intimacy is a direct result of toxic shame.  When you have such a low opinion of your being in general, you tend to close yourself off, so people can’t look at the real you.  You feel like they will judge you because you are so worthless.  If you keep everyone at arms length, you will have some semblance of control over how you are viewed by everyone else.

It’s virtually impossible for someone with a toxic shame complex to separate their behavior from their being.  If they do something shameful it’s because they are a bad person.  A “normal” person would just learn from the mistake and move on.  Someone like this will feel even more ashamed, and most definitely learn from it, but it will add to their shame.

“Of course I did something bad, I’m a bad person.”

So, I guess, before I can hope to recover from anything else, this core issue needs to be resolved.  I don’t want to feel this way anymore.  I want to feel lovable, worthwhile and redeemable.  Logically, I know this is true, but damn if I can make myself believe it.

Darkness

“Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

–Mark Twain

This is one of my favorite quotes.  It makes me feel like I’m not so alone.  I think everyone’s “dark side” is different, and it can mean so many things.  Survivors and Thrivers have a dark side, and when they finally find people who they can open up to about what they’ve gone through, it’s a wonderful thing.  Having a dark side is definitely not something to be ashamed about, unless that dark side is criminal in nature.

I’ve always been different from your typical female.  I don’t want to make large generalizations here, but in my experience with most females, I’ve always been considered a bit odd.  I’ve always felt a darkness in my soul, and I relish it.  My husband has called me mad before, and I take it as a compliment.

I am obsessed, and I mean OBSESSED with why people do what they do.  Insanity is the most intriguing thing in the world to me.  How the human mind works is really amazing.  I study psychology for fun and I am drawn to stories of mental illness and the history of mental institutions.  A lot of what they did in the past is horrific, but fascinating to me.

I am intrigued by stories of the human condition and human suffering.  I’ve always tried understanding why my father did what he did to me.  I don’t know his medical history, so all I can do is guess.  I know he had a rough childhood himself, but he was really over the top.  I’ve wondered if he had a mental disorder as well.  It’s all speculation, but I always felt I needed to understand.

A friend once asked me why I enjoy movies about insanity and serial killers so much.  I told her, “It’s because there is no greater horror than what humans are capable of, and that’s fascinating.”  To think that members of the human race are capable of the most horrid deeds imaginable is crazy.  I wonder how these people tick and what goes on in their minds.  What makes them evil.

I try to learn everything I can about insanity.  Old mental institutions with their dark auras and past human suffering.  H.P. Lovecraft and his many, many stories about men being driven mad.  Hieronymus Bosch and his paintings born from a mind in the grasp of madness.

A new movie has come out called Shutter Island, and that is ultimately what gave me the idea for this post today.  When I first saw the preview, I couldn’t wait to see it.  Unfortunately, I may not get to see it for awhile yet, but I may go digging on netflix this weekend for more movies about all things insane.

Any suggestions?

Cycles of Abuse

My grandfather (my father’s father) was a bad man.  His wife died when my father was 5 or 6 years old.  Not too much later he married my step-grandmother.  Throughout the time since my grandmother passed away, my grandfather beat my dad incessantly.  Eventually, my grandfather chose his wife over my father, and sent him away to live with his grandmother.  Fortunately, my nana (as I called her) was a beautiful, nurturing woman, and my father was happy there.

Do you see any similarities here?

The only difference between my father’s story and mine is that my grandmother was a horrid woman and emotional abused me and neglected me until I was 17.

For a long, long time I was obsessed with the cycle of abuse.  I, irrationally, was confident that I would follow in my father and grandfather’s footsteps.  It was my destiny.  I never wanted children specifically because of this.  If I didn’t have any children, I couldn’t abuse and abandon them, right?  Thinking back on it, I was really loony, but it was terrifying at the time.

My husband would tell me all the time that I was being irrational.  We would talk about it in length.  I thought my reason for not wanting children was perfectly normal.  I don’t want to end up abusing it, duh!

He would tell me, “I know you.  You would never let that happen.”  But, I thought it was out of my control.  Who am I to argue with two generations of the same abuse cycle?

I don’t know my grandfather’s history other than his father dying while he was an infant, my grandmother loved him very much, but I wonder if the man my grandmother married later was abusive.  I’ll never know.  Something happened to make him the way he turned out to be.

I figured that if I stayed childless, then the cycle would stop with me, simply because there wouldn’t be a victim to start the cycle.  I never wanted to be an abuser, but this is how crazy I was.  I thought my life was already determined.

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I immediately went into panic mode.  I couldn’t believe that I let this happen.  How could I be so careless?  I was terrified.  I cried so much and fell into a deep depression.  I was going to have a child, good lord, what the hell do I do?

I took control.

From that point on, I did not allow my past to determine my future.  My child was not going to be abused.  My child would not be abandoned.  My child stops the cycle.  I was then free to really enjoy the prospect of becoming a mother.  I snapped out of my irrationality and focused on the love for this little being growing inside me.

Now, when I look at my child, I could never imagine harming her.  She is my little angel, and an extension of me.  She is everything that I wish I could have been at her age.

When she is older, I will talk to her about the cycles of abuse in her past, and how her mother was strong enough to break the cycle.

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