Anxiety, Emotions

Kids and punishment

As many of you know, I work as an ESL teacher in South Korea. I teach kids ranging in age from about 3 to 12. It’s one of the most challenging things for me because there are times when it hurts to watch them just being kids.

But today something triggered me extremely badly. I was in the room where all the foreign teachers have their desks (it’s hardly an office). Kids are in and out of there all the time. I was grading papers, minding my own business. Two little ones (probably six year olds) were in there and the bell had already rung for class. I was shooing them out the door when the school cook/cleaning lady came in. She started yelling at the two kids. She made them hold out their hands and hit them with a plastic water bottle. All because they hadn’t left the room fast enough when the bell rang. Trust me when I say class start/stop times aren’t strictly enforced by any of the teachers.

As she was yelling, I was just about jumping out of my skin. And then when she smacked them, I felt this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach and just shook. No specific memories, just the horrible waves of emotion.

Something similar happened late last week. I have one class of fourth graders where a couple of the boys pick on one of the girls. I walked in the room and she was crying. The class is a very low level one, so there was no way she could tell me what was wrong. I let her talk to one of the Korean teachers. After she finished telling the teacher what had happened, the teacher came in and started screaming at the kids who were picking on the girl. The Korean teacher made the boys who were responsible stand against the wall with their hands in the air (a typical punishment). I don’t have a major problem with that. I’d rather the they use something like time-out, but I have no control over the way the Korean teachers discipline students. So there was about five minutes left in the class and this Korean teacher came back in and asked me to leave. She was carrying a large stick. You don’t have to be a genius to know what was going to happen next. I heard a student scream as I closed the door. I walked back to my desk absolutely horrified and shaking like a leaf.

I understand that different cultures have different views on how teachers should be able to punish children. But it hurts me as much as it hurts the kids when stuff like that happens. Am I totally nuts here? Am I being over-sensitive?

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Emotions, Fears, My story

Watching children

I deal with young children five days a week for nine hours a day. Most of the time, I’m fine. I’m too busy teaching or keeping order to think about my past.

But there are those times when watching the kids feels like a knife through my heart. Recess is one of them. I supervise recess four days a week. Twenty-five minutes of watching kids laugh and play and run around.

It reminds me so much of how different I was as a child. I never really ran around. I was afraid of getting dirty and the punishments that would follow if I did. I never really played with other children. I always felt different from them. I always felt like an outsider looking in.

Austin wrote in a recent comment

…It is very difficult for me to watch children laugh and play. I want to cry inside. It’s not that I don’t want them to be happy. It’s just that I feel little myself while watching them so then I’m scared because I feel young and vulnerable. Then of course I’m mad because I feel vulnerable. The cycle is vicious.

It’s often times hard for me to stay in teacher mode when I’m watching recess. I have a tendency to slip back into the past. And just as Austin described, I end up feeling like a child. But not in a good way. I feel like at any second my mother is going to come walking onto that playground and grab me by the arm. She’ll drag me to the car and tell me what a horrible, misbehaved child I am. I just wait to feel the sting of the wooden spoon against my bare skin.

Is it at all rational? Probably not. I have to work extremely hard to convince myself that things really are okay. I have to constantly remind myself of when and where I am.

And then there are those few times when I have the urge to get out there with the kids and run around with them. Those thoughts scare me too. I should be acting like a grownup. But I just want to experience some of the freedom and fun that goes with playing outside at recess.

And as the tears are bubbling to the surface, I’ll stop. I can’t deal with crying tonight.

Emotions, My story, PTSD

Recovering from Father’s Day

I didn’t even realize last Sunday was Father’s Day until I read something about it on a blog last night. Makes me wonder if I did know that subconsciously and that’s where my problems stemmed from Sunday afternoon and evening.

I try not to acknowledge Father’s Day, or Mother’s Day for that matter. What’s the point? Yeah. They’re my parents, but they weren’t much of parents. I had teachers and mentors that were better parents than mine were.

So, it’s been a rough few days emotionally. I’ve managed to keep it together at work for the most part. I really enjoy being around my kids. But there are times it feels like knives being driven through my heart.

For some reason, the hardest time for me is when I’m supervising recess. I watch the kids (ages 5 and 6) running around the playground and I’m so aware of how different I was at that age. I don’t have a lot of clear memories. But I do remember sitting off in a corner by myself during recess. I remember feeling so different from other kids my age the entire time I was growing up.

But other than the issues during recess, I’ve just gone to work and taught my classes and dealt with the flashbacks as best I can. Not to say that I’ve been dealing with them well. I still have a tendency to start to dissociate when they start. It’s noisy enough at work that I don’t slip to far away. But at home is a totally different story.

I just keep trying to tell myself that all this stuff is in the past. And as bad as it feels, there’s nothing in the memories that can hurt me. So why is it so hard to believe that sometimes?

Child Abuse, Emotions, Family, My story

A cold spoon

I’m in the middle of being blitzed with some new memories. Is this the whole “I am now far away enough to feel safe enough for this stuff to come out” thing again? I’m having terrible body memories right now. Everything about this is so vivid. I’m doing my best to stay present, but I find myself slipping down into a dissociated state. I’ve got the A/C turned as cold as it will go and it blows right where I’m sitting. I’ve got WinAmp cranked up (George Strait is playing right now). And I’m writing this. I just try to keep telling myself that everything is okay, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.

I’m scared. I don’t know where all this is coming from. It’s all so vivid. I thought all of the memories had come out already. So why this? Why now?

I’m so tired…

 

The spring during second grade, I spent the weekend at my cousins’ house. Their father is my God-Father and is my father’s brother. I see so clearly D’s bedroom. Blue carpet and blue curtains and blue bedding and blue walls. My First Communion dress was hanging on the curtain rod so it wouldn’t get dirty. I was going to wear it to church with them the next day.

My uncle comes into the room. I’m not asleep. I see him get into D’s bed. I can’t tell what he had in his hands. I can see him touching her and then he sticks whatever it was inside of her. She doesn’t move at all. I wonder if she’s asleep or pretending like I do when I’m at home. He does it so fast.

Then he walks over to the bed I’m in. He climbs under the covers with me. I can feel his hands all over me. He reaches up under my nightgown and runs his hands along my stomach and back and chest. He is so cold. I can’t help but shiver. But I don’t open my eyes. I don’t want him to know I’m awake.

He gets up out the bed and turns down the covers. He pushes up my nightgown and takes off my underwear. I open my eyes real fast. I see what he has in his hand. It’s a huge metal spoon. Like the one you use for really deep soup pots. I close my eye just as soon as I see the spoon. I still don’t want him to know that I’m awake.

He takes my legs and spreads them apart. He runs his hands all along the inside of my legs. He sticks his fingers up inside of me. I can feel my body start to tighten up.

He takes his hands out. I open my eyes again. I see him reach for the spoon so I close my eyes again. He’s going to do the same thing to me that he did to D. I’m so cold. I can hear him talking to me. He’s telling me that this won’t hurt at all and I should just relax. He must know I’m awake. His voice sounds so calm, but I can’t relax. It does hurt. I feel like I’m being ripped in two. And it’s freezing cold. He’s pushing it in and pulling it out over and over again. I can’t believe how much this hurts. I’m silently begging him to stop. But of course, he can’t hear me.

He puts it back in and starts repeatedly turning it back and forth. The handle isn’t round. I don’t know how to describe it… Convex maybe? I can feel it scraping. The pain only intensifies. My entire body tightens up even more. He keeps telling me over and over again to just relax. He tells me how good it must feel. And he says that he wishes he could feel as good as I am feeling.

It hurts so bad I just want to cry. But I can’t do that. He’ll know I’m awake if I cry. All that goes through my mind is that I wish I were dead.

He finally takes the spoon out. He puts my underwear back on me and pulls my nightgown back into place. He gets back under the covers with me. He runs his hands through my hair and tells me what a beautiful girl I am. He keeps telling me to relax, over and over again. That he is there to make me feel good. He says that he knows that I like the spoon and that he’ll bring it again the next night. He tells me that he will ask my father if I can stay for an entire month during the summer. He tells me how wonderful it will be. And then he tells me to go to sleep and there will be a surprise for me when I wake up in the morning.

I can’t sleep. I hurt so bad inside. I keep thinking about what the surprise may be. I’m afraid that he may come back. I just want to go home.

Child Abuse, Emotions, Family, My story, PTSD

A Broken Vase

I have two younger brothers. B is five years younger and C is 10 years younger. In some ways, I was more of a parent than my mother was, especially to C. I always tried to protect them from her wrath.

Case and point… She had a favorite vase that sat on a one of those lamps that have a table attached. The vase was given to her by her grandmother when she was a little girl. It was a robins egg blue glass bud vase. I remember so clearly that she had a single white rose in it.

So, I was 11 at the time. I was baby sitting both B and C on a Friday night while my parents went out on a date. C was still learning how to walk. He was toddling around the living room and walked right into the lamp/table. The vase went crashing down onto the wood floor and broke into a million pieces.

C started crying. I guess the noise scared him. He really didn’t know what would happen if she found out what he had done. Not that it was his fault or anything. I should have been keeping a better eye on him and not have let him get so close to the table.

I got everything cleaned up and the boys put to bed. Then I sat there in the living room reading a book. I knew better than to go to bed. I knew there would need to be an explanation given when she got home.

She must have have had a sixth sense or something. She walked right to that table as she came in the house. She went absolutely nuts when she saw the vase was missing. She started screaming. I begged her to not yell because my brothers were sleeping. I didn’t want them to wake up and see her like that.

She wanted to know what had happened. I told her I was cleaning up and I tripped. She she kept right on screaming at me. Telling me what a stupid idiot I was. And how clumsy I was. And how she had wasted all that money on 7 years of tap and ballet lesson. And how I was good for nothing.

She went to the kitchen and grabbed the wooden spoon. She marched me into my bedroom and tipped me naked. She made me get on the bad and lay on my stomach. She started beating me with the spoon. When she tired of that, she turned the spoon around and hit me with the handle.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t flinch. That would only have angered her more. I just lay there and took my punishment. And then she left. And it was all finished for another night.

It’s taken me the better part of a day to finish this. I managed to lose myself in the memory for the better part of an hour. Or at least I think it was. I could have been longer than. It’s pretty rare that I dissociate so badly. But today was rough.

I’m having a hard time sorting out what I’m feeling, emotionally. I was really feeling the physical pain earlier today. That’s not so bad right now. I think about what I would feel if I saw someone unrelated to me doing that to one of my students. And I come up with angry and sad. But I don’t think I feel that about myself. I’m not sure if I’m even feeling anything.

I’m really tired now. I have a hunch I’ll be going to bed early.

Positive things

Quick update

I’m in Ulsan, minus my luggage.  I’m alive.  The kids are great.  They’re running around me as I type.

 Lunch is almost over so I need to go figure out what the hell I’m supposed to teach next.

 I promise a real update just as soon as I get internet access in my apartment.

Anxiety, Emotions, Friends, Self Injury, Suicide

Other people’s thoughts

To make a long story extremely short, I had another online run in with a person in the BOINC community over the last few days.

I was stressed nearly to my breaking point with all this crap going on with my visa. This incident pushed me almost over the edge today. My stress level got so high, I was having close to uncontrollable self injury urges for the second day in a row. It took all of my will power to keep myself from doing something I knew I’d regret. And I’m glad I managed to keep myself okay. But it would have felt really good (at least for a short time) to take out all these pent up frustrations on my body. And yes, I do know it wouldn’t have solved anything.

But the real point of this entry is how difficult it is to read the nice things other people say about me. With the blow up in the BOINC Trac Ticket system, I was in touch with one of the developers. I ended up talking to Rom on MSN after a short email exchange with him. It wasn’t so much the chat on MSN that got to me as was his last email to me.

It’s so bloody hard to read or hear nice things about myself. I end up questioning the other person’s sanity as what they say doesn’t fit into my own mental schemes. I know this kind of thinking is twisted and crazy.

Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to read…

 

You are such an idiot. How could you have done what you did? Did you not think? I regret the day I ever decided to have you on as a moderator and tester. The community would be better off without you! Just as soon as I get David on the phone, you’ll be removed as a moderator and banned from the forums.

 

But instead, I read…

 

You and Jord are providing a much need and valuable contribution to the project. … I very much respect and admire the role you both play, since it isn’t one that I can do without going crazy. … You and Jord got yourselves into the positions you are in because you are providing valuable input and insight into the development process. … I would like to point out another observation, you have had many more positive dealings with the development group than most others, you are in a position to know what our priorities are, what might change in the future, and where we might go. That is what I see when I look at how you classify bugs, all Lena saw was how a software feature affects her personally, not how it plays into the project as a whole. Please keep your chin up, BOINC is better with your help, than without your help.

I felt like complete crap inside when I read that. I felt like a fraud. I think I know Rom well enough to believe that he wouldn’t have written what he wrote unless he really meant it. But that doesn’t change the way I felt while reading it.

After all this blew up, I called my best friend and we ended up going out to BW-3. After a half dozen spicy garlic wings and a berry margarita we headed to a bar to watch the Indians game. There I had two very large (the big tall glasses) and very strong (roughly 3:1 alcohol to soda) rum and cokes. I ended up quite drunk. It didn’t feel all that great while drunk. It feels even worse now. This is why I don’t drink as a general rule. I end up feeling like absolute shit afterwards.

So now not only do I have the self injury thoughts going through my head, I have the suicidal ones too. Until I was stupid and got drunk, the suicidal thoughts had been remarkably quiet.

I’d call my therapist and see if I could get in, except I canceled the insurance on my car so I can’t drive. And I’m not much for driving without insurance nor calling my parents as they don’t know I was seeing a therapist to begin with.

Ugh… I’m such an idiot.

Anxiety, Emotions, Self Injury

Update of the update

Well. It’s 10:00 pm on Tuesday. I’m sitting in front of my computer at home writing this. I’m not on an airplane on my way to Korea. And I’m pissed.

Yes. The visa that should have been in my hands on Saturday… it’s somewhere between Chicago and Cleveland.

I could scream.

When I checked the mail this afternoon and it wasn’t there, I flipped out. Once I got myself calm enough to think rationally, I called the post office and got no help. Then I did something I rarely do. I took an Ativan and went to sleep.

I was having extremely intense self injury urges. They were so bad, I was looking through my room for my tools. I was having a horrible time coping. Talking to a friend wasn’t helping. So I did the only thing I could think of. I took the meds.

I’m calmer now. So the only thing left to do is wait for the visa to come. The travel agent won’t rebook the flight until I have those documents in my hands. And I can’t say I blame him.

*sigh*

Anxiety, Positive things

A quick update

Ugh…

I do realize that I haven’t posted for a few days. I’m sorry if I’ve worried anyone.

Between me worrying about my preparations for moving and packing and dealing with my family, I’ve been completely overwhelmed.

My visa should arrive tomorrow (Monday) and I’m scheduled to fly to South Korea on Tuesday evening. For those who haven’t heard, I took a job as an ESL teacher in Ulsan, South Korea.

There probably won’t be any updates until Friday (at the earliest).

If you’d like the address of my blog about my stay in Korea, please email me. My family will be reading that one and I don’t want that blog associated with this one in any way, shape or form.