Much of my childhood and adolescence was about surviving. Surviving the best I could given the circumstances. In some ways, I still feel like I’m in survival mode.
First let me say I was not physically abandoned by my family. This is true despite it being threatened with being taken to an orphanage and left there. But developmentally, psychologically… I was abandoned at an early age.
It was often threatened to be driven to the orphanage when I was young. On more than one occasion, I was put in the car and was driven around. All the while, I was being belittled and told that nobody would want me. I lived in fear of those car rides.
But more than that, I was abandoned when my mother looked the other way. She knew what my father was doing. She did nothing to stop it. She looked the other way. I had no one to protect me. My grandmother looked the other way too. In some ways it didn’t seem as sinister as my mother. I think she had almost no power when it came to my grandfather.
My parents were simultaneously over-involved and under-involved in school. On the one hand, bad grades were severely punished and usually involved a message to the teacher asking what happened. But good grades (what I usually brought home) were ignored.
Abandonment is a tough issue for me. I’ve learned to rely only on myself. Not having someone who cared enough to stop blatant abuse scarred me for life. And trust… Well that’s a tricky one too. It all goes down to not having someone who cared and left me to my own devices.
Child abuse leaves scars. Both seen and unseen. Both large and small. Both chronic and acute. Yet they are all scars.
I think that everyone carries some scars. Nobody has a perfect life. But the scars that abuse survivors carry are more extreme. They impact daily living for so many survivors.
I try to hide the scars I have. I was “lucky” that my parents tried to minimize leaving marks. My mom was a guidance counselor and knew the things that CPS looked for. I was a cutter for many years, and thankfully, I didn’t scar a lot. Those are the seen scars. The unseen ones are still there, though.
There are times when those scars get ripped open again. Flashbacks, physical memories, panic attacks. All are our mind’s way of reminding us of what happened.
My scars make me who I am. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I can’t get rid of my scars. As physical scars are permanent, so are psychological ones.
I live my life behind a mask. My mask is happy. My mask is confident. I’m good at wearing this. Despite how I feel inside, I don’t reveal my honest feelings and fears.
I don’t really let people see the “true me”. Hell, sometimes I don’t even know what the “true me” is. I’ve hidden behind a mask for so long that maybe that is the “true me”.
There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where a character has a bunch of laws to live by. Her law number one was “You always have to rely on yourself”. I totally agree with that. But my law zero is “Trust no one”. If you can’t trust, it’s hard to show your “true self”. It’s hard to take off that mask.
I’m slowly learning to trust Dr. D and Dr. W. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me. Last week, I tried to cancel my appointment with Dr. D and quit therapy all together. I made a deal to come that one time. Ordinarily, I would have hidden how bad things were and just tiptoed around the issues. But I didn’t. I sat there and talked through the flashbacks. Making myself that vulnerable was extremely scary. And although nothing bad happened, I still want to put that mask on.
Maybe this is a turning point for me. Maybe it’s okay to drop the mask and let safe people see what’s underneath.
I spent a lot of my childhood hiding, both mentally and physically. I clearly remember hiding, although I don’t remember a lot about other things.
I used to try hiding from my mom when she was drunk. I didn’t want to be hit or berated. I just wanted to be left alone to do homework or read. Hiding didn’t always work. I think me trying to hide made her angrier.
Many a night, I tried hiding in my closet. I sat there hoping that my dad wouldn’t come that night. But eventually I had to come out and go to bed. I could only hope at that point I would escape whatever was coming that night.
I spent a lot of time hiding my depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety from my teachers at school. I trusted no one. I guess I thought it would be more of the same pain.
One of my biggest challenges has been taking showers. There were countless times where my father fondled me while washing my hair. I came to hate showers and associated them with pain and anxiety. And the fear and anxiety led to what I call the 3 minute shower. In and out just as fast as you can.
I’ve been struggling with shower issues for years. I finally buckled down and got my fears under control. It took a lot of time. I started by just standing in the shower, fully clothed, for increasing amounts of time. Once I felt comfortable there, I moved to standing in the showers with no clothes on. That was really hard. But with time, I was able to be in the shower for increasing amounts of time.
Then it came time for actual showers. This brought back the panic full force. I just had to power through it. Now, I was doing all this in the daylight. Nighttime was nearly impossible. So once I finally got comfortable with showers longer than three minutes I started back at the beginning, but after dark.
It feels like the entire process took f0rever. Now it’s to the point where there isn’t any anxiety surrounding the shower.
Creating a Dialogue With Your Inner Young Child
From: Cathryn L. Taylor M.A. The Inner Child Workbook
1. What is her favorite food?
Fried chicken. But only her grandmother’s chicken.
2. What is the activity she would most like to do?
Read. She could read all day and all night.
3. Has she done this before? Is so , what happened? If not, ask why.
She reads all the time. Her favorite book is still Green Eggs and Ham. But now she can read it on her own.
4. Ask her to tell you about her fear of being blamed and criticized or of doing or saying something wrong.
She is always afraid of doing something wrong. She’s terrified she’ll bring home a bad mark on a school paper even though she’s only in Kindergarten. She’s terrified that she’ll be taken to the orphanage for real this time. She’s afraid of messing up her dances. She doesn’t want to disappoint Miss R.
5. Does she feel overly responsible? Why?
Always. B was just born. She’s supposed to take care of him when mom is drunk.
6. What does she need most from you?
She needs me to understand that she wasn’t a bad kid. She was a good kid in a bad situation.
I’m exhausted now. I’ll try to finish the remaining questions in the near future.
I don’t know what to do anymore. I tried to get into the agency that I saw before. They take Medicaid. Just not my version of Medicaid. Then don ‘t advertise that you take Medicaid. That pisses me off more than anything. If I had known that I could have put the energy into finding someone who does.
It seriously took all my mental energy to call this place. I’m sitting here shaking like a leaf, about ready to throw up. I want to cry, but I’m determined not to.
Maybe I’m taking this all too seriously and personally. But I can’t help it. I know I need this. It’s just disheartening.
I should just go jump off a bridge.
Or maybe just some of it. OK, probably none of it.
My brain is utterly fried. I don’t know what to blame it on… constant stress, depression, anxiety, fibro. All of the above, maybe?
I guess if you want to look on the plus side, my PTSD symptoms are pretty much nonexistent aside from anxiety and a wicked startle response. But I’m bone tired. Like stay in bed all day bone tired. And my bones hurt from the cold. Spring can’t come soon enough for me.
My doc started me on a muscle relaxant at night. While that’s a good thing (I think since I’m not waking up with spasms in my back and legs) my muscles seem to clamp down even harder during the day. I could barely straiten my back yesterday.
I’ve applied for my state’s medicaid program. I’m trying to figure out what the next step with them is. The website isn’t exactly clear. I guess I need to go in person. Luckily for me, there’s an office in the city I live in. It’s just a depressing place to go. I’ve already found out that my current PCP doesn’t take medicaid. Bad because I hate getting established with a new doctor. Good because, well, to be honest, I didn’t really like my PCP to begin with. On the other hand, who knows. The new one could be worse. And all this is stressing me out too.
I think the only thing keeping me sane is my kitties. I’m house/cat sitting for someone this week. Their kitty loves me. He always wants to be on top of me, kneading me. And damn it. It hurts. I can only put him down so many times before he gets more insistent. Oh well. It’s only for a few more days and then I’ll be back with my mostly non cuddly kitties.
Today has been one of those days where I just don’t want to exist. Dr. P was slightly assholish for the first time. He told me to look up ACT which, by the paper he showed me, looks like a combo of CBT and DBT. I seriously didn’t need that today.
I went grocery shopping which almost pushed me over the edge. At least it was pretty empty as it was only 9:30.
For some reason I wanted pancakes, so I bought the stuff to make them. But making them left me so exhausted that I couldn’t really enjoy them.
On the way home on the bus, I spotted a furniture store and got off there. I managed to order the platform for my bed using my broken Korean and a lot of pointing. Unfortunately I ordered the wrong size.
I came home and took a nap. I could barely get out of bed because I had spams in my lower back. And of course it was too late to go see Dr. K, the ortho.
The delivery people came and as I was trying to clear stuff out, I tripped on the bed frame and banged up my leg pretty damn well. I also did something to my left shoulder.
Now I sit here crying. I have no desire to even contemplate dinner. I’d go get a hamburger or something but walking three flights of steps again doesn’t seem like a really good idea.
I’m just so tired of all of this. I wish I had a magic wand to take it all away. And it looks like it’s going to rain the next couple of days. Just wonderful.
I’m going to take my meds now and hopefully sleep. Because I really am tired to the bone.
On preview, I don’t know how much weight I lost, but when I got up to go to the bathroom I just pulled my jeans down. I thought I had unbuttoned them when I took a nap. Nope. They just pull right down over my hips. And these are jeans that were slightly tight when I bought them in September. Not that I’m complaining about that or anything.