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.
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.
I’m having a hard time organizing my thoughts lately. More so than ever, my thoughts are scattered and racing. I have all these memories just swirling around. And I just don’t know what to do with them. It doesn’t help I have writer’s block. Just typing these few sentences has taken me a solid half hour.
So, how to organize the thoughts and memories. Dr. D asked me to think about how I could organize the memories. It could be by house. I was 4 when we moved to MH from L. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. The time just doesn’t work out.
I guess I could organize them by time. But so many things blur together that I don’t think it’ll work.
The thing that makes most sense is to organize things by abusers. These incidents are separated pretty well in time and space.
Now to just get over my writer’s block…
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 if I ever finished this. As best as I can tell I was about 7. For Christmas Eve I got a pair of footed pajamas.
I woke up in the middle of the night, freezing. My dad was in there. He had undressed me. He was really aroused. I think because that style of pajamas is for babies. All of a sudden he had a baby to “play” with again.
I didn’t let him know I was awake. I tried not to shiver too much.
Christmas morning, my mother comes in to wake me up and I was totally naked. I don’t remember what she said to me but I remember the yelling. I had no explanation for being out of my pajamas. I learned long ago not to tell her.
2012 is a year for overcoming one phobia. Dentists. Nothing bad happened in the chair. I think it stems from my father putting things in places they don’t belong on a child.
It’s taken me almost 20 years to do this. I got nice drugs from Dr. P. I was almost crying in his office yesterday. Actually I was nearly in panic mode, but I tried my best to hide it. No IVs for me just to get a dose of Valium. He gave me Propropanolol. It’s a BP med, but helps anxiety.
Most places open at 9. I showed up at 9. He didn’t open until 10. At least the door was open. I basically sat there crying silently for an hour.
But I made it through. I’m having a dead tooth pulled next week and a temporary crown put on. Then I’ll get a bridge for the four front teeth to get ride of the gaps. I have the option of IV sedation, but given nurses’ success in inserting IVs lately, I think I’ll pass. And he said if it was his wife, he would still recommend the local. Good drugs Dr. P. I’m going to need them.
I feel a huge sense of relief. I’m still very anxious about going next week, but I think it’ll be easier to step in the door. And I know it’s OK to cry. Some doctors get all upset. This guy (missed his name) just tried to talk me down from the ledge.
Part of it is feeling trapped. Being in the chair is vulnerable. You’re on your back, the table is over you. Some guy has hands in your mouth.
But I did it. And I have a feeling I’m going to need constant reminding of that.
I’ve been described as courageous. Somehow I never associated that word with myself. But, you know, maybe I am. It takes a lot of guts to move to the other side of the globe where you don’t speak the language.
People have said it’s courage to live through what I’ve lived through. No, I don’t think so. That was pure survival. I distinctly remember wanting to kill myself at 5. That’s not courage, that’s just trying to stay alive in madness. When asked about why I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t know. And I felt super guilty that I didn’t tell. But I can see now it’s survival. The abuse would have gotten worse and I can only imagine the punishment.
So now I have a life of my own. My Christmas tree (small it may be) is up and so are the light. I’m still in the tunnel, but closer to the other side.
You know, the river in Egypt.
This pink pajama stuff is really throwing me for a loop. Fun flashbacks, panic attacks and all. I can’t write it down. I don’t know if it is because it was a part of a Christmas when I was still pretty young. I just don’t know.
I’ve tried to go back and do some art, but it just makes me panic more. Sadly, reading murder mysteries seems to calm me down. Maybe next weekend I’ll get up to Seoul. I can have them shipped, but there’s nothing like browsing in a bookstore.