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Tag Archives: childhood

Going Home

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I have the privilege of reading many talented bloggers via this blog. It is sadly comforting to connect with people that have experienced the same things I have. I wouldn’t wish my issues, or my past on anyone. But it is reassuring to know I am not the only one who feels the way I do. And that my reaction to my past experiences is normal.

But I as yet have not read someone discussing what I want to talk about today. The idea of home.

I didn’t have a home growing up. I lived in a household full of abuse and anger and sadness. I was not safe there. I was not comforted there. And I never felt at ease.

I think having a home is one of the most important things in the world. I think it is what we are all looking for in finding a partner. Someone that gives us the sense of security that we ideally felt as a young child. But that so many of us never had (including me).

So what do we base this idea of home on? I certainly don’t want to recreate my childhood home with someone. I don’t know what I want my home to be. I have never been in a happy home.

I have these ideas in my mind of how I think it should feel. But it is hard to know if they are even things that exist. Maybe the things I want are things that nobody has. I don’t know what a home should be like.

To make matters worse, I have been very abusive towards myself. I wasn’t able to create a home for myself, with myself. It is only now that I have worked so hard to be kind to myself and to care for myself. It is only now that I am making a safe place for myself.

And yet, I want to be in a relationship with someone. I want to keep this home that I have made for myself. And I want to share it with someone else.

I keep my home within myself. It is inside me. It is safe there. And nobody can ever take it from me. But I also want it to be outside me. And I want someone to share it with, someone that will protect it as I have.

I don’t want to be a self contained unit forever. But I am afraid I will never meet someone that is safe. I am afraid my home will always be inside me and never shared with someone. Like one more secret I carry around with me.

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Not Sleeping

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I’ve found that the more I work on my issues, the better I feel, the safer I feel, the less anxious I feel, the better I sleep.

Growing up I was like a giant knot twisted in on myself. At first, it seemed impossible to untangle. At first, it WAS impossible to untangle. But it has slowly progressed and gotten easier.

I don’t get the insomnia as often now. And when I do, I can generally point to something to cause it. Nowadays there isn’t any pressing danger to my safety. It is mostly all in my mind.

But back then, I never knew when one of my parents would come into my room in the night. Sometimes they just wanted to talk. Other times I would wake up to them screaming over me.

If my mother found one dirty dish in the dish drainer, she would wake us up and make us wash every dish in the house. Even if it was a school night. Even if it was 2am. I remember this happening beginning in elementary school.

I hated being surprised that way by them. I hate surprises in general. I hated opening my eyes to find them in my room. Sometimes hitting me. Sometimes being so frighteningly angry or verbally abusive. But I shouldn’t say just towards me. Because they did it all to my siblings too.

I used to sleep fully clothed; shirt, shorts, bra (when I finally needed one). I even kept a few dollars in the pocket of my shorts. Being dressed made me feel safer. I became a lighter and lighter sleeper over the years.

I was functioning on a heightened awareness. I was constantly on guard. Waiting for the next incident to get through. It was like being in a war zone. It was hard to know what would set them off.

I suspected my brother of intentionally misbehaving to give them an excuse sometimes. Let a little steam out of the pressure cooker before it exploded.

I wasn’t like that. I was quiet. Shy. I grew more and more removed from them and from my life. I was like a shadow. Always in my room. Hidden away in a book. Quick to please, always trying to keep the peace. But there was never peace.

I remember times when there was no pretense of an excuse. They just needed someone to take their anger and abuse. The violence was always there. A numbing dullness that pervaded my life. I never thought I would escape from it.

And I almost didn’t. I almost re-created my childhood with someone else. With several someone else’s. But I got away from them too.

I don’t generally post specific stories about my past. For a long time I didn’t think I could talk about them. But now I am beginning to wonder if I can keep NOT talking about it. I feel like this blog is so much about how I feel about what happened to me. Maybe I should also be talking about what actually happened. I don’t know.

Underwater

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I think about my mother a lot. I try to imagine her childhood. I try to understand the way her entire life stacked up on her to make her the person that she is.

I feel sorry for her. I can even see where she was coming from sometimes. I can understand the sad logic in some of her choices.

But I just don’t think I can forgive her. I have been in enough abusive relationships to know how hard it can be to leave them. And I imagine having children makes it even harder.

I will never have children. I will never have to make that choice. But I know this; a man abusing me is one thing, a man abusing a child is quite another.

I don’t know why she stayed with my father. But then again, I do. She grew up in a household with a violent, abusive father and an emotionally abusive, manipulative mother. Just like me.

I used to fear ending up like her. But I am ending that cycle. I won’t risk doing to someone else what happened to me. I won’t abuse a child. My life history will not repeat itself.

And I have dated enough abusive men to know it would have ended that way for me. But I am not doing that any more either. I would rather spend the rest of my life alone than spend one day with another abusive or manipulative partner.

The funny thing is that my mother did eventually leave my father. When I was 20. Long after it could have made any difference for any of her children.

I’ll never understand why she waited so long. It all just feels so senseless.

My mother is remarried now. I wish I could say to a better man than my father. But he isn’t. In fact, he reminds me so much of her father. I guess she will never be done repaying whatever it is she thinks she owes in her life.

But maybe my real point is that she can’t help it. When all you know is abuse, it’s hard to realize there are other options. Sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t provide some sort of cold comfort.

Maybe sometimes, some abused people become so acclimated to it. Like fish living deep in the ocean depths. They have learned to survive under so much intense pressure that they become dependent on it. They can no longer live without it. They literally die if you take that pressure off them.

But I don’t want to be a fish anymore. And I don’t want to be underwater. I have long called being abused being underwater. It’s from a short story that I have always loved. And I don’t know the name of it. It’s not Breathing Underwater which is a fantastic YA novel.

This is a short story about a girl that is underwater in her house and one day she comes home and her sister is underwater too. And they are kind of swimming around in it. And then she moves out and never finds someone that is quite right for her until she meets a boy that is underwater too. Does anyone know this short story? I’d love to read it again.

Past Lives

Today, someone asked me what I was like as a child. I had to think about it for a long time before answering. But it really depends on what age we’re discussing.

I did nothing but cry for the first 6 or 7 years. I was unhappy and morose. And suffering from PTSD from many physical, emotional and sexual abuses. Eventually my family punished me for crying enough that I stopped.

I spent the next few years like a wild animal backed into a corner. I had zero control over my emotions. I was angrier than I have ever felt in my entire life. My anger was like a separate being trying to violently claw it’s way out of me. This is when I began punching trees. A lot.

Finally, around 10, I completely shut down all my emotions. I began working out compulsively, reading obsessively. I had an eating disorder and began journaling. I was extremely secretive.

I had severe insomnia and depression. Some weeks I would sleep less than 5 hours the entire week. My life was kind of a fog of blankness. That is really the best way to describe it. It was like being on drugs that took away everything it was possible to feel. But I wasn’t on drugs.

All I ever felt was sadness, despair and anger. And the safest place to direct that anger was on myself. It led to getting into and staying in many abusive relationships; platonic, romantic, and familial. It also was the partial driver for some of the emotional/mental issues I have.

And that’s basically where I stayed until my health problems at 25. Like I was frozen in place. Frozen emotionally. And I was. I only allowed myself to feel the barest tip of what was wrong. Only the strongest, most persistent emotions came through.

It has taken a few years to even realize that things were wrong inside me. And it took a few years to get help. I have been in therapy for just over a year.

I am amazed when I look back on the changes I’ve been through this past year. It actually impresses me. People that have known me very well can hardly believe I am the same person. Neither can I.

I can’t believe the life I was accepting for myself all that time. I can’t believe those past people, those horrible past lives, were all me. I look back on how much I’ve changed this year. And I wonder how unrecognizable I’ll be to myself by this time next year.

Addiction

I rarely spend any time with the majority of my family. I have been taking a more active role in avoiding them this past year. I’m trying to clean up my life.

And that means getting rid of people that are indifferent to me, abusive, manipulative, emotionally draining, or negative. Which includes most of my family and old friends.

There is only family member that I see fairly frequently (only because my sister is so far away). My brother. When we were kids TM and I were very close. He was one of my best friends. And he could always make me laugh.

But now, he is an alcoholic and a drug addict (and I do not use those terms lightly). I have repeatedly asked him to not do those things around me, but he refuses. Not only can he not go one day without his addictions, he can’t even go a partial day. Not even to see me.

And now he is one of the most negative people I have ever met. At least 80% of what he says is a complaint. And no matter how hard I try to steer the conversation in a positive direction, he seems determined to turn it into a complaint. It’s exhausting.

And it depresses me. Being with him makes me sad. He’s barely recognizable as the same person. When I see him, it’s like there is a man trapped inside another man. That smart and funny boy I knew growing up is somewhere inside the addict he has become.

And I can’t set that boy free. Only he can. But he doesn’t want to.

It has been making me realize that I am going to need to start limiting my contact with him. I’m not ready to totally cut him out of my life. But I just don’t want to be around it anymore.

But I also know the reason that I am so hesitant is a combination of how close we were growing up. And also with how little contact I have with the rest of my family now. I don’t want to lose one of the last people left.

Still afraid of the dark…

My therapist seems to think that my fear of monsters and of the dark is actually a metaphor for something else. She says my fear of monsters is actually a sense of dread of a non-specific event.

There are real life monsters. There are people that do bad things. I have had a lot of monsters in my life. There is nothing wrong with being afraid of bad people. Even the ones from my past that are no longer in my life. And it is natural to fear encountering monsters in my future. especially since some of the monsters from my past are still in my life. And it is pretty natural to worry that a past full of monsters will mean a future full of them too.

She also thinks that my fear of the dark is based on negative experiences that happened in the dark. Both in the literal dark and the figurative dark. Bad things do tend to happen in the dark. It makes you feel alone and invisible, no matter where you are or what time of day. Sometimes the most isolating experiences are when you are surrounded by others.

Most violence occurs at night. Most abuse occurs at night. Most sexual abuse, especially as a child, occurs at night. The dark is a good cover. It offers protection for monsters. And it is scary for people who have previously suffered alone and in the dark. Not being able to see someone. Being vulnerable alone, at night while asleep.

These are actually fully logical fears.

Childhood things

I keep wondering if I would have had so many problems if my childhood had been better or different. I know there are people out there with eating disorders and anxiety disorders and depression. And they had relatively good childhoods. Their parents weren’t abusive. They weren’t raped. They weren’t married to men that abused them.

How much of my problems can I realistically blame on my childhood and how much is my own doing? Did my parents cause my issues? Or did they make them worse? Did I get the double hit of psychological issues and an awful childhood?

Why do people that weren’t abused as children wind up in abusive relationships? It’s easy for me to see why I would do it. I don’t have the same cues as other people. It’s hard for me to recognize normal/abnormal behavior. I thought all families and marriages were like my parents’. I’ve been conditioned to accept abuse. I didn’t even think there was better, let alone that I would deserve it.

I can’t even imagine myself or my life without my childhood. I can see where it has made me who I am. I can see that it made me a good person. But it’s hard to not wish my childhood was better. It’s hard to not wonder who I would be were it not for that. It’s hard to not regret that I’ll never know. It’s really hard to not feel jealous of other people that didn’t go through so much.

I can’t help but wonder, if I am just experiencing these issues because of my childhood, will I get over them easier? Will I be “fixed” some day? Or will this always be a regular struggle for the rest of my life?