This is my first Father’s Day without my dad and I am conflicted. My dad was the person who took me to have surgeries. He was the person to buy me ice cream. As I got older, he was the one who would defend me to my teachers and make sure that I was being treated fairly. We often joked about who would have the last of the custard or bread pudding. When I was in high school, we went to the same junior college. People around us took half of the semester to realize that we were related.
Then there was the other side of my dad. The side that seemed to not be able to reign in his anger. The one who beat me beyond a spanking. He often told me that he could not stand the sight of me and to go to my room. At times he put me up against a door or a wall by my neck. There were other things that he also did when he was angry that made me feel like he hated me and wished that I would just go away.
Then there was the frail man in the hospital bed. The one that was in so much pain that he could not even pay in the same position for a few minutes. At times, I would need to ask the nurses if he could have anything more for the pain. I was there for the last days.
I feel like I should only be preserving the good memories, yet there were both and I feel like my life is flat without both. He was my greatest advocate who also happened to be one of the people who hurt me the most. Luckily, I have my therapist to help me work through all of this because I know that I could not do any of this by myself.
So on this first Father’s Day without him, I gruels that’s I need to begin to accept that he was both. That is the problem with working through childhood abuse. Often the abuser is someone who is also a caregiver. In my case one that I just wanted to please.
All of us are born to a mother. Whether that mother loves us or not is another choice. Some mothers have an instant bond with their baby and others take a while. Some moms go through postpartum depression and need a little extra help in the beginning.
I had the mother who did not want me. Who felt that I was a mistake and ruined what she had planned for her life. Her dogs were planned. They had every toy and bed that they needed while I watched my toys being taken away by the garbage men.
She wanted and yearned for the children that she lost. Her beatings and hurtful comments were made to hurt someone that she did not see as part of herself.
For some reason I do not blame her for all of the pain and hurt that she caused. I was a mistake. Why did the universe allow for her to have a child she did not want?
The sad fact is that even today I am not sure that she realizes the harm that she caused. She has not seen me for years and made it clear that I was not welcomed to call the last time that I spoke to her.
Now, I need to get over feeling unwanted, unloved, and that I was just a mistake for anyone to treat poorly.
Therapy seems to be like Groundhog Day every week. I cannot seem to get out anything that I need to talk about. I still hear that”What goes on in this house stays in this house.” Even worse, I was told all my life what to do. What to like. How to dress. Even what to order off of a menu. I think that I was in my twenties when I finally told my abusers that I could read the menu by myself.
Today, I am not sure of anything. What color do I like, what is my favorite food, what flowers do I like? All of those questions and more persist throughout everyday. I am not sure of who I am or even if I like myself. I was what someone wanted me to be for so long that I am not even sure who I really am at this point.
When did the days just seem to melt from one to the next? The only concrete times that I have are when the cats get fed. At other times, I am not sure of what time or day it is. I just seem to be lost. Lost in nightmares of the past that cause me to wake up ungrounded. Yes, I moved away from the place where I was abused, yet the memories are with me.
I think that I hear my abusers voice and want to find a place to hide or to prepare for the inevitable. I begin to sweat and all i want to do is run. Then I begin to realize that I am in a different house at a different point in time. I am an adult that in many ways still feels the terror of a child.
Some days I can be on auto pilot. Feed the cats, fold laundry, and maybe vacuum. Other days I can barely make it off the chair and am in and out of reality. Time just seems to pass without any real meaning. The clock is only a number. Inside I just want to crawl into bed and stay there. Maybe somewhere in those thoughts and dreams there will be the answers to the questions that I am to scared to face. There is to much shame. To much self blame and sympathy for those who hurt me.
How can I feel bad for them, yet berate myself for not telling someone or making it known? Why did I continue to live in that home long after I was 18? Why did I believe them when they said that they were the only ones who would ever live or care about me? Why did I believe the tales that they spun about people so that I would lose them from my life as well?
One fact is for certain. I cannot go back in time, I cannot bring people back that I wished I would have spent more time with. I cannot go back and try to leave the nightmare that was wrapped up on the outside as a pretty package.
It is easier to just be and not think. Thinking brings up to much and the I feel overwhelmed and like I am coming apart at the seems.
My therapist recommended a book that I read and made a decision that I could not take care of my abusers or make arrangements for them when the time came. At least I thought that they may want to see me. Maybe I was overreacting in thinking that parents could hate or even resent their child. If I had any doubt at all that is gone.
My mother called the other day to tell me that they were ok after repeated messages had been left on her machine. She asked about only one of the three kids. The only one she has ever asked about or even wanted to watch. I asked if she would have lunch with me. I even offered to pick her up and stay near her home. She refused stating that she did not really eat anymore. The only person that she admitted to going out with was my father’s godson. When I asked about being their only living child, she started to talk about the two kids that she had lost and how they were the ones that she wanted. I almost think that they are glad not to have a relationship with me. They can be by themselves in their home like they always planned. They can ignore or even pretend that I do not exist. That is what they want.
That conversation confirmed everything that I have been saying in therapy. If I remember that correctly, then is everything else also correct about what they did? That is scary to think about in a that really happened to me sense. She clearly does not want anything to do with me. Why didn’t she just give me up at birth. Maybe we both would have had better and more productive lives.
Why does therapy have to be so difficult. I wish that I did not have to go through hell and feel all of my emotions associated with the abuse I had growing up.
Not that not being in therapy would help either. I still have flashbacks when there are certain colors or smells. Locations are the worst. These are not dependent on therapy.
At least a horror movie can be turned off. Not so with memories. They haunt me while awake and asleep. PTSD has taken so much from me. I am always scared to be out of the house and am hyper vigilant. I try to go out and be “normal” yet I have scars that are visible and I am always looking around me waiting for the next event to happen.
Maybe one day I will be able to relax and process all of the horrible things that happened.
There is part of me that lives in the present and another hurt and very raw part from the past. Today life is good, yet I still feel depressed. I have a loving husband, kids who are teens and still tell me they love me and check to see how I am, and the ability to be me with all of my quirks.
Then there is the other part of me. The part that was called ungrateful. The one who’s mother stated over and over that she should of had an abortion with her. The one who carries guilt at some of the losses in her life. The one who was made to feel that she did not exist.
It is hard to have a dichotomy like this going on in my head all of the time. I lead toward believing the negative even when positive things are said. My bruises have healed, yet the words that’s stung then sting just as much today. I am a work in progress. Maybe one day I will like who I am.
As I look at myself, I see scars that will not go away that I have created because of the anxiety and self-hatred. This summer I cannot hide them. I wish I could hear what others think when they see them. Do they see someone who was strong enough to get treatment when she was ready to give up on life itself? Will they just think that it is for attention and snicker behind my back? Maybe both are happening. There are others out there like me who have been through the tunnel of abuse and back. Those that are survivors. Maybe I will get to meet some.
There was a time when I just thought that people could see. That by looking at me, they could tell that I had PTSD or depression. I dreaded going into someplace new because of the thoughts that others would just know by looking at me how messed up my life had been.
The reality is that those around me cannot see. Maybe that is a blessing in some ways. In other ways it is a curse. Hearing people talk about parents with mental illness should not be allowed to have their kids, people who self-harm are weak, and the worst is that my mental health diagnosis does not exist.
If that is case then why do I visit with my kids on a regular basis, how can I be sitting in class and they not know, and how do they know what is happening in my head. Most classes I actually forget. My memory was affected by the ECT and has not fully recovered. I can have a flashback sitting in the middle of class. Topics such as molestation and physical abuse trigger memories that I would rather forget, yet seem to be etched into my memory.
What if what I saw in my mind could be projected onto a screen. A mother yelling at her daughter that she wished that she were dead, a mother who broke one curtain rod while administering a beating going to get another curtain rod, a small child going as far as possible into the corner of her bed so that the beating only hurts in certain places, a child being molested by a family member, a father holding his child by the neck, a mother putting a pillow over her daughters face…. I could continue, yet I won’t. By this point many people would have walked out of the room. Either they feel uncomfortable, they cannot believe abuse exists like that shown to them, or they have experienced the abuse and cannot bear to see what is up on the screen.
Instead, I sit in class. Another student. Another number on another day. People are not aware of my past or the reason why I want to be a social worker. They do not see the struggles that I go through just to make it to class and look “normal.” Sometimes I want to say something, to be able to let it go, yet I have been told to keep most of it inside.
People like it better that way. To pretend that the world is ok and good. All have their reasons. Maybe, I would like people to be honest. Hurt sometimes strengthens us. Those who are going through it need to know that there is hope and a future on the other side of the nightmares. That sometimes for a few hours a week, they could have the opportunity to focus on something else.
Everyone around me is talking about Cinco de Mayo. They are excited about going out with friends and having a great time. Me, this is yet another nightmare that I had to live through. Another loss of a person that I could not get back. Actually, the loss of the first person that I was told that I just needed to get over and move on from.
Life just went on. No matter how bad or devastating something was there was not time to morn. Grief was not allowed. Today, that same grief still haunts me wherever I go and each year on anniversaries. Physically, I do not feel well. My stomach hurts and I can barely keep my eyes open. Mentally, I cannot focus and thoughts turn to dark places.
Yet, today is another day and no-one cares. There is not one person who can see the pain and agony on the inside. There are no physical wounds to show. There is nothing that is “wrong” for anyone to see. Everything is invisible. Once again, I just have to deal with it and go on like nothing has happened.
12 years of treatment and yet I can still become triggered to the point of dysfunction. Last week, there was a video shown in one of my classes. What I saw and heard on the screen made me want to throw up for the first time ever. To hear the sound of an object against bare skin. To hear the terror and a child pleading to stop.
I am trying to deal with what was brought up in therapy, yet part of me realizes that it will not ever change what happened and just does not want to talk.
Mental illness. The attitudes that some of the people around me who want to work with oppressed groups really gets to me. The word crazy has been used. The idea that people with mental illnesses should not have children or their children should be taken away from them. What would they think if they knew about me?
Now it is about hiding. Trying to act like nothing is affecting me when all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs. The word ignorant comes to mind. I think they really do not realize what they are saying and who is sitting next to them.
Looking back on my own abuse. The beatings, the sexual abuse, the emotional neglect, the psychological abuse. How did I get through it? People do not want believe in DID, yet that is what got me through. That internal environment was the only place that was safe for me to go into. My own world that no one could take away.