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.
Over 10 years of therapy and relatively nothing has changed. Treatment resistant, medication resistant, unable to assist. All of those have been written on my paperwork.
I told my therapist the other day that I want to die, yet no way of dying is 100%. It has been suggested that I get out and join a club. I tried a book club. The book had to many triggers and the discussion was even worse. Child abuse, spousal abuse, and substance abuse were all a part of the book.
Then I am told to go out and do normal activities. I have panic attacks at the store that leave me frozen and feeling like the store is closing in around me. I always feel like I will be attacked at places that do not have many people around like gas stations. My vocal cords seem to freeze up when I want to ask for something.
I have resorted to buying things online. Even then, I do not answer the door when the doorbell rings because I am scared of who may be on the other side. I feel like people can tell I am damaged by the way that I shake and avoid eye contact.
Then there is the anger that can be activated at any time. This is not normal anger. I am afraid I will actually hurt someone else. Anything can set off the anger and once it begins I have trouble stopping.
Where is my place in society? What do I do if I cannot leave the house and am scared to hurt people? How do I perform everyday tasks while the space is closing in on me and I am shaking to the point of just wanting to sit and scream for help?
How do I begin to work through this? When are my thoughts not automatically going to go to not existing? Who am I ? All of these are questions that I need to answer, yet do not seem to know how.
I saw my therapist yesterday. He thinks that I really need to put the walls down that are preventing me from dealing with what happened to me.
I am so scared to do that. Right now I am living in a place of denial and I know that it is not healthy. It is just that here I do not feel anything and have not harmed myself for a couple months.
Then there is the part where I am confused as to where to start. I am waking up unsure of where I am. Sometimes I think that I am back in the house where I was abused. That might be a good place to start. There are so many things that happened it is like a choose your own adventure book. Except, each adventure is really it’s own horror story.
I am afraid to begin to harm myself again. The cats and having to take care of them are helping. It at least gives me a schedule. My husband encouraged a pool membership and I guess I could go there and write.
I thought being away from my abusers would make things easier. Living each day knowing that I am not going to see them is less stressful, yet the memories remain. They are etched into my mind.
I guess that I need to begin with something. Maybe sitting outside will help? Maybe I just need to jump into one memory with both feet and get out when it becomes to uncomfortable. I only know that I need to start somewhere.
As an adult, I can appreciate the snow. It is pretty to look at and just as pretty when all of the streets are passable again. As an adult I can read or work on a diamond painting. I can enjoy the cats watching the snow from the window.
As a kid, I hated to see that school was closed. It meant being stuck in the house all day with two grumpy people that found every reason to hate snow. It was movies that were inappropriate all day. It was normally the smell of something that I did not want to eat wafting from the kitchen into the living area.
I was to be unseen and unheard. Once I was older, there were normally school papers that I could work on. When I was young it was how to spend the day without pissing off the parental units. Normally that meant sitting quietly in my room and watching the other kids playing in the snow. I could color, yet my mother would have made sure to color in my book and I could not live up to her standard.
It also meant that the dogs needed a clear path to the yard. Every hour the snow would be cleared from the porch steps. It was obsessive. I would have rather been at school. Yes, gym sucked and I was teased, yet I had something to do and did not run the risk of pissing anyone off.
Today, I will enjoy what I could not in the past. I guess that is a win🙂
I went to the new doctor yesterday. I think that she thought it would be an easy appointment. It was anything but easy. She saw all of the evidence of my self harm and of course the typical questions followed. I told her the truth and said that I have had a plan since I was around 10 years old.
Why aren’t doctors taught about patients who have experienced trauma? Instead they are put into situations where they are overwhelmed by the patient. Not only do I have a list of diagnoses, i also have a lot of medical issues. The doctor did not seem to know where to start.
Tests were ordered and I have to return in a couple of months. I am glad the doctor is being careful, yet I am scared that the doctor is in over her head. Maybe she will turn out to be one of the best doctors that I have had, if not at least she will gain some experience.
On another front, therapy is not going well. My parts do not feel heard or even like they have a place in therapy. We have had one doctor who could handle us and she is gone. At least she acknowledged that multiple parts could experience an event completely differently. Right now we feel unheard. We feel like the therapist is trying to sweep us away instead of making us part of the therapy. We are hopeless that things will change at this point and are considering options where we may have a chance to participate.
Right now, we are lost. We do not belong anywhere except for hidden on the inside. We have had to many years of that to keep doing it, it does not work and eventually leads to self harm as a way of expressing that those parts are there. We are hoping that something gets resolved soon.
Why can’t I just get through all of these memories. My therapist says that talking about them will lesson their strength, yet I have not experienced that. Often I find myself thinking about what went on in the past. Sometimes something reminds me of a memory.
Self-harm is not a solution, yet it seems to help decrease the severity of feeling helpless. When I think of my kids and my husband I feel lucky. When I think of where I am at in my life I feel horrible. The physical illness that prevented me from finishing nursing school is much easier to take then the social workers who did not accept me due to my PTSD.
How many times can I start over and try again?
Then there are the reminders about what has happened to me. Dates of the year, smells, or even the way that a stranger may look. It is like I cannot get a break even if I want too. Thoughts of how isolated my parents kept me along with their cruel punishments still paralyze me into staying in the house where it is safe.
The thoughts also turn to nightmares and daydreams where I cannot figure out if I am still asleep or awake. Intrusive thoughts take over and I think of how to stop them. It is not a good path to be on.
My memories are not linear. I wished that they have a beginning, middle, and end, yet they are sporadic at best. I am trying to write what I can remember. Hopefully as those memories come out, I will have more details emerge.
Some of these things need to get out into a container other than the one that I have created in my head. It is liberating to write down what I know and then to be able to go back and read what has happened.
That is the the thing with childhood trauma. Not all the memories are bad. I want to capture the good memories as well. Maybe that will give me a direction to go in with my life?
For years I have been wanting to get out of the neighborhood that I lived in. That neighborhood was the same one where my abuse took place. It held so many bad memories for me. Along with the memories, there was so much crime that I had trouble sleeping. My husband and I had talked for years about getting out of there.
This summer we were able to have everything fall into place. We were able to buy a house in a safe neighborhood that did not carry any memories. My husband has allowed me to feel safe and to have new experiences. He gave me the best present that I could ever have. The gift of love and understanding.
In addition, I get to have my kids for the holiday this year. Last year, I was not even able to see them because I had been in the hospital. This year we are having them over along with some family.
Christmas is all about love and kindness. We have so much Christmas spirit in our home this year.
Today has been much better with the new baby. She has been eating and drinking. We were told that all of her tests have come back negative. She is playing and seems to have more energy.
Tomorrow, I see my therapist. It is hard in therapy right now. I am trying to process what happened a piece at a time. The only problem is that the puzzle is not whole. Memories are like that or so I am told. I just do not want to say something unless I am sure of it happening. More than one doctor has told me that is not going to happen.
The other week I was sent an article that was written by a person whose mother had two stillborn children. My own mother had two stillborn children.
I could relate to the feeling that they were there even though they were not physically present. Having to live up to a standard ideal of who they would have been, yet never were. Living with two ghosts.
In my case I did not have a sibling like the author of the article. I was expected to be perfect and act perfect. To get good grades and do what the other two children would have done had they been there.
Sometimes it was a nightmare. Being beaten over a B on a test or being told that I was not good enough and was a mistake to have. Until this day they are idealized to the point that I have been alienated.
I am not perfect! I have been inpatient in mental hospitals. I have not gone on to do all of the great things that the other two children would have done. I cannot change who I am and am realizing that I will not live up to the ideals that my parents had for them and expected from me.