When the relationship ended I would not have guessed that I would have had my entire existence broken in the aftermath. I’ve found myself being mindful and introspective now that our new normal has begun. I am unraveling a complicated relationship, I am re-remembering a decade worth of memories and I’m beginning to address my past trauma. What I’m realizing is that this experience is uncovering far more than I anticipated. I am able to see direct lines from today to things that occurred (or didn’t occur). It is actually pretty devastating.
My psychiatrist keeps his thumb on my childhood trauma. He finds a way to tie it all together every session. He has requested on several occasions that I visualize Young Me and talk to her. He wants me to ask her what she needs and tell her what I believe she needed to hear. I have not been able to complete this exercise. I was such a sad child. I don’t think anyone even knew.
At our last session, my psychiatrist found out that my mother had been arrested when I was six or seven years old. Apparently I hadn’t mentioned it yet. This is funny now that I think about it because later that evening I was told that I share myself in fragments (how appropriate is that word choice?). With this new information my psychiatrist tried to piece together my history. He inquired about where I lived after that. He was surprised to find out that I never again lived with my mother in the way that I did pre-six or seven. He asked who raised me, household composition, who took care of me. I felt a twinge when he started going down this path. I’ve become very cynical about this “took care of” thing. I remember being made to feel grateful and not a healthy gratitude. I honestly think that this might mark the beginning of my accepting scraps.
I was taken in. I was housed. I was clothed. I was given all of the things that children need. The thing is, though, not until I was much older did I realize that there was an utter lack of affection. There were no conversations or discussions as I got older. I don’t think we have ever had a conversation about anything significant. There were no greetings when entering the home. The memories that I have of kisses, hugs and faces that show I matter in that moment do not make it past 7 years old. When I was taken in it felt like with each passing year that warmth that I knew as a very small child dissipated. By the time I left home it felt like I was living with a roommate. That’s some crazy shit.
I continued to discuss the end-of-affection with my doctor. I said that I got used to it. “You convince yourself it’s something that you don’t/didn’t need”. In my head I realized that I used this exact same statement recently. I used it to describe my method of surviving a relationship where months could go by without kisses or you might get ridiculed when you attempt to initiate affection. I laughed loudly and said, “that’s probably why I generally hate it (affection) now.” But when I heard what words just fell out of my mouth I stopped laughing immediately.
I furrowed my eyebrow and tilted my head. I leaned back in my seat and lowered my eyes. I thought about the fact that there was little affection in my home. To the point that it became something that I didn’t really learn to receive. Now I’m wondering if it’s actually uncomfortable as I say all of the time or did I tell myself this because I didn’t have it? Did I convince myself of this?
I came across this blog post, “You Are Not Damaged” yesterday. The title caught my eye for obvious reasons. The doctor made some statement about abuse and abandonment early in life resulting in people who have learned a message that they are unworthy of love. You believe yourself to be damaged and hard to love. You are taking up space, in the way. When you feel this way, how do you learn how to believe differently?
All of this thinking is just blowing dust everywhere. It is incessant and raw. The realizations are wrenching my spirit but it is necessary to feel this and remember.
I realize that I have been abused my entire life. I do not have any memory of a life without this. I was molested three times (that I remember) before six years old. Abandoned. Affection withheld. Emotionally, verbally and physically abused. Emotionally, verbally, physically, financially, reproductively and sexually abused. Emotionally, physically, verbally abused. Sexually abused. 25 years.
I don’t know what it is to be loved by someone who doesn’t harm me or neglect me.
I see that I have this tendency towards wanting to feel wanted because I always felt
like a burden
deserving of being hurt
talked down to
These are messages that I learned over and over again. I’m not interested in talk of intentions. For me, with all things considered, there’s literally no wonder I’ve found myself here, no wonder I talk to myself the way that I do, how low my self worth is. It’s truly no wonder I feel undeserving.
When you make it through things like this you come to apologize a lot, often and many times unnecessarily. You apologize
for taking up space,
for being in the way,
I am amazed I’m here. When we met almost ten years ago I was considering suicide. Little known fact. I mean, I’d just gotten out of a relationship where I’d been raped, punched in the face and choked. The hits felt never-ending (ten years later, they’re still coming). I found purpose in him, our family. I took a lot of pride in my family. I gave everything I have, one mistake on a running list, and it felt worth it. I thought I had a forever family, after years I finally felt like belonged, wanted. Like I had a home, finally. For real. I just started feeling that way two, maybe three years ago.
And now this.
It is incredibly difficult believing that anything good and kind is actually intended for me.
Sometimes I sit with the fact that I have essentially 25 years of unprocessed trauma. I have never been able to walk around that mausoleum. I haven’t been able to honestly and critically look at some things. Acknowledge some things. Accept some things. Admit some things. I couldn’t.
It would have killed me.
I have no choice now. Not if I want to find new purpose. Not if I want to live. Again.