It takes courage

TRIGGER WARNING: The contents of this post may contain triggers for those who have suffered childhood traumas.  Proceed with caution.

In each of us, there is a young, suffering child. -Thich Nhat Hanh

Letter to inner child part 2

 

Dear Gwennie,

I remember the first time he abused you. Well, it is the first memory I have of the abuse. You were standing in your grandmother’s bathroom with your pants down around your ankles and he whispered in your ear “If you tell anyone, I will tell them it was your fault”. I saw everything from outside of you. I saw the terror on your face but I felt the fear inside of me that had frozen you. I watched you as you walked into the living room where you saw your grandmother rocking your baby sister…she was an infant. Terror still on your face, but no one noticed. You couldn’t of been older than six since you were that age when your sister was born.

It was not your fault Gwennie. You were just a kid. And it does no good for me to keep blaming him. Blaming him will not erase this pain. You just need to know it was not your fault. You didn’t do anything to provoke him.

It wasn’t your fault that you didn’t tell anyone. You were afraid and you believed him when he said he would tell everyone it was your fault. Because you believed it was your fault and some part of you still believes it.

You suffered in silence for a long time, but as you got older, you found the courage to change everything.

Like one time when you were 12 and he was invited on a family camping trip. You had returned to the camper earlier to sleep while everyone else talked and laughed around the campfire. He awoke you from sleep by fondling you. You had on those red and white striped pajamas you loved so much that unzipped from the back. It was very convenient for him since you had your back turned to him. When you realized what he was doing, you turned to face him and then punched him with all the strength within you. Your brother was there too but he could not see because everything was dark. Again, he touched you and you attacked him, punching him over and over in a fit of rage. He said to your brother, “she keeps hitting me”, to which you yelled, “Tell him why I am hitting you!” He fell silent and that was the last time he ever abused you.

It took courage for you to stand up to him after all those years. I am proud of you. He can’t hurt you anymore and you are safe now.

Shadow

How do I forgive myself

TRIGGER WARNING:  Those who have suffered childhood traumas may be triggered by the contents of this post.  Please proceed with caution.

A letter to my inner child

Dear Gwennie,

With tears in my eyes I write this to you. I write because I must. I write because, otherwise I do not know how to reach you.

Gwennie, I saw when he had you lying on your back in the woods. I saw his hands when he took leaves to wipe away sperm from your vagina. You were frozen as if dead, but I saw you because I was floating above you. I am sorry I did not help you. I saw when you gagged as he forced you to perform oral sex on him. You could not see me because I was floating above you. I am sorry I did not tell someone what he made you do. I was there in that dark room with you every time he thought he was hiding his deeds under the bedding. I know you thought you were alone, but I was there floating above you. I am sorry I did not speak up or tell anyone he was hurting you.

As time passed, I ignored your tears, your screams, your hurt, and your sadness. It was too painful for me to face. I felt shame and guilt for not helping you because I was frozen too.

You still sit down below somewhere in the darkness. What was once a fearful place for you has now become your only comfort and I can no longer see you. But I know you are there because your memories, your tears, your pain, your sadness, and your screams still torment me.

Gwennie, please don’t be mad at me. I wanted to help you but I was so afraid. Can you ever forgive me? And if so, how do I forgive myself?

Shadow

“Sleep comes before death and those who sleep do not suffer.”

In 2014, after my last break up, I moved back in with parents.  I did this for two reasons: 1. Living alone was not an option for me because my mind plays tricks on me when I am alone and 2.  I have a history of excessive spending and struggle to hold onto a dollar so I didn’t have the money to find my own place.

Not long after I had been living with my parents, I noticed something different about my mother.  She seemed very sad. I could tell something was wrong but I dared not ask. Fast forward to October 2017.  My mother had been sick for days, she couldn’t kept food down and when she could, she barely ate anything. She was a night owl and liked to stay up until 5am.  I had to go to bed much earlier because I work first shift. My father liked to go to bed early too, he’s always been an early bird.

Sometime at the end of October my father woke me up at 2am and said “Help me get your mother up”.  I was confused and dazed from some OTC sleep aid I had taken the night before. When I walked into the living room, there my mother lay in a pool of her own blood on the floor.  To my surprise, I jumped right into action. I said “We can’t move her in this condition. Call 9-1-1.” My dad responded with “She wants up and in her chair”. I am 5 ft. 11 inches, small framed, weighing 150 lbs and my father was even smaller, 6 feet tall and 135 lbs (he has cancer).  My mother on the other hand was 6 ft. 2 inches, 180 lbs. Somehow, we managed to scoop her right up and put her in her chair. She said, “I called for you three times but you never came.” I replied, “I’m sorry I was asleep.” Her left eye was swollen shut, he face was purple, blood was everywhere.  For whatever reason, I grabbed a washcloth and began trying to wipe the blood from her face, hands, and hair as my dad called 9-1-1. Then things began to get a bit fuzzy for me. I remember cleaning up the blood from the floor but don’t remember getting the cleaning supplies I was using. I remember thinking that she must have been in the floor for a long time because the blood was already clotting.  Blood was all over the wall…why was I trying to clean it up? The next thing I remember, the ambulance came and took her away and I was left in the house alone. I felt sick, my mind was whirling, and the image of all that blood kept replaying over and over again in my head. Somehow I made it to my bed to lay down and the room was spinning. Sadness and anger overwhelmed me and I began to scream and punch myself as the words “I called for you three times but you never came” kept echoing in my mind.  

A few hours later, I received word that she was transported to the local hospital and then transport to a trauma center two hours away.  About an hour or so after I had arrived at the trauma center, the doctor wanted to speak with my father and I. He said, “Your mother admitted to me that she has been a heavy smoker for many years.  So we believe it started in her lung and went to her brain. My condolences.” WTF? I asked, “Is she still alive?” He said, “Yes, she was talking to me just now.” I was confused, why the hell was he offering his condolences if she is still alive?  Over the next couple of weeks she remain in the hospital, we received only bits and pieces of information. It seemed as though no one wanted to say anything. Getting information was like pulling teeth. We did find out that she had a bunch of broken bones in her face and they had to do some kind of surgery to fix the broken nose.  Finally the word my sister received from the doctor was “we are not dealing with a lot of time here.” They released her to come home but she was in no shape to be at home. And when I seen her, I knew she was dying. Hospice was called to assist and they gave me a booklet about the dying process. I read the whole thing. I am grateful that they gave me that booklet because I knew what was coming in the next stage of the process.  A few weeks later on November 21st, my mother was dead from brain cancer…my father and I caring for her until her last day.

People kept telling me “I’m sorry for you loss”.  What have I lost? Her constant criticism and verbal assaults?  Should I be sorry she is no longer here to make me feel like shit of every decision I have ever made?  But I suppose, for good or for bad, she was my first teacher.

My father told me he wanted me to speak at her memorial.  That should interesting. I told my father my abuser should not be there.  “You should tell him not to come”. My father replies, “He is family, he has a right to be there.”  I was enraged and before storming out of the room I screamed “The only right he has is to be disemboweled with a dull sickle!”  He responds “Just ignore him and he will go away.”  I was so angry, but now that I reflect on it, what was I trying to avoid?

The day of her memorial, this is what I came up with: “She used to say her motto was ‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’.  Her words were a gut punch sometimes but you always knew where you stood with her. That made her authentic.” That was all I had and it was as nice as I could be.  My younger sister talked about when she was young and how she used to sit in her lap and my mother would read to her. I searched my mind but had no memory of her reading to me.  And I had no memory of what my sister was describing.  I wondered if my sister was lying but knew that wasn’t like her. My cousins had similar stories of spending the night at their aunt’s house.  Why did I have no memories of any of this? My older brother sat in silence, never saying a word.

Then I saw HIM…”Chester the molester”. I spent most of my time avoiding him. Then I was in the kitchen when I heard him call my name from behind me.  (Now might be a good time to mention that the memorial was held at my parents house.) I felt his hand on my right shoulder and then…blank…nothing…I “woke up” sometime later, standing a few feet from where I was before he had touched my shoulder and my cousin was in my face saying something…I don’t know what.  I couldn’t understand her. Her voice sounded distorted and I was confused, trying to get my bearings…”what the hell just happened?” I thought and whether I said it out loud, I do not know. I left her standing there, pushed through people and exiting the room. I call these episodes…which I have had before… out of body experiences.  It makes them seem more esoteric and mysterious.

I do not recall shedding a tear over my mother’s death.  My sister is convinced that my delayed response is genetic. I don’t think I’ve grieved.  What should I be grieving? Should I be sad? What should I be?  Maybe I’ve been grieving my whole life for what I thought I deserved but never got from her.  

Maybe all I have is this trauma and pain that I cannot let go.  If I let it go, I have nothing to write about.  It is the source of my inspiration and poetry.  And without it, what am I?

-Shadow

Little girl lost

I want to tell a story

About a little girl

Hiding in the dark

Afraid of the world.

Her thoughts were often jumbled

And her words were amix

But no one really knew

She was alone since she was six.

She was often distant from others

And ran from open arms;

But it was just an automatic response

From her internal alarm.

She kept a secret inside

This constant, painful thorn;

It’s her new life

Of how she was born.

She wrapped herself in barbed wire

And wouldn’t let anyone in;

It became a consuming fire

And she blamed herself for the sin.

She used to play these movies

Over and over in my head;

But then she disappeared

So I thought she was dead.

I closed the door behind her

That little girl lost;

Whose frozen in time

And now covered in frost.

This is the story

About a little girl

Who found her safe place

Away from the world.

© Shadow August 2017

How it all started

In order to understand where I am now, you have to know how it all started.

As a child, I was angry.  During elementary school, I spent much of my time being aggressive toward male classmates.  I was impulsive, defiant and corporal punishment was unsuccessful. I began receiving counseling at the age of 17 back in the late 80s.  This happened after a series of events led me to break nine years of silence and tell of the childhood sexual abuse I endured for six years.  My parents seemed cold, aloof, distant and unsupportive.

As I became older I was deeply sensitive, easily hurt by criticism and suspicious of praise.  I felt misunderstood, stupid, unlovable, and I trusted no one. My emotions were intense and my rage was uncontrollable.  During my 20s I engaged in a lot of self harm by cutting myself with a razor blade. Twice I attempted suicide and failed.  I just wanted the emotional pain to go away. I suffered from chronic insomnia and when I was able to sleep, I often had nightmares.

Aggression toward others continued.  In fits of rage, I tried to strangle people, tried to run people over with my car and attempted to stab someone.  I had no boundaries and no fear of consequence.

My outbursts and unpredictability led me to being constantly reassigned to different counselors over and over again.  And I was frequently being committed to a psychiatric unit.

I was on a lot of psychotropic medications, in which psychiatrists were attempting to “stabilize my mood”.  By 1997, I was on total disability where I stayed for 10 years. I became a garbage addict but later went to rehab and then got treatment through an outpatient dual diagnosis program.

By the time I reached my mid 30s, some strange happened.  I stopped physically aggressing toward others and stopped cutting myself.  

In 2008, I became attached to someone and that was my first mistake.  I was still becoming this or that…”I can be anyone you want me to be, just don’t leave me” I thought.  After six years the relationship ended and I entered into a state of withdrawal and isolation (apart from working).  I had no friends nor a desire to have any and I constantly battled periods of severe depression, infrequent dissociative symptoms and paranoia.  

I have been diagnosed with different things, by different psychiatrists at different periods in my life: PTSD; Axis I: Bipolar I, Axis II: Borderline Personality Disorder; Schizoid Personality Disorder; Social Anxiety Disorder; Medication Induced Psychosis-Remission.  Of all these terms, there is none I hate more than Borderline and I have made frantic efforts to erase it from my psychiatric history. This is perhaps the reason for the different diagnoses…I presented myself as having anything other than Borderline. Always becoming something else.  I cannot reconcile it within myself and dwelling on the term only makes me worse.

It is unfortunate that most females who have a history of childhood trauma, self injurious behaviors, aggressiveness and no sense of self are automatically labelled as Borderline.  On the border of what exactly? I’ve often felt that my inability to recognize and regulate my intense and unpredictable emotions were at the core of my problems. Emotional dysregulation might be a better term but instead, for the purpose of this blog, I have chosen Not Otherwise Specified.

People will develop their own conclusions about who I am.  As for me, perhaps someday I will know who “self” is and finally stop becoming.

-Shadow