Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A Palindrome Dad is not the Same Thing as a Dad...

My therapist says my dad is a parasite, feeding off me. Even now. He fed off me all through my childhood... just fed and fed and fed and fed... never giving me anything good in return.

He gave me life but spent my entire childhood trying to suck it out of me... and now he doesn't have contact with me but he's still sucking.

I think people hate me and I think that I'm useless and stupid and a failure. Isn't a dad supposed to make their children feel like a human being who other people could actually like... someone who is valued for who they are and not just cast aside because they aren't the absolute best of the best of the best?

To him, I'm only worth something if it benefits him. I'm not worth anything for just being me. I don't remember a time when he was loving or kind. His 'love' was selfish. My heart and mind and body didn't matter. His 'kindness' was cruelty.

I was a non-person there to serve him and to take care of his responsibilities. What about his responsibilities?

I was was never allowed to be a child. I was never allowed to have feelings or thoughts or value.

If I cried I was punished. If I was upset I was ridiculed. If I was hurt I was humiliated. Isn't a dad supposed to comfort their child?

I tried so hard to be as good as I could possibly be. I tried to be quiet and polite and respectful and obedient and compliant. But I was only deserving of punishment, humiliation, pain and mind games. Isn't a dad supposed to make their child feel better?

I was terrified of him and tried so hard to do everything 'right'. But he enjoyed taking away my safety. Isn't a dad supposed to want their child to feel safe?

If a dad is supposed to be loving, kind, gentle, wanting to provide, wanting to keep you safe, wanting to protect you, wanting to help you be the best you can be and being proud of you and there for you no matter what...

And if my dad was cruel, cold, sadistic, self-seeking, dangerous, critical, condemning, humiliating, controlling, manipulative, mocking and constantly trying to break me...

... I guess he wasn't ever really a dad.

So why does my heart shatter every time I remember the truth of who he was/is? ...why does my everything hold onto him so tightly and not want to let go? Why do I still call him Daddy, when he's not even been a Dad? 

I don't want to disrespect him by saying these things, but they are the truth and the truth really really hurts right now... and I'm broken.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Love is....?

When I was in my early teens, I was given an assignment at school on Valentine's Day to write an essay that answered the question "Love is...?". I remember it clearly because it totally stumped me. That was my first realisation that I actually had no clue what "love" was supposed to mean. I remember we had to spend a period of time brainstorming as many answers to that question as we could come up with. My classmates kept popping out answers every few seconds. My paper stayed blank.

That was over a decade ago. Today I am still puzzled by the concept, particularly when it is related to other people loving me. "Love" is a scary word for me. Saying the words "I love you" is incredibly uncomfortable and I struggle to say them. Showing love through actions is easier for me than expressing it verbally. I'm not sure why that is. Receiving love from someone else is near impossible and it's an issue I really need to overcome. The problem is I still don't really know what love is.

credit: www.xkcd.com

If I ask myself what it means for me to love someone else, I would say loving someone means giving up your life for theirs... it means giving as much of yourself as you can give. It means putting aside your own needs in order to put another's before your own. The University Rabbi asked me the other week "If you were on a desert island with another person and you only had one bottle of water, what would you do? Give it to the other person or keep it for yourself?" I said "give it to the other person". It wouldn't really occur to me that there was an alternative option. Love to me means giving up your own life to save another.

I guess in a way that is the ultimate demonstration of love, but perhaps my interpretation of that is a little bit screwed up. Someone once said to me "If someone doesn't know how to love themselves, how can they love someone else?" It's a good question. The question that naturally follows from this is "what does it mean to love yourself?". This is a bit scary to me because if I love myself then that might make me arrogant or selfish... there's a fine line and it's one I'm terribly afraid to risk crossing.

I spent my whole childhood denying that I had needs. I wasn't allowed needs. I didn't deserve to have any need met. I was apparently innately selfish and needed to learn to always put others before myself. I tried with everything in me to achieve that. On top of that, the kind of "love" I was shown makes the word "love" repulsive to me - it fills me with shame and disgust. The maternal love I feel towards my siblings is different - I love them so much it hurts, but any idea of love towards me makes my stomach churn. I wonder if I will ever truly understand what it means to be loved, but I'm aware I need to figure out how to allow myself to feel as though I have a right to be loved first and that's a tough one!

credit: http://loveislove.me

So my question is, what does love mean? ...What does it mean to love someone else and what does it mean to be loved?  When you've been through severe child abuse that's screwed up your understanding of love, how do you come to understand it as it should be and what makes it feel safe?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Guilt is Powerful

So here I am again, trying to find the words to write. I'm not feeling particularly eloquent so please bear with me! It's been a while since I last wrote... I've started seeing a new therapist after a while of not really doing therapy (at least not in a productive way - my last therapist was more of a hindrance than a help tbh)... I've started my PhD, which I'm so so happy about (feels like its been a huge fight to get to this point but now I even have a scholarship! How awesome is that?!) and I'm still battling with illness which I guess is character building but I'm not enjoying it much!

There's something I want to write about but I always feel very wary about writing anything more detailed about my past , I suppose partly due to fear, partly due to shame and partly due to not wanting to dwell on negative things. One of the things I've had to come to accept recently though is that sometimes facing hard things and talking about them and acknowledging their effects, is not the same as getting caught up in negativity... It's just being real and finding the courage to admit things to myself and to others who might care about me.

So, I suppose this is one of those times. I hope you don't mind listening.

As any abuse survivor knows, recalling what we've been through and trying to make sense of it, can be a seriously confusing thing! We often doubt our own memories or have blanks, we struggle to piece things together and when we discover more information that we didn't know before, the confusion can enter a whole new level.

I grew up believing I ruined lives... that I wasn't wanted, that I was hated even. I grew up hearing the words "I wish you had never been born!" on a very regular basis. I was taught that the emotional well being of both of my parents was my responsibility. Any violent outburst was my fault. Any suicide attempt was my fault. Any abandonment was my fault. Everything was my responsibility.

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was 16, I was at breaking point. I couldn't take the abuse anymore. I couldn't fight to survive anymore...at least, not if I stayed there. I had to get out. It was the hardest decision of my life. It meant leaving my younger siblings there, something that up until that point was the only reason hadn't tried to run away. But I knew, if I didn't get out then, I never would, and neither would they. I don't want to say where I managed to go because I'm concerned to stay anonymous. I did manage to go somewhere that I could continue my education in safety, with safe adults taking care of me with other children, far enough away that it felt safe.

Anyway, when I was old enough to leave that safe place, my mother was threatening to kill herself if I didn't go back home to look after her and my siblings. It wasn't a threat I took lightly. I knew it was a very real threat and I believed she would carry it out. The emotional and psychological turmoil I went through over the following weeks was awful. I was a wreck because I knew if I did what she wanted, I'd be back where I was and would probably never leave... Whilst at the same time if I didn't go back I would be responsible not only for her death but for leaving my younger siblings to deal with it. I made the horrible decision that I still battle with guilt over now, to not go back. She responded by taking a massive overdose and if my youngest sister hadn't have found her in time, and if the paramedics hadn't have been as skilled as they were, she would have managed to do what she tried to do.

I spoke to her about that day yesterday and am now feeling very confused and even more guilty. Apparently there was more going on than I was previously aware of...

I don't speak to her often but she's more stable than she used to be and I have good boundaries. It's hard having contact though because she still won't acknowledge the extent of the abuse she inflicted on me and my siblings. She acknowledges what my father did and I guess that's easier for her to do. But she doesn't even remember that threat she made to me. I know for a fact she did and I have battled with it for a decade since it happened because the guilt is not easy to get rid of... But her version of events is always different and justified somehow. 

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what I didn't know was that whilst this was going on, my brother was having a break-down. My mother found him "in that corner of his room" rocking and cracking his knuckles. My heart shatters at that image. I know it only too well. He was terribly abused and that was how he responded when things had got particularly bad. My mother apparently was shocked and "concerned" at that sight. I'm not sure that's as caring as it sounds. Knowing how she was, I imagine that she lost it on him for being ridiculous or something... but she doesn't remember it that way. Whatever happened, it resulted in him getting up and leaving that house and not going back ever.

My mother called the police and social services (I can't quite get my head around that lol) only to discover to her horror that he was at his school with the headmaster because of her actions. He has told someone and the headmaster and social services made sure he never had to go back to that house again. After that was when she threatened me with her suicide and followed through on that. My youngest sister discovered our nearly dead mother. And she refuses to speak to me now.

I told my mother "you know ----- blames me for that?". She replied "oh, no she knows it was your brother's fault!"

Sigh. I know now (at least logically) that the only person responsible for that suicide attempt was my mother. Not me. Not my brother. My mother won't accept responsibility, even now. My brother has never been back and now only has contact with an aunt and uncle.

I still battle with guilt for leaving my siblings with her.. for not being there to protect my brother for whom my heart still breaks... for not going back when I knew that threat wasn't an empty one... for not being there to find her unconscious body instead of my sister... for not being there. That guilt is soul destroying and I wish I knew what to do with it. I wish I knew how to deal with the confusion and the emotions.

Guilt is powerful.

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