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Re: Could it be because of my mother?

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:15 pm
by earthhorse
Coconuts thank you! I love your wordiness too :D <3 <3<3

You are absolutely right it is both incredibly exhausting and invigorating! Yesterday i just had to sleep most of the day. I couldn't keep my eyes open. But I also feel a wonderful shift.

I think one of the hardest things for me, and what has made it even harder to deal with the past and be real in the present. is I have at times been (nearly) completely debilitated with mental health issues - hardly able to function at all. I look around at others here who have similar histories and I am ashamed to say I feel ashamed about how the abuse impacted me. Why didn't I develop parts with high functioning to mind me? To stay strong and keep it structured and together? Why was this very physical kind of breakdown my way? I think though I may be able to answer that...

Don't get me wrong, I can be, and have been very high functioning. I've puled off a lot in my life. It just makes the times when I 'break down' all the more painful.

I remember trying to go back and finish school after my mom decided to pull me from art school, after my first year... because it wasn't a 'real' study and was only for crazy people. I just always seemed to be a person who would end up being sexually exploited... at the end of my year there I was hurt again. I was hurt a few times. Art school helped a lot, but being pulled out didn't, it set me back. I was extremely dissociated when I went back to high school - which had always been a very hostile place for me.

I remember going into biology lab. I was always so good at science. And I was trying to prepare a slide for the microscope. And I couldn't for the life of me coordinate my hands or body to do so, I couldn't even see. I was just a shaking mess. Silently I left the class. Then found a place, where no one could see, to cry. I felt I could go to no one for help. This was because I was 'incompetent', confirming my mother and fathers hateful put downs, and I had to try and hide it. I never went back to class again.

When I was a child no matter what happened to me I always seemed to be able to stay very structured and do, and present well - I was an excellent student. Even though I was a strange child, I was very dissociated... have you seen that movie Tideland (2005) by Terry Gilliam? There is a little girl who has to deal with two addict parents. Maybe a bit too triggering to watch, it's very dark, so I don't know if it's a recommendation... But I really could relate to her fantasy world and her lightness, and also her parts.

In any case a lot of that ability to structure and perform like an outstanding child, I think came from the pressures and supports of living on the same street with my extended family . I based my internal working method on it. Do you remember how we were talking about disorganized attachment and it's relationship to dissociation? From psychology Today:
One particular form of attachment, disorganized attachment occurs when the caregiver mistreats the child, frequently frightens the child, miscommunicates feelings, and has highly unrealistic expectations of the child (e.g., relying on the child for care).

Caregivers who act in ways that give rise to disorganized attachment may behave very inconsistently (for example at times they are intrusive, at times they withdraw), which creates confusion for the child. The child may end up with multiple, incompatible views of the caregiver (seeing the caregiver as a source of protection and danger at the same time) and incompatible views of themselves (feeling confusion about whether they are good or bad). These incompatible views are very difficult to reconcile and hard to combine into a coherent structure.

The child is left with confusion about who their parents are, and who they are, making it difficult to establish a coherent sense of self. This sort of fragmentation lays the groundwork for dissociative experiences.

Even more confusing, the child faces the dilemma of both protecting themselves from a caregiver and maintaining a relationship with them. Jennifer Freyd explains that the betrayal trauma, the sense of betrayal often found in children abused by their caregivers explains why many children forget the abuse, or rather, put it out of their minds.
Another aspect of this, is that a system is created. What they call an Internal Working Method to be able to keep going and 'fit in', when undergoing frequent and extreme abuse over purlonged periods. cPTSD symptoms are often suppressed until something fundamentally shakes the grounds on which a person - adult survivor or child - has used to order their place in the world. Some of this could just be finally getting safe.... to not always being in a frightening world, means the energy used to maintain controls can be released but then the trauma needs to release too... enter PTSD... but it also explains why people may seek out similarly abusive environments because it literally holds them together strangely enough...

I think that immigrating at once made me safer, I was away form the ring, but also more exposed to my parents inability to parent. In my old country at least I had some people around who coddled me, I had an aunt I could go to, who would treat me like her daughter (I was more like a doll she could play with, but she did want me to be her daughter. When we were immigrating she begged me to stay...) . And my Nana. Of course they were involved in enabling abuse... but they buffered my self esteem. School had also been a much safer place, where I was a star pupil.

But then when I immigrated at 10 nearly 11 years old, home was not safe with nowhere else to turn to, and then school was not safe because I was bullied a lot for being an immigrant. I would be badly bullied for years! On top of this my aunt , my Nana and none of my 31 first cousins , 8 uncles or aunts ever wrote to me again. They cut off communication. It felt like I had been disowned - I knew it was because of me. because I was 'sinful' - unforgivable. When I met my mothers side of the family, it was clear they did not like children. And I was really shocked at how they spoke and behaved. It was a big leap from the close knit clan and continuous culture I had left.

I was particularly badly bullied at school between 12-14. My mother was psycho. My father was psycho, My brother was showing himself to be psycho and would beat my sister and I. There was so much pain and darkness Everyday I would go to school and be tortured - physically, emotionally, verbally and even sexually abused. The other children were very rough, and one of the teachers, my home room teacher, called me the troublemaker, because I was the one always being picked on.... my brothers and sister would taunt me about it too. Everyday I would cry for hours in my room, my sister or brother would sit outside the door mocking me...

On the last day I was at this particular school, I was playing 'fruit salad' in a drama class, where you need to run across the room. I ran across the room and three boys ran up, grabbed me, slammed me against the brick wall, and tried as hard as they could to break my arm. Somehow I managed to break free and ran for the door, the whole class laughed.

I had begged my family to allow me to move schools for years... but my father said, it was all my fault, because I was a 'little bitch'. When I escaped and came home after being attacked like that, my father told me the same thing. He told me I deserved to be hurt and worse, I deserved everythign I got and brought it on myself.

Well long story short, the internal working method that allowed me to be highly functioning despite experiencing extreme abuse just broke down. There was no safe place... the symptoms I now still experience to this day first kicked in when I went to the new school after being bullied at the old one. They got worse and worse, the dissociative switches more profound, like rapid cycling of states. I never had any support or counseling. My mother without asking me how I felt, or observing the symptoms, or bringing me to a doctor ( doctors were avoided in my family) said I had hypoglycemia ( more because my freezing had become hard to ignore by outsiders, I would just cease up into catatonic dissociation, lose motor functions and fall down)... she made me eat a sandwich every 2 hours...

Later when I finally got safe and away from my family... even though I had earlier flashbacks and nightmares, and things came up... at 24 PTSD hit full force after being raped AGAIN after a healing ceremony by a shaman while I was under the influence of a powerful psychoactive- which as you can imagine has also caused me to question myself and my memories a LOT. I have been trying to actively heal since then, but for me it has been one flood, and new terrible revelation, after the other. There is so much to process from my childhood. And what happened in my teenage-hood was also very hard... It always made me wonder why do I need to 'make up' child sexual abuse and torture? .... I mean I already have enough trauma that can continuously remember for a life time of PTSD? The denial has also really blocked self compassion and dealing with anything. I would just seek to 'prove' myself, diving into things repeating the very responsible but not able to, pattern of childhood.

So even though in 2012 it was recognized that I am officially disabled - long term disabled.... I have never been able to accept it or believe it is real. I have felt like a fake, and there is 'no excuse'. That as my wonderful mother would say I was 'worthless', and lazy and bad. So you know I would just try and out perform the assessment. Be the best or better... and then it comes up again, the symptoms escalate, and I just can't do anything anymore...

I think when I return to school I want to be a proud person with a disability. I want to own what I need in terms of supports. I want to claim my right to be there. I don't have to pretend to be 'normal' or 'above average'... I just need to be me.

Thanks for listening Coconuts.


Re: Could it be because of my mother?

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:48 pm
by earthhorse
Hi Ct,

Feeling the sunshine mingle with the sweet spring sun here. Thank you. I live in a beautiful place, so I look out my window and see the world so full of life. So many colors and blossoms.

Yes, what you say very much resonates with me. I also feel like now I have 'met' this four year old part for instance, I just like her so much. Why does she have to change or stop being herself? "Integrate"? It's really nice to have her around. She is part of me, but she's not... she's me but she's really just her. And it kind of helps me that she feels 'separate'. Perhaps it's oppressive not to allow parts autonomy... and in the case of this other part, I think retiring seems like a good word, exorcism also fits lol.

Yeah there is a lot going on. A lot that is processing right now.

I woke up needing yoga, my knee is still damaged... I will see what I can do to sooth my system. And bring calm.

Thank you again CT.


Re: Could it be because of my mother?

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:49 pm
by earthhorse
There Yes! This is the way I have found <3

Sending every good thing your way!

Re: Could it be because of my mother?

Posted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:43 am
by coconuts
You should be a proud person. Earthhorse because you are amazing. Despite how much you have had to fight to survive and cope you are still trying. You are amazing in what you could do.

I hate your parents ( if okay). I wish so much somebody would have done something to protect you. You were so small and innocent and kept getting beat down no matter which way you turned. You had no where safe. Safety even when you sought it out was always out of reach.

I really liked the stuff you posted about disorganized parenting and the system the survivors create. I felt so confused about my parents. My dad terrified me and protected me. I remember him beating the snot out of me a number of times at a very young age. My step mom came in all shiny and sweet as a new mommy. I was so excited to get a mommy I had never had one. And then she turned. She became vicious and hateful. I'm not sure I could ever get the image of her face out of my head they first time she handed me off. I was begging her to not let them take me. Begging. And she looked at me with contempt and disgust. Like I was filth she was all to ready to get rid of. And sometimes they would do things for me. Buy me toys or a special dress. Or take care of me. I remember my dad spending hours picking through my hair when I had lice. Carefully sorting through every strand. He was upset but gentle and caring. It is super confusing . It was when I was a child and it still confuses me so much now.

Having a system in place to cope with that makes sense. I needed to be able to handle so many different situations. I needed to get thru school and just the day to day life and the daily beatings and the work and then the trafficking. That is a lot when I think about it. So many things that cannot mesh I can see how a system needed to be created with sharp divisions to help each part function fully.

I think my release trigger was my little girls. When my oldest turned five I couldn't handle it. I started getting the nightmares and flashbacks. I would look at my daughter and think ...How? Like how could anyone do that to such a small child? How did I survive? Maybe I'm wrong maybe I'm just sick it doesn't seem real. But then it does.

So sorry you were continued to be abused. And used. I felt this way about my grandfather. When he molested me I just felt like it must be what happens. Plus he was way more gentle. So it confused me. And I wondered maybe I was just that kinda girl. Maybe I made them do this to me..asked for it somehow. And then I was again raped at 17 . But then again I put myself into the situation. I was making poor choices. So I just blamed myself. No it wasn't my fault but I just wondered constantly what I did to bring this on me. Why did it keep happening. What was so ultimately wrong with me that the universe kept hurtling these things at me? I would think I was okay and then I wasn't.

Re: Could it be because of my mother?

Posted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:04 am
by earthhorse
Hi Coconuts,

Yeah definitely you had to have a system. I remember you saying how you would go to school and make friends and be like a 'normal' little girl. I mean there had to have been obvious signs that you were being abused. But you also managed to have this separate part. And I think the way you survived by holding onto religion and distancing yourself very strongly from substance abuse and even sexual exploration on your own terms was a strong survival strategy.

You were able to take the moment when the trafficking stopped and build up an ivory tower of security. It harmed your autonomy a lot the abuse, also later, it restricted you and it made you blame and shame yourself when you were exposed to other faces of rape culture - but you also fought back, you never accepted the lies of your grandmother and father. You made some very powerful choices when you could, and that level of restriction back then it was the only way out - I experienced similar need to withdraw and restrict to move from one phase to the next, to separate myself form destructive environments, I had to reinvent myself many times to really get out. But this ability to self isolate was a strong survival mechanism. You got yourself out. That part I would also be very grateful to.

Because your father and grandparents were still so abusive and dismissive of you there was no room for 'truth' about what happened or what was happening to you. Remember how your father blamed you, and called you liar and had you institutionalized? So it makes perfect sense that it was only years later when your daughter turned 5 and you were much safer that the processing and release was finally able to happen, and that parts would perhaps want to change or stop holding onto their roles...

I think in some ways though why you have been able to hold continuous memory of some of it, was because your step mom was so consistently bad! She was just truly a monster. (That look of hate and disgust I can see that on my fathers face) The way she abused you daily there was no kindness. In listening to you, I believe it was your fathers behavior that was by far the most confusing... I think this may be what laid your foundations for dissociation, and likely this started well before you were trafficked. There is already a LOT of trauma in your story before age 3, and that, developmentally. usually means one is more skilled at developing dissociated parts to cope.

I will make another post to explore some thoughts.

Thank you coconuts for being the amazing, real, compassionate, vibrant person and and survivor you are today. You can be proud of you too!


Re: Could it be because of my mother?

Posted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 4:46 pm
by coconuts
Yeah I'm still trying to realize the role my dad had. I mostly remember him as neglectful and emotionally unavailable but I know there is more. Because I know I was terrified to break any rules even with just him. I remember being 3 or 4 standing at my door waiting for him to let me out and contemplating just sneaking across the hall to go potty. But I was terrified of leaving without permission so I just stood there and wet my pants but then I was so afraid of getting in trouble for that so took great care to clean it all up.
And my sister shared a story of him spanking me really hard when I was less than 1 year old because I pooped in the bathtub. Said he went ballistic and she has never gotten that memory out of her head. ( We are half sisters and she was raised by her grandparents)

So while I don't remember any physical abuse from him before my step mom entered the picture know it is there.

Thanks for validating me. And helping me see more how the choices I made were more about survival.