Saturday, December 1, 2018
Not just because of all the surviving abuse bit. But that every day how to be a human stuff that adults are supposed to show their kids. Mine missed a lot of that.
That seems to be a generational trauma symptom. If your parents are fighting their own demons, they don't have time to teach you how to brush your hair. At least they don't know how to do the little things without a struggle.
Some of us were left to figure it all out on our own.
So as an adult, I kind of obsess on parenting guidance. There used to be a reality show called Super Nanny where a well meaning child expert showed up to observe parents try and handle their kids. She reminded me of a much kindlier and far less magical Mary Poppins.
Though I can say she did do magic. Practical conjuring that encouraged the parents to be consistent and helpful. She taught them that children WANT consistent rules that get the same reaction every time.
Most often she taught parents to meet chaos with calm. That if they could calm down and give everyone in their family as much of what they needed, things would run smoother. She trained them to see a noisy fussy child as an unmet need rather than a chaos demon.
That helped me see the feelings inside me as the same. Some piece needed something. Most of those noisy radical feely demons, just needed to be helped.
Super Nanny excelled at helping kids get to sleep. She taught the parents to create a calming ritual at bedtime. Every night the same routine chosen by the parents. Something like washing up, brushing teeth, a story then lay down.
For the first couple of nights, parent would sit inside the room with their back to the child. Then outside the door where the child could see them, again with their back to the child.
If the child was old enough to get out of bed, they didn't say a word. No extra lights, just gently put the child back into the bed. On the first try, reminded the child that it is bedtime now. No extra words, no arguing.
Sometimes this took a while for the child to get the message that they needed to do what they were asked. Eventually, the parents could simply ask the child to wash up and read them their story and they would go to sleep on their own.
I decided to try similar things with the children inside my head. We have sleep rituals like I think up a story for them to hear and we end up rested.
Anxiety can run loose at times not related to rest. Like a frightened child, it responds to anger and irritation with more fear and acting up. Those feelings manifest into invisible monsters. Such feelings are only contained with calm, peace and love.
I give them freedom inside a place of their own. I write about them in a journal and let them play with my stuffed animals. I encourage them to draw, and sing and twirl during their special time.
Then, when it's time for them to rest, I gently put them to bed. If they get out, I remind them it's bed time and gently bring them back.
I heard that in recovery to hug your demons or they'll bite you in the ass. I say hug them because they're frightened needy parts of you that need your help.
Kind comments encouraged.
Friday, November 16, 2018
Psychologists have been talking about trauma bonding for a while now. It's prevalent when people have survived abuse within families where we are dependent upon them for our basic needs. Hard to leave a husband who convinces you that you'll starve without him.
A friend's dad told her a horrific story about a place to keep her from going with me. I found out later he was abusing her. I offered a thought pattern that would have challenged his authority.
Even though she and I could see the abuse and avoid the love and honor our parent delusion, we both did fall into what I call drama bonding.
Our families taught us that drama brought attention to something bigger than the abuse they were engaged in. My mother told me that "The big bad world is going to eat you alive, little girl." While I didn't believe her, it did take my focus away from the reasons I wanted to go out in it.
I found telling my story gave me some attention and did help a little. Yes, it's dramatic, sad and depressing. Some people walk away from me. Part of me likes that. It feels like I have a power over them.
Drama stories push people away and draw others in at the same time. They obscure and reveal too.
I know that drama also saps energy I could use for other things. It also feels like a stage of recovery. Maybe it's a kind of step down from trauma bonding.
I figured out I had to let go of the fantasy that my mother could be anything other than who she was. Part of grieving, I know, but there's more to it. Seeing her as a whole person.
So many words define my mother. At first the ones I used were things like selfish, cruel and absent. As time goes on, I think things more like hurt, abused and lonely. Still, she could also be called smart, funny and capable.
Bonding with my mother didn't quite happen because I bonded with my older sister instead. Yes, we can bond with more than one person, but my mother and I just didn't get that. At least i the mother/daughter sense.
She did pass on the drama bonding, though.
Troubles were never because she made mistakes or did something wrong. My dad was often the blame for any misfortune. Later, she trauma bonded with other abusers.
I feel I drama bonded with most of the partners I dated. My ex could be the hero comforter when I told the stories of my troubled childhood. They were drama bonded to their mother. I could see that bond as stifling.
When I went to loosen the ties that bind, my ex found another to drama bond enslave.
It takes lots of effort to move out of drama mode. And I see it as a necessary step. I need to get to all the feelings, before I can sort through the ones to change.
Keep the joy and let go the sad and angry.
Kind comments encouraged.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
These feelings leave unseen marks on my being. The panic shows in quiet fitful sleep moments. I do talk about it out in the open AND I keep it to myself. At the same time.
Been thinking about all the Keep Calm and Carry On strategies I employ silently. We just recently saw the documentary about Mr. Rogers and I've always loved his thinking on "look for the helpers." Sometimes there is only me. I am a good helper to others and myself.
I like that about me. This blog, other places and to myself, I can help. I can mother my unruly inner children. I can remind my stuffy adult self to remember moments of perfect beauty and pure laughing joy.
Saw this video by a counselor where she says that the goal is to get to where we think "this shitty thing happened," but we don't curl up in a ball and cry every time we think of it. Lots of my story is like that. Just history. (her story)
Lots of times I have to employ a "strategy" to get to the shitty thing because it's a shitty thing rolled in broken glass and cactus needles. To "deal" with them requires special gloves and a plan.
I own some lovely dishes that depict iris flowers. When putting them away on the open shelf, Murry sometimes puts them with the flower facing away. To him, they're just dishes. To me, they're a piece of art that happens to be useful.
I can turn my past to face the flowers to the outside. Displaying the mosaic that is me in the best light. Seeing the "broken" bits as just a part of the pattern, rather than the whole of the thing.
Such reframing takes a lot of effort and the right kind of gloves. I've spoken before about feeling pain so deep that I wished my life was over. For a real long time, my strategy was; "I'm too much of a fuck up, I'll just end up worse off." While that is slightly still there, I found that I want to also see the future. Way better.
So taking the broken glass and prickly bits out and filling the cracks with gold. I've been an artist for longer than I even realized.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
I suffered. A lot. Piles of pain and most of it before the age of 10.
When a baby falls down learning to walk, sometimes it cries because it's scared or hurt. It's a way to let those bigger beings in charge to come help fix the "bad" thing.
Most girls learn that it is okay to cry over a loss or an emotional situation like a friend moving away. Maybe some boys do too. Sometimes the bigger beings say shitty emotionally repressive things like "I'll give you something to cry about." Usually when they're hurting you. Crazy making that.
Girls are NOT supposed to be angry. But boys are sometimes encouraged to do angry things like punch each other, kick over blocks and generally use a n outburst to get their way.
The onion of person existence has many other emotions, but I'll stick to those two for the moment.
I like the nature of onions because as a metaphor it's both common and not entirely understood. Other things, like a package, has layers atop a reason for the layers. Onions ARE the layers. No center exists for finding.
Some onions are even hollow at the middle. Like someone swiped the prize.
Perfect for metaphor.
The layers ARE the prize.
When I bring out the memories of my trauma and count them, the first emotional layer presenting usually involves tears. I've long ago decided that's how my body begins the healing process.
First, clean the wound. Then assess what to do.
Though some of this is simply about "grief process" and it moves through stages, some things need to come first. I've written previously about counting and compelling incidents.
Through some kind of weird instinct I knew I had to have time to cry for as long as I needed. Then I moved into righteous anger for as long as that serves me. It's starting to wane.
I still cry, I am sure I will still be angry over stuff for a really long time. The more I tell the story, the more it becomes personal history.
I think what's next is compassion.
It all seems so natural, nuanced and ordered. Layers peeling away, tearing up and falling from view.
Kind comments encouraged.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
First, there was my mother who abandoned me at birth. Not like to strangers, mom still lived in the household. She just made my sister care for me.
Then sister abandoned me when she went off to have a family of her own. They tell me how much of a fit I pitched about all that. I wanted to step on my nephew.
My parents divorced and I lived with dad. He abandoned me too. He left both my sister and I to a babysitter woman with her own kids. She severely abused me and made my sister her slave. The abusive guardian abandoned me to a state run place for misbehaving children.
I went to live with mom and her new asshole husband. After a year, mom abandoned me again. Back to oldest sister who once again made it clear how much she resented taking care of me.
My sister met a man she wanted to move in with and sent me back to live with mom. Soon after she divorced asshole and took up with another guy. A tiny bit less asshole and at least was kind to me. He wasn't kind to mom, though. They married.
It only lased six months or so, they divorced, but I stayed with mom. She had a boyfriend for a while and then a few years later she met married and divorced jerk #5. I guess you could say I got abandoned by those guys, but the time they were in my life was so short. I did have a decent enough friendship with a couple of the men.
Mom abandoned me once again and dad moved into her room and took a little care of us for a few months. Without mom to pay the bills, the trailer house got lost to the bank and my middle sister and I moved in briefly with my oldest sister.
I know I've told all this before, I thought it needed a rehashing as I haven't posted in a while. Middle sister and I shared an apartment while I went to high school. Things were okay until mom started coming around and eating our food and getting us into hassles with our landlord.
I left to start my adult life far away from all the messy family bullshit. I turned 18 soon after.
At 19, I met a guy who I would marry six years later. He was the best I knew how to pick and we spent a total of nine years together. While I wish I had known how to pick better, I did the best I could.
The lyrics of Too Late come to mind, "though we really did try to make it, something inside has died and I just can't fake it." And "there'll be good times again for me and you, but we just can't stay together can't you feel it too. I'm glad for what we had and how I once loved you."
Deep truth in that. And it holds true for my family. I quit talking to my mother and sisters pretty early into my adult life. Really it was too late the day I was born. That's super sad for them. They couldn't see my precious shiny soul.
Kind comments encouraged.