Tag Archive: mental trauma


Orihime

Orihime from BBleach

There are some things that I have always wondered why I have some deeply embedded beliefs. Some of them I haven’t the slightest idea of where they come from… like the thought that my life will be much shorter than most will be. And, more importantly, my brain has been putting together the pieces of why I have the belief that I will always be alone.

For the longest time, I had absolutely no idea where the thought came from. It was something that my brain latched on to and wouldn’t let go. At the time, I thought that maybe it was because I was a teenager. I was raped. And I was in a school that I didn’t want to go to and wasn’t happy with. It felt like I was you standard disaffected teenager in the nineties.

Unfortunately, the belief never went away after I changed schools, or even after I was no longer a teenager. It has been persistent throughout my life… and until recently, I didn’t understand where it came from.

The more that I have learned about my childhood, and the more that I’ve remembered, the more that I’ve been able to untangle some pretty bad behavior that I’ve developed as a coping mechanisms. Trying to unlearn things that have kept you alive for so many years is hard… not impossible, but incredibly hard. Especially as so much of it has become such a fundamental part of one’s self. It’s something that I’ve been striving to do… to make myself a better version of myself.

So, how did the belief that I will always be lonely come to pass?

Well, this was such an incredibly easy thing to untangle… and I think to a certain degree, I’ve always known. The belief that I will always be alone stems from the fact that I largely have been. My mom checked out when I was pretty young. My dad was never really around because of his work schedule. The love that I was supposed to see when I was younger, never was really there. So, I’m guessing that had a huge effect on my belief of if I deserve to be loved and have people/family in my life.

I don’t remember my mom being around all that much. And, I think, to a certain degree, I think somewhere in my subconscious, I was aware of what my mom was trying to do. My mom didn’t even think that it was worth it to stop me from being beaten for something that I never did or being unduly punished for being a child. My dad was as equally there. I didn’t have the emotional nourishment that I needed as a child. I was alone in the world as a kid, so why would that change as an adult?

Well, one thing that I’ve been learning as I get older and having different, more wonderful people come into my life, is that maybe the belief that I deserve to be alone might actually be wrong. I don’t know if I’ve started getting comfortable with this. This is largely because my brain keeps going back to the old familiar feeling… because it’s familiar.

How does one undo something that’s such a fundamental part of oneself?

I honestly don’t know. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. It’s possible that positive reinforcement and psychological conditioning can help with this. And, maybe that’s just what I need. We’ll see. There’s only one way to find out.

Little Girl Lost

ritsuka-cry

Ritsuka from Loveless by Yun Kouga

There are things that are hard for me to describe, even as a decently educated writer. The hardest is to explain what being triggered is like. It’s not just discomfort or being upset. I wish it were simple. Then again, of PTSD were easy to understand, then there wouldn’t be as much misinformation as there is about it.

Right now, I’m deep in the bowels of a very deep and profound triggering event. I’ve gotten past the anger that is usually what I feel first, anger and sadness. Now I’m working on tackling a near-crippling self-doubt and depression. And that’s not the only thing that’s living here, that’s just the guardians of the house.

Deeper inside the house that trauma built is a deep hurt of a child who was left to be the adult. A child who never knew what it meant to be wanted. A child who was tossed aside and was beaten and abused for decades. A child whose parent came back later after she learned how to cope with things most children don’t start approaching until late middle school or high school.

Inside this house is a little girl, lost and afraid… on her own to fend for herself. No matter what color of happiness she paints on the outside of the house, she can’t just ignore the misery inside.

This is probably just a simplistic snapshot of an incredibly complex and insidious set of neurological responses. It’s something that people want to trivialize because it’s easier to make fun of people who are deeply troubled. At least that seems to be the American way of things.

And that’s what makes this all so terribly difficult. I have a lot of things that I know I’ll never get any closure for. That makes it so much harder. I have no way of getting closure. One of the people is no longer amongst the living. Others I have no contact with… and that’s probably for the best. I would need to sever that relationship regardless… and then there are relationships that I’ve been told I need to sever, but it’s not going to be so simple.

I start to feel so helpless because I can’t figure out how to move away from the relationship that seems to be more emotionally detrimental as time goes on. I feel like no matter what I do, that I’m stuck. I have no clue how to take care of it. There’s never really any one good way to pull away from abusive relationships. There isn’t. Even though I know what will help me in finishing healing, I haven’t a clue on how to break away from it. Unfortunately, my therapist isn’t being any help, regardless of how many times I’ve reached out.

I feel so lost right now.

These are issues that I still struggle with, to this day to one degree or another. I do have a better sense of self-worth, but I still think that if something bad happens… that I did something wrong for it to happen to me. The degree to which this instilled some severe issues with me is pretty bad. And what comes after just helped demolish more of the already crumbling foundation that is myself.

So, one would think that once my mom was out of hospital, that life might be smooth sailing, right?

Yeah… not so much.

My mom and divorced and she wound up meeting and marrying someone else. And, while that sounds all fine and dandy, this guy was a piece of work. I use was because he died of lung cancer my senior year of high school. I don’t have any fond memories of him either.

After my mom and him were married, first he would beat me… until I got both too big (they got married when I was 8) and too strong for that. After that, it was a constant barrage abusive words. If that wasn’t enough… I was also horribly bullied at school. I was an early bloomer, so I hit puberty before anyone else did. I heard it all… and I heard it for years. I heard it pretty much up until I changed schools in high school to make a positive change for myself, including someone threatening to kick my ass.

The bullying was pretty consistent. Granted, it couldn’t even compare to what people go through now. Everything was done face to face. There was none of the anonymous ganging up that we have now.

That wouldn’t have been too bad (OK, it was bad enough in and of itself), but it wasn’t the only place I was constantly hearing a barrage of hurtful words. I would hear it all the time at home. My stepdad would put me down all the time. It was a constant thing. I’d hear how ugly, stupid, and fat I was. I was always a bitch. I was called lazy. It affected me so profoundly that I would withdraw from people. I felt like I had no choice. I didn’t have a place I could go to where I would be accepted. At school I would be made fun of, at home I would be told how awful a person I was.

I would go to my mom about this, but she wouldn’t do anything. She’d tell me that I need to fight my own battles. I would tell her that my stepdad was also doing it and she wouldn’t do anything. I would tell her things that were private, only to have it thrown back in my face by my stepdad… where he would then be even crueller to me. It’s because of that I don’t feel like I can trust many people. I always have the fear that people will turn on me and that I can’t trust someone with a confidence. More than anything, it made me feel like I couldn’t trust my mother.

I didn’t feel like I had a safe haven away from the pain of being emotionally abused. I was abused at home and at school. Once I was raped, I didn’t know what to do. It was so bad that I felt a strong desire to not want to feel anything. I started thinking about doing heroin then. Anything to numb the pain inside of me. I never did heroin… instead I would cut myself. Anyway to make myself hurt as much on the outside as I did on the inside.

Then my stepdad was diagnosed with cancer that he later died from. Before he died, he apologized for the years of abuse… which I’m pretty sure would have continued were he to keep living. I still think it was more to clear his conscious than it was to make me feel better. I said I accepted it, but that wasn’t really the case.

Of course, this isn’t where the abuse ends.

After that, I would get into relationships that were highly toxic. At one point it extended past romantic relationships, but also into friendships too. I didn’t feel like I was worth any decent relationship. The friendships were about the same point as probably my most emotionally damaging relationships. I dated the guy for years. I kept trying to get him to approve of something, anything about me. He would never acknowledge that I would. He would constantly put me down. He would constantly make me feel like I had to do everything for him. I couldn’t have my autonomy.

I would dress up nice and he’d make me feel bad about it. I would need to do everything for him.

It hit me so profoundly that I would cheat on him repeatedly… then he would hit me with an even worse barrage of words. Every time it was designed to make me what he wanted. I wasn’t happy with where I was, but it was what I felt like I deserved. To this day, I still get the feeling that it’s all my fault. That I have to fight alone. That I deserve what’s happening to me. That I all I knew. Every boyfriend confirmed this, even those who tried to act like they’re more enlightened. If they couldn’t get what they wanted out of me, they would treat me poorly.

It’s pretty bad when you have someone get you to leave the dysfunctional relationship that you’re in so they can try to have their own harem. It became so problematic that I eventually had to take stock of what was going on and why I wasn’t happy. It boiled down to me being in nothing but emotionally unhappy relationships. I even took a year off to actually work on myself and to distance myself from it.

No matter how much I distance myself, I still have to deal with the emotions that are coupled with these issues. The feeling that I don’t have anyone to help me (despite the evidence of otherwise), that I’m constantly alone, that I’m not good enough to deserve anything good. I think that I deserve anything bad that happens to me. That I don’t deserve anything good. These are thoughts that I have no idea how to be rid of. These are thoughts that still plague me. They occasionally make me want to find a hole to just waste away in.

I keep trying to tell myself that I’m worthy to have what I have… but I don’t know if I believe that. I don’t know if I can let myself believe it. In many ways, I feel like the little girl being beaten into submission with no one to help me… and I don’t know how to ask for help. Recently, it’s become a daily struggle for me to ask for help. I don’t want to feel like needing help makes me a burden. I don’t want to feel like I don’t have anyone who can help me. I want to be able to accept the help of others.

More than anything, I want to stop being haunted by the thought that maybe, just maybe I shouldn’t really be here. That I shouldn’t still be living. That I struggle and fought so hard to survive, only to start feeling like it was for nothing. That I deserve to be alone. I’m trying not to fall into that despair, but it’s hard… and I do need help. I just don’t know how to ask for it.

Then there was living with my mom’s ex best friend… that was a living nightmare. Every night I would hope for some way to escape. I would wish that someone would take me away from this place. There were a lot of things that happened there that are absolutely beyond what would be acceptable to do to anyone.

Punishment in that house would come often for the eldest children. The younger children would get off scot-free. I remember plenty of punishment that would be about embarrassment. I used to love bananas as a child. I was punished once by being forced to sit on bananas… for something I don’t even remember, possibly something trivial because serious punishments were mortifyingly bad. Since that day, I can no longer have bananas without it evoking a response of disgust. It was so bad, that I just wanted to hide. I was constantly mocked, even while I was doing what I was asked to do. It wasn’t just by her either. Her children would also make fun of me. There was never a moment where I wasn’t being beaten down emotionally, if I wasn’t being hit.

The beatings, however, were bad enough.

I discussed it back in 2011, as I went to therapy to talk about the time where I was beaten because someone had written my name all over furniture that was mine (it was given to me by my godmother). She got so mad she repeatedly hit me. She wouldn’t stop. My mom was there and when I asked her for help to make it stop, my mom just watched. She did nothing. I have talked to my mom about this and she doesn’t remember it happening. Since she was out for the weekend from the hospital, it’s possible that she was heavily medicated. I just remember pleading for help, my eyes stinging from the tears as I was still being hit… and no one helped me. They all just stood there and watched.

After she was done, everyone left the room. I was left by myself, curled up in a ball, crying.

This might be the most compelling reason as towhy I have issues with asking for help. This, of course, is magnified by my mom repeatedly telling me that I have to fight my own battles. I’ve never had help, even when I needed it most desperately. So, it’s of little surprise that this incident might be the inciting incident.

This wasn’t the worst thing to happen to me in that house. One night, while I was sick with flu… I was forced to sleep on the drafty living room floor. The room that I was sharing with the other eldest daughter (it’s easier to abuse that which you hate if they’re together) was being used by… I think my mother… or a guy who was living in the house. Her genetic daughter was given the couch, so I wound up on the floor.

I was so chilled because my fever was high. I curled up and tried to keep warm despite the fact I was ill. I couldn’t sleep at all that night. I was chilled to the bone with fever. I got up several times in the night to vomit. I would moan because my body felt so awfully… yet no one checked on me or offered to let me sleep somewhere other than the cold and drafty floor. It wasn’t until everyone was getting up and getting ready to go to school and someone finally checked on me, that they realized that I was sick. I was about to pass out from exhaustion and sickness. Then I was allowed to sleep on the couch. I spent most of the day asleep while trying to let the flu pass.

I remember thinking about how this was like Cinderella. Being forced to take care of everyone and being treated so horribly… and that maybe, some day, my Prince Charming will come to save me from this torment. I was 7-years-old. I was looking for anyone to be my savior, anyone to help me and save me from this torment. I felt more like a slave and less like a person. This is a fact that I never let show at school. I maintained many good friendships, while hiding everything that was happening to me. I felt like I had done something to deserve this. That it was my fault that I was being treated that way, so I couldn’t report it to anyone. I felt like I had no self-worth. I certainly had no agency there. They threatened to throw me into a pool that I wasn’t comfortable with. I would never swim there because I was afraid that I would drown. It wasn’t because I didn’t know how to swim or anything… after the beating where no one would help me, I knew that no one would help if I were to flounder and then wind up drowning.

However, none of this is the worst thing I dealt with while living there. One night, the youngest daughter picked a fight with me… and I fought back. I didn’t take anyone’s shit that night. I think I had snapped after being constantly verbally beat down for so long. So, instead of hitting me, she opted for something worse. She grabbed a roll of duct tape and taped my mouth shut, straight off the roll. Every time I would try to move my mouth, lick my lips, try to talk… I could feel the tape pulling skin off the area it was touching. The pain was horrendous. I remember thinking when will this tape be gone. Then thinking about what it would feel like to have the tape pulled off.

I ran to the garage to hide. I was so scared of the pain. I knew it would be worse than when I would move my mouth… and I knew it would be a fast yank followed by burning and pain. I wasn’t sure whether it would make the area around my mouth, and the mouth itself bleed. I hid in the garage, not wanting to be found. I would rather keep the tape on my mouth.

Eventually, the tape was carefully pulled off of my mouth… but I was scared by that point. There was no reason to have someone use duct tape to cover my mouth. Any time I see anything that advocates the usage of duct tape for bondage purposes, I feel such a pure and hot rage. When I mentioned this instance to a therapist of mine, they called what happened torture… and I would agree. I didn’t know what would happen, why it was happening… and the thought of it being pulled off scared me. When the tape was gone, the area was red. It still pulled skin off my face, but there was no bleeding. It was red and hot and in pain.

I have such a great amount of anger when it comes to her. It was so bad at one point that I called her, justifiably given my experience, a psycho bitch. Everyone wanted me to apologize. I didn’t I stood my ground. I can’t stand that woman. I don’t want to see her again. I’m so pissed off by the degree of abuse she did to me. I felt like a slave, the red-headed stepchild (ok… I am a redhead, but that’s beside the point), the whipping boy. All I wanted to do was to escape. I wanted to be free of the abuse, the negative words, the beatings, the fear that I might die there.

Now… all I’m left with are some deep-seated fears of never having any help and anger… lots of anger. It also alienated me more from my family. No one helped me. No one told her to stop or stood in the way in defense. She was allowed to do whatever she thought was fit… even if I had no idea why. It’s forever altered me in so many painful ways. It made it hard for me to trust anyone… especially people I didn’t know. It put me even further in my shell and made me shyer because I was constantly belittled. I had no sense of being a person worthy of anything… and that’s the worst part. I thought I deserved the torture and pain. That I must have done something wrong… even if I knew that I did nothing.

The next major event that I remember was my mom not really being there for me. At the time, my mother was undiagnosed for bipolar. She was medicating how worked best for her at the time. While I understand that, it also meant that I had to step up and do more than I was even prepared for. I wasn’t even 10 at the time. I felt that I had to be responsible. In many ways, I resent having to give away my childhood and a part of my innocence.

While I know that there’s nothing that anyone could do, because my mom was undiagnosed. I’m also angry and sad about it. I had to face many hard realities before I was really prepared for them… and in some cases I had no preparation for them… like seeing my grandfather’s body at the funeral home. It’s that moment that I pinpoint my changing opinion on death. This is probably one of the healthiest responses I’ve had. I don’t fear death. I accept it as inevitability. I don’t let this realization allow me to do things that will kill me, at the same time, I’m not afraid either. I treat it with the proper respect it should while not shying away from it. So, one positive takeaway from this was that.

But the negative… that’s also there. And it’s more numerous than how I deal with death.

My sister and I remember more than we really talk about. We’ve seen more than we care to discuss… but those memories are so hazy to me, probably because I didn’t want to acknowledge what was really happening. More than anything, I felt neglected. I felt like I didn’t matter. I wasn’t important enough for my mother. This was later confirmed when my mom apologized to me for driving while heavily intoxicated because she was trying to kill herself. Except she wasn’t just trying to kill herself, she was trying to kill me and my sister as well. I think I already kind of knew that because I have always felt like maybe I didn’t deserve to live. This really haunted me after my rape. The rape helped confirm this thought I had. I’ll get to that later though.

That’s probably the hardest thing to try to tackle as a child… that I’m not important enough to be a reason to live and that maybe just maybe I didn’t deserve to be alive. These thoughts still haunt me to this day.

Honestly, I know that my mom wasn’t in her right mind. Unfortunately, this is the hand she was dealt. She may not have realized that this was an issue until her diagnosis. So, I can’t really fault her for this. That doesn’t mean that it still isn’t a reality… and it still really hurts. Even writing the paragraph above hurt straight to my heart. Just because I understand the situation, it doesn’t make it hurt any less. And, of course, there was the day that she was hospitalized… it’s good that she was because then she could get treatment.

At the same time, this made me scared because I had no idea what would happen to me or my sister. I knew my dad mostly worked at night. There was a degree of insecurity there. When we had to go and live with my mom’s ex-best friend, it felt like we were just people who could be passed on. I still deal with this issue, especially when it comes to relationships. I feel like I’m a transitory person… or just there for now. I haven’t had many people tell me that I am in no way temporary in their life. I can count the people who have told me that way and not treated me that way on one hand.

I still struggle with that and it’s a constant fear. Because it was so easy to pass me along to someone who beat and tortured me. I’ll get to that explanation in a while. I try to remind myself that I’m not transitory. People genuinely want to be with me. It’s hard to see that sometimes… and it’s interesting, because I never thought it was from my sister and I being handed off to someone who beat me.

Since I seem to be having huge issues with insomnia as of late (not too terribly surprising), I figured that I would write out things since my brain is keeping me awake (I’ve been up since 3:30). And every time I try to sleep, it feels like a have a cacophony of negative emotions going on at all times.

Now, I’m not really surprised this is happening. I knew that this would after deciding to go somewhere that’s triggering. I did it to myself as a form of therapy. A part of PTSD therapy is to do what isn’t comfortable to make things better. I’m a big fan of going outside of my comfort zone in order to become a better version of myself. If we stick with what’s comfortable, we rarely learn anything about ourselves.

So, here I am… at 5 in the morning… after being up 1.5 hours.

Yesterday was particularly emotionally rough for me. I’m not entirely sure why that is. I felt out of step with things. My brain kept telling me horrible things… things that I just ignored in the past. Apparently, just ignoring it isn’t enough. It’s as though someone gave these horrible, unhelpful feelings a megaphone and no matter how hard I try, I still have to hear it. Instead of ignoring it, I guess I’m going to face it all head first… so to speak.

So, what was I dealing with last night… and am dealing with as we speak?

Well, a big part of it is that maybe I deserved the rape. That I didn’t fight back enough. That I also deserved the abuse that I endured for decades. That I wonder why it had to happen to me. Of course, a lot of this is paired with the lingering illogical and completely unhelpful thoughts that maybe, just maybe I’m undeserving of happiness.

Now, this is something that I’ve always been kind of proud of, even if it doesn’t always help in the short run. While I know I’m having these thoughts and feelings, I also know that they’re not rational. I also understand where they are coming from. I triggered myself. I stood before the spot I was raped. I talked about the details of the place I was in when it happened. Which, in turn, brought back the memories of exactly what happened. Of how trapped I felt in that place. How small and claustrophobic it all was.

And that I’m getting nightmares I largely don’t remember because of this. Every night… sometimes multiple nightmares a night. I’m getting less sleep now. Which goes back into the spiral of negative thoughts. Maybe I’m hoping for something wonderful and positive to come from this. Maybe I’m just hoping for karma to actually start working for me and not against me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been weary for some time. I feel like I’ve had to shoulder a lot of this burden… and that I need to continue to do so. Even though I have support and help, it’s still up to me to do the dirty work. It’s up to me to handle the feelings and thoughts. And that’s part of the reason I’m continuing to write this out. Because no one can understand what it’s like going through this… unless you’ve had to go through it. And even then, I still need to go through it myself because only I know what it feels like.

I’m also discovering how sensitive I am to things that I didn’t think I was sensitive to… especially when I recognize that I’m guilty of having done them myself. It’s not my place to not let other people make their own mistakes, but it’s my nature to not want to see people hurt… especially when it’s something as simple as not doing something. If I can impart that piece of knowledge to someone (albeit ad nauseam), then I can’t just not do it. At the same time, I know that people have to learn from their own mistakes. It’s the interesting part of me that understands that learning comes from mistakes, but the healer in me wants to make sure that no one hurts. This can be incredibly hard for me to reconcile within myself. I think that once I finally get through my shit, that then I have to repeatedly tell myself, “I have to let people make their own mistakes, even if it means that they have to suffer. No one learns unless it’s from their own mistakes”

After all, a key belief in many versions of Buddhism is that through suffering comes enlightenment.

If that’s true, then when do I get to be one incredibly enlightened being?

Maybe I’m asking too much. All I want at this point is to be a better, happier version of myself. I have amazing things to be happy for. I have some incredibly beautiful things that can make me happy… that do make me happy. I just need to not be afraid to embrace that happiness.

Really, that’s the bigger problem, isn’t it? That I always expect the other shoe to drop. I still do it in all things… even with things that are well established. Maybe that’s the fear I need to get over. It’s certainly the fear that I’ve received for years of abuse. I need to trust what is and stop fearing what might be. More importantly, I need to keep fighting these sleepless nights, these nightmares with the thought that I will be a better person once it’s done. I need to try to fight past the despair that partners this… and drops me into a world of why am I still alive.

I can do this, right?

No, scratch that.

I can do this.

Once again, I find myself in a triggered state… where all I can do is feel lousy. It’s not something I can do much about. I was triggered, now I need to work my way out of it. Of course this isn’t going to be short work, because it never is. This is about working through years of abuse. And in this case, other related feelings that aren’t directly about the abuse.

So, what am I dealing with this time?

Well… I’m dealing with the feeling of how alone I was feeling during the abuse. I’m dealing with feeling that I was never important enough to have anyone help me. I had to fight against it by myself. This is harder because this deals with a lot of feelings of abandonment and neglect. It’s not an easy path to figure out.

When I was triggered on Sunday, all I could think about was that no one really wanted to help me out of the abuse. Granted, yes, I know that the abused needs to want to get out of it on their own. They’ll never leave if they don’t want to. They’ll find excuses to stay there, even if they know it’s not good for them. In my case, I didn’t have that luxury. I was abused as a child first. It’s harder to leave, even if you desperately wanted out. I couldn’t be emancipated, because I had no way to support myself. I was stuck in places where I was beaten up, either physically or emotionally. When your whole life has pretty much been full of abuse, it’s hard to realize that isn’t normal. This is a lot like feeling sick after eating my whole life. I didn’t know it wasn’t normal because that’s the only thing I ever knew.

Granted, at some point, I realized that I was constantly not happy. It wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t keep consistently feeling miserable. How is that good for me? If I kept this up, I wasn’t going to live for long. Being unhappy didn’t suit me well and decided that I wanted out.

There was never really anyone there who was supportive of this with me. This is something I had to do by myself.

Then there was the abuse when I was a child. There was no one who would fight for me. I would take the beating, regardless of whether I deserved it. I was often beaten for things I didn’t do. I watched my mom watch me being beaten for something I didn’t do. I would take beatings for other people. I became a literal whipping boy…. But not really a boy.

That’s the hard thing… when you realize that not really anyone in your own family will advocate for you. So, I was beaten with fists and wire hangers, I had my mouth duck taped shut. I was forced to sleep on a drafty floor when I had the flu. No one helped. No one did anything.

This is a reality that I *need* to live with. That I never had help. It might be why I’m not always comfortable accepting other people’s help. I never had it. I don’t know how to accept it. I’m getting better with it. I’m starting to accept help. For so many years, I never had it. I had to help myself, even when I was 7-years-old.

That kind of thing can warp your world view.

That’s one thing this latest triggering has taught me… I can ask for help now. I can ask people to just be there for me as I try to work through all the stuff I had to fight against as a kid. This isn’t something I’m used to. It is something that I’m working on getting used to.

This last triggering has taught me some things. It has taught me that I’m no longer alone. That there are people who are there for me and can help me. I need to figure out how better to get the help I need now, but I do love knowing that there are people who are there to listen, there are shoulders to cry on. For those people I am truly grateful.