Tag Archive: psychological writing


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.

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The Path Back

Now that I’ve actually confronted a lot of my fears and negative emotions from my abuse… I have other things that I need to deal with. All of which are dealing with this thing called abuse. None of it is any fun. You know what, it’s something that I do need to deal with. It’s something that I’ve hidden from for… well, more years than I care to count.

It’s something that I have decided that I can no longer sit on. It’s something that I’m not sure serves any purpose. I have cut out pretty much everything in my life that brought me here.

So, how do I fix this?

I honestly have no idea. I’m feeling triggered from having worked it all out. I figured out what feelings and fears come from all the different instances of abuse. Each instance has made it increasingly difficult for me to trust people. I’m at the point where the only way I can trust new people is if the people who I trust trust them. That’s a pretty sad way to live. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of being afraid of being abandoned. I’m tired of the insecurity that this all breeds.

More than anything, I’m tired of feeling like I’m an outsider. PTSD is an asshole… and with more information and learning about how things like sustained abuse can affect the brain, it’s interesting to see how I see it in myself.

I do understand that everyone has the capability to see a bit of everything in themselves. It’s frequent that medical students do this all the time. It’s something that I’m aware of… which is why I tend to be a bit more skeptical. At the same time, it’s hard not to look at it and say… yeah, I can totally see this. You can’t be abused for 25 years and it not have a negative affect on your psychology. In many cases it forms the neurological responses in the brain. The brain re-wires itself in order to handle pain responses. It becomes a core part of your personality.

The thought of that scares me. The thought of trying to fix this and losing myself is scary.

Of course, the reality is that something like this can’t be fixed. There is no such thing as fixing. There is, however, trying to work around these responses. This is where I am. I want to work around crippling anxiety. I know that I can feel genuinely happy, if anything the time I have spent with my Significant Other and my new partner have taught me some very profound lessons on finding grounding people… people who I feel genuinely and amazingly happy with. I am just tired of this undercurrent of fear, anxiety, and depression.

So, I’m working on it. I’m not just working on it personally. I’m working on it clinically as well. I want to be the best version of me. No matter how much I embrace who I am now, I know that I could be better. This isn’t about being a perfectionist or anything of the sort. This is about me feeling comfortable in my skin. I’m hoping soon that I can be, finally.

It’s going to be work, just like all things in life.

There are some things that are worth working for. There are some reasons that are worth it. All of which are my own. I just want to be the best me I can.

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 Killer

Have you seen Leon: The Professional? That was how the book was pitched to me when I asked about it. Good movie, by the way. Like Leon (and Okko below) this was originally made in France. There are 6 volumes in French. The fourth English volume is due out fall 2012.

The story is pretty standard for a story about a hitman – flashbacks to how he got into the business, a job goes wonky, he decides to retire, gets betrayed, gets even, decides to find out more about what is going on.

What makes it different is that it is all told from the main character’s perspective – there are no cut aways. Much of the progression is also through internal monologue. The focus isn’t really what he is doing but what is going through his head at the time. The real point is getting inside the hitman’s head as he struggles with paranoia, isolation, his past, and his future.

This is the strength of the book. Seeing what is in his head as he struggles to not fall apart.

The art supports what is going on in the character’s head. There are few details not relevant to what is going on. When the character is cracking up, the image is cracked as well. When the character is relying on his killer instinct, his ‘spirit animal’ is shown. The art and internal monologue play together well.

Overall I like the psychological bent to the story and how the artwork reflects it. But the story itself doesn’t grab me. I finished the book easily but I’m not rushing to get the next one – I was amused but not enthralled. I am curious about how the character will deal with things but I don’t really care what happens to him. So this is one to wait for another sale.

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152

I happened to catch the author, David Petersen, during a lull in autographs so I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. I opened with what I’m sure is what he hears the most, “Was Redwall an inspiration for Mouse Guard?” I haven’t read Redwall but it is part of the reason I hadn’t read Mouse Guard. Because I associated Mouse Guard and Redwall and I think of Redwall as a YA book, I put Mouse Guard in the same category. David replied that Redwall was actually a counter-inspiration. He thinks of Mouse Guard as the anti-Redwall. He appreciates the fans who come from Redwall nostalgia but he is telling a different story. He also expressed amusement about how many other mouse related comics and toys have come out since Mouse Guard became popular.

This first story follows 3 members of the titular Mouse Guard. They are like the Rangers of the mouse world (too much B5 on the brain). The Guard are wandering fighters who keep the land clear of enemies and safe for the common .. mouse.

My favorite part of this book is the world-building. You understand the dangers the mice have to deal with, how they try to cope with things, and how the mouse civilization works.

The artwork is good without too much complication. Some of the darker scenes were a little difficult for me to figure out what was going on. That could just be my eyesight. The wide-angle scenes give you a great idea of the scope of the mouse world.

The characters have individuality and personality. There are no scenes were the characters feel like they are forcefully scripted.

And I like that each book is a particular season. This goes back to the world-building and the scope of the mouse world.

Overall this is a good book. I think I’d still classify it as YA though. The plot is straightforward. The heroes are heroes. The bad guys are bad guys. There is very little moral ambiguity and no “discussion points” for the kids outside of the main plot.

I might pick up some of the other books if I find another Archaia sale, but I’m not feeling a need for them.