I have been trying for the past couple of days to try to develop a more positive attitude in the mornings. I still think this is worth the effort and may be helpful to some degree. But, after reading this quote today (from Grace to Survive), I realize that at the same time I must not condemn myself for feeling badly. This is what I was doing. Seeing it as another shortcoming in myself. Seeing it as a sign of weakness. I am not hard on other people; I need to stop being so hard on myself. Compassion is not pity. It is empathy with understanding I think. So, tomorrow morning I will not berate myself. Instead, I will remember that the pain is not my fault and accept it, yet gently invite myself to think upon the good and even wonderful things that life has to offer.
I made a promise to myself many years ago to pursue reality. I was in an emotionally and mentally abusive marriage at the time. Denial had been my coping mechanism; that and pretending that he was an alien from another planet to explain his cold-heartedness and lack of empathy. It’s taken years to see the full arsenal of weapons he used. Also, to fully appreciate that it was a deliberate choice on his part and not something he couldn’t help. At times, I have felt stupid for having been fooled. But these realizations were nothing compared to recovering the memories of rape and incest I experienced as a child and teenager. Despite the heartbreak of finding out that my father was not the good and loving man that I loved, I still would choose reality. Those that have been abused live in a different reality though. The world does not make sense. Life does not make sense. Parents and people are not to be trusted.
Family is often not a good word but a term that is filled with pain. But, with good therapy and good friends, (and kind pets – I must add) small steps can be taken to start to engage with your fellow humans and stop expecting the worse. Still I feel, at times, that I have come from a different planet than many of the people I know. And I wonder sometimes if others can sense that I am different. Sure, I try to fit in and laugh along at the jokes. So often though, it is a huge act. There’s a feeling of isolation that crops up suddenly sometimes. Because I don’t talk about my past to the majority of the populace. Its a secret that I carry around. A secret that has been kept so long, since childhood. This disconnection from other people is part of my reality.
But, reality is the price that I paid for not going mad. As I slowly wake in the mornings after a night of strange dreams, I check in to see if I am still sane. I usually am not sure I am till after two cups of coffee and reading through my fellow bloggers latest blogs. I then start to notice the world around me. I hear planes overhead, bird calls and see whether the sun is out or hiding. Its another day. Another day for learning new ways to live and accepting the reality of now with both it’s blessings and challenges. Reality can be both bad and good; there is darkness and light. And just for today, I will try to embrace the goodness in this world.
I feel this relates to all types of abuse and neglect..
“The aftereffects of Post-Incest Syndrome are not ‘problems’ to be ‘overcome’, but coping mechanisms that have negative side-effects. By attaching the concept of ‘disorder’ to these consequences, we damn the incest survivor to weakness instead of attributing to her the strength of spirit, creativity, and endurance that she deserves–that she has earned.”
It is hard to find people in this world who will try to understand just what PTSD is, let alone how it impacts your life. Even people who love you are apt to know more about the president’s dog than PTSD. Even if they read up on it, they may not understand it in an empathetic way since it is not something they experience. There are days that I feel more understood by the cat than a dear friend. (Of course, this is anthropomorphism — but heh, whatever gets me through the day… 😉 ) But, here at WordPress, I can find others who walk my path — who “get it” — because they are walking it too. It may not be PTSD, but instead depression, anxiety, OCD, DID, bi-polar disorder, or any number of mental and emotional health challenges. But, we can understand each other because we have shared experiences. Some days, we write a post and feel heard when we see a “like” on it. We press “like” when we find a post we can relate to. Sometimes we even comment on each others blogs and share a thought or two. We see others on the path sharing our journey. The loneliness abates. Other people’s ignorance is easier to bear. There are others who understand and whom we understand and this is a very good thing.
My heart was broken by my father. My memories about my father had always been wonderful. He was loving, kind, funny, and gentle. I would remember how gentle he was when removing splinters from my hands. Although not one for physical affection, the look in his eyes when he looked at me was as good as any hug. We laughed together often and usually it was at each other and ourselves. Much time was spent together bicycle riding through the neighborhood and playing badminton in the back yard. Other special times together including art lessons using the John Gnagy Learn to Draw Kit. Dad would also make his delicious ice cream shakes and sodas for me on hot summer days. Oh, how I loved and adored my father.
But then, in my thirties, the flashbacks began. First, they were about the newspaper boy and his friend who had sexually assaulted me repeatedly on my way home alone from school. Then, they were about my father. How I had finally told him despite their insistence that no one would believe me or else would blame me. The attacks by the boys stopped after I told my father. But, the flashbacks were not done. They continued. Now, I would climb the stairs into the attic when I would feel myself having that strange trance feeling that would precede the flashbacks. And then I saw the unthinkable. My father had sexually abused me. And threatened me into silence. My sweet, wonderful father was a part-time monster. I fought so hard to not believe these flashbacks. How could the man who so gently removed my splinters defile me? My father loved me, how could this be? After several months of these returning memories I finally confronted my father over the phone. He not only denied everything, but called me a lying slut. His voice in that phone call was not that of the good father, but that of the bad, threatening father. If I had had any doubts they were extinguished now.
We have never spoke or seen each other since. I have never fully mourned my loss of him. I have been struggling just to survive and function each day and raise my son. But I have cried this morning as I have written this. The prompt for today was “who would you give truth serum to?” My answer would be to my father. And its not to get him to admit to the abuse. I don’t need that. What I want to ask him is “Are you sorry you abused me?” and “Do you miss me?” I want to know that he has remorse. That all my love was not completely misplaced. Or, maybe that the love I perceived was not all a lie, but was real. I know the abuse was real, but what about the love?
Happy Monday all!
I am having some major computer troubles that I hope to get fixed soon. Writing a new post for today was impossible so I decided to post a blog that I wrote almost a year ago that seemed to be very helpful at the time. Since I have many new readers since a year ago (so exciting!), I thought re-posting it could be a good thing. 🙂
It’s the first day of school for many people today so I thought it was a good time for a science lesson! Are you excited? No?
How about neurobiology? For a few minutes we can all become medical students (without the crazy hours and insane pressure). Does that tickle your fancy a bit more?
There is this little almond-shaped part of your brain called the amygdala. Understanding the amygdala helps explain why people with PTSD think the way we do…