Tag Archive | grief

Letting go of Guilt – Telling my truth

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Guilt is heavy and can squash us. I carry so much of it for a multitude of reasons, many that are not my guilt to carry. I have been carrying this guilt that I was unable to visit my mom while she was sick, before she passed away. I wanted to. I tried so unfathomably hard. If you don’t understand, then you don’t you understand how one tries and fails at seeing someone. But I did. I didn’t have enough time to work through the anxiety, the deep dark hole of depression I was in at that time.

This is so humiliating to describe how I existed after my release from the psych ward. I was completely agoraphobic. I had complete and total social anxiety. I did not speak to anyone other than my husband and children and some days even that was difficult and I barely made eye contact with them. I did not make phone calls, could not call the pharmacy or order a pizza. I did not answer phone calls, texts, or God forbid, knocks at the door. I hid while panic flooded me. The panic that would rise in me was overwhelming at the very thought of any human interaction and I went numb, disappeared into myself. The world was terrifying to me.

I was alone. I was broken. I could not think or function. Light and sound hurt me. I spent my time in a darkened, quiet room unable to concentrate. Not really living. Partially from the severe migraines, partially from the terrible pain in my back and leg, partially from the severe anxiety and depression from PTSD and a total nervous breakdown. I generally did not move. I remember this, sort of, it is blurry though, like that year was a nightmare, not my real life.

I was in that state when my brother texted about my mom’s surgery and cancer. At first it did not sink in. I did not know what to do. I froze. I wanted to move, to act, to call her, to drive up there, but I was stuck. I had not spoken to her in so long, maybe over a year at that point and it all seemed impossible.

I finally was able to tell all of this to my oldest brother. I went to his house for the first time in years. They accepted me and understood. They did not hate me or think I was a horrible person. They could see my pain and let me cry –  many times. I was given kleenex and ice water and allowed to talk.

That may have been enough to let go of some guilt, but there was more.

My brother deemed me strong enough to fill me in on some of the story I missed while I was mentally away. He tried to contest my dad’s will on my behalf, saying it was cruel and that my pain and suffering was costing me all these medical bills and that I deserved some of his estate. He said that he contacted the lawyers and that I would have had a case. He said he wrote letters detailing what he knew about the abuse, my pain and suffering, and my medical costs to the lawyers and my dad’s siblings, the other heirs.

The lawyer told him I would have a case if others were willing to support me as well. If my mom and other brother and my husband were willing to support me.

If.

Yeah well they would not submit statements to the lawyer on my behalf. They all said no.

So I took that part in and he added another level. He said he could have built my case without that based on the police report or records from when I accused him and moved out when I was 16. My brother checked the records and did some digging and could not find anything. He asked my mom what year that would have been and she told him she never filed anything, she never pressed charges.

My head was spinning at that point as I tried to recall being 16, being interviewed by child protective services. I guess it stopped there, nothing criminal, nothing public.

Then there was more. Another punch in the gut.

My mom and other brother said they never believed me. It wasn’t that bad. My mom and other brother had actually supported my dad all these years in telling everyone I was a liar and a troublemaker. I always felt that…I always felt that in my heart but to hear this as fact was something else.

She never pressed charges. I always thought there was at least a ding on his record, some little bit of my voice saying what happened. I had no idea. I am betrayed by her all over again, that she would not stand up for me – ever, not then, not a year ago.

I have never cared about money or attention. But oh my god does this hurt. That this other brother got over $50,000 reward money for protecting a pedophile, and I think he thinks he has done the right thing, because mom told him I was lying. Why should he believe me? Well why shouldn’t he? Why would I tell these horrible stories, what benefit has it brought to me? It does not get me attention when I am isolated in my dark, quiet room. It does not get me fame, glory, money, or anything that anyone would desire. It is difficult to get angry with him when he was a victim in my messed up twisted up family too. It really just makes me sad. It is so effed up.

So my oldest brother wants me to speak up now and I am going to. I don’t think it will get me any money, but I feel it is time to insert my own voice and detail the abuse I endured from this ‘generous’ man. My brother is going to help me write a letter to that lawyer stating that I have been so disabled and dysfunctional that this is the first time I have been able to contact him since I received the will. I want to notify the other heirs, my other brother, my aunts and uncles, that I stand firm on my ‘story’ because it is my truth and it has devastated me, and nearly taken my life several times. I thought it was better not to bother anyone. Now I’m thinking they all need some bothering.

I called child protective services to get my records of my accusation and interview, and basically hit a dead end there. They could not guarantee the record still exists after 24 years, and if it does, since no criminal charges were made and nothing in the court system to make it public record, I would need a subpoena to release the file that may have been destroyed. I don’t think I will be pursuing this. A quest for truth is one thing, but spending my money on a wild goose chase seems silly.

But I do feel ready to do something more. I figure my parents are gone now. I am safe to speak up publicly, and my brother already started it for me. I am so grateful to him. He also lost his inheritance, as punishment for sticking up for me. Because in my world, the good, the kind, the ones who tell the truth are stepped on and spit on and ridiculed and hated.

As hurtful as all of this information was to learn, it has lifted some of my guilt and grief, validating me for where I was and how I got to be in such a state. I know I tried and that has to be good enough. Knowing that I tried so hard for all of them. Knowing that I loved all of them. And now knowing that even when I begged them for help and thought they did the right thing, they did not. Of course not. How stupid of me. That story would have gone public. How shameful. How could mom deny it if she pressed charges? Much better to say her daughter was insane. It actually makes sense now, for the type of counseling I received when I was 16. I bet mom told them I was a liar and needed ‘help’. I never got counseling for the trauma, help with processing, only stress management and relaxation and it was so patronizing.

It all makes sense now.

Of course I am still grieving her loss, but somehow knowing mom never believed me and would not speak up for me has lessened my pain. I was torturing myself thinking I was horrible to stop speaking to her, horrible to not make it up to see her before she died. I don’t feel so horrible now. I can see the events with more compassion as they actually happened and know I was struggling and doing the best I could. And that my best never intentionally was trying to hurt anyone, which I cannot say about her actions. She knew her actions were hurtful and chose to do them anyway. I think I understand why…but that is for another post.

Sadly, Hubby was also not willing to stand up for me last year when my brother asked for his help. I am still processing this information. I confronted him about and it was not a pretty conversation. I asked why he refused to talk to my brother? He said he didn’t want to cause me ore stress. I said how would him talking to my brother cause me stress? I think he didn’t want to cause himself stress, that he was avoiding the situation, that he didn’t want to deal with it. Like with so much of my illness, it is easier to pretend I am fine, and not sitting alone in my room with suicidal thoughts. It is easier to take no action or yell at me for being frustrating than it is to comfort me, offer a strong shoulder to lean on.

I am feeling like he turned his back on me when I needed him the most, when the darkness was swallowing me up, when I believed I was unlovable, that he was fine with my public shaming and felt no need to stand up for me when I had no ability to do it myself. This is no longer a man I feel good about. I have asked him for an in house separation, to leave me alone, give  me peace while I work through all of this. He has not even been acting as a friend to me, let alone a husband. Although sad, this distance has made me feel stronger. If I am released from obligation to keep trying to be a good wife, to fix a broken relationship day after day, maybe I can use my teeny bit of energy I muster up for each day more wisely.

 

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So Many Mistakes, so much stress

So I’m here trying to feel grateful and not overwhelmed but really on that line still. Mostly now thinking how did I get here? What the hell happened the past 3 months, 6 months, a year??  Looking back I see I made a few mistakes, and allowed my stress levels to get too high.

Mistake 1 – Having no social support network and only trusting Hubby to judge my own stress and distress. Truth is, Hubby is not a strong, safe shoulder for me. My fears and doubts are met with either blank stares, his own fears, or anger. And yet I continually ask this of him year after year and expect him to be better THIS time. I keep hoping he will change. I have FINALLY learned this lesson and the need to expand my support network, to trust myself more, and to get more than Hubby’s opinion and help.

It was unfortunate timing that my trusted counselor of over a decade took an extended leave of absence during such a stressful period for me. I started working full time at a stressful new position, struggled with workplace drama hostility and ethics, then AF died and I didn’t know then the impact all this stress would have on my health.

I had no idea how to handle AF’s death. The man that was my entire world as a child, even though it was a wicked and twisted world, was gone. He was the one I called daddy for so many years. I discussed his passing, and his final attack in his will with the interim counselor, but I had never connected with her, and she didn’t lead me through any grieving process. I had no healthy way to process it on my own. No one around me thought it was worth discussing much, or knew what to say, or what to expect in how it could affect me. Even worse, I hid it from coworkers since I was not attending the funeral and didn’t want days off or to discuss it. So I got no sympathy, had to focus my wandering mind, got no flowers, nothing.

I should have given myself some time off, but I didn’t know then because I didn’t feel it then. I still felt ashamed, I didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems. I still thought AF was my terrible secret, all my own. His death stirred up all that in me initially, all those feelings of I must hide, and isolate, that I’d lose everything if they knew. And since Hubby and in-laws were so callous about it, and my FOO was useless as usual, I alone as usual. So completely alone. And then that terrible Will, where AF was so cruel again, and it hurt, and I felt it ‘shouldn’t’ and then felt guilty for it hurting. I should have maybe gotten a message to my counselor, I know now she would have talked to me, but I did what came naturally and started my self harm cycle of binge eating, not sleeping, isolating, and self loathing. Odd how the self harm is part of my self comforting cycle, when I’m hurting I need to hurt myself more. Where’s all that progress I supposedly had made? All of it gone because my counselor wasn’t there to help me? I felt like no one was there to help me and I kept saying how much it hurt, kept reaching out this time, but it didn’t matter, no one understood. I needed my counselor I guess. When I finally saw her in March, she saw the pain, all the weight gain, and had me sign a safety contract, she saw I was in crisis. That I needed a break. She recommended a weekend away. It was good, but too little too late. I should have done it months earlier.

I remember one terrible day of head pain 2 months ago, intense memories/flashbacks to daddy holding me tenderly enclosed in his arms, when I felt safe in his arms as I curled up in a ball and fit completely on his lap, I actually felt his warm arms around me, I heard his voice, felt his head on top of mine. It was a wonderful moment frozen in time, but then I also know his hands are caressing me, slowly in ways a daddy should not. The me I am now returns to present day and feels nauseous, the moment is over, and I’m so confused, like a short circuit, I miss that wonderful disgusting man. That is when I started to cry and could not stop. and the memories flooded in, but even more, the sadness. Oh my god the sadness. I thought my head would split open from the force of the tears and the sadness, and the guilt, and the shame.I had several events like this, each more powerful than the last. I called and made an appointment with a psychiatrist but it was weeks away, so was my next counselor appointment. I could not bear another flashback/migraine/grief/shame attack. I started drinking more and more. I was getting so on edge I couldn’t stay in the room with anyone else. My kids faces looked like a young me and triggered new flashbacks. I avoided them. I started my combo of drinking and cold meds to put me out, and this time I had muscle relaxers to add to the mix from the migraines. Those only gave temporary relief as I woke up more desperate each time looking for something stronger. I just wanted to stop thinking, not actually to die. I remembered something about robotripping and looked up dosages. I had half a bottle of dextromorphan added to my muscle relaxer/whiskey/tylenol cocktail one night. I think I already wrote about this, but I’m writing again anyway because it was so stupid. I blacked out and vomited and fell asleep in my toilet.

I could have died from that stupidity. I didn’t. And not because life has more torture for me, but because my liver did its job. And because we don’t know why things happen. Maybe the second I accept life and stop wishing for death a toilet seat will fall from the space station and kill me in a freak accident. We don’t know. I won’t fill this page with dishonest gratitude either that I’m still living. I’m not yet in a positive place so that wouldn’t be right. But you can all think that for me, no harm there. And all you lucky enough to believe in God to can say its part of his plan for me, no harm for you to think that either.

So – I quit my job, no notice. Just ‘sorry, I quit, effective immediately’. I asked Hubby and he agreed I should quit. I debated telling them I was struggling with migraines, and asking for medical leave. But Hubby and I decided this was best. We also decided it was best because we were planning to take me to the hospital.

I need to clear something up here. I never actually attempted suicide this time. I went to the hospital because I was so afraid that I might. I was still completely rational upon admittance. I even planned the admittance, it wasn’t an emergency trip or anything. I wanted to see if they could help stop the flashbacks and the sadness and the suicidal fears. When I saw that I was only able to work 5 hours the previous week due to migraines. When I realized I was spending most of my time in bed in a dark quiet room and would be unable to work the following week either, I felt like such a failure that I couldn’t even work part time now and find another job appropriately. Flashbacks were nearly constant, seeing anything, feeling anything – could trigger reliving long intense moments of my childhood. The strange part of these flashbacks is that many of them were not frightening, and did not leave me feeling afraid, they left me feeling sad – purely sad, sadder than I’ve ever known possible to feel.

I pushed too far and I broke. My body could not withstand those levels of stress and I was putting my trust in doctors to help me heal, to get some needed rest from the torture of my own brain.

Acceptance, waiting for wisdom

I built a wall several weeks ago between NM and myself and asked Hubby to be the messenger. But yesterday I wanted to shoot the messenger.

Last month, when I checked myself into the psych ward, I was in such a terrible dark place, full of fear and reliving past trauma with each breath that I needed protection everything in my world, including her constant bombardment of guilt embedded and otherwise triggering words. I wasn’t strong enough to push her back so I asked Hubby to get the emails and phone calls and let her and my brothers know where I was and that I was unable to have any contact with family of origin. I put it out of my mind and felt protected.

Mother’s Day made me a little twitchy, but I maintained the peace and ceasefire by not writing, sending gifts or cards or calling her. If you don’t understand how sending or not sending a simple card can be problematic, then you don’t have a narcissistic mother.

Yesterday I was in good spirits, playing a computer game (in the rare moment I was not dizzy) and keeping up with kids and Hubby talking about their days. It was all fine. Then Hubby says “Oh hey, you’re Aunt died” while barely looking up at me and went back to setting up a text account on his phone.

KAPOW! I couldn’t breathe. I felt nauseous. Lost. Confused. Afraid.

I waited for him to finish talking to kiddo with my heart racing and said, “Umm did you just tell me my aunt died? Just like that? in a very cold manner like it doesn’t matter?” He gave me that typical confused look, and said “yes you’re aunt died, your mom sent me a message. I wasn’t being cold, just telling you what your mom said”

The initial blow softened, and I felt sad, hurt, disappointed and alone. Thoughts started racing and swirling. Hubby was focused on his phone and obviously didn’t think this news was supposed to be any different than saying we were out of peanut butter. I was not close to this aunt any more, but I did love her. I left the room to take inventory of my thoughts and feelings.

I am the only person on the planet that can comfort me. I have no support, not when I really need it. No one is safe or emotionally available for me when I do reach out, so I am back to reaching deep down within. That used to bother me, but I have accepted it now. And when I leave the room to comfort myself – I no longer feel alone. I only feel alone when I’m in the room with others that I feel I can’t connect to. One of the big topics of my inpatient therapy was Radical Acceptance, a theory from Marsha Linehan. I’ve been trying to change things that I can’t change. You’d think with that damned serenity prayer embedded in my brain I would know better. Well, still waiting for God to grant me the wisdom I guess. All of this would be easier if I believed in God of course, but I don’t. I don’t know how.

This aunt that passed was the last remaining sister of my Mom. She had severe dementia for the last decade or so. I wish I could be there to support my mom, but I can’t. I don’t have enough in me to have day-to-day contact with mom, an actual tragedy means she would suck everything out of me. I want to give my mom a hug and comfort her. I want to have a family that would make that simple gesture possible. But I don’t. I want to have a Hubby that understands this is tough news for anyone to hear, and that his reaction is abnormal, not mine. But I don’t.

So today I have some tears for my aunt, though with her age and condition this is the type of death that brings more relief than sadness. I also shed some tears, again, for my family that isn’t a family.

Ending with my positive for today, my own Mother’s Day was sweet and uneventful. Lots of love with my own kiddos.

He Can’t Hurt Anyone AnyMore

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive in your comments as I enter this chapter of my story of surviving abuse. I’ve been unable to form words to reply but did read them and felt so loved and connected to all of you.

Those words keep bouncing around in my head now. At first they were quiet. He can’t hurt anyone anymore.

I went right back to work 2 mondays ago after the news of AF’s death, as if nothing had changed, even though I felt so sad, not for the loss of a loving father, but for the finality of never having the possibility of a loving father. I fell into old habits and kept my suffering a secret from coworkers. I didn’t tell anyone at work to avoid discussion and unwanted sympathy. I also felt like I shouldn’t be sad and tried at first controlling my reactions.

But then depression hit me the following week. After the week of processing and feeling a bit numb and a bit sad, it hit me full force. Headaches, vomiting, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, muscle aches, withdrawal from life – depression. I sunk really low this past week, and barely got out of bed until Friday. I fell into tortured sleep as I lay in my darkened room alone, full of nightmares and twisted dreams. I leaned completely on hubby and my 11 yr old daughter to take care of the house and younger kids. I didn’t ask them, it just had to be, as I was rendered useless in my own inner prison.

I told work I had the flu and I am now kicking myself for this. I should have told them the truth and been allowed my 3 day allowance of family leave. I should have let them offer me sympathy.I didn’t have to tell anyone more than I was comfortable with. I could have simply said we weren’t close and hadn’t spoken in years. I think I would have found more understanding than I think and I’m thinking now it would have been nicer to myself to share this time instead of holing myself up alone. But the habit to keep my secrets are so strong still. The instinct to turn inwards at troubled times is impossible to ignore.

And then that phrase got louder in my head. HE CAN’T HURT ANYONE ANYMORE!

I no longer need to protect myself or my children or nieces/nephews/cousins or random strangers from this terrible man. No matter what now, it is over. I am beginning to realize what a weight has been lifted.

Yesterday I finished Christmas shopping for my kids and enjoyed picking out the gifts. Spent way too much money, but I have the extra money this year. I won’t have to delay paying the mortgage this time, so I don’t have the same guilt as in years past.

I told my Mom and brothers I will not be going to Christmas dinner. I gave myself this gift early, instead of torturing myself with the decision down to the last minute. Going to my hometown is just too hard on me.

I’m ready to focus on my own little family for the next few weeks, be gentle on myself, but also firm with self-care, making sure I eat healthy and exercise and don’t stay in bed forever less the depression will actually consume me.

HE CAN’T HURT ANYONE ANYMORE!

I will carry on.

Is Therapy ever a Bad Thing?

I had an intense therapy session on Tuesday, and here I am still trying to recover from it. Those looks into my past and into myself can be exhausting and overwhelming and sometimes it takes me days to snap out of it. Out of what? The anger. The grief over my lack of childhood and innocence.

The painful memories take me back to a place where I feel helpless, and even though I rationally know I am not there any more, I revert to some self sabotage. I’ve been overeating, eating too much sugar and junk, and escaping reality into a video game world for 2 days now. I’m about ready to come back, but I have a bit of guilt for wasting 2 days, and a bit of sadness there too. I also have some understanding, and try to be gentle with myself.

I did get out of bed, I did get dressed, I did make every meal and snack for the kids, I did load the dishwasher and sort some clothes. But I did not connect on any meaningful level with the kids or work on anything useful. I spent hours on end eating candy and chips and playing video games obsessively. I have nearly passed every level of the current game.

I am not a blanked out zombie while I play these games, my brain is busy, sorting, processing, and I think, possibly learning and healing. The intense focus of the games puts me in an almost trance of concentration. I am not overly emotional, but it is very intense. The speed of the games keeps me locked in. I get a huge satisfaction from beating each level and is nearly uncontrollable to want to beat the next level.

It is a beautiful day outside. I should take the kids to a park. I should weed the flowerbeds. I should paint the fence. I have so many things I should be doing, and yet I am already itching to get back to my game, just taking a break to blog about it. Am I addicted to games? Well, yes I am occasionally. My work is sliding today, but I will catch up all the hours before the pay period ends – I always do. But I do have this feeling that I MUST play this game, a must that I don’t enjoy.

In therapy we discussed how I often see the world through crap-colored lenses, no roses here. She said I have a hyper sense of responsibility and perfectionism. I often feel crummy when the slightest things go wrong, even though it didn’t really matter. I knew that I get this icky feeling, but have never been able to place it before. When I feel I have messed up, I go ahead and withdraw the love of my family before they can, knowing I am now unlovable. So even when they hug me or I see them smiling, inside I know they can’t really love me. That I am stupid and terrible and they deserve a better wife/mother.

My dad always held me up to an image of unattainable perfection, and his love was always out of reach until I could prove my perfection, which never happened. He also made me believe no one else could love such a wretched human as me too.  That my only worth was providing physical pleasure, and even that was my fault for being beautiful, for tempting him. I guess I go back to this tape in my head, that used to run non-stop, and now runs when I have made a mistake. I am grateful we figured this out, but it has taken me to a place I did not want to admit still exists in my head, that his voice still has such power over me.

——————–Here are some examples of my childhood mistakes, and a summary of the lengthy scoldings I would have:

When my room was messy – I was a lazy slob, pigs were cleaner, no one would marry a disgusting girl

When I missed 1 question on a standardized test, still scoring 99 percentile, he would sit me down to analyze the stats, and finding the error in “logic” he would laugh, and say of course, because girls could not be taught logic so I should stop trying, not fooling any man to think I am smart and certainly not ever logical

When I asked to stay home from school with a fever, it was because I was weak and pitiful and just wanted attention and someone to do my work for me

When I cried when a boy didn’t call me back – I was a stupid whore and that boy knew it

When I needed new clothes in middle school to fit my devleoping body – I was a sloppy fatass and didn’t need new jeans, just more exercise

When I was 16, had straight A’s, 3 jobs, a member of every club in school, volunteer at the hospital, and needed a loan to fix the car I had bought myself – I lacked the strength and discipline to develop a work ethic and took no pride in working hard and was always ready for a handout

When I wrote my first short story(the boy and the invisible train – I still remember a bit, sure wish I had it now) at the age of 4 on our old typewriter – he ripped it up and told me silly stories were a waste of time and he would take away that annoying clicking typewriter if all I could do was write nonsense (Yes – now I know how amazing that was I was writing stories at that age)

When I got ready for homecoming dance – My boobs were spectacular in that dress and all the boys would be lining up waiting for me to turn a few tricks, so he knew I’d be tired that night – then he felt me up and slapped my butt so I’d remember he was only loaning me out (umm, ya, I did not know what to do with boys liking me, so entirely confusing, I wanted to date, but I also did not want to be a whore, and I thought if I liked them then I must be a whore)

————————– Have to stop now, enough examples, feeling sick. SO when the therapist asked why I am so hard on myself? I told her a few examples.  How I was never allowed to make mistakes, and even things out of my control, like growing up and having hormones, were my fault also made me naughty and guilty. The problem is, how do I turn off that tape now that I pushed play? The examples are coming at me too quickly to hear much of anything else. And I didn’t share the X rated examples from dear old dad, because I am uncomfortable using words like filthy c*nt.  But they are there too, all mixed in daily. My dad tried so hard to make sure I never knew I was strong, smart, capable. Well, I am.

I will get through this, and forgive him of this too. But today is hard so the tomorrows will be even better.