Category: Relationships


Best I’ve Ever Had

This is the healthiest I can ever recall being. And the saddest part is that it also coincides with me being the most pessimistic about relationships ever. I am finally in a place where I can maintain my daily adult responsibilities, participate in my life, including my life as a medical student. Anger is a wonderful motivator. I was stuck for so long, I felt like I had taken mile-long leaps backwards. Yet, I’ve made it through–with only a few metaphorical scratches. I’m finally at the anger part of my grieving process. I had a post-trauma bout of depression for approximately 4 months. I didn’t see how I could possibly continue with school if things continued progressing as they were.

And yet, as things always do, they change. Many things have changed. In the last year I’ve rid my life of some of the most toxic people I’ve ever met (next to be nixed are my parents ;}). I’ve made so many strides therapeutically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and so many strides in the right direction to LIVING. My housing and financial situations, my emotional state, my desire to live are all remarkably stable and healthy. I never thought things would be “this good”. I never thought I’d be able to bounce back after what happened, and, it took time (as it should, if it didn’t–am I human?). I didn’t think my soul could handle one more assault. But, as hackneyed as the adage is, what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

One more assault against my body, many subsequent ones against my psyche and soul. In all the loss I’ve experienced in the past few months, I’ve gained more of ME. Clearly I am very pained and bitter as a result of my interpersonal losses still. I would like to forget them, however, that will take time. And then it will take even more time for me to forgive myself for letting people in to have them tear me apart in the end. I tip-toe with my current relationships. I am who I am, and if you don’t like it — get out. Which plenty of people have done. But, I do await the moment when the people I have in my life now leave, or … perhaps worse, need to be discarded. They will invariably leave. And as I mentioned not only a few moments ago, I will be the only one left behind to love and care for me. I am the only person I can realistically expect to be there at the end of the day.

“…I’ll save myself…”

If there is one thing I should have listened to that my father said when I was younger, it would have been, “You can’t trust anyone but yourself.” If my entire life hasn’t taught me that by now, I don’t know what will. Perhaps the last year has finally drilled that concept into my head?

People are supposed to earn trust. I’m supposed to discern whether or not people deserve to be trusted based on their actions over time. But, over time? How much time? Six months, six years? What about the people who were your family of choice? What about when they can no longer be trusted after 3 years, 5 years, 10 years? Nothing in this world is constant. The only things in the world that are constant are human suffering, and the insidious nature of human beings. That’s something you really wanna curl up with at night, isn’t it?

The people you think you know the best are in actuality a mirage. All of my human relationships are a charade. The friends you think will likely be your bridesmaids disappear. The person you thought you would marry is a monster you never saw in her worst moments of the 5 years you were together.

**Trigger Warning**

Classmates involve themselves in what happened as the school year started. And when I say, involved, I mean INVOLVED. What future physician goes before an administrative disciplinary hearing for someone who allegedly violated another classmate, and testifies against her? Particularly, who does that when they have spent less than an hour in the last six months with me? To vilify his behavior. Is that because it is too atrocious to believe the allegations are true? Would you like to see the description in my rape kit? How about the photographic evidence of the assault? My torn clothes?

I don’t need anything from any of you. Classmates, family, so-called friends. You will all rip the ground out from underneath me when I least expect it. I am no saint. I’m melodramatic, sometimes emotionally disregulated, always late, sometimes a lot of things. But, there are a few things that are consistently me, no matter how sick or well I am: I am loyal, I am loving, understanding, and supportive. I can be at my worst, and have been at my worst and have been able to shelf my insanity to be there for people I love, and for people I don’t particularly like, but who deserve love–just like everyone else. It’s not a question as to whether or not it is too much to ask that people are remotely considerate, loyal, loving, consistent, etc. There is no question. The people I’ve met in this world have repeatedly shown me over and over that no matter how sick or well I am, no matter how bad or well-behaved I am, no matter how malicious or kind I am–you will screw me, it’s just a matter of when.

I actually prefer the hurt from people like my classmate than from people I loved and trusted, whom I thought had earned it. At least then, I had no expectations of someone I just met to behave like half a human being. It is only a matter of time before the friends I’ve made who by anyone else’s standards have proven themselves beyond measure that they are true… will disappear, or stab me in the back. At least look me in the eye and stab me in the front.

As I lay in my bed with my mind wrestling with feelings about my Dad and stepmom, I came to a startling (to me), frightening, and wonderful realization: I’m the best parent I’m ever going to get.

I had an abusive childhood. This is not exactly a revelation. But, I’ve spent the last two years really trying to alter the negative messages and incorrect beliefs I was raised on. My perception of self (selves ;}) is much healthier and continues to go in that direction. I’ve really worked on self-care, especially since filling out a self-care survey a little over a year and a half ago and coming to realize that I took the least care of myself outside of showering and dressing in a room of trauma survivors. I try to be at least a decent to good leader of my internal system and take good care of all of us. I try to be a good “parts mom” (when I’m not denying that I have DID, I stopped denying the abuse this past fall, so — this is progress).

I am the healthiest parent I’m ever going to have nurture, discipline, and love me. So I better amp up my maternal skills and parent myself like no one else ever has (literally & figuratively). My mom definitely is a big part of my life, and despite past abuse, I do know she loves me very much. I don’t condone her behavior, but I forgive her. She’s at least TRYING. My father and my stepmother only care to peep into my life when it involves degrading me in some capacity. I can mindfully let it go now, but I still find it very hard to let go of the pain and other associated feelings about the fact that they are never going to be the healthy parents I want and deserve. I love them, at times I pity them, and most of the time, I don’t like them. Yet, I still live with this itty bitty glimmer of hope that they’re going to ::poof:: be somewhat healthy, non-toxic, loving influences in my life. Radical acceptance sucks and yet it is also one of the most healing things for me to employ skill-wise. I have to radically accept that in their entire 5 decades of life, they’ve developed into the people they are. And, I don’t like them. They are not people with whom I share values, beliefs, interests, or much of anything. I know it’s hackneyed, but many say “little apples don’t fall far from trees”. Well, this little apple seems to have rolled up and down a few hills and landed in a markedly different place to grow. I do share some characteristics with them. Some or most of which are actually positive! But, for the most part, I’m a totally different type of apple.

I am never going to win their approval. I do all these things and am all these things that other people’s parents and families (even my extended family) think make me a phenomenal person. I am much more accepted by just about anyone else’s family than I am by my own. My friends are wonderful, unique, so-special-to-me, and accept me for who I am (whoever that is at the moment). They give me a swift kick in the tush when I need it. They are the siblings I wish I had. I love my brother, but no matter what I do, we are not close. I can’t change that either. My point is that it is very evident that I am a loveable human being by the people who know me the best, and even by people who barely know me. It is sometimes really shocking to me that the people who truly know me love me so much. 😉

Evidence is something I really like. I’m going to be a physician. I’m a very scientific and mathematically oriented woman. It’s just in my nature to appreciate things more so if they are tangible and evidence-based. So, based on evidence, I am likeable and a pretty good person. I deserve love. In comparison to how I felt about myself two years ago when I began therapy, or even a year or six months ago, I have an enormous amount of self-esteem. I’m going to try and figure out where it came from and will gladly share that when I figure it out.

I have enough self-esteem, enough skills, enough innate maternal instinct to self-parent myself in a loving and healthy way. I better get to stepping because I really am the best I’m going to get.

Love yourself as much as you can today,

Joy

Plate SMASHING

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well. When I last wrote, I had been out of the hospital for a few weeks and had been doing extremely well. I am happy to say I am still doing just as well! I will update you on how I’ve made my life a little bit better place for me to live these past few months later on today.

However, I want to comment on a great idea that a twitter friend had mentioned yesterday; PLATE SMASHING. She shared an article by a fellow survivor about how therapeutic this had/has been in her recovery.

I had watched “Starting Over”, a tv show that follows the journey of women struggling with their lives for a plethora of reasons; and who want to (and do) make changes with the assistance of life coaches and other professionals. Mind you I had been watching this show before I even had gotten my first accurate diagnosis. I could NOT for the life of me figure out what was “wrong” with me, why I was in so much pain every single day, why I felt I was going to spill all over the place at any given moment. I kept the “everything is fine, I swear!!” mask on through about two years ago. It was actually a scary, fake-smile fascade. My friend, Joe, recently told me that he knew I was incredibly depressed by the time we hit 11 years old. I asked him how he knew, and he replied that even as young as we were then, he could clearly see I was trying too hard to keep it together. Back to my experiences watching “Starting Over”. I would watch this show hoping with all of my being that somehow they (who they is, I still couldn’t tell you, producers, maybe?) would subliminally know something was dreadfully wrong, and knock on the door of my single room in my dorm. I wanted to start over as each of these other women had. I wanted to find out why I hurt so incredibly badly, why my life on paper (resume) was so “perfect” and yet I was about to totally snap.

On one of the “Starting Over” episodes one of the women is given the task of writing down all the negative statements fed to her as a child. So I took my tush to the nearest place where I could get blank CDs and wrote every single negative, incongruent, falsehood I was fed about myself as a child. I still have every single one of them. I treasure this first step of me intuitively acknowledging where some of my pain was coming from. Acknowledging then led to challenging and “trashing” all these obscene and false ideas I held about myself several years later in therapy.

It was about the same time that I began to trash all the crap I was fed as a child about who I was as a person, my role in life, my potential, etc. that I began plate smashing. This idea was inspired by putting together some of the tx modules I had seen on the “Starting Over” show.

My first plate smashing session occurred with a set of plates given to me my one of my abusers, my step-mother. I felt this was the perfect place to start for obvious reasons, but gave myself permission to do so because there were so many plates, bowls, and mugs missing from the set. So I tossed these plates with all my might into an open dumpster when most of my neighbors were at work. I pre-sorted all of the plate collection so that I had an even set for four which I donated to the domestic violence center I was involved with at the time. The other plates, etc., were fair game for me getting out some of my enormous, hidden rage. It was a safe way of getting that brimming anger out on something inanimate, and not myself. I have journaled, spent hours in individual & group tx, exercised, among about 50 other things to safely get my feelings out. But nothing has ever compared to plate smashing.

Wishing you a wonderful day of feeling your feelings in a safe way,

Joy

Codependent Still

But alas, I’m working on it. If you don’t know what codependency is, you can look it up in the dictionary and find a lil picture of ME next to it. Ok, maybe not yet, but perhaps in the next edition of Merriam-Webster. In the meantime, codependency or codependence describes a pattern of detrimental set of behaviors within a dysfunctional relationship. This term originated in AA and Al-Anon meetings to describe the person enabling, covering up, excusing, etc. the alcoholics behavior. A codependent would try to control an out of control situation. Sometimes this would lead to resentment of the alcoholic, and often to the codependent’s focusing predominantly on the life of the alcoholic and not on their own life. This term of codependency has now broadened to include a person who behaves this way in any dysfunctional relationship, including an abusive relationship.

My name is Joy, and I’m a codependent.

I used to be a raging codependent. I read Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency by Melody Beattie. I went to Codependents Anonymous meetings. I have worked really hard at living my own life (since I have so much crap to sort through on my own nevermind adding anyone else’s unmaintained junk to it). I’ve not got this down perfectly, but I have made HUGE strides in the past few years at living my own life and not avoiding my problems by trying to fix/control someone else’s problems.

I tend to be in relationships, romantic and platonic with “wounded birds”. I don’t consider myself a wounded bird because I am in treatment, I actively help myself, I’m trying to get better. I consider a wounded bird a person who has major issues in their life and is not in any way trying to resolve them on their own. I last took in a wounded bird this past July. Before that, it was my previous girlfriend with C-PTSD. But my latest and hopefully last was my acquaintance I’ll call Lauren (and her son, I’ll call Andrew).

Lauren is a 23 y/o I met while in the wonderful shelter program I was in when I grew tired of living out of my car. [I had become homeless after I had decided to leave medical school & therefore no longer had loans for my housing & then also had to stop working because my flashbacks and dissociation were becoming more prevalent & unmanageable in a work environment] Her 4 y/o son, Andrew, and she were a giant cry for help. She was infinitely less proactive than I about acquiring housing, and other services available to people in our situation. I took her under my wing and acted as her big sister for the time I knew her. I also was a second mother to her son. At first I thought we had a reciprocal, healthy relationship. She would help me out with things I needed help doing and likewise, I did the same with her.

However, when Lauren finally found her own apartment, she returned to an unhealthy pattern of behaviors including drug use, manipulating people, stealing from friends and stores, being involved with unsafe people. When I was at her apartment one day cooking and eating dinner with her and Andrew, a drug dealer came over (supposedly 3 hours early). That put all three of us (especially her little boy) in a completely unsafe situation. He (the drug dealer) was very nice to me, and I stayed, primarily because I figured if I suddenly left he would think I was “a rat” and that may put me in an even worse situation. When he left, Lauren and I were sitting and discussing how she used people to get food, money, drugs, whatever she wanted or felt she needed. I asked her, “what do you use me for?”

Lauren started crying and said, “you’re my best friend, I don’t use you for anything.” Now granted the girl knew me for about a month or two. The next day she told me she was really hurt by what I asked, and I said I meant no harm, I was just participating in the conversation. I also told her that if she ever puts my safety at risk again, she will no longer exist to me and will never see/hear/speak to me again.

A few days later my paltry income check came through (it’s less than $100) and she took $50 of it from my zippered wallet in my zippered purse while I was showering. I gave her a grand leap of faith (note: NOT a second chance) for a few weeks, but would no longer allow her inside my home because I wasn’t sure if I could trust her. But I would continue to take her food shopping, etc. Three weeks later she knocks on my bedroom window (which she knows is very triggering for me) because her phone had been shut off. I opened it and told her I had a 102 degree fever, my asthma was bad, and I really needed to rest. She begged me to come sit outside while she had a cigarette since she hadn’t seen me in several days and “missed me”. So I went and sat outside with her until her son was thirsty and had to go to the bathroom. That was the only reason I let them in my apt. Then she told me some bleeding-heart story about how she wanted to quickly check facebook because her foster mom from when she was in middle school may have sent her her phone number. So I let her check fb and because of my fever, after about 20 mins, passed out. When I awoke she said, “ok my friend is about to pick us up.” I said goodbye to her and then realized I had been asleep for an hour and a half. I checked my purse and she had taken $8 I was going to use for cough medicine. I had actually just counted my money to make sure I had enough for the meds about 15 mins. before she arrived. So I picked up my purse and was about to get in my car because I had HAD it! when I saw her waiting across my street.

I confronted her and she said she would never steal from me, I was her friend, and I did everything to help her–why would she ever take from me? Then she got nasty and said, “what would I use $8 #$%% for?”. I said cigarettes, Lauren, that’s how much cigarettes cost now. Then she opened her bag (which I had given her because out of the shelter she had NOTHING), and then her son’s bag to “prove” she didn’t have it. Then her 4 y/o said, “why are you in my bag mommy, you took the money.” OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES…

Needless to say I terminated our friendship, gave her whatever she had left in my house, and have not gotten in a tizzy about her threats. She finally admitted she took it two weeks later. At 7pm she said she was my friend and would never take my money when I have so little. At a few minutes to midnight she said… I have something to tell you.

So… codependent still. A little. But I have a bs tolerance that has it’s maximum now (and it’s pretty low and preserves my dignity). I do not try to micromanage anyone else’s life, when I have so much to do on my own between living my life … and self-care. I finally have the self-respect to establish boundaries and limits, which I learned from a book! Certainly not my childhood. I’m glad to be able to say that while I’m not “Codependent no more”, and I am just “Codependent, a little.”

**********

“You can’t keep trouble from coming, but you don’t have to give it a chair to sit on.” — Proverb

I prayed earlier that God grant me the patience and strength to deal with my mother, my former abuser–now actual mommy. I think sharing with you all (and myself!) in print some of the feelings of my abuse by my mother really moved me emotionally. I am not going to gloss it over and say releasing my feelings led me to some happy place, or gave me some resolution. But, I did finally speak the truth, I said what I had never said “out loud” per say.

I spent most of yesterday dragging myself around, “acting opposite to emotion”. I brushed my teeth, showered, dressed in a cute outfit, and styled my hair fighting against my lack of will to do so. I finally did get a little enjoyment out of the day by dinnertime. One of my group therapists (tx’s) describes depression as “getting stuck”. I’d like to explore that more on another day, but I definitely felt stuck in the feelings that I couldn’t identify about my mother. Whatever feelings they are, they caused me to feel as though I could contentedly hide under a blanket and be a hermit for the rest of my days.

I started to feel a little better around the time of The Shower. But, after I showered and dressed, I was happily dying my mother’s hair when I brought up the subject of her lack of weight gain during her pregnancy. She denied everything about her lack of care for herself and for me while in utero. There’s a shocker ::rolls eyes::. I was mindfully able to let all of that go because she and I both know she’s a notorious, pathological liar. To be honest, sometimes I think she lies just to preserve her own sanity, especially about her own self-perception.

However, this morning, I was pensive and exploring the change in my mood and behaviors since I visited her and my stepdad in Vegas last. I realized how much more control I had over bad thoughts, unfair/explosive reactions; how much more self-aware I am. Despite the fact that I’m most certainly in a difficult place because of my depression and trauma symptoms, I have made huge strides from the passive, aggressive (notice I didn’t say passive-aggressive), emotionally dysregulated (and often emotionally dissociative), unaware woman I was two years ago. I started my laundry at around 6:30am, have been cleaning up after myself, have helped around the house–things that my 15 y/o persona would throw a fit about (bc I wouldn’t listen to her, mind you, she and I co-exist now lol and I am able to take care of my adult responsibilities now, most days). I wanted to be recognized for all that’s changed even if just via a brief comment at some point during my trip when my mother said, “Why do I always have to treat you like a child?”. I felt and still feel very invalidated by that. Should I tell her bc I have quite a few CHILD PARTS Mom?!? (You’re not sitting with me, but if you were, you’d realize I’m smirking. I’m poking fun, at myself, at this point because I realize that I’m letting hostility settle when I should be setting it free) Should I curse her out? I went through quite a few shoulds after she said that to me, and I’ve yet to find the “correct one”, and by that I mean the one that preserves my self-respect, while getting my point across. I am not a child (unless dissociated which is a whooooole different ball game). I simply wasn’t getting in the shower fast enough for her because I was doing my laundry and some other things. She has no idea the effect that question had on me, especially since during all the time I lived with her as a child, I had to “mother” her because she was totally incapable of being an adult, never mind mother. Her question brings up a lot of issues for me, as I’ve already shared, but it also brings out a little bit of unhealthy anger (that I’m scared of) because SHE never treated me like a child when I was one, and she is a slice in the pie chart of how I lost my childhood.

I was there (*Possible trigger*)

I was there when my mother dragged me down the street by my hair because I forgot my report card in the classroom.

I was there when she slammed my four year old body into the hard, unforgiving furniture soon after I had back surgery.

I was there when she extinguished cigarettes on my thighs.

I was there when she didn’t give me the amoxicillin during the week to cure one of my many childhood illnesses.

I was there when she neglected to feed me because she was anorexic, self-consumed, and otherwise mentally ill (NOS!).

I was there when I got the chicken pox and she went to the beach instead of caring for me.

I was there when she alternated beatings when I was 12 between the tv remote and telephone.

I was there when my 2 year old half-brother weighed a pound more than I did at 7 years old.

I was there when I blocked my faced when she beat me with objects and she told my grandparents I was hitting her.

**********

I could go on forever and a day on things that I was physically and emotionally “there for” when my mother had custody of me from birth to 8, and then again at 12 that are much darker and more painful in all ways than above. While I do have feelings about what she did, I don’t have feelings about her as an abuser. I seem to either have magically forgiven her or have dissociated away enough of the feelings to have an actual relationship with her.

She denies everything. She has conjured up lies to cover up what she did, why she lost custody, etc. “My father had more money”, “He had a better lawyer”, “They told so many lies”. “I went to boarding school,” seems to be her favorite excuse as to why I was not around during middle and high school. She’s not sorry. She honestly doesn’t think she did anything wrong. Every therapist and psychiatrist has excused her behavior because she “was under a lot of stress”, “was physically unwell”, “was molested by her two female cousins”, “my father was abusive to her” (they divorced when I was two), I could go on and on. If they saw her enough times, and/or diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder and/or held her accountable for her actions she would discontinue seeing them.

And yet, here I am in Las Vegas sitting beside her visiting her for 2 weeks. I am 27 years old and I have essentially ignored my mother’s abuse. I am aware of the reason I even allow her in my life. I know that she loves me. She came back into my life about a decade ago; when I no longer needed parenting (for the most part), of course. It was easier for her then. Perhaps she was never meant to be a parent. Some people are not. She was 28 years old when she gave birth, and therefore, the same age as me when she became pregnant with me. She had no maternal instinct. The hospital wouldn’t even release my full-term 2lb. 11oz. self to her when I was born. I was in the NICU for the first month of my life despite the fact that I was 37 weeks. I was that weight because she apparently thought that maintaining her figure was more important than the life in her belly, and therefore gained only 11lbs. during her pregnancy.

For some reason when she was ready to return to my life as a parent, I welcomed her with timid, but relatively open arms. I suppose it is because I would welcome any nurturing, as I had tried to do my entire childhood (and part of my adulthood!) from any adult who would give it. My mom was thoughtful, honest, and became my confidante. She believes what my grandfather and father did to me; and wishes she could take away my pain. She blames herself for not protecting me, and that is the one thing she holds herself accountable for. I needed a mother for almost two decades, but I was willing to take what I could get. When it came to safe, nurturing, parental love: I was NOT willing to look a gift horse in the mouth.