Tag Archives: emotional abuse

When you least expect it

I’d thought I was doing really well handling my PTSD symptoms.  Turns out I’m only actually good at handling them when there are no triggers.

All morning, my roommate has been yelling at her parents on the phone, banging around the apartment, slamming doors.  These are major triggers for me.  These were the things that came right before my mother’s rages.  Then there would be hours of her screaming at me, telling me I was a terrible person, telling me I was ruining her life.  Sometimes she’d hit me.  Sometimes she’d throw things at me.  Often, she’d threaten suicide and blame me for it.  Then she’d disappear–sometimes for hours, sometimes for days.  I would be left alone with my sisters, and I never knew if she was coming back or if she’d actually kill herself this time.  I’d do the best I could to take care of my sisters–we ate a lot of cereal, sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese because those were the only things I could cook.  I made sure we all got on the bus on time in clean clothes.  I didn’t know exactly what would happen if any grown-ups found out my mother kept disappearing, but I knew it wouldn’t be good.  I hid it all, but I was a child.  Children aren’t really very good at hiding things, but no one noticed because they didn’t want to notice.  When I was ten and my depression got so bad I couldn’t function in school, when I tried to kill myself the first time (albeit very ineptly), no one ever investigated why such a young child was so severely depressed.  No one investigated what was going on in my life, and I couldn’t tell.

I was left completely alone with a situation too huge for me to deal with, but I didn’t have any choice.  I didn’t have any way out.

And that’s how I feel now, even though I know it’s old trauma stuff.  My roommate is not actually going to hurt me, and even if she tried, I know how to take care of myself.  But my heart is racing, and I can’t stop shaking.  Every noise makes me jump.  I have my earbuds in with music on, but that only helps a little.  It becomes overstimulating–sound is the worst for me, for some reason–but that’s better than listening to my roommate.  I’ve done all the grounding stuff, and I’m not dissociating–but I don’t feel safe.   I really need to get something to eat, but I can’t leave my bedroom.  I can’t deal with seeing her or talking to her.

I really, really wish I could afford to live alone.  I do so much better that way.  Living with people is triggering, even if they’re people I’m comfortable with.  I just never feel entirely safe when there’s someone else in my space.  Roommate is nice enough, but it turns out she’s kind of immature and a drama queen.  From what I can gather, she’s having some kind of dental problem, and she’s upset because her parents didn’t call her or come take care of her.  I mean, she’s almost 30.  I try not to be judgmental of people’s distress, but when her distress is so out of control that it causes me distress, I lose tolerance.  I mean, I nearly died when I first got sick with UC, and there was literally no one there for me.  I was 500 miles away from home and 600 miles away from my family, and my family wouldn’t have been terribly concerned even if I’d been right next door.  My mother didn’t take care of me when I was sick as a child, let alone as an adult.  It sucks, yes.  It hurts when our parents don’t take care of us the way we need them to.  But you grow up and deal with it as best you can.  You don’t spend hours screaming about it.  You acknowledge that it sucks, but then you take care of yourself as best you can.

I hope this screaming and crap doesn’t become a long-term issue with Roommate.  I really cannot deal with that, at all.  Somebody just buy me my own place so I never have to live with anyone again.  Those tiny houses are pretty cool; I could go for one of them.  Just as long as it’s mine.


Filed under psych

Trip Anxiety

I’m starting to get anxious about the trip.  I’m trying not to obsess over it, but it’s hard.

Mostly I’m stressing because B won’t be able to go with me.  When I thought about the trip, I’d planned it with him.  I’m afraid that without him, I’ll lapse back into the person I was seven years ago when I was last there instead of the person I am now.  He’s the only one who’s been around for that shift, and I’m afraid that being surrounded by people who haven’t really known me since then will drag me back.

The person I was when I left was miserable.  She hated herself and spent most of her time and energy trying to destroy herself.  She nearly killed herself so she wouldn’t have to feel anything but that self-hatred.  She couldn’t even consider that she might matter, that she might deserve to live and be safe and happy.  She was desperate for approval and love that only came if she was perfect, but she kept killing herself to try to win that love.  She was doing the best she could in that situation, but she was miserable.

Now, I’m so much better.  Yeah, I’m dealing with some pretty serious depression here lately, but not like it was before.  I don’t want to destroy myself anymore; I want to fix myself, even on the days that I don’t see any way of doing that.  When I imagined this trip, I imagined seeing all these relatives at the wedding.  Naturally, they’d ask what I’ve been up to.  I imagined telling my very Republican family, “Oh, I get Democrats elected.  My record is three for three, and I’m now working on getting a governor elected who defeated DOMA and defended buffer zones, and the first lesbian attorney general.  What have you been up to?”  (As I paraphrased it to my former therapist, “I work for the Democrats, so fuck all y’all.”)

Now, alone, I’m less certain I’ll be able to hang onto my present self.  I doubt I’ll slip all the way back into full-blown self-destruction, but it would be easy to start letting my family bully me and not stand up for myself.  That’s the pattern I’ve enacted with them my entire life, so it’s hard to pull the wheels out of those familiar ruts.

I’m worried people are going to be judgmental.  My bridesmaid dress is sleeveless, so a lot of my scars will be showing.  And I’m probably going to have to use my cane at the wedding, and I may even have to have a chair or something if I can’t stand up for long enough.  Certain family members have not been very understanding of my difficulties in the past.  One aunt called me up out of the blue about a year and a half after I moved to Massachusetts.  I hadn’t talked to her in 2 or 3 years, but she decided to call me and lecture me about how my problems were a choice and I was hurting the family.  And then there’s my grandfather, who I can easily imagine mocking me for needing to use the cane, or accusing me of faking it and being over-dramatic.

My youngest sister told me the other night that she’d already planned to run interference for me if people were being assholes.  I love that kid to death.  We also had a conversation about how I could just whack people across the shins with the cane to shut them up.  I mentioned wanting to find a way to electrify it so I could zap them if they were being assholes, but then I’m not sure the TSA would let me take it on the airplane.

And I don’t know what to expect when I go to Florida to help my mother.  Both my sisters say she’s a lot less crazy now that she’s remarried.  (Well, Middle Sister phrased it as “…now that she’s getting laid,” but you get the point.)  And most of the time I’m there, she’ll be at work, so I can knock out some chores and then go to the beach or kayak with the manatees.  So I think that should be manageable.

But I’m still afraid of losing myself when I go back to Birmingham.  I’m trying to calm myself down about it and convince myself that being aware of the potential for that problem will let me guard against it.  I’m trying not to let myself worry obsessively.  I’m trying to make plans to do fun stuff with people I like so I have an excuse not to spend much time with my extended family.  My sisters and I are getting matching tattoos, Little Sister and I are going to the zoo and the hands-on science museum where I used to work (possibly with Mother and Fake Stepdad, too), and Little Sister and I are going to hang out and smoke some pot.  (It’s medicinal!)  I’m going to get together with my best friend from high school, meet her daughter, cuddle with her kitties (she breeds and shows GORGEOUS Bengals), and do some yarn shopping.  I might get together with some other people, too.  So I have some good things going.  Hopefully it’ll make the trip okay.


Filed under Uncategorized

I have to.

I think I’m going to have to call my grandparents and ask if I can stay with them for a week for the wedding.  I really didn’t want to do that, but it’s the only way I can afford to go to my sister’s wedding now that I have to buy a plane ticket.  I can’t afford a hotel too.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve barely spoken to my grandparents in the past 8 months.  See, they funded my treatment for a long time–it’s expensive, but my grandfather is the VP of Investments at a major brokerage firm.  They’ve got plenty of money to spare.  I have mixed feelings–I’m grateful that he funded my treatment, but he also interfered a lot and yanked me out of the only program that was really helping me.  And then, at the end of last year, he cut me off.  I went from having an apartment he paid for and treatment where I saw someone every day to basically nothing.  I had to move into a one-bedroom apartment with two other people because the only money I have now is the $700 a month from Social Security.  My treatment team is no more–now all I have is ICM, who’s totally useless.

(BTW, she apparently is on vacation this week and didn’t bother to tell me.)

See, my grandparents think I’m faking my illness for attention and using it as an excuse not to grow up and take care of myself.  By that logic, they assume cutting me off will cure me because I’ll have to stop faking it.  Clearly that’s working great.

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my grandparents.  When I was a teenager, I bounced between living with my mother and living with them.  That had a lot to do with their relationship with my mother and my relationship with my mother.  They think she’s a bad mother, and in a lot of ways, they’re right–but I think she got that way mostly because of the damage my grandfather did to her.

See, my grandfather is a narcissist.  He’s very focused on achievement, and it only counts if it’s what HE defines as achievement.  I grew up listening to him mock my mother for being a special ed teacher: “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.”  In front of her children.  He also likes to debate, but she doesn’t, and he bullied her.  She’s one of five children, but he’s always made it clear that she’s the one he doesn’t approve of.  I have a lot of sympathy for that, for her as a child, but I don’t have sympathy for her choices as an adult because she verbally and emotionally abused us and neglected us.

My grandmother, on her own, is very sweet and caring.  But she won’t stand up to my grandfather, never has.  I’m not sure if she even has her own opinions.  Most of her life centers around taking care of my grandfather–cooking for him, cleaning for him, doing laundry for him, ironing his underwear for him (seriously), sewing for him.  She’s never had her own job.  She seems happy with it, though.  But I sometimes want to shake her and scream, “Be your own person!  Have your own opinions!  Have your own life!”

The last time I talked to them was on my birthday, at the beginning of June.  Before that, it had been at least six months.  I figured since they weren’t giving me any money, I was no longer obligated to talk to them.  My grandfather has made it clear that I’m the family fuck-up and have no value in his eyes because I’m not working or achieving anything, so I didn’t really want to deal with it anymore.  When my grandmother called me on my birthday, we talked a little, and then she gave him the phone.  We went from “Happy birthday” to “When are you going to get a job?” in less than three minutes.  I blew it off with excuses about my physical illness, but it really hurt.  He knows how to turn me back into a little girl desperate for approval and love that are extremely conditional, and that pisses me off.

But I don’t have another choice.  There’s no one else in Birmingham I can stay with.  I can’t afford a hotel and a plane ticket.  So I’ll have to put up with the shit from my grandfather and the silence from my grandmother.  They’ll probably think I’m being overdramatic if I need to use my cane or it I’m sick or in pain.  I’ll have to deal with knowing I had to ask them for help again.  I really, really hate this.  I wouldn’t do it for anyone but my sister.


Filed under Uncategorized


I’m feeling frustrated with myself.  In particular, my difficulty setting boundaries is frustrating me.  Also the fact that everything is triggering me right now, even things that wouldn’t ordinarily trigger me.

I think the trigger for all of this was a visit from ICM today.  She sprung a surprise “health and safety” inspection on me.  It sounds innocuous when I write it, but for me it’s not.

Since I got away from my family, having my own space has been critical for my sanity.  When I was growing up, I was allowed privacy only when my parents decided I did.  My father would come into my bedroom any time he wanted to molest and rape me.  My mother was, in some ways, worse than him.  She never sexually abused me, but she regularly invaded my privacy under the banner of “for your own good.”  She searched my room, read my journals, monitored my emails.  If I asked for privacy, even as a teenager, she decided that meant I was hiding something and used it as an excuse to invade my privacy even more.  She would frequently take my bedroom and bathroom doors off the hinges, leaving me without any place to use the bathroom, shower, or change clothes without being on display.

So when I got away, having a space that was mine was a novelty.  It became the first outpost of safety for me.  No one could come into my space uninvited, so I was safe.  It was like I could finally breathe for the first time in my life.

Any time my space is invaded, it feels like abuse.  Technically I consented to ICM’s inspection, but it was because I felt like I couldn’t say no.  I have my parents’ compliance training to thank for that, I think.  I felt like I couldn’t say no to ICM, so I let her in, the same way I let my father into my room sometimes.  In both cases, it felt like there was someone in power who was going to do what they wanted regardless of how I felt about it, so it was better to be compliant so you wouldn’t get punished.

The inspection was really demeaning, too.  I mean, for starters, I’m almost 28 years old.  I’ve been living on my own in the world for most of the past 10 years, and no one’s ever suggested I was incapable of that (besides my family, and they don’t count).  But that felt like the entire implication of this inspection.  If my appliances didn’t work, I’d get my landlady or her partner to come fix it.  My kitchen may be cluttered since we have very little cabinet space, but it’s clean, so keep your bitchy comments about “define clean” to yourself.  Yes, my toilet is clean; I take responsibility for that since I spend so much quality time with it.  Yes, my door works just fine–don’t let it hit ya where the good lord split ya.  I had to tell her that no, she could not just walk into my roommates’ bedroom because they don’t know who she is or what she’s doing here, and one or both of them might not be wearing pants.

I did tell her that she couldn’t go in my bedroom, which I guess is something.  But what I wanted to tell her was that she couldn’t come in my house because it’s my house and it’s rude as fuck to just announce that you’re coming to inspect someone else’s house.  I mean, Christ, under state law, landlords are required to give advance notice of rental inspections, so why is it okay for her to just say that she’s doing an inspection today?  She never asked if it was okay.  If she had asked, I probably wouldn’t have been so triggered by it.

But she didn’t ask.  Neither did my mother or my father.  And that’s not okay.

And now I’m in PTSD-land.  It feels like everything’s a trigger, and I’m very on edge.  It frustrates me because I want my ability to identify and understand the trigger to make it stop being a trigger.  It frustrates me that it doesn’t always work like that.  It frustrates me that I can’t logic my way through this.


Filed under Uncategorized


My sister is getting married in August, and she’s been texting me pictures of wedding dresses all day.  She looks happy, healthy, wonderful.  I can’t help but envy her a little.

It’s a weird thing, almost a role reversal.  See, she’s two years younger than me, and I spent most of my life taking care of her and our youngest sister.  Our parents were not exactly what you’d call good parents, or anything vaguely resembling it.  I tried, with only limited success, to shield her (both my sisters) from our father’s sexual abuse and our mother’s emotional abuse.  A therapist once asked me if I was proud that I’d basically raised my sisters, and I realized I was.  Both of them turned out happier and more stable than me, which I consider a big success, given our circumstances. 

My middle sister, the one who’s getting married, is the most stable and successful of the three of us.  She finished college in four years, got a BS in criminal justice, and is now working as a police officer.  She’s been with her fiance for around three years now, and they’ve even successfully raised a very cute pair of puppies together.  I’m proud of her, and I’m so glad she’s happy.

I guess it just makes me feel like a failure.  I’m the oldest, so I should’ve gotten my life together first.  I shielded her from some of the abuse, but she still got a lot of it.  Our histories aren’t that different, but she’s dealt with hers a lot better than I have.  What do I have to show for my life?  No college degree, no job, a complicated-to-the-point-of-inexplicable relationship with B, very few friends.  My closest relationship is with my toilet, for god’s sake.

I know I shouldn’t judge myself against anyone else, but let’s be honest–everyone does it.  It’s even harder not to judge myself against her since we share the same gene pool and the same home environment.  It’s especially hard because our roles in the family have shifted somewhat.  I used to be the overachiever who never got into trouble, and she got drunk and did drugs and slept with a lot of guys.  (She was always our mother’s favorite, though, and all her mistakes were overlooked.)  But now she’s successful, and I’m not.  The contrast makes it harder.

I’d never want to take away her happiness or success; she absolutely deserves it.  I love my sisters more than anyone else in the universe, and I’d do anything for them.  But I want to be successful and happy too.


Filed under Uncategorized

From my journal

Yesterday it took 5 hours to get to A’s.  I was cold and wet and couldn’t get warm, and I was crying because I couldn’t deal with my life and the rain was getting harder.  She kept trying to take care of me.  I let her give me a couple of blankets and a mug of hot water, but I purposely “forgot” about the water, never even touched it.  She asked if I would let her take me home.  It took me a minute, but I nodded.  Then her car wouldn’t start, so she called me a cab and gave me the money to pay for it.  She wanted to make me some soup while I was waiting, but I said no.

Now I feel almost unbearable shame and guilt.  I feel like I manipulated her.  I could’ve gotten home on the bus; it wouldn’t have killed me.  Did I cry to make her feel sorry for me?  I wanted her to rescue me.  I always want somebody to rescue me, but I’m not supposed to want it, I’m not supposed to let anyone actually do it.

But I couldn’t have known what she would offer, could I?  She’s a grown-up, so she can make her own boundaries and decide what she’s willing to do.

But you cried on purpose, didn’t you?  You know you wanted her to feel sorry for you.  You wanted her to save you.  You’re supposed to be a fucking grown-up.  You know you could’ve made it home on your own.  So you would’ve been in pain, so what?  Lots of people are in pain, and they don’t make people take care of them.  You should’ve said no.  You didn’t even argue.

But it should be a good thing that I let her help instead of saying no.

No, you manipulated her.  You were suddenly fine once she said she’d take you home.  That proves you weren’t really upset, you were just being manipulative.

I was relieved.  That’s normal.  If I was suddenly fine afterwards, then why am I such a mess now?

You’re making excuses.  You’re manipulative, and now you owe her.  How are you gonna make that right?

I can’t.  All I can do is be grateful.

You should be ashamed.

I am.


The memory that keeps coming up is from 2nd or 3rd grade, shortly after my parents divorced and my mother’s rages really got out of control.  Stupidly, I told her when she yelled, it scared me because I was afraid she’d hurt us (me or my sisters).  She said she’d stop yelling and told me if she did yell again, tell her I was scared and she’d stop.

The next time she yelled, I asked her to please stop yelling because I was scared.  Instead of stopping screaming, she got angrier.  She said she never hurt us, and I just said I was scared she would hurt us to control her.  She screamed and threw kitchen stuff at me.  I remember standing with my back against the wall across from the kitchen door, too scared to move, praying nothing would hit me.  I was so hurt and confused by her accusation.  I hadn’t lied, and I wasn’t trying to hurt her or control her.  I was terrified, and I didn’t want to be anymore.

I ended up even more terrified, with shame and guilt added in.


Filed under Uncategorized

Therapy, Help, Shame

I find myself not wanting to write about therapy today.  I don’t even want to remember it.  So much shame–though on some level I know I don’t deserve the shame.

On Tuesdays, my appointment is at 1:30.  I left home a little after 8:00.  It was cold and rainy, and I haven’t yet dug my umbrella out of whatever box it got put in.  I put on a coat and a hand-knit hat and hoped that would do it.  It’s a two-mile walk to town, and a mile and a half of that doesn’t have a sidewalk.  You either walk in the deep mud between the river and the road, or you walk along the railroad tracks on the other side.  I opted for the railroad tracks.  I was walking across uneven gravel and railroad ties, fighting bushes and trees that look like they haven’t been cut back since the Civil War, hoping no train came because then I’d have to jump down into a ravine to avoid getting run over.  I was already in pain before I even got to town, and then I had to take two buses (with an hour and a half layover in between and nowhere warm to wait) and walk half a mile up a steep hill to get to A’s office.

When I finally saw  A, I just fell apart, crying about how I couldn’t manage my life anymore because everything is just too hard.  Her sweet dog laid her head in my lap for almost the whole time so I could pet her.  (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but A brings her dog, Zelda, to work.  She’s this sweet, laid-back golden retriever who loves to be petted, and we quickly became good friends since I love to pet dogs.)  I was wet and cold and in pain, and I just couldn’t hold it together anymore.  A kept trying to help with practical things–she got me a blanket and a cup of tea–but it was hard for me to let her.

See, I have these rigid, role-defined boundaries: this is what a therapist does, and no more than that.  It’s the only way that I can feel safe allowing someone to help with the emotional stuff.  If they offer anything beyond that, I feel guilty.  I feel like I manipulated them into taking care of me.  That’s my mother’s legacy–when I asked for things like food, money for school field trips, new clothes, etc., she accused me of manipulating her.  If anyone else was kind to me, particularly if they gave me material things she didn’t think I deserved, she accused me of manipulating them into giving them to me, too.  So now I’m always afraid when someone is kind to me–afraid they’ll realize I manipulated them, conned them into giving me things I didn’t deserve, and then they’ll hate me.

At the end of the session, it was raining hard.  A asked if I’d let her take me home.  I had to fight the voices screaming at me that it’s against the rules, but eventually I nodded.  That was hard enough.  But then her car wouldn’t start.  I said I could take the bus home, but she called me a cab and gave me money to pay for it.  That’s what I feel the most ashamed about.  I feel like that was completely wrong of me.  I should never have let her give me money.  I feel like I’m evil for letting her do that.  Part of me was relieved, and that makes me feel even worse.  The introjects are using that as proof that it was wrong and I’m bad.  They’re telling me I can never go back to therapy because now A will now how manipulative and terrible I am, and she’ll hate me now.

I feel like my abusers sabotaged my mind.  Everything is a trap, and no matter what I do, I’m going to get hurt.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

I Don’t Play the Piano

When I was in seventh grade, my grandfather bought my family a piano.

None of us played the piano.  None of us had indicated any interest in learning how to play the piano.  My grandparents had a grand piano in their living room, but in my entire life, I’d only seen it played when my cousins and I would tap out “Chopsticks” or “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Still, my grandfather bought us a piano and had it delivered to our house.  My sisters and I took three, maybe four years of lessons, but none of us was very good–probably because we didn’t have much interest in learning to play.  We rarely even practiced.  I tried to be a good pianist because I thought it would make my grandfather happy, but now I know I could’ve gone to Juilliard and still not have been good enough to win his unconditional love.

I told A that story in therapy this morning.  We were talking about my family, particularly my grandfather, in terms of them cutting me off at the end of the year.  I talked about my grandfather’s pride in being uncompromising and his certainty he knows what’s best for everyone in the family, and I felt like I was being unfair, only talking about his meanness.  I said he could sometimes be kind, or tried to be, but it’s like he’s so used to being mean that he doesn’t quite know how to be nice.

“It’s like he’s got all this money, and he’s trying to be nice, so he buys you something–but it’s not something you want or like, but you don’t want to tell him that.  So then you have this piano that’s just there, and you don’t know what to do with that,” I told her.  “But usually the piano is only metaphorical.”

I talked about how my family sees me as this manipulative person who fakes mental illness so she doesn’t have to be self-sufficient and threatens suicide when she doesn’t get what she wants.  They really think that I’m a bad person.  I don’t see myself that way anymore–at least, not most of the time.  But it hurts to know that’s who my family sees when they look at me.  Physical pain like a knife stabbing into my sternum.  That’s not me they’re seeing.  I’m not a bad person, and I don’t play the piano.

Now, after that, I’m feeling sad.  I used to think I had this close, loving family, because that’s what they told me we were.  Even now that I know better, know how toxic it was, I still catch myself idealizing the family I used to have.  I want so badly to have a family that loves me, and it feels unbearable to realize that I never will.  But I finally believe (most of the time) that I’m worthy enough not to go back to my family for the scraps of love I might get along with the emotional abuse.

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Round and Round She Goes

Today T accused me of being a Republican.


Those of you who’ve known me for a while know that I’m loudly liberal, but I come from a very conservative family.  I worked on the last Presidential campaign as well as the campaigns of two Democratic senators from my state.  I’m about to start a political organizing fellowship for a liberal lobbying group.


“You’re secretly a Republican,” T told me.  “But only in regards to yourself.  You think you don’t deserve any help.”


Shit, I thought.  She’s right.  I’m secretly a Republican.


She’s right: I don’t accept help well.  I feel like I don’t deserve to have needs at all, so I definitely don’t deserve to have those needs met.  And the worst of all is when I need help to meet those needs.  When I need help, I’m slammed with massive amounts of shame.  I feel worthless, needy, manipulative, incompetent.  I feel like it would be better to die than to need help because if I let myself need, I’ll become a black hole that swallows up everything and turns it into nothing.


I’ve gotten slightly more comfortable with having needs.  At one point, I nearly starved myself to death to prove I didn’t need anything.  I pushed everyone away from me and wouldn’t let them care about me.  I took care of everybody else because if I was busy it was easier to deny my needs, and if I was helping other people, it gave me permission to exist (but only a little bit).  I’ve improved and gotten a little more comfortable with my needs–but I’m more comfortable with it in the same way I’m more comfortable with getting attacked by a mountain lion than by a grizzly bear.


It’s so tied up in guilt and shame, and it’s now become an endless chicken and egg situation.  In the beginning, though, I think the shame and guilt came first–but the shame and guilt that comes to mind with this is from failing to meet my sisters’ needs, so I’m not entirely sure the guilt and shame came first.


With S, my middle sister, who’s 2 years younger than me, the guilt is for not saving her from our father.  I remember a number of times when he abused both of us together or made one of us watch him hurt the other, but the memory I can’t get rid of is from the summer I turned 11.  He wanted me to choose whether he’d hurt S or me.  I couldn’t choose, so he held a gun to my head.  I wanted to tell him to hurt me because then S wouldn’t get hurt, but I was already in a lot of pain and didn’t think I could take anymore.  I chose S.  He made me watch him rape her, and I’ve never forgiven myself.  I know on a logical level that there was nothing I could’ve done, but I still feel like I should’ve saved her somehow.  In my mind, this is THE representation of my father’s abuse, and if I could’ve saved her in this one moment, it would’ve saved her completely.


With E, my youngest sister, who’s 6 years younger, the guilt is for not saving her from our mother’s verbal and emotional abuse.  When all three of us were living at home, I was the bad kid, S was the perfect kid, and E mostly got ignored.  When I left, E became the bad child, the focus of our mother’s rage.  My mother put her in a different high school every year, so her GPA was crap even though she was smart, and then my mother sent her to a wilderness “treatment program” because she didn’t accept the way our mother treated her.  E hasn’t told me much about what happened there, but what she has said sounds pretty horrific.  She wasn’t allowed to speak for the first 2 weeks, they took her asthma medication away, she got double pneumonia and was still forced to do a lot of physical activity outside in the winter.  One of the other kids there lost a toe to frostbite.  If I hadn’t left, I would’ve kept being the target.  I spent years shielding her from our mother’s abuse as much as possible, but then I left her there to deal with it all alone.


In both cases, I put my needs above theirs.  It’s human nature, the biological imperative for self-preservation, I know.  I would never judge someone else for doing those things, but the rules are different for me.  If I hadn’t prioritized my needs over theirs, they would’ve been safe.  I didn’t abuse either of them, but I feel like I’m not much better than our parents.  In both cases, I knew they’d both be abused, and I let it happen.  Yes, yes, I know I was only a child and probably couldn’t have stopped my parents from abusing them if they wanted to…but I was never really a child.  I had to be the grown-up in our family because my parents sure as hell weren’t being adults.


I feel guilty for putting my needs first, so I try not to have needs.  I have needs anyway, which fuels the guilt.  Then I feel even more like I shouldn’t have needs.  Round and round she goes; where she stops nobody knows.


And on top of all of that, now I’m a secret Republican!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized


Apparently my mother is getting married. In three weeks. And she wants me to come to Florida for the wedding.


If it were just her, I wouldn’t go. The woman is a pathological narcissist (diagnosed by the guy who started McLean’s trauma unit) who verbally, emotionally, and occasionally physically abused me for most of my life. There’s a very good reason why we live 1400 miles away from her.


But my sisters will be there. The middle one I haven’t seen in three years, and I haven’t seen my baby sister for 5 years. I miss them SO much. I checked prices for the train, and I could get a round-trip ticket for $300. It’ll really stretch my budget, but I think it’s doable.


I just don’t know if it’s going to make things worse for me and for parts inside. I have a whole group of alters who were created to deal with my mother, in a whole variety of responses. What if they get triggered and come out and I say something terrible?


When I’m around my mother or grandparents (who might also be there), my grip on reality goes away–I start thinking I really AM this horrible, manipulative, too-needy crazy person who’s faking everything for attention or so she doesn’t have to grow up and be self-reliant. I start thinking my mother was a good mother; I was just being crazy to think she was abusive.


I don’t want that to happen. I’m in a much better place emotionally than I was the last time I saw them, but I’m not sure I’m in a good enough place that I’d be okay. But I want to see my sisters so much. I don’t know what to do.


Filed under Uncategorized