From Victim to Parent

I asked the readers on my Facebook page a week or so ago if there was anything that they wanted me to blog about. I have tons of blog ideas, but maybe I never really hit the spot. So I thought that I would put it out there. I should really make it a place people can ask and I’ll answer. I’m going to answer the ones I have over the next week or so and in no specific order.

The first one comes from Dawn. She asked: “How you managed to overcome all that you went through to become the strong caring father & person you are today. That’s one thing I’ve never really seen explained in any books written by people who were abused as children……how do they go on & function & be able to be caring, competent adults. It has to be so hard to overcome all of that….I can’t even imagine.”

Terrie also asked: “How you were able to raise your children when your parents did not pass any skills to you?”

There are quite a few questions in there, so I’ll break it down. How have I managed to stay a strong and caring father? Father and child

I didn’t start out that way. I became a parent at 16 years old. It was way too young. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. If you read Scars, you’ll see that I did a lot of things wrong – a lot of bad things. I had to go right down before I could get up again. I ended up on drugs and almost lost my son to social services. My dad was going to get my child and be his legal guardian. That was the moment I looked at my life and at my son’s life and thought no, this isn’t going to happen. I had to make a choice to get clean or I was heading for prison, and my son was heading for my father’s house. This is what Scars is about; it’s the journey downwards, until I couldn’t get any lower in my life.

With my children now, I often try to judge what I am doing. They are the family I have and I try my best to make them happy. I try to give them the right guidance. I try a lot to protect them because my father is still around in my life and they don’t know my past with him. It’s easy to be a better parent. I just do the opposite of how I was raised.

Some of it is just an act, though. The functioning adult part is. I don’t think I will overcome things really. Not ever fully. A recent example is last night, at 3:30 a.m., I had to wake my friend up on the phone because I was afraid. I had had a bad dream filled with flashbacks and all kinds, and I couldn’t feel safe. I was sure the bad man was coming back. I could feel him. I was very afraid. The frightened child inside me takes over. I have so many fears because of this man. I have in the past slept outside or in my car because my fear has got too big. KCRG_news_depression-teen-boy-sad1

Every minute of every day is a fight, and my children help me with that. If they could see inside, though, they’d see I am not that strong. I suffer from OCD. Just getting up in the morning is a drama – what to wear, what to eat. I debate whether I should eat, because I have phobia of vomiting and bringing up my breakfast. I get afraid of being outside and want to go home sometimes, because I just can’t face people. At university, I can’t touch the doors, and I can’t touch people. I have to maintain a distance just so I don’t flip out. I actually have a support worker at uni and a provision that I am allowed to leave the lectures if I can’t cope. I use a Dictaphone to record all my lessons because I suffer dissociation, too, and sometimes I can miss the entire lecture. When I finally get home, it is hard to go inside if my house is empty because the children are at school or something. I look through the windows and check that it is safe.

I try not to have any friends because I can’t cope when they need to do things in their own life – even if it’s just something normal and simple, like shopping. I can’t cope with any kind of abandonment. I have one friend, and she has to cope very well with what to say to me and how to say it. She needs a medal some days. My fear that they won’t come back is so great. It is much simpler to just be alone.

I am a self-harmer. I have to hide that from my children too. So much of how I am with them is because I never want them to become like me. I don’t want them to have my fears or phobias. I want them to enjoy life. It really is because of them I am here. If they weren’t, I would have ended my own life a long time ago. I often wish my father had done it while I was a child and saved me from these years of torment.

Some days the only functioning I can manage is breathing. But I try.

I’m not really sure if this answers your question, but put simply, I use a lot of how I felt as a child to guide me with how to raise my own children, and I hide behind a façade of normalcy to hide what is inside. Only when no one is around do I allow myself to break down.

Twenty Minutes in My Head

Twenty minutes of the thoughts from my head.

I think that my father cannot bear to let me have anything in my life. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad. He becomes like some petulant child jumping up and down, screaming what about me?

Well what about you?

It’ll take me a lot to write this and to not allow the anger that is bubbling inside to come out and pour onto this page. I feel the anger from it and him and his words and his … I don’t even know the word to use here right now. But I feel it. I want ti cut it out. Nothing would please me more than to go upstairs to my bathroom and take out the blade I have specifically for my self-harm. letter-writing-pic

He did it again. Like always he comes in and lays waste to my already shaky foundations. He comes along and destroys what is there. It doesn’t matter how much building I do. How much protection I try to put between us, he knows how to shoot for my heart and he does it every time. He doesn’t miss.

I passed my first year of university not so long ago. I got a first too. I was very proud of myself. Of course my father felt he had to come along and claim his prize. Hold me up like some trophy and proclaim to everyone how hard it had been to bring me up. He bowed down graciously and received applaud for his efforts as a father.

I said nothing. It is terrible to say that I hope he has died by the time I graduate. The day I get my doctorate I don’t want him to be here. I don’t want him to take any credit. Even if it is fake. He had nothing to do with my education. I will have done it in spite of him.

He struck again a couple of days ago. Those who have me on facebook will know that there was a new addition to my family. A grandson. He is a little poorly at the moment. He was born early and his bowels were outside of his body, but he is recovering and coming along just great.

Naturally this meant that my attention was focused on my family and on this little guy and his recovery. My father thought or perhaps felt a little left out and along he came once more with his patheticness.

I had just come out of NICU when I received my father’s message. He wanted to know what he was to this baby. If he would have a part in his life. I want to ask him if he is joking. I know what he does with little boys. Does he really expect me to hand over something so innocent to him? He went on to tell me things about someone important in my life – things that I know are untrue. They still hurt to read, though. Not because I believed them, but because this is my father and this is how low he has to go to get my attention.

The closing part of his email was one of pleading. Asking me to end his pain, because apparently that is what I do. I cause him pain with how I am. He’s asked me to say goodbye to him. For him to be able to disown me. He won’t. I get this threat a lot, but it still hurts me every time I hear it. It still tears me apart to know that my father ever wants to hurt me. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I ever did other than be his child.

It all hurts inside and I am not sure how to get it out.

Loud Noises

I keep seeing many posts around the social media that seems to me to be so narrow minded. Of course Robin Williams is still big in the news. I wish people would look at both sides.

I see people say that suicide is selfish. This is people who don’t understand. Imagine being hungry for a week, a month, or as with depression, years. Being so hungry that you would eat absolutely anything. The someone gave you a sandwich and put it in front of you, you could smell it, touch it, and you don’t even have to close your eyes to imagine how delicious it will taste and how much it’s going to take away the hunger pains. Your brain in the moment does not consider anything else but that sandwich. What if someone else wanted that sandwich? Are you going to tell the starving person that if they eat it, they are selfish for ending their pain?

I know that people say suicide is selfish and that the person committing it is not thinking of their loved ones, but isn’t it also selfish for those loved ones to want the suicidal person to stay? They want them to stay because of the hole that they would leave, so that they don’t feel grief, loss – a form of pain that is on the same unbearable level as the one wishing to leave this world? Isn’t that also selfish?

I am not condoning suicide here. Not at all, but don’t hate someone because they did it or attempted it. Don’t tell someone who is suicidal that it’s selfish, because it isn’t. Most suicidal people don’t actually want to die, what they want is the pain to stop. Not to end life. Not to cause more harm. Not to make others suffer, but to put an end to what feels so unbearable inside their minds.

I saw another post today also by someone with terminal cancer. Of course they ranted about how someone with everything, money, fame, family etc could wish away their lives and in Robin Williams case, take it. How could they do that when people like this cancer sufferer fought every day to live?

It’s a valid point. However, depression and any other mental health issue is a killer. Robin Williams didn’t kill himself, as nor did anyone else, their illness did. And if you don’t believe me, think back to the sandwich.

While I can never understand the fight and the fear and everything else that happens with some who is terminally ill, I do understand what it is like to want it to stop. I know what it is like to feel a pain so much in my mind that I have begged God or whoever to please not let me wake up again.

There was another status I saw after that too. Someone had posted that they would understand why he took his life he had been suffering a deadly debilitating illness and they were pleased that actually he might have been because he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, so they understood that. Why do they not understand that depression and everything like it is a deadly and debilitating illness?

Imagine the one thing in the world that drives you so insane that you can’t think. Fingernails down a chalk board. The sound of a knife and fork being brought back and forth over a ceramic plate. A loud shrilling siren. Sitting on a nine hour flight with a screaming baby. _65431933_ylvwcq81

Imagine that sound and then imagine listening to it every minute of every day.

How would you switch off the pain in your ears?

 

Time Limit on Mental Health Recovery

Why does mental health recovery have a time limit? It’s one of the things that bugs me the most. Many people put into therapy get 4-6 weeks of therapy and then they are cast out into the world again. Some people get 12 weeks if they are lucky, but that seems to be the maximum. Why is it that mental illness comes with such a limit?

Would we treat a cancer patient and say well you’ve got so many weeks of chemo, but after that you’re on your own? Or tell someone who is recovering from something like a stroke that they have 12 weeks to rehabilitate and then off they go to do it themselves? I don’t think so. Why is it okay with mental health? It’s just as debilitating as any other illness. The difference is, is that it can’t be seen.

The reason from my rant today comes from my own experience. When I had taken an over dose those few weeks ago and gone to my doctor after the hospital had discharged me and for the first time I said to someone that I think my thoughts are wrong. I need some help, did I get some and felt relieved.

I was assigned a therapist. I have had therapists before and for various reasons either I didn’t stick or my time was up. This time I tried to give everything I had. I tried to be honest about how I was feeling. I even showed him my many self-harm episodes across my skin. tumblr_mjvm92IrOr1s8qsclo1_500

It was heart-breaking to hear at my last sessions that I only have three left. His manager said I could have 14 sessions. I’ve done 11 so far, because I needed so much, but that’s it for me. I feel let down again. I feel lost again. I keep hearing those words in my head and it makes me upset.

I am not a stupid person, but I am an ill person. I don’t understand how the doctors can say to someone who –

Who is suicidal and has tried many times before.

Who self-harms almost daily (although at the moment it’s been 8 days)

Who has flashbacks, sometimes so bad he has to leave the house.

Who suffers disassociation and often doesn’t know if he is a real person.

Who has BPD and breaks down and wants the world to end at something as simple as a cancelled lunch date.

Who suffers DDNOS and flits between different parts of himself at different ages because he is fragmented.

How can someone with so much to recover from be told they have 14 weeks and then they’re on their own again.

No wonder people don’t tend to get better. You can’t put a time limit on recovery from anything. That includes mental health.

 

Numb

You’ll have to excuse me, it’s a little random.

It’s been a rather weird week, or ten days. I don’t really know, I lose track, things are so hectic. It was my mother’s birthday a few days ago. She would have been sixty. It’s a strange thought. In my mind she is still in her 30’s, that’s where she got frozen.

The weather has been horrendous, a lot of the weather sounds are very triggering for me, lying by the window when I was a child, afraid it was going to blow in, so of course when I lost half the roof to my house a couple of days ago, things like that went through my mind and I felt a little out of it as the parts inside me tried to comprehend things that were going on. numb

It seems like something every day this week. And there have been days I just wished it was over. The power went out for us too, because of the weather, not just my house but an entire two mile radius. I have never seen the streets so dark or my house and there was nothing I could really do about it. I don’t like the dark. I hoped that when I went to sleep, the lights didn’t go out again.

I hope as new storms begin, that my house doesn’t receive any more damage and that we are not plunged into darkness again.

My dad called me yesterday, while the power was out. I am not sure he was talking to me so much, he seemed to not be registering anything I was saying and he was crying. I hate when he cries, it makes me feel such guilt for the way I made the world see him with my books. I feel like I did something wrong. I look in the mirror and wonder how I could have told the world all of those secrets. What is wrong with me to do that to my father?

He was crying because his cancer has spread, he’s been told he probably won’t make the year. I’m not sure how I feel about this, I know many readers will think good, but he is my father still. I write this and all I want to do is cut, because I don’t know how to deal with whatever it is I am feeling. I don’t even know what that is.

All I can think is that he is going to die and he is never going to tell me that it wasn’t my fault. I need him to say it. I need to know it wasn’t me. Not from my readers, or friends, from him. I need to know for real that it wasn’t me who made him that way. I don’t think I will ever get that, though.

His stepmother died a couple of weeks ago and was buried. She’d been his stepmother, my step grandmother from before I was even born. He didn’t tell me she had died. He didn’t invite me to the funeral, even though everyone else went.

When he found out about the roof of my house being blown off, his answer was oops. Not once did he call to make sure we were okay, if anyone was hurt, were the children afraid?

All the evidence is there for me to see that I am nothing to my father, yet I don’t know how to let go.

My older brother contacted me a week ago, the one who was adopted out because my mother hurt him. I haven’t talked to him in years. We talked for an entire afternoon like we had only seen each other yesterday; he has been diagnosed with all the same things as me. He was able to sit and put blame for things in all the right places. I wish I could. I wish I could make the same break he did.

My hands are bleeding as if I have run them along a cheese grater, sometimes I cant move them they are so sore, this is my OCD. The parts inside me are switching so often that some days I don’t even know who it is that stares back at me in the mirror. I woke up this morning and self-harmed because just breathing and getting to the next moment seemed impossible.

Yet with all this. I feel numb.

If you don’t want to cut, just stop it. Simple

Yesterday I wrote a blog title Death, I can’t really explain what it is about because I wrote it out yesterday whilst thinking and can’t remember it that well. But I do remember that someone had commented on my facebook page and said that she wished I didn’t self-harm. She said she didn’t really understand it.

I like that she said that, so many people who don’t understand simply say, if you don’t want to cut anymore then don’t. That’s like telling someone, if you’re on a diet, don’t eat any more, if you want to quit smoking don’t smoke any more cigarettes, pretty easy answers I guess and true in ways, but if you have ever tried to stop doing something, you’ll know how hard it is and how much that thing niggles at you and you give in, always tomorrow right? To diet, stop smoking, stop cutting or whatever vice it is you wish to give up. 1044939_157099524476527_1254857261_n

I can’t answer why everyone self-harms, but I can explain why I do it.

Have you ever been lied to? I’m sure you have. I want you to bring to mind just one time, but when it was a real big lie, one that really hurt. It doesn’t matter who did it, mother, brother, wife, husband, children, best friend etc. Anyone’s lies can hurt us deeply.

Do you remember the pain of it? The way it smack you in the chest so damn hard you couldn’t breathe. The way your stomach plummeted and your heart contracted in agony, pain that shot so deeply it brought tears to your eyes and angry to your cheeks. For those first few seconds you can’t think or can’t hear, nothing but your own heart beat in yours ears.

I’m sure right now if you are thinking of a lie that did that to you, you can bring all of those feelings to the forefront of your mind once more and you can feel it and you feel angry and betrayed and for some reason still can’t fathom why you weren’t worthy of the truth.

Remember that moment. Imagine you couldn’t say to that person who had lied to you, that you knew and that you were upset. Maybe they were at work, it’s only a few hours right? But its endless, this lie and the hurt goes through your body in torturous waves and you have to say something. It won’t stay inside. Even if it’s just picking up the phone and ranting to someone else about how you just got hurt. Sometimes the hurt from it feels like it will never go away. How can your relationship ever go back to the way it was? How will you ever stop feeling this hurt? Does it sound familiar?

Now instead of a lie, change it to something else, bullying, parents who don’t understand you, or in my case, abuse. That one lie hurts so bad doesn’t it? Even now, days, months, weeks even years later, there is a lie you can recall that still hurts. I know I have one from last year and when I bring it to mind it cuts inside the same way it did back then.

But what about child abuse? When someone is hurting a child. A child is so different to an adult, they don’t have the skills to process hurt and betrayal. They haven’t grown into an adult who understands these concepts, but they can feel this hurt, and they don’t understand it. But its more than that, when it is the parents doing the abusing, how does the child let out that hurt? The same hurt that you felt when you were lied to. For the child it’s a new additional hurt every day. Given to them by someone who is supposed to love them and care for them, but their actions say they aren’t worthy.

Me and so many other children had nowhere to go with that hurt. There was no one I could tell it to. No friend I could pick up the phone. No person I could yell at and make them take it back. I didn’t have the same skills available to me to deal with betrayal. And like liars, if you have ever noticed when you catch them, they get defensive, tell you how it was your fault, they deflect the blame so that they don’t feel any guilt. Much like a child abuser. So suddenly there is this child with pain and betrayal bigger than any lie could ever cause and words that point back at them that tells them it is their fault. What do they do?

They look in the mirror and they hate the face that stares back. They get mad at it. All that hurt and anger and pain and betrayal gets pointed at that reflection. Maybe they hit them, bite, scratch, cut, burn, pull the hair, but that face in the mirror has to pay, because it is their fault that child’s parents do what they do.

Multiply those days by weeks and then months and then years and then even some decades. The child is still there, just bigger and older. The pain is inside, but now it isn’t just one time, its years and years of betrayal by the people who were supposed to do the protecting. Every morning that adult wakes up, carrying years of agony inside them. For me, so many mornings just waking up is more pain than I can handle, I’m bursting with it, and the only way I ever learnt to let it out was to let it flow with my own blood and tears. So I do.

The next time someone lies to you. Bite your tongue, don’t confront them. Take it away and let it go silently. Can you do it? Or do you know you would only last so long before you exploded?

That’s self-harm. Minutes and hours trying to hold in the pain and nowhere for it to go.

Its not attention seeking. It’s not something that can just be stopped. It isn’t even a cry for help. It’s that moment when all the things inside need to come out but can’t, physical pain makes it better. Like releasing the valve on a pressure cooker before it explodes into a thousand pieces.

Sorry this is long, but I hope it explains it.

1 day cut free

I made it one day without self harming. I know that isn’t much, but it’s good for me, recently at least. I also went out to dinner with friends yesterday. I didn’t want to. I was afraid. It was the 4th and I hate that number, still it bothers me, I know it’s stupid, but I went and it was okay.

Back to uni tomorrow, I’m nervous about that. But maybe it will be okay.

All these challenges seem so easy to everyone else, yet I feel like I’m holding my breath.

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