Flashbacks – Trigger Warning!

I have been having flashbacks from hell for the last week. I have been reliving the sensation of hands around my neck. A slightly stronger pressure on the right side of my larynx. I am feeling fingers tighten. Making it more difficult to breathe.

I have been battling to believe myself. I know it happened. I know it is real, and yet I don;t quite believe it. Today I made a connection though. When I told my parents about the physical bullying that I had endured in primary school, my mom turned around and said to me:

You are wrong. It never happened.

Those incidents I knew about. Those incidents I have no doubt believing occurred.

Yet my mother was adamant that they did not happen. She used the exact words that she used to deny her own abuse. I am not wrong. I know my mother abused me, and yet sometimes I battle to believe it. Its tearing me apart somewhat.

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Memory

I have been dreaming about water lately and I took that to signify from my subconscious that perhaps I was ready to deal with the time that I nearly drowned as a kid. And today in therapy, we did just that, and it was one of the most intense experiences of my life. Literally coughing, feeling the water getting pushed out of my lungs, my heart pumping faster and faster to keep up. I was only three and a tiny little mite and did not deserve that experience, and yet when my therapist asked the three year old me whether she decided that she should die, I said no, and when asked why not, I replied that I was stubborn.

One of the most powerful things in hypnosis is the fact that you can talk to parts of yourself, reminding them that they are special and loved.

Just something

It’s funny how memories creep up on you sometimes. For instance, the memory about how clearly I wanted to call bullshit on my mom when she told us, after her mother’s murder, that because we never know when a loved one is going to die that she always says that we must just love one another. But at twelve, all I had was a feeling, the disconnect about what was said and what was acted upon. That love was not unconditional, it was a treat to be doled out, and ripped away as punishment.

 

Musings on abuse as a learned behaviour

Possibly one of my greatest fears is that I too am an abusive person. That if I have a child I will subject them to the same things that I was subjected to.

Recently I came across the theory that abuse is a learned behaviour, not a genetic one. Which makes me wonder, can I unlearn the behaviour? Is knowledge enough to break this cycle.

I think one of the things that compounds the cycle of abuse is the culture of silence, we do not like to talk or hear about unpleasant things that happen to people like us. And so, we don’t speak out about violence. We keep the secret…Out of shame, out of fear, out of a whole host of reasons…We know that we cannot untell.

My abuse is a lot less secret than it was two years ago, but if 20 people know about it, it is a lot.

Obviously, at the moment, my circumstances about speaking out of changed. I now have the double taboo. Society does not allow us to speak ill of mothers. And it frowns on speaking ill of the dead. So speaking ill of your dead mother is one of the things that is just not done.

But my mom’s death does not simply erase the past. Nor does it change it. As I grow, and learn more, I can gain a different and compassionate outlook on what happened to my mom and how she almost had no conscious choice in what she did to me. By that I mean she did not set out to abuse me, and in many ways was incapable of overcoming the pattern that she learned as a child.

I don’t condone her abuse. I don’t know if I forgive her yet. But I can look on her actions towards me with compassion. I don’t ever think I will ever achieve complete understanding…I think the scars were inflicted when I was too young and vulnerable. In many ways, it is surprising that the learned response to hurt over-rode the biological imperative to protect.

“And then I came home.”

I am having a rough time at the moment.There is no real reason for it. I suppose that the stress of moving us and two dogs across two continents may have something to do with it. And the fact that we have just had our first wedding anniversary without mom. And the fact that some of my mom’s family are being totally insensitive fuckwits. I am actually mad with how insensitive some people are…you don’t play Facebook questions about dead people!  Nor do you get to harp on about your loss and be saying how sad it is for the deceased’s children but completely ignore them.

I often read Neil Gaiman’s blog, and down the side of it he has a link to his amazing Oracular Journal…and today I clicked the link and I asked about why mom died. The Oracle answered:

And then I came home.

Which made me feel a bit better…and makes me wonder if the universe does not actually know what it is doing.

I am feeling lost

We are moving soon, and everything is happening so fast. But, at the same time, it feels as though my life has stopped since the day my mom died. That I have not really started moving again.

I am uncertain about my identity at the moment. I feel like I don’t really know myself right now, which is driving me crazy because I am good at knowing who I am and where I am at.

Instead I am in limbo, and completely uncertain.

Part of me feels like the world is telling me that I should be healed already, but I know that is just paranoia. I hope it is at any rate.

I never thought that this event would be so traumatic and defining. But I guess the thing is you can’t know how something like this is going to affect you until it happens.

Why, Mom?!

Mom, if I could ask you just one question right now, it would be “Why?”.

Why were you so mean to me? Why did you consistently tell me and act like you didn’t love me? Why did you always throw in my face the lie that I was an argument that dad won.

It’s the week of my wedding anniversary…and this is probably the most difficult time of year for me. Perhaps, it was unreasonable of me to expect one occassion in my life to be an opportunity for you to make all the past hurts better. But you did not show the slightest interest in any of the wedding planning, until everything was organized. I had to beg you to come and shop for wedding dress fabric with me and R’s mom.  And even then you acted like it was a chore.

I know you were not a mean or vindictive or generally horrible person. So why were you all of those things to me?

And I know that I am not a bad or horrible person, so why did you send me emails telling me that I was.

I know that you had other drama with your extended family around my wedding…but you never told me this. And quite frankly, it shouldn’t have mattered. I am your daughter. Surely that should have counted as a trump card…as a reason to pay a little bit of attention to me.

At my bachelorette party you did not even greet me?! So yes, I guess I am still carrying a lot of hurt and pain around from this occassion…and maybe it was unfair for me to expect you to make me feel special around my wedding day, you had never managed it before, and perhaps you choked under pressure.

But dammit mom, I wish I could remember feeling that you loved me…and not just read the words in a card. Because those words feel like a lie when I remember these things.

And maybe I shouldn’t write this to you…but if I don’t let it out, I think it will eat at my soul. I know I will never know why.

I can hope and rely on other people’s recollections and words that you did love me…and that you were proud of me. But dammit Mom, I wish you had shown me that when I was alive.

I know we had a difficult relationship. I also know that L managed to worm her way into your life and spread her venom and was a bad influence in you sending those poisonous emails, but you were an adult, and did have control over your actions, and you chose to press send.

I know you never understood the way I pulled back and never truly let you back into my life after that, because for you it was an isolated event. But for me, it was more…I needed you to show me that I could trust you. And now you can’t.

You also can’t tell me why! But perhaps that is a blessing…it means that I can choose to see the best in you, recognize the influences of operant conditioning and believe that you did love me. You just didn’t know how to show it.