Daddy

I’ve been struggling the last week or so in dealing with emotions surrounding my father. He has been declining in health for some time, and will probably die soon. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel.

For a long time, I had diminished a lot of what my father had done to me. I wanted (needed) to hold on to the belief that I had at least one decent parent. But I’ve slowly come to realize that my father was not a good parent. He was just as damaging, physically and emotionally, as my mother was.

I don’t even know the exact level of involvement my father had in the abuse my mother perpetrated on me. In a few of my flashbacks my father was there, right next to my mother as she was violating me. I told myself that those flashbacks couldn’t be real. I dismissed them as a  figment of my imagination. I don’t want to believe that my father would ever do that. I don’t want to believe that he knew what she was doing and let it happen. I want to believe that he knew nothing about it. I want to believe that some part of him was a decent person. But part of me knows that what I want to believe likely isn’t the truth at all.

I don’t know whether or not I want to confront him or let him die in ignorance. I want him to know how I feel. I want him to know how much I hate him. I want him to tell me why. It’s not fair that he gets to die and I have to live and suffer from the damage he’s done.  His heart may be failing, but my heart was ripped apart long ago. There’s no cure for either of us.

It makes me feel like a horrible person for wanting another human being to die. I feel no  sympathy for him. I want him to suffer and I want him to die. What kind of person does that make me?

Why couldn’t he just act like he loved me? Why did he have to hurt me? Why did he have to break my heart?

Daddies are supposed to love their daughters. Daddy only showed hate. Daddies are supposed to teach and guide their daughters. The only thing daddy taught me was how not to feel. Daddies are supposed to be role models. Daddy showed me exactly how not to be.

Why, daddy? I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not being good enough. I’m sorry I disappointed you.

I’m sorry you were my father.

I’m sorry, I’m okay

I managed at the last minute to drag myself to therapy today despite feeling like absolute shit.

Last night was difficult for me. I have had so much going on, and I’ve kept it all inside. Stress about home, about grad school applications, about how I’m going to afford grad school, about how I’m going to afford living. Then add issues about my family, an overall lack of sleep, and the seemingly constant chaos inside of my head, and I wonder how I am not locked up in an institution somewhere.

The pain was just too much for me that my heart was actually hurting. Yet I was completely unable to express any emotion. I was numb and in pain at the same time, and I know that is impossible but that is how I felt. I couldn’t take the pain any more. I ended up hurting myself just so I could feel something real. But that only works in the short-term. I woke up the next morning with the same emotional pain, plus the physical pain from what I had inflicted on myself the night before.

I didn’t really want to be in therapy. I didn’t want to be anywhere. But I knew I couldn’t skip out without causing alarm. So I went, sat in my usual spot on the couch, and looked at the floor. My therapist asked if there was anything I needed to talk about. I told her no, that she could talk. I didn’t really want to get into anything. I just wanted to sit there and pretend like everything was fine and dandy.

My therapist started talking about managing my DID better. It is something I know I need to do, but I’ve been at a point where I just want to ignore it and hope that it goes away. She said if I take time and communicate with my parts, it won’t be so chaotic inside. Right now, my parts are running amok like a child who is being ignored and wanting attention. I know that she’s right, I just don’t have the mindset to deal with all of that right now.

I wasn’t into the conversation, and my therapist could tell. I couldn’t tell her what was wrong, though. I tried to reveal minor things in order to avoid the major, but even that wasn’t working. I had put my walls up, and she was not getting through. She asked if she was the problem. I told her it wasn’t her. And it’s not. The problem is with me. Part of me is still scared to talk. Part of me is still afraid to say how I’m feeling.

Then, in the middle of the weak back-and-forth we were engaging in, my therapist asked if I could try to not apologize whenever I say how I am feeling. It is something she has brought up before; she tells me regularly that I don’t need to apologize, but I still keep doing it. I told her I couldn’t do that. She asked why it was so hard for me to stop. I told her I’m not supposed to have feelings. Feelings get you in trouble. Feelings get you punished. Then my therapist asked how I would be punished, and I managed to nod my head yes when she asked if it was physical.

I started to think about all of the times I had to suppress my feelings, and all the times I accidentally made them known. Whenever I was upset or cried, she’d make it hurt more. Whenever I showed my anger, she’d tell me anger was the devil coming through and I needed to be punished. Then there was the incident that finally broke me. When someone from my high school called my parents and told them I was feeling depressed, my father sat me down that night and told me he’d give me something to be depressed about. I sat there and took the beating and tried to be stoic, but after a few minutes, the tears came and all I could do was apologize and beg for mercy that never came. I never cried during a beating again.

On an intellectual level, I know my therapist isn’t going to hurt me for expressing my feelings. Yet, I still find myself apologizing dozens of times each session. I even apologized for crying after the group workshop the other day. Being sorry is part of my programming. I should be sorry for feeling. I should be sorry for expressing emotion. I should be sorry for breathing. My parents made me feel as if I should be sorry just for existing and taking up space in their lives. I am sorry. I am sorry I was born.

In addition to my apologetic programming, I also have a tendency to tell everyone I’m okay. In therapy, those words tend to follow right after I say I’m sorry. It’s almost as if I’m trying to convince myself that I’m okay as much as I’m trying to convince the other person.

Towards the end of our session today, I felt myself becoming overwhelmed with emotion. As a defense, I must have said “I’m okay” at least five times in succession. Then my therapist told me that I don’t have to say I’m okay when I’m not okay. She said knows I put up a facade and that’s how I’ve made it through life so far, but I don’t have to put that mask on anymore and I don’t have to put it up when I’m with her. She continued to talk about it and I finally just burst out and said “I’m not okay.”

I don’t think I’ve ever said those words out loud before. I don’t think my therapist expected me to say them right then, either. I don’t even think I expected to say them. But I did. And now the truth is out there.

The highs and lows of my Tuesday

Yesterday was such an emotional day for me.

I had very little sleep…two hours at most.  I actually woke up for work at 4 AM and knew I wasn’t going to make it, so I went back to sleep and ended up taking a cab to work, just so I could get that little bit of extra time.  I don’t know how I made it through the day, but I did.

I went to my job interview right after work and…I GOT THE JOB!  It didn’t even take much effort on my part.  I look great on paper and apparently I present myself well.  I was hired in less than five minutes.  I wanted to jump in the air and yell with excitement, but then I remembered that I’m still nursing a fractured foot and that probably wouldn’t be a good idea.  Instead I decided to go to the mall and buy myself a treat to celebrate.  I had time before the bus was coming anyway, and I hate standing around doing nothing.

I stopped at a pretzel stand to get a drink, and the woman at the counter asked me if I went to the gym there.  I said no, but that I probably should go.  Then she told me how she sees me walking by a lot and how much better I’ve been looking.  I have lost some weight, but I didn’t think some random people at the mall would notice.  I thanked her, and we engaged in conversation until another customer came by.  It was nice talking.  It was nice being noticed.

On the bus going home, there was a woman in her late thirties, asking the bus driver a few questions throughout the trip.  It was her first time on a bus.  She was so anxious, she didn’t want to do anything wrong.  I remembered how I felt first being on a bus by myself.  I thought I was the only one, but here was this woman, obviously older than I, having the same experience.  When we got to the final stop and got off the bus, I told her “you did a good job.”  It was so odd for me to talk to a stranger like that, but I did it.  And then she thanked me told me about what happened that made her take the bus.  Then she asked me my name, and she told me hers.  We shook hands and wished each other a good day.  It was nice.

When I finally managed to get home, I went to the bathroom to…go to the bathroom…and I just started crying.  Not crying out of sadness.  I was just overwhelmed with everything that was happening to me…everything I went through life being told would never happen.  Here I am, living by myself, now working three jobs, managing to get to therapy at least twice a week, trying to make myself better in the best ways I know how.  I’m doing it all on my own.  But I’m doing it.  My mother may have tried to raise a weak little girl, but I persevered.  I do what I have to do to survive.  I did it as a child, and now I’m doing it as an adult.  The difference is that now, I have choices.

Despite all of the positives of my day, my night was shaken up as my PTSD kicked in.  I was startled awake by what I thought was a knock.  Before I could process anything, I started to panic.  I thought for sure my mother had finally found me.  She had gotten the police to help her.  She was coming to kill me.  I was done for.  I started to cry and hid under the covers waiting for her to come get me.  But she never came.  Because she wasn’t there.  No one was there.

Even though I am protected by distance, my mind still believes I am in danger.  I check the locks ten times a night.  I look out the windows to make sure she’s not outside.  I still lock my bedroom door up even though I’m home alone.  I watch every car passing by to make sure it’s not my family.  I look over my shoulder constantly.  The fear is still there no matter how far away my family is from me.  The fear will always be there.  She instilled in me since childhood that she knows everything that I do…she will always find out everything.  And part of me still believes that.

Dissociation, flashbacks, and suicidal thoughts all wrapped up into one day of therapy.

Today was supposed to be a good day.

I told myself I wasn’t going to dissociate today.  I was going to be normal.  I had an iced coffee before therapy, which calmed my nerves and made me less jittery (it also tends to make me sleepy – yes, I am not normal).  It was going to be a good day.

Ha.  Ha ha ha.  Ha ha ha ha.  Why did I think that was possible?  I should have known better.  I mean, therapy started out fine.  I felt okay.  I was comfortable talking about things that had come up over the weekend.  I even brought up how i threw away my old house keys and how my mother used them to keep me under control.  Then the conversation developed into how some mother-daughter sexual abusers tend to be pathological liars.  Yep.  My mother certainly fit that mold.  And you always had to believe everything she said, no matter how wild it was, no matter how wrong it was.  If you defied her truth, you were punished for it.  Eventually I learned to just go along with whatever she said, even though intellectually I knew she was wrong (even at a young age).  I think that’s where my brother and I differ.  He never had the intelligence and know-better to realize her lies were really lies; that’s why he’s still brainwashed, and I’ve been able to take a different path.  I told my therapist I sometimes see my intelligence as a bad thing, because I think understanding so much of what went on hurts more than just living in ignorance.  Then she said if I wasn’t intelligent enough to have those realizations, I would have been brainwashed, and where would I be now?  Still at home, still a victim.  I guess she’s right.

My therapist asked me what things my mother would say that I knew weren’t true.  I told her I didn’t want to think about that.  I was trying to think about anyone else but my mother and her bullshit.  But it wasn’t working.  And the thoughts came.  And then I remembered how she believed I was the devil’s child.  I guess she treated me like one, too.  And I remember reaching an age where I knew the devil couldn’t be my father.  All this time she lied to me.  But it’s like she believed it.  She believed I was evil.  But in reality, I was born from her.  So evil breeds evil, doesn’t it?

And then I went off to dissociation land.  I’m not sure for how long.  It was Anna again.  I guess my therapist convinced her to color instead of scratching her (my?) skin off (thankfully only minimal damage this time).  She drew flowers and a yellow dog.  My therapist asked me if I wanted to keep it, or have her keep it.  I said she should keep it, since Anna likes her better.  I realize now that was kind of a hurtful response towards Anna, but it’s how I felt at the time.  I still feel disconnected with her.  It’s something I am still working on.

Shortly after coming back to reality, I was hit with a flashback.  Out of nowhere.  Why?  Why is this happening now?  I pulled my hood over my face and tried to hide.  My therapist had no idea what was going on.  She sat next to me and tried to comfort me, but I was still hiding in my hood, trying not to cry, trying to find words, trying just to breathe.  Finally she asked if I was having a flashback and I was able to tell her yes.  I was trying to regulate my breathing so I wouldn’t throw myself into a panic.  My therapist was breathing with me.  Despite my efforts, that shit was still in my head.  I didn’t know why.  Why is my mother burning me?  My therapist kept telling me it’s over now, she’s not going to do it again.  In that moment, I was just waiting for her to come through the door and do it again.  I’m a bad child.  Here comes my punishment.

Sometimes I think I fail at therapy.  What if it’s better to just keep all of these things suppressed so I don’t have to deal with them?  What good is this doing?  Therapy ran over two hours, and I missed the bus back home.  So my therapist told me I could wait out in the waiting room until the bus.  She gave me some water, some snacks, and a couple of books to read.  My mind was still out of it, but I felt safe.  Then when it got closer to the time I had to leave, I started to panic again.  I didn’t want to go home and be alone with my thoughts.  Being alone is dangerous.  I went to say goodbye to my therapist and went to give her a hug, and had such mixed feelings.  I literally went from “I can’t hug you anymore” to “Please don’t let go” within 20 seconds.  My mind was racing and I didn’t really know what to do.  She asked me what she could do to help me.  I said I didn’t know.  I said I didn’t want to leave.  So she gave me another book to read and I went and sat back down.

I soon felt myself dissociating again.  I didn’t have the energy to stop it.  I was in a weird place, as if I had gone back to believing I was that evil child that needed to be punished.  And something was telling me I needed to be punished.  But yet part of me was aware of what was going on.  Part of me knew that by going home, I was putting myself at risk.  I knew I would do something dangerous.  I was thinking of different ways I could seriously hurt or kill myself, all of which were fully accessible at home.  So I did what I could to stay out and about.  I even waited in the lobby for another two hours (once my therapist left), going in and out of dissociation (I only know because I saw the marks from me clawing at myself) before I left the building.

I left the house at 9:30 in the morning to get to therapy and didn’t get home until nearly 8 hours later.  But it’s what I needed to do to stay safe.  I’m not the most mentally stable right now, but I’m not where I was before.  Some part of me fights endlessly to live, even when another part insists on my ultimate death.  And here I am, stuck in the middle of the tug-of-war.  This happens all of the time.  I should be used to it by now.  At least I managed to stay out of a hospital (for now).  I do have to e-mail my therapist, though.  She needs to make sure I am safe.  Even though I tell her I’m fine, she knows when I’m really not fine.  I just struggle with describing all the shit that goes through my head all of the time.

After nine weeks, she throws away the keys.

I’ve been free for nine weeks now.

I wish I could say my life is so much easier.  While I am physically out of prison, emotionally, my mind is in a prison of its own.  It’s a lot harder to escape that prison.  I can’t just walk away like I did before.  It doesn’t work that way.  My mind still believes I am in danger.  My mind still believes I am going to be hurt.  It is something I can only hope will heal with time.

I threw out the keys to my old house today.  I don’t even know why I had been holding on to them all this time.  I took them out of my nightstand, held on to them for a few minutes, and then tossed them in the trash.  I don’t need them anymore.  I won’t ever be going back.  I would rather die before subjecting myself to that ever again.

I couldn’t help but think how something as small as a set of keys helped my mother continue her control over me for years.  I wasn’t even allowed to have any keys to the house until I was in my 20s.  Even then, I never had every key.  She’d always make up some nonsense excuse as to why I couldn’t have every key.  I knew the real reason.  If I didn’t have every key, that meant I couldn’t sneak out and get back in without her knowing.  It was her way of keeping me contained.  And it worked.  I never left.  The fear of her finding out was too real.  It also didn’t help that she took up residence five feet away from the door…literally, she slept just feet away from the door.  No one was ever getting past her unnoticed.

A mail key was another thing I never had the privilege of having.  I was never given a key.  I was never allowed to check the mail.  The mail had to be inspected by her first.  Oftentimes, I would be questioned about mail she deemed “suspicious” (from out-of-state, from a name she didn’t know, hand-written addresses, etc.).  A friend from a few states away had mailed me something a few years ago, and my mother interrogated me about it.  “Who is this person?  When did you meet her? What does she do?  What does she know about us?  What did she send you?  Why?” The questions seemed like they never ended.  The interrogations would last over a span of several days.  Eventually I got smart and had “suspicious” mail sent to my job instead.  I could usually intercept it there and avoid any issues altogether.  But even that was a hassle.  I had to turn down a lot of opportunities for mail because I didn’t want to risk my mother finding out about it.

My mother didn’t want me sending out mail, either.  If I wanted something mailed, I had to go through questioning first.  I used to find ways to sneak around her.  I remember in 8th grade, I asked a classmate to bring me a stamp so I could mail a letter to someone.  I ran to the mailbox after school let out and dropped it in before anyone noticed.  My plan failed though, because I didn’t think the person would write back to me.  Sure enough, my mother opened that “suspicious” mail and all hell broke loose.  I broke one of her major rules of talking outside of the family.  I got the shit beaten out of me for days.  I never had the desire to write another letter again.  I should have known better.  She always finds out.

It’s weird how I never really thought about all of this until today when I picked up those keys.  For the longest time, it was just a part of my normal.  I never really thought about how messed up shit really was.  I wonder what drove me to break the rules when I was younger.  There was so much fear there, and for good reason, yet a part of me still wanted a taste of freedom and went for it.  I know I had that desire to break free later in life, but now I can relate some parts of my earlier life to having that same desire.  I just wish it didn’t end up causing me more pain.

I’m still afraid

I’m writing this post while at a point of complete physical and emotional exhaustion, so I will try to make sense as best I can, but I can’t make any guarantees.

I’m still afraid of my mother.

Despite being in a location completely undisclosed to my own family and friends, I am still afraid of her finding me.  I am afraid that one day I will open my front door and she will be there.  Sometimes when I hear my roommate coming up the stairs, I think it’s my mother coming to punish me.  I still have nightmares.  I’m extra vigilant about every movement going on around me, expecting my mother to come out at any moment.  When I get a call or text on my phone, I am afraid to even look, dreading that the person on the other line is my mother.  It’s not like she can reach through the phone and choke me, so why the hell I am still so afraid?

Then today, as I was participating in a group therapy session with guided imagery, my mother invaded my imagination and tried to drown me in a stream.  I immediately tried to snap myself out of it, but the damage was already done.  To me, this was just a clear indication that I am still in fear of her.  I am living my life like a person in fear.  I don’t want to live like that.  But what do I do?

I am still debating on whether or not I should cut ties completely.  I wrote my mother a letter (which I will try to post tomorrow) and mailed it to a friend (so it couldn’t be traced to my location), but she has yet to send it because I am still unsure.  How will she react to it?  Will it put me in even more danger?  I need some type of closure, but I just don’t know what is right.

Father

I have a lot of mixed feelings about my father.

He wasn’t perfect.  I don’t think any father is.  I just wanted him to stand up to my mother.  You grow up learning that men are supposed to be strong and in control.  Yet here was this man, who was physically and mentally capable of being in control, sitting back and letting my mother get away with everything.  Why?  Fathers are supposed to protect their children, not perpetuate their suffering.  What hurt me more than any hit from him was knowing that he did nothing to protect me from my mother.

My father worked a lot.  He would be home on the weekends, but for the most part he was not present during the week.  Even when he was physically there, he was never there emotionally.  He was always unpredictable.  You never knew if he was in a caring mood or about to fly off the handle in anger.

My father was physically abusive at times, but I had become so numb from everything else in my life that his actions rarely bothered me.  There was only one instance that I will never forget.  I was 15 years old, and my high school guidance counselor had called my parents with some concerns about my emotional state.  I begged the counselor not to, but since no one knew the reality of my family life, there was no other choice.  I knew something was coming when I went home that day.  Instead of care and concern, I received hostility.  My father pulled a chair out to the corner of the kitchen and made me sit down.  He started screaming at me and all I could do was cry.  I’ll never forget what he said next.

“I’ll give you something to be depressed about!”

Before I could react, he hit me so hard across the face that my neck snapped back and the side of my head hit the wall.  I knew at that point I had to be quiet.  It didn’t matter what I said or did.  I committed a horrible crime.  Not only was I depressed, but I talked to someone about it, and talking wasn’t allowed in our household.

When I was in my second year of college, my father became ill.  I dropped out of school to help take care of him.  He’s been in and out of hospitals ever since.  Several heart attacks, a stroke, and a few blood infections later, he’s not the same man.  He’s physically and emotionally weaker; no longer aggressive, only passive.  My mother controls him completely now, too, and he can’t fight back.  Part of me sometimes feels sorry for him; my mother treats him like shit.  But then I remember how he treated me and tell myself that it’s karma coming back to bite him.