Body/bodies (268)

I hate my body 99% of the time. When I was a kid and everything started happening with my brother, I started eating. I was pre-pubescent, and I was eating to not think or feel, to numb. I still do it regularly even now. If my brain is noisy or my body noisy, I go to the fridge and I just stand there and eat. I’m not hungry…in fact sometimes I’m even very aware of how overly full I am, as I continue to put more food into my body to quiet it.

Of course, I became pretty chubby after that. I wasn’t even fat, but I was the chubbiest in my very small year and did have a fair few pounds that I could’ve done without, and so of course I became the “fat kid”, the one to be bullied because they were bigger than the others. And so my hatred for my body began. Because it was causing me to be singled out and picked on. Not only did the kids at school point my weight out, but my grandfather took frequent opportunities to be cruel to me about it. His disgust was very apparent; he was pretty forthcoming. It’s two years since he died on thursday…I’m not sure how I’m feeling about that. Did I ever actually like him?

I also hated my body, because it was my body that men were after. It was my body that my brother used, abused, raped. My body singled me out in my family because it was female, in a generation of all boys.

As I grew up I hated the female curves that were forming on my body. I always thought  (and most of the time still do think) that I have huge horrible thighs. I used to have bigger boobs (now they’re smaller, and I’m actually okay with their size), and I hated them, they just felt wrong on me somehow. Like they didn’t belong, were alien to who I was. What I felt like, and always wanted to cling onto, was a small child’s body. It’s never made sense to me, because it wasn’t the womanliness that caused me to be abused, that attracted him to me. I was abused in a child’s body. The only thing that seems to fit is that I was clinging onto the hope of being rescued and looked after. Nobody will recuse a grownup – they rescue themselves. Nobody is going to take me in and love me if I’m not a kid. I still struggle with this. A few years ago I lost a lot of weight in not a lot of time. My thoughts around food and eating and exercising were extremely disordered. Several times I tried to make myself sick after eating, even though I was actually just terrible at it. I’m still struggling with it. Still wanting to lose weight even though I don’t need to. Wanting to be small, wanting to not take up space, wanting people to figure out I’m not okay, wanting people to treat me like the little parts that I have inside and to take me in and parent me.

My angry part hates my body for taking up space. For existing. For being soft and squishy, for being hurt, and for being a body that can be hurt. She takes a razor blade and punishes the body, feeling pride and satisfaction when the gentle flow of blood rolls down our skin. She would rather our body was made out of cast iron: impenetrable.

And finally I think I should probably finish by quickly mentioning the memories that are now flashing in my mind. Of a body forced to do other peoples bidding. A body that I had no real control over. A body forced and hurt and violated. How am I meant to learn to love the body that got me here, when it did everything that it did? Forced or willing, my body did those things and now harbours shame and resentment and anger and lately a lot of rage.

Spoiled/Spoilt (256)

I hate this word, and I hate how it frequently gets used by the parents of children that are ‘misbehaving’ or being ‘demanding’.

Because when you’re the parent of a child that’s throwing a tantrum over not getting what they want, or being generally difficult and obnoxious, and you’re getting angry and shouting at them and shaming them and telling them they’re a spoilt brat, how do you think they got that way? A four year old that has learnt to get exactly what they want and refuses anything other than that, hasn’t become that way by him/herself. Children aren’t born spoilt, they don’t come out of the womb that way, it isn’t a part of their DNA, it is something that they have learnt through a lack of proper parenting. And so the anger and cruelty that you hear coming out of parents’ mouths whilst shaming their child for being a way that they have learnt to be under their own parenting, makes me crazy and so mad. Because it’s not a childs fault if they have gotten what they want so far in life, because they are the child, and it’s not their responsibility to set the boundaries for what they can and cannot have, and what oversteps the mark into ‘being spoiled’

…….

Short sidetrack to google and find out what the difference between spoilt and spoiled is….nothing. Apparently Americans (here’s looking at you pocketcanadian) use spoilt, but we brits use both. Who knew? Not me.

…….

The other thing is what does being spoiled actually mean? I guess I googled it because I was thinking about how over here I think we use the word spoilt more in terms of what someone would call a ‘spoilt brat’… someone who is demanding, and refuses to not get exactly what they want when they want. Someone not used to hearing no, and refusing to accept no as a reasonable response. A phrase generally used for kids…so yeah, just ugh to that. It bugs me.

Spoiling somebody isn’t necessarily a bad thing though is it? Saying you want to spoil somebody for their birthday, or because they’ve had a rough go and could use some love and support. Which just makes me think its such a stupid word to use, because doing something like doesn’t make somebody ‘harmed in character because of being treated too leniently or indulgently’, which is the definition google is giving me. I just think it is a dumb fucking phrase.

……

And finally, the personal bit….My mum in particular likes to tell me and other people about how I’m spoiled. So no shit I hate this word. And yet I have never been one to act in a spoiled way, I’m just not like that. When we were kids we didn’t just get pocket money, I used to work in my parents business, or earn money doing jobs like cutting the grass. We didn’t go without anything that we needed nor plenty of things that we wanted, not because of acting in a spoiled way, but because they were freely given. Private schools were paid for (whether you wanted to go to the local comprehensive with your friends like I did or not), Expensive gifts were given, whether you asked for them or wanted them or liked them or not. And you never said no to them, that was extremely rude and ungrateful. And that’s the thing…it’s a catch 22 with her. Because it doesn’t matter if you don’t want it, or how much you tell her not to, if she decides shes going to give you it (because she’s a narcissist and it makes her look good), you’re getting it. And I’m actually very grateful, and have always been grateful for everything I’ve had from them. I just don’t like the implication that because you are freely given things you never asked for, you’re spoilt.

Finally, (I promise I’m nearly done and will shut up soon), things in our house were given to make everything ‘okay’. I think there was a genuine and very kind and loving desire from my parents that we would never go without anything, but things were also given to placate and guilt you into forgiving and forgetting other things. You weren’t allowed to still be upset if you were given a gift, in fact you would have to show just how grateful you were. For example every single week my dad would bring back gifts for my mum and me from the airport on his flight home. For my mum it was for his own guilt over the women he was sleeping with whilst he was away, or simply to get a peaceful weekend, like the gifts for me were. But as it happened, I was happiest when I was just given a bar of milka chocolate (yum), when I didn’t have to express how grateful I was all the time, and when I could just spend time with my dad guilt free, eating chocolate.

one hundred & ninety two: heat

for whatever reason, the expression that came to mind was if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

such a gentle, understanding, kind thing to say…not. it probably came to mind in the first place because the sentiment and its tone feel familiar. it’s something my parents would say. it’s aggressive, no-nonsense, and also, leaves little room for alternate interpretations of reality. it leaves no room for how you feel, for any context. it’s kinda like, if you have anything other than accolades for me, then shut up and get out.

when i did some research into its origins, it apparently came from US president harry truman, a plain-speaking guy by all accounts, who told some of his staff that if they didn’t like how he did things, they could clear out of the way for someone who did. fair enough, really. he was the boss of the country, after all.

but one interpretation of the phrase made me first flush with shame, and then anger: that if you can’t cope with something, leave the work for someone who can. and also, if the pressure is too much to deal with, if you can’t hack it, perhaps just bow out.

oh, okay. yeah, let me try that. coz you know what, i’d love to get out of the fucking kitchen and have someone else step in and deal with the aftermath of early childhood incest, neglect and trauma. please do. please cope with it for me, so i can not be such a disaster. sign me up for that.

coz yeah, i’ve had it with this heat. i’ve had it with messing up my relationships, with battling shame, with hurting others and being hurt. i’ve had it with suicidal ideation. i would be more than happy to tag out so that someone can do the work of knitting my life back together. i’m game. i’d empty my bank account for that for sure.

one hundred & sixty one: anger

i don’t do anger very well, either. let’s just get that straight.

*

a few years ago i would have said i was fluent in anger. it was an acceptable expression of emotion, just like with pocketbrit’s family, but there was no awareness of what drove it. what it was covering. what lay underneath.

at the beginning of my marriage, when my wife and i argued, i’d often end up really angry. super frustrated, sharp words, defensive, prickly, unfair, terrible. and her response was to cajole, distract, or check out, coz that’s what kept her safe in her home as a kid, being able to interrupt a volatile situation or just exit. coz she also came from a home where anger was dangerous; where there was screaming and violence and arguing. in fact, she remembers often taking refuge on the roof of her house, where the shouting and crashing were muffled, where she’d sit, with her knees drawn up, watching the stars, waiting for it to end. that makes me so so sad.

it just occurred to me that we triggered the fuck out of each other. i got angry, and she got absent. she didn’t get angry, she just got quiet, and then i got absent.

*

over the ensuing decade and a bit, we worked it through. she knows that when i am lashing out at her, that i am hurt. and i know that if i want her to hear me, i need to dig deeper, and let her know what’s beneath all my spikes. similarly, i know that when she starts raging about the house being out of order or going silent, that she is scared, and needing to exert control somewhere. she has learned that disappearing when she is angry is far scarier for me than any words or actions she may take.

however, these last few years have really fucked with that vibe. separately, we’re each working through our trauma(s) in therapy, and it’s been hard, really hard, to figure it out with each other while we’re evolving individually. she is learning to find her voice, her entirely justified anger, her inner advocate, and it is so good, and so important, and so necessary. by no means am i always good with it, coz sometimes i’m just terrible, ask her. and on the flip side, i am learning (so so fucking slowly, like turtle-with-four-broken-legs slow) to allow room for my hurt, to feel the stuff beneath all those angry, prickly layers i built up, to unpack the reflex to get mad. it is the worst timing, and the best timing both, and it is hard.

*

more often than not these days, i am terrified by anger. my own, and that of others. i get instantly small, instantly triggered, instantly wanting to bolt out of wherever i am so i can hyperventilate and panic. and it is really fucking inconvenient, and so shameful. i mean, fuck, i grew up with a goodly dose of violence, parents who yelled and hit us fairly frequently, i used to have no problem getting enraged, why am i getting so fucking weird about it now?

i don’t know, but nowadays, anger undoes me. i’ve gone the opposite direction.

ask the people closest to me (my wife, pocketbrit, even my kid) and they’ll tell you. a hint of anger and i’m outta there. it’s the worst, the absolute worst.

i really want to get better with it.

Anger (161)

Safe to say, I don’t do anger very well. At all well in fact.

Anger was always considered a strong emotion in our house; one of the few emotions that were actually allowed. The major problem was that anger far too frequently involved violence. Doors slammed, words shouted, objects smashed, things thrown. Anger was terrifying when I was little, and yet there was so much of it, and worse of all, from a young age I took on the role of mediator. I was the only one who could get through to my dad when he was raging (and he was the very worst), and it somehow just became my duty to try to step in the middle and keep the peace. From all of that I ended up keeping all of my anger inside. I separated off from all of it, and most of the time I directed it inwards, because if I directed it at anybody else there would be nobody to step into the role of mediator.

These days I get angry, I have a part that just gets referred to as the angry one, and she rages and is awful. I can’t stand her. I am also not very good with anger. It doesn’t matter how okay I was beforehand, pretty much as soon as anger comes up I’m a triggered mess, scared of what will come next.

So yeah, I suck when it comes to anger, its not my favourite.

one hundred & thirty two: pessimism

there are words that we use that have judgements inherent in them, and this is one of them, i think.

to be a pessimist is to have a shortage of hope or confidence that things will work out. to see the ‘worst’ in things, to focus on the negative. it’s seen as an ‘attitude’ (which is also a judgy sort of word, if you ask me) that things are not going to be all right. i’ve met very few people who would say, oh yeah, i’m a total pessimist except, you know what, you’re going to, right now. coz unfortunately, i am a pessimist.

i say unfortunately because you know what, it fucking sucks to feel like this. to not trust that things are going to be fine. to catastrophize, to have those niggly annoying convictions that the other shoe is going to drop and it’s all going to hell. to wait for people to leave you. to find it nearly impossible to imagine that people might like you, for real.

i feel like the judgements about pessimism is from people who don’t have a trauma history. and while i am so glad there are people out there who don’t, who were born into families who harvested hope, security and trust, who grew up with confidence and pride, i also feel a bit resentful about the discrimination. i would LOVE to know what unadulterated hope feels like, without the panic alongside. i would have loved to have been a child whose autonomy and growth was fostered and encouraged, instead of squelched. while we’re at it, i would truly have loved to have been spared my dad and uncle’s nocturnal visits, and if they really had to happen? i would have loved someone to have noticed, and to have intervened, rather than turning the other way.

coz it seems to me that the ideas of pessimism and optimism suggest we all start off on equal footing in life, and somewhere along the way, we make a choice to see the glass as half empty or half full. and that, friends, reeks of bullshit to me, and is an incredibly simplistic, reductionist way to classify people into who’s good, and who’s less good. and crappily, some of us start off with less of a chance of a sunny outlook than others.

among the things that make me tired, taking full ownership for my lack of hope is yet another one.

Written Feb 12/19 but backposted to Feb 3/19

 

 

Forgiveness (121)

I think I actually made an ‘ugh’ sound and scrunched up my nose when I read this word out today. Lost in my own world despite being in a busy classroom. Because, well, fuck this word.

I don’t agree with any bullshit notion that somebody will never move on from the things that happened to them until they forgive the perpetrator. Really, come on, that’s so fucking minimising and arseholeish to suggest. It’s not that I am vehemently against the notion of forgiveness, (and I’m most definitely not vehemently for it), it’s that I just don’t agree that I need to rise above all of it and ‘forgive in order to find peace’….don’t mind me, I’ll just be over in the corner puking.

And, maybe I would forgive them, except one thing I am extremely set on is that I will not ever forgive them, unless they actually come up to me and ask to talk about it. To face it, stop pretending, apologise, and are actually meaningfully regretful, and also, seem to actually understand the fucking colossal effects of what they did. Until then…fuck forgiveness. No fucking way.

*****

The one and only person that I do want to forgive (and maybe forgiveness actually isn’t even the right word), is myself back then. For doing what she did, for surviving how she did, for not choosing to do the things that adult me wishes she had. Maybe that’s not really about forgiveness, but about accepting the situation…but from where I stand today, feeling so hateful towards a younger me, forgiveness maybe does feel like the right word. Maybe? I don’t know.

 

Gratitude (113)

This ones a bit sticky for me. In our house gratitude was horribly interlinked with not complaining, keeping your mouth firmly shut.

“Shut up and be grateful for what you’ve got”.

And yes, we should all be grateful for the things in life that we have, nothing is a given, not a home, or a job, or safe people or loved ones. Some people currently have none of those things. And yet, as I’ve grown up, I don’t for one minute agree with this notion that talking about things we wish were different, “complaining”, expressing negative sentiments towards things, makes us ungrateful people, or ungrateful for those things that we do have.

I was extremely grateful to go to a private school (although to begin with I begged to go to the local school with all my friends, and would have done perfectly well there), and yet in our house we were continually reminded of how much sending each of us to a private school had cost them, (quite literally, we were given the figures), and everything they had missed out on in order to do so. And I am grateful, truly, for my school was in fact a bit of a safe haven for me for a few years, and yet it does not make right the pressure placed to do well and “make all the money worth it”. It also doesn’t make right the rest of the shitshow of a childhood we had at times. In order to be grateful for the sacrifices they made (and they did do it with the best of intentions), I do not need to be grateful for the rest of my childhood, or pass it off as being ‘made up for by’ that one thing, or ‘well, think about everything we gave up for to send you to that school, how much it cost’.

One right (and actually, a questionably necessary right) does not make okay other wrongs. Being grateful for one thing doesn’t automatically mean you should forget other wrongs.

I am not grateful for the sexual, physical and emotional abuse I endured growing up. Nor the neglect. I will not ignore or forgive those things simply because I “ought to be grateful” for the house we had, the food and clothes, the gifts my father bought us in the airport each week, the schools we went to, the opportunities we had, the birthday and christmas presents. I won’t allow the violation of my body to be made right by the fact that my dad bought me back a big bar of milka chocolate from Schippol Airport most weeks, and “dads home and he’s bought you a present so you have to be on your best behaviour”.

I’m absolutely positive that in my parents opinion, the rapes at the hand of a member of my own family are made okay by the fact that I never went without food or clothes, things I needed, and very often things I didn’t need. I am to keep quiet, keep the secret, no make a fuss, be grateful for all those things that I did get, not be selfish and focus on the negative, make out that it was all awful, and make life difficult for them.

And I still cannot comprehend this response of theirs. I don’t believe I am being ungrateful at all, I am grateful for the things I got.

Their disregard for all of my hurt however, has me floored.

Boundaries (97)

First thing this made me think of was a blog called Tales of a Boundary Ninja that pocketcanadian told me about a couple of years ago now. The blog doesn’t seem to be active anymore, but I know I found it helpful and pc even more so. Definitely so worth a read to anyone who hasn’t heard of it.

And as does that blog talk about boundaries in relation to the authors therapist, this word makes me think of mine.

My t has very strict boundaries, and I completely hate them. I have been so jealous of other peoples relationships with their therapists. When my friend talks about their t checking in, texts that tell her she loves her or is thinking about her, when I hear about contact during the Christmas break, I am so full of ugly jealousy. Even worse, when I read about and hear about people having their therapist come over to sit next to them during a tough session, when they rest their head on their therapists lap or against their chest, when a therapist will read children’s books or stroke their hair…. All I can think is what is wrong with me? Why won’t my t ever do that? And ugh, the jealousy, the anger, the self hated. All because of boundaries.

And her reasons are the same bullshit thats always given… Its so important to have boundaries to keep it safe, that it’s a total lack of boundaries that has hurt me so much in my life, and it’s essential that she models good boundaries.

But fuck that. It isn’t boundaries that hurt me back then, it was violent, abusive arseholes. And how can it be safe for some therapists to do these things and not her? And I bet she does it with other clients. I bet she just doesn’t want my crazy rubbing off on her. Well fuck her.

And, where did these bullshit boundaries come into play when her husband came into my place of work on Christmas eve? Yes we are a business open to the general public, but he knew who I was, I could tell, and that’s fine, I go to his house every week and sometimes we see each other, but he shouldn’t fucking come to my place of work. That sounds like bullshit boundaries that are there how and when she wants them.

Progress (93)

366 days ago I was spending Christmas with my parents, my brother and his fiancé, and a couple family friends, at my parents house (the one where a lot of the abuse from my brother took place) . My therapist last session said something about how terrible last Christmas was for me and I did a huge double take, (was it? Fuck I don’t remember that), because it all kind of blurs in I think. You do what you can to get through it, and the immediate aftermath is normally pretty bloody bad, but then you get by and you just sort of erase the details from your memory.

In these last 365 days, progress has been, well, non-e-fucking-xistant.

Let’s see, after that terrible Christmas, my therapist and I talked a lot about all the reasons it wasn’t really safe to tell my parents, to do the one thing that was on my mind all the time. Pocketcanadian would tell me that it wasnt safe for me to tell my parents like she had, that it was different circumstances, I am younger and I’m not independent from them. So a measly 6 weeks later, like the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the biggest idiot that I am, I fucking tell them.

And you’d think, 10.5 months on, that a lot would’ve happened, progress would be made, but that’s the biggest fucking laughable joke going.

I didn’t even have to say it, my mother asked the question, because she already knew the answer… What did he do to you? I know he tried it on with you once. Yes mum, he fucking raped me and attempted it a couple of times when you walked in and basically did sweet fuck all. Everything took place under your roof where you turned a fucking blind eye and allowed your daughter to be abused. Amazing.

And their responses… They don’t want to lose him. They don’t want to risk his career. They don’t want to risk him never coming back. They want me to keep my fat gob shut, and to play their little game of happy families. I’m to attend family events, I’m to act the part of loving daughter and sister, I’m to let no one know. I have to be so grateful for my darling brother. Told that I have to open presents from him that I really really don’t want to. Told to not be selfish. Told that isn’t that lovely of him /them.

Summer birthdays were the first time I actually was made to be there all together again, I had successfully managed to avoid being there when he was up until that point. And guess how it went? Dinner parties where my mother gushed over her amazing son, and slighted me every way she could, in front of everyone. I actually couldn’t believe it.

And now I’m back here again, a year later, a full circle. Thankfully no brother as he is away, but that doesn’t mean a lack of all the other stuff. Dinner table talk of how amazing he is, how wonderful his fiancé (their perfect vision of a daughter – if only they could’ve got one like her, not me). Video calls with both of them. All the lovey bullshit about how wonderful he is, what a shame he can’t be here, how missed he is. All for the audience of a family friend and grandparents. Meanwhile I’m barely at the table. I’m the waitress, that’s what I’m there for. To help cook, to carry plates, to fetch and carry and pour wine. To wash up everything from cooking a massive meal and serving a four course meal for 6 people (shit ton of washing up). And I’m not missed. I’m told what to do, not wanted to sit down with everyone else. And I sit back and do nothing (because there is no point), when my mum goes on about what a great mother she is. How she’s thinking of my other brother (who only wants anything to do with them when he needs money), how poor him, and poor her, and shes such a great mum, and when you have kids you’ll understand how mothers just want to protect their kids and have them close. Protect them? Lol!!!

I realised at some point yesterday, when my dad got angry and arseholeish with me because i hadn’t immediately gone and got something he wanted me to (because I was washing up a stack of plates resembling everest), that that was all I was there for. They had all the family they wanted when they could phone call my eldest brother and his fiance. They are their darlings, all they need in life. And I will never never never live up to them. And immediately I was so full of shame. I was being yelled at, I wasn’t good enough, yet again, and worse still, I was actually not really wanted. And that was it, I was 4 years old, crying without being able to stop the tears falling, escaping to cuddle my cat and try to find just someone that loved me and wanted me. My little one is still noisy, still sad, still ashamed for always being wrong.

Yesterday I texted pc, whilst I was so mad and losing it, and I said this: Here’s a resolution for 2019. Fucking kill myself so that I don’t have to see another year through. That’s how I feel about all of it, that’s really how I’m still feeling, how I can’t bear another year like this one.

So that’s my full circle of this past year. So much has happened, so much that a year ago I would have bet all my money on not happening… if someone had said I would tell my parents, face this stuff, I would have told you that’s incredible progress. But I guess that’s the amazing thing now about hindsight, because progress? What fucking progress? I’ve told them and *nothing* has changed. And that fills me with so much shame that I really do wish I was 10ft under.

Merry Christmas, folks.