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.

Weak (98)

I feel like I need forever to actually be able to write this post and do it justice for all the power this word holds over me.

Being ‘weak’ is the most insufferable, sickening, shrinking, painful thing to me. The idea of it, the suggestion that I might be it, the thought that people may misjudge me and consider me weak where I am not.

The origins of the pain of this word, of course, are from my family. They lie in the fact that being upset, needing, being sensitive and emotional were considered to be ‘weak’, and that being weak led to abuse and trauma and pain.

 

  • My mother was not the cuddly, gentle, reassuring, patient mother that small children need. She was generally inpatient, had no time for tears or being upset, or hurt. She didn’t react to those things with gentleness, but instead with annoyance and sometimes anger, and frankly, a lack of mothering. I hadn’t actually made the connection between this word and my mother to this extent until I began writing, but it is extremely clear. I don’t think she meant any harm by being that way; it was not intentional, likely passed down from her own upbringing. However the effects of it were far-reaching and really quite devastating. How was I ever going to feel like I could turn to somebody and admit how I was being hurt, when doing exactly that had been ingrained into me as being weak? How could I cry and need and ask for attention when that only ever resulted in impatience and annoyance, and a “come on, you’re fine, stop making a fuss”.

 

  • And all of that just caused so much shame. I closed in on myself to keep myself safe. Don’t cry, don’t be little, don’t be needy, don’t hurt, don’t be hurt. The white hot shame of doing those things only to be ten-folded when met with cold irritation. I hate that bastard shame, I really really do.

 

  • Today this word sits differently amongst different parts of me. The older parts don’t like it, but they are generally disdainful, quietly hating or judging the younger parts when they do something ‘weak’. If the rage-y one rages then this often is a source of huge self-hatred that she uses as ammunition. They take the place of my mum, inputting all of her shame. The youngest part pays no mind to not being ‘weak’; shes needy and emotional, and full on, and doesn’t care except to not want to be told off for it. The one that this is the be all and end all for is one of the young ones. The word sits in her belly and weighs it down with shame. It is always in the background, always there. It’s why she is spikey and walled up and tries to scare people away. It why she can’t ever let anybody totally in, despite being desperate to be loved and cared for like the little one she is. Her world centers around this 4-lettered stupid little word. It causes more pain, keeps more relationships from deepening, and keeps us more alone than any other word in the dictionary. And worst of all is the self-hatred it invokes.

 

I think this is going to be a part 1 of 2 (or more). There’s more to say…its huge impact even today, how I thought I deserved it all for being weak. How I thought if I physically made myself strong I would hate myself less for being weak…. But this will do, for now. It’s a start.

seventy-five: enable

i have a fair number of people with a variety of addictions (food, alcohol, gambling, drugs) on both sides of my extended family (and my wife does, too), so i thought immediately about enabling in that sense; that is, an unhealthy interdependence, whereby the person with the addiction is protected by another/others from the consequences of their behaviour.

i of course also thought about abuse (when don’t i?) and about how angry/sad/crazy it makes me feel when i think about how long i was complicit with the story my parents had woven about me. how long it went unchallenged, how deeply i believed it, how hard it was to consider that the wrongness i had always believed was mine, maybe wasn’t. how difficult it is to shake, even now. that its familiarity, its tune, has been bred into my very cells, it seems.

i enabled that story. meaning, i actively participated in it, for years. in fact, that story is still being told, and i wish i could say it doesn’t hurt me, but it does, it really fucking does. i’m a grown-ass woman, but they can still make me feel miniscule.

that i’m not seen, that i’m not known by them, feels like a wound that might never fully close over. i think we’re doing so good but then a word…a text…a fucking greeting card aisle…a stupid holiday…and it’s weeping again, the pain fresh and new and sharp.

Hate

A couple of nights ago, I wanted to destroy everyone and everything near me. I was so so full of hate, I just wanted it out of my body. I was imagining hurting my poor little kitten that I love (I didn’t); I wanted to really really hurt him, release all of my anger and hate, and kill him, this little, adorable, sweet and oh so naughty kitten. My thoughts were violent and uncontrollable and just so so not okay. There was no interacting with other parts of myself, there was only this unbearable hatred eating me up. I wanted to rage, I wanted to scream and hit things, and hurt people. I really, really wanted to hurt people. I wanted to hurt myself most of all. I wanted to hurt every single good person in my life, I wanted to scare them all away, and then I wanted to punish myself. The feeling that I always have is that of taking a knife and slicing it, right down my body…of taking my hands and removing all of the soft squishy guts, everything that makes me feel weak. I wanted to remove every single soft bit on my body, and I didn’t want to do it painlessly, I wanted to feel the sharp tang of the knife, I wanted to feel the sweet release of all of this weakness being removed from me. I wanted to feel relieved and like I could breathe again afterwards, hardened and strong.

I hate myself when I’m like this. Its a terrible circle…because when I am hating, I hurt people, and shout or want to hurt innocent animals. That then makes me hate myself the moment the rage begins to subside, and I think about how awful a person I am. That then in turn tends to turn me back to rage and hating myself, and you’re stuck in this cyclical pleasure ride.

Something pc said to me, (after sticking with me through that night, no matter how awful I was), was that she wants to know this part most of all, that she was the biggest protector… And I guess she was. Because all of the hate, all of the anger, became contained. It was separated, and it was felt when it was generally safe, and it was almost all directed inwards. She kept me safe, by making me angry at myself and nobody else. She kept me small, and feeling strong, and blaming myself. And that, in its own very screwed up way, kept me safe. It kept me from acting out and being on the receiving end of retaliation. And it kept me from the unbearable grief of placing that anger where it belongs and realising that no one would listen or help.

I  really want to end this with some lovely sentence or two to summarise, but I can’t, because really it just feels like one bloody big mess in my head.

Resolutions

I’ve been searching, for years, for a resolution to the things that happened to me.

For years I placed it out of my mind. Don’t think about it, don’t feel anything, don’t acknowledge any of it. That was my resolution, and it was a necessary one at the time.

Then I moved out of my parents’ house and suddenly that was no longer possible. I couldn’t ignore it, even when I wanted to. So my resolution became to start talking (or try to) and to get over it without ever having to say a word to my family or friends.

Except that still wasn’t working too well, and one night I did tell a friend. Then we both ignored it… Didn’t know what to say so said nothing at all. Nothing had really changed, I was still set firmly that I would never tell anyone, never hurt my family and break us up. That that was no resolution at all.

Fast forward a couple of years and outwardly everything remains the same. Still set in my mind… I’ll never tell, never ruin everything. But inwardly I am a mess. I’m spending lots of time on a forum, I can’t shake thoughts of this stuff for more than 2 hours in a row. I feel unfixably broken. I’ve become extremely close to a woman that has done something I am to afraid to. She is brave and strong and amazing, even when she feels the opposite of all of those things. And I feel ashamed that I’m too weak to do what she’s done. That I can’t stand up and tell them.

Until one day I do. Without ever intending to. (and she’s the first person I tell). I’m a mess, I’m dissociative, I’m trying to keep everything together whilst it’s falling apart. And yet somewhere inside of me I had this voice saying that it was good, so good. That I’d told, that the burden and weight was lifted, that it would all be okay. That finally, I had my resolution.

Naive, right? Oh yes. No resolution, no nothing. Heartbreak and pain that the two people that raised me want nothing to do with this information. That I come last, yet again. That I am placed yet again in the position of keeping this secret, only this time with nobody to hold out hope for. Nobody to think that they would care and love me and put me first. Nobody to be heartbroken by the things that were done to me.

Now I don’t know what the resolution is. To stay here? To ignore it all and keep this secret to keep my family? To leave and lose all of them?

I still don’t have a resolution, and I realise that I won’t ever have a resolution that feels good. And this post is whiny and poor-me and annoying, I know. But actually, tonight it breaks my heart. It kills me that our mums did nothing whilst we were sexually abused by members of our own family. It kills me that after telling, years later, they still do nothing. The lack of safety, the lack of loving people, the aloneness. Jesus it hurts tonight. It really fucking hurts.

Can you imagine? A wee little pocketcanadian at 4 years old, in her bedroom, alone, after being shamed, alone and scared and trying to make sense of the disgusting things men did to her tiny little body.

I always felt disgusting. I blamed myself and I felt like I had to be the adult keeping our family together. I didn’t let anyone in, I tried not to let myself have feelings, except late at night, when i would cry myself to sleep. I wasn’t safe. I never felt safe.

There probably isn’t a resolution. I suspect its dumb to expect one. But I can’t seem to stop searching for one

***

Tonight pc and I have been messaging. I told her how sad I was, how I couldn’t bear any more hurt. And she said yeah, that’s what’s been hurting her so much, that she feels like she’ll never get over that hurt. I told her we will, we both will. Not get over it, but become more at peace with it. (Meaning, it will always be there, but we’ll be better able to cope with it, we’ll come to accept it easier, somehow. I don’t know, I can’t seem to adequately explain what I mean). Her response: no we won’t. But it will get less. It will inform our lives, it will make us so so strong and so gentle and so resolved to not repeat it ever again.

I feel like I want to save those words. I want to save the love and protectiveness and gentleness we are both feeling for little us tonight. And I want to save that knowledge, that the hurt will change. It will always be there, but it won’t be as strong as it is tonight, it will shift, and it will sit differently within our bodies.

And I want to cement that resolution. I will never do what our mother’s did. I will never sit back and allow those things to happen to a child. And should somebody let me in to their hurt and tell me of terrible things that have happened to them, I endeavour to always take it seriously, to be gentle and loving and present.

fifty-eight: endings

in the wordpress app at the beginning of a fresh new unwritten post, it always prompts, ‘share your story here’…and tonight, with this word, seeing that just made me so unbelievably sad. like disproportionately sad, half a box of kleenex sad.

i hope to be able to explain all of that soon but tonight, i can’t. i can’t touch this word and i can’t share my story here. it’s all a bit beyond my capabilities at the moment.

i know we have about three whole readers of this blog but if the three of you could please just send care or mojo or fairy dust or good vibes or anything similar this way, i’d be so so grateful. it’s hard right now over here, and i need all the help I can get.

Pain #2

Reading pc’s post again tonight brings tears to my eyes. She writes beautifully about the ugliest of things and she’s put words to things that I had zero desire to try to write about yesterday.

I want to add some more. And I suppose there are two types to this. The physical pain, and far worse, the emotional. I’ll start with the former.

  • The bruises on a body from ‘kids being kids’.
  • The feeling of suffocating when your head is held underwater and however much you flail and try to get out of their grip, you can’t.
  • Or when their hand is over your mouth and nose, or around your neck and you can’t escape.
  • When their body is on top of yours, pinning you down.
  • When your arm or leg is held so hard you end up bruised.
  • When you are hit or pushed down or threatened without the requirement of words even leaving their mouth.
  • When their penis is down your throat and you cannot escape. When you gag and can’t breathe, and the only air you can get into your lungs is when they release the pressure of their hand on the back of your head and you can pull back just long enough that you can breathe through your nose again before they thrust your head back forward and you’re suffocating. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat x 100.
  • When you disappear to wherever you can, because the things they are doing to your body are more than you can cope with.
  • When doors are slammed on hands. Objects thrown at faces. Plates and glasses smashed on the wall behind you.
  • The sweet sharp pain that is self inflicted in order to try to bring yourself back to the present, or punish yourself, or just feel *something*. Or rather, actually, to so often feel nothing, to numb everything happening in your brain and body, to remove yourself from it all.

And yet, the actual physical pain and fear is short lived right? Ha. No, not really. Because the emotional pain brings them back all the fucking time. Periods become triggers where your body feels like it’s still happening, over and over, where your memories torment you. And all of these things come back, out of nowhere, when you least expect it, when you might be having a good day, and then SLAM. Hit in the face with this shit, out of nowhere, for no reason that you can pinpoint.

And as pc has said, all of the other shattering things.

  • The fact that they chose him, yet again. The fact that you’re not chosen. The knowledge that you won’t ever be.
  • The fear that has your knees curled up to your chest whilst you sit on the floor of the shower for half an hour hoping that the water will wash it all off of you.
  • The birthdays, the christmases, the fathers days, the mothers days, the lunches, the dinners, the family gatherings, the celebrations.
  • The never ending silencing.
  • The earth shattering loss of parents that can make you feel orphaned, and alone and like you won’t survive it.
  • The shame. The white hot, flushed cheeks, sweaty bodied shame.
  • The fucking ocean of grief. And the ocean of grief that you haven’t been able to cry for in years.
  • The years spent taking care of yourself because nobody else will. The putting yourself to bed and the crying yourself to sleep at night.
  • The feeling unseen, unheard, unappreciated, unloved. Unloveable.
  • The taking all of it on so that you can retain some semblance of control.

There are so many more. This list isn’t even close to exhaustive, but I have another post I need to write.

forty-seven: pain

i haven’t much wanted to write this one, either.

it’s just…this one little four-letter word cannot even begin to capture the experience of remembering what i did, nearly three years ago. it doesn’t even start to cut it, represent it, describe it.

it doesn’t cover the far-reaching loss of relatives, friends, and acquaintances i’ve experienced since then, the isolation. the whole-body pang when i hear the word family. the three father’s days and mother’s days i’ve endured since then. the putting-up with the continued mindfuckery by text and email. the depth of guilt for not knowing how to negotiate a relationship with my parents for our young daughter (and the original panic of ohmygodohmygoddidhehurthertoo). the boundaries we’ve had to put in place for her protection, without being able to answer her angry questions as to why they are there.

the interruptions to intimacy within my marriage. the countless nights i’ve sobbed into my pillow, soundlessly and at top volume and most everything in between. the ways it has manifested itself in my body, through physical illnesses and symptoms i’ve never had before. the impact on our finances, as i pay people to help me clean up the mess that was left in my body, in my inner child, in my life. the way i’ve questioned my parenting. the self-loathing. the self-loathing. the self-loathing.

the terrifying, whispery refrain that burbles up every so often that everyone would be better off if i wasn’t here. that i would be doing everyone a favour. the way that i have believed those horrible words, that i have considered them so closely, more than i care to admit.

and one of the grossest aspects of this pain is that i am not alone in it. it is shared, among so many millions of us. people i know and people i don’t. people i love, like pocketbrit, and people i don’t love at all. the stories are varied but the exquisite, soul-shattering experience of it? is not even remotely unique.

there is no comfort in this.

just tears and tears and tears.

forty-five: earth(ly)

sorry friends, it’s another musical association.

one of my favourite sarah harmer songs is uniform grey, and in one of the verses it mentions her being in an airplane, “high above [her] earthly pain”…and that’s stuck with me. in fact i think of that line every time i fly, wondering if this is the trip i’ll be able to leave it all behind.

but then, as i wrote that, i thought about earth, like the rich black earth in which we plant things. i thought of its smell and about both of my grandparents, who had huge vegetable and flower gardens and spent every year from april to october on their knees, digging, planting, weeding, tending, harvesting. in particular i remember my grandmother’s hands, earth under her nails, in the kitchen. her apron smelling of dirt and of dill and onions. of love.