Talking Abuse

As you might have guessed by yesterday’s poem (if you read it), since Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking about the abuse by my stepfather and my mother’s tolerance of it more often. Maybe it’s my birthday and the Christmas holidays drawing nearer, they always put me in a glum mood and put thoughts of my birth family into my mind.

Whenever there is a major holiday, memories of days long gone intrude, and also I can’t help wondering about my mother, what she might be doing. Like how did she spend Thanksgiving? Did she see anyone? Does she live with anyone these days? Or did she just get wasted by herself, the way she used to whenever it was only her and me and home. My stepfather died in jail . . . is she mourning him on holidays? And does she ever think of me?  Does she ever wonder about what I might be doing, the way I wonder about her? And when it’s my birthday, does she think of me? Or does she not even remember?

I don’t know why those thoughts would matter – after all I haven’t seen her or heard from her in what will be eleven years in January, and I have my family now – but I can’t help thinking them nonetheless. And from those thoughts it’s only a small step to memories of abuse. I have a hard time thinking about the abuse with my feelings switched on, but it kind of works in the form of poetry, so that’s what I did.

I talk about it with my mom, too. That’s semi-emotional. She doesn’t usually allow that I split my emotions all the way off, but knows I can’t take too much and that I am afraid of getting overwhelmed by the memories if I stay too connected while we talk. So it’s always a struggle to find that fine line of the degree of emotional involvement that I can still take. Sadness is a surprisingly okay emotion. So is feeling disgusted by myself and the consequential self-hate, although we work on putting that into perspective.

I’m not used to making a difference between a person and his or her actions, but I need to learn to do that, so that’s what we’re working on when we talk abuse, too. That I learn to feel disgusted by the things I had to do, instead of feeling like a disgusting person. I still need help to be able to do that, because my borderline ways don’t really like considering such things, but with help it’s okay. Like how my mom helping with keeping my feelings of self-hate from developing their own momentum by bringing back to my attention the difference between who I am and what I did. That makes talking abuse easier.

So does feeling safe. I do not usually feel physically safe when I talk abuse. It feels as if talking about it had the power to bring it back for real, back into my life now. It’s irrational, but I can’t just shake the feeling of impending threat off, like people who are going to abuse me are going to step out of the shadows once I talk about the abuse. So in order to be able to talk about the abuse at all, I need to be able to watch the doors and the room itself to see with my own eyes that there’s nobody there, and I need to feel physically safe. Being close to my mom usually makes me feel safe and like she would protect me, just in case the threat was real. I mean I know it’s not, but well . . . just in case.

So it looks as though altogether I am going in a good direction. Which is nice. Especially at a stressful time like the holiday season.

“Hard is Not Impossible” – tackling BPD thinking

So Thanksgiving is finally over and everyone is back where they belong! My sisters back at university, my brother back at his apartment that he shares with these other guys from college, my grandparents back in Grandparenttown and mom’s sister and her husband on vacation somewhere warm. Blessed peace at the house! Mom, dad, me – perfect!

I survived! And for the first time ever I survived a family holiday without a major slip-up. I didn’t self-harm other than digging my nails into my arms once, I didn’t ruin the family dinner, I didn’t make a (big) scene, heck, I didn’t even kill grandma, though I really wanted to! 😉 But maybe the greatest accomplishment of all: I didn’t steal any of her sleeping pills! They’re benzos, just my kind of stuff, and though mom had begged her to not bring any to our house, of course grandma wouldn’t be told what to do and brought them anyway. And see, it’s kind of dangerous to have them around, cause while I’m off the shit, resisting the temptation when they’re available and I’m stressed out over the stupid holiday anyway . . . that’s a whole different matter.

Okay, now that sounds like I did awesome, which is not true either. I did miserably at times. I cried a lot more often than I want to admit, I complained to mom about how much I hate everything and everyone until her ears bled and I threw a little tantrum with suppressed yelling and threats about the awful things I was going to do, to make her throw out everyone right on Thanksgiving morning. I was convinced I couldn’t do it. That it was impossible and that I was going to end up awful if I had to do it.

Suffice it to say that mom was not too impressed. Instead she said something that she has probably said a lot of times before, but this time I registered it. She said: “Honey, I am aware that having everyone here is hard. I am aware that trying for the best you can do is hard. I am aware it is very hard, even. But hard, baby, is not impossible.”

Now that was a thought.

It was only a little tantrum that I was throwing, so I was not yet beyond listening. That mom took my feelings seriously helped, and my being angry faded to being unhappy with feeling so overwhelmed by the holiday. So I cried and whined a little, but while my mom comforted and cuddled me, I thought about what she had said, that hard is not impossible.

And I had to admit that she was kind of right. Hard really doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Just that it’s . . . well . . . hard. That had never really occurred to me before. I guess that’s an example of borderline black-and-white thinking. Either I can do it (white) or it’s too hard to do it (black). But that it could be real hard (black) yet at the same time doable (white) . . . that was a new one. So while Thanksgiving still sucked, my attitude changed a bit.

I didn’t feel so angry anymore at the fact that it was so hard and mom expected me to do my best anyway. That maybe I could take some hard and still try my best. Like, my real best despite the fact that it was hard, not the ‘waaah, it’s so hard, that’s not fair’ best that usually ends with me doing something to force a stop to the hardness.

I guess that change in my attitude, glimpsing the grey of ‘hard is not impossible’ instead of the black ‘hard is unfair’, made a difference. I didn’t take a shortcut, but actually endured the hardness. Go figure. And I’m even a little proud of myself for that.

What I am Thankful for – Poster

Okay, so I’m hiding away behind a laptop to kill time, hoping the holiday will be over and done with soon. Mom suggested I find things I am thankful for instead of griping about how much I hate Thanksgiving, so here goes. A digital scrapbook page of thankfulness.

So it’s Thanksgiving :(

I don’t like it. It has kind of started today already, with family arriving one by one. Grandparents. Siblings. Aunt and uncle. The person who’s technically my grandmother (my mom’s mother) keeps calling me “that girl”, I’m not in the mood for eating all the time, the house is a confusion of people and voices since everyone arrived, and nothing is the way it’s supposed to be. I don’t like turkey, I don’t like turkey day tomorrow and I don’t like that mom is so busy. I feel doing something drastic to make her stop everything she is doing and take care of me instead. And I feel so mean for wanting to do that, only because I hate Thanksgiving, when everyone is so happy to be here. Most of all grandma. All she wants to do is talk to mom, and it’s bothering her that I don’t leave mom’s side much. “Doesn’t that girl ever go anywhere by herself?!” she keeps asking mom, like I’m not even standing there. Mom’s good, she just keeps on saying “That girl’s name is Lola, mother, and she’s right where she’s supposed to be”, but I wish I could just fast forward to when everyone left again. Till after Christmas, if I can choose, skipping all the nasties – Thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas – and just start the new year. I want to curl up and hibernate until it’s over.

But no, instead I need to suffer through Turkey Day tomorrow and it’s only the start of the most dreaded month of the year. I wish I could just switch my thoughts off. I think I won’t fight dissociation’s gentle tug when it comes. Should get me some time with mom. I’ll also look like a three-year-old to everyone else, but shit, I don’t care. Or try not to, anyway.

 

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