I feel a bit weird today. Not a bad day as such; I’m happy and calm enough, and certainly not in a corner in an hysterical mess…but I’m equally not feeling 100%. It’s weird. Like when you say you feel ill but you can’t quite place which part doesn’t feel right…
I have random moments where my life seems to hit me. I know I was abused, I know how severe it was – not that severity matters in abuse, it’s crap whatever level it is. I know how long it went on for, I know what happened. But I guess I still dissociate in order to cope. I went to a conference the other day about dissociative disorders as a result of severe childhood abuse, and one of them being that even as an adult a survivor can have all the facts and limited feelings. They dissociate from the bit they know will hurt the most – the emotions – and remain a robot…working extremely hard because isn’t that what normal people do? If you can work…then that means you’re normal, yes? Work work work and nobody will think there’s a problem…and just keep those feelings locked up. You have the facts. You can still function. Pain is limited. Everyone thinks you’re amazing at processing things and that you recover quickly. Must.Keep.Working.
It doesn’t work though. It’s not as though I can pick and choose which feelings to dissociate from. It’s all or nothing. I get told I have a good sense of humour, but do I actually feel the humour? Properly? No…actually, I don’t. I feel a robotised version of it. Everyone laughs. IT MUST BE FUNNY. REMEMBER TO DO THAT AGAIN; IT’S GOOD. Logged in my head. Learning by copying…what makes people happy with me? When I say something funny. If I laugh with them I look normal, and I maybe do feel a bit amused…but I’ll say I feel very very amused…and imagine what it must be like to have all the emotion. I bet it’s bliss.
It also means the whole attachment feelings never fully kick in. Again, I learn by copying. Someone hugs me, that feels nice…I feel safe. But often my friends say I have a weird way of being hugged: I don’t hug back, and to look at I don’t appear to want a hug even when I ask for one. I keep my arms largely by my side and bury myself into them. I feel safe this way. But they hug people by putting their arms around them. So if my friend is upset and needs a hug, that’s what I do. It’s not conscious copying; I’ve just taken it all in…learnt…and mimic. First class copying robot.
Sometimes my feelings start leaking through, especially after either a very good day, or a very bad day. Extremes seem to knock my guard down, either because I feel so happy and safe…or because my energy is at rock bottom. Either way, it get’s frightening. I feel out of control. I can feel lots of emotions at the same time, rather than just happy or just scared. How do normal people manage with that? I have no idea…I can only mimic what they do on the outside, not what their head’s do. Quick quick quick dissociate. QUICK.
Phew…back to one emotion, at 40% of what it could be. Marvelousso.
But the conference made me wonder. Do I actually want to spend the rest of my life oblivious to what real emotions feel like? I say I’m happy…but am I, really? I’m as happy as I know happiness to be, but there’s still a lot of apathy in there… I feel grief but it’s not 100% there…and then I just feel guilty for not grieving properly. Am I really so scared of how much it’ll hurt, that I’ll keep myself locked up in the box and rid myself of the chance of feeling those things that won’t hurt?
Answer: for the moment, yes…I am. I like the fact I can largely function normally. Emotions…real, pure emotions…are unknown to me. I’m blind. Who knows what would happen? I might have a complete breakdown…
But then…it’ll hit me at some point, and is now surely not better than when I’m mid-30 and trying to juggle a life and job as well? It’s such a tricky decision…and it is a decision; I can tell the alter personalities to gently let me feel and to stop disocciating so much. To be blind with me.
And then I always come to the same part: why must I dissociate? What can be so scary? But it’s knowing, logically, how much emotionally it must have hurt as a child and teenager to be abused so extensively. I’m not stupid: the reason I had to dissociate in the first place was so that I could survive through the emotional pain, and the fact that I have remembered and felt the physical pain (which was extreme) but not the emotional…that kinda speaks volumes. It’s gonna be pretty bad…
…But then maybe bit’s will be pretty good too. Maybe I’ll experience pure joy…pure humour…pure happiness. Maybe the attachment feelings will be more real, rather than copied. Maybe I will see more to life than being busy and working, so that I appear normal. Surely the only way to full recovery is to feel the pain first? I’ve had the anaesthetic for too long…the operation has been done…now I need the sore recovery part…
So today there’s a bit leaking…I keep catching myself staring out of the window, either in a state of emotional dissociation, or asking the same question: “why?” For what reason am I in this position? Because of what the abuser’s did to me. Do to me.
And why do they? For what reason? Did I do something? But what could be so horrific to have derseved this? And besides…the abuse started when I was a toddler; there’s nothing I could have done to deserve that. And I’ve seen their treatment of newborns barely a second old.
No…it wasn’t anything I did, even if they try to convince me of that. Even though that’s, actually, the easiest answer. To tell myself it was me, that I deserved it…just makes it easier. It means I don’t have to face the probable reality that they did it because they liked it. That sickens me. The process of bad behaviour to punishment feels better somehow.
But I know it’s not the case. And I can no longer try to convince myself of a lie. It does my head no good, and the alter personalities don’t stand for it anyhow. I fight to live in reality, so lying to myself isn’t the greatest start…
So what other options am I faced with? That they simply enjoyed it? Everytime I think that, I close my eyes…and hear my screams, either as a 3 year old or 19 year old…I feel my damp cheeks from my tears…how could anyone enjoy doing that? But then I hear their laughter and smirks…and I realise: enjoyment was a factor. And that makes me sick.
But not all of them seemed to enjoy it. Most couldn’t look me in the eye, or had to hide behind masks (literally). Some would tell me to stop screaming, as though I had much choice. So then I’m like…then why? Were you threatened? What power has the top man got over you? And that saddens me. The idea that maybe some abusers, especially in ring abuse, are doing it simply because they’re too scared of the consequences. And then I wonder…what support is there out there for people in that position? Any at all? I don’t condone their behaviour but equally know how powerful threats can be…
Money is another factor. Filming me for their income. That should make me sicker than it does. But it’s not as bad as them enjoying it. And it does strange things to my head. I know it’s sick. I know it’s vile behaviour on their part, and illegal, and just horrific. But at the same time, they spent so long telling me how worthless I was…and then I make them money. Suddenly I had a use. Suddenly I was worth something to them. It’s a bizarre thing: spending so long trying to gain just a tiny bit of praise from the people who torture you for years. It’s really odd. In hindsight it makes little sense. But I wanted the praise. Just the tiny moment where they grinned, sickeningly, when the filming was done. I was worth something to them, even if it did mean being handcuffed to a bed. I was worth something.
And that deeply saddens me. That my life was so crazy and absurd that I felt worth something from that. They just wanted money. I wanted approval.
Why else did they do it? Power I guess. The more I stood up to them, the more extreme they became. A constant power struggle that hasn’t ended, but that I’m more determined than ever to win. I remember aged 6 shouting at a few men. Also trying to fix one. Aged twelve I made the men cry, as I lost it. It feels out of this world now. Nothing I did was heroic, it was the result of far too much anger and hurt. But it terrifies me now; I feel so protective of my inner child, of my younger self…the idea that at aged 6 I dared stand up to them, it makes me go cold. Surely it would have been easier to just keep my mouth shut? But of course not…they wouldn’t have stopped…and any ounce of self-confidence would have vanished before I reached the age of 10. The only way to survive was to keep hold of what was right, even if it hurt.
And that’s when I realise. “The only way to survive was (is) to keep hold of what was (is) right, even if it hurt(s).”
My 6 year old self was far wiser than my 20 year old self. But isn’t that so often the case? And the same message applies…the only way I can survive now, the only way I can make it through recovery, is to hold onto what is right, even when it hurts. And what is right, is that I feel…and work through it…and recover. What is right is that every part of me recovers, that part of my head does not have to remain trapped in the abuse box because I am too scared. What is right is that I blame only the abusers, and not myself. NOT myself.
I was terrified at the age of 6, but the right thing to do was to stand up to them.
I’m terrified at the of 20, of my own head. The right thing to do is to feel, and accept I can’t blame myself…as much as that’s maybe the easier route in the short-term.
So there are various reasons why they did what they did.
But if there’s anything I’ve learnt by working that out, it’s that trying to justify their behaviour is an endless soul-destroying task. What is most important is what my 6 year old self learnt and held onto…
Time to regain control of what is right…J