Tag: childhood

They’ve found her

My mother has been found. My abuser has been found.

It has been a little over a year since I first reported to the police the abuse done to me by my mother in my childhood and early adulthood.

Since I made my statement, the police had been searching for my mother to question her. It had come to the point that with her not being found for so long, part of me felt perhaps she never would be. Had she chosen to disappear? She had gone from her last known address, disappeared and ceased contact with the hospital that was treating her, no information about her whereabouts was known by the very few former friends and similar, and none of the few leads I could think of helped (a relative she might have had contact with, a place she worked a very long time ago and so on). Even the police’s searches of records held by places like the DWP or tax office yielded nothing (very strange since she must surely be claiming a Benefit, or a pension, or working). The police had even searched the death and marriages registers and were talking about the possibility she may have passed away. It was in my mind whether the time would come that I might have to accept that, though bizarrely without ever really knowing what happened to her.

Then at the weekend I got the news that the police have found her.

Shock. I was stunned.

So, now I am to meet with the DC who is working on my case, the same person who took my statement. He has spoken to my mother. I don’t know if he has interviewed her. I expect he must have. He has things he needs to tell me but felt we need to meet face to face to talk about it.

I’m in a sort of suspense til our conversation. There are so many questions and uncertainties and fears. Where was she? Probably the DC won’t be allowed to tell me. How did they find her? Perhaps he will be able to tell me how. What state is her health in? She was not in good physical health when I last saw her and her mental health conditions are severe; she never believed she was ill though. Has that changed? I doubt it – but perhaps that’s too much of an assumption. No, actually, it isn’t; given the years and years history anything else would be astonishing. What has happened to her since our contact ceased? She disappeared from contact with the hospital team – not surprising, sadly – so has she had no treatment since? What’s she doing? What danger is she in? And what danger is she to others, that’s in my mind too, because of what she did to me, and because of her violence when she is ill.

For me, what now? If she’s been questionned, what happened? What did she say? What do we do now? I can imagine what she will have said to the police about me. I’m trying not to imagine too much in general about this, as it can lead to no good. There is no point in imagining scenarios until I meet the DC. A big issue will be her mental state now, I think, and whether she has capacity to understand proceedings. I think another big issue will be how will there be any evidence of what I went through? So much happened when I was alone and isolated with her. The lack of evidence gives the voices in my head power and I’m stifled and paralysed quickly with the flashbacks on the one hand, the voices telling me liar, disgusting, your fault, you wanted it….

The last 2 days dissociative episodes have taken hold scarily often. I’m fighting them, sometimes. But often that makes me break too much or I’m too far in.

If I have to make some decisions over what happens next, how can I choose for good?

Ginny xxx

The wrong voices calling

The voices are very bad at the moment. My emotions are soaring and plummeting at the moment since my last group therapy and discharge on Friday. So it is not surprising the voices are worse. They often are when I’m emotional and stressed.

It’s as if now this stage of therapy is completed and I’m trying to hang on to the good and the real, the voices are getting louder (stronger?) trying to pull me back to the blackest darkness and terror where “reality” was my abuser’s words and threats. All morning I’ve heard her calling out to me. Sometimes just my name. Sometimes the things she’d say – mocking, detesting, making me an animal, less than human, threatening, confirming my evil and the terrible things that would happen (unless I gave in and gave her total control). I hear her. And it is terrifyingly real. It is totally outside, not an echo in my head. I turn towards the voice and dread grips me. It stays totally real to me even as I try to repeat my safety statement.

I am Ginny. I am 32 years old. Today is January 30th 2017. She is far away. I am safe now. I trust in God. …He created me for good not evil.

These aren’t the only voices I have but they are some of the most frightening and separate me most from reality. I don’t know how or if there is any way to stop or change the voices. If there is I haven’t found it in the therapy I’ve had so far. If I can’t change them can I lessen their power?

I try to remember,although the world created by my abuser was my reality – the only reality for 11 years and the most of it for another 14 or so – it is not the truth. The voice is not trying to do anything, or pulling me anywhere. It is a hallucination. It is a memory. It is not a person (now). A hallucination does not have a will or an aim. A hallucination is not physical so cannot pull or drag me. So why does it have power to cause me terror, to return me into the frightened child, to make it impossible to believe in my freedom or any goodness in me?

Several other people I’ve met who have personality disorders have shared having experiences of voices. In my 18 month MBT therapy, we talked about hearing voices in the group sessions. Sometimes for example, I’d share that I was struggling to stay present in the room because the voices were loud and scary and I was constantly being pulled away from reality. But in therapy we didn’t get to explore the experience of voices or how to cope with them, how they may interact with what you’re feeling and what is happening in reality, how they affect interactions… in therapy the focus was on using grounding techniques to move away from them and be present in the group and able to focus on others. Sometimes we talked a little about how the voices may affect our thoughts about ourselves and about others, for instance when we’re interacting with someone, leading to assumptions (they think I’m evil, the know I’m bad, that’s what the voices are saying) rather than curiosity about the other person’s thoughts.

However we didn’t talk about how to cope with them. We didn’t talk about their emotional effect on us, the way they pull us with them, the control they have even though it makes no sense, how they bring traumas right back, how what they tell us and make us feel is more gripping than our current experiences, if there is any way we can respond to lessen their power…

There is a place for using grounding techniques to cope and this is valuable. There is great worth in learning to be able to stay present for others here and now. Probably a value to staying present in the moment for ourselves. Yet I wish there were more than grounding techniques because there’s always next time the voices come. Their apparent power stays the same.

Perhaps I’ll look to see if there are any books that explore voices and how to cope. I’ve pretty much been told that the voices won’t go away but if I keep taking my medication, I won’t lose my grip on understanding they aren’t real. I feel I need to find more than that.

I would be very interested to hear about experiences of voices that anyone would like to share.

Ginny xxx

Furthest away from those closest

[Begun writing yesterday 30th December]

I’m really sad, angry, lonely and hurting. I feel excluded, blamed, not believed, not wanted, a disappointment, right when I am trying the hardest, giving the most I can, in the most pain and most need to find some understanding; not necessarily help but simply acknowledgement and belief of what I’m experience and some love nevertheless from those closest to me whom I might hope to trust.

I’m on the journey home now after staying 3 days with my dad and step mum and I am ashamed but I could not have coped with one day more. Again and again in my flashbacks I was back to being the child with my mother and my father and the constant terror and trepidation and dread. I live the same situations over and over. I’m terrified of the next time she’ll think I’ve done, said or thought something wrong and get angry. I am exhausted from any time with my step mother and her utter insistence on her right and my wrong. Even simply talking with her and Dad, it’s as if we’re back where whatever happened I was the problem, I was the one behaving oddly, I was the one causing damage – when actually my mother was the abusive one, she could get away with anything, when I was crying for help nobody heard, nobody helped me and my father appeared to agree with her entirely. Similarly now, he can’t believe my step mother and everything she does is anything but fantastic and wonderful. I know I’ve said before, in a family situation he is utterly loyal but to the exclusion of the point of view of anyone but her, just as he was with my mother. I think that’s at least in part how I went unheard for so long when I was clearly massively distressed and when I needed his help, and when I told him what she’d done.

It was a bad enough time through all this but it has also become very clear how little my step mother believes or understands about my physical health and disabilities, how much she blames me, holds me responsible as though being ill is a choice, how annoyed and disappointed she is I don’t live up to her requirements. I’ve known for a long time how she doesn’t understand but it came home this week. It isn’t only me that it’s directed at. She shows the same attitude to my step sister over her mental health and to one of her friends who has a lot of physical health problems. It is beyond me how anyone can show as little belief or understanding of what someone is going through, as little compassion and as much blame, but then I have been ill or physically disabled most of my life so admittedly that gives me a different starting point.

She is not open to hearing what day to day life is actually like for me or even seeing it when it’s right in front of her . I don’t make a big issue about my health. I try to make sure it affects anyone else as little as possible. But when she is lecturing me about why don’t I do this or that, things are only a problem because I imagine they are, and so on and I have to try to explain eventually why I may not be able to do something, she refuses to hear and insists on her solution and gets angry if I can’t do it. When I’m physically unable to do something when I’m right there with her, for her it’s something I’m doing deliberately, it’s a real problem for other people, I “just have to do it”, I am not making enough effort… it’s like when my mother accused me of pretending not to be able to do things if I didn’t succeed academically as she required, and the resultant rejection and punishment of me is similar too.

I wrote a lot about what my step mother said to me and did which I’ve deleted because listing a load of hurts and speaking badly of someone does no good. When I was leaving, she started up again about “New Year, new you”, how everyone needs it needs to be a healthy year, we don’t want any more of this, I’ve got to be completely different  and I’ve “simply got to” make sure of that, and it’s all about positive thinking, it simply has to be mind over matter, as if it’s a choice not a number of lifelong health conditions. She loves telling me what I’ve simply got to do, always things which I literally physically or mentally cannot, so she exerts a great amount of pressure and certainty that I’m a disappointment when I can’t meet her simply-got-tos that she heaps on me even when they’re medically not possible.

In the face of all this, my father blanks me, ignores what I’m experiencing, denies what has happened or ignores what I say if I express as much as the fact that some of what she says is hurtful, to the point of refusing to answer and acting as though he has not heard or changing the subject. He literally will not hear a single thing against her, or even not 100% agreeing with her. It’s just like how he withdrew and ceased responding and cut off and rejected me and to say the least did nothing whilst my mother continued all kinds of emotional physical and sexual abuse. Then he is able to say he doesn’t know what’s happening.

***

My step mother’s growing obsession with weight and Slimming World is hard for me too. The fridge looks like a diet advert, even though it’s Christmas, brimming with vegetables and low fat yoghurt and very little else. Food is such an issue and has to be done her way. She will not stop telling me how I’ve “simply got to get healthy… simply got to prepare proper meals”. I don’t want anything to do with her diet. She has no concept of eating disorders and how hard a combination of the voices, my physical disabilities making cooking and the resulting cleaning ever so painful, and my eating disorder make it to cook. Yet she can’t see past her own obsession with vegetables, fat free, going to the gym…

***

I’m at the point of ceasing to expect anything but rejection, judgment and accusations from my step mother and from my dad, withdrawal from me and utter support of her views. At best. The glimmers of understanding I thought I had from my dad just seem like a trick now that opened me to trusting, making the inevitable return to rejection and accusations all the more painful. I will not go to stay with them again any time soon.

It would be easier for me to cease all contact with them. My step mother does not often behave as if she likes me. I often think they might well prefer me to have only infrequent contact. After all, I’m seen mainly as a problem. Morally, I don’t feel I can cease contact. I have a duty to them. I want to forgive. I can’t expect total understanding. If I ask forgiveness from God when I’ve judged other people I need to forgive them. I try not to act angrily but the hurt is much harder to control. If I did not have a dependence or need for their understanding, it would not matter to me so much. Though my father’s withdrawal and denial of my experience hurts as much as what my step mother does.

It hurts so much in my head right now.

Ginny xxx

One massive punch

WARNING: contains a very brief mention of eating disorders and abuse in childhood

Well. It’s kind of ironic given my post yesterday about uncertainty in relationships. At least the uncertainty in the particular relationship I had in mind at the end of the post has been cleared up. Cleared up with one massive blow. I’ve rarely felt more hurt and betrayed and rejected though I’m not sure quite why the impact has been so consuming.

I have tried to talk with my friend about what has happened in our relationship over the past months / couple of years and some of how I’ve been feeling.

After a line of further rejections from her, her not hearing when I tried to be honest and explain some most painful things, her not believing as far as I can see, what I experience and what has happened to me in the past – today she told me I have no reason to feel upset or hurt or angry, that I have no right to feel as I do, that because I have a feeling does not mean it is right, that I am to come before God and see if I have any moral right to feel as I do because I don’t, I am to push it down and rise above it.

I was filled with a massive surge of anger and raw hurt. It has not stemmed any in the hours since.

Coupled with her rejection of me and her disbelief or at least dismissal and ignoring of severely traumatic things that have happened to me in my childhood and right now, it was an immensely hurtful judgement of me. And how strange she thinks that she has the power to decide what feelings I am morally allowed to experience and what is real and what is not.

The terrors associated with feelings I thought were sinful, feelings I was not allowed, feelings that were so dangerous, that I had to atone for and punish myself for, were together with my terror of my ultimate evil, the way that I got to life threatening anorexia and then bulimia, daily self harm, overdosing and attempting to end my life. These feelings kept me submissive and within my abuser’s control. The feelings my friend’s judgement of my experience, my feelings, their and my morality, where I stand with God, the truth and validity of what has happened to me, brought in me straight back there again. Straight away my impulse was to cut and make myself vomit. But something had happened to my legs and I was shaking too much to do anything and perhaps that was blessed protection. I just cried.

It hurts worse because this came from one of the very few people I trusted. Someone I shared things with. Someone who brought me to the church and whose child is my godson. Thank the dear Lord I did not share with her the very worst of the abuse I suffered. If I had I don’t think I’d cope in any way now. I already feel violated again. Tricked, ripped apart, judged, rejected, punished, blamed.

As well as the hurt that’s making me go to pieces, I wanted to scream – feelings are not a sin. I have many reasons to feel very hurt, angry, scared… Feelings are not moral or immoral. Who is she to judge what I have a moral right to feel? I have a massive amount of pain and hurt and yes sometimes anger about the abuse. That is normal. Yes, when I’m not believed, dismissed and rejected and abandoned when I’m most desperate, that cuts a little deeper every time and yes emotionally I end up right back where I was in the terror of the abuse. This is not a sin or something I have to crush. I am not a sugar plaster “saint” too “holy” to have any feeling but happiness and superficial love, floating on some supernatural plane disconnected from every real feeling. That’s what she wants. I am not that figure. I am bleeding.

She was the last person left, outside this blog and community and apart from my therapist, with whom I had the depth of trust I thought I did. Perhaps it’s as well it’s gone. I will be very very careful indeed in the future (even more than I already am) about what closeness I allow to develop.

But the hurt is consuming. I am falling into pieces. Shattering. I haven’t gone home yet as I was scared what I’d do and of being alone. But I’m exhausted now and I have to go home. I’ll stay safe somehow. If I can’t I’ll have to go to A&E. I tried to get to the safe place I’ve been to before but they are full tonight.

Ginny xxx

Getting stuck on a loop

I’m gradually coming to notice when I re-experience feelings associated to long past experiences of abuse. I’ve described this as emotional flashbacks. They can include re-experiencing physical sensations of events, but also and often more overwhelmingly, emotional experiences. This often leads to certain thoughts being triggered and impulsive, uncontrollable actions that aren’t necessarily helpful for me or others. (I say uncontrollable. I must still take responsibility for them though I do not yet manage successfully control them and the impact the feelings have on me.)

I’m also noticing that I re-experience feelings and thoughts associated to more recent events; events which are not nearly as damaging as the abuse and trauma I experienced as a child. Sometimes, I can identify that the event triggered a deeper memory, which to some extent explains my reaction. But frequently, I can’t identify this. It is like feeling stuck on a loop. It causes me a lot of guilt and anger at myself. I feel I am being childish and self-centred because I should just get over it. I feel guilty, especially when it leads me to think over and over a time when somebody upset or hurt me, because I ought to be forgiving them. If I am repeatedly thinking of the hurt and wrong caused to me, I am holding it against them, not truly forgiving and I am keeping a barrier between them and me. God forgives us fully and it is as though our offences are blotted out. When we receive his forgiveness, we are washed “whiter than snow” and He does not look any more on our transgressions. Who am I to think I’m so important that things that hurt me play over and over in my mind? I’m reminded of someone close to me telling me “nobody else is responsible for making you feel better” “I’m going to be completely straight with you and I don’t have to think about what you’re feeling”. Am I making other people responsible for my feelings by my inability to move on? Am I making everything about me? I really fear that.

An example of such an event and consequentially getting “stuck in a loop” occurred this weekend. It’s a fairly low intensity example. Yesterday, I was in the street when I was stopped by a charity fundraiser – there are many of these people in shopping streets in my city, stopping people and wanting to take their personal details and sign them up to make regular donations. This person both irritated and intimidated me immediately. I watched him approach a lady who was a little way in front of me and follow her up the street. He then came up to me, coming uncomfortably close and half-blocking my path. I think this kind of approach is particularly intimidating to me since I’m disabled, unsteady on my feet and walk with a stick (and in my mind it is insensitive and inappropriate to approach in this way someone who you do not know, especially someone who is clearly physically vulnerable). He started to ask me questions and I simply replied “no thank you,” and carried on walking as best I could. I am in no position to give money at the moment and do not want to be signed up to anything, and think the best approach is to firmly but politely refuse to engage with this kind of approach. He then continued to follow me up the street, very close, muttering behind me sarcastically “oh, well that’s just charming” and so on. I was at once frightened and suddenly angry. I turned round and by no means shouting, but firmly, told him “Would you please stop following me. I am not obliged to give you my details. I do not want you to follow me.” “Well that’s incredibly [*&$% expletive deleted] rude of you” he retorted. I told him this was highly inappropriate and asked for the details of the organisation he was working for as I would be making a complaint. Fortunately, I was able to get sight of the ID badge he was wearing as he told me “Good, I hope that you do, because you’re incredibly unpleasant!” and noted the details.

Now, this event should probably no longer be in my mind. I was not hurt. I was probably not in any danger despite his intimidating and verbally aggressive behaviour. Likely as not I will never see him again. I have never heard of the organisation he was working for and have no dealings with them. It was nasty but probably not personally directed at me. It is an unpleasant way for anyone to behave, and all the more inappropriate on the part of someone representing a charity. I felt strongly about that. But it isn’t really an important event. The damage caused to me wasn’t major or worth thinking about (beyond that tomorrow I may make a complaint to the charity as I don’t think he should carry on representing them so poorly or treating other passers-by in the way he treated me and the lady in front of me).

The intensity of the fear and anger I felt at the time was much more than it should have been. It flicked me to come very close to an outburst of upset and anger that wouldn’t have helped anyone. I was able to stop that by the grace of God. I went some way into dissociating, hurting, being out of it but thoughts spiralling in a way too much to catch, being on the edge of going into a nearby shop and impulsively spending, which is one of the responses I’m most at risk of when I’m suddenly angry or upset. Again, I was able to stop myself. Mixed into this was the thought, what if someone was watching me, what would they think of what I had done? Was it my fault and was I wrong? I went home. I felt very low and was starting to shut down and everything I’d planned to do that evening was too much. I’m ashamed to admit this.

I’m more worried right now though, that instead of this whole minor incident now being over, it has come back on this loop in my mind today, several times. My mind has compulsively played over the incident many times, very vividly, but until this has been going on for a period of time, I’ve been unable to acknowledge what’s happening, whilst also being detached from what’s occurring in the present (for instance, no longer hearing the TV that was on, no longer doing the task I was doing). The way my mind has been playing this experience over has been similar to the way obsessional OCD thoughts about bad things I’ve done or am going to do, take hold of my mind. All the emotions I experienced at the time of the incident have come back again. With each obsessional repetition in this loop, my doubt of myself and my own actions in the situation increases, so that I am more convinced that I did wrong, that it must have been my fault, that people were watching me and now know how nasty I am.

Why am I unable to move on from even such an unimportant event? Why are my feelings so extreme at the time and no lower some time after? Why am I so unable to limit the impact of the emotion and the memory of the emotion and event? Does it in some way I do not yet understand, send me back to memory of a more damaging experience? That would give some explanation at least. Or is my experience just totally out of proportion, making me self-centred, self-obsessed, childish?

This event wasn’t particularly emotive in comparison to events that take place with people I know and care about. When upsetting interactions with friends and family get stuck on a loop in this way, it can completely affect and impede my future interactions with them and feelings towards them. I feel this is all my fault through my faulty reactions, emotions and thinking. Ultimately I end up self-punishing and self-harming as the only possible escape and a desperate attempt to punish myself enough for my failure to be an adult and my failure to forgive.

Writing this, it occurs to me that this feeling of being stuck in a loop does not only apply to things done against me. It applies equally to hurt I have caused or fear I have caused others, and other mistakes I have made. Wrong things and stupid things I have done play over and over in my head. The intense feelings of guilt, shame, horror, pain, etc, play over in my head and diminish little in intensity over the years. I regularly have vivid memories of, for example, things said during an argument with my dad and step-mum 3 years ago, or something wrong I did in my work that I worried endangered a patient 5 years ago, a time I stepped out of line with something I said to my boss in a meeting 8 or more years ago… I re-experience all the feelings and they can really shake me. I become afraid of any situations similar to those in which these events occurred, maybe because I believe I’ll do the same wrong again.

Again I wonder if all the feelings I have, whether it be a situation of wrong done by me to others, or a situation of wrong done by others to me and consequential hurt, in some way are (a lesser intensity of) feelings that were overwhelming and terrifying during the years of my abuse.

I also know that in personality disorders, emotions usually reach a higher intensity more quickly, and stay at the higher intensity for longer, than in people without personality disorder. I guess that explains to some extent why the feeling hangs around for longer, though not the vivid mental replaying of inconsequential events.

I desperately want an answer and I think I’ll talk about this in my 1:1 therapy tomorrow.

***

I wonder have you had similar experiences? Have you felt stuck on a loop remembering experiences or having thoughts and emotions you want to let go, but can’t?

Ginny xxx

Fear, tears, pain, joy, guilt, thankful, anger, strength, shaken…

The emotions are crashing over me now. They stayed temporarily a little distant in the activity of yesterday afternoon and today. Now the activity has stopped. The rush of mixed experiences of the past week is temporarily still. I am physically utterly exhausted, shaky and hurting and it’s all I can do to get across the room. Sitting I feel like I’m being crushed. I’m cold and my chest aches deeply. I’m curled up in my dressing gown and blanket, needing all the comfort and grounding I can get. I feel childish and guilty for saying that, because I have no right to – what have I been through that’s so bad? – but it is true.

There’s so much to take in right now.

Intense waves of scary emotions jolted me through the week, especially fear and anxiety I cannot attribute to a logical cause that was there at the time. On reflection perhaps it was an emotional flashback to earlier times and threats, both distant (childhood) and more recent.

The hallucinations strengthened – auditory, visual, sensory – and scared me more.

My escape imaginary world was closer than ever and its pull stronger than ever.

Anger is raging and rising uncontrollably in me against my stepmother. All at once I feel huge guilt, fear, hurt, rage, the need to express what I feel and the impossibility and danger of ever actually doing so.

It’s feeding anger against my dad again; then against both of them together.

More memories of specific painful derogatory, demeaning, restricting, humiliating things my abuser did have been coming to the fore, along with memories of how her abusive power was perpetuated, and then in turn, more thoughts of how it feels – and this is so scary to write – similar patterns still repeat in my family. I need to get away from that.

It was goodbye to a friend in my therapy group for whom I care very very much. I’m still crying for her.

Another member of my therapy group to whom I also feel a particular connection, has suffered an unimaginable avalanche of hurts, struggles and illnesses. Now, he has been diagnosed with cancer which is likely to be late stage. The end of his life could be close. I’m crying for him.

Today was a special day. I had a little coffee morning to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Support (part of the “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning” Macmillan run nationally). It is the first time I have ever done an event like this at home (following on from the courage I gained from having had some close friends over for my birthday earlier in the year). My anxiety was huge. I put as much as I could into the preparations. Good things happened today. My guests’ care and kindness was wonderful. This fills me up with gratitude.

So here I am now, afterwards, with this whole mix of soaring emotions. All of them I need to face and there is a lot of work for me to do. My individual therapy is tomorrow and I’m so glad. When the emotions are too much, every so often, I’m going to try to return to the thankfulness for today and remember everyone’s enjoyment and generosity. Somehow, this just a little restorative.

Ginny xxx

What you aren’t allowed to admit – the shameful secret that I want to be cared for

The service where I am in therapy at the moment has suddenly (from our point of view as patients at least) changed our care coordination appointments from monthly to quarterly. Less than quarterly, in practice. I was supposed to see my care coordinator today. The appointment has been moved to the end of September. This will be 4 months since my last appointment at the start of June. This comes at a time that I desperately needed care coordination and when everything feels on the edge of fragmenting.

I am furious at how this change has been made, for myself and for other people in my therapy group. I’ll post about that next.

I spoke to my care coordinator about it on the phone and one of the most hurtful things that he said was that this has been an “ongoing clinical decision over several months” and they think this is the best way to challenge us to have more independence because instead of having a care coordinator we’ll have to take the initiative to sort out our problems. I’ll set to one side for the time being the hurt caused by having been kept in the dark, not warned, let alone involved, in the “ongoing decision”; the apparent total lack of awareness of why care coordination is needed; the assumptions about knowing what is best for us….

One thing that really really hurt and I wanted to scream and felt utterly betrayed again by the people supposed to help me and understand me was – we do not need a test, or a challenge, or to be forced to be “more independent”. We desperately need to be heard and to get help. I have been in this service since November 2014 and I am still screaming inside and falling to pieces and trying to be heard over the same issues as when I first came to the service. We have always been on our own. We have had to do everything with no help and knowing everyone will leave us. We just start to trust this service and dare to think perhaps they’ve understood a tiny bit of what it’s like, and then we get proof it was all an illusion. Never in my whole time with the service have I felt safe, been kept safe.

And here comes the thing it’s so very shameful and not allowed to admit. Sometimes – even a lot of the time – I don’t want to be independent. I want to be heard and I want to be cared for. The abused and terrified and frightened child inside me has never ever been heard or believed and has never been cared for. I have fought and fought on my own and I cannot do it anymore. I need help. I can shut up the child for so long by cutting and starving and drinking and overdosing. But there is a point of breaking. And I’ve passed it. I’ve never been safe. Never been safe from my abuser. Never been safe from what goes on in my mind, the pain, the hallucinations and flashbacks. 

I know these feelings aren’t allowed. We have to take responsibility. We have to be independent. We have to be adults. We have to function.

Is it so very wrong to want to be kept safe? To want someone to hear and know how utterly painful it is? To want someone to care for us? To want someone to stick to what they agree to and not trick us, not tell us they understand but then leave us alone when we most need help? If I am not independent is that really the most important awful thing? Why should I not be allowed the help I need because it’s so desperately important I be independent? Nobody kept me safe as a child. Nobody cared for me. Over and over again my abuser tricked me and left me powerless. The service I should be able to rely on now in my treatment, to understand and help me, makes me feel the same. In no way is it an empowering kind of being made independent. It’s being pushed away and tricked and all the cuts made deeper still.

I’m ashamed to admit it but I want someone to care for me. Before I can start to get any more ability to cope on my own I desperately need someone to understand how loud I’m screaming and how much it hurts and not to leave me, hold me and stop me from falling to pieces, stop me from losing all grip on reality because the pain and terror is so utterly consuming, hold me and allow me not to be okay. Then maybe I might be able to take very gradual steps to take back responsibility for one thing at a time. I don’t need to be tested, tricked, pushed away, not believed, not heard, used over and over again and taken to the most vulnerable desperate point then what tiny little things we hoped in taken.

I am full of anger and pain and rage at being tricked and used all over again.

G.

Lost and hurting

[WARNING: this post contains content that may be distressing including mention of past abuse and things said and done to me by my abuser; it also reflects my very distressed and confused state. If this may be upsetting or unhelpful I would suggest giving this one a miss.]

It’s been a really bad day.

I’m sorry I can’t post quite what I said yesterday that I would although this is quite closely related.

I can’t do anything right now really. I’ve never felt so lost and fragmented. My thoughts are racing but I can’t get them into words. I’m freezing cold. I literally feel far from everything real. I tried to go for a walk to calm down. Everything around me – trees, people, sounds of talking around me, the ground – seemed to be existing and happening further away than usual behind a screen. The pain and exhaustion is intense and shattering.

Something inside me that was the last thing pushing me forward even in the mess things are, seems to have switched off. I can’t do anything. I don’t want anything except desperately wanting someone to hold me. I don’t know for sure what I feel apart from lost.

I feel a total failure. Failure as a friend. Failure in what everyone else can do. Failure as a Catholic. Failure at being. Not enough.

My friend told me he’s known for years I’m angry. That terrifies me. I have done everything to stop it getting out. I stopped eating. I cut myself. I overdosed. In the end it came back to stopping the evil getting out of me. It didn’t work. Everything I feared. There are evil things in me I can’t control. They got out when I was a child. What my mother said is coming true. I can’t even hurt myself enough to stop it getting out.

He said I’m too angry to let God in; that I don’t want God to love me,  I always want there to be a barrier, I won’t let God love me.

But I thought nothing could stop God’s love. I so want to love God. It has never occurred to me to think I don’t want God to love me. I don’t think I please God and I don’t think I love Him enough and it is very hard to truly believe He does love me. I find it very hard to think He does want me and I’m terrified whatever i do, in the end He’ll reject me and everyone will see how bad i am and I’ll be damned. But to think I don’t want God to love me? It terrifies me.

The thought terrifies me constantly that my real desires and motivations are evil however much i want them to be good and even when I think they are good. That God knows and other people know they’re bad really. That it’ll be exposed sooner or later. That it means I can never be loved and never be good.

Just like when my mother told me, she’d be taken away because of me or whatever she was threatening at the time, I’d fool people it was because of her but she’d know and I’d know it was all because of me really. Nobody would believe a child could be that bad but really it would all be because of me. When all along I didn’t know what I’d done wrong and desperately tried to do what she wanted and needed, it turned out that was how bad I was really. I took in totally on board.

And – they’ll know you enjoyed it, she’d say after she put her hands in me. They’ll know you wanted it and you enjoyed it. Mind you don’t do that,  don’t breathe like that,  or they’ll realise. It hurt and I was frightened but she told me they’d realise I wanted it. It plays over and over in my mind now. The thought that I wanted it, is  as bad again as what she did. And when she had me do things. You love that don’t you, you really like it…. I wonder if anyone’s listening. ..no one would believe it’s all because of you, daddy and I would be taken away and you’d be sent to a special school for morons. Are you a moron?

Another time, just because i couldn’t do something – Look, this is a toddler walking rein. This is what you put on babies when you go out. So if you’re going to pretend, we’ll put this on you whenever we go out so everyone knows you’re a baby.

As a kid I knew I was evil. But even as a kid I wanted to be loved. I wanted it but I knew I was too bad really.

I’m fragmenting now.

Now my friend has said I don’t want God’s love. I don’t want a relationship with God. I want to put up barriers. I’m too angry. I didn’t think it was possible not to let God love. My only hope was we can’t stop God loving. But he said I refuse to receive it. What I feel is shaken and darkness and alone and losing one by one everything that gave me any stability at all. I try to read the Bible and I feel fear. Where I should feel hope. Where my friend tells me i should feel hope and joy and I just have to keep on doing it and i have to make the choice and if hopelessness carries on it’s a choice. My friend said he doesn’t think I’ve really tried to pray. That I haven’t kept doing it. That if I don’t feel hope I have to stir myself back up to it. That it works for most people so why would I be different, why wouldn’t it work for me? I repeat words I cannot believe and promises I cannot feel and try to follow a God I cannot find, I am twisted inside trying to act against everything I feel and say only what I want to believe but isn’t real in my heart.

I am completely lost. The relationships that meant most to me all broke down and it turned out I’m not a good enough friend, that when I was trying everything I could to do good and to keep all the frightening horrible evil things inside me, I was just a burden.

I have lost any grasp on what I can trust. I’ve lost any grasp on my faith. I think I desperately want my God – i thought I did, at least that was sure, although I found it impossible to believe He could want me. The terror of the harm I do and the evil that will come out of me and knowing I can never really know if I think or mean or want what I think I do, was too great. But now I have been told I don’t even want God, am too angry to want God’s love. I’m utterly shaken. Have I never had any faith. …if despite everything I really don’t even want God and everyone but me knows that then I’ve never had any faith and I’m lost.

This is absolute pain now. I cannot function. I am so frightened.

Ginny xxx

Slipping through our fingers

There have been several cases in the news recently, in particular two this week, of children suffering unfathomable cruelty at the hands of their parents / caregivers. Much has and will be made of the failings on the part of social services and social workers. How could the horrors and suffering go unnoticed and why were concerns not followed up, staff nor taking a more joined up approach, so the children could slip through the net?

I don’t doubt that there certainly were failings in the services. I’m not denying that. I can’t imagine the guilt the workers involved in those two cases are feeling right now. I’ve suffered myself and so did my mother and so have several other people I care about, because of failings in the organisations that should give support and protection, which let us fall through the net without intervention in times of crisis and without promised follow up or communication across different services. Sometimes the services involved have seem totally unaware of the harm this causes and unwilling to take responsibility. That hurts even more. Fortunately I have never suffered anything approaching what the children in this week’s cases did.

I’m not trying to deny that there were failings and I don’t want to hurt anyone who has been through similar experiences. However I think the somewhat understandable jump to publicise the blame attributed to the social workers and agencies masks some important points.

First, the perpetrators of the terrible abuse the children suffered were their mothers, father’s and family members. That’s the greatest horror. It is terrifying that as humans we are capable of inflicting such suffering on another, let alone on one of our own family or our own child. It’s particularly horrific that a mother can do this to her own child. It so negates every good and nurturing thing a mother is. It means no relationship and no home is immune to evil actions and absence of love.

Secondly, that is such a frightening fact and we want to know why. How and why can a person do that? What does that mean about what’s possible? About our human race? That sounds like an overly broad concept really. But I think it shakes us. Can we conceive that our world is one where what should be the safest and most protective relationship, mother and child,  is used to inflict fear and hurt and pain?  We don’t want to. We at least need some explanation. It’s easier to label the failing of a particular social worker or agency, because that we can understand. That we can name. What brought the abusers to use their own children that way, we can’t.

Thirdly – and this is something that’s hard to explain but significant to me as a survivor of childhood abuse – these horrific abuses can and do happen in secret and undetected. Trying to come to terms with what happened to me and questioning over and over whether the things I can remember done to me are true, I’ve often doubted myself and told myself it must have been my fault or I must be mad and inventing it all, because at the time nobody else realised what was going on and nobody intervened and people thought my family was normal (er okay maybe not but they didn’t often suspect the full truth). These two tragic cases in this week’s news show the awful fact that abuse much worse than what I suffered can indeed continue in secret. Therein lies the abuser’s power to control, manipulate and deny.

Fourthly, no more resources are coming for social workers and care and protection teams at the moment. The little glimpses I’ve seen from my work in hospitals, psychiatric services, care teams and so on has shown me loud and clear that there simply are not enough hours in the day and not enough people on the ground to have the contact and communication and time to spend directly with children, families, patients in need,  as well as following the ever more extensive proformas and completing paperwork that is required to meet the rules and regulations (which are supposed to ensure good care is happening but at the same time take you away from doing it).

This is no new or ground breaking feeling. I think most people in nursing or caring services have been saying this for years. But it’s still frighteningly swept under the carpet and denied by those in power. When I worked in a service that supported teenagers and young adults with mental health needs and social support needs, I would take the minutes of clinical team meetings. In one such meeting, changes to documentation for care planning and recording were being introduced, which would require nursing staff to (a) spend much longer away from patients, sitting at computers completing databases and reports and (b) in many cases require nursing staff to spend already limited professional development time on training in IT packages, not in patient care.  Of course, the aim of all these whizz new care planning systems was supposed to be a magical improvement in compliance with regulations about good care. However, nobody could answer who was going to be delivering the care during the time that the already over stretched nurses were completing the compliance paperwork. I wonder whether there’s a box in the risk assessment screen to record the increased risk caused by the fact the nurses and carers are filling in the [expletive deleted] risk screen instead of assessing the patients? 😉 Time and time again there was no answer to this impossibility. In that meeting, one or two nurses directly asked, how in the same shift with the same staff,  were they to fit in their work with their patients, as well as completing the new compliance activities being introduced. How could they do both? Which was to go when the time ran out? In my eyes the response was appalling. The nurses were told that was an unacceptable attitude to display and there was simply no choice and the compliance work was to be done. This came from a senior clinician who I had greatly respected and her response was totally at odds with her usual very reflective approach. Of course I don’t know the history with that particular member of staff who asked the questions and perhaps there was more to it than that, but there seemed a forced denial of the impossibility of continuing to provide good care and the level of presence on the ground with those we are caring for,  which is so important if we are to prevent tragedies like the children who slip through the net where abuse and suffering goes undetected.

I left the service I mentioned because more and more changes were taking clinicians, and support staff like myself, away from being able to maintain the personal contact with patients.  (I’ve since regretted leaving, I’ll admit.) Clinicians left too, at least in part due to stress and sadness around similar issues. They were a great loss to their patients, in my opinion.

A little later I worked a temp cover role as a secretary for the legal team that supported my local county council’s child protection services. Round about this time I thought about training as a social worker. I didn’t in the end. I thought I’d find far too many situations where my hands were tied and too many times bureaucracy stopped me doing the good that was needed.

….

I cry for the children that suffered and for those who so want to be present on the ground to help those at risk but who are taken away and whose voices are silenced when they highlight the lack of resources and impossibility of meeting the demands of keeping children safe in the field, and complying with everything that’s supposed to be ensuring children’s safety. One thing is sure and that’s that it is far too easy to be silenced – again both in the case of the victims and the carers pointing out the shortage of resources to help them. Let’s keep on speaking out.

Ginny xxx

Trying to be curious about trust #1

As you may know if you stop by regularly ( 🙂 thank you lovely people!!) I’m finding it very hard to trust the personality disorder service at the hospital (where I go for therapy) at the moment. It has become harder and harder over the last few months, in part due to repeated occasions where, in my experience at least, I’ve been let down, not had the promised support, or been turned away when in desperate need of help. I feel they do not believe me and do not think I deserve help and the more I’m in crisis the more they don’t believe me. Everything that happens confirms this now. In my last care coordination appointment I felt again completely dismissed, not listened to and that what was recorded on my care plan did not reflect what I was going through or needed, until I’d insisted time and time again that my care coordinator write what I actually said rather than re-phrase it in a way that minimised and avoided a lot of the issues at stake. Aargh….

I can’t explain it more than this right now because I will get so angry and out of control. Plus you’ve all probably heard me go on about it so much you’re bored 😉 ! Sorry.

I’m trying to be curious about my feelings about trusting the service and how they see me, as Mentalisation Based Therapy focuses on this and trying to be curious and open to different feelings and uncertainties about what is in our mind and other peoples’.

Right now, although I can try to examine different possibilities, I’m certain in my heart that the service don’t believe me. This doesn’t apply so much to my 1:1 and group therapy sessions. In some way the group feels honest and safe. Perhaps it’s something to do with my commitment being to the other people in the group, listening to them and being there for them, present with them, and sharing honestly as much as I’m able, rather than it being a relationship just with the service or the therapists. It applies more to when I need support between sessions, or when I’m in crisis, or talking about support outside therapy with managing daily life, or in my care coordination appointments.

After the experiences I have had so far, I am not sure what would now reassure me that they did and do believe me and do want me. I got on to thinking about how my recent falling out with a close friend N. involved my absolutely unchangeable feeling that she didn’t believe me, didn’t really want me, didn’t think I deserved help, and I was just a burden and irritation. I don’t know what would convince me otherwise (except, just perhaps, if she had come to help me when I was at my worst, in some of the times she was adamant she could not or should not come).

Not being believed and not deserving help is a big theme for me. Ultimately, I do it to myself too, because I can’t really believe myself. Some of my psychotic symptoms feed into that, with the voices in and outside my head telling me I’ve lied, I’m a fraud, that everyone knows and is thinking and saying I’m a disgusting fraud, cheated people to get help, and no matter if I may think I want to be good and try to do good, there’s all the bad things in me really and everyone else knows and I’ll hurt everyone in the end. Only self-harming in some form quiets this.

In my last 1:1, we talked about my recent falling out with N. We started going slowly through my feelings and thoughts step by step from the beginning of the day things really fell apart between us. We didn’t get very far through. Nevertheless it brought back a lot of the feelings of that day. I’d been feeling very bad about things I said and how things were left at our meeting and in our exchanges the week after (since which, we haven’t been in touch – I couldn’t anymore and felt she didn’t want to either, really). I’d been trying to write to apologise. But in the 1:1, what was even harder than this was that guilty as I felt (and still feel), a lot of the hurt is still there too.

As the memories of these feelings, and more of the feelings, surfaced in the 1:1, I suddenly felt sure that my therapist must think I’m a horrible, childish, needy, jealous, selfish, demanding, nasty person who thinks terrible things about people. Then I started thinking these things about myself together with feeling guilt, disgust that I was so evil, and worry about what would happen to my relationship with my therapist now she thought these things – I couldn’t say what I thought would happen at the time but now I think it was feeling that, oh now she’s started to realise that I really am bad after all and she’ll leave me and not want me around any more.

I was certain about what my therapist must think. Just as I was/am certain about what N. thinks about me. It was actually very hard for me to think curiously about what N. (or my therapist for that matter) would feel. I spend a lot of time certain and horrified about what the people I’m interacting with think about me, and feeling bad for what I am (because of what they’re thinking), what I cause, and the feelings that are then in me, confirming my self-disgust and self-hate. My self identity is somehow, in a way I can’t yet express properly, bound up with what I am certain the other person is thinking about me. My own feeling follows immediately being so certain of their thoughts. I am not necessarily at all able to access beforehand what I am feeling, and I am not necessarily able to think about what the other person is feeling (separate of me, as opposed to being convinced about their thoughts about me).

I am not necessarily bad at picking up what other people are feeling. Actually, I can be very accurate in it, and sense it before other people do. I’ll post about that separately and will put a link here when I’ve posted. However, in these situations, I’m entirely sucked into the certainty of their thoughts.

I am not at all able to “mentalise” – to reflect and be curious about what is in their minds and what they are feeling and what I am thinking and feeling. There is no possible questioning or genuine entertaining of different possibilities about the other person’s mind. I am absolutely certain of their thoughts about me and I have absolutely certain thoughts and feelings as a result. Even though I may at some level be able to come up with a distant idea of other possible thoughts that could be in the other person’s mind, it is completely disconnected from my beliefs and emotions.

Written down like this, it is quite easy to see that this could lead to or be part of my psychotic experiences. I am certain of other people’s thoughts about me. The voices repeat them to me. I feel disgust and guilt and horror of what I’m doing to people. Somehow I become linked with the thoughts I think the other person is having and I am all those horrible things.

I am starting to wonder whether I am actually having the thoughts (which I attribute to the other person) myself, and having the resultant feelings myself, but I am unable to recognise them or feel them in myself, and then for some reason attribute them to the other person as though I know for sure that they are thinking these things. Really they are just my own thoughts or feelings about myself.

Perhaps my certainty nobody believes me or wants me and my resultant inability to trust, is in fact simply nobody else’s thought but rather just what I think of myself – and the fact that I cannot trust or believe myself because I always doubt my own motivation for good or evil, because I have no identity except what I find in what I think are others’ thoughts.

I don’t know quite where this came from. Certainly my mother’s very unwell beliefs about thoughts and emotions during the time I was growing up, clouded my learning about my and others’ feelings and thoughts and the demarcation between them. Her deeply psychotic beliefs were pervasive and persistent. She believed that I knew exactly her thoughts even in advance and when I did not, she told me this was deceptive; she believed she knew my thoughts and intentions; she frequently presented to me my intentions as malevolent and manipulative in incredibly complex ways, when I was unaware of any such motives or thoughts (precisely because they didn’t exist, but I didn’t know that as a child); she made inconsequential, morally neutral actions (such as being able to do some particular thing or not) have a moral value or manipulative power (“repeatedly punishing her” for example); she perceived my emotions as controlling her and done to her (unless they perfectly matched hers); and this was coupled with dire threats (including her suicide, my father’s death, the family breaking apart, my parents being taken away) because of my emotions and thoughts – and of course, with the abuse.

I don’t know quite how to unpick that to find out how much does it explain how I now feel about others’ thoughts about me. Maybe I don’t need to and just need to find out how to change my certain, set-in-stone thought patterns now.

Oh my days I’m tired now and I need a hug. Think I’m going to have a hot bath and curl up under my blanket when I get home.

Ginny xxx