Tag: mental health and relationships

A beautiful day

Today was amazing. I don’t know why but we were both full of hope for the future. It wasn’t that the many obstacles in our way at the moment had been moved. Yet we both felt lifted up by God’s grace. The magic and beauty seemed to be stirring in our hearts and giving an energy Ive never felt before. This evening I’m buzzing and high even though I’m exhausted physically and mentally. The voices are telling me this happiness and goodness isn’t for me and doesn’t happen to me; they are trying to fill me with the dread and guilt I always feel after any brief elation.

No. I choose Jesus. I choose my life by grace with Him and in the love of my fiance R. We are richly blessed. We are created for good.

Thank you Dear Jesus.

Ginny xxx

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I told him what I see. He explained it away.

I told my dad today about my concerns over how he’s being treated by my step mum. I told him I’m worried for him. I told him about how she’s treating me and other people in the family. He denied it is happening. He denied any possibility that he may be being treated very badly and that he may not realise because he has had so many previous years of emotional abuse. He says there is no problem for him. He put my experience and my concerns for him down to the fact that I had harmful experiences when I was abused when I was younger and that means I perceive interactions now as a repeat of what was done to me back then when actually nothing is wrong / there is no similarity, and that my “world view” may not be a good one because of what was done to me then. Basically I am wrong, I am the problem, and there is nothing wrong at all in how my step mum behaves to him or me or others. He denied events that have happened, denied things that have been said, and bought totally into my step mum’s view of me as a failure, a let down, spoiled, the problem, unwelcome, at fault… he even upheld her emotional attacks on me as being fine and my feelings essentially as being because I have problems.

It was pretty much what I had expected would happen but he had a much deeper rooted explanation than I was ready for, for why things are not really as I have experienced them to be. At least he did not deny my experience. But he explained it away in such a manner that it secures my step mum’s casting of me as the difficulty and her as the perfect spouse and mother figure.

My concern was primarily for him and how he is being treated but she has cast me in such a role that no concern I raise, no event I try to discuss will have weight with him.

It is rather as my mother did, drawing my dad in to such an extent that he would not hear when I told him multiple times about her emotional, physical and sexual abuse. She could invasively abuse me pretty much in his presence, emotionally taunt and threaten me for hours on end partly in his presence. At the time he supported her, joined her in her emotional attacks on me, often continuing himself afterwards; somehow he ignored her physical actions to me… and then later when at long last he listened to me (when I was an adult, hospitalised) he claimed no memory of any of the events. He was that drawn into her world.

His blindness now both traps me again and leaves me alone. Traps me where I cannot reach him to warn him what is happening as he just won’t hear me. Leaves me alone because it feels universally declared that I’m mad, I’m wrong, I’m the problem; what I’m experiencing and seeing isn’t real. It feels like all the power has been handed back to my step mum. I feel as I did when I was a child; alone and my sense of reality torn to shreds.

Xxx

If he doesn’t realise he’s being abused, what do I do?

I’ve gone too long not saying anything. I need to talk to my dad about what my step mother is doing to him and to me.

What happened to my other family member, who was being abused for months with no-one’s knowledge, has made it clearer to me that I need to speak out. I know what can go under the radar; how for those closely involved in the abuser’s world, it can be impossible to see what is happening. And look what went under the radar when I was abused as a child. I’m trying to separate myself from my anger about all the times I “should” have been helped. Right now it just shows me how important it is to not let it go by when you see abuse happening. Another event that has made it clearer to me that I need to speak out is that third parties have commented on my step mum’s behaviour and how my dad is and how another vulnerable member of the family is treated – this was not based on what I told them but on what they themselves observed. It isn’t just me being crazy, or misinterpreting because I’m too sensitive because of my early life experiences, or imagining it, or because I subconsciously resent my step mother so somehow want bad towards her. It’s really happening. Then on top of this, my social worker and a psychologist I have been seeing at the pain clinic have both said to me that for my wellbeing the only course of action may be to restrict contact with my step mother. This is on the basis of the limited number of incidents I’ve described to them from the past 7 years or longer.

It’s really happening. It’s sustained (worsened actually) over time. My dad has no idea or if he does see it wants or needs to ignore it (because he thinks it’s normal? Because he thinks he deserves it? Because he doesn’t know what to do?). My step mum has been able to convince other members of the family that she is perfect, blameless, that she is the one being mistreated, that I am the one mistreating her or causing the problems, that I am the one doing wrong to my dad, that another person in the family is again a cause of problems and to be ostracised (and she has orchestrated this ostracisation), when actually they are vulnerable and desperately in need of help.

As well as being angry with my step mum, I am angry with my dad. This is totally wrong. Misplaced. I feel furious anger at my step mother’s abuse going on unseen and unchecked, even when it is done in plain sight. Why do I have any anger towards my dad? My anger should be only towards her, and the immense control she exerts and deception she weaves, which allows her behaviour to be unacknowledged, unnoticed or excused. That’s all part of her abusing. Does abusers’ behaviour somehow get you angry with the wrong people too? Or is it because all the feelings are brought up from when I was a child needing my dad to help me, trying to tell him what she was doing? Because I can’t really understand why he couldn’t see what my mother was doing to me and what she was involving him in back then? He was deceived by her but he also did wrong, but that’s another story.

However, I am left with the fact that again he’s in a relationship where he and others are being abused, and either he can’t see that it’s happening or he can’t / won’t take action. I don’t want that to repeat for him, for anyone else I care about or for me. It went on 30 years in his relationship with my mother. I don’t want him to go through more years of abuse, never taking action or only taking action when much more has been lost. He is fit but not so young anymore and if he were only to realise what’s happening when he’s elderly, it would seem all the sadder.

I can’t force my dad to take action. I can’t pull him free from the situation. What I can do now, which I could not do as a child, is try to openly tell him what I’ve observed and what I’m worried about. I can also tell him how she behaves to me. It’s likely he won’t believe me or will refuse to acknowledge it. This is what has happened when I’ve told him previously what my step mum has been doing and it’s what happened when I told him what my mother was doing when I was a child. But now I’m not a child. My safety and my world do not depend on him believing and saving me. Sadly, his safety does depend on him acknowledging what is happening to him.

How do I help him do this? How do I raise what is happening without him being so hurt and angry that I’m saying it that there is no chance he will be able to reflect on how she’s treating him and how he’s feeling? How do I do it without him stopping talking to me at all? Then there would be no chance I can help him. If he just utterly blanks it all and changes the subject, or leaves (both have happened before), what then?

Whilst he is not isolated as we were when I was growing up, in a remote village in a shut up house, nobody allowed in, no relationships allowed outside the home, he is isolated in a different way. Apart from his work, the world he’s in is still hers. Her part of the world, her house then the house she chose, her choice of leisure activities, her friends. Almost everyone he has contact with outside his work is her world. Potentially controlled by her. I can think of nothing he does separate from her, apart from his work. I can’t think of any friend he has contact with who is not first hers. No way he spends any leisure time away from her, except for the rare occasions she goes away on holiday without him for a couple of days, or the rarer occasions he comes to see me without her. It seems there would be nothing and no-one to help him move away from her control.

This is worse than I thought.

Xxx

What can go unseen, again

I’ve just found out that someone close to me has been suffering the most awful abuse.

It has been going on for years.

It has been horrific. Even what I know, which I am sure is only a small part of what has been done to her.

She was already so vulnerable.

She is a kind, generous, caring… good person. Of course, bitterly, the abuser took advantage of these good traits, taking advantage of her desire to give, desire to help, desire to forgive or to give another chance.

I had been sure someone was hurting or pressurising her but I didn’t know who or how. It’s frighteningly astounding what can go unseen.

Xxx

How do you love someone who is hurting his/herself when it feels you can only watch?

WARNING: this post mentions self-harm and suicide and the point of view of carers of people who are struggling.

How do you love someone who is slowly hurting his/herself – and you wonder if actually, they’re taking their life gradually – when it feels like you can only watch?

I don’t mean how do you feel love. That’s not in question. It’s your love that aches and burns and cries inside you.

But how do you give love?

When it seems you can only watch. Watch, wish, long, weep, beg, scream, shake (you – and them?), speak but only shout into the distance, only shout up against a rubber wall that bounces your words of concern and pain and fear and help and whatever it may be right back at your heart – where they metaphorically stab you and mock you with their futility.

And the love you want to give is lost somewhere.

Your loved one get relentlessly weaker with irresistible self-consuming power. And you are powerless. Love does not force or fight and does not demand to control another person’s choices. Love can not force another person to choose the healing of their body or to choose life. The pain-and-longing part of your heart, when you love someone who’s breaking, might for a time wish it could force it, but the very centre of love knows really that it cannot be forced.

And then you cry.

Even if you cannot and do not want to make them choose, you wish you could at least penetrate the rubber wall, so that love could be heard for a little while.

****

I’m in this situation right now, actually with two people dear to me, and I don’t know how to give love.

Ginny xxx

The guilt I feel when I’m met with no response – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 3 part post. You can find Part 1 HERE

I wonder how much of my misinterpretation of emotional facial expressions is because the people I grew up with, my current family members and I myself express emotions in a different way from the typical?

It occurs to me that I’m told that often I show no emotion outwardly, or that people can’t work out what I’m feeling. In a family member’s words, “we just have to have some kind of reaction out of you,” and “we have no idea what on earth is going on with you so it feels like – aargh – we can’t be dealing with this!” I’m often told this when internally I’m having really strong emotions of loss, hurt, upset, abandonment and fear, and having flashbacks. Sometimes I’ve wanted to keep my emotions hidden. Almost always I’ve tried to turn my feelings inwardly so as not to bother or hurt anyone else with them.

However at the same time I’ve frequently thought other people understand what I’m feeling inside (but don’t want to discuss it so I just have to keep going) when it may later transpire they had no idea what I was feeling. I will then find it really hard to believe they had no idea. I will also be upset because my attempt to keep inside the sad feelings I have, to keep going as you’re meant to and not draw attention to myself, then backfired and seems to cause anger and upset and accusations of being childish, spoiled, rude or disrespectful, and of making other people responsible for me. People have said things like “It looks like you’re accusing me of not looking after you,” “I’m not responsible for how you feel,” “Its not anyone else’s job to make you feel better,” “You’re a spoiled little brat”; I’m told I have to stop thinking about my own problems, should push them aside, should think what other people have gone for me, etc. Which is often exactly what I’ve been trying to do and nearly broken under the strain. I don’t know how I get it so wrong. I don’t know what other people are seeing at these times that is childish or rude etc. If I did I would have some chance of correcting it.

This reminds me that as a child being abused, I was daily really distressed, inevitably expressed it (til I learnt better) and got no help. I was at best ignored. More often the punishments redoubled and threats got worse – more threats of how I was breaking up the family, of how the couple of people I had and loved would die because of me and graphically how I would find them, of how my parents would be taken away. I was told I was a liar, faking what I was feeling, behaving as I was in order to cause worry and hurt to my abuser, to punish them because in some way I didn’t get what I wanted. One of my abuser’s paranoia about us being watched increased too. Her bizarre, possibly psychotic behaviour, and ridiculing of me, came to the fore. I tried my hardest not to express any feelings, even physical feelings. When I got ill I was terrified what would happen when my abuser and others complicit in the abuse found out. Basically I got no response or a terrible response, and none of the help I needed, from my main abuser and the person enabling her.

Both my abuser when I showed my emotions as a child, and family members now when I try not to show my emotions, said/say that I am childish, spoiled and hurting others.

When I do express my emotions now, the reaction from my family is rarely positive. Occasionally it is, but often it isn’t. The fact that it fluctuates is really hard to deal with. But that’s another story for another post.

My abuser’s emotions could change in a couple of seconds so I had to be constantly on the alert and do what I could to stay safe. She was either emotionless in all her expressions, or furious, or distraught, or ridiculing me. Occasionally she was happy but you got the sense it was only on the surface and sometimes it seemed like a trick, especially when it quickly flipped to anger or ridicule. (Her severe psychotic episodes were somewhat different.) Whilst I had to be on the alert to her emotions, I didn’t learn anything from her about normal emotional expression.

My other immediate family members’ emotions are also hard for me to judge, in facial expressions and verbally. I can fail to spot the onset of anger with me. At other times I’m overwhelmed by how they express it. I often interpret anger when they are actually feeling concern or upset. I interpret disinterest or rejection when they say there is none there.

So…. on the whole that does seem quite messed up, doesn’t it!?

To be continued in Part 3 (which will be what I thought I was going to write about originally!)

The guilt I feel when I’m met with no response – Part 1

I was reading about how people with borderline personality disorder interpret emotion in facial expressions. I came across a study that had found that people with BPD are quite similar to people without any personality disorder in how we perceive emotions in facial expressions, however, those of us with BPD are likely to perceive neutral facial expressions as communicating “negative” emotions*. If someone is not displaying a positive feeling in their expression, we are likely to interpret a negative feeling. Of course, facial expressions are a somewhat personal and subjective thing. Additionally, I am not sure whether the finding was that we tend to interpret the perceived negative emotion as directed at us (eg the person is fed up with us) or as a non-personally-directed emotion (eg the person is sad, the person is frustrated after a bad day). Perhaps the study didn’t differentiate. I must try to revisit the study online and I’ll post a link in the comments if I find it.

Two things rang true to me. First I agree that I’m likely to infer from an expression that isn’t warm / positive that the person feels negatively. I’m not sure whether I actually see the expression as negative, or know it’s neutral (maybe “not letting anything on”) but a neutral expression for me means the person’s feeling is negative. Second, once I interpret a negative emotion (from whatever expression) I will usually be absolutely sure it’s directed at or because of me. Even if there are abundant clues that it’s because of something else, even if logically it can’t be because of me, this is my default assumption. Cue massive guilt and a desperate urgency to put things right. My first thoughts, my deepest emotions, my bodily reactions, are all based on that. Even flashbacks or memories involving deep guilt (where I know I hurt someone in the past) can follow.

This can all happen before any words are spoken.

However, I do the equivalent with speech and writing too. If anything is left open, ambiguous or ignored, I often feel I’ve done something wrong, or caused irritation or anger or displeasure, or that the person doesn’t believe me.

To be continued in Part 2.

* Note: by “negative” I mean feelings like sad, angry and so on. I don’t like using the word “negative” as it suggests something wrong with the feeling. This isn’t what I mean. All feelings are valid. I couldn’t think of another word. Perhaps “unhappy”?

Panic about planning

My partner and I had to go into town today to buy some items for Easter and for volunteer work next week; also to meet a friend for coffee. There were 5 items on the list, to be bought in a couple of different shops.

Why did I go into a full panic attack?!

The task seemed completely insurmountable, more and more insurmountable as the minutes passed; and the more insurmountable it seemed, the angrier I got with myself. If it hadn’t been for my partner I would not have left the house. I’d have hidden away under my blanket at home. Yes, like a three year old.

I could not make any decision on where to go. Nowhere would have everything. There was a potential problem with every potential store we could go to. There was a reason not to go to this or that place, but also to go to this or that same place. I was exhausted. I wanted sleep. But I had to get everything on the list or I’d let people down at work. If I did go, what order should I go to different shops? All the possibilities made a desperate screaming noise in my head and it was impossible to choose and any choice felt disastrous.

Why? Why am I so unable to cope with the simplest choice and task? Decisions are always harder than I think they should be but not usually this bad.

There seemed to be too many combinations of possible outcomes to make a choice but I don’t know why this was so paralysing. Why there was so much noise and crushing pressure in my head. My reaction to not being able to choose was very much a child’s – want to stop, want to hide and so on. Had I dissociated and my little-child-self was in the fore and unable to cope with the decision-making? Or is my adult self so overwhelmed I can’t go through a normal choice process? Or both….

My partner made the choice in the end. We made it out. I had two other near panic attacks when things went wrong while we were out. We were glad to see our friend. I’m home now, utterly wiped out, pain off the scale. On days like this I’m astounded my partner wants to be with me.

Ginny xxx

The worst thing they can make you fear

TRIGGER WARNING for discussion of abuse and control

The worst thing my abuser made me fear was not what she would do to me. Actually I accepted that without question.

The worst thing to be afraid of is myself. That’s what my abuser made me most afraid of. Me. What I really am. What I can’t stop. What I would do to her. What I would do to everyone I loved. What everyone would find out in the end about me. What the people watching thought and how they’d take my loved ones away because of me (the watchers didn’t exist, I’m told, but it was too deeply engrained for that to make any difference now).

I was supposed to love my abuser, and that made it worse, because the revulsion I felt showed I should be repulsed at myself.

When rarely, I told what had happened, nobody heard or nobody believed, but she’d already told me they wouldn’t.

I escaped from my abuser, in physical terms. And I know I’m very fortunate because so many don’t.

The one thing we can certainly never ever escape from is ourselves. The one way my abuser ensured her power over my present and future as well as my past is this terror of myself. Add to that my “alters” (the child that screams unendingly because no-one heard her when it mattered; the violent lunatic full of anger as I’m tricked again and again by those who supposedly love me) – and my abuser is not only in my mind now but sickeningly in every current relationship and interaction.

I can feel her laughter and ridicule now. I feel surrounded.

X

Voids between my mind and others’ minds

I feel so sad and I’m doubting my mind. I clashed with someone I care about. It doesn’t feel right to put the details here much as I want to. Basically I felt we need to make a fact very clear to someone we are working with, a fact that ought to have been made clear from the start. In itself the fact isn’t right or wrong but it does totally change what we are offering the person and what they will expect and it’s absolutely necessary to say it. The person I clashed with thinks there’s no need to say it, it doesn’t change anything, nothing was ever promised. I tried to explain what I believe and he said he would write off working with the person completely.

There’s more to it but that’s all I can say here.

It sounds like a tiny thing but it’s shaken me and got me lost about how I see things and how others see them and the gulf between that. What I see as a clear duty when others don’t. What I expect. How I deal with uncertainty (rather, don’t deal with it). The gap there is between my mind and the people I care about. It’s brought back the ever-near memories of people telling me I expect other people to look after me, or that I didn’t keep my word, my responsibilities, when I was doing all I could to get it right for everyone and hurting myself to punish myself for my failings and still wasn’t good enough.

I’m sad. It probably doesn’t help I’ve been ill physically this weekend.

I know this blog has been too down and negative lately and I need to change that. I’m sorry.

Ginny xxx