Tag: sexual abuse

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

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

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

Protection in Emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

“Closing the drawbridge” – eating disorders and rigidity

PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION – this post contains discussion of eating disorders (primarily anorexia), description of my eating-disordered thinking patterns, and a link to an article about studies on calorie restriction

[Wow, again it has been too long since I have posted in this series. Sorry.]

Many books about eating disorders, in particular anorexia, mention rigidity of thinking as a symptom which emerges as restriction of food increases and weight drops. When I worked at an eating disorder service, it was frequently described in inpatients on the ward. I’ve been pondering why this is and how much did I experience it when I was anorexic. I never used to think that my eating disorder was about control, although I now would take that back and I think I did use it if not exactly for control, in order to separate myself from my mother’s abuse and protect myself (and, I thought, others too) from demands, emotions and the dangers I felt they presented.

Perhaps it is logical that counting calories and measuring portions and exercise, forcing yourself to adhere to a punishing regime of starvation and painfully excessive activity in the very weakened physical state of anorexia, requires a strong, almost angry, obsessional drive. Sticking to this above and against all the natural urges of your body to keep you well and nourished, to the point that your body consumes its own muscle for energy, requires a steely determination that must be fuelled from somewhere. This could be seen as rigidity. It could easily spread to other areas of cognition and daily routine.

Certain chemical changes in the brain are thought to contribute to this rigidity as well, I believe. Two studies were conducted in the 1950s, using as participants conscientious objectors to National Service and former prisoners of war. One of these is the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, where starvation was imposed on physically and psychologically healthy participants who had no history of eating disorders. As the participants’ calories were reduced and their weights dropped, their thinking patterns became more rigid and obsessional thought and behaviour patterns emerged. When their calories were no longer restricted, they also became vulnerable to binge-eating. You can read more about Ancel Keys’ Minnesota Study here. (It would be considered highly immoral by today’s standards, although perhaps it is worth bearing in mind that one purpose of the study was in order to find out how to care for and manage re-feeding and weight restoration in victims of starvation in several countries following World War II.)

I am not sure to what extent rigid thinking was a big feature in me when I was severely underweight. Others who knew me at the time might disagree! It was mentioned to me on a couple of occasions.

On further thought, perhaps I did not struggle so much with rigidity over, say, my daily timetable – with the notable exception of excessive exercise, as I forced myself to swim a certain distance a certain number of times per week, until I was so exhausted and weakened that I could no longer move through the water which felt ice cold, my legs cramping, and I would drag myself to the changing rooms with my skin purple and blue, bruises appearing that did not heal and no number of layers of clothing warming me up.

However, if the rigidity was not externalised, it was certainly internal. This is what I think of as the “closing drawbridge” of anorexia that locks up or locks away everything we fear. I’ve talked in previous posts about the blissful, safe numbness of anorexia, ensuring my emotions were in check and flattened, and ensuring the evil I perceived in me was locked away to hurt only me, weaken only me, so that I could not hurt anyone else. Locking up the perceived evil locked up feeling, too. No more panic – just obsessive counting calories, distances, how to hide or avoid food. No more fear – just explicable pain, wonderful blanks and emptiness, safe empty gnawing in my stomach. No need to feel others’ feelings. No need to be hurt or be overwhelmed. Just glorious numb, nothing, whiter. lighter, clearer than before. No needing; no taking; just closing down, separated, apart from everything, locked up safe, pushing away and always succeeding, taking nothing in, frozen.

As a friend pointed out to me recently, emotions take energy, just as physical exertion takes energy, so with vastly insufficient calorie intake, there simply is no energy with which to feel. Despite the lack of energy, the drawbridge was shut tight and closing harder. The further I starved and restricted, paradoxically, tighter shut the door and even stronger came the energy driving me on, not to need, not to feel, not to fear, not to touch anyone or anything.

Coupled with that strength came a desperation never to leave this closed up place and never to need or feel again, to remain unreachable, to keep safe away and to keep everyone else safe away from me. If I could just be sure to hurt myself enough and never to eat, this wonderful place would stay with me. The fear of everything the drawbridge kept away joined the energy and both drove me harder and deeper into the numb place of anorexia.

Combined with my mother’s illness and abusive actions, there was no shortage of reinforcement from the outside that this numb place was good. The only period of my life in which my mother’s emotional abuse and threats reduced and in which she was even caring towards me, in which interactions with her were free of threats and scorn and twisted statements about the harm I was doing to her and my father, was when I was severely underweight with anorexia so severe it was probably life threatening. I was no longer a danger and no longer seemed to be so evil. I even thought perhaps she loved me. I even dared to hope perhaps the evil thing I was sure was in me and that came out and hurt and controlled and deceived everyone, was gone. If I could just stay like this, perhaps it wouldn’t come back. On the other hand with the drawbridge tight shut my body was mine as well, only mine, and the anorexia was mine, and she would never come near me again, literally never touch me again.

(Perhaps that was the one thing that was eventually true in all my twisted anorexic thinking. She did abuse me sexually during the anorexia but afterwards, she didn’t ever abuse me sexually again.)

Until I started to eat again and weight restore, there was only one thing that cut through my rigid defences, and that was singing. I’m not a particularly good singer but I was in a musical at my school (more because I used to be able to dance, than for my voice, I think!) and afterwards I took singing lessons, which were about the only part of my later school years that was enjoyable. Although I enjoyed singing, during the anorexia I would find that the music had a peculiar effect. We didn’t usually sing particularly emotive songs but I would often find music bringing me to want to cry or causing a strange twisting feeling of unease inside me, as though it was draining away the rigid kind of energy but I wouldn’t let it go. My mother prevented me seeking any professional help for my eating disorder but the only two people to whom I did talk about it honestly at all at school were my singing teacher and my art teacher. (My swimming coach was also very concerned about me and to some extent I did talk to her but, for some reason, although I knew she cared and was a safe person to trust, I was never able to be truthful to her, I think because in some way I feared hurting or disappointing her too much.) I don’t know why music and to some extent art, broke through the rigid protective mechanisms, but it did. I know that music can be very helpful in therapy for people with various conditions, including dementia and depression. I’ve never read about it in relation to anorexia but that might be something I should look into!

The struggles I have with overpowering, overwhelming emotions in my Borderline Personality Disorder, are the complete opposite of the protective place I entered in my anorexia, and they are an excess of feeling and needing which are probably, actually everything I feared. If I’m honest the numb place was safer. I’ve long lost the way back there and lost the key to the drawbridge and I hate that and I’ll admit that in the worst times, when I really hate myself and everything I feel and need, I wish I could return and it’s hardest at these times to try not to punish myself with cutting or purging. I’m trying to learn how to choose life and staying connected to other people – and to my body and my emotions – without the unbearable and dangerous becoming all that there is.

Ginny xx

Telling

Telling

On Tuesday I made my statement reporting the years of emotional and sexual abuse from my mother. Two officers were with me for about 3 hours. There were a lot of preliminary questions and forms to complete then my statement was recorded by a small camera. The recording itself may be used in evidence, and a transcript will be typed.

It was a bit surreal at first, but the anxiety was rising in my throat and pumping through my whole body. I thought it would consume me and I would not be able to speak. The officer stated the date, time, place, who was present. Rather like on TV shows, except this was real. Then I spoke. I spoke for about 50 minutes with just a few breaks and questions, then there came more questions at the end.

The officers were incredibly kind and compassionate and made the process as “best” as it could be in this situation. It did make a difference. They were respectful, and gentle, and had empathy for the impact and the cost of speaking. I know from what readers have shared in the comments on other posts that this is not everyone’s experience of reporting this kind of crime to the police. How I wish it was.

Right now I feel shattered, like the picture. I’m so tired. Every joint feels as though it has been smashed with a hammer. At the end of the day at work today, my legs are hurting so much I can only walk very slowly and my feet recoil from the ground. Partly it’s the fibromyalgia and arthritis. Partly the stress, I’m sure.

It’s as if I don’t really know how to stand right now. I know that it was the right thing to do and that I needed to give this statement. Yet those 3 hours change everything.

Suddenly those “touches”, those words, the coercion, the threats, the violence, are unquestionably crimes. A substantial chunk of my childhood written, taped, recorded, in a couple of hours. What happened was no longer sickness (or no longer only sickness). No longer to be excused. No longer misunderstanding or as she sometimes claimed, the product of her fear. It was a crime. In the police’s words I am the victim of her crime. My mind is shattered, too, try to understand this concept….

Ginny xx

The 1000th last straw

[TRIGGER warning for mention of self harm, overdose and suicidal thoughts, and childhood sexual abuse;  and for anger, i am really angry and hurt writing this.  I am not meaning people to worry about me. When i say I’ve given up i mean on therapy and the doctors and everyone i trusted, not that I’m immediately suicidal.]

I am so far beyond angry. Hurting. They can decide I don’t get help. But it does come to a point I can’t just keep going one day more and being told the bad things are temporary.

In group and after I desperately needed to talk about the abuse and trauma and the decision I’ve now got to make whether to make a full statement to the police. I needed help when I told them I was really high, right on the edge, really unstable, not safe. Nobody heard.

I’d dared to ask a friend for help and to help me talk through some of what I have to decide about the police. She’s cancelled and changed arrangements so many times we’ve had to meet. I doubt she really wants to anymore. She keeps meetings to the most difficult and shortest times. She knows I’m ill, she knows I’m desperate, she surely knows how difficult it is to talk about abuse! She agreed to meet in the middle of the day at her work. Obviously I needed to talk in private but if that was all the time she had then I was thankful for it. I was at my wits end today after group. She changed the time and place back and forth through the morning today. She knows this puts me right on edge if I have no idea what’s happening. She told me she only had 30 minutes, then that she had work to do and hadn’t finished, then couldn’t I wait an hour and a half later, then asking where I was, 2 hours earlier,  when she knew I was still at my hospital appointment. When I finally pinned her down to a time she still came 20 minutes late without even letting me know and we had to meet in a crowded cafe where I obviously couldn’t talk about a thing – what did she expect me to do?! “How’s your cappuccino? Oh yes and by the way, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to cope when I tell the police about my mother sticking things up me when I was 7, any thoughts?” I don’t think so!

Then she told me I ask too much, it would be impossible to do what I ask (really? Is it so very hard to agree to meet a friend, stick to the arrangement and turn up?) And she doesn’t believe i wanted to meet in private because I thanked her for agreeing to meet in the middle of the day (well just because I thanked her and was grateful doesn’t mean I was happy or it was what I needed, I was just grateful for any help – or what I thought was help). She said she didn’t know we needed to meet in private (really? Is she that stupid she doesn’t know if you have to talk about abuse you won’t do it in the middle of a cafe? I don’t think so).

I was in bits and in so much pain as well  – and yet again the last hope of getting help or to talk to anyone was snatched away. It’s not just today. It’s every single time. I’ve had it now after this is just repeated – every one i should be able to trust,  every place i should get help. They don’t hear. They don’t believe me. They don’t help. It’s some sick joke or someone’s plan to find out when I break, to laugh at me, to test if I want help enough. Well I’m screaming and nobody can hear. I can’t scream louder. They can choose to keep up this game. Well I guess they’ve won. I can’t shout louder. I can’t make them believe. I can’t make it so that I deserve or am allowed help. I can stop trying anymore because it does just hurt too much. That one’s down to me. It’s not really a choice because it simply now is too painful. But I can choose not to let anyone near me again so they can’t trick me, so they can’t decide to keep a distance because I’m not allowed help and cut me down again because I’d just started to trust and go forward believing they’d be there, so they can’t disappear and show me how they don’t really want me around and it isn’t a friendship and they won’t be there.

(Funny. She’ll threaten to call an ambulance – and if I do go to a&e I just talk to someone then get bounced back out after a few hours and I’m alone again – but she won’t come to see me when I’m not safe, understand how hard it is, sit with me when I’m terrified, come to see me when I was in hospital – every time I was in I was the only person on the ward who didn’t get a single visitor -or hug me when I’m crying. Why is it so hard to do any of that? The doctors don’t care and don’t help me and the only friend I have nearby doesn’t want me around and says go to the emergency services. So I’m not allowed medical help and not allowed friends.)

I’m not allowed any help. I need a friend and I need someone with me and I need to trust someone but every single thing I trust gets taken. It’s not just today it’s every time and I’ve had enough. Oh, you must keep going to work, they say. You’ll feel worse if you have nothing to do. No, I won’t. All I want is it to stop. I don’t want to go out. I want to sleep. I want drugs to stop me feeling.

Oh it won’t help you if you have anyone with you it won’t help you get better you have to be independent. Why is it for her to decide what I need? She’s not my doctor! She doesn’t know what it’s like! I need help. I need someone with me. I want a friend. I want someone to help me. I want someone to care. I want someone to be there when I can’t cope. Not only when I can say everything is fine. Not only when it suits them. Not only because they’ve decided I have to learn to be independent. I’ve always been independent. Nobody has ever been there when I needed them. Now I Can’t cope anymore. It’s even more cruel that every time I’m most desperate I have to be deceived into thinking someone’s there then left alone.

If you’re friends with someone, if you care for them, you are there when they need help. You don’t decide what they need or that something else is best for them or they have to learn something. You don’t see them sometimes then walk off when they’re ill. You don’t constantly change every arrangement. You don’t only allow them in certain situations and certain parts of your life. If they need you you’re there for them. If they’re sick you help them and care for them. You don’t just disappear because it isn’t convenient. That’s just utterly basic friendship and actually basic morality. I’d do it and do do it for anyone.

Is it really so terribly much to ask? Every other person in therapy has family, a carer or a spouse with them. I’m the only person who doesn’t, who lives totally alone. Is it really so terribly awful to want someone to be with me when I’m in crisis, to hug me when I’ve been crying for hours, someone to stick to a commitment, someone to be a friend, someone to help me when I’m cutting as soon as I’m alone, when I’m terrified of the hallucinations?

And the doctors know and they don’t care. They don’t help me. My friend says call them if I’m not safe. She says persist. I’ve been persisting for years. I’ve been accepting nobody wants me. I’ve told them in not safe. I’ve told them I’m cutting and overdosing and when I was planning to end it. They didn’t help me. I don’t want some stupid phone number for a few minutes of so called support. That doesn’t keep me safe or get me help or a friend or anyone with me. I’m on my own again. Left to just go back to the same cutting and overdosing. There’s no other way to cope. They tell me just keep going is temporary. I don’t care if it’s temporary. I can’t right now.

After years of making sure never to say what I needed and always to do weekday I’m meant to, I’ve had it. I’m a disgusting selfish b*tch and a baby and I’m screaming and I need help now and nobody can hear me. I’m not allowed help and I know I’m not but every time it’s proved the kick hurts even harder. I know it’s selfish and disgusting but actually the need and the hurt has taken over. Nobody wants me. Nobody wants me really, not what’s really me.

 

 

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

Protection in emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

“You will never touch me”

[I am sorry I have not updated this series for a while!]

In my first period of anorexia, one of the greatest functions of my eating disorder was a kind of defiance and separation. Anorexia definitely changed my personality, or rather, it was often as if there was a separate personality, much stronger than my own, rising inside me and gaining strength as I got thinner. She was strong and defiant and could not be hurt. She could keep me away from everyone and every thing that hurt me.

I was about 15 by this time and had suffered at least 11 years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and exploitation. The family unit of my mother, my father and I were increasingly isolated and cut off into my mother’s sick (in both senses of the word) world and anything that tried to penetrate it led to terrible consequences (her sickness, her threats to kill herself, her threats to abandon the family, her threats of breaking up the family or of me causing her and my father to die, be taken away and so on). Anything that posed a risk to the world of her twisted thinking, delusions and manipulation had to be invalidated or removed. Visitors weren’t allowed to come into the home. Any social contact had to be planned and rehearsed beforehand, carried out to Mother’s specifications, reported back to her, analysed against her pre-prepared script. The daily routine had to run exactly according to her needs. She had to be recognised as super-human, a genius that nobody could ever sufficiently understand, the victim of everyone’s cruelty and misunderstanding who was so gracious as to forgive everyone because she “loved” them so much. Appease, pacify, agree, conform….the disaster wouldn’t happen, maybe….

My eating disorder couldn’t appease, pacify, agree or conform. It couldn’t be manipulated or invalidated. My eating disorder could defy, protect, shield, consume, grow stronger, defend, refuse to succumb and refuse to be controlled or analysed by her and even refuse to recognise her at all.

I remember that eventually, as my weight dropped and dropped, even Mother started to worry I was too thin and getting weaker. She’d encouraged my eating disorder at first, requiring my weight loss and dieting and reminding me how ugly I really was. Eventually it snapped out of her control and I think it was the one thing that actually scared her.

One evening, she called me into her bedroom. She told me to get undressed and stand in front of the full-length mirror. She’d done this many times before in order to shame and humiliate me and to slowly and methodically point out all the bits of my body that were bad and “too plump” and “too much fat”. Usually it followed a ritual weighing and reporting of my weight to her, her disbelief and being forced to repeat weighing myself in front of her. Now I flatly refused to weigh myself in front of her, but delighted in doing it in my bedroom in secret (always in exactly the same place, lining the scales up with a particular pair of floorboards) and was satisfied with the thrill of seeing the pounds drop. But for some reason, this day, I did obey her to get undressed and stand in front of the mirror. This time, instead of pointing out the places I was too fat, she pointed out where it showed I was too thin. Even I was shocked when I was forced to look at where the normal shape of my behind had started to flatten and disappear at the base of my spine. She continued telling me I was too thin and how she was worried.

A thrill of power went through me. It was frightening but I had never felt power like that. No, I thought. No. This is my body. All mine and you will never touch me again. In total silence I walked away from the mirror, away from her, out of her bedroom back to mine and got dressed again. I resolved to lose as much more weight as I possibly could and get as sick as I could, because this meant she would never ever touch me again. I hated her at that moment. I don’t think I was thinking of the sexual invasions, specifically (and indeed a lot of them I didn’t even accept as invasions at that time), but of all the hold she had on me and all the hurt. She would never do it again.

I had an awareness, somewhere, that she was worried for me and she was upset, and that my father was too. At that time, the need for the protection and power of my anorexia was much greater. I had become quite a nasty person, disregarding the hurt I was causing people who loved me (my dad loved me, if my mother didn’t). Or the anorexia in me was quite a nasty personality and I was becoming that personality. The power of anorexia was stronger than my usual nature.

Of course, it didn’t really stop me getting hurt, and it hurt lots of other people in the process. Eventually, it was acknowledging my father’s fear of what was happening to me that started to bring me out of this first period of starvation. To this day, I am not quite sure what, at that time, made me acknowledge that and shifted the balance of power towards empathy and reason, and away from the protective force of anorexia.

Ginny xxx

I am…. (she said)

(My mother told me that) I am:

Ugly. Greedy. Too plump here. Fat.

Pretending. Deceiving. Manipulating.

Pretending to be a little girl. Doing my act.

Punishing. Getting my own back. Repeatedly Punishing.

Deceiving.

Holding her in chains since I was a baby.

Not supposed to be crying. Look who should be crying, she’s the one who should be crying. [And she was – and shouting and screaming and ridiculing and sneering and shaking me and throwing glass…]

Going to make her have a heart attack.

Wearing her out. She’s lying on the floor unable to move because of what I’ve done. [I called out and nobody would come. ..]

Going to make my dad so upset he’ll have a car accident. He’s lying on the floor curled in a ball unable to breathe. Because of me. That’s what I’ve done to him.

Going to come down the stairs one morning and find her … [dead – I will not write here the graphic description she made].

A silly little thing.

Madam treating everyone like servants.  Reclining like an emperor on the cushions.

A baby that has to go on a walking rein. To show everyone what a baby I am.

…Pretending….

Repeatedly Punishing. ..

A threat to her personal safety. Putting her in hospital. The reason she goes into hospital because I frightened her so much. God help anyone I ever work with.

Impossible to live with.

When I’ve got what I want…

Reacting so weirdly to everything and I have to remember how all my reactions are weird and the damage I’m causing to the family.

Getting too much fat again.

Demonstrating that I’m damaged.

Leaving things hidden in places so that she finds them so as to show her that I’m damaged.

Pretending ( – I’ve already told her!)

A genius. Nobody is able to understand my incredible intelligence. She planned the moment of my conception and the moment of my birth. She wrote freedom into my very name. I was a genius and they could not cope with my intelligence. I was going to change the world.

Aware of her every thought and she knew exactly mine. Knew everything she was saying (on the phone to someone else). Knew exactly what she wanted.

Wearing her out( – look at her with 4 children and look at what my one’s done to me! )

Stopping her ever having any more children.

Causing the end of her and my father’s marriage.

Copying.

Pretending to be…

Testing. Testing the testers. Objecting to the test.

Those are just some of the things my mother (with her psychosis and disordered and abusive,  the doctors said) told me I am.

(She’d ask) what if:

Anyone’s watching?

Anyone hears?

Anyone from the government is watching?

The police are going to be called?

Anyone can see what you’re doing?

Anyone found out?

Anyone saw [what you can’t do]… are you very worried about the effects of your pretending. ..at how bad you ate at x … (you must remember you’re a whole school year older. ..stop associating with the little ones. ..)

If anyone found out. She’d be taken away. My father woUld be taken away. I’d be sent to a special school for morons. If anyone found out, they’d never imagine it was all because of me. They’d think it was her. Nobody would realise it was actually me. But I’d know and she’d know it was actually me. And she’d be taken.

So we had to cover it up.

Those were some of her ‘what if’ threats.

He (Father) agreed. Can’t you see how much you’re upsetting her? Look how much she’s smoking because of you. Stop snivelling like that. That’s what people do when they’ve had something really bad happen to them. Could you actually make a bit more effort? Is mummy even in the room to you? He’d sit there hugging her and stroking her feet and nobody would help me whilst I was crying and terrified and didn’t know how to end it.  This was the first day I felt I didn’t need to phone up to see how you were getting on with each other. Now look what I’ve found out. Why were you pretending? Where is she? What are you doing in here? Look how exhausted she is because of what you’ve done. She wouldn’t have to go to bed all day if you didn’t do these things. We could have had a nice day if you hadn’t done that.

She’s very lovely, he’d say. Isn’t mummy lovely? She’s very good at all of this… She’s amazing when she does that…isn’t that fantastic. ..

And he says he didn’t know what she was doing.

The threats and what ifs and horrible things I was, stopped for a while when I was anorexic. That was all. At least then the anorexia and my body was all mine and in me it was hurting, cleaner,  safer, nothing, numb but burning, longing but cutting off,  hidden, weakening, less, smaller, not, not needing. As soon as I got stronger it all came back and all the horror too. I was the problem and the evil one again.

So I am – evil,  dangerous, liar, fake, deceitful,  hurt people, going to cause the greatest harm, greedy, ugly, selfish, nasty, like a ruler with people in chains, disgusting, foul… all without knowing the harm I’m doing. I didn’t know it then when I was a child but it still happened and all this awful damage erupted from me, she said.

How did I stop them coming to take her because of me? How did I keep her alive? She didn’t give me care. I didn’t need care from her. I learned to manage without. All I needed was to stop the damage and awful things I was doing.

Ironically I did end up having to actually call them to take her! They did take her as she’d threatened. And they did say it was her with the problem and the illness and being abusive. And they did say it couldn’t possibly be me. So everything she said would happen, did. And that was to be when she and I would know it was all because of me. 

Oh yes – I know it. It never leaves. 

So cut cut cut and purge and punish myself and maybe I’ll get all the badness out or else keep it all in and hurt only me.

When I controlled enough in anorexia all the evil seemed to have stopped. But I can’t get back there.

I still hear it and believe it all even though I’ve started to feel angry in the moments my rational mind tells me how it was twisted and wrong and she did what she liked and he let her do it all to me.

And I can’t even write yet about … those other times. In front of the mirror. In the bed. With the bathroom. Telling me how I liked it.

 

 

 

 

 

The fear of what lies within

It was my MBT therapy group this morning.

I was very sad at the end and the frightened abandoned child part of me was crying.

I do not want to risk breaking any confidences so I will just say that we shared our feelings and thoughts around abuse suffered, memories, trauma, and times of finding out that a loved or trusted person has done something very very wrong, perhaps the most terrible wrong of violating the most delicate and intimate part of another person’s physical being and emotional soul.

I wish I could write more freely but I am very afraid to break or betray confidences, even though I do not give personal information or write under my real name. Too much rides on that to ever risk it and it would cause too much pain to everyone else in the group.

[Note – at this point I know that my writing that follows has not become very coherent. This post is a lot of things I had to get written down for me and it may not make any sense whatsoever to readers. I am sorry for that. I am not sure that any good can be gained from reading it, actually. I feel I have to write it to start to unravel some of the terror I’m feeling right now about the experiences we explored and to start to pick out some of the emotions. I don’t know well what they are right now. This comes with a warning about painful and scary themes in the writing that follows although because I don’t know if it makes any sense at all, I’m not quite sure what exactly to warn for. It does mention a memory of someone threatening and abusing and physical violence. Just…. warning…. xxx]

I am sad and cold now and desperately wish someone were with me to hold me; to hold me here and tell me what’s real, what’s not real, what’s no longer real, and maybe the hurting child part of me would be protected. She knows only she is wrong and she has harmed and she could drive someone to death – and the flashes come of the terror of finding her, there, like that – and she must be alone and she must know the bad that she has done and if she just watches hard enough perhaps she can get away before it all happens again. But still she’s crying and hurting and nobody comes. Nobody held her, nobody told her it was alright, nobody told her being loved and being able to love didn’t mean being able to get it right enough, disappear enough and fill everything she needed without fail. She cried on her own and she wished alone would stay forever then, in the little room and her make believe world with the “children” she cared for and made real in her mind and for her eyes only, where she didn’t do harm, and later where she was even allowed to cry and someone would hold her and tell her she was good and it would be alright. She could even save people in that world, be brave and strong and rescue and save, suffer hurt herself to protect and save the others. She could slip into that world.

If only the alone time always lasted. If he didn’t come home, didn’t open her door, and know instantly from her frightened watching and sometimes her attempts to block the door, and her mother in her own bedroom in the dark in bed (sleeping? Silent and still, certainly.) If he didn’t come and Mother didn’t get up (one day would she not get up? would it have happened that she’d gone away as she threatened, or even that she was dead?) then alone would last. It was frightening and panicky and hollow but it was safe and she could slip back into the other world, with her “children”. But he always came home. He knew straight away – without a shadow of a doubt she thought this – what had happened that day and what she had “done” to her mother and what had happened and what her mother was going to do because of her. He’d go in to her mother and her mother would tell him what she’d done. Then down they’d come, and he’d be cooking dinner, and the evening and night “session” would start, of Mother crying and screaming and threatening and asking her over and over why she had done it, until Mother came up with the explanation for the evil thing she had done, to punish Mother and get her own back in some twisted way. And the child wouldn’t even understand what the initial deception was supposed to have been, sometimes, let alone how that was punishing. The wrong, you see, was only a wrong if she had intended the evil and the punishment in her action. The action wouldn’t have been wrong without it because it had not any value, it just was. But there was the evil motive and intention and Mother always knew it exactly. And all the time she’d be asking, watching, shouting, accusing. And the child would be crying. Nobody came to her. Nobody helped her. Father comforted Mother, hugged her, sat beside her, stroked her feet and legs, sat with her when she went up to bed when she’d made her so sick she couldn’t cope. He brought Mother the wine and coffee she drank and the cigarettes she chain smoked. (Did he know she threw the glass jars at her? With practised precision to smash into thousands of shards directly at her feet, I know now.) Nobody brought the child anything to comfort her and nobody held her when she cried at the threats and shouting or being left alone when Mother went away and she wondered if that would be the time Mother didn’t come back – look what you’re doing to your Mother… stop crying like that, that’s what people do when they’ve had something really serious happen to them, stop sitting there dripping like a blood machine – and nobody went to her when she cried at night and nobody was there when she got up and was terrified to move and terrified of the stairs. She couldn’t tell anyone when she wet herself because she was too frightened to open the door of her bedroom to go to the bathroom in the night because she thought Mother would be dead outside and that would be the night she would find her – but if she didn’t go out it wouldn’t be real in that child’s mind – she tried to hide the wet things and when Mother found them stuffed into the back of the wardrobe, smelling, she didn’t answer why she had done it. Mother was always there. Father took completely her side and the totality of everything she claimed was the entire truth in his eyes. But nobody was there for that child.

She’s still there and scared and she wants a hug and in the flashbacks she’s all I am and I’m frozen and terrified. She needs someone to take her and not let go and never let go and she really really wants to be real and not be bad, just be the real little girl she is and not the terrible other evil things that Mother said she was doing. Is she a little girl or is she manipulation and evil and danger and damage? Is she real? Is the world she prefers to escape into real? Because it’s so much better and so much safer and it’s there that somebody wants and needs her. Please could she be real.

It really really hurt when Mother did the things she did with her body, in front of the mirror and on the bed and in the bathroom and……. inside…… it really hurt and Mother told her how to breathe so she could do it.

Why didn’t she know it was wrong?

Why was it her normal?

Why didn’t she tell? Why didn’t she stop it?

Especially in the bathroom. Because she was older then. Why did she just let her. Why even when the problems started later did she still not connect it.

Why.

Why is she so dirty and disgusting.

And most terrifying of all what if all this is a lie. What if she’s a foul ugly silly little thing and she’s repeatedly punishing Mother and that’s all this is and it’s all a lie.

Voices. Voices. And crying. Crying tired. Crying for it to stop. Cold.

And was there anything that was good?

****

And what if someone so bad – as what Rev. F. did with the young men… what about me? I thought he was kind to me. I thought he encouraged me. I thought he was kind and he always remembered my name, said hello and said he’d pray for me, and told me hope when I was in the grip of bulimia and losing the plot. I held on to the peace in the evening services as we prayed. But then he did – was doing? – that with the young men. And that was pure hurt and wrong and never never can in any way be alright and so so much harm has been caused to them. What does it mean that I thought something he did was good? What was his thinking when he did the things I thought were good? Would I have become complicit? Why did I think he was kind – someone who could do things like that? Am I so so bad too if I could think he was kind? Am I somehow open to being taken? Taken and used and used to hurt even without knowing?

Yet again. There it is. Used to hurt, doing bad, doing bad without knowing.

Can good be done without good being the intention?

Does that just reinforce that bad can be done without knowing too? Does that mean you can be bad without knowing?

Ginny – – – but not Ginny, really, tonight. Ginny’s got a bit lost right now. Tonight I’m still the frightened child. (Dissociating again.)

I’ve called her Lily – the child. I’ve called her Lily. She’s always there.