8 days

Another dream, this time where the past meets the present. My best friend, not even invited. Not by my side as the matron of honor. Never to see or talk to again. I had a dream she was not invited to my daughter’s wedding. How could she be when she was not invited to mine?

I felt the pain of those left behind. Before it was Shelly. She was supposed to be my matron of honor. I was the maid of honor in her wedding. But along the way life happened and screwed it all up. You see, Shelly needed a job and my brother Matt needed a teacher’s aide in his special ed classroom. Maybe that’s where things went wrong. Matt was physically violent and at the time he was a full sized adult.

Matt didn’t like school much and had the tendency to hurt someone when he didn’t want to do school work which was quite often. One day after attacking Shelly at school, the police were called. The police came to school, handcuffed my brother, put him in the back of the squad car, and took him to jail. It was something my mom always warned us about. Watch Matt carefully he is an adult now and if he hurts someone he could get locked away forever. I haven’t been able to get over my fear of the police. Every time I hear a siren my heart races.

My mom was sick with fear for Matt. He was facing assault charges which were eventually dropped because he was incompetent to stand trial. I never spoke to my childhood best friend again. My mom flippantly said, “Oh well, you were going separate ways anyways.” I was going to college and she was working with my brother. But I wanted the choice.

My plan was to go to school to become a counselor. Then I was going to fix my family. That was when I was young and dumb enough to think I could. I already felt the weight and responsibility. If I only knew Matt was going to hurt someone before he did. I could have stopped it. It’s my fault he attacked someone because I was not vigilant enough. If I believed it was my fault, I also believed I could fix it.

I felt guilty on my wedding day because I didn’t want Matt there. I didn’t want Matt to hurt someone. When I got married, Matt was going through some serious health issues and my parents thought Matt could die which intensified my guilt. They got a room for him in the hotel we had our reception at. After the ceremony, which he didn’t attend, we had the photographer come to the room to take wedding photos with Matt. We were gone so long some of the guests chided us about what took us so long as we were coming down from the hotel room.

Now it’s my dad who is not invited to the wedding. I can’t say I blame my daughter for not wanting him there, but it’s still painful. What if people ask where he is? He was pretty sick a month ago and in my mind I thought maybe he would die and free me from the shame he brought upon us. It’s a horrible thing to wish for. As if I will ever be free from the pain he caused me. My counselor said if asked I could tell people he is not well enough to go. If further asked, I could tell them I will talk to them about it later. I am good with the plan. It’s the last thing I want to talk about. It’s my mom I worry about. She has a tendency to overshare and play the victim making it all about her when the focus should be on someone else.

Call me a slow learner, but I just figured out this year I can’t fix people. In fact, I don’t have any control at all. I thought I could fix my family of origin but they are way too beyond broken to be put back together. I can’t even fix myself. I tried to fix my husband when he was drinking too much. I felt like it was my fault. I was responsible for him. It was my job to fix him. How easily it was to jump back into my old role. At times I even thought he was drinking just to hurt me. He has been seeing a counselor too which has been helpful, but I think it will be something he will always struggle with. At times I can’t blame him. If drinking took away my pain, there wouldn’t be enough I couldn’t drink.

He thought he could fix me too. He thought he could be my knight in shining armor. He thought he could bring me out of the dark spaces I hide within myself. He tried to make me happy so he could fix my depression. Why didn’t my fear and anxiety go away? Didn’t I love him? Didn’t I trust him? Wasn’t he something to live for? Couldn’t I just stop feeling that way? Couldn’t he just stop drinking??

We couldn’t fix our parents, both of us having parents with addiction/mental health issues. We couldn’t fix each other. We can’t fix our kids who all show signs of addictiveness and/or familial mental health struggles to some degree. That was a hard lesson to learn. There is nothing like having to watch someone you love hurting. I wanted to do anything I could to take the pain away from them. It’s harder as a parent, especially being the mom, because there is a huge sense of responsibility to fix your children. How often is the finger pointed at the parents when the kids struggle? (I can tell you with a daughter who has Borderline, it’s a lot even from professionals that should know better). It’s even easier to blame myself.

I guess if there is any silver lining in this, we have been waging war against these demons for a long enough time to know how to fight them in the best way possible. It wasn’t the first time someone I was close to wasn’t invited or wasn’t well enough to go to a wedding. My best friend wasn’t invited to my wedding and I never saw her again. My own grandpa didn’t go to my wedding because he wasn’t well enough. I can only control what I can control. It’s not easy, but there is some peace in knowing when to let go.

Navigating life

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares.

Why should I expect that to change? The likelihood of no longer struggling with these things is about as likely as me waking up one morning with schizophrenia. It’s probably not going to happen. I was thinking about these things while I laid awake the other night.

Some things have changed. I started taking medicine prescribed by my doctor to help me sleep at night. It works better than nothing. I still struggle with insomnia and nightmares. The insomnia part has improved, but the nightmares have not.

Do you ever have dreams where you are falling and you wake up before you hit the bottom? I don’t wake up anymore until I’m dead. Sounds strange, right? In the last week, I’ve had two dreams where I was shot point blank, heard the sound of gunfire, and woke up after I died in my dreams. The nightmares just seem to go on forever. In one of the nightmares I was shot while I was cleaning my house. I mean, seriously??

Then I got to thinking, people really don’t change either. Most of my childhood I believed my autistic/schizophrenic brother would become normal again. If only we could find the right doctor, the right diet, the right medication. I was waiting and hoping for this. God was going to heal my brother. I didn’t know what this was going to look like. Would he be able to suddenly read and write like me or was he going to start life over in his toddler years. I thought it was going to happen, but it never did.

When my own daughter started having mental health struggles a couple years back, I thought the same thing. If only I found the right doctor, the right medication, the right inpatient program, outpatient program, etc.. Surely an expensive residential treatment facility would do the trick. But it didn’t cure her. It didn’t take her mental illness away. She is not the same person she was before. She will never be that way again. She may decide to end her life someday and I have to accept that and love her where she is at. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

After my dad committed his crime, there was a period of time where I was under the impression that he accepted the Lord and was a changed person. I wanted so badly to believe that was true. I thought maybe he would finally be the kind of dad I always wanted. But guess what? Nothing changed.

If I pray more and have enough faith, then my anxiety will go away. I used to believe that too. Maybe something was wrong with me because when I prayed for my struggles to go away, they didn’t. I don’t believe people anymore when they tell me those kind of things. It sounds like a gimmick to me. God is bigger than that. I don’t see God in that way anymore. I think faith is a wonderful coping mechanism. But I think people do more harm than good by telling others if they do certain things then their sibling, their child, their parent, or they will not struggle anymore.

Miracles do happen, but they are truly one in a million. I’m better off accepting that the way things are will probably be the way things will always be. If I look at it that way, my life makes a lot more sense. Look at the patterns of behavior. It’s very simplistic, but for me it was a real aha moment in the middle of the night. People don’t change. They may grow and mature over time like a baby turns into an old lady. But it’s still the same person with the same strengths and weaknesses with a little more wisdom and mindfulness on how to navigate life.

Wishes

I wish I could say my good mood has lasted but alas it has not.

I can’t pinpoint anything major just a general feeling of disappointment. Our furnace is still out, plus our boiler for our pool and hot tub are out too. We live in a big old drafty house. Something always needs fixing it seems. Thankfully we know what the problem is with our furnace and it is under warranty. We went from having to get a new furnace this morning to having to pay a couple hundred dollars to have it fixed this afternoon which is great. But I spent my whole day dealing with this and not all of the problems are fixed yet. I suppose it’s too much to ask for a switch that I can turn on to make everything work again.

I feel frustration about COVID and how it is tearing families apart for yet another holiday season. I’m angry about family attacking family over politics and vaccination status. If you don’t believe what I believe then you aren’t welcome to be a part of this family anymore but I still care about you bullshit. I’m so angry I want to cut some extended family out of my life forever. The sad thing is at one time I actually thought they might have cared.

I’m sick of hosting the family holidays. I’m angry that my mom never took it over after my grandma was unable to do it anymore. I’m angry I had to take on the responsibility in my mid-20’s after looking at my daughter that age and thinking about what I had to do at her age. I’m angry I never got to be a child or even a young adult without having to parent my parents who just never seem to be able to handle life without burdening their children.

I’m angry for the crime my dad committed. Tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary. I’m angry that some family members brush it aside as if it never happened. I’m angry that some family members harbor anger towards my daughter for turning him in. I’m angry my dad is so shitty of a dad and grandpa he will not be invited to my daughter’s wedding. I’m terribly jealous of people who have supportive parents. Neither my husband nor I have had that. I’m angry my husband and I have a hard time with relationships because no one ever taught us anything useful. What the hell is normal??

I’m angry that my relationship with Arabella is not what I want it to be. I’m angry she wants me to stop telling people she is delusional when she accuses me of starving, abusing, and torturing her. I’m angry that people feel they need to choose sides. I’m angry people question whether or not I’ve been abusive. I’m angry that I have to worry whether or not she will be alive tomorrow.

I’m angry my mom favors my brother Matt over everyone. I’m angry that he abused me as a child and I was never protected. I’m angry that my dad never taught me I was worthy of love and instead told me how stupid I was. I’m angry that I have to live with the aftermath trauma created in my life. I’m angry that I live in fear and am unable to trust.

All these things have been very painful for me. I’m this close to telling people off. I’m not sure what I need to do to get over this new bout of anger. I feel triggered thinking about family. I’m not sure what is wrong. Tis the season I suppose. I did say this time of year is hard for me.

Tonight my husband and I are meeting with a new pastor. We are thinking of leaving our church. My faith has been horrible the last two years since I found out about my dad and with my daughter’s mental health struggles. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much support from the church. I acknowledge they are not responsible for my faith but at least offer me some guidance besides forgiveness of those who have hurt me.

If you can’t help me because you never experienced any struggles in life I can understand that as I am not an idiot. But don’t make me feel bad for something I didn’t do. I have yet to pray away my PTSD. Don’t say I don’t have enough faith to overcome my anxiety. Maybe, just maybe, I had to be this way to survive and now I’m trapped in it. I don’t know how to be any other way because I don’t remember life before the trauma started. I don’t have fond childhood memories with my parents and siblings. I wish I did.

I like the person I am but I am getting tired of the bullshit.

Fortune cookie wisdom #31

If you want the rainbow, you have to tolerate the rain.

Wow, this is another good one. There is so much truth in this fortune as well. Oh, if we could only experience the rainbow without all that darn rain. I’m guilty of this as much as everyone else.

I want my life to be full of joy and uplifting experiences. Personally, I am getting really sick of the trauma and drama, my rain. Sometimes I get so caught up in it that I am under a perpetual rain cloud even when the sun is shining.

Yesterday I met with my therapist. I told her how triggered I’ve been lately. It doesn’t take much at this point after all the trauma I’ve been through. The other day I saw a commercial of a teen girl with her loving grandparents. I felt triggered because I don’t have the relationship I want with Arabella and my parents. My kids don’t have the grandparents I had. There is a lot of pain there.

I also heard my daughter Angel scream in the next room. She was goofing around with her fiance. For an instant I was triggered that she was in pain and I needed to help her. It reminded me of when I was young and I heard my brother attack someone and needed to help pull him off of someone. For a couple moments in time it took me back to the fear I lived in a couple decades ago.

I love the holiday season but I am afraid it’s going to be triggering for me. It always has been. Last year was one of the worst because it was the one year anniversary of my daughter Angel finding child porn on my dad’s computer. It tore the whole family apart. I’m anticipating this year will be difficult because Arabella left home on bad terms. The last several times she has reached out to me has been negative. I’m not sure if she is even going to be coming home for Thanksgiving and I’m not sure if I want her to.

I talked to my therapist about my concerns. I think it is unrealistic for me to hope that I won’t be triggered this year. My therapist said that being triggered is not necessarily bad. She said when she first started seeing me that I didn’t feel anything. I was numb. She said being triggered and feeling emotional about the triggers is better than being numb. She said I needed to make sure I didn’t get stuck in the triggers.

I think grief is a process I need to work through. But sometimes I get triggered and stay stuck in the feelings of despair and hopelessness too long. When I don’t want to live anymore that becomes a problem. I have to have realistic expectations otherwise I am setting myself up for more hurt. I cannot change people or circumstances. Sometimes the false hope that this time things will change, this will be the year I don’t get triggered, puts me in a bad place.

But where would I be if life was great all the time? We all have to go through sorrow and pain in order to feel joy. There has to be sunshine and rain in order for there to be a rainbow. If the sun shines all the time it wouldn’t feel special anymore. Life would get boring. Without inspiration my writing would become lackluster.

There is something amazing that happens when the clouds lift, the rain is ending, and the sun is starting to poke through to produce a rainbow.

It has to stop raining soon. I will keep watching for the rainbow.

Fortune cookie wisdom #29

You emerge victorious from the maze you’ve been travelling in.

Sometimes I feel like a lab rat in a maze. I solve one problem then I’m removed from the maze just to be placed into another maze. It’s hard to find the way out sometimes. Sometimes I search for clues from paths I’ve travelled down before to try to figure things out. But sometimes instead of answers I find myself triggered.

It seems like I find myself triggered by a lot of things lately. For example, last Sunday Paul and I went to church. The pastor was talking about bringing in Christmas season donations of new comforters for the homeless shelter. This is an admirable undertaking to give to an area of our community in need. The problem is that our daughter is currently staying at the same homeless shelter which has been very painful for us. Just mentioning the homeless shelter triggered pain in both of us. I realize it’s not the pastor’s fault for causing us pain. But sometimes that is how being triggered works.

I’ve been feeling triggered by other things lately too like my hair. I know this sounds totally crazy and it is. I mentioned this before but not recently that my autistic/schizophrenic brother Matt physically attacked me on a daily basis throughout my childhood. One of the things he did often was grab my mom and I by our long hair. A ponytail was a sure way to get abused by him. He would just grab on and yank. It was swift and painful. Sometimes he would pull my hair gently in a teasing way and laugh. He pulled my mom’s hair while she was driving which was terrifying. Hair=pain.

There was a point in my life when I was a teenager that I felt sickened by my hair. If I didn’t have long hair my brother couldn’t pull it. I felt this urge to cut off all my long hair. One day I grabbed a scissors and hacked off my hair. He couldn’t hurt me in that way anymore.

Lately I’ve been feeling triggered by my hair again. I couldn’t stand to look at it. I wanted to shave my head. I googled what it means for a woman to shave her head. From my research I gathered that a woman with a shaved head could mean she is confident, rebellious, ready for change, or having a mental break. Oh, it this what my nervous breakdown is going to look like??

Yesterday I went in and got my hair cut shorter than I have ever had it before. I’m still not certain it is short enough. I wondered why did I want to cut off all my hair. I had to go back and examine a time I wanted to do that before. I came to this conclusion. There was a time in my life when I was in a lot of emotional distress. During this time cutting off my hair made me feel like I had some control over what was happening to me. It stopped the abuse of the hair pulling. It was a successful coping mechanism.

Twenty-five years later I am feeling attacked by my daughter. I am under emotional distress. I am in a similar mental state that I was in back then. One of the successful coping mechanisms was cutting off my hair. Is it any wonder why I would want to cut off all my hair? It gives me a false sense of control and getting rid of it makes me feel like I am letting go of something. It makes sense for me to think cutting off my hair could decrease some of my pain because it worked before.

I also decided to update my profile picture on WP. It’s been over 3 years since I changed it last so it is time.

It’s probably not the best time

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a rough week. I probably wasn’t doing myself any favors yesterday by rereading part of the book I wrote. I read journal excerpts written by my mom of a time when Matt was violent towards me. I was reliving getting hit and kicked. I really want to get going on the project of finishing my book but it is probably not the best timing.

Rereading the book forces me to process past traumas all over again all while I am going through current trauma. I am distraught my daughter decided to quit taking her meds. I am sick of taking care of her pet frogs for her. I want to find a better home for them because she is probably going to neglect them anyway if she takes care of them.

I am sickened by Arabella getting into porn. It is very triggering because porn was a big part of my life growing up and I didn’t want it to be. It also triggers me to think about what Angel and Dan found on my dad’s computer.

I was feeling quite down last night and was glad when Paul’s step-dad Darryl came by for a visit. Darryl felt sad about everything going on with Arabella. He is estranged from his two sons and had some hard times with them as well. Darryl said he was planning on getting married in 3 weeks. He wasn’t going to have a big celebration because they both have been married a couple times before. Paul’s mom passed away almost 5 years already from cancer. I told him he was more than welcome to have a small reception at our house and I would gladly help with wedding planning. Both Paul and I told him we could use something worth celebrating right now.

It’s been strange taking the sleeping pills. I do sleep better but I still have bad dreams. This morning I woke up before 5 after having a dream about my dad and Arabella. I felt so sad upon waking that I started crying. I get this feeling like I can’t do this life thing anymore. There hasn’t been much joy for so long now. I texted my best friend and she called me on her way to work. She told me we were going to get together for cards tomorrow night to take my mind off of things a bit. She is the best.

I got it into my head to not read my book today. Instead I wanted to create a timeline of my life to see if I could find any interesting patterns. On the left side I wrote down the traumas and on the right the good things. I want the book to have an orderly flow. When did he poke me in the eye? When did he threaten to poke my eyes out with a knife in his hand? My autistic/schizophrenic brother Matt was violent towards me on a daily basis for somewhere around 15 years. When did it start? When did it end?

When Angel was 4, Matt attacked her and I cut off almost all contact with him. Those were hard years feeling isolated from family. Here I am again feeling isolated from family because of everything that happened with my dad and COVID. Angel and Alex have not seen my dad for two years. My dad is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. It does hurt because he is still my dad. It’s a horrible feeling because I feel so conflicted. I feel stuck in the middle. Just because my dad was a terrible father doesn’t mean I’m a terrible daughter. But maybe I should just walk away from it all.

I feel isolated and rejected from most of the extended family because I am not vaccinated. My Aunt Jan made it clear I was not welcome at the family reunion. She tries to act like it’s no big deal but I feel very hurt. I just found out my Aunt Jan’s husband tested positive for COVID anyway. I just have to wonder if it was worth it. Was it worth pushing me away when I could use the support of family with all the hell I am going through just to get COVID anyway? Now whatever relationship I had with them is gone.

I feel okay right now. I will get through this somehow. Every day has its ups and mainly downs. If I feel anything it’s this tremendous agony over my daughter. The thing is I don’t want her to come home. I don’t want her in my life. What kind of mother am I? Would I say that if my daughter had some other illness such as cancer? Why should I feel this way about a mental illness she did not choose? My daughter’s last words to me were fuck you. I just can’t do this anymore. There’s nothing else I can do. I have nothing left to give.

People say it’s hard to have teenagers. It is. But it’s even harder to have children who are struggling mentally ill adults. I can’t ground her from bad choices. I can’t take away her phone and video games. I just have to watch her destroy herself as it destroys me.

How do I insulate myself from the bad choices of others? I am not a psychopath. I cannot turn off all feelings even if at times I want to. It’s not healthy for me to shut down and numb out. How do I not let it bother me? I can’t seem to figure that one out.

Threats of imaginary monsters??

I was never safe. Matt was autistic/schizophrenic. He was the most dangerous when he was hearing voices. You could almost always tell when he was hearing voices because he would mutter back to them. Sometimes he would laugh in a way described as purely evil like a villain in a superhero movie except without the superhero. He was in his own psychotic world he couldn’t easily be pulled out of. He would become incredibly agitated in this state. His ears would turn red and his eyes constrict as if possessed. He was small but had superhuman strength in those moments. It was a matter of time before he hurt someone. Those were the days when we couldn’t leave the house with him. It was too dangerous.

Matt was also violent when the voices were silent especially when he had to do something he didn’t want to do. The most common thing he would do was pull someone’s hair, mainly mine. When I say he pulled my hair, it was more than a little tug. He would latch onto a fistful of hair and yank while his victim screamed trying to get away. I would’ve thought I would’ve lost more hair than I actually did. Typically it would take at the optimal two people to restrain him and try to peel his hands off of their head. I’ve done it many times. I’ve also been the victim of his attacks countless times because I was the only one in our house that was little and had long hair.

There were also times Matt would attack for no apparent reason. Here are some of the things I’ve seen him do as a child to myself and others, some strangers. He gave black eyes, bloody lips and noses, head butts, scratched up arms, pulled hair, kicked, poked eyes, slugged just to name a few. I was often seen sporting bruises and clawed up arms. He threatened me with a knife. He tortured my pets. He was so violent that he was not allowed in school for several years, the school sent a teacher out to our house. Hence the home school years. The police were called when he went back to school. He was arrested. Somewhere there is a mug shot of him.

Matt being violent was a common (at times multiple daily) occurrence throughout my childhood. He ran around like a wild child. We were not safe day or night. My mom took him to every doctor she could find in desperation but it wasn’t until he was in his 30’s that an anti-psychotic medicine removed his violent tendencies and rendered him docile.

Being autistic, Matt was extremely hypersensitive. He could not tolerate his teeth being brushed. This was very problematic because his teeth were rotting. My parents tried the best they could but he usually screamed every night when it was teeth brushing time. Sometimes my mom couldn’t do it and asked my dad for help. My dad would get angry, manhandle Matt and forcibly brush his teeth. This made Matt incredibly agitated. He didn’t dare attack my dad because my dad would give it back. A lot of times Matt would harm himself mainly by beating his head over and over with his fist.

There were journal accounts written by my mother of Matt attacking our sleeping youngest brother Luke. Imagine a little child awoken from sleep by being hit with a fist. Sometimes Matt would come into my room at night when I was trying to sleep with his fist raised at me.

But here is where I was lucky. Matt and my two other brothers had to share a room. I had my own room. But being a child, I was too frightened to sleep with my door closed and locked. There were demons and monsters hiding under my bed and in the closet. There were murderous dolls in my room just waiting for me to close my eyes. There were kidnappers outside the window. There were things that could get me if I slept with my door closed. As a child I was so afraid of the imaginary things that I was unable to protect myself from the real threats.

Now I am an adult and have long outgrown the threats of imaginary monsters. When I am up north with my extended family I am usually the last one to go to bed and the first to arise. Unconsciously I must feel safer that way. To this day I am a light sleeper and awake to every noise hyper-vigilant of every possible threat. I wish I could say that I outgrew the need to protect myself like I outgrew the threats of imaginary monsters. My body never overcame the fear that I was not safe.

But I am safe now.

The full story…coming soon

I got invited into the popular group once in middle school. They gave me a handful of candy. I threw it away.

I could never bring them to my house anyway. The outside of the house was brick, big and beautiful. But inside was another story altogether. I couldn’t do slumber parties and sleepovers.

My dad roamed the house in his underwear. He answered the door that way. On occasion, he mowed the lawn that way. Sometimes he would even get the mail that way. The truth is that he was more interested in porn than his own wife and kids. He never hugged me, held me, or told me that everything would be okay. Maybe it was a good thing he had an aversion to touching me.

Our house was a hoarder’s paradise. Piles of magazines and papers littered all seating surfaces, our table, and floors. My mom hoarded food so there was always rotting food in the fridge. There were cupboards full of food, a fruit cellar, freezer upon freezer, refrigerator upon refrigerator. But we knew the newest food was always in bags on the dining room floor. There was always a stack of unwashed dishes on the counter full of you guessed it rotten food. The whiff of rot hit you as soon as you entered the door.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there was always pee on the bathroom floor and a dirty sink. My dad was a greasy guy in more ways than one. He rarely showered and criticized us for showering daily as if we were the strange ones. My dad didn’t brush his teeth but wiped them on the hand towel so I always had to strategically plan where to dry my hands in a spot I thought would be the cleanest. I don’t know how I ever survived the 8th grade hand washing compulsion.

Then there was my brother Matt. He was the school ‘retard’. That’s what my classmates called him anyway as they mocked his bizarre behaviors. He heard voices that told him to attack other children and he listened. He ruled our house and my mother bowed down to him. Anything for Matt. Never mind her three other kids.

We had crazy rules to live by for the sake of Matt. For example, no one could come into our house that was wearing perfume. That is why you could find me before middle school started ratting my hair in the middle school bathroom along with the girls that changed their clothes into outfits not allowed out of the house. My unscented hairspray had too much scent. For awhile we had to brush our teeth with peroxide and baking soda. We had to shut the windows if there was an east wind blowing auto exhaust fumes into our house. We didn’t have A/C back then. My mom even took down her brand new curtains because of the formaldehyde and hung old blankets on the windows. We had to take shelter if a neighbor was spraying his fields. The air purifier ran constantly. But none of those things stopped the voices or the attacks.

So you can see I had to reject the popular kids before they had the chance to reject me. I hand selected a few close friends but in the end I lost them anyway because of Matt.

I hated my life. I didn’t belong. To make matters worse, kids looked at the outside of my big brick house and thought I was richer than they were. In high school I drove a bright red Firebird. I was an exceptionally beautiful child voted most likely to be a supermodel by the graduating class which did nothing to help me fit in when boyfriends of potential friends flirted with me. People envied and hated me for the things they saw outside. Things that I didn’t have any control over. In a heartbeat I would’ve given it up to just have a normal healthy family.

The kids at school could never see the pain and sadness inside of me. After awhile I stopped caring about what people thought. I hated small talk and following all the stupid rules anyway. I said screw them and became a rebel, strong and unreachable. When I got hurt, I retreated to the corner and licked my wounds alone. I had to take care of myself because no one else really cared.

I am still the same person. I try to play the best game with the hand I’ve been dealt. On the good days, I thank God for all my blessings. On the bad days, I reject God because I feel he has rejected me. I can’t sing that God has been good to me all my life when I don’t believe it. Why do I feel like God hates me when I try hard to be a good person? I spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect but it didn’t matter.

What is the purpose of pointless suffering? How has it made me a better person? How does it help anybody else? There will always be a part of me that feels alone no matter how many people are around. Maybe God will always be off in the distance and uncaring just like everybody else. I can’t seem to reach him either. I could never find a way to connect to normal people. My life has been way too crazy. I’ve had very different life experiences.

I will never be the motivational speaker that others seem to be. I am not the one who will tell you my anxiety went away by praying more or that my depression was cured by positive thinking. I don’t have the answers, just more questions. I am a broken person that will never be put back together right. Before my brain finished developing I experienced trauma more than compassion and love. I didn’t have that one teacher who made a difference in my life.

What can I say? I have a lot of trust issues. Who else has my back better than me? How am I supposed to trust?

Maybe someday I’ll get it right. Maybe someday I won’t feel angry anymore. Maybe even someday I will trust. But one thing I do know for sure. Soon I will be telling the full story. And it’s far from boring…

From the beginning

Strangely enough after Arabella went to residential I got asked even more (rather unusual) questions by the therapist. What was your pregnancy, childbirth, and Arabella’s early infancy years like?

When I got pregnant with Arabella I had a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I was also babysitting 50 hours a week for the next door neighbor’s kid who was 3. She called me mom. The neighbors worked all the time then every weekend they dumped their kid off at grandma’s so they could party with friends. The mom was harsh and I thought she was rather verbally abusive. The dad wasn’t the greatest either. The whole situation disgusted me, but I felt rather envious too. I rarely got a break from my kids.

Right before I got pregnant, my brother Matt heard voices to tell him to attack my daughter Angel which he did at her 4th birthday party. After he hurt her, I set a boundary with my mom that Matt could not be around my children anymore. My mom pushed back against that boundary and tried to force Matt back into my kids life which caused a lot of stress. I lost all help when I pushed Matt away because my mom had to care for him and he wasn’t allowed around my kids. My MIL didn’t help much at all. She could barely handle the one kid she had. Even my husband had to work the day our daughter was born because he just started his business at the time. He was a one man show and he was the one that paid our bills.

I was worried when I found out I was having another girl. I would have been more worried if it was a boy though. My brother was fixated on hurting little girls. But if I had a boy I worried he would be schizophrenic/autistic like my brother. I didn’t tell anyone the gender because it was too painful. Either way invoked worry that robbed me of the joy of pregnancy.

Arabella was breech. They told me it didn’t matter because she was to be my 3rd C-section. I felt really sick after she was born and didn’t even want to nurse her because I had a reaction to the pain medicine. My mom stayed with the older kids overnight so I could have Arabella early in the morning. Then she dropped the kids off at the hospital right after Arabella was born because Matt had a dentist appointment. I scheduled my C-section so I would be in the hospital over the weekend when my husband didn’t have to work because we didn’t have anyone to watch the kids.

A week after my C-section I was home alone with all three kids. I remember being a zombie hopped up on pain medicine after sleepless nights. I’m not going to lie, it was hard. Thankfully the neighbors got divorced and I wasn’t babysitting anymore.

I was constantly stressed because I didn’t have the help I needed. I didn’t take very good care of myself. I sometimes wonder if I caused this with all the stress hormones constantly pumping through my body. I ended up getting mastitis twice. I was sick all the time. Right after Arabella was born my grandma had open heart surgery. I took on all the holidays since my grandma wasn’t able to.

I had a baby that cried constantly day and night. She refused to be comforted. She wouldn’t take a pacifier. She didn’t suck her thumb or fingers. She didn’t want to be held unless she was nursing. The only thing that she responded to was the infant rocker and having music constantly playing on repeat in her room at night on the CD player. When the CD would stop at the end and go back to the beginning, she would cry.

I took her to several doctors. Did she have an ear infection? That was the only reason my other kids would cry at that age. Was she autistic like my brother? Colic? (I suspect doctors tell parents that when they don’t know why your baby doesn’t stop crying). Big surprise, they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. I nursed her longer than the rest of my babies. When I weaned her, she took her tiny fists and beat them against my chest while screaming. My other kids didn’t do that. Everything seemed wrong but nothing was wrong. It took her over a year to finally sleep through the night.

The therapist thought that Arabella always had emotional dysregulation and that her condition was genetic. She didn’t experience any out of the norm trauma (death of a grandparent). She was a lot like my MIL who did experience trauma. Or did she? I don’t even know anymore. And if trauma caused her mental illness then how did it influence her genes to pass borderline on to her granddaughters? There is so much that I don’t understand yet, but I do know that Arabella’s infancy years were tough and apparently that is indicative of future problems.

Survival; the lies I told myself

I’ve been depressed since I can remember time beginning. Maybe you would be too if you lived in my shoes. I told myself a lot of things that weren’t true. Survival, I thought childhood would never end. I said things to myself like at least I wasn’t sexually abused. If I was I wouldn’t have the will to live. Yet fuzzy memories tickled my mind. But if I couldn’t remember, it didn’t exist. Right?

It was bad enough that my psychotic brother terrorized our house. He was small and by any means did not look threatening. But when the voices in his head called to him he would fly into a psychotic rage. He clawed up my arms, punched, head butted, gave black eyes and bloodied lips, grabbed onto hair, twisted arms, kicked with an adrenaline rushed rage. I was not comforted, he was. I was told how lucky I was to be normal. I was punished if I wanted to retaliate or defend myself. Matt couldn’t help what he did, but I could.

When I was attacked at times I almost went into a meditative state. I repeated the mantra over and over in my head that this abuse was making me stronger like exercise. I told myself that all of the pain inflicted upon my body was good for me. If he punched and bruised my arms I thought in my head that my pain came from lifting weights. I was developing strong muscles and not being beaten and bruised. I think that is why part of my early healing involved marathon running and brutal body breaking workouts. My mind was already trained.

I never learned that touch could be comforting. Not only did my brother physically abuse me and those I loved, my father did as well. He would often squeeze my mother too tightly until she cried out in pain. My little brothers and I would try to get him off of her while he swung at us. I remember him hitting and spanking some of my brothers. He would tickle us until we wet ourselves all in the name of fun. Sometimes he would play ball with my brother for fun too. He would chuck the ball so hard he would hit my brother with it. The game usually ended when my brother came in the house crying while my dad called him a baby. But my dad never flew into a psychotic rage like Matt.

The most difficult thing to endure with my dad was the emotional abuse. He often told us how stupid we were. He had the innate ability to find the things we were most afraid of to terrorize us with. He would taunt us and encourage our siblings to laugh at us as well while we whimpered in fear. We were so frightened by our dad that we didn’t want to be left with him without mom because then he was merciless. If we tried to stand up for our siblings, we were targeted next.

My dad was evil. Does that make me evil too? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I tried to be good like my mom. She would take us to church. My dad would laugh about this as well. God was a big joke to him. But it was a place I could go he couldn’t reach.

I never learned to be comforted by touch or encouraging words. In fact, quite the opposite. Touch and nice words made me feel uncomfortable. It was foreign to me. No one ever said they were proud of me. No one ever said it was okay to feel angry when my brother hurt me. I could never say ‘no’ to make it stop. I wasn’t protected. Nothing was entirely safe, not my body and not my mind.

I couldn’t control the things that happened to me. But I could control myself. I could convince myself of the lies I needed to tell myself in order to survive. It wasn’t that bad. A good beating made me stronger. I should’ve noticed the signs. I was the one that didn’t protect myself. It was my fault.

But hey, at least I wasn’t molested. What I can’t remember doesn’t hurt me. Right?