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Dear Armin, we’re moving on…

Armin,

 

I have a lot to say to you and I need to do it in the way I do best, words on paper. This is not for you, but this is for me and for our kids. Writing this to you may bring you some sense of closure and reflection too, and if it does that is great, but that is not my main intention. I’m not writing this to anger you. I’m not writing this to reminisce on our time together though it may feel like that at times while reading this. I need to release all the resentment I have towards you and that may feel like hate at times, and perhaps right now it is a bit of hate. I hope writing this will close off all this and I can finally put you to rest like I finally put my dad to rest. This might not make any sense to you and it doesn’t need too. Perhaps you will not read this all the way through and that is perfectly fine too. All I know is, I need to say these things, and I am going to say them.

When we decided to get together we were young. I came to you partly broken. I had been abused as a child, and I had been abused from a previous marriage. I thought I had scrutinized your personality so well that I would be safe with giving you my heart and giving you my bullets. For some time, I guess I was safe. You were a funny, charming, military man who seemed to have goals and dreams to have a good life in the future, and I was a funny, futuristic, creative girl who also aspired of turning her life around and building something for her future. I saw my dad in you, and my dad was the best man I had ever known, and how could I go wrong with that I had thought? I never thought you would damage me in the ways that you did over the decades that I had invested in you. In those first few years I never envisioned that I would have put my dreams on hold to build you up while I grew older not attaining any of my aspirations. I never thought in those first years that I would have given up complete control over my life to raise our children while you lived a bachelor life drinking with your friends leaving me home alone over and over. I know you view things differently and you have excuses about babysitters, and you want to use excuses about money. Those do not matter now. You invalidated my feelings for decades. When I tried to explain to you how those many nights made me feel jealous, insecure, lonely, and unimportant to you, you invalidated me over and over. Years of this emotional abuse made me into someone I didn’t recognize Armin.

Then I ended up sick with my back tumor and still you continued to invalidate my feelings and you continued your behavior of drinking and going out with your friends. You may never admit to emotionally abusing me, and you may never admit publicly to the control you took over my life for the 19 years we spent together but we both know the truth. We both know I rolled over for you to go on your fishing trips, drinking escapades, and weekend camping trips while you complained about me buying $5 coffee or buying desserts at the grocery stores, or complaining if I bought an outfit once in a while for myself. We both know that you never put me seeing my family on the priority list, but we were sure seeing your family once a year or once every two years. We both know when I finally stood up and wanted to put my goals on the table you didn’t even want to discuss them. Those words still echo in my ears like a siren going off through town warning us for a tornado. “You can’t even clean my house the way I like what makes you think you can go back to school?”

I still wonder to myself, what kind of person says that to his wife, when she tells him she is contemplating suicide and needs more in life? Have you even reflected on that?

I have also reflected on the day you and I sat in the Pasat at my mum’s, in her driveway, when you told me you wanted to marry me and take care of me. Remember that day? You had drove over from Chicago to visit Courtney while we were separated. Remember why we separated? You were out all the time drinking with your friends and we were fighting over YOU invalidating my feelings. I was standing up for myself and you didn’t think I had a justification for that. I did have justification for fighting you then. I’m not saying I handled that time in the proper way. I’m not perfect. I shouldn’t have thrown things. I shouldn’t have shouted the way I shouted, but you brought that crazy out. That is what YOU need to see. Your narcissistic abuse brought that crazy out in me. Make no mistake about it Armin, that is exactly WHAT IT WAS! NARCISSISTIC ABUSE! The projection, the invalidation, the gas lighting, and the stonewalling was narcissistic abuse. I left though, like any normal person should have done in that situation. The mistake was believing you when you came to Ohio. The mistake was taking you back and believing that you would have kept up your end of the bargain the second time.

You showed up in Ohio and you used your charm in the driveway at my mums telling me that you wanted to marry me and take care of me. It was a load of bullshit that I bought into. You never kept your end of the bargain Armin. It was that same year while I was planning out wedding you were laid out night after night drinking, leaving me home alone again, wondering who you were with and what you were doing. Again, when I questioned you, you would invalidate my feelings and tell me that I was crazy. Then, long behold you come home with another woman’s pants on! I still married your dumbass. I was the dumbass, and we had a second child. The two things I do not regret with you are our children, but they have paid a high price. I will get to them later in this revolution I’m having. Regarding Erica’s pants, you again invalidated my feelings again for months as I walked around paranoid about you cheating. The most hilarious thing as I reflect on our time together is that you ACCUSED ME OF CHEATING and TALKING TO MEN ONLINE the entire time you were pulling this bullshit ON ME!

I built you up. I supported ANY decision you ever fucking made. I was LOYAL TO YOU with all your fucking bullshit. I tolerated your womanizing, flirtatious friends and I’m a great fucking mum IN SPITE of the fucking life I have had from being sexually abused, sexually assaulted, and live with a physical disability…and when I made the decision to finally leave your emotionally abusive ass…

You wanted to kick me out of the town home when I told you I wanted to divorce you knowing I had spent the last 19 years building your credit up while mine went nowhere, and you fought over paying me minimum child support and I’m on limited income with disability. I wasn’t even asking for alimony. You knew I couldn’t rent anywhere due to my credit, but you were willing to push me out of the town home if I had let you. What kind of person does this to someone they claimed to love for 19 years? What kind of person does this to the mother of their children? Have you reflected on this at all? I have. I have reflected a lot over these past few months. I am not trying to keep your kids from you. I’m trying to stay civil IN SPITE OF ALL this anger I have inside for your fucking ass…I honestly wish I didn’t need child support from your ass. I don’t want anything from you to be quite honest but unfortunately, I need it for the kids. I wish I didn’t have to look at your face ever again. Life doesn’t work that way, and well I’m stuck with you until Kylie is 18.

You have NO IDEA Armin…you have no fucking idea!

I am trying to be whole. I am trying to heal. I am trying to be an example for my two beautiful daughters’. I will be whole, and I will heal. I am an example for our daughters to be. I have shown them not to tolerate abuse, and I’ve been an example that even when things are difficult in life to not give up. I have also been an example that as a woman, when they are grown, they can work hard to be who they want, and no man can break them completely. Our children have paid a high price in many ways though from you as well. Our children, who, by the way need to heal from damage with your bullshit too. Let’s discuss them now…

You were not only a tyrant towards me with your verbal abuse, but you were a tyrant towards them. Not only did you feel the need to try to control every aspect of my life through emotional manipulation, but you used the same tactics on them. You still attempt to use these tactics now but thank God you only get to attempt to use these tactics part time now instead of being in our home using them nonstop. Again, you will not readily admit to any of this and you will make excuses about your behavior and that doesn’t even matter to me anymore. Everyone can think you are this charming and fantastic father in the outside world, but I KNOW the truth. Our kids know the truth about who you really are under pressure. We know how you are when you do not get your way.

The kids and I will always remember the times you called them idiots, yelled curse words at them simply because you didn’t get your way. I know right now you want to go defensive and try to turn something around on me and try to bring up a time I would have cursed at Courtney in my anger. The difference between you and I is I used curse words in anger at the situation. I never used curse words aimed at her and the one time I did I addressed it immediately and corrected my parenting. Let’s take a trip back to 7th avenue when you were downstairs with Courtney yelling at her, “Are you fucking stupid or something?” I was upstairs, and I yelled downstairs and said, “This isn’t your mum and dads house and you will NOT speak to her like that. Your dad may talk to Eric like that, but YOU WILL NOT SPEAK TO HER LIKE THAT!” You never even apologized to her for that. Those moments happened over and over for her, and she was only 8 years old then. I could write out so many moments for her it is pathetic, but I won’t. I’m happy she will never have to live through that shit ever again. I’m sorry it took me so long to leave your ass. I’m glad Kylie only received a limited amount of abuse. I should have done better as a mum and left when she was a baby actually.

You told me once before you moved out of the town home that I would never find someone who would do what you do for me…you said I would never find another you…I have reflected on that over these past few months too…

You were right Armin. I will not find another like you who will do what you did for me. I will not be with another man who verbally beats me down, who invalidates my feelings, who doesn’t support me going to school to better my life financially. I will not be with a man who controls me. I will not be with a man who verbally abuses my children. I will not be with a man who lays out all night with friends while I’m home lonely and depressed wondering what is wrong with me. I will not be with a man who doesn’t lift me up. I will not be with a man who doesn’t see my potential. I will not be with a man who doesn’t allow me to express my creative side. I will not be with a man who doesn’t work with me as a partner in the goals I have for my life and the life I see with him by my side. I will not be with a man who doesn’t bring peace to my life. You were right. I will not find another man like you. I will find a man who loves me for who I am and I will love him the way I tried to love you and when I do it will crush you seeing me and our children loving him and him loving us in peace and harmony because the fact of the matter is you are broken, and you have been broken since age 4. I hope you find a way to repair your damage. It isn’t my place to do that. It isn’t our children’s’ place to do that. Stop expecting us to. We’re moving on.

Rachel Ann

The Closing Chapter con’t…pt 3.

It was July 2004 when we got married in Ohio. Our daughter was 4 years old. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. I was doing this huge thing for all the wrong reasons. I was keeping up some sort of promise I made because of this code I held deep inside of me that was tied to my religious upbringing, I went through with it because the bills were paid for all the wedding items, the dress was bought and paid for, the invitations were sent, the cake was made and paid for, my family was all set for the day, I was sick and needed insurance, and I thought it was the best thing for my daughter. It ended up being a long abusive marriage that should not have taken place.

Early 2005 my leg and back problem had progressed to the point where I couldn’t walk anymore. I got out of bed one morning and couldn’t walk. I went into the clinic immediately. It was at that time when I found out that there was a tumor that had been growing on a nerve next to my spine, and a tarlov cyst also growing next to that tumor that would require surgery. In September 2005 I went in for surgery with the belief that the tumor would be removed, and my problem would be fixed, and life would return to normal.

Nothing ever goes as planned, especially in my life! The tumor was not surgically removable; in fact, the surgeon did something he wasn’t supposed to do, and he left me with permanent nerve damage in my right leg. He also drained the tarlov cyst and wasn’t supposed to do that, so it grew back larger. I was permanently disabled, and when he came into my room to inform me of the news after surgery I thought for sure I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I was devastated. The next few years I tried to adjust to this new lifestyle.

He was out drinking A LOT. I was alone taking care of my daughter. He pushed the few friends I had away. I became a babysitter while he went and partied, a maid for him, a cook, and I had no life outside my home or my daughter. When physical therapy finally helped me to walk and drive some he became possessive, jealous, and made me feel guilty, or bad for wanting to join him in his life, or for wanting to start having my own life outside the house. I had decided to join politics. I was passionate about that, so I dived right in. I joined a chat room to help me have some sort of social life. He made that dirty. He accused me of chatting with men and made me feel bad for having that too. I eventually gave that up too. Year by year I allowed him to isolate me a little more.

2007 came and I ended up pregnant with our second daughter. We bought our first home. I worried this was a huge mistake too. I knew deep in my gut that we were doomed. I had been thinking about leaving him for years and contemplating how to formulate a plan on leaving him. I went and got my GED because I knew whatever I was going to do, if I was going to do it, I knew I would need that GED. When would be a good time? How would I financially be able to do it? I calculated numbers all the time. I could never see the way out. The only family I had was a brother. Two years turned into four. Four years turned into five.

2012 I had finally hit rock bottom. I was abusing opiates for years. I was contemplating suicide. I knew I was wasting potential and I knew that there was more to my life than sitting at home raising kids. Over the years I had gave up painting, drawing, writing, music, dance, and the goals I had for myself were kept on a shelf, so I could please him. I wanted something more, so I shared what I was feeling and thinking with him. He was in the basement, he called it the “man cave,” and I went down to him and said, “We need to talk.” I was crying in my fluffy pink housecoat. My hair was long then and it hung down over my face. It soaked up some of my tears as I sat looking at him in the corner at the computer desk. “I’m depressed. I’m contemplating driving my car into the local Caribou. There has to be something more to life than what I’m doing. There has to be something I can do. There are people who have no arms, no legs, and they do spectacular things with their lives…I think I want to go back to work or school. I was a great student…” he cut me off and his reply to me was, “You can’t even clean my house the way I like. What makes you think you can go back to school?” Those words still cut into me like a razor blade down the side of my throat.

A week later I had a job driving school bus. I set a goal that if I could drive bus and physically be capable of doing that for two years I would apply to the local community college. Over those passing years the verbal abuse and mind-fuck I lived with was constant. He continued to stay out drinking often. I had to tolerate his drunk friends being at my house and his best friend disrespected me often when he was over drunk, and sometimes he would try to advance on me. My life was turmoil. I was working the bus driving job, I was basically taking care of my kids on my own, doing the house stuff on my own, I did the remodeling needed in the house, I repaired the car when it needed it. I really began to think why did I need a man? He only showed me affection when he wanted laid, and our relationship felt more like a roommate type set up. When you’re not getting affection you’re not going to want to have sex with your man. He often accused me of cheating, or chatting online with men, and this led me to wonder what he was doing while he was out. As I started to wonder about what he was doing, and his past bullshit of coming home with another woman’s jeans on, I began asking him the same questions. The entire fucking relationship was fucking chaotic bullshit now that I reflect back. There wasn’t anything healthy about it at all.

Two years and a summer passed, and I met my goal. I applied to the local community college and I was accepted. He wasn’t supportive. He claims today he was, but that is a complete fucking joke. He likes to rewrite history and make shit up about the way things have been. That is the way it is when your dealing with a narcissistic abuser though. My kids are old enough now that they have been able to notice and see the way he is, so he can try to say whatever the fuck he wants. His friends can think whatever the fuck they want. I know the facts. My kids know the facts.

Fast forward to November 2017. I filed for divorce. Things were bad. He was throwing things at me. He was verbally abusing my kids more often. He came home raging around the house every single day. I never knew what was going to set him off. He was more volatile. I knew the next step was physical violence. He had been gas-lighting me for over a decade, invalidating my feelings, projecting on me, and he made me want to kill myself. Unfortunately, my fear about my youngest daughter and his manipulation talked me out of divorce at this time. He made me promises about going to therapy and that he would really work on his issues of control etc. It would be another five months before I would finally file the divorce fee and start the process of getting out of this nightmare. It took a push from someone special to help me do this too. That someone special had to tell me to take a leap of faith and just do it that things would be OK.

The best thing I’ve done was to leave his ass. I’m still working on my main goal, and I will achieve that goal. He might have done some temporary damage, but he didn’t break me. He may have done some minor, temporary damage to my children, but he didn’t break them. We are moving on. We are going to be OK. This chapter is closing and a new one is opening. It feels good not being verbally abused every day, and it feels good not being gas-lighted, emotionally manipulated, controlled, and it feels good that my girls are not being verbally abused every day, and they aren’t being gas-lighted every day, and they are not being emotionally manipulated every day. This new chapter is going to be spectacular.

The Closing Chapter con’t…(2)

The pregnancy did not start out great. I was almost certain that I wasn’t going to carry it to term due to complications I was having from the very beginning, so I was not going to get my hopes up this time. I was also having troubles walking, standing, and I was having major pain down my right leg that had been progressively getting worse over the previous two years that doctors were just medicating. They opted to medicate me instead of doing an MRI because I didn’t have insurance to pay for a scan. His mum actually made me an appointment with a place that specialized in abortions and I went to the appointment under the impression that it was a regular OB/GYN, so you can imagine how that made me feel. I thought she was doing something nice since I wasn’t familiar with Wisconsin doctors.

I worked a crap job during my pregnancy and he went to college for business part time while he worked a crap job. We lived in a crap apartment in a nice college town. I decided to put my goals of going back to school on delay, so he could finish school, and when he went into what he wanted to do for a career then I could focus on my goal. He drank a lot during the pregnancy, and he only went to a couple of the appointments with me over the entire pregnancy. New Year’s came, and he decided to leave me home alone while he loaded up into a car with a bunch of girls he worked with. He thought it was OK to go out and drink with them while I was stuck home alone pregnant. These types of things happened over and over again. We started to argue more and more because I stood up for myself. He would get jealous and upset if I spoke to the guys I worked with. He would get upset if I went back home to visit my family. He became more controlling over time and as I reflect back I see it clearly but, in the moments, back then I didn’t realize that slowly I quit sticking up for myself, and I just started bending to his will because I was exhausted.

Fast forward two years…

My daughter was two years old, and I still had my goals put on hold. I was even more exhausted, and my health issue was still not getting resolved; in fact, it was still progressing. I was buckling at the knees at times walking. It was becoming more difficult to drive. Doctors still refusing to believe me that something terrible was wrong, or they were refusing to do an MRI to find the cause of what was going on. I was at my breaking point in the relationship, so I packed my shit, my daughters’ shit, and I left him. I went back home to Ohio. I moved in with my mom because that was the only place I had to go. I got a crap job right away because that was all I could get since I never went back to get my GED. I put all that on hold to take care of my daughter when she was born, and to support him in his endeavors. Months passed, and he dropped out of college, so he could move from Wisconsin to Chicago. He started driving over to visit our daughter on the weekend and hanging out when he got word that I was starting to move on. He made promises to me, and he asked me to come back to him. He told me he wanted to marry me and that he wanted to take care of me. My initial response was, “No, you can’t even be my friend, so what makes you think that you can be my husband?” He said, “OK, I will prove to you I can be your friend.” I didn’t have high hopes for him to be honest. Six months passed, and he continued to drive back and forth from Chicago, and he convinced me that maybe things would be different. I knew it would be better for our daughter if we were together than if we were apart, so I decided to move to Chicago with him. Hindsight is always 20/20.

We lived in Chicago for six months before the business he worked with went out of business and we were forced to move back to Wisconsin. Moving close to my family was never an option or even a conversation. Reflecting on those years now there is so much clarity but back then I did what suited him. It all revolved around him and his family. Not that moving to Ohio would have been this great financial break thru, but it sure would have been nice to have mattered enough that my connection to my roots would have at least been discussed in a partnership. It wasn’t a partnership though you see…it was never a partnership.

We stayed with his parents in Wisconsin for a few months and my brother who had lived in Minnesota had offered him an opportunity to enter the casino industry. I still had not been able to do anything towards my goals and I was getting older, and I was getting sicker by the year. We moved to Minnesota and stayed with my brother for 3 months. I got a job right away, and he started training for the casino job and started work there. I was barely getting to work and I was barely able to drive. The back pain and leg pain was out of hand. I started self-medicating to just make it through the days. He was staying out drinking. I was pretty much raising my daughter by myself doing the school stuff on my own. Nothing had changed from our earlier Wisconsin days except time had passed, I was older, sicker, our daughter was older now, and I was planning a wedding I knew I shouldn’t had been planning. About a month before the wedding he actually stayed out all night drinking and ended up coming home with another woman’s jeans on. I had already sent out the invitations, everything was paid for, and things were set up in Ohio for the big day! I still married him like a fucking idiot…that was 2004….

(more to come…)

I have to do what I do best…write…

I have to do what I do best…write…

My day started out great. It was beautiful. My niece back home was graduating college. She is going to teach and change the world one kid at a time…and then shortly after I received word that my oldest brother was in a very bad accident on his motorcycle. Now he is laid up in ICU with a brain bleed.

Growing up he was my favorite. I put him up on a pedestal. He was smart. He was funny. He loved music. HE PLAYED GUITAR! He was my hero. I cried when he moved out, I cried when he got married, and then I became a teenager. There are things that happened that built a wall between him and I that I regret happening but life is harsh like that. You grow up and your views change. Well mine did. I held him to such a high standard now that I look back it was unfair of me. No one could have met those standards. I didn’t realize that then so when he broke my heart by letting me down I didn’t waste any time at striking with words, words that, now looking back, probably hurt him deeply, and I do not think he ever forgot them. I wouldn’t. I didn’t.

I can’t take them back now though. Words are dangerous. Words are grenades. That instance isn’t the only one either. I have a long history with my oldest brother of speaking my mind with hurtful words without thinking about the damage they would leave. I was an emotional teenager, by emotional I really mean hot headed. My brother made mistakes. The mistakes didn’t mean I didn’t love him anymore but boy some of the things I’ve said to him over the years probably made him wonder…

So now here I am…sitting at this fucking keyboard again…with this bitter taste in my mouth and an anxious sickness in my stomach that burns my chest with anger towards myself for being a stubborn idiot who ONCE AGAIN thought there was time to make things right…or to reassure my oldest brother that I loved him in spite of his flaws or our past bad blood…

Will I ever learn?? Why is it so hard to share my feelings!?? What the fuck is wrong with me!? My brother might die tonight…why is it so easy for me to stay detached when I’m hurt and so easy to be so damn stubborn in spite of wanting so badly to talk to him? Last time I went home to visit I had to stop myself from going to see him…I didn’t go…why? I never stopped loving him. Hell it hurt me that he didn’t come see me down at my mom’s house…but why couldn’t I bring myself to just go to his place and just say Raymond I love you in spite of everything???

I’m stuck five states away while he is laid up in some cold ICU room…and really I should be there…he is my brother…I keep seeing him playing his guitar for me…taking me for a ride on the motorcycle….I keep seeing him playing basketball…I see his old blue rambler…I see him sitting on his guitar amp outside the house…I see him in his old grahams outfit…I see him in his blue graduation gown and me hanging on his neck at age 9….I don’t see the other shit…I only see my loving brother Raymond who looked out for me and who loved me…and I should be there…

I’m scared…I’m so scared my brother will die….

Surviving trauma, one day at a time…

roadrecovery

Who I am today was created by the trauma I survived when I was a child growing up in a chaotic environment. My mother was a schizophrenic with chaotic reactions and violent answers to her delusions. I received the majority of her violent episodes. Actually I am not sure any of my brothers received any violence from her. Perhaps I was the only one she lashed out at. I cannot speak for my brothers. I can however share with you my own personal trauma and things I developed to help me survive the nightmare of having a schizophrenic mother. Things I never knew I did until I entered therapy.

There would be times that months would pass without her chasing me around the house with a fly swatter. There were also times it seemed to happen so often I just wanted to die. I never knew what was coming next. Peace or war?

As a very young girl, grade school age, I didn’t understand what was wrong with my mother. I simply thought she hated me. I thought she was jealous of me for being the only daughter out of five children. I spent years wondering what it was I did to her and why she didn’t love me like my dad loved me so. She did not get a diagnosis of being schizophrenic until I was entering my teenage years.

I have very few pleasant memories of my mother. Our relationship was a very volatile one. I have many beatings I can recall. I can recall the verbal abuse I endured. I can recall the dishonest games she played in hopes that my dad would punish me. There is something that happens to the mind and memory when you live through a trauma I learned from therapy. The severity of cognitive impairment on the brain can depend on how long you endured the trauma and how severe the trauma itself is or was. My therapist said it is a miracle that I did not end up having split personalities.

I have often wondered why I could not recall clearly how old I was with some of the events that happened to me. I learned in therapy that my brain had created memory bubbles that would retain very limited information or memory of the traumatic event. It is or was a survival technique I have and you have as well. Another thing I learned in therapy was that many people who live through trauma have a tough time recalling time of the event, or how long it might have lasted. The brain does this to help protect itself from the trauma. The brain attempts to dissociate. Dissociating is also known as compartmentalization of the memory or memories. This process can cause confusion, anxiety, paranoia, fear, withdrawal, feelings of being disconnected or numb, guilt, shame, shock, denial and feeling hopelessness. Childhood trauma can cause permanent effects on the personality of the person who lives through the trauma. There were many years I had to piece together through therapy to get an understanding as to when it was happening and how long it went on. I have many events still confusing for me that will take more therapy to piece together. I am a masterpiece in the making. I say masterpiece because I survived it all. I may have damage left to repair but I am alive and I am sober.

I would have nightmares many nights. I remember my first thoughts of suicide came to me when I was around eight or nine years old. It was around this time I started putting pen to paper as an attempt to escape all the terrible things happening to me. I started out writing dark stories and dark poetry. I would draw dark figures and draw my nightmares onto paper. The writing started out as a cry for help but when no one heard the cry I decided to start creating my own worlds where the bad things eventually ended for the characters. I dreamed of and created paradise. My writing became a tool for survival.

My dad did not have a nine to five job. My dad worked from home, repairing electronics. He must have known my mom was mentally ill many years before she was diagnosed and is most likely why he worked from home. It was his way to help prevent harm to us. Unfortunately he was gone sometimes for long periods going to the auction house to fix electronics, to make money. This is usually when she would have violent episodes. When my dad was around the physical abuse never happened. Though I remember a few times he walked in while she was in the midst of beating me and he stopped it. I recall sometimes the verbal abuse would happen even with my dad home. He would yell at her and tell her to shut up or knock it off and she would.

My mother was obsessed with demons when she had many schizophrenic episodes. Her mind would tell her that the devil was trying to get me or she would swear I had demons inside of me that she had to get out. Getting those demons out usually involved her chasing me around with switches, thin tree branches from the trees out front, an extension cord, or the metal part of the fly swatter. There was a few times she put me in the tub with very hot water when I was around seven years old. I can recall one time she put ice cold water in the kitchen sink and forced me to hold my hands under it.

As far back as I can remember I was afraid of my mother. For a long time I hated her for these things I had endured. Growing up thinking that your mother hates you can make you a very angry, messed up child, teen and even an adult. I thought she hated me because I would see her treat my brothers so differently. She would cook potatoes, pancakes, whatever they asked for. She would refuse to get up with me to help me get ready for school. My dad would be taking my brothers to high school and I would be left home while mom slept to get myself ready at age five. I usually went to school with nothing to eat, my clothes mismatched, sometimes dirty, and probably inside out if my aunt or dad didn’t help me fix them.

From the very beginning of my school life I avoided forming friendships. I had already endured enough abuse that I felt ashamed, embarrassed and scared. I would not have friends come over to my house until my middle school era and even then I can count on one hand how many came over.

Not only was I living a life of sexual abuse from others, physical abuse and verbal abuse from my mother, but we lived in a very poor household that was not clean. My dad always had the house full of televisions and electronics and my mom was a hoarder.

I did develop one friendship where I could share my secrets to a safe person outside my home. That friendship was Andrew. I was able to share everything with him. That friendship lasted his whole life. I went back home to bury him July of this year. It was one of the saddest things I have done. I will forever be heartbroken that he is gone. I think having him growing up helped me to survive.

The sexual abuse and the abuse from the schizophrenic episodes my mother and having an abusive man in my life at age 18 has shaped me into this very guarded, skeptical, damaged woman today. This is what I am going to discuss tonight. A clear repercussion of being abused for almost half of a lifetime starting at a very young age.

I form very few strong connections with people. If I deem them trustworthy I allow them in to a point but always keep myself detached from them. I learned that this is a survival mechanism I formed growing up. Even now at age 36 I am constantly preparing myself for things to fall apart especially if things are going well in the relationships.

Growing up with such trauma in my life has rewired my thinking. When I start to have a successful relationship emotionally I am preparing for the sky to fall at any moment. This pattern formed when I was a little girl for a way to protect myself from trauma, and hurt. I detached myself from the people around me and the traumatic events happening. It helped me survive, and it helped me be numb from it all. Though this was a very good survival tool growing up, this detachment pattern as a grown woman has become a huge challenge to overcome. I am still working on noticing the steps I start to take in detachment from my family, and my friends. There are times the detachment is so quick and easy. The quick and easy detachment is easy to understand. If someone hurts me badly they do not get do-overs. I cut them out of my life instantly without looking back. I have done this with friends, and even blood relatives with no regret.

Sometimes I do not realize I am disconnecting. It can start very subtly until I have put myself at a safe distance to completely remove the person from my reach and my life. In these instances sometimes I can bounce back towards those whose surround me and attach myself emotionally. The trouble staying attached to those around me comes from fear and paranoia that they are going to hurt me, break my trust, or cause me trauma. I always feel like I have to guard myself from harm coming my way. This pattern was created in me through years of traumatic events I had to live through. I am making slow progress to stay attached longer or detach myself for shorter periods before I go back into the relationships in my life but it is a trying effort.

I am a very complicated and confusing person when you are in my inner circle. The person this is hardest on is my husband. There are many times throughout our relationship that I have completely disconnected from him because of hurt he has caused. Over the years the hurt built up and became a whole lot of harm done to me emotionally that I ended up so disconnected from him that I wanted to divorce him. I truly thought at some point in our relationship that it was over. I did not think I could come back. I still have struggles in staying connected to him. I still have trust issues with him. We are a work in progress.

If you are close to me, you are in my inner circle, and I can be a very confusing relationship for you while you are in this circle. I can push you away without any reasons apparent to you. You will notice I am shutting you out but will most likely have no idea why I have pushed you away, or distanced myself. I am more likely to notice I am doing this today with having years of therapy under my belt now but there was a time I was completely oblivious to my actions. The lack of understanding my disconnect from people and what I was doing has cost me many relationships over the years.

If you find me distancing myself from you and you are in my inner circle the best advice I can give you is respect my space and give me time. I always return to my inner circle unless the act against me is so devious I cannot move past the action against me. If it is something I cannot move past the disconnect will most likely be swift and permanent. I distance myself from my inner circle often to evaluate my relationships often. I am constantly asking if my inner circle is trustworthy and I will think over moments shared with each relationship and judge them on it. I have serious trust issues as I have talked about before. Every relationship I have had has either hurt me physically, emotionally, or verbally except for my friend Andrew, and my dad.

I learned in therapy that the loyalty I seem to possess came from my dad. I think he stayed with my mom, even with her being seriously mentally ill, out of loyalty perhaps to his kids. I never viewed his loyalty as being loyal for love. My trauma made me a cynic about loyal love. I believe my relationship with Andrew helped me have a more positive outlook about friendship. Therefore allowing myself to hold friendship to a higher standard and place over love. In other words I view friendship as forever, and love, or men as something that comes and goes, easily replaced.

My loyalty to my husband most of our relationship has been out of friendship. He has always been my friend first. This is how I eventually allow myself to love deeply. Our friendship eventually evolved into deep love. The things he did over the years that hurt me eventually numbed that love for him and when I became completely disconnected from him my loyalty to him became loyalty to my children. In other words if we had not had our beautiful daughters I would have walked away and never looked back. We have children so my loyalty to them pushed me into therapy with my husband. This of course was formed inside me from my view of my dad sticking it out with my very ill mother.

I learned in therapy this is my pattern over time when dealing with being hurt by those close to me. The pattern my husband and I have lived through is all about my past trauma. It has been a tough, long ride on a roller coaster. I still have work to do and so does he. Perhaps this will be something we have to work at the rest of our lives. The goal is to not return to the point of me being completely disconnected from him.

Another thing I do is constantly look for outs in relationships. I seem to constantly look for the reasons to cut and run from them. In some cases I seem to use other people as an out. This over time has created an insecurity in my husband. This pattern I have from past trauma now has built in him the idea that he is easily replaced. Of course he is easily replaced on the surface with my warped sense of what love is supposed to be, what it is and isn’t. My insecurity dealing with love makes it a constant battle to try not to repeat these offenses against him.

On the surface it seems he is easily replaced but deep within me I know he isn’t. I know deep within me I love him with my whole self and that alone makes me terrified of the hold he could have on me or has had on me in the past. It makes me vulnerable and another thing I cannot deal with properly is vulnerability. This is something that is born out of the trauma I lived with for half of my life as well.

I respond negatively towards jealousy, attempt to control me, lying to me, cheating me, being too needy, having lack of acceptance for me, and if you are too judgmental against others who are different I will start locking myself away from you.

These are the things I need in all my relationships. I need you to remember you cannot keep me to yourself, or be possessive. I need you to understand I do what I want because I am a free person and love my individuality. I need you to be honest with me about everything so I can trust you. I need you to accept who I am even the dark and twisty things about me. I also need you to respect others and differences in them. I need you to show me you are an honorable, pleasant person, who can be trusted with the darkest secrets I may have to share with you. You do this and I will love you like no other friend can. If you can’t do these things all I ask is that you do not approach me or attempt to hold onto me as a friend. Save time and hurt and just move on. I have high standards set for my inner circle and if you can’t meet them you will not get in. I was made this way by scar tissue from living half of my life in trauma.

The scar tissue reminds me I have survived some very dark times. Therapy reminds me that not every relationship is hurtful. I remind myself to trust myself above all else. I can only attempt to be a better person and attempt to have healthier relationships in my life. I cannot go against the things I believe in. Meet my standards or meet the freezer.

standbyme