Being A Survivor

Taboo Word – Day 2

What is it that you can find, deep within the mind of a survivor? Being a survivor myself, I’d have to say that the answer is not that simple. Some things that remain, are often things that you don’t want to remember, ever. I believe that I have some of these myself.

I have been going to therapy for a good 30 years or more, and I am still working on getting past thoughts and patterns that affect my behavior on a daily basis. Some of the memories that I have recovered, have helped me to understand why I’m the way that I am.

These memories are ones that explain why I have the diagnoses that I have. Some of these memories explain the poor self-image, poor self-worth, or inappropriate emotional responses, causing poor reasoning, avoidance of people or places and exaggerated emotional responses.

They can also cause the impulsiveness that leads me to spending in excess, emotional outbursts, and relationships that are short, and often over emotional. My long-term relationships have lasted for five years each, and I’ve been through and used up three of them.

Now I live alone, and everything that I act on, is still based on exaggerated emotional responses to the stimuli around me. This has been my life for the past 16 years. I take part in outside activities, like Bible studies and wheelchair sporting events, but everything is done (hah!) in a way that protects me from experiencing those emotions that are almost always inappropriate to the situation.

So I spend most of my time alone in my apartment, with only my cat, all the things I take part in on the Internet, and Netflix and my big screen TV. One person that lives in this building, understands a lot of my interactions with others, and the thoughts behind my actions.

But now, my therapist wants me to start relying more on my peers, and less on professionals for support. This is very difficult for me to carry out, but I make it seem to her, that I am changing this behavior. This is not easy for me.  Not at all.

You can see today’s taboo word below. Visit Eric, author of the All In A Dad’s Work blog and creator of the challenge, for details on participating.

 

Click the blue frog to read others taking part in this fun challenge

I Am A Winner!

Throughout the years of childhood abuse
They made me feel there was no use
Through all those years of constant strife
I could not live my very own life

A children’s view of this time
I never had a thing that was mine
Hand me downs from those of old
No longer did keep out the cold

The home itself was cold as well
Living there, I went through hell
They taught me when I moved a way
That others still had their say

In how my life to be controlled
Again I lived in that cold
Afraid to peek out of the hole
Burrowed deep within my soul

Now I live here on my own
My body now is fully grown
But carries all the scars I earned
That taught me I had never learned

But down the hole, did I fall?
Little by little I changed it all
Every night I sit for dinner
Another day  I am a winner

BPD – What It Means For Me

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder many years ago, and have been taking pretty much the same medications over this time. I have BPD. I know I have it. I recognize the symptoms when they get worse. I wouldn’t dream of stopping them, for fear of the consequences.

It has long been thought that BPD was caused by abuse as a child, or some other horrendous trauma experienced when young. It has been brought to my attention that in order for someone to develop BPD, there has to be one or both parents who suffer from this disorder. This disorder is passed on genetically.

Without the genetics, BPD does not occur, despite popular belief, because of chronic abuse as a child, alone. The gene must also be present. I realized a couple years ago, that my mother must have had the same disorder. Based on the way that she treated me, along with the sexual abuse from my father, I developed BPD.

There has to be at least five symptoms a person must have to be diagnosed with this disorder.

  1. Unstable or poorly regulated emotional responses – anger, anxiety, depression
  2. Inappropriate intense anger that is difficult to control
  3. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  4. Self-damaging acts such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse, binge eating, and
  5. Suicidal ideation, acts, threats, self-injurious behavior
  6. Persistent, unstable self-image
  7. Paranoid ideation or severe dissociative episodes
  8. behaviors from most people, impaired social reasoning under stress
  9. Frantic acts due to chronic fear of abandonment, very intense and unstable relationships

To be diagnosed with BPD, five of these nine symptoms must be present.  When I finally learned about Borderline Personality Disorder, it was sort of an ‘aha’ moment.  Now, things that I feel or do, I understand why.  I suffer from eight of these nine symptoms.

I understand why I will do almost anything to prevent what I perceive as abandonment.  I understand why all of my relationships were either inappropriate, extremely intense and unstable.  I understand why I have a great deal of new debt, that has occurred after the agreement with the debt management program,  that I would not apply for anymore credit cards, and this new debt is due to three  new credit cards.  I understand why I became a chronic alcoholic (Nearly 17 years sober now).  I understand the cuts on my arms, the overdoses, and all the threats of suicide, and all of the psychiatric hospitalizations.

I understand now, why I am me, and why I still do many of the things on that list.  Do you now understand me?

 

Family – Real Or Not?

I have a small family. I have a large extended family. I have a spiritual family. I have an online family.  🙂

I am not currently engaging with anyone in my family(ies), except I am always engaging with my online family, both here and on Facebook. My small family consists of myself and two brothers. One has distanced himself so far away that I never hear or see him (except for my mother’s funeral). He does not call or send greeting cards for any occasion. My other brother lives far away and I don’t get to see him often. He is the youngest and, like myself, has many talents. If I would have to name my closest family, it’s the family I have with him and his wife.

I have no sisters, and I am the oldest in the family. All of us scattered far away from the place we called home, but was just a house with five people living inside. ‘Home’ was a tiny town in Upstate New York. Now the oldest brother lives in Sanders KY, the youngest in Whitesboro TX, and I reside in Racine, WI. We all are spread far from home, and each other.

If I were to ask myself why this might have happened, the answers are difficult to actually form as words on the computer screen. All three of us were emotionally and physically abused by my mother, and I also lived with sexual abuse from my father. Maybe if we lived closer together, it would trigger some of those old memories that are buried deep inside each of us. I’m sure that our perspectives were all different, as we all remember things in different ways. But I know that we all have some memories that will always haunt us, whether we are able to voice them or not. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brothers and sister-in-law very much and that will never change.

There is one other person that I would have to add as family. He was my mother’s boyfriend after my father died, and before she died of cancer. He is like a dad to me, a real dad who loves me, cares about what and how I’m doing, and shows this often. The only problem is that he lives back in New York, and I don’t see him very often, and his phone calls are sporadic, as he is always busy traveling around the country, or bowling, or any of a number of things. He is my ‘Dad’.

So, I live a solitary life, occasionally interacting with some of my neighbors, but not often. It’s just myself and my cat. She is good company but doesn’t compare to live human beings. I do not feel loved, or needed, or even cared about, at times.

I continue on, often in the throes of depression, but I kicked the alcohol 17 years ago. I kicked the cigarettes almost nine years ago. But I still do not take care of myself. They ask me every time they see me if I have eaten, how often do I eat, and what do I eat when I do eat. I do not exercise, except when I’m competing in sports that are adapted for wheelchair users. I forget to take medications all the time. They don’t work well if I don’t take them.

Sometimes I just want to give up. Being alone is a hard, but a safe way for me to live. I have at times given up and the results were never good. So I keep on going, family or no family.

I Don’t Think About Them

 

There are several people in these pictures, I probably have more, but then I would have to think about them. Childhood abuse, especially sexual abuse, harms a child for life and creates patterns that repeat this abuse.

The growing child first seeks to find love and attention from other people. What little they might get only creates the desire for more. When they don’t feel satisfied, that’s when other behaviors start to emerge. The child will do anything to attain the craved love and affection. They start fighting with others, they start fires, they start harming themselves.

I did all of these things and more. When I started college, I started drinking a little. A little became a lot before I knew it. My grades dropped, and I dropped out of school. I went in the Navy to avoid these people.

But while I was still in college, and then again after, I started seeking people that perpetuated the abuse. Sexually. I put myself in situations that made me vulnerable – just like the child that was s vulnerable.

It took a long time to start putting up defenses, and stopping this type of abuse. I stopped drinking. I stopped letting men abuse me. But the abuse was continued by me, and I sunk into the depths of mental illness, severe enough that I was put on disability, as I was unable to hold a job any longer, and support myself.

But I climbed out of that abyss with a lot of help from therapy and medication. I got better. But I still crave that attention, and I’m afraid of abandonment by those who truly do care about me, and are helping me.

I’m still on medications, but the frequency of therapy appointments has decreased to twice a month or so. Now, most of the time, I think before I act. But I don’t want to think about those people from the past.

Sexual Abuse

Incest.  There I said the word.  My therapist read from a book about incest, the description of what it is.  She was using words that I was very uncomfortable with, but I was able to tell her that.  Words that describe sexual relations, and organs – words that I never utter.
I think maybe the reason why, is that even though I was very young when it started, those words put pictures in my mind that I don’t want to look at.  I am uncomfortable because they remind me of specific parts of the abuse, and I don’t want to remember them.  I want them not to have happened.  They changed my life forever.
As a young adult, not even 18 yet, I allowed myself to be ‘used’ by men, for the attention that got me.  If I did this, they would do that.  I was revolted during any encounter with members of the opposite sex.
The feelings were there, but I washed them away with alcohol.  Alcohol took me away from all the abuse, at least I thought it did.  But I remember crying in the middle of the street because someone didn’t come to the door.  I lived in the middle of anger, fear and revulsion with my life, but I did nothing to change it.  I was letting him to continue to abuse me, even when he was over 100 miles away.
I am starting on a journey, to specifically work through these emotions and feelings, and hopefully get to the point where they no longer control my life.  They cannot harm me.  He cannot harm me.

Home

Karen at age 4
In need of fulfilled wishes.
I started school at age 4, due to my birthday being in October.  This was a total change for me – to be away from my mother for such a long time.

 I don’t know when my behavior took a turn, but I do know it was early on in school.  I had teachers that were kind to me for the most part, and I wanted all of that I could get.  

Starting long ago, longer than I can remember, my life was filled with chaos (abuse).  I never knew which way to turn, there was no safe place, especially when I was younger.  

I felt used and unloved, though at the time, I probably couldn’t put those words to what I was feeling.  Mostly, I just knew that I was scared.  

Unfortunately, this resulted in the beginnings of negative behavior – seeking more attention from the teachers.  I didn’t know any other way to get more of that accepted feeling that I had when I started school and no one knew me.  There were 30-some of us in that class, so the teacher’s attention was spread pretty thin.  

When I wasn’t acting out, by starting fights, or throwing things, or shooting staples around the room, I was taking it out on myself in the form of self-harm.  Both of these types of behaviors carried on through the years, right into high school.  It was there when things took another turn.

Why Do I Hate Me?

Why do i hate me?

Issues
Issues (Photo credit: t3hWIT)

What did I do to me?

What did I do to you?

What did I do to everyone else?

When did I become like this?

Was it the first time I didn’t tell, 

thus couldn’t ever tell?

Why did the lies start?

Because I hate myself. 

~ van ~