In recent conversations with my mentor we discussed how independent I am in a lot of areas, or I wouldn’t have managed to live by myself for almost 12 years now. I am not sure how I learnt to do this, maybe because I had to. Maybe it was pure survival. I have been taking care of myself and the family ever since my dad has had different types of strokes, heart attacks and a life threatening accident at work (he had another accident at work which killed him 12 1/2 years ago). This started when I was 10 years old, this was also the year I was stopped being taken care of. As an adult I had become very depended on toxic people to control my life. 100% of the answers on my Instagram poll showed other survivors of childhood abuse experience dependency, described as below, as an adult.
Love and nurture was conditional growing up. Depending on my mother’s mood but mostly depended on how much she thought I was worthy of something (and usually essential things like underwear), I would get what I needed. A narcissistic parent does not care for his/her children like a healthy parent does. Instead, adult roles are appointed to their children and they are required to meet their parents, usually emotional, needs. My safety became depended on that, especially when my dad wasn’t around. I was responsible for my mother’s needs and also for her happiness. It’s hard to believe and maybe even to imagine what kind of burden that is on a young child. Because my whole being revolved around my mother, I was not allowed to have my own needs, to have my own emotions, likes/dislikes and I was definitely not allowed to be happy and loved. My mother has always been jealous of me and I tried my hardest not to do anything that would make her feel that way. Because when she did, she would either physically or emotionally abuse me. It’s extremely difficult to not upset narcissists because they are chronically upset and unhappy. For example: they wake up in the morning with a headache, and even before you are up, it was already your fault. Or: you would be away for a few days you would be told once you got back, how that headache was your fault. I’m not sure if any of this makes any sense, if not, please feel free to send me an email or contact me via Facebook or Instagram. My thoughts are often fragmented and I can imagine my writing might seem that way too. Above example reminds me of that time my dad wanted to take us all to a theme park and my mother did not want to go. She had been moping around all morning already. My dad decided to take my brother and me and leave my mother at home as she didn’t want to go. I remember her telling him to go without her, she didn’t sound too upset. We had an amazing day and when we got back, my mother was fuming. She was so angry that we went without her and spoilt our feelings of joy. Confused? Try to imagine what it would be like growing up with that confusion, 24/7.
How has all this affected me and followed me in to adulthood?
I often freeze, unable to get up from a chair or to leave a place unless someone tells me it’s okay. I have noticed how I have trouble going through a door first, when I’m with one or more people. More often than not, I can’t go through that door unless they let me know it’s okay. I can’t leave a place unless others do or until they let me know it’s okay. This often causes me to stay in places where it’s not wanted and having been surrounded by toxic people, they’d passive aggressively let me know this. Which made me dissociate even more and had me go in to a panic attack as soon as I got home because of all the flashbacks. Another problem I have is allowing myself to do things I enjoy or find important and this prevents me to relax when needed, as well as to be happy. For almost 12 years I did things for the sake of it, for distraction and to keep busy. Not because I enjoy them so much, because for the greater part of my life I have had no clue what I enjoy. My mother prevented this by not allowing me to become my own person and to find out what’s important to me and what makes me happy. I have spent so much money on hobbies I would eventually drop or hardly ever do (freeze response). I have wasted so much of my time by doing things other people enjoy, because I was either unable to say no or because I got shamed for doing so.
The biggest struggle I have right now is the last part, being able to relax and enjoy myself. When I want to do something for me, like drawing because I enjoy it and because I am rediscovering my talents. I dissociate so much I am unable to finish or even start. I find myself pacing around the place and sitting back down. I draw something completely different from what I wanted or don’t spend enough time on a piece. I want to go see a movie and I don’t go. All the internal messages prevent me from doing so. The fact I am aware of this now is very helpful for therapy. I am going to work on those in EMDR therapy, which starts again tomorrow. My therapist gave me homework to draw for 20 minutes and add 5 minutes everyday, without getting up and to tell the voices in my head to get lost, that I’m allowed to relax. So far it has and hasn’t helped, but I think it would be a miracle if it would have helped right away.
This all will hopefully help me become able to do things that make me calm and happy.Love & Light, Sandra