Positivity. Such an awkward experience for me every day of my adult life. A foreign language I never understood, so I don’t even bother to try to process it in my brain or body. Mostly I am just numb to it, but occasionally I feel physical pain to someone else’s positivity toward me. I hate that pain.
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
No matter how many times, or how it is done, positivity from others just bounces off my being. Never internalized. Never understood. Always wishing the other person didn’t say it because it just leaves me feeling awkward and confused about what to do with it. As usual, when I reach this uncomfortable state, I use the only skill I can count on to provide me relief: dissociation. With dissociation I have no mental or physical memory of it. It is gone. And I am relieved and back to my baseline of nothingness.
Nothingness is my familiar, and where I belong.
My therapist, ever the hopeful optimist, seems to think I will one day break free of this pattern and be able to internalize positivity toward me (let me be clear I am aware this is what normal humans are supposed to do). I would like to believe her, but honestly, I am an expert in facts and patterns as they pertain to me, and I have never been given reason to believe it is possible. How old do I have to get to prove my point that the attachment damage and mental programming of my belief system is forever stuck?
I am not delusional about my parents. They were shit parents who did unspeakable things to me and I didn’t deserve it. No child deserves the emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual and neglectful abuse they raised me with. My parents would probably cry it is not their fault as they are just passing on generational trauma. Both my parents were raised by shit parents. Though I understand generational trauma is a thing, I also have to balance that understanding with the fact that I have not abused my own children. I would never, and I am not sure why my own parents chose differently.
Being raised in an environment where I was chronically abused and traumatized, my mind chose to survive instead of giving up. I don’t remember this negotiation within myself, but apparently I must have done so. There have definitely been many days where I am furious with my younger self for making this choice.
In order to survive, I had to make deals with god or the Devil or whoever was bargaining on any particular day. I suppose many times it was me negotiating with myself (or with my parts). I developed rules that I would follow to lessen the pain and suffering of my childhood. They didn’t always work, so I often had to refine them.
Refine, refine, refine.
In my adulthood, those rules became beliefs about myself and how to lessen the pain and suffering of life. I wish I could say pain and suffering ended with childhood, but it didn’t for me. The damage that was done to me delivered a very damaged adult to a hugely imperfect world filled with lots of damaged and cruel and sick people.
The rules don’t allow for a joyful life. I had to agree to give that up in order to survive. Joy is not allowed. Love is not allowed. Need is not allowed. Smiling is not allowed. Feeling good about myself is not allowed. Feeling accomplished or being accomplished is not allowed. Feeling smart is not allowed. Feeling like a good person is not allowed. Accepting anything good from anyone is not allowed. This list is never ending.
What is allowed? Hating myself. Feeling stupid. Criticizing myself. Giving myself negative internal messages all day long. Starving myself. Allowing myself to continue to be abused as an adult. Cutting myself. Smashing my head into a wall. Being a failure. Wasting my life. Giving to others what I don’t have or allow for myself. Not letting anyone care or love me. Staying isolated. Taking in every negative word any random piece of shit has to say about me. Believing the worst about me. Not giving myself any grace. And zero forgiveness to myself for the piece of shit I am even if it isn’t my fault.
These are the deals I made. The rules I agreed to live by. Apparently, I will be taking these to my death. It’s a shame that I am a person of my word and don’t break promises.
I will stick with the therapist who holds false beliefs about recovering from the childhood I endured. The alternative is death, and though many parts of me welcome it, most of us are not willing to do that to our children.
In her own selfishness, my mother didn’t teach me one ounce of selfishness. I will always sacrifice my own needs and desires for others, and I am glad my children will benefit from it. I won’t thank my mom for that, but I am grateful it is an unintended consequence of being severely abused by a narcissistic mother.
It’s been a little over 3 weeks since I started low-dose ketamine nasal spray as part of my treatment regimen for CPTSD, DID and suicidality. I have had phenomenal, life-changing results that seem entirely impossible to be true. The stability I feel just doesn’t seem believable to me, and I am still waiting for the bottom to fall out.
You can read about my initial experience here if you are interested.
At 3 weeks in, I have been able to decrease the ketamine doses. The first two weeks I did one nasal spray on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Since I responded so positively with the first dose, and the stability seemed so solid, I decided to push it out to one spray a week for the 3rd week. I’ll keep you posted how this goes, but so far, it is holding me in a good place of stability and mental clarity.
As a side note, I am not taking the commonly recommended antidepressant to go with it as I am not a fan of of them for me, and I wonder do people really need to take the antidepressant since it wasn’t necessary for me. Anyway, I know someone else may need something different, so I recognize it may be necessary for other people. I do take a sleeping pill at night, which is the only medication I take besides the generic ketamine.
As someone who experienced severe developmental trauma, I have been living a lifetime of PTSD flashbacks, debilitating depression and anxiety, frequent thoughts of suicide and self-harm, and the unsteadiness that comes with having dissociative identity disorder. Oh, and the most difficult consequence of my awful childhood has been trying to live a decent life after being raised by a family that didn’t love me.
The traumatic patterns I learned as a kid have been extremely difficult to change as an adult.
With my new ketamine-induced stability, I have honestly been a little confused about what to do with myself. I don’t feel like myself because I am not used to this ability to regulate my emotions, deal with stressors, and not think about killing myself on-and-off throughout my days.
For me, ketamine actually accomplishes what DBT is supposed to accomplish for those of us with CPTSD.
I can’t completely say, oh, I tried ketamine and now everything in my life is perfect. It’s not. But it is 1000% better and more manageable. The difficulty with the issues I was struggling with have gone from a 10 to a 3, which has made a very significant difference in my ability to cope and live my life.
Since the ketamine also enables me to think more clearly, I have had the opportunity to think about what is still causing my life to be messy, or less than good. By no surprise to me, it’s my attachment issues. Turns out ketamine can help a lot, but it doesn’t help with the aftermath of growing up in a family that didn’t love you.
My earliest messages from my family were: you don’t deserve love; you are unlovable; you are too much so make yourself small; there is something wrong with you; everyone hates you, so shut up and stay quiet; you don’t deserve happy; you are trash and don’t deserve anything good; you should do us all a favor and kill yourself; the only thing you are good for is sex.
So, sadly, the ketamine doesn’t take away my belief that I am a terrible, no-good person who doesn’t deserve love.
Since the ketamine did take away the nonstop flashbacks of childhood abuse, I can now actually focus on these horrible beliefs that I have about myself. For once, I will be stable enough to stay focused and safe while I deal with the real pain of my childhood. I am done talking about the horrific abuse I suffered as a child because that is in my past, and I need to live in the present.
Talking about my abuse did not help me recover from my traumatic childhood. I did a lot of therapy, and it just didn’t give me the results I needed to recover from all the trauma. I do believe there is value in therapy, but I honestly do not see it alone giving most people the results they need to recover from CPTSD.
Unfortunately, in the present, I hold these really horrible beliefs about myself that I can’t seem to distance myself from like I can the memories of abuse.
Maybe this is the real work of therapy I have been waiting for. It’s so extremely painful for me that I am probably going to drive my therapist crazy with the slow pace and resistance I am going to put up to defend myself. I really can’t help it no matter how hard I try not to do it.
Ugh. I have no idea how to even begin to tackle this horrible belief system I have about myself. At this moment, even with my new found mental clarity, I can’t even intellectually believe that those things aren’t true about me. I know usually starting in an intellectual place is easiest for me, but at this point, that seems like that might be a far off accomplishment. But, I will push like hell to get there because I will not waste the miracle of what the ketamine has done for me.
Ketamine still allows me to feel the awful feelings that go along with severe trauma. The big difference is that ketamine makes it so I can mentally get myself out of a suicidal spiral as my knee-jerk response to these feelings. Instead of going right into a suicide plan, I seem to have the wherewithal to recognize my suicidality and to talk to someone about what is going on with me. It’s not alway easy to find someone to talk to about what I am feeling and thinking because I only have a few people in my life that understand it without freaking out.
Once I find someone to talk to, to just get it out, the suicidal thoughts melt away. This was definitely not possible pre-ketamine.
I am excited to see if the ketamine continues to hold me in a place of stability, and whether it quite possibly might allow me to do a level of talk-therapy that I had never done before. A level that may actually bring me healing?
But make no mistake, I do not believe talk-therapy without the ketamine would bringme closer to healing. The ketamine has been the missing ingredient to my healing, and I just wish I could get others to understand this may be the missing ingredient for a lot of other people like me.
I have become super-annoyed by any mention of the 3 phase approach to treating Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). As put forth in the DID treatment guidelines by the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), these are considered the gold-standard recommended steps for therapists who are treating someone with DID:
1. Establishing safety, stabilization, and symptom reduction.
2. Confronting, working through, and integrating traumatic memories; and
3. Identity integration and rehabilitation.
It sounds like an easy formula for assisting those with DID, but like previous treatment recommendations for DID, this 3-step phased approach is seriously flawed and needs updating (it’s been 10 years of minimal success).
Unfortunately, the vast majority of DID patients get stuck in stage 1, or if they manage to get out of stage 1, it is too easy for them to get knocked back into the stage 1 need for safety and stabilization by triggers in life and therapy.
Talk therapy and learning new skills is not effective enough in helping people with DID to successfully master the phase 1 goal of safety and stability because it is too easy for them to fall back into deeply rooted familiar neural pathways that make them unstable again.
The deeply-rooted neural pathways of someone who has DID is what keeps them stuck in a dissociative reaction to stress, which is why it is critical to address rewiring the brain of a DID person in stage 1.
Instead of therapists challenging themselves to figure out how to successfully help their clients master phase 1, they are actually told by these same guidelines that some people just don’t have the capacity to get out of stage 1, and so they can therefore feel ok when their clients stay stuck in phase 1 and a life of misery. This is completely wrong and cruel to those suffering with DID.
It is quite frustrating that the majority of trauma therapists will identify Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps the Score” as the book that has most influenced them, but strangely, almost every trauma therapist has little to no expertise in helping with the neurobiological effects of trauma, which is kind of the point of this book.
I believe there is a small percentage of people who can successfully manage this 3-phase approach as it is, but what I see from the vast majority of people I know who have DID, people get stuck in the phase 1 need for safety and stabilization. They may get stabilized, but either by working on trauma or some other life trigger, they slide right back into the need for safety and stabilization, which leads the person with DID to feel like they are failing therapy because it seems impossible to maintain enough forward momentum to make progress in therapy.
When your brain is wired for dissociation and PTSD, you can’t simply rewrite the way the brain functions through talk therapy and skills.
What if the very first step is impossibly flawed because therapists have been giving their clients the wrong advice on how to reach stabilization (DBT skills, mindfulness, CBT therapy, corrective therapeutic relationship, blah, blah). These methods can be helpful, but they don’t help the client achieve a strong enough mastery of safety and stability.
The type of stabilization achieved by talk-therapy and skill building is too weak to endure the triggers faced by the highly traumatized person.
Is it possible the answer to phase one stabilization is outside the traditional therapist’s wheelhouse, and involves neurobiology instead? Something that will rewrite the neural pathways?
Is it also possible that stabilization can occur in days-to-weeks instead of the years therapists typically spend on this with desperate clients?
I believe it is possible there is a much more effective and efficient way for traumatized individuals to get stabilized quickly.
An open mind and a belief in miracles is required at this point.
As the pandemic was nearing an end, I found myself loosening up on my fight-or-flight mode of survival that served me extremely well during those stressful months. As good as that might sound, what followed for me was a quick dump into the gutter of mental health hell. Apparently, my mind needed to do something with the build up of 14 months of limited parts activity I experienced to hold it together. If you are confused by this, try to understand that I was in the trauma of the pandemic, and to survive, I could only have around parts who were strong and didn’t feel, just like most of my childhood. The emotional and vulnerable parts were tucked away. The parts of me that had been frozen during the pandemic crisis were starting to rapidly thaw. Their emotions were overwhelming.
I rather quickly became depressed, suicidal, anxious, dissociative, and unable to deal with the stress of my children. Each day, I was becoming more unstable. I had reached a point where I had decided I was going to kill myself or go into a hospital (note, there are no hospitals that treat or believe in DID within my state, or even several states away, which makes this option less likely).
On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst), I was a 10 on the suicide scale. I couldn’t even hold onto the love for my children and what my suicide would do to them to prevent me from doing it. I was too far gone, and my suicide was becoming imminent.
How I stumbled upon Ketamine, stopped a serious suicide attempt, and saved my insurance company $30,000
In a complete fluke, a holistic doctor I work with for health issues had just prescribed generic ketamine nasal spray for depression and anxiety, and had no idea of the severity of what I was suffering because I hid it from them like I do most people outside a therapist’s office. I made the decision that I was going to try it as my last ditch effort before I checked out. The imminent risk and permanency of suicide outweighed any reservations I might have had.
The Ketamine Experience
I simply took one small spray of the ketamine in one nostril. I could immediately feel it coming down my throat as there was a slight burning feeling that lasted for a few minutes. After the burning sensation, I could quickly notice I was starting to feel what I would call a manufactured dissociation as it didn’t feel how I normally feel when I dissociate.
The dissociation lasted for 30-45 minutes, and then I felt kind of high. I was feeling emotions like funny, happy, and curious —funny and happy are definitely not normal feelings for me. I knew not to drive my car or make any big decisions. Though I did shoot off one very wordy email I kind of later regretted 😎.
The dissociation and high were gone within 2 hours of the nasal spray. I was left with a sense that my mind had been cleared of cobwebs I didn’t even know were there. I very dramatically had a mental clarity I wasn’t used to. I was much more aware of everything happening in my environment.
By the 3rd hour, I began to evaluate my thoughts and feelings because I knew this was a test to help me figure out what to do with my suicidality and depression. I scanned my brain for thoughts, emotions, or voices of parts, and to my amazement, my suicidal feelings were completely gone, and I had no sense of any depression, anxiety, or even dissociation. I was completely grounded in the present with a strangely crystal clear mind. I was actually worried I was going to have a manic episode because I was feeling so oddly good.
My suicidality went from 10 to 0 in just a few hours.
Later, when my kids each did their behaviors that had been over-stressing me these past few weeks, I felt like a super-parent who was not the least bit phased by their antics.
As it was approaching bedtime, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep because: 1. I always struggle with insomnia (and sleep meds don’t always work for me), and 2. I was worried the feeling good and crystal-clear thinking was going to make me want to stay up all night being productive at some random thing. Surprisingly, I took my normal low-dose sleeping pill and easily fell asleep. Even more surprising, I was able to sleep-in the next morning, something my anxiety hadn’t allowed me to do for years.
When the day of my first ketamine dose began, I was looking at either a $30,000+ psychiatric hospitalization, or ending my life and traumatizing my family and friends.
Instead, one spray from a $45 bottle of compounded generic ketamine completely removed me from that suicidal crisis and stabilized me.
My mind has stayed clear, like really sharp, and my emotions have been extremely easy to regulate.
My ability to emotionally regulate was put to the test almost immediately. The day following my first ketamine dose, I was scheduled for a therapy session with my therapist who I was having some serious attachment conflict. The session was indeed volatile, and one that would have normally sent me into a suicidal tailspin. Instead, I noticed I had a few fleeting suicidal feelings during the session, and I moved on, and they didn’t stick with me post session. A highly stressful situation was completely manageable, which is unheard of when it comes to me having attachment conflict in therapy.
Maybe some of you don’t see how big of a deal this is. Before ketamine, I was emotionally wobbly every day. I never knew what little thing might send me off into depression, suicidality, overwhelming anxiety, or into my constant dissociative response pattern that creates quite a bit of amnesia in my life.
My use of ketamine is like someone handed me a brand new life. A life that has been missing for over 30 years. I was finally free of the debilitating existence I had known almost my entire life.
I am finding the experience of my new brain extremely foreign. I don’t feel emotionally overwhelmed. I don’t feel depressed, suicidal, or even dependent on a therapist at this point (I have struggled with severe disorganized attachment, so this is kind of a big deal for me). My mind just feels clear and calm, which I really am not used to.
I waited a couple of days and did a second nasal spray of the ketamine. I was still feeling completely stable before this dose, but I wanted to do what was recommended by the doctor who prescribed it. With the second dose, it was barely noticeable and I didn’t experience the dissociative and feeling high side effects.
I have researched ketamine a lot since then, and I know others typically don’t respond for a week. There are several ways to take in ketamine, and an array of different dosing strategies. The doctor that prescribed the ketamine I used was a believer that low-dose and through the nose to get closest to the brain was the best method.
Ketamine seems to be a miracle for me. Although I live near a big research center that has all sorts of clinical trials going on for ketamine, I know I would be excluded from those studies because of my dissociative disorder (a familiar narrative for those of us with DID). We are just too much with our diagnosis for a lot of things..
Alternatively, there are many ketamine clinics that have set up shop in my state so that they can make a lot of money off this new treatment. Typical treatment prices seem to be around $400 a session, and insurance rarely covers it according to their websites.
For once, the compounding pharmacies seem to be the most economical place to get it, but finding a doctor who will prescribe it this way may be the challenge.
If you are a long-time sufferer who has given up on treatment for DID/CPTSD, or someone who suffers from chronic depression and/or anxiety, I would give ketamine a try if you can get your hands on a legitimate form of the medication. I am not recommending the street drug that is a higher dose of ketamine and will do who knows what to you. Try Googling ketamine near you and see what comes up. There’s lots of research, books, and articles about the way it works and what it has been used for.
There is a fascinating article about using ketamine with complex PTSD trauma survivors here.
I have to believe an angel dropped ketamine in my lap when I was at one of my lowest points. It clearly saved my life, and it just may be offering me the chance at living with a non-traumatized brain. As each day ticks by, I am still amazed at the calm and clarity I feel.
As a takeaway, I hope that each of you who reads this will consider that maybe people with DID aren’t succeeding not because they aren’t working hard-enough, committed enough, smart enough, or don’t have the ego strength or attachment stability to succeed in therapy. Maybe it really has more to do with how their brain is wired, and maybe there are easy fixes such a ketamine that will address the neurobiological effects of developmental trauma.
Just maybe, the most difficult repair is easier than everyone thinks.
I feel like a broken record that no one is listening to. I guess this is in line with why I rarely express my needs. The fear that my needs don’t matter, as was my daily life in my childhood. Ugh, that sounds victimy, and I hate sounding that way.
Let me be perfectly clear. I have multiple mental illnesses that significantly impact my daily functioning. 33 years ago I had my first Major Depressive episode. 32 years ago I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (then called Multiple Personality Disorder) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I have had periods of high functioning, and also periods requiring psychiatric hospitalization and heavy outpatient support during difficult times. I have successfully worked for periods of my adult life, and I have been on disability twice in my life.
My symptoms I currently struggle with the most are amnesia, confusion, no sense of time passing, thoughts of suicide and self-harm that seem to come out of nowhere, inability to feel most things, disorganized attachment that affects my ability to parent, chronic anxiety, and flashbacks that make it extremely difficult to function.
I have come to accept that I will have a life-long problem with mental illness that needs to be managed in different ways depending on how I am doing. I no longer believe the delusion that I will be cured if I only find the right therapist or do the right therapy. This is not me giving up, but instead gaining wisdom with age.
Patience is something we have all had to learn during the COVID pandemic if we wanted to survive. The world was turned upside down, and life as we knew it was gone overnight.
Unfortunately, those of us with mental illness still have our mental illnesses and need extra help surviving in this pandemic world that is actually quite triggering for many of us with trauma backgrounds.
I care deeply about my therapist, but she has kind of abandoned me during the pandemic. I have tried to be understanding and empathetic that she has her own fears going on through the pandemic. But then she got vaccinated as a first responder. Then I got sick and realized that medical providers all over town were showing up for work and seeing patients without any problems. And then my teenager’s therapist started seeing her clients in person.
I talked to my therapist in one of our not-very-useful phone sessions, and I pleaded with her to come up with a plan for what she was going to do to see clients who needed to be seen in person. I was honestly shocked that she didn’t have any sense of a plan, and seemed to want to just continue doing phone therapy with people, despite the fact that she was vaccinated and had returned to normal life in other areas of her life. She promised me she would come up with a plan. Two months later, nothing.
Over the phone, it is quite easy for my therapist to ignore when I am suicidal and need her help. It is easy for her to say it seems like I am doing better when I am actually having a horribly destabilizing day. She doesn’t have to see my emotions, my pain, fear, dissociation, and need for her help. She can just pretend that she is doing her job and everything is alright, despite those moments when I gain the courage and tell her I am not ok and need her help.
My therapist is retraumatizing me.
She is gaslighting me when she pretends like I am ok even when I tell her I am not. She literally doesn’t even acknowledge those rare times when I tell her I am suicidal or struggling with self-harm. She offers me nothing.
She has abandoned me. I definitely agree there was a time when it was right for her to isolate in fear of COVID, but that time is long past since she has been vaccinated, I have COVID antibodies and have been vaccinated (solely in hopes that I would be “good enough” for her to see me then). This rejection of me sets off a cascade of attachment craziness no matter how understanding I try to be.
I have come to the conclusion that either my therapist just won’t get help with facing her own fears about COVID, or she has realized that she can get away with doing this half-ass teletherapy so it makes her life easier (she often runs errands in her car during our telephone appointments, and she doesn’t have to actually sit with my pain).
My therapist, whom I love dearly, has become more like a close friend whom I pay so I can periodically confide some of my secrets over the phone. We aren’t doing therapy, and for a while, that was ok. But I have held on as long as I can.
It’s not clear where I should turn. My therapist may have abandoned me, but I struggle to abandon her (hello attachment issues). There are few therapists in my area who understand dissociative identity disorder. And because the pandemic has created its own mental health crisis, most therapists aren’t even accepting new clients because the demand is so high.
My first go-to is to decide to give up. To end this lifetime of struggle and suffering. Then I argue with my selves that I will not abandon my kids. My kids need me to help them get to adulthood.
So this leaves me in the familiar childhood quandary of there being no right answer. Nothing that is going to save or even help me. So I am on my own, spiraling downward when I shouldn’t be if I just had some help. This isn’t fair, but I know the very first lesson of my life was that I should not expect my life to be fair.
Growing up, I don’t have a single memory of my mom holding me or saying she loved me. No photos of me in her lap, or her holding my hand as we walked down the sidewalk. In fact, there are no photos of me with her period.
I wish I had kind memories, even if only a couple, but absolutely none.
Mother’s Day sucks for me. I try to dissociate its existence so much that I am barely present for my own kids’ desire to celebrate the day. Sadly, I would prefer to stay in bed and not recognize the day.
I do try to just focus on my present day, but all the messages coming from seemingly everywhere about what great moms everyone says they had/have, puts it right back in my face of what I didn’t have.
It is a day I feel shaky inside, trying not to let my thoughts wander to why my mom did what she did to me. Trying not to have the rapid flashbacks of what she did give me.
Logically, it doesn’t make sense that a mother would do what she did to me. She was the opposite of what we would call maternal. So, it is dismissed as she is just a sick, twisted, sadistic, narcissist.
I can’t remember a time in my childhood when my mom did not hate me. When I go back to my earliest memories with her, my body tenses up with fear, shame, and confusion.
When I think of my mom’s body, I am repulsed and frightened. I think about my very young self laying in her bed in my father’s absence. I am trying not to be tense for fear she will get angry at me. She scratches my back for a few minutes, and it feels good. Then she pulls me toward her naked body. This becomes a regular thing for us. My father is absent a lot, and she scratches my back before she sexually abuses me.
This is as close to love as my mother ever came. She didn’t even bother to pretend that she cared about me in public.
My mom, though functioning as an alcoholic, always knew how to get what she wanted. She was powerful in her social circles and our community.
My mom sex-trafficked me from as far back as I can remember to get what she wanted. It didn’t matter the who or for what. If she could benefit from turning my body over to someone, she did. Sadly, sometimes it was only for her sick, sadistic pleasure.
It is hard to survive a sadistic, narcissistic mom. Most days I wish I didn’t.
I am still here, and honestly don’t know why, except to raise my own kids. I don’t know why I am not a person who would do to my children what was done to me. I imagine my mom’s parents did really awful stuff to her.
It is strange or lucky to not be part of the generational abuse that goes on. I don’t know why I didn’t become her, but I do thank God I did not.
My mom is still alive this Mother’s Day, and it feels like she is never going to die. I stay away from her as much as I can. When we are together, I become this numb person who does her best to not think of her mom for who she truly is.
As a family, at some point it was decided that we would not speak of the past, ever. I can’t say this made my mom become a loving mom, or even an ok mom. We just pretend like it didn’t happen, and God forbid if I let my guard down.
I didn’t escape “ok” from childhood. It left me saddled with complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Not to mention my severe attachment problems. These 3 things affect my everyday life.
So, it’s Mother’s Day, the day I am supposed to celebrate my mother. I wish I could fool myself into believing she wasn’t that bad, or that she really does love me.
Unfortunately, when I was in my early 30s, I had just driven 4 hours to see my parents with my own family. I don’t really know what happened, but within 10 minutes of being there, I found myself confronting both of my parents about never loving me, and only loving my siblings. I can remember so clearly both of my parents just sitting there silently, neither of them willing to deny they didn’t love me, no matter the cost to me. I put my family back in the car and left after that conversation, never to speak of it again.
But in case I forgot, fast-forward another 15 years when my father is dying and I am the only one in the family willing to take care of him. I watch as my father shares his love for my mother and siblings when they would be willing to be in the room with him (because watching him die was just something they didn’t want to deal with). Me. By his side, everyday for months. Not once did he say he loved me. Not once. Of course, like the trained dog I had become, I would tell him how much I loved him.
My mother did not thank me for the severe trauma I went through during this experience of taking care of my dad (another story for another day). Instead, when I begged her to come out of her bedroom to the living room to see my father on his deathbed, she slapped me across the face with as much ferociousness as she could muster, and I just stood there as the wounded adult child.
This woman, whom I twice saved her life as an adult, just never let go of her hatred of me.
This woman. My mother. She will not be celebrated. But this trained dog will call her still to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.
I went back to therapy 4 years ago to deal with some new trauma, and some old trauma that was awakened by the new trauma.
I stayed in therapy because I had developed a lot of clarity about how inauthentic my life had become.
Honestly, I have never had an authentic life, as my family of origin and the community I grew up in robbed me of my life since as far back as I can remember.
My cup is currently overflowing with the amount of child abuse I experienced growing up. That may not make sense. Normally, my mind can only hold little pieces, but right now, it is in the unusual place of holding a lot of the abuse in awareness instead of dissociating it all.
It seems like the memories are never-ending, and they are not like memories I can deny or question the validity. They are memories I know to be true, but had somehow managed through my dissociation to forget.
Other people I know with dissociative identity disorder (DID), seem to be surprised by their memories when they get them. For me, that is typically not the case. For me, it is like remembering a horrible old friend you tried to never think of again.
I dunno, maybe I am just worn down with the shitty cards I have been dealt. The never-ending shame and depression I feel about the facts of my life. It has taken its toll.
I have lost all hope of living an authentic life. I have been staying alive these past 4 years for my children. I haven’t wanted to hurt them or ruin their lives by me ending mine.
Always the martyr.
I am suffering. I suffer every day trying to hold onto my life for my children. Jeez, I sound like a cry baby. But it is so fucking hard to hold on all the time.
I just want some peace, love, and understanding based on who I really am, not the imaginary many versions of myself that the world knows.
Almost no one knows me. Not even my kids, which especially breaks my heart. I never set out to be a fake parent. It is just what is best for them. 🙁
I don’t hurt people or do any awful things to deserve the horrible treatment I receive when others find out any of my truth, but I am rejected and tossed into the garbage or worse, just for being my authentic self. That is how we treat victims in our world.
Who is my authentic self?
I am a wounded survivor of horrific child abuse who developed dissociative identity disorder as a result.
That in itself is apparently enough to know about me to warrant the rejection of me.
My ex-minister and supposed friends tried to take my children from me when they discovered diagnosis alone. I hadn’t done anything. My kids don’t know I have it. In fact, out of both their parents, I am confident they would identify me as the saner one.
It doesn’t matter. People can’t tolerate the idea that my mind is what it is. They can’t tolerate believing I endured the level of abuse I have experienced.
So, they get fake me. The me that is probably copied from characters off television shows and people I have observed. And fake me, I really hate.
I don’t really know any other me than fake me, so that leaves me with hating the only me I know.
I hate me.
The world is an awful place, where perpetrators are protected, and victims are the bad guys.
I know I am a victim. I did not deserve the cruelty, extreme abuse, and lack of love I received.
It doesn’t matter, though.
My life is a shit show and I work hard to hide authentic me from everyone but my therapist.
This is no way to live. It doesn’t get better, but the cruelty remains because I am not allowed to leave. If I leave this shitty world, then I abandon my kids and hurt them in ways I don’t even understand, but know to be true.
My abusers. My family of origin. All the fuckers from my community. You have successfully robbed me of my life. I hate you all, and hope you burn in hell.
I will do my best to push through another day. It is getting harder. I won’t make any promises, but I will try with all my might to hold on another day for my kids.
I have hated my mom for as long as I can remember. For me, this memory starts around 3 years old, but when I try to think about what it must have been like as a baby, I am consumed with fear, and the “freeze response.”
I do understand that my mom was an unusually cruel mom, and probably comes from a very abusive upbringing by her own family.
I want so badly to just leave it at my mom was a horrible, sick person who abused me in more ways than imaginable, and lay the blame and everything at her feet.
I want to accept this and move on.
I am still stuck with the feeling that I was born as “garbage” and that somehow this makes it my fault.
My therapist wants me to accept that I did not have any control over the abuse that happened to me. I do accept that. I have no illusion that I had any control over what happened to me.
Though, I have to wonder if I made things worse for myself because I didn’t hide my hatred for my mother from her. I don’t mean I outright told her what an awful person I thought she was. No, I mean, I didn’t hide it in my eyes.
My eyes. They looked at her with bewilderment and sometimes disgust, though I knew to not let her really see the disgust part.
I never understood why this woman chose to have a baby girl who she would choose to hate, torture, and wreck in every way possible. Boy babies were not treated this way.
Then I think to my parenting, and I realize you never know what parenting is going to be like for you until you do it.
Maybe there is a tiny bit of decency in her that had she known what a girl baby would mean to her, she wouldn’t have done it. Probably giving her too much credit there.
As you can see, part of trying to understand what I have been through is involving what has my mother been through. Though honestly, she doesn’t deserve that kind of compassion from me. Only God can decide whether she deserves any compassion.
When you grow up with severe trauma mostly orchestrated by a mom you hate, life would probably seem chaotic to the outside world, but it is actually very quiet to experience. The noise of the terror is boxed away as the knowledge of the terror is all that can be held at this point.
Why does a mom start off hating her baby? The easy answer is mental illness, but that doesn’t really do it justice in trying to understand it. Besides, it is not like she has a diagnosis like schizophrenia or bipolar that would make it more understandable.
What is true about this woman? She is an extreme narcissist. She is an alcoholic. She is sadistic. She is grandiose. She comes from a bizarrely religious family –meaning not your ordinary religious beliefs. I believe she was the chosen daughter in her family to be sexually abused by her father and maybe others. Others consider her very attractive. To the world, she is powerful, although I have seen her when she is weak.
Growing up with her, strangely I can’t think of a single kind thing she has ever done for me. Not one.
My father, who was completely controlled by my mother, had moments of kindness toward me and my siblings. Though, he is no saint in the choices he made in our family. I remember one Christmas when I was 4 or 5, my dad actually shocked us because when we woke Christmas morning, he had bought presents for us. Our mother was furious with him. I don’t remember what happened after receiving those presents, but I know it happened as there is a picture of me opening a present on that morning (a rare photograph of me).
We had normalcy for one moment. A brief happy moment for me.
But back to the woman I hated. When I was 3 years old, I can remember how my mom would pull me next to her in front of her large bathroom mirror, both of us naked, and she would tell me how fat and disgusting I was. In case there was any doubt, she would spend a great deal of time showing me how ugly I was, and how beautiful she was. She explained that I needed to become like her or I would be nothing. Yet, no matter how emaciated I became, I was still fat and ugly in her eyes.
Today, my expression of my hatred for her doing this is to be extremely asexual, unattractive, and to wear boy clothing as much as possible. This really makes her angry.
Maybe it as simple as this. Maybe babies are like animals, and they can sense danger. Though I can’t remember my life as a baby, my body remembers the terror I felt. My mind wants to die as I think back to being a baby so helpless and terrorized at the same time.
I couldn’t fight her, I couldn’t run from her, so my mind froze, wishing I could not exist. And there goes the chronic suicidal feelings I experience.
Stuck with a woman who hated me, and the only power I had was to hate her back.
My parents did not love me. They did not hold me or care for me in even the most basic ways as a baby/toddler/child/adult.
As an adult, I know how this has affected me. I struggle to connect lovingly with other people in relationships. I don’t like to be touched. I struggle to feel anything other than numb.
There are people in my life who say they love me and care for me deeply; yet, I feel empty and nothingness and awkward to their loving gestures.
Interestingly, for me, I can feel love when it comes to my children. I genuinely love them, and I feel their love for me. I am not sure why it is so different when it comes to them.
When people other than my children say they love me, I cringe as if a dagger just went through me. I know I am supposed to give a loving reply back, but I can’t, and retreat into a state of internal awkwardness.
In case you are wondering, I am married. I don’t know why my spouse puts up with my difficulties around love, touch, sex, and oftentimes being aloof.
Sometimes, the fact that I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) comes in handy as there are other self states within me who do not struggle with the attachment damage from my childhood.
I don’t always control which part of me is out, and thus I fluctuate in the level of connectedness I have with others. This can be confusing to people because they don’t know about the DID (or don’t understand in my spouse’s case).
There are times when I am home with the family and I find myself very disconnected from them. My spouse will ask me what is wrong, and there isn’t anything wrong, but a self state that has more severe problems with attachment is usually present.
Other self states may go overboard with love and intimacy with other people. These self states tend to like to drink and be social, which of course is not the best combination.
My adult self-states are mostly similar enough that even the people who know I have DID have trouble distinguishing between them. But there are subtle differences if one is paying attention. However, very few people know about the DID.
My therapist seems to think my attachment problems can be healed through therapy and working through the pain of my childhood. I disagree. Though I have much more insight into my attachment problems, it doesn’t seem to do anything to help change that this is the way I am.
She would say I am feeling hopeless again, as if depression or something is causing me to come to this conclusion. I don’t feel particularly depressed. My mind is actually fairly clear, and I see my thoughts and feelings about my attachment problems as a form of acceptance of my reality.
I don’t mean to be a Debby Downer, but I do think it is better to accept reality and try to live life as it is rather than chasing a mental health that will never come for those of us who have been severely neglected as children.
That is not to say we can’t have a different version of mental health based on acceptance, instead of forever chasing a higher level of mental health and living our lives in the therapy room instead of the real world.
Too many of my friends and myself have spent almost our entire lives in the therapy rooms chasing an elusive mental health that will never come.
Please don’t get me wrong. I do believe in therapy, and it is necessary for many of us to survive in the world. But, I believe many of us with severe trauma backgrounds are using up our entire lives waiting for the wellness to begin. It’s just something to consider.
Yes, get therapy help, but don’t get caught in the idea that you will get “cured” and then miss out on living your life because you spent it searching for answers that don’t seem to transform into wellness.
*Disclaimer, my therapist and others do not agree with my point of view.
Wrestling with the truth that my parents repeatedly reinforced into me that I am not lovable has turned off a switch in me that should be on to experience the human condition of love and care.
This leaves me like one of those futuristic robots who can show the slightest bit of emotion, but fall short of the real human experience.
In years past, I celebrated this day with you. I chose to remember only the good I thought I knew about you.
This year it feels as if it is just another day. Another holiday that I don’t recognize.
If I let myself, I could get angry and hurt thinking about your role as my father.
As much good as you did for me, you failed me in so many more significant ways.
Your inability to love me, or choice to not love me, was the cruelest thing you could have done to me. What kind of father refuses to tell his daughter he loves her? As a parent myself, I can’t even begin to understand your actions and lack of love for me. No child deserves a parent who chooses not to love her.
Your decision to not protect me from all forms of child abuse cannot be understood or forgiven. No decent human being stands by an ignores his daughter’s pleas for help. I know you knew all about what was going on, and it hurts me so badly that you chose Mom and her sickness over me.
I deserved to have a father who loved me, protected me, and saw my self worth. You were not him, so this year I will not pretend to honor you on Father’s Day.
I pray that God has made you answer for the sins you perpetrated against me.
I deserved better. I know this, and you can’t take it from me.