A Lifetime Of Abuse............

I have experienced a lifetime of abuse on all levels.  I guess the best place to start my story is at the beginning.  I am a 46 year old woman who was the second born of three children to two teenage parents in the mid sixties.  My father was 19 and my mother was 17 when they got pregnant with my older brother and anyone with half a brain knows that at that age, nobody has the skill or experience to be a proper, loving and emotionally mature parent.  I was born a year after my brother; two months premature.  I was 4 ½ pounds at birth and had to stay in the hospital in an incubator for some weeks until I had gained enough weight for my mother to take me home.   In addition to my struggle to just survive being born two months too early, I have since learned that studies indicate a strong connection between premature birth and developmental problems ranging in severity; depending on how premature the infant is.  The more severe disabilities include blindness and cerebral palsy; milder issues include ad/hd and other learning disorders.  Emotional and behavioral problems are often an issue.  Studies have shown that “preemies” also have lowered academic scores as well as having lower incomes in adulthood.  Going on my past history, I had problems in all areas.
As if being born premature was not challenge enough, me and my siblings were raised in an authoritarian home.  This meant that when we children acted out and misbehaved, discipline came in the form of rages, slaps, pinches, hair pulling, screaming, name calling, kicking, throwing things.  Weapons used were switches from the tree, belts, shoes, wooden spoons.  One example is one that I don’t remember, but illustrates the type of punishment that was doled out by my mother.  The story is that apparently me and my brother got into mother’s oil paints one morning while she was sleeping in......sleeping in while she had a five year old and three year old up and full of energy and mischief.  I know we were five and three because my sister is three years younger than me and mom was pregnant at the time this happened.  Apparently, we got the paint all over her newly laid gold carpet and the walls.  My brother said she beat the crap out of us then bathed us in turpentine to get the paint off of us.  To this day he says the smell of turpentine makes him shake and physically ill.  Next, she threw us in our underwear into the garage in the dead of winter and called my grandmother to come to the house under the threat that she would no longer have any grandchildren unless she hurried.  I don’t remember any of this, but brother and grandmother do and corroborate.  Other infractions brought the sting of a belt across the small of my back, or a switch from a tree across the back my tender, skinny little legs.  These misplaced blows usually happened because I tried to wiggle from her grasp or tried to run from her and rightly so because I was terrified and she hurt me.  Once, I took a tomato out of the fridge and when she saw me eating it, she freaked out and chased me out the front door.  She caught me and began slapping and hitting me, because she wanted to use the tomato in a salad for dinner that night.  I have to add at this point that I simply cannot imagine denying my own child food at any time, no matter what.....and my own son is as skinny as I was growing up.  I remember one time as a teenager forgetting to tell my mother that my father had called to say he would be home late and her hitting me so hard across the side of the head my ears rang and I was stunned for several minutes afterward.  When I was small, I was also sexually abused by not just one person, but a few others entrusted to my care- like the teenage neighbor boy who babysat me and my sister and my mother's brother.  It is no wonder to me now why I was distracted, aggressive and generally problematic as a child.  What makes everything so painful and heartbreaking for me is that the one and only time I spoke of this abuse, I was called a liar and the whole problem was forgotten after I was punished.  I never spoke of it again and completely forgot about it until years and years later.  Nobody ever looked at my clues or symptoms, if you will- not event the shrink my mother took me to when I was in the second grade and only seven years old.  That resulted in my mother being told that academically, I did not apply myself.  In otherwords, I was extremely smart but lazy.  I wasn't lazy, I had other things on my mind besides paying attention in class and getting good grades.  There was much compulsive acting out on my part in ways that are too embarrassing and intimate to explain.  Once when I was caught, she kicked me THERE, and otherwise physically punished me.  I often used to draw my abuse, act it out with other children and in other areas of my play.  What happened was punishment, rather than the adults in my life trying to understand why a small child who should have no knowledge in such matters would draw sexually suggestive pictures or engage in sexually themed play.  Eventually, one of my abusers tried something with my sister when she was about 13, and that is when all hell broke loose.  THIS gives me problems to this day; not only because my sister would not have had to deal with this issue, but mostly because this told me what I always knew-  my mother did and does not love me…..at least not that I have ever felt.  I was also bullied as a child; another form of abuse that left me feeling ugly, worthless and unloveable.

Not to be forgotten and certainly part of my story, my father worked long hours and did not come home most nights until after we had gone to bed.  I remember my parents always fighting; yelling, throwing things and raging…..mostly done by mom because dad had not come home till late, having spent the evening in a bar drinking after work.  I remember many nights sitting by the window and hoping and praying that every car that turned onto our street would be his and when each one drove on by and wasn’t him, feeling the aching, painful sadness all the way into my fingertips.  After my mother decided to divorce my father, my parents took me aside to explain their decision and while they were telling me, my father held me in his arms on the couch and cried.  My mother’s response to this scene was to irritably demand that he stop trying to make her feel guilty and that the only reason he was comforting me was to make her feel bad.  In that moment, she took my father’s love away from me and made me feel like I was just a tool in their broken relationship.  Eventually, my mother met a man who lived in Oregon, while we lived in California.  After he moved in and lived with us for a few months, he headed back up to Oregon and my mother decided that she was going to move up to be with him.  She explained that us kids could decide where we wanted to live, with her or my father.  As teenagers, a move seemed like fun and an adventure, so my sister and I moved with mom.  I suppose in hindsight, my brother might have felt abandoned and I suppose me and my sister might have felt that way too, if not for the fact that we decided to move with her.  In my book, it is still abandonment as nothing was going to stop our mother from moving to be with her new boyfriend, not even her children.  She WAS willing to leave us, and that tells me everything.  She has since born another child -my younger brother- and his father moved out on her 8 years ago when my brother turned 18.  That family was just as dysfunctional as mine was, including my mother eventually becoming a full blown alcoholic due to the fact that my stepfather was an alcoholic and her way of coping was to drink as well.

 About my siblings.  My brother was the super athlete who played every sport from basketball to baseball, football to golf.  In high school he was always in the newspapers being a first string player with dreams of going pro football.  His dreams ended with a knee injury and in his junior year was made to get a job in a restaurant as a dishwasher.  He did not go to college, but took jobs in kitchens his whole life.  My  little sister was the sweet, quiet, make no waves type.  She had imaginary friends and was considered the baby and was geared towards the performing arts. In high school, she was in plays, choreographed dance routines and was basically a straight A student.  Whenever I liked a boy, they liked her.  She was popular and says now that she always knew she wanted to leave home as soon as possible and was actually glad that our parents split up because she knew the family was dysfunctional.  She was and is insightful, very intelligent and mature beyond her years.  She is the only one of us original three that has a college degree; yet is alone and frustrated that she isn’t where she feels she should be in life in consideration of her sacrifices and in comparison to her peers, all of whom have marriages, children and homes of their own.  My younger brother is still going to college and hopes to graduate with a degree in landscape.  He is a trust fund baby, so his sense of financial security is intact and he will never have the worries that I and our other siblings have.  He hates his father, and his father is so far gone mentally from the alcohol, that he does not even recognize his own son at family events.  My mother pathologically dotes, favors and defends him even though he is a grown man and is as capable as the next guy, if not more given his advantages in life.  If he breaks up with a girlfriend, she rallies everyone around as if he is so fragile that he can’t handle the normal ups and downs and disappointments in life.  Nothing is ever his fault, but is excused as a manifestation of his abusive father and dysfunctional childhood.  This does not mean that my younger brother doesn’t have his share of pain and that I don’t have empathy, but that all of us have our pain and have needed her validation and compassion, and have not gotten even a fraction of the amount that she has show towards our youngest sibling.
As an adult, I have been in not one but two abusive relationships where I have been sexually, physically and emotionally assaulted for nearly 20 years of my life.  I’ve had my lip split and bruised, and I have been thrown against walls.  I’ve had a gun fired off as I walked away from an argument, and I have been choked for not wanting to let my drunk boyfriend drive us home.  I’ve had to leave my home in the middle of the night after calling the police and having the SWAT team cordon off the block because of the amount of guns my boyfriend had and his emotional instability.  I’ve been harassed and intimidated into having sex for hours until I gave in. In one instance, I was kept in a hotel room, physically abused and the next morning not allowed to go home and to work until I gave in to sex I didn’t want.  I’ve had my boyfriend arrange for one of his friends watch us have sex and didn’t find out until years later.  I’ve been head butted and had my nose almost bitten off.  I’ve been verbally abused and had my head slammed into a door jam so hard that I received a concussion.  I had my son’s father sit on my 8 month pregnant belly and beaten about the head and then left in a bad part of town to walk home at midnight.  I’ve been called a fat *** though I weighed 105 pound soaking wet.  I’ve been given derogatory labels like lazy, brain dead and argumentative.  The first man to abuse me was so unhinged he was still stalking me ten years after I left him and had since had a child with the next man who would abuse me.  The next man -my son’s father- cheated, lied, physically abused and was the one who raped me.  He is a sociopath who abuses drugs, exploits his family and cannot keep a job without getting fired.  He rode unemployment for the last two years, gives me no financial support for our teenage son and is a loser with a capital L.  His abusive and disrespectful attitudes rub off on our son during the rare times when he sees him, and I am triggered into feeling like I am still living with my abuser.  This man has been the worst thing ever to happen to me AND the best thing ever to happen to me because he gave me my beautiful and beloved son; a paradox that is painful and confusing to the extreme.  To wish I had never met him would be to wish that I did not have my son and leaves me confused, frustrated feelings that have no outlet. 
It is because of these people and experiences that I have Complex-PTSD.  It is because my boyfriend came into my life and treats me with love, tenderness and respect that I have realized just how bad my abuse had been and as such, has caused my condition to become full blown.  It is also because I no longer medicate myself with alcohol and opiates that I feel the full effect of all that I have been through and I often feel like I am going crazy.  On a daily basis I fight profound feelings of ugliness, unworthiness and feel that there must be something so bad about me that it justifies all the abuse.  I have a hard time sleeping and when I am finally able to, I wake up every two hours and then I fret, toss and turn.  I have irregular heartbeat and recently started having chest pains as well.  I get hot and cold flashes and have headaches almost daily.  Last year when I reconnected with my boyfriend I was transported to the past –triggering memories of being abused by my mother- and subsequently had migraines and threw up toxins for weeks.  Loud noises send my heart racing and I go into panic mode and dissociate, then I become depressed for days when I “come back”.  When my son playfully jumps from behind a wall to surprise me, I feel like punching him because it makes me jump out of my skin and sets my heart pounding in fear.  I get dizzy and have vision problems.  My family sees me as an invalid and inept because I constantly misplace or lose things because I am constantly confused and distracted.  I don’t know what is safe and what isn’t and have to ask if I should do something outside my normal routine because my boundaries have been invaded all of my life and my concept of safety has been severely compromised.  Certain family members tell me to just get over it because “your life wasn’t that bad” and that others have had it so much worse and they haven’t had a fraction of the love and care that I have.  I can’t stand my mother and at the same time it hurts me to not love her.  I tell myself that there is nothing wrong with me for feeling this way, all things considered.  Then, I feel like I am a horrible person for having these feelings.  I don’t like socializing very much and prefer the company of my boyfriend, sister and son.  Seeing other family members depends on both my mood and theirs, and if something in their behavior triggers me, it takes me a week to get my head straight again.  This condition is painful, confusing and I have tried to find a therapist to work with and I can't seem to locate one in my area.  I am hoping that this group will help and I appreciate any and all feedback.  Sorry this is so long and thank you to all that take the time to read my story.
middlesis middlesis
6 Responses Jul 9, 2010

i have not read this story , but judging by how long it is, you must have the strength of 15 at least. this is inspiring to me as i need the strength of 8. i wrote a life of abuse.

Interesting my daughter was 3 months premature and we didn't see itasa struggle but a miracle. <br />
<br />
'Studies have shown that “preemies” also have lowered academic scores as well as having lower incomes in adulthood.  '<br />
<br />
My daughter graduated from UCLA with top honors and won a full scholarship and living expenses to grad school. <br />
<br />
I'm saying this to adds different perspective.

Imagine. What if there were a way?<br />
<br />
What would it be like for you if there were a way that you could get rid of all that emotional pain from your past?<br />
<br />
What if you could just pack up all that crap and be done with it all?<br />
What if those painful memories weren't controlling your decisions? Your choices? Your life?<br />
<br />
If you had the chance to get rid of it all, would you?<br />
<br />
It can be done. You do have that option available if you want it.<br />
<br />
larry@newhope-health.ca<br />
<br />
"you can't change history, but you can change the future!"<br />
Imagine. What if there were a way?<br />
I do it for people all the time so it is very possible to do.

ten years after the abuse that caused my ptsd, i wish i could say the same. time does NOT heal everything.

thank you very much, runningaway. i have come a long way in terms of my abuse and the people who are responsible. i don't thing there is anything that can hurt me except the fact that certain family members see me as just being overly dramatic. invalidation is what kills me and nothing you have said invalidates. time does help, but it will never replace the losses of my innocence, creativity and academic opportunity. time can only lessen the effects, but they will never go away because my experiences are what have shaped me into the person i am today and i can't undo them and be a different person. i have learned to look at my experiences as a pathway to greater sensitivity and desire to help others. PTSD is painful, but it also makes me more sensitive in every way.

middlesis - <br />
You are a very strong woman and I admire your ability to work past everything that has happened in your life. I'd love to be able to say that things get better, but I don't know that. I, too, am dealing with similar barriers to a "normal" life that you have described, and the only thing I can say is that you are very lucky and deserving of those in your life who care about you in the right way. Even though it may not always feel like it, (it doesn't to me anyway) they are the people who will help you over, around, or through every obstacle you come across. That four-letter word my shrink keeps telling me - time. It really does heal some of the crap that goes on. It helps make it just a little easier to deal with all the big crap that really won't go away, but maybe can diminish in intensity. I wish you luck and hope that I at least haven't hurt anything with my comments.