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Fear, Anxiety and Healing

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  • #428619
    anita
    Participant

    Continued:

    The only way for me to have the safe, gentle mother I wish I had, is to be a safe, gentle mother to others.

    Be to others that which I didn’t have, never will have. There are too many people in need for what I need.

    Be there for others: gentle, supportive, dependable, resilient.. kind.

    anita

    #428695
    anita
    Participant

    Continued, my story the way I never told it before, part 1:

    I was born into (at the time) an underdeveloped country, an area occupied by new, unsettled, and uneducated immigrants. The general attitude and understanding was that a child’s mental constitution was determined at birth, and/ or was a matter of the child’s independent choices, that is, choices independent of how the child was treated.

    How parents treated their children was considered a matter of no relevance to the child’s mental-emotional health. If a child was mentally unhealthy then it meant (according to this attitude) that the child was born that way. If the child (at any age) acted in generally dis-approvable ways, it meant that the child was bad (not sick), and needed to be punished (not helped).

    The dominant attitude was that a child was his/ her parents’ property to do with as they pleased- as long as bones weren’t broken and blood was not shed. People who witness any lesser forms of child abuse (forms that do not include visible, severe physical injury or death) did not interfere. Those who cared did not interfere because they didn’t want to get hurt in the crossfire;  be attacked by the angry parent. The mentality was that it is a parent’s Right to do with their child as they pleased, that it was no one’s business how they treated their child, as in saying: my child is for me to do with as I please; your child is for you to do with as you please!

    I have this particular memory that left a big impression on me: I was maybe a preteen, maybe a teenager, visiting a neighbors’ house, also visited by the neighbors’ relatives from the U.S. The American relative, a mother, felt the need to .. discipline her son. She did it inside the house while her sister and others (including me) sat or stood close to the door outside the house. What followed were blood churning screams of her preteen son. All you could hear were his screams and the sound of whatever it was that she used to hit him with, and that went on for a long time. At the end of it, the mother was done with the deed, everyone was quiet and no mention of it ever followed.

    Here is another scene: I was an older teenager (high school) and failed to be at home in the afternoon for the meal my mother prepared for me. Angry, she walked the 5-10 minutes to where I was, and walked me back home while calling me names, hitting, kicking and shoving me with her arms and legs. It was done on then street in broad daylight with people watching. No one interfered.

    I remember being inside the apartment where we lived, after dark, a thin wall shared with the next door neighbors, she was screaming and yelling at me (and hitting my face with her open hand, right to left, left to right), and I remember wondering: can’t the neighbors hear this?.. They heard and were silent, never a mention of it.

    But my mother went beyond what other adults in the neighborhood did: I remember the day she got angry with a music teacher in the primary school I attended (not following something that happened between her and the teacher, but following what someone said the teacher said). She walked up to the school- while it was in session- finding the correct classroom, and standing outside of it, she demanded that the teacher steps outside. She proceeded, for a long time, to scream and yell at the teacher, calling her names, threatening to beat her up (maybe she did, I don’t remember). All of the pupils including me (I was mortified), and school personnel stood there watching. No police was called. (I have no memory of there being a police force where I lived). When my mother was done, she walked back home.. and of all the children, I got to go home with… the crazy woman.

    Following the above, nothing happened. There was no follow up: no psychological counseling offered for me, or for my mother, or for anyone present in school that day. There was no mention of it, that I know of.

    Part 2 of my story will be next.

    anita

    #428696
    anita
    Participant

    Continued, part 2:

    When my mother was pregnant with me (and for years after), she suffered from an eating disorder, bulimia nervosa (she didn’t know the name for it, never diagnosed, of course, given the under-developed state of the area and most of the country as a whole). I remember her purposefully throwing up by inserting her hand into her throat.

    While pregnant with me, she gained very little weight, so little, that on delivery day (she told me about it), the hospital staff mistook her for a visitor. She didn’t look pregnant. What followed was a breech delivery of a small baby. Throughout primary and junior high school, I remained significantly smaller and developed later than all but one of my female peers.

    med. net. ca/ impact of maternal nutrition on fetal development: “Both nutrition and environment affect the ability and performance of the central nervous system. Maturation of the central nervous system is not linear. A decisive period of development represents a once-only window of opportunity that can neither be repeated nor reversed. The entire developmental period of the brain has subcritical periods, each of which may be disrupted and thereby affect the maturation and organization of the brain. Nutritional deprivation seems associated with varying degrees of intellectual disturbance such as cognitive impairments and attention deficit disorders“-

    -and indeed I suffered early on and still, to this very day, I suffer from significant degrees of intellectual disturbances, such as cognitive impairments and attention deficit disorders. One reason why I’ve enjoyed so much being an active, daily participant in these forums on tiny buddha, for so many years (since May 2015, with a 6-month pause of Feb- Aug 2023), is that because of the format here, I have all the time in the world to read and re-read, copy and paste, organize and re-organize the information on the computer screen, to look up definitions of words that I keep forgetting, and in so doing, I am able to learn/ to form connections in my brain that otherwise- in other formats (such as in having a conversation with a person in real-life)- I am not able to make.

    Here, in the context of these forums, I get to be.. smart, to feel the delight of being able to use my brain. But when sitting with people, hearing them talk- to me or to other people- so much is lost to me. I simply stop listening because I get lost. People say words that although I heard many times, the meaning of the words are lost to me. People connect two things that to me, are not connected.

    Words people say stay in isolation… words they say do not get connected in my brain, to other words they say, nor do the connect to memories of things I heard or read before.

    All through school, the way I’d study for a test (pre-computer) was to write and re-write for many, many hours. I’d then take the test, do okay (not great), and soon after the test, I’d forget the material. I remember in college, a certain professor, from the moment she started her lectures, to the moment she ended them, not a single word she said registered. The way I passed her class was to.. write and re-write and organize material from a book, then pass the test and.. forget the material.

    At different jobs that required attention, such as clerical work, I failed.

    I can spend hours and years in a room and not remember the color of the walls, or that there is a huge light fixture on the wall.. and once I pay attention, it’s like I see the room for the first time.. and then, I forget yet again.

    Figurative language is lost on me, can’t connect words people say to figurative meaning, and often, in regard to many words, I forget the literal meaning and have to look those words up.. again and again.

    If someone tries to show me how to do a task, I get very anxious, it’s so difficult for me to pay attention. I so prefer mindless, simple tasks. All this means that from the very beginning of my adulthood, and still, I am not qualified to do many, many jobs, and none that includes managing people and projects.

    Part 3 of my story will be next.

    anita

    #428697
    anita
    Participant

    Continued, part 3:

    I was a baby, under fed in her womb but force fed outside the womb. She told me that I refused to eat, and so, she’d close my nose with her fingers so that I’d open my mouth to breathe, an when I did, she pushed food into my mouth. One of my dominant tics these days, is to suddenly open my mouth and gasp for air.

    Sometime in the first year of my life, I suffered dysentery and very high fever, taken to a hospital dying, and placed there is an isolation ward to which my mother had no access. After weeks or months there, she was allowed to take me back. When she arrived to retrieve me, (she told me), that In turned away from her and held the nurse tightly.

    Continued on another day.

    anita

    #428788
    anita
    Participant

    Continued, part 4:

    I was a child, she washed me in the bathroom, scrubbing me, pressing her fingers deep into my scalp and rubbing it so hard that it hurt, pressing and massaging the soap deep into my head. I was an object to be cleaned, and cleaned hard. She didn’t trust that I could do a god job cleaning my.. (I was going to say my body, but it was not mine), so she cleaned it when I was 5, all the way to 15 or so. I don’t remember when it stopped. I clearly remember her entering the bathroom this one time when I was maybe 8, I was naked in the bathtub, and as she entered, I turned around quickly so that I was lying on my belly, so that she wouldn’t see my front. By the age of 15, she allowed me to wash some of “my” body, but insisted that she washes my back and my head (because she said I wouldn’t do a good job on my own). Every shower time, the shame of being seen by her naked, particularly post puberty, was INTENSE. I tried to hide myself with one hand or the other, but with very limited success. My shame was visible and audible, but she didn’t care. The cleaning job needed to be done, and that’s all that mattered to her. Every time, when it was over and I was in my pajamas, I felt a relief.. finally it was over. Until the next time.

    My life with my mother was a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. It was a nightmare in so many ways, and in so many contexts. I can feel it, the nightmarish factor right now, as I type. It feels like a pressure in my head. I can feel her big hands, big fingers digging into my sore scalp.. so hard, is she trying to hurt me..?

    To be continued.

    anita

    #428911
    anita
    Participant

    Continued, part 5:

    Words I said, if they sounded wrong in her mind, if they sounded inexact, if there was something missing in what I said, or not in the right order, or something was not elaborated on, something not in its complete form, one that covers all possibilities, she (my mother-monster) EXPLODED, accusing me (in her Paranoid Personality Disordered state of mind, PPD) of trying to deceive her, to fool her, to make her look stupid, to hurt her feelings, to humiliate her.

    And her response: to fight back against her perceived offender (me), to strike back, to protest abuse, to defend herself from the supposed abuser, and give me hell, which she did.

    I remember one time, at home, I was maybe 7, maybe 10, a cousin of similar age was with me, her mother (an aunt , and a neighbor, a woman. In that scenario, I said.. the wrong thing to the cousin, according to my mother, I had no idea it could’ve been perceived to be an offensive, no idea, no intention to offend, none, and objectively, it was nothing offensive. Her response: she EXPLODED. The aunt and neighbor stood on both sides of my mother-monster, one on each side, each holding one of her arms so to prevent her from running (the short distance) to me so to.. give me what she believed I deserved. As they held her from each side and tried to calm her, my mother-monster struggled, trying to physically free herself so to get to me, threatening: “I WILL KILL HER!”

    Imagine a grown up, strong woman so passionate about getting to me, a small child, not so to love me, to protect me, but to hurt me.. to kill me.

    I don’t remember what happened next any more than I remember what happened after her explosion at school, after she confronted the music teacher (told about in a previous post). I know she didn’t kill me (I am typing these words decades later), and I know that no one took me to their home. They left me with my mother-monster, alone.

    This was an ongoing theme in private and in public: I said something wrong, or.. I didn’t say anything at all when she thought I should have said, and.. she EXPLODED at me.

    All of my life, I’ve been mostly quiet around other people, saying nothing at all, much of the time. But I was extra careful about the words that constituted my thoughts, feeling anxious whenever my thought didn’t sound complete, whenever my thoughts didn’t address all possibilities of being misinterpreted or misunderstood, ANXIOUS about my thoughts leading to some catastrophically explosive reaction of some kind..

    To be continued.

    anita

    #428919
    SadSoul
    Participant

    It must have been a thing back then that people stayed out of other’s business even when it was terrible. Your mother is a piece. I have no words. I’m horrified.

    I have noticed if I replace minutes or hours in my day with activities that create other emotions, I am not generally feeling anxiety or as strong anxiety as I feel when there’s nothing distracting me from it. The coyote distracted you from all other emotions! Not suggesting you had butt coyotes regularly as a diversion! However, the more time spent focused on something else the less time spent feeling intense anxiety.

    All emotions stem from chemical releases the body creates when the brain reacts to a situation and signals the appropriate chemical release in response. If we’re constantly flooded with flight fight chemicals our body gets good at releasing more of them in a vicious cycle. A childhood filled with fear teaches the brain to be on high alert all the time. It doesn’t know how to relax and signal the body to create nice chemical releases.

    We can actively turn it around, but it takes a very long time, and a great deal of commitment with only very small improvements that sometimes aren’t very obvious. It’s disheartening to push yourself to do something to create a space where you’re feeling something different, only to find the anxiety to creeps in, or the different emotion you’re feeling is so blah it doesn’t feel like you’ve achieved.

    I went through a dreadful time a few years back, and I made myself go walking a lot, because while walking although my brain did wander to the things I was suffering from, it also had to focus on where I put my feet so I didn’t turn an ankle or fall. I had to navigate the world. And during those moments a slice of my agony pie was replaced with other things. I figured practise makes perfect; if I’m handed an agony pie each day I might as well replace little slices of it with something else, even if that something is mundane.

    After a few too many years there are moments of sunshine in my life. I laughed the other day. True laughter. I hadn’t laughed in years!

    #429024
    anita
    Participant

    Dear  SadSoul:

    As I read your reply, at a couple of points,  I thought I was reading my own words. I was impressed overall by your understanding. (Also, it’s nice to read that someone read through my thread, and that someone- you-  was kind enough to let me know they’re reading).

    Your mother is a piece. I have no words. I’m horrified“- horrified I am, and I am purposefully using the present tense. It was only yesterday, following some interaction with people irl, that I became aware that the child within me is still that same horrified child, looking for someone to save her. In her mind (my brain, which unlike skin cells, doesn’t shed over time), it is all still happening, present tense. She is still looking for, hoping for a way out, someone to take me into their big arms and protect me, care for me.. to feel safe in their pure, no-strings-attached embrace (ahh.. how does it feel?)

    The coyote distracted you from all other emotions!“- I never thought about it this way, but true: the here-and-now distracted me from the repeat of the there-and-then.

    (This is the principle behind Mindfulness as a therapeutic tool and practice).

    Fear about clear-and-present danger replaced my Anxiety, for a short while.

    Not suggesting you had butt coyotes regularly as a diversion!“- haha aka lol.

    All emotions stem from chemical releases the body creates… If we’re constantly flooded with flight fight chemicals our body gets good at releasing more of them in a vicious cycle. A childhood filled with fear teaches the brain to be on high alert all the time. It doesn’t know how to relax and signal the body to create nice chemical releases“- said so well, couldn’t say it better.

    Just now, a few seconds ago, as I typed “couldn’t say it better”, I heard my mother-monster’s voice being upset by these 3 words. I don’t remember her criticism, it passed through my brain so quickly, but it resulted in fear: SadSoul will be upset with me, she will be angry!

    What did I hear her say, in my mind’s ear.. I am trying to remember.. I think I heard her say: who do you think you are??? Of course, you couldn’t have said it better.. do you think you are this much of a person that you could have said it better? You piece of ****, you nothing of a person, keep your head down, this is where you belong, down and under!

    We can actively turn it around, but it takes a very long time, and a great deal of commitment with only very small improvements that sometimes aren’t very obvious“- said so perfectly. So, here I am afraid, afraid of you, SadSoul, a person who never hurt me, afraid of you because she has hurt me.

    I went through a dreadful time a few years back, and I made myself go walking a lot, because while walking although my brain did wander to the things I was suffering from, it also had to focus on where I put my feet… And during those moments a slice of my agony pie was replaced with other things“- agony pie, what a unique, original wording. Again, it’s the Mindfulness principle, focusing on the here-and-now, and in so doing, distracting oneself from the anxiety that’s about the there-and-then being on repeat.

    After a few too many years there are moments of sunshine in my life. I laughed the other day. True laughter. I hadn’t laughed in years!“- this is making me smile, I wonder if you laughed since..?

    anita

    #430174
    SadSoul
    Participant

    First off I accidentally refreshed the page and lost all the words I’d done grrrrrrrrrrr!

    She is still looking for, hoping for a way out, someone to take me into their big arms and protect me, care for me.. to feel safe in their pure, no-strings-attached embrace (ahh.. how does it feel?)

    I don’t really know how that feels.  I’ve read a bit about loving one’s self but that doesn’t happen for me.  I’ll settle for feeling strongly about the things that are good about myself.  It’s an emotion that generally is in a person because they were bonded with their mother figure (that could be a male also) when a baby or small child.  Can’t really go back, can we?

    “Not suggesting you had butt coyotes regularly as a diversion!“ haha aka lol.

    You could take up an extreme and life threatening sport to fill in the anxiety gaps lolll!

    SadSoul will be upset with me, she will be angry!

    Don’t ever worry about me being angry.  I don’t get angry very often.  It’s an emotion I haven’t been able to feel.  It protects us, causes us to react to a situation in an active way to stop it from hurting us.  Not being allowed to protect myself from the parentals / relatives / etc while growing up might be why I don’t feel that emotion.

    “We can actively turn it around, but it takes a very long time, and a great deal of commitment with only very small improvements that sometimes aren’t very obvious“said so perfectly. So, here I am afraid, afraid of you, SadSoul, a person who never hurt me, afraid of you because she has hurt me.

    In time I think you’ll move past being afraid, just have to spend time experiencing, and your fears will fade as time proves you don’t need to protect yourself.  Being afraid is a protective emotion.

    agony pie, what a unique, original wording. Again, it’s the Mindfulness principle, focusing on the here-and-now, and in so doing, distracting oneself from the anxiety that’s about the there-and-then being on repeat.

    I also watched every single season of Pretty Little Liars.  I hated it so much.  It made me angry hahahahahaha!!!  Not really.  Okay it annoyed me immensely.  But I watched it because it was better than the awful emotional state I was in, it was a distraction I could give myself, so I did.

    this is making me smile, I wonder if you laughed since..?

    No laughs since but have felt like there is a ray of sunshine in most days.  So much improve on where I was at a month ago.  Have you laughed?  Or smiled?

    I think it helps to have some kind of contact with people.  To share our experiences gives a feeling of understanding.  It creates value in us?  It does for me anyway.  I’ll go and imagine your day filled with walking down coyote strewn by-ways, boldly frightening bears back to their porridge, taking your basket of cake to grandma!  No wolfie will trick you into picking flowers!

    #430226
    anita
    Participant

    Dear SadSoul:

    I wrote: “to feel safe in their pure, no-strings-attached embrace (ahh.. how does it feel?)”, and you responded: “I don’t really know how that feels… It’s an emotion that generally is in a person because they were bonded with their mother figure (that could be a male also) when a baby or small child.  Can’t really go back, can we?“- the problem, as I see it, is that we, those of us not knowing how it feels (I’ll speak for myself here): it’s not that I moved forward and can’t go back, it’s that the biggest part of me is back there, back there and then, waiting for that embrace, so that I can move forward.

    I am moving forward these days, and this is the purpose of my thread.

    You could take up an extreme and life threatening sport to fill in the anxiety gaps lolll!“- I bet that this is what those involved in such sports are getting out of it. Watching scary movies served me this way, for years. Don’t do that anymore.

    Don’t ever worry about me being angry.  I don’t get angry very often.  It’s an emotion I haven’t been able to feel…  Not being allowed to protect myself from the parentals / relatives / etc. while growing up might be why I don’t feel that emotion… I also watched every single season of Pretty Little Liars.  I hated it so much.  It made me angry“- I was punished by my mother for my anger at her, but I felt it nonetheless, intensely, regularly, I looked at her with anger (as a teenager), wanting her to see it. It was the only strength I had, to look at her angrily.

    In time I think you’ll move past being afraid, just have to spend time experiencing, and your fears will fade as time proves you don’t need to protect yourself“- amen.

    No laughs since but have felt like there is a ray of sunshine in most days.  So much improve on where I was at a month ago.  Have you laughed?  Or smiled?“- a bit, earlier today, and now that I remember it, when I made a choice that was more intelligent than I was able to make before.

    I think it helps to have some kind of contact with people.  To share our experiences gives a feeling of understanding.  It creates value in us?  It does for me anyway“- yes. Yesterday, on my walk, there were a few vehicles passing the private roads where I walk, and the custom is to wave at each other: the driver waves at me, I wave at the driver. As that happened, I was aware of a feeling of elation, and it occurred to me right there and there, that it must be what dogs feel when they greet each other, wagging their tails.

    I’ll go and imagine your day filled with walking down coyote strewn by-ways, boldly frightening bears back to their porridge, taking your basket of cake to grandma!  No wolfie will trick you into picking flowers!“- haha. Unfortunately, I heard reports that WOLVES are roaming around the area, didn’t hear them yet, but the thought of being confronted by wolves is.. well, it’d require more than bear spray!

    anita

    #430231
    anita
    Participant

    Continued:

    She was so nice to others, and so angry at me. I can still feel the envy burning within me, wanting what they had that I didn’t have: her niceness, her being oh, so very nice. Her softness, her approval, her praise, her efforts to please: they had it. To her, other people mattered, I didn’t. All the many hours I watched her trying so hard to please others, to flatter them, being oh, so kind.

    I wanted what they had, her (what appeared to be) love. In their presence, it appeared to be love, outside their presence, she complained to me about them. But what did I know: it appeared like love and I WANTED THAT.

    The gap between her words to others (you are the BEST), and her words to me (you are the WORST).

    Oh, why mother, why, why couldn’t you, wouldn’t you love me, ME, why not ME?

    The rage, the envy.

    LOOK AT ME, do you see anything at all that.. you’d be okay with liking, loving.. something, anything?

    I remembered only recently, a couple of years ago, maybe, that she looked at me intently (only me and her there, in the small living room), she looked at me, then she let go of a few shaming words, really intensely shaming words, planned for best (worst) impact. She said those words and then she paused, waiting for the effect to take hold in me, waiting to see me hurt, ashamed.. waiting, and then, I saw that mild smile on her face, as in mission accomplished, a successful hit. The shame must have shown on my face.

    That was when I was a teenager. Fast forward more than 30 years, the last time I saw her, she looked at me across the same small living room, there were other people there, guests, she looked at me with hate, a wanting to see me hurt, but not having the opportunity (being that there were guests there) to make me hurt. Oh, how deprived she was, my poor mother.

    I am not being cynical (or sarcastic, whatever the word is) in typing what I just typed above: part of me feels sorry for her for not being able to express what she felt, having to hold it in.

    To love someone who hates you…

    I wouldn’t be able to type all this if it wasn’t for the red wine I just consumed.. I must confess.

    anita

    #430235
    SadSoul
    Participant

    I will reply when I turn my computer on. But. As usual. I’m about to rush again after a sneaky phone moment.

    #430237
    anita
    Participant

    Dear SadSoul: “a sneaky phone moment“- sounds naughty. Reply whenever you are willing and able, no rush!

    anita

     

    #430302
    anita
    Participant

    March 28, 2024                                             S P E C I A L     M E S S A G E:

    Dear Reader/ Participant:

    I was thinking on my walk today (no coyotes, no bears, no mountain lions today) about improving this thread. When I chose the title of this thread, I was hoping that people typing “anxiety”, or “healing from anxiety”, etc., into their search engines, may come across this thread, and participate in it. But that didn’t happen since I started this thread on March 2, 26 days ago.

    And so, I was thinking why that may be. One reason I figured, is that people may be afraid of other people leaving judgmental comments about very personal stories shared. I myself feared that. For example, if I received a comment saying that I am a bad daughter for complaining about my mother, I’d be upset.

    I remember when I used to attend support groups like codependent anonymous, the rule was that each participant would share using “I, Me, and My statements“, that is, share about one own’s experience and not comment on others’ shares (not using you, and your statements). The goal was to prevent cross talk, judgments, misunderstandings and conflict, in other words: to create a safe space for people to share their personal, often painful stories.

    So, I decided today to adopt the I, Me and My Statements here, in this thread.

    Dear Participant (if there are to be any):

    Please use this thread to share about your personal experience with Fear, Anxiety and Healing, and please do not comment on other members’ shares, so that this thread is a safe space for you and for other members.

    If you submit a post in this thread, I will read it attentively, and it is likely to help me in my healing process,  but I will not comment at all about what you share. I hope that reading my posts/ other members’ posts, will help you in your healing process, while you too do not comment on my, or other members’ posts

    To members who will  post later in this thread commenting on other members’ posts (not being aware of this message),  I will submit these words: “Please see March 28, 2024  Special Message on page 2. Thank you“.

    anita

     

    #430306
    SadSoul
    Participant

    there were other people there, guests, she looked at me with hate, a wanting to see me hurt, but not having the opportunity (being that there were guests there) to make me hurt. Oh, how deprived she was, my poor mother.

    I am not being cynical (or sarcastic, whatever the word is) in typing what I just typed above: part of me feels sorry for her for not being able to express what she felt, having to hold it in.

    To love someone who hates you…

    Your mother was not poor, she was nothing to feel any sympathy towards whatever, just a horror. I relate to loving mine. I’ve never asked myself if she loved me though. My awareness was how much she said and did things that hurt me, that she thought of me as the lowest of the low, and no matter how hard I tried I never made the grade. Like yours she had her public persona. I loved it when people visited because her mood was nice. She ignored me, but I didn’t notice that, I just felt better when people visited so I wanted them to visit more.

    Sorry I’ve not exactly adhered to the above. I should have said this prior to it. I’m not exactly good at not responding. And I really wanted you to know your mother sucks.

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