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Scared of Becoming What Hurt You

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This topic contains 30 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  anita 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #295337

    Jenna
    Participant

    There are some things that I’ve been through during my childhood, that I am pretty sure have me going through the same cycle. I don’t want to be dramatic about it because I know people have gone through so much worse. The people that have hurt me are human and make mistakes, I don’t want to make excuses for any of my poor decisions in life. I want to get some feedback from others, to see if these things could have something to do with my low self esteem and poor decision making. I need to get over this, it shouldn’t be effecting me in my 30’s.. I hate to be such a victim about the situations, but unfortunately they really effected me.

    When I was little from 4-7 I went to a home daycare. The woman who “watched me”, I know now was addicted to pain pills. Most days she would lock herself in her room all day. She could be very loving or the coldest. It’s crazy, I remember I would wait until a certain time in the afternoon when I knew she was in a happy mood (probably when she took her pills)and I would tell her I loved her. I remember knowing if I said this to her at this time during the day she would respond in a loving way. She would say she loved me too and give me a hug. I remember feeling warm and complete when I got affection from her. For the most part she was an awful care giver. One day me and her daughter were playing in the little pool in the back yard..unattended of course. I went down the little slide on the plastic pool and my toe got stuck in the crack. It was really bad.. it needed stitches. She heard me crying from her room and yelled out the window to calm down. She never came to check on me or bandage it.
    I walked around with it bleeding all day. I know it was morning because I remember it like it was yesterday. — About 10 minutes before my mother picked me up for the day she cleaned and bandaged me up. I could never tell my mother how awful she was because for one -they were friends and for some reason I thought my mother would be mad at me. My younger sister went there too and she was a baby at the time, it makes me ill to think of all the awful things that could have happened to my sister while she wasn’t watching us.

    I have been to therapy, I’m always asked about my father who was (he passed away a few years ago) an alcoholic. He was emotionally detached but I always knew he loved me. He went to work and took care of his family the best he was able.

    My mother was abused as a child and suffered from major depression. She is very loud and opinionated, very hard to handle at times because she can be very defensive. I know she tried the best she could but her emotions are very heavy. If shes upset, I feel like I cant handle life. I base a lot of my ‘ok’ness on her. We had a little sign in the kitchen growing up “If mama aint happy, aint nobody happy” and that has carried on my entire life. It got much worse after my father died.

    I think my problem now is being a parent myself. It gives me such anxiety because I know none of these caregivers intentionally hurt me, am I going to hurt my own children emotionally..unintentionally?

    I really try my best to make sure they know they are loved and appreciated. There are days when I’m tired, I have 3 kids. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is be touched. And these little people deserve so much love and affection. I hug them all the time but if I’m being honest it makes me feel bad. Gives me a surge of anxiety every time they reach to hug me. Sometimes I just feel like I have nothing left to give. Every day I try to give my children the best I have, I just worry it’s not good enough and one day my insecurities will rub off on them. I am a complete nutcase …

    #295341

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jenna:

    Good to read from you again.

    “I don’t want to be dramatic”- you are not, haven’t been.

    “The people that have hurt me are human and make mistakes”. Yes, we all make mistakes, everyone does. But how many people try to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others, so to not repeat?

    For example, when your caregiver found out eventually that your foot was injured in the pool, unattended, did she resolve to not let it happen again by supervising you and your younger sister, or at the least building a foreclosure around the pool so that you and your sister wouldn’t be able to get to the pool every day after your injury?

    -if she didn’t correct, it is no longer a mistake, it is … well, criminal neglect.

    It is not about making mistakes that makes a person good or bad, in your example with the caretaker, it is about a person not being alarmed by witnessing an injury to a child caused by their mistake and not resolving to correct that mistake immediately.

    There is a whole lot more to your original post but I want to stop here and read your  input, if you want to provide it. And if you want, we can continue to communicate about what you wrote. I think other members will respond to you as well.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 4 months ago by  anita.
    #295351

    Jenna
    Participant

    Thank you, Anita for the response. That makes sense and makes me feel so much better when you put it like that… NO she continued to neglect us all. However, she was much nicer to her daughter, I remember being very jealous.

    “It is not about making mistakes that makes a person good or bad, in your example with the caretaker, it is about a person not being alarmed by witnessing an injury to a child caused by their mistake and not resolving to correct that mistake immediately.”

    You always make so much sense and I love getting your feedback. It means so much you taking the time to offer guidance.

    #295355

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jenna:

    You are very welcome. Like I wrote to you, there is a lot in your original post. Here is one little thing: you wrote that you didn’t tell your mother about the caretaker, “for some reason I thought my mother would be mad at me”-

    – this is because young children automatically feel guilty for whatever an adult does wrong, taking responsibility to what the adult does wrong. It is amazing, isn’t it? Meaning, you can see now that it was the caretaker’s fault not supervising you at the pool and having “continued to neglect us all” after you got injured, but as a child, when your foot got injured you felt it was your fault. So you were afraid your mother will be angry at you for doing something wrong.

    If it is okay with you, I would like to come back to your thread later, probably tomorrow and continue to point out this and that, as well as read your future posts on this amazing thread.

    anita

    #295359

    Jenna
    Participant

    Anita,

    That’s absolutely right- about children taking on guilt for the adults mistake. That’s exactly what I did..

    Take your time, I look forward to hear more from you- always a pleasure to read your replies:)

     

    Jenna

    #295363

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jenna:

    You are welcome. I may be back to the computer later for a very short response to  this or that thread, but will be back to yours at length tomorrow morning which is in about 17 hours from now.

    anita

    #295445

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jenna:

    You wrote in your recent post: “children taking on guilt for the adults mistake. That’s exactly what I did”- it is because a child sees an adult caretaker as perfect, all knowing, all good. So when an injury happens, physically like your foot injured, or emotional, the child feels hurt, sad, what the child does is figure she herself did something wrong, she must be bad. Because the parent/ caretaker cannot be bad, only good, like a god, all knowing, all powerful, all good.

    You wrote earlier about your children: “Sometimes the last thing I want to do is being touched…I hug them all the time but if I’m being honest it makes me feel bad. Gives me a surge of anxiety every time they reach to hug me”- can you tell me about that anxiety when they reach to hug you, the anxiety you feel when they touch you, what thoughts go through your mind when that happens?

    anita

     

    #295559

    Jenna
    Participant

    Anita,

    Thanks so much for getting back. When they come for affection my arms feel really heavy ..my chest tightens and I want it to end as soon as it begins. I hate even admitting that. It reminds me that they deserve more. I tell myself “they are in need of more” . I say “I’m not fit for this position” — But every day I try my best because I know they are better with me than without. I give enough good/positive to out weigh my awkward hug giving. I just want to do better and feel good doing it.

    When I go to them to give them hugs- I have to tell myself, they need a hug..this is my job. But I feel awful for the awful feeling ..if that makes any sense. I wish it was a natural thing for me to give. I can give affection through words…that part comes pretty easy.

     

    Jenna

    #295567

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jenna:

    You are welcome. First thing to hold in mind is that you are not responsible for what you feel, that it is not a matter of your choosing. If it was a matter of choice, you would be choosing to love hugging your children, for a long time, however long they need. If feelings were a matter of choice… no one would be miserable, fearful or depressed, and everyone would be happy, all the time.

    We don’t choose our feeling, they just happen, spontaneous chemical processes in our brains and bodies.

    When you hug your children or accept their hugs, take a deep breath and calm yourself best you can. Say to yourself, I don’t choose how I feel. It is okay for me to feel however I feel. But I will still allow them to hug me at some times during the day, when they need it, I will hug them as calmly as I can and it is okay if I feel uncomfortable or numb when I hug them.

    Are you aware of why you feel uncomfortable being touched, when you started feeling this way?

    anita

     

    #295623

    Jenna
    Participant

    Anita,

    You just lifted so much guilt I’ve been carrying around. I am not responsible for my feelings. Well, that just made life a lot simpler, it’s like you turned a light on!  I’ve always known its ok to feel mad..sad..anxious, just acknowledge it and let it pass.

    Now I’m realizing I was only doing that with a some of my feelings..the ones I decided were ok to feel. That is really going to help me moving forward.

    So, not responsible for my feelings, only responsible for my actions. That also helps me in dealing with my mother because I get so stressed when she’s upset or angry. If I’m not responsible for my own feelings, I most certainly can’t attempt to control hers. I am always trying to find ways to make her feel better and get upset with myself when I can’t. So much weight lifted..

    As far as when I started being uncomfortable with  touch, I’m not quite sure. My parent weren’t really affectionate. The only time I remember getting a hug is if I did something wrong and my mother, after feeling bad for overreacting apologized for yelling and hugged me- I know I had good feeling when she hugged me at that time. But the feeling I get now.. the anxiety started probably after my father died. I never remember it being like this.. I remember hugging my 2 older children a lot as babies and toddlers and having no problems. I was 6 months pregnant with my 3rd child when my father suddenly died. Yikes, I never really put that together!

    #295643

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jenna:

    You are not responsible for any and all of your feelings, this is true to everyone. None of our feelings make us good or bad people, it is what we choose to do that is good or bad to ourselves and to others.

    “I get so stressed when (your mother’s) upset or angry… I am always trying to find ways to make her feel better and get upset with myself when I can’t”- this is what children do, automatically taking responsibility for a parent’s ongoing anger, sadness, worry.. any kind of distress. This false responsibility is a terrible burden for a child to carry and it doesn’t disappear when the child is 18, or 28 or 78, unless we correct what we believed for so long.

    This burden lowers one’s function in every part of life, including parenting. It is like carrying a heavy load on your back wherever you walk, everything you attempt to do is more difficult because of that heavy load.

    “The only time I remember getting a hug is if I did something wrong and my mother, after feeling bad for overreacting apologized for yelling and hugged me”-

    – can you tell me how she overreacted, what did she say and do when overreacting?

    You wrote earlier about your father: “He was emotionally detached but I always knew he loved me”- can you tell me how you knew that he loved you, anything he said or did… (or was it what he didn’t do)?

    anita

     

     

    #295709

    Jenna
    Participant

    Anita,

    Gosh, you help me to understand things so much better! I still feel like a child when I deal with my mother. SO it really makes sense when you said it doesn’t disappear when you reach adulthood.

    When I was a young child, she never beat me. But I was scared of her when she was angry. She yelled and screamed when she was mad. I can remember her cleaning my room when I was probably 7 or so. She was screaming and throwing things around the room, telling me I was a slob, “you never take care of your things” It was like she hated me. I remember her telling me to get under the bed and clean it. I can’t remember all the details but I remember just laying there and crying. She could be a terror, it was the yelling and the way she looked at me with her eyes, like I was the worst child in the world. It didn’t last for 10 minutes, it lasted for hours. Then, she’d tell me to leave because she couldn’t look at me and she would do it herself and she did. At the end of the fight, when she was calm, she hugged me and told me she was sorry, said something funny to make me laugh and that would be it. This would happen every once in a while, every couple of months. It would feel like I ran a marathon after those episodes. I can’t imagine acting like that to my children, or being mad at them that long. When im upset with my kids, I tell them, we talk about it and it’s over. It’s nuts when I look back on all of that.

    With my father, I  knew he loved me because he made sure I always had what I needed. He wasn’t a hugger..and didn’t say I love you much but he was there. He had an odd way of showing affection.. he would joke around a lot. He never yelled at me like my mother. I don’t remember him ever scolding me. He would come to all my softball games as a teenager, played catch with me. He always seemed proud of me. He smiled a lot. If I was upset he’d always tell me everything was ok. He always made me feel safe.

    #295739

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jenna:

    “She yelled and screamed… I was probably 7 or so. She was screaming and throwing things around the room, telling me I was a slob… It was like she hated me… It was the yelling and the way she looked at me with her eyes, like I was the worst child in the world… it lasted for hours… At the end of the fight, when she was calm, she hugged me and told me she was sorry, said something funny to make me laugh and that would be it. This would happen.. every couple of months. It would feel like I ran a marathon after those episodes”.

    I share your childhood experience, those episodes, I experienced them too, hours per episode, repeated over my first two decades (into my early twenties). When my mother was done she was very quiet, for hours, a whole night, the next day.. slowly, after a few days she was back to normal until the next time.

    My input on what I quoted above (and I do hope it is not too difficult for you to read and consider):

    1. Violence, aggression scares children. Yelling, screaming and/ or throwing things around is aggression. A child feels in danger when she witnesses aggression, even when it is not directed at her.

    2. “It was like she hated me”- she did hate you during the episodes, you were able to see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice and in the content of what she said to you during the episodes.

    3. “like I was the worst child in the world”- for a child, a parent is like her mirror. The child believes she is what she sees in that mirror. When your mother looked at you angrily, disapprovingly, you believed that you were a bad child. The Parent is God for a young child, so when God is angry, her human subject is guilty, bad.

    4. “At the end of the fight”- it was a one-woman fight, the aggression was all hers. You didn’t fight her, you were “just laying there and crying”.

    5. “it lasted for hours… It would feel like I ran a marathon after those episodes”- for hours very distressing chemicals were released into your brain and body. The purpose of those chemicals was to motivate you to run away from danger (the Flight Response) or to fight the danger (the Fight Response). It is very tiring for the body to be prepared-for-hours,  for a flight that doesn’t happen, for a fight that doesn’t happen. When an animal runs from danger and gets away, once in safety, it feels very tired and rests for a long time. But staying in the dangerous situation, there is no resting, not for hours.

    You wrote in an earlier post regarding your mother: “I get so stressed when she’s upset or angry”- these are those chemicals causing the stress in the unactualized Flight or Fight. This kind of stress doesn’t happen to the child only during the episodes, but in between, whenever the child imagines her mother might be angry. This alertness in between the episodes is exhausting.

    And then, away from your mother, as an adult, these chemicals still get released often and it is tiring.

    5. “she hugged me and told me she was sorry, said something funny to make me laugh”- it doesn’t undo what happened, especially because you already learned that she repeated those episodes after the short make up sessions.

    Your father, he was your safety because he wasn’t dangerous: “He never yelled at me like my mother. I don’t remember him ever scolding me”, and in addition to not being dangerous, he was nice to you at times: “he would joke around a lot… come to all my softball games.. played catch with me. He always seemed proud of me. He smiled a lot.. he’d always tell me everything was ok. He always made me feel safe”.

    When you wrote earlier regarding your children, “When they come for affection my arms feel really heavy.. my chest tightens and I want it to end as soon as possible”- this is the safe Flight/Fight Response I mentioned earlier, the same feeling you had as a child during an episode, this is how it felt then. You want to end the hug as soon as possible so to no longer feel that stress. We can talk about this point further later, if you want.

    anita

     

     

     

    #296017

    Jenna
    Participant

    Anita,

    My brain has been on overload since your last reply. When I was young, I had the flight response with my mother and as I got older..teen through older twenties, I would fight back. In my teens I was addicted to pain pills in my early twenties. After I got sober I decided I would deal with the stress on my own,  I didn’t want to negatively effect other people with my poor choices. I became submissive with her.. I say that word because now it’s the only word that seems to fit. I  agree with her at all times in order to be accepted by her. Like, I said she’s very opinionated. She has always been very loud about her likes and dislikes. If you don’t agree she takes it very personally. I get by with a lot of smile and nodding. I don’t want to live like that anymore.

    Its very sick, now that I think about it. Her love is conditional- ‘agree with me- accept my treatment or your not worthy’. I am looking into therapy again. I want to make sure I do all I can to raise healthy children, physically and mentally. I feel I have a good place to start now. Thank you so much for the time you’ve taken to write me.
    You have no idea how much you’ve helped me. It feels like a veil has been lifted. I am so sorry you had to go through the same type of treatment. How did you heal? (If you don’t mind me asking)

    Jenna

     

    #296023

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jenna:

    I don’t mind you asking and I will answer you and respond to your recent, fascinating post in the morning, about 11 hours from now.

    anita

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