If I wasn’t right in the middle of the most psychologically and mentally challenging stretch of my adult life, it would be pretty amazing, I think. In fact, maybe one day, even one day soon, I might be able to bask in the success I’ve achieved here.
But right now I’m just trying not to drown and there doesn’t seem to be a lot to celebrate.
During all of the horrific things that happened to me while I was growing up, my brain was scrambling to just keep me alive and functioning. I wasn’t thinking about a healthy life and certainly wasn’t thinking about happiness; I was focused on survival and whatever it took to make that happen.
There were two major things my brain did…on its own with no conscious thought—just to protect myself from the horror I was experiencing. The first was to forget most of everything that happened to me. But not just the bad stuff; I forgot classmates, teachers, events, camp, games, etc. Because I was living in such intense fear, there was no moment I was safe so my brain never recorded so much of my life growing up. The problem is even though the horror is actually over, my brain doesn’t really understand that and still forgets so much of what I experience in this world in the present. I remember more now that I ever have of things that happen to me, but I still forget more than I’d like.
The second thing my brain did was to recreate a fantasy of my childhood as it was happening. After my grandfather abused me, I told myself we had a special relationship, that I was important to him. When my mother abused me, I did the same thing, recreating a life where my mother was special and loved me and cared about me and was good to me–even though the truth couldn’t be farther away from the reality of my childhood. Because if I was actually aware of what was happening to me, I most likely would’ve ended up in a psychiatric hospital or would’ve killed myself. Instead, I created a fantasy, a powerful firewall, standing between me and all of the utterly horrific things I was experiencing.
Between not remembering and recreating this fantasy, this facade of my childhood to hold back the hundreds of terrible memories, the 6,785 days of terror I experienced, it was really difficult for me to realize what had gone wrong. In fact, even once I finally knew something was extraordinarily wrong with what happened to me, I still believed my mother was good and special and loved me.
Until just a few weeks ago when I realized with a horrible shock that by the time I was nine years old, I had been abused by my mother and grandfather and probably a baby sitter. My mother was already screaming at me for reasons I could never understand or she was withdrawing her love from me for whatever she felt I had done wrong.
I also began to delve into the personality disorders my mother has, Narcissistic as well as Borderline Personality Disorders. My mother was pretty fucked up and wasn’t capable of being a good person. She was incapable of loving me. She was quite a cruel and heartless person who never really was concerned with my needs.
By realizing these two major things, the fantasy of my mother being a good person finally seemed to crack in a profound way. There are still remnants left, but it can no longer hold back all of what I went through as a child.
Unfortunately, it means I am experiencing a tsunami of the worst emotions I could possibly imagine experiencing; the pain of being hurt by her almost every day, the loss of having a childhood, of having parents who cared and protected me, the utter isolation of when she would withdraw her love for me, the terror of her screaming at me for no perceivable reason, the abhorrence of being sexually abused by my own mother and grandfather, being molested by a baby sitter and raped by a camp counselor. 6,785 days of pure terror, of some of the worst things you could possibly imagine happening to someone, all flooding me now all at once with the breaking down of the fantasy and facade of my mother and childhood.
It is too much for one man to bear all at the same time.
But I’m trying my best to get through it, to survive it all over again, so that when I come out on the other side, I will be free from fear, free from the constraints of my childhood. It will never stop hurting me, but it may stop controlling me.