A Night Full of Nightmares

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Last night I had a bunch of nightmares. In fact, I woke up feeling like that was all I did all night – face some of my darkest fears. These nightmares didn’t feature vampires, ghosts, ax murderers, clowns, or spiders…they featured the person I love the most in the world, my husband.

In these dreams my husband turned cruel and cold. He stopped caring about me. He wanted to leave me or even kill me. The betrayals started small in the dreams, with him choosing friends over me and simply being uncaring and dismissive of my feelings, but they accelerated as the dreams went on and turned to him expressing extreme hatred towards me and even trying to stage an “accident” to get rid of me.

Let me say that these dreams ARE NOT representative of my husband’s treatment of me. We have been together 15 years and he has been wonderful. Caring, patient, understanding, loving, forgiving….all of these are adjectives that fit him perfectly. He always puts me first before anyone else, often, even before himself.

So why the bad dreams? My guess is PTSD. When you grow up in an unstable environment with mentally ill, abusive, and selfish people who often put their own desires before your needs, it fucks you up for life. You always feel unworthy. You always feel like the rug of security can be pulled out from beneath your feet at any time. You feel like you don’t deserve good things, and if you do happen to get love and affection, you are suspicious and paranoid about it. How I wish I could just forget the past.

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Does Any of It Matter?

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Do you ever wonder if it all matters? I sure do. I try to be positive most of the time when I think about the things I do and whether they make a difference, but when I get depressed, the voices of doubt tend to get louder. They say some pretty mean things:

Are you just wasting your time writing and making art? Who really cares?

Why would anyone care what you have to say? Who do you think you are?

You try to support others, but do they even notice? Does it even help them?

You only focus so much on art and writing because you can’t keep a REAL job. 

Your own family never cared that much about you, why would anyone else?

If you died today, barely anyone would notice or care. Your funeral would be empty. 

You are selfish and everyone sees through you. 

You are a drain on your husband and society in general. 

I know these are very negative (some would even say abusive) thoughts, but when I am feeling low, they play in my head like a stuck record. By writing them out, I am hoping they will finally shut the hell up. Do any of these thoughts (or similar ones) ever haunt you?

 

My Mother Helped a Guy to Stalk Me

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Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of resentment and anger towards my mother. To explain why, let me share a specific incident that kind of illustrates why I am upset.

When I was 14/15, my mother worked with a guy named Danny who met me and developed a huge crush on me. He was in his late teens or early twenties, but was definitely an adult already. I DID NOT share his romantic interest and made that plain. I had absolutely no interest in dating him or getting to know him better. He bought me an expensive bracelet as a gift, which I immediately returned to him to make it clear I wasn’t interested.

Even with my mother knowing how I felt and that I was stressed out by the attention, she actually egged him on in spite of how I felt or what I wanted. She even gave him our home address and told him when I would be home. So, he ended up coming to my house while I was there alone and banged on the door and called my name for what felt like forever. He yelled about how he knew I was home because my mom had told him so. I never answered the door or responded to his calls. In fact, I hid in the closet because I was scared at the aggressiveness he was displaying.

I felt like I was being stalked, and worst of all, my own mother was encouraging it. This is just one small incident that portrays an issue with boundaries and respecting my privacy that was even more disturbing in other ways which perhaps I will share someday if and when I am ready to do so. I know it might sound odd, but I almost have a feeling like my mother WANTED to whore me out for some reason. I can’t even describe what that did to me psychologically.

Hypersensitivity to Criticism

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Recently my therapist and I have been talking about and working on my hypersensitivity to criticism. I have always had some hypersensitivity to any kind of criticism or rebuke. As a kid, I was the one you could make cry by looking at me wrong or even gently scolding me. I still tear up over things like that, even though I wish I didn’t.

This inability to deal constructively with any kind of feeling of failure has haunted me throughout my adult life, especially in the work world. I think this fear of not living up to expectations is partly why I struggle with immense anxiety around any kind of authority figure (bosses, teachers, doctors, police, etc.) Many times this anxiety is so strong that I am almost struck dumb (probably a type of selective mutism), such as when I have had to go for job reviews or any other kind of personal evaluation.

I have noticed though that my hypersensitivity to criticism focuses mainly on 5 areas. If I am criticized on something outside of these 5 topics, I am likely to be able to shake it off better or not let it bother me in the first place. Here are the subjects I am referring to:

  1. My art or writing. I am extremely sensitive to any criticism about my art and writing. However, I think this one is fairly normal for creative types. We all put a bit of our heart and soul into the things we create, in a sense they are our “babies” and we gave birth to them. This does create problems for me when it comes to having the confidence to share my art and writing publicly, especially in person.
  2. My looks and weight. I have always felt that I was rather plain or average-looking, so I have a bit of an achilles heel here. I was bullied quite a bit in middle school when I gained some weight after my dad died, and although I lost the weight a couple years later, those mean words about being “fat” have stuck with me. I have always relied on my intelligence, not my looks, to get me anywhere. I am proud of that fact, but sometimes I wish I felt more confident about the way I look.
  3. Any accusation of laziness or incompetence. I think the laziness thing bothers me because my mom would accuse me of that all the time. “Lazy”, “good for nothing”, “useless”…words like that stick with you. As for the incompetence, it doesn’t even have to be someone else that says something. If I feel even slightly incompetent (at anything) within myself it is enough to send me into a meltdown, probably a result of my perfectionism.
  4. Any perceived insult to my intelligence. As I said before, I have always relied on my intelligence to get through life, so if that is questioned or doubted, I feel worthless.
  5. Any insinuation implying that I am childish/immature or a crybaby. I have a lot of “childlike” qualities, as do many with Aspergers syndrome, and those can be endearing, but when people turn it into a bad thing and accuse me of childishness or immaturity, I feel misunderstood and hurt. I am extremely sensitive in some ways, but I hate the term “crybaby”.

So, what do you guys think? Do you share any of these insecurities? Are you also hypersensitive to criticism in these areas or others?

The Real Problem with the World

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The problem isn’t me. Not really. The problem is the world. The gossips. The bullies. The abusers. The narcissists. The shallow. The cruel. The snobs. The judgmental. The callous. The ignorant. The rude. The contentious. The angry. The passive aggressive. The sadistic. The jealous. The violent.

Is it any wonder I fear humanity? Is it any wonder I fear humiliation, rejection, and being misunderstood?

My experiences have taught me that life is harsh, and that is what I’ve come to expect. Not long ago, my psychiatrist warned me about the danger of “expecting everyone to treat me the way my abusers did”, but how easy is that to accomplish when so many others HAVE turned out to treat me that way? I often feel like a wounded gazelle surrounded by lions. I look for empathy, but instead I find savagery.

Things I Would REALLY Like to Say to My Past Abusers

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  • I don’t owe you anything!
  • I’m nothing like you.
  • You don’t own me and you never did.
  • You deserve what you got.
  • Sometimes I feel nothing for you.
  • You are at fault for so much.
  • You have no one to blame but yourself.
  • You are lucky to have anyone who still cares.
  • I’m a saint for forgiving you.
  • Without me, you’d have nothing!
  • I hate you sometimes.
  • You’ll never break me.
  • I’ll never crack.
  • I am a much better person than you’ll ever be.
  • I’m smarter than you.
  • You fuel my creativity with anger, disgust, frustration, and grief.
  • I’ve made something good out of your mess.
  • I am superior – by actions and attitude.
  • Your religion doesn’t hide the truth.
  • I found love and success in spite of you.
  • I’m the person you always wanted to be, but couldn’t.
  • Toys have always been better company than you.
  • You helped me find and lose faith in God.
  • I will heal.
  • I’m STRONGER than you.

*By the way, BetterHelp has a great article on emotional abuse, I would recommend it!

Dysfunctional Family: My Mom Married My High School Friend

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Ok, so in the past I already wrote a more serious post about the trauma I experienced when my mom ended up marrying the first guy I ever brought home (read it here). He was a friend of mine, two years older, going to the same high school. They got married on his 18th birthday, so there I was, 15-16, going to school WITH my new “step-dad”.

Yesterday, while my husband and I were out driving, I talked about how isolated I feel in dealing with the after-effects of this whole ordeal. I can find plenty of people who have experienced other things I have gone through or live with (autism, bipolar, chronic pain/illness, loss of a sibling to suicide, loss of a parent at a young age, physical and emotional abuse, etc.), but I have never ONCE found someone who understands the public humiliation and the just outright fucked-up-ness of their parent MARRYING a friend that they go to high school with (and even considered dating at one time)!

Maybe I would have to visit the Jerry Springer show to find something similar. I feel like no one understands how this whole event derailed my life severely at the time. I went from being a straight A, college bound honor student, to skipping school more than I went, and not caring about much of anything. It was a horrible time in my life. To make matters worse, when my mom’s messed up marriage finally blew up, it was shortly after I got married (at the age of 20), and since she had no resources of her own, I felt like I had to take her in, which was not an easy decision for a newlywed to make, especially given the messed up history between my mom and me.

I’m not sharing all this to look for pity, but more in the hopes that maybe someone, somewhere, has gone through something similar and could make me feel less alone. I think this whole ordeal made me feel like a real freak at the time it happened, and never finding anyone who could relate only reinforced that feeling.

*By the way, if you are looking for online therapy options, BetterHelp is a great place to start!

PTSD and After Effects of Abusive Relationships

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A couple nights ago I was feeling so confused and conflicted inside that I started to feel a little bit claustrophobic. Some of you may not understand that feeling if you’ve never had it yourself, but it is something I have experienced more than once when the emotional and rational parts of my brain just can’t seem to find common ground. It is even worse when the emotional parts of your brain are telling you different things at the same time too.

Part of my brain might be telling me that someone does care about me because they buy me stuff (they are so generous!) and make such a fuss over me whenever I see them. While another part of my brain is reminding me of the times they fucked me over and left me to cry alone. From what I understand, this is a common thing experienced by those who have been victims of abuse. There is a real trauma bond that is created between abuser and abused, which makes it so very hard to see the abuser for what they really are and to be able to keep your wits about you when they suddenly do something nice or swear yet again that they’ve “changed”.

I know I have complex PTSD and a buttload of cognitive dissonance going on in this weary head of mine. I know that the healing process is long, and realistically, never-ending in some ways. I know that none of it was my fault, even though I still struggle with feelings of guilt, insecurity, and inadequacy. I know that I have made wide and sweeping relationship changes I had to make for my own welfare, but I still find myself feeling sorrow for what could or should have been.

I am often confused and desperate to understand what is beyond understanding. And I guess I have to make peace with that. I really have no other choice.