The Most Humiliating Experience of My Life

Today I’m doing something rare for me…two posts in one day! I didn’t plan to post this second entry today, but I feel compelled to do so and get something off my chest that I’m tired of hiding. For a long time I debated whether to tell my real story or not, because even when our family hurts us, we still feel a need to protect them.

So this post is about the most humiliating and potentially traumatic experience of my life. It happened when I was 15 years old. At that point I had already endured a rough childhood of turmoil, including being surrounded by and sometimes the target of verbal, mental and physical abuse, my parents’ constant instability in relationships, and the death of my father when I was 12. So, I was already pretty banged up emotionally and mentally. Not to mention the fact that I had undiagnosed high-functioning autism, which made it really hard for me to find my place in the world or understand it.

Anyhow, when I was 15, a boy who was I had been school friends with for years started showing interest in dating me. He was two grades ahead of me and 17 years old at the time. I agreed, but wasn’t sure if I really wanted to date or just be friends. So, I did bring him to my house a few times to hang out with him. In the end, I decided I just wanted to be friends and we decided not to date. Ironically enough (as you shall soon see), my mother actually helped me officially “break up” with him. We never kissed or anything like that, but the kids at school thought we were together and he was technically the first boy I ever “brought home”.

So after deciding to just be friends, I thought life would just go back to normal. But I was wrong. My mom started acting sort of weird. She was sneaking around having mysterious phone conversations and I even once caught her hiding outside, smoking, something I had NEVER seen her do before! I knew something was up, so one night I quietly picked up an extra phone extension to see who it was she was talking with at night. I was shocked to hear her and the guy I had been “dating” exchanging “I love you’s”. I confronted her after the call and she admitted to being in a relationship with him. I was angry, humiliated, shocked, and sickened.

After that, she quit hiding it and started taking off on dates with him pretty much every night, leaving me all alone night after night after night, or even dumping me off on random people so they could go away for days at a time. Before long, she moved him in and I had to live with them. By this time, everyone at school knew that he was dating my mother, which brought me a lot of uncomfortable questions about the situation, since they had all thought I had dated him. I even overheard teachers talking about my mom and the boy. Everyone treated me like my family was insane, and I felt like they had a right to do so because we WERE insane. It felt like Jerry Springer type stuff.

One of the most hurtful incidents I remember during this whole time was when I got into a fight with my mom’s new boyfriend. It was just a verbal fight, but I made him so mad with what I said that he punched me. I was so hurt by this that I jumped on my bike and rode away, even with my mom yelling after me to stop. Eventually I came back home, and instead of making him apologize to me for hitting me, my mom threatened to send me away to live with relatives. At this point, I felt like I was nothing and no one wanted me.

My mom married this boy the very day he turned 18. So I was going to the same school with my new “step-father”. Even though school had always been a refuge for me in the past, now it felt like torture every single day. I started skipping constantly and barely ended up graduating in the end because of all of it. When I was 16 we moved to another state and I went to a new school, but the feeling of shame followed me and I had given up on caring about school or about anything else. I was soon diagnosed with depression for the first time (not surprisingly!)

To this day I still hold a lot of resentment, anger, feelings of betrayal, and embarrassment about the whole thing. I have a relationship with my mother, but it is precarious and not the most trusting.

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Hallucinations in Childhood

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Something I’ve been thinking about recently is hallucinations. As an adult, I haven’t really had a history of hallucinations. The closest things I can think of are a few times I have been awoken from my sleep by my husband or my mother’s voice loudly calling my name, only to find they are either not even at home or they swear they didn’t call for me. It is easy to assume this might be just weird remnants of a dream though, so I don’t consider it definitely a hallucination. There have also been a few times I hear a weird, high-pitched whining noise that no one else seems to hear. This could just be my autistic sensitivity though, picking up on something others don’t. It isn’t tinnitus, I have that as well, so I know the difference.

However, as a child I do have at least one vivid memory of a hallucination, maybe two. The first happened when I was around 5 or so, and it happened in the middle of a church service at my grandfather’s house (he was a pastor that ran his own church). In the middle of the service, this huge bird suddenly appeared next to my grandfather as he talked. It was a beautiful, rainbow colored bird, and I could physically see it, so it wasn’t like an imaginary friend (which I also had). I was excited by its appearance and made a bit of a fuss trying to tell my mom about it, but it became clear soon that she couldn’t see it and apparently no one else did either. I got in trouble for yelling out, so ended up sitting there staring at this huge bird and wondering what the heck was going on and why no one else could see it. To this day, I have no idea what happened that day or why. I wish I remembered what was going on in my life at the time, to see if I was under acute stress at the time, but I really don’t know.

The other possible hallucination happened when I was 12. It was soon after my father died and I was having the worst panic attack of my life up until that point. I was sitting on the bed, trying to breathe, feeling terrified and alone, when suddenly a bright figure appeared at the end of the bed. At first I was terrified, but the being told me not to be afraid and I immediately felt a calm I had never felt before in my life. The panic attack was gone and the bright figure somehow communicated to me that I was safe and protected before leaving. I assumed at the time it was my guardian angel, but now that I am no longer religious and not sure what I believe in, I wonder if it could have possibly been a hallucination brought on by grief and terror. I honestly don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a guardian angel, but if I do, why didn’t they protect me or show up during even more dangerous moments of my life, moments when my life was actually in danger?

These two experiences as a child makes me wonder if they were hallucinations, and if they were, is it normal for children to have hallucinations and then grow out of them? Or is this just a warning that if I am pushed too far emotionally or mentally, that something may break inside me and I could lose touch with reality? Could I someday have another hallucination out of nowhere? That is a scary thought. Has anyone else out there also had experiences like this as a kid and apparently grown out of them?

*Art by Maranda Russell

Suicide Isn’t My Biggest Fear

Recently I had kind of a weird realization. If you follow my blog closely, you probably know that I have written posts about how I fear I would be driven to suicide if I lost my husband, mainly because I fear I wouldn’t be able to support myself with all my health problems, and if I lost him I feel like I would lose 90% of my support system.

The other day though I realized something that rather shocked me at first, even though it may not seem such a big thing to others. And that realization was that my real fear isn’t that I WILL commit suicide if I were alone, it is my fear that I WON’T. Maybe that sounds crazy on the surface, but let me explain further. If my husband were to die, that would leave me utterly alone, and I honestly do not believe I could continue to live this life all by myself. If I found myself in that situation, I would have to either A) Give up and commit suicide or B) Find others to trust and rely on.

Option A isn’t my real fear, it is option B. I am terrified of trusting others and letting others in. I don’t trust my ability to choose people who will not take advantage of me or end up abusing me. I feel it is almost a kind of luck that I avoided marrying an abuser in the first place. Most people who grow up like I did, in horrific abuse scenarios (physical, sexual, emotional, or mental) tend to end up surrounding themselves with people who perpetuate the cycle of abuse. I also fear that if any of my past abusers are still around, if I found myself all alone, I would be so weak that I would turn to them. Which horrifies me more than anything. It took me a long time to get free from it all (and I’m still not 100% there), but the thought of returning to hell is far more frightening than the thought of death.

However, deep down I doubt my ability to actually take my own life. I do have a strong survival instinct and an immense amount of anxiety when it comes to any form of danger. Perhaps that is why I always told myself that if I did commit suicide, it would have to be a form that is instant and leaves no chance for reconsideration, because I know if I gave myself time to rethink it I would freak out and seek help.

So, with this odd realization, what is the point of it all? I guess it is some reassurance that maybe I am stronger and more resilient than I always told myself. But more importantly, I need to work on my fear of opening up to and trusting others. It is funny that here on this blog I can be so open and bluntly honest, but in interpersonal relationships I tend to build walls and push people away before they can get too close. Somehow I need to learn to trust myself to be a good enough judge of character to give people a chance. But I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to trust myself, let alone others.

Matchbox 20 “Unwell” – Lyrics of My Life

If I had to choose a song to represent how I honestly feel about myself and my life most of the time these days, this song would definitely be near the top. It isn’t actually even my favorite Matchbox 20 song (which would be hard to narrow down anyhow, but would likely be something off their first or second album), but the lyrics hit home in a way that not a lot of songs do. I don’t hear voices (other than my own endlessly chattering inner monologues), but at this point, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if someday I started lol.

I think the saddest line in this entire song is “But soon enough, you’re gonna think of me and how I used to be…”, which also happens to be the line that hits home for me the hardest. A few years ago, this wasn’t me. Back then I had repressed so much that I was able to function at least, but when my sister committed suicide, it was like the floodgates opened and all the repressed memories came flooding in at the same time that all of my carefully crafted defenses came crashing down. My mental and physical health took a nosedive and has been sinking further and floundering since. Sometimes I’m almost angry at my sister for killing herself and thereby forcing me to face what I had always ran away from or purposefully pushed aside.

New Year’s Goal – Fear and Appreciation

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I’m not going to call it a resolution, but I do have a goal for the coming year that I hope to work on, and somewhat it was inspired by my last visit with my psychiatrist. You see, I spend far too much time worrying about what would happen if my husband were to pass away. I have very good reasons for worrying about it (fear of homelessness being top), but it has almost overtaken my brain in many ways, probably partly due to OCD and partly just because it is my deepest fear.

Due to this fear, I feel like I have not even been enjoying the time I do have with my husband. I live in such fear of something happening to him and being left alone, that I almost live as if he is already gone sometimes, and that needs to stop. From now on, to the best of my ability, when those horrifying thoughts intrude of something happening to him, I will try my best to redirect my thoughts to thankfulness for having him in my life and for the good things we share right now. I know that won’t stop the fear from coming and it will probably be something I always struggle with, but if consciously choosing to appreciate him now means that we grow closer and both of us feel better, why in the world wouldn’t I try to do that?

– Art by Maranda Russell

Suicidal Ideations

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*Note: I wrote this a while back and am not currently feeling suicidal, but I thought it might be interesting to share this poem as it does illustrate a real mental struggle I have dealt with on and off for many years.

Suicidal Ideations

If I only had a dollar
for every time
I have looked down
from a great height,
shook a full bottle of pills,
held my breath under water,
or inhaled exhaust fumes
while thinking

I could actually do it,
I could end it all –

I would have more
than enough
to pay for all the
therapy sessions
I obviously need.

You’ll Regret It All

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I recently came across the following quote by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and it really struck me as deeply true, at least for me. No matter what I choose to do or choose not to do in life, there is always a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice and won’t shut up with the “what ifs”:

“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”