This post will be hard for me to write. One thing I am not very good at is showing where I am vulnerable, naive, or have been fooled well enough to look like an idiot.
I am working on re-framing how I see these qualities by trying to tell myself that vulnerability is beautiful. The act of allowing yourself to open up can be a very wonderful thing (so long as you choose good people to open up to of course). As for naive? Well, this is an odd one because I have lived more life in my 45 years than many people could live in 500. I’ve seen things that no one can even imagine. Much of what I felt was a normal childhood was actually so abnormal and horrific that even Oprah never got close to the topic. The only people who I have ever known who shared my sort of childhood were my sisters. 3 of them are gone. They completed suicides in different years between 1989 and 1996. I have one living sister (the eldest) but she has fried her brain on alcohol and drugs to a point where I am not even sure she knows who she is any longer. I do not blame her for this. She is just trying to forget.
To see so much that others have never seen or been a part of would make you think that I’d be the least naive person alive but that is not true. I have very little understanding of how “normal” people work. What they think is normal or abnormal is lost on me. The only thing I am absolutely not naive about is trauma. I know trauma, hidden agendas, cruelty, and the dark side that humans can possess. I know them inside out and backwards.
As for being a fool or looking like an idiot? Well, eventually you have to be okay with not knowing everything all the time. That is hard for a perfectionist to do but I try to remind myself that perfect people are ANNOYING (and they are!!!) so I don’t really want to be one of them. 😉
The way that my parents got away with all they did to/with me was to brainwash me. It really wasn’t hard for them. Any parent can have that power over their child and it is up to them to use this for good or for bad. Just like you can teach a child that they are lovable, sweet, kind, smart, worthy, and honest? You can just as easily teach that child that they are worthless, rude, unkind, stupid, and a liar.
The really sad part is that the child will believe you either way. 100%. It takes a LOT of effort to erase those core beliefs so if you are a parent? Please always try to remember that. You have an incredible amount of power to make or break your child and it is as easy as choosing words are going to say.
My brainwashing took the form of them making me believe that not only was I at fault but anyone I told would assume me to be lying anyways as they had proof that I was a sociopath. I didn’t even know what a sociopath was to be honest but I knew it meant I was a liar so even if I told the truth? No one would ever believe me. Sadly other adults in my life such as doctors, teachers, school counsellors, social workers and even other family members unintentionally helped to reinforce this belief. When questioned about any marks or bruises, my mother would say I was clumsy or that I did things to myself for attention. She had/still has such a perfected outer shell that no one even thought her to be lying. It was easier to blame the child than to need to go further with any bad thoughts. (Keep in mind this was the 70’s. I was not a computer traceable child like you have today. Plus, social services allowed the parents to stay in the room when questioning a child back then too.)
My MAJOR trust issues stem from this time in my life. I would open up and then that information was used against me by either not being believed “You have a very dark imagination Heather”, others actually called home and told my mother what I had told them rather than calling authorities which I guarantee you meant a very horrible outcome for me. Nothing or no one ever helped or was able to help before we would be moved to another city where no one knew us and a new life (for her) could begin.
I don’t really wish or think I need to go on any more with examples even though I have a thousand of them. I am sure you get the idea. I was never believed which allowed the idea of me being unbelievable to really sink in.
The naivety that I had really showed itself when I actually still believed myself to be a sociopath at the age of 43 and was hospitalized. I would include that “diagnoses” with my other medical information as though it was as true as my blood type or name. That was only 2 short years ago.
I spent my whole life trying to do anything at all that I needed to do in order to never show anyone what was under the surface. I didn’t want anyone to figure out my “truth”. I had looked up the symptoms of being a sociopath and even though very little rang true, I assumed that I must have forgotten or blocked out the bulk of my sins. It NEVER occurred to me that I had been lied to. Never.
I made sure to do anything in my power to be the most honest, forthcoming, considerate, and kind person that I could be so no one would ever figure it all out.
Looking back now? I am sad that I lived my life under that HUGE shadow for so long. I am also getting to the point where I am able to feel angry about it. How on earth could parents not only abuse and allow others to abuse me but then to add twisting my own mind against myself to the mix? There is no excuse for that. It was cruel beyond measure. Anger is so new to me as I never allowed it in before but now I am getting so angry about it all that I could just scream… if I was able to scream. Maybe one day I will be able to allow myself to express those feelings. Right now it only comes out in well-formed and calm sentences.
I guess I can look back at it all and find one good thing from it all. Although my trauma and my life can get jumbled at times due to dissociations or lapses in memory? I am the most honest person you will ever meet. I spent my life being afraid of being caught as a liar so I spent my life refusing to tell any. Just ask my lovely friends or husband who I occasionally feel very sorry for. My brutal honesty can hurt them at times but they know for positive sure that they will always get my honest answer or opinion if they ask for it. I am really working on dialing back the “brutal” part of my honesty but I have a way to go (sorry guys!).
I guess to end this blog I just want to offer a bit of advice if I may? Well what the heck right? You’ve read this much. You might as well ready a few more sentences right? (Sorry todays post is so long.)
- When someone comes to you and tells you about a trauma? Just believe them. I know there are liars out there but as I mentioned in a post not long ago, they estimate lies about trauma only account for 2-3% of cases. Please give the other 97-98% the chance to have someone believe them. You may be the first person that ever does and that is a gift like no other. We NEVER forget the first people to make us feel heard and believed. It took me 43 YEARS to find those special people in my life and by that time I was such a suicidal, mixed-up mess that it took them 4 months to even begin to unravel me. Those people are directly responsible for who I am becoming today. I do a HUGE amount of work but their belief in me is what made it all possible.
- Please do not ignore a child with an unbelievable story. More unbelievable things happen than you want to ever admit or see proof of.
- Please call the police if you have ANY suspicion of abuse whether that person is 8 or 80. If you are wrong? The police will find that out easily enough. If you are right? You may be the first person who ever spoke up to help that person.
- Please do not just believe a negative diagnoses or something unsavoury written on someones chart. If they have told you this themselves? They may be like me and really believe it to be true. Still take the time to get to know that person and decide for yourself. Your care and compassion may be the first this person has ever experienced regarding these things.
- And last but not least? Please be respectful. People with mental health issues can act in ways that are incredibly difficult to deal with. We hate it more than you do but often can’t stop it. We can be depressing, sad or mad all the time, unwilling to speak, we can get nasty at times, it is even possible for someone so nice, calm and collected as me 🙂 to end up in a locked, dark bathroom, on the floor in absolute hysterics for hours. It has happened and my very compassionate nurses and friends never made me feel as crazy as I believed myself to be.
YOU have the ability to be the hero that turns a life around by offering one simple thing. Trust.