I’m hesitant to write this post due to the chance that anybody in my family might someday come across this. But I sense that several of my new “followers” (terrifying still) have experienced some similar childhood messages, so I want to write about it. Writing really helps me think, even though it often comes out as a big mess. I’ll just try to avoid some specifics.
When I was in elementary school, I received some very strong, literal verbal messages from an older kid who I spent lots of time with every day in elementary school. He was awesome and I worshipped the ground he walked on. (Enter start of my screwed up relationships with people, anyone?) Anyway, so the word I’ve learned to describe this is “abuse”. He was abusive toward me. I’m going to focus just on the verbal aspect right now. And although I have read and read and studied on the topic of abuse since then, I still couldn’t tell you if this is “verbal” “emotional” or whatever abuse. I don’t get the difference between some of the different types.
Anyway (focus! I wonder if I can get through this). So this kid was really into psychology and psychological experiments. I do wonder what he’d studied, now. How could he have been so smart? Anyway. So one of his messages to me was, “If you don’t have anything interesting to say, then don’t say anything at all.” This was his own variation to what my parents used to tell me (“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”). He followed through on this by not allowing me to speak. If I opened my mouth, I got physical threats or maybe things thrown at me. I became semi mute for a while in elementary school. I believe I did speak at school and at home a little still, but not very much. One of my goals in life became to literally one day grow up and be the mute servant to a king. It’s what I wanted. That literal image. I became proud to do anything this person required of me, at the moment he required it. I jumped if you said jump. I ducked if you threatened. I dropped to the floor and went limp if you ran at me like you were going to attack me. You had me lick dirt off your shoes to show off your training of me in front of your friends, and I did it and I was proud of your training.
There were many times I was sure I was going to die. You held me under water in swimming pools until I panicked. You picked me up with one arm by my throat and held me there until I was panicking (OCD symptoms came after that one — NOTHING could touch my throat for many years — no necklaces, no shirt collars, nothing could even BUMP my throat, I was so afraid of strangulation). You held me over like you were going to throw me off the side of a mountain.
But I never knew anything was wrong with this, at the time. I never told anybody. I screamed when I saw you enter the same room as me, and adults came at first, but it would be unprovoked at that point and I wouldn’t have any words to explain, so in the end, I started to get in trouble for screaming for no cause.
I didn’t start to really speak, in general, until I was out of elementary school and away from you. I remember my parents commenting on how much more I was talking at home, and wondering about that. But I never thought to tell them about you. It just never even occurred to me.
In 8th grade, I was writing in my journal at 1 a.m. with my blue light on (that’s in a previous post), and I had a flashback, to you pinning me down under a heavy object and touching me sexually. That was the first time it had come to my mind since it happened. Yet it still never occurred to me to tell anybody. (Besides, you weren’t in my life anymore.) But it was your words that stayed with me the most, not the touch. You made me ashamed of myself in all ways possible. Your words had more meaning and humilation than I could ever hope to describe to anybody. (They’re still too shameful to even write here in an anonymous blog.)
In high school, my mom forced me into family counseling because I had stopped talking with her (she offended me with a question one night, and I told myself I’d never speak to her again. I already had good training for not-talking, so it wasn’t hard for me). In counseling, I remember the lady asking me many, many times if I had any past abuse, and I thought about it and said no. I didn’t know what you did was abuse. I wasn’t intentionally lying — I really didn’t consider that abuse. It was just part of my past, part of my life. It didn’t occur to me to say anything. It didn’t even cross my mind. I was diagnosed with depression, which marks my first official diagnosis of anything.
(In middle school, my whole family went to a counseling session for my brother, because he was getting depressed and stuff. I remember that appointment because it was a trip to the big city for me. I was already very depressed by this point. It was a very gray day outside (summer), which I loved, and made me want to cry. I sat on a sofa, looking out the window at the gray cars below (we were not on the first floor, so I was looking down on a street). I recall nothing else from the entire day. But I later learned that the counselor had asked me my grade level after the appointment, and I didn’t answer because I wasn’t sure if he was asking what grade I had just finished, or the one I was going to be starting after summer). After the appointment, he pulled my mom aside and told her that he thought it was me who needed to be in counseling. I am not sure why she didn’t persue that. But what kills me is that somehow he had asked her what my favorite movie was, and she told him it was Journey to Spirit Island, and he then revealed to her that he was wearing an amulet!!!! I BELIEVE HE COULD HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE. IF ONLY she had let him talk with me. IF ONLY I could have his name and track him down. I was SO religious/spiritual back then. On the other hand, I was so screwed up back then, I would have latched on to him so much and followed him to the ends of the earth, I am sure.)
The point of this post was in the messages I received in elementary school. I wonder it is valid to think that that’s probably why I still feel like a “phony” and so inferior to everyone around me. He told me over and over again for years that I was ugly, stupid, worthless, etc. That everyone who seemed to like me was just faking because they pitied me. He set me up to tell one of his friends that I liked him, only to be hiding with other friends around the corner, who then all came out and laughed at me. He told me I had nothing to offer, that nobody wanted to hear me. He picked on my physical features and told me how each feature made me ugly.
To date, I am ashamed of my face. I feel very ugly. I always feel ugly. No matter what clothes I wear, I feel dirty and ugly. No matter how much I pay to have my hair done, I feel stupid and ugly. And unclean. He made me ashamed of my body and my thoughts. Oh my god, my legs. SO MUCH shame about my legs. If he ever saw my legs, he made me cover them up because they were so ugly (I had eczema all over my legs back then). Now I have the scars from the eczema on my legs. I feel they’re so ugly, I try never to show them, but I did this-past summer. I wore a skort a lot. I even shaved them. But I still feel they are hideous).
So what I’m wondering is, can messages given to you in childhood still have such a strong effect on you today? Can this really be the cause of some of today’s insecurities? Or is it just a “bullshit excuse” I use to be less than 100% today?
Yet to this day, if someone advances toward me rapidly with the body language of physical attack, I will still play dead. (Then he couldn’t carry me as easily/ as far.)
I’m going to talk about dissociation at some point in this blog, too. Maybe I’ll start a new post for it right now.