My session Tuesday with A was centered around this letter that I wrote to myself. Almost everything in it was an "I'm sorry" statement for something that someone did (or didn't do) that hurt me.
There are many times in my childhood where I was in pain. Doing as kids do, I tested my boundaries and tried to determine what kind of response I was going to get for my pain. Physical pain got the most immediate response/attention. I was a clumsy kid, but never broke any bones or had anything catastrophic happen. I remember two specific instances where I tried to intentionally sprain or break my wrist to get attention. I did a pretty good job, as both got me trips to the ER, but the attention was short lived and left me yearning for more.
Emotional pain acknowledgement was almost non-existent. My parents never were in tune with how things made me feel, what I needed from them, or if things hurt me. They still think that because I cried easily (when appropriate, like at a sad movie or when something upset me) that it meant I could release my emotions and not need anything else.
So I learned that unless I wanted to be in constant physical pain (self-inflicted of course) that I wasn't going to get what I wanted and needed from my parents. So what do kids do when they have no options? I got myself an attitude and terrorized my little sister. Bad attention was better than no attention. I started stealing when I was in the 6th grade. From my teachers mostly, but then I graduated to my mom. I felt less guilt there. She owed me right? I just kept pushing and pushing, hoping that I'd find a way to get what I wanted.
All of these instances and behaviors were already in place BEFORE I was abused. I wasn't getting what I needed before my life got upended with the life-altering experience of sexual abuse. So when I disclosed to my mom what had happened, I really expected her to be there for me. If this wasn't bad enough for me to get a hug, a tear, some screaming rage at who hurt me, then nothing would be.
I was a kid. Kids are resilient. Kids are trusting. Kids are hopeful. In the face of a life where everything has proved to them otherwise, they still think the good things can happen. I still hoped they could, too.
So I started testing the waters again. What support was I going to get? How do I have to play this? My support was being handed off to a counselor once a week. I remember her, she was nice. I don't ever remember talking about the abuse. I didn't want her. The first 4 months after the abuse, it was everywhere. Counseling, visits to the police station, interviews with the detectives, meeting the prosecutors, etc. Even with all of that going on... nothing. Not even a discussion, let alone support. When everything died down, my hope went with it. Insurance got changed and I no longer could go to counseling. The continued silence at home told me I wasn't going to get what I wanted. So my resiliency turned into denial. I shoved everything inside myself and went on with life, keeping everyone at an arm's length so they couldn't hurt me.
I started realizing all of this around April of last year. I started noticing how much I hated being around my mom, that just her presence or the thought of her brought out this bitter, angry, passive aggressive person. I pushed myself away from her, for my own sanity, but due to the co-dependent nature of my mom, she would not let go. She confronted me about my behavior in June of last year and I let her have it. The truth. Not 100% of the truth, but enough of the truth for her to know what I was going through at the time for her to know that I needed some space to figure things out without having her hovering over me. (See this post for more info).
Things settled down and are at a more comfortable place for me now, but around Christmas I started noticing my patience and desire to be around her were heading in the same direction. I can feel myself pushing away from her again. All of this work dealing with the absence of things I needed as an abused child is bringing up so much pain that I can hardly look at my mom and think of anything else.
The girl who has done so much healing in this past year is falling back on hope again. She's hoping that her mom will be different this time. She's hoping her mom will acknowledge her pain; past, present and future. The hope is what hurts the most.