Pushing Away

This is my coping mechanism when I am scared. I push away. More so, distance myself before you can hurt me.

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.


Tonya said...
January 31, 2010 at 5:23 PM

I was so angry and hurt that I didn't talk to my mother at all for over a year. I needed space to simmer down (like you, I couldn't look at her without thinking about all that had happened). After a year of not speaking at all, I began taking her calls periodically. But she really hasn't changed much - most of the time she denies or justifies what happened, sometimes she still blames me for "seducing" her husband. Without any change on her part, it's hard to be in a relationship with her. She has no compassion or concern for what I've been through and definitely doesn't see her role in it. (She knew when I was 8 that he was molesting me but never stopped it. The abuse continued until I was 15 1/2.) But, I've made great strides in the forgiveness department and am able to talk talk to her periodically now without getting hurt or angry. It's a LONG, REPETITIVE process. I feel as if I've forgiven right now, but if something should come up, I'll have to forgive all over again. There's just so much pain to recover from. And gobs of dysfunction... You are doing such a great job. You are aware of your feelings and are doing your best to heal. My only word of caution - remember what you're responsible for. If you need a break, take it. You are not responsible if her feelings get hurt. Hurting her is not your intention --- recovery is! Hugs, Lily.

Just Be Real said...
January 31, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Dear one I push away also. I understand the deep co-dependency you have with your mother, as I as well have it with mine.

Even though our circumstances are not the same, no one knows about my abuse in my family, except of course my brother who abused me, but denies he ever did, I feel your pain and frustration!

Dear one, you need to think about yourself. You are just as important. Hurt feelings are inevitable! Each time you tackle an obstacle, you become stronger! I am learning this right along with you, so you are NOT alone at all Lily in this.


Anonymous said...
February 1, 2010 at 6:34 AM

When I read your post it is like looking in a mirror of my life. Not only were my emotional needs not meant, I was shamed for being too sensitive. Amazing how the enemy tried to destroy my greatest strength. My sensitivity is now what helps me help others.
I went through what you are going through with your Mom with my Dad.
The expectation that He would give me what I needed was devastating every time I set myself up for it. I finally,well into my thirties, realized that He did not have it to give. He did not know how to love me the way I needed. We did not talk for a year after a huge fight.
It was a hard reality to face. The death of a dream.
My heavenly Father brought Dr. T into my life to fill the whole that was left there. It felt like the grand canyon, but God has healed me know. It took time.

You are really growing and you have alot of insight. You are going to help alot of people.

Love and Hugs to you my friend.

Rhonda said...
February 1, 2010 at 8:02 AM

No matter how much we heal, we need to hold onto that precious hope. Even in our greatest moments, it's what leads us through to the next chapter in our life. You are doing a fantastic job and making great strides just by releasing all of your feelings here. Continue to allow yourself to hope. Don't look at what you may not be accomplishing right now, but look at what you HAVE overcome and accomplished already!!! One day, we all WILL get to the end of our journey. We just have to keep hoping.

Hugs sweety!

Grace said...
February 1, 2010 at 9:16 PM

Yes, hope hurts.
I havent spoken to my mother in 2 1/2 years..I can't.

Marj aka Thriver said...
February 3, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Thanks for your brave and honest sharing here. I can feel your pain so much.

I don't know what is wrong with our society that there are still so many families that just decide "we're not going to talk about that." I know that some subjects are hard as hell to talk about. But, for me and my own child, I just do it. JUST DO IT, PEOPLE! It may be a bit uncomfortable, but our kids deserve our support, validation, reassurance, affection and love.

I'm so sorry you didn't get that. Why do parents withhold those things just at the critical times when their beloved, precious children need them the most? I will never understand it and it makes me angry for you and all the other kids.