Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fear

This one is going to be hard to write. Even before the blog I’ve been afraid to talk about the root of my PTSD, about my family life. The more I write, the more I ruminate about it, and the more scared I become that something bad will come out of this, that I’ll end back with my mother for some reason, that’ll she’ll take away the security I’ve created for myself.

I think it’s really hard for me to focus on the ‘whys’ of this. I started this to force myself to be open, to give me a place to face my demons and accountability to do so. Also, to make it real to myself. I can go back to my words and see that I was honest, I was brave, I was strong enough to put out there what happened. And hopefully, I’ve grown.

There were two things my mother said and reinforced in my life. Well, there were more than two, but these are the ones that stick out most often:

1. “I made you.”

By high school I was known in my community. I was in the Key Club, vice president of the honor society, Latin club, anything that kept me away from her. I was a math scholar, in the technical section at school; top some odd percent of the class, singer, band member, etc. I got into a good college. I was a success. People would comment to me about what a great mom I had (which would make my stomach drop) and compliment her on my achievements.

So, my mother realized that I had strength, that despite her efforts I had survived. My therapist says my mother realized my strength when I was young and was jealous, hence her trying to constantly cut me down. But, my mother then decided to take ownership of it all.

“I did this on purpose,” she told me. “If I had coddled you, if I had hugged you and told you everything was good then you wouldn’t be the woman you are today. If I had acted any differently you wouldn’t be strong, you wouldn’t be independent. I did this all for you honey.”

I was aghast- to say that all the abuse for so long was planned? That it was beneficial? That all this praise heaped on her for MY achievements was justified?

But, a part of me still wants to believe it. A part still wants to think that my mother had a plan, that she wasn’t evil, that she loves me.

Yet, she also told me so many times that she didn’t love me because I didn’t need her like my brother. So many times she told me she was jealous, that it wasn’t fair that I had a chance for a future and she never did, that I didn’t deserve it. Which is of course why in the end she took credit for what I created, to own me till the end.

Not that I’ll let her, I’m fighting it with every core of my being and that voice, her voice, emotionless and just dripping with darkness saying “I made you” doesn’t ring as true anymore. There may be times of relapse, but I recognize it as just that – relapse, not the truth. She need not make me. I succeeded in spite of her, not because of.

(Side note, Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” came on just as I was about to move on to #2, I don’t know how I feel about that. I will never thank my mother for ‘making me stronger’ although I love screaming, “You won’t stop me!” along with Xtina)

2. “If you ever tell anyone about the family, if you ever talk about us, I will deny everything. I will tell them you are mentally ill, that you fantasize, that you can’t recognize reality. If you ever try and write about us I will destroy you. I will sue you for libel.”

That is the reason for my fear. The last two sentences were when I started focusing on writing in high school and getting noted for my abilities to ‘see the world and literature with a great sensitivity and expression.’ But the last thing I want is to have my security threatened, which spirals me down as I’m beginning to realize. At the same time, I have to overcome this mentality. “Just let her try!” I say in my defiant moods. “Let her try and stop the truth from coming out.”

There are instances where she acted on that. I remember one when, I think I was in fourth grade. We lived in a four-unit apartment building with gray siding on a corner lot. At the time I still cried, I still screamed when things happened, I hadn’t fully retreated into myself yet.

After a particularly bad night I was outside with my mother when a neighbor came up to us.

“Is everything all right?” she asked. My mother pushed my gangly body behind her. “I heard a lot of screaming from your place last night.

I tried to peak around my mom’s body, I saw my neighbor arching her head to try and look at me.

“I almost called the police,” the neighbor mentioned casually.

“Don’t mind her,” my mother responded, even-toned. “She’s just dramatic, likes attention. It was nothing.”

I wanted to scream, “Why! Why didn’t you call the police, why was it an almost, why can’t you see?” but said nothing.

“Oh, okay.” The neighbor replied and walked away.

I often wonder, did my neighbor truly believe I was just dramatic? Just wanted attention? Or is it just easier to not care and accept the easy answer, was she really just looking for an out to stop worrying?

That was my mother’s answer- I was dramatic. I was a brat. I was spoiled. She did everything for me, and I was just ungrateful. And people seemed to accept it. The bruises were from ‘kids being kids,’ the fear from watching too many cop shows.

There is more to this I think. My brother and my mother have much in common, and I really don’t know how to approach him in my mind or writing, not quite yet. But he told me many times that it was his mission in life to make sure I have no friends. He’s a couple years older than me, and thus we overlapped in high school. However, I had already attended some classes in high school a year or two before I was officially enrolled. I was the youngest in some of my classes.

When I was bussed just for specific classes, I learned some things. One of the first students that befriended me was surprised to find out who my brother was, as she couldn’t stand him. My brother tried to tell me that she was a liar, a ‘vicious dyke.’ I liked her- she was artistic. We often spent study time doing our homework together and worked in groups. One day I brought butterscotch chips in to class for us to nibble on and she stuck them on her fingernails and pretended she was a cat answering calculus questions. I loved it.

I met some of her friends and was exposed to poets and painters, angsty individuals who spoke out. Of course, this meant I was banned by my mother and brother from speaking to them. He complained that I was spreading rumors about him. Actually, I still defended him, still wanted him to be my hero.

My first official year in high school I was in a biology class in teacher-chosen group projects with students my own age when one of them said something that completely shocked me.

“Geesh, you’re not a bitch,” he said.

I asked what he meant. Apparently my brother had spoken with the brothers and sisters of his peers, thus with my peers, and warned them about me. Told them I was a bitch, a liar. Before I even got there this had spread around people in my peer group.

Why are people so quick to believe the easy answer? The bad opinions of others?

And this leads to my fear. People believed my mother and brother before I even gained my voice. Before I even appeared on the scene I was made out as a liar. There were a lot of lies they told about me before I even walked into a room for the first time.

So as I struggle to find my voice I also struggle with the authority, with the strength. I am afraid that the stronger I become the more my ‘family’ will rear up against me. But the fear isn’t really that they’ll attack, it’s that I’ll fall. I fear that I will go back into my cocoon and that all I think I accomplished is an illusion.

But the more I withdraw into that fear the more it also awakens the fire to fight against it. How dare they even try to deny what happened. THEY are the ones that slandered, not me. THEY are the ones who did wrong, so why do I put the burden of guilt on myself?

Goodness, with every step I feel the fear. But honestly, I think, I hope, it’s morphing into the fear of failing myself more than anything else, of letting them still win. I’m going to be the winner here. Hell, maybe I already am. Wait- let me change that. I am the winner here. Now if only I can gain the strength to not doubt that. I am winning. Indulge me one more time- I need the practice. I’m winning.

6 comments:

heavenabove said...

Excellent thoughts on fear. Many of these fears we don't even know we have, they are just an automatic barrier to our success.

The screaming thing makes me think about all the times when I would scream my head off trying to make them understand what I was trying to say and how I felt. Yet even this was completely ignored and brushed off as me being an angry teen with an attitude problem. I still do this occasionally to a lesser extent. They just don't get it and never will but for some odd reason I keep trying. I validate my own self-worth now but I still feel the need to have my parents know the real me-not the one they have created in their minds. They have no idea who I really am on the inside.

My mother used to make me so mad. Later on, she told my first boyfriend that she did it on purpose. No explanation why though. Truly it must have been jealousy because I have always been a strong-willed person that takes care of myself. Who knows.

Also, its nice to run other women that enjoy math and technical stuff!

david mcmahon said...

Hi Victorya,

I am going to read this post again, because it is so powerful in every respect.

I would like to say to you that this form of writing certainly does evaluate your own life and your own appreciation of who and what is important to you.

Have a look at some of the blogs on my blogroll - several of them deal with similar issues.

Comfort is a nebulous prospect, but I wish it for you.

With very warm wishes

David

Victorya said...

Thanks for the comment David, I will definately check it out more.

and heaven, I'll never forget what a friend of mine said when she witnessed the relationship with my mother in college, "From silence to screaming in 60 seconds flat"

She never 'got it' and never will, and there comes a point to just deal with yourself without that kind of influence and recognize some things weren't meant to be.

Oh yeah, and Math rulez! lol. It helped me out a lot when I was younger, because no matter how many times you do a problem the answer will be the same. It was never that easy in my house, reactions changed on a dime.

Chewy said...

You are a winner. Keep strong. Keep writing. And remember the good stuff!

Michelle said...

Hi

I found your blog through Amel's "thinking blogger" award tag.

THis bit struck me hard -

"Before I even appeared on the scene I was made out as a liar. There were a lot of lies they told about me before I even walked into a room for the first time."

Yeah, I've had that my entire life. Not my mom or dad, another two family members. We lived in a small town where the lies spread fast, so my life there was always judged before I even left my front door.

Reading your posts is a bit like those Russians who dive into the sea in wintyer - screaming painful, but very therapeutic.

I'll be back.
*namaste

(*which usually is taken as basically meaning "I bow to you", but in this case needs the full longer translation I prefer - "I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace, When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One." )

Victorya said...

Thanks for the kind words Michelle, it's said you had to suffer through the same thing. And I love your expanded meaning of namaste, really made me smile :)