Mother’s Day When Your Mother Doesn’t Love You

Growing up, I don’t have a single memory of my mom holding me or saying she loved me. No photos of me in her lap, or her holding my hand as we walked down the sidewalk. In fact, there are no photos of me with her period.

I wish I had kind memories, even if only a couple, but absolutely none.

Mother’s Day sucks for me. I try to dissociate its existence so much that I am barely present for my own kids’ desire to celebrate the day. Sadly, I would prefer to stay in bed and not recognize the day.

I do try to just focus on my present day, but all the messages coming from seemingly everywhere about what great moms everyone says they had/have, puts it right back in my face of what I didn’t have.

It is a day I feel shaky inside, trying not to let my thoughts wander to why my mom did what she did to me. Trying not to have the rapid flashbacks of what she did give me.

Logically, it doesn’t make sense that a mother would do what she did to me. She was the opposite of what we would call maternal. So, it is dismissed as she is just a sick, twisted, sadistic, narcissist.

I can’t remember a time in my childhood when my mom did not hate me. When I go back to my earliest memories with her, my body tenses up with fear, shame, and confusion.

When I think of my mom’s body, I am repulsed and frightened. I think about my very young self laying in her bed in my father’s absence. I am trying not to be tense for fear she will get angry at me. She scratches my back for a few minutes, and it feels good. Then she pulls me toward her naked body. This becomes a regular thing for us. My father is absent a lot, and she scratches my back before she sexually abuses me.

This is as close to love as my mother ever came. She didn’t even bother to pretend that she cared about me in public.

My mom, though functioning as an alcoholic, always knew how to get what she wanted. She was powerful in her social circles and our community.

My mom sex-trafficked me from as far back as I can remember to get what she wanted. It didn’t matter the who or for what. If she could benefit from turning my body over to someone, she did. Sadly, sometimes it was only for her sick, sadistic pleasure.

It is hard to survive a sadistic, narcissistic mom. Most days I wish I didn’t.

I am still here, and honestly don’t know why, except to raise my own kids. I don’t know why I am not a person who would do to my children what was done to me. I imagine my mom’s parents did really awful stuff to her.

It is strange or lucky to not be part of the generational abuse that goes on. I don’t know why I didn’t become her, but I do thank God I did not.

My mom is still alive this Mother’s Day, and it feels like she is never going to die. I stay away from her as much as I can. When we are together, I become this numb person who does her best to not think of her mom for who she truly is.

As a family, at some point it was decided that we would not speak of the past, ever. I can’t say this made my mom become a loving mom, or even an ok mom. We just pretend like it didn’t happen, and God forbid if I let my guard down.

I didn’t escape “ok” from childhood. It left me saddled with complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Not to mention my severe attachment problems. These 3 things affect my everyday life.

So, it’s Mother’s Day, the day I am supposed to celebrate my mother. I wish I could fool myself into believing she wasn’t that bad, or that she really does love me.

Unfortunately, when I was in my early 30s, I had just driven 4 hours to see my parents with my own family. I don’t really know what happened, but within 10 minutes of being there, I found myself confronting both of my parents about never loving me, and only loving my siblings. I can remember so clearly both of my parents just sitting there silently, neither of them willing to deny they didn’t love me, no matter the cost to me. I put my family back in the car and left after that conversation, never to speak of it again.

But in case I forgot, fast-forward another 15 years when my father is dying and I am the only one in the family willing to take care of him. I watch as my father shares his love for my mother and siblings when they would be willing to be in the room with him (because watching him die was just something they didn’t want to deal with). Me. By his side, everyday for months. Not once did he say he loved me. Not once. Of course, like the trained dog I had become, I would tell him how much I loved him.

My mother did not thank me for the severe trauma I went through during this experience of taking care of my dad (another story for another day). Instead, when I begged her to come out of her bedroom to the living room to see my father on his deathbed, she slapped me across the face with as much ferociousness as she could muster, and I just stood there as the wounded adult child.

This woman, whom I twice saved her life as an adult, just never let go of her hatred of me.

This woman. My mother. She will not be celebrated. But this trained dog will call her still to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.

What it is like to have repressed memories resurface

A message from the Universe, I suppose. Everywhere I turn I am seeing videos and stories about repressed memories.

To some, using the words “repressed memories” brings up the idea they are not true memories.

I have to admit, I don’t even use the words “repressed memories” when I often think about or fight to remember all that has been forgotten from my childhood.

For me, I have always known I was the victim of a lot of child abuse. I just did my best to not think about it, and to try to move on with my life as if that didn’t happen.

There have been moments in my life when I was able to get away with not feeling like an abused person. It isn’t hard to pull off looking normal when people really don’t look that closely at you.

For instance, when I was in high school, my behavior was full of contradictions, but nobody really cared enough to pay attention or say anything to me.

In high school, I was the nerd who excelled in ROTC. I also skipped school and hung out with the druggies. I was a nervous wreck when it came to dating boys, and I was also spending a lot of time having sex with boys and men in dangerous situations. I was both super responsible, and super reckless.

I later learned this was my Dissociative Identity Disorder playing out without me realizing it was doing so.

Even with all those contradictions in my behavior, I didn’t try to figure it out. I was hell-bent on repressing my past and trying to pretend I was alright.

I could remember plenty of abuse if I wanted to. When I was in college and got raped, that stirred the pot for sure. After that, I fell in love with a man, which I later learned didn’t work so well with the idea of keeping my past repressed.

I had plenty of meaningless sex in high school, but now in college, having fallen in love for the first time, sex was extremely difficult, and becoming more difficult with each day that passed. My past was really coming back to haunt me as I experienced flash backs and younger parts while trying to have sex with a man I loved.

Being the martyr most CSA survivors are, I told this man to leave me enough times that he finally did. I was heart broken, which is probably what led to my first psychiatric demise and hospitalization.

Fast forward 30 years, and I can still remember countless episodes of me being sexually abused as a young child. What’s missing is that I often don’t remember right before, some of the during, and definitely not afterward. It’s like I don’t have complete memories of anything, but I know with certainty these incidents I do remember are true.

Nowadays, I am finally working to try to process these memories, and for me, I honestly have no idea when new pieces of the memories are coming.

Yesterday, I was sitting in my car after therapy thinking about a specific abuse situation I had mentioned to my therapist, and I described it in session as a random occurrence that happened to me. Not 45 seconds in my car I was consumed with flashbacks and voices of my mom telling me to get out of the car right before I walked toward the man in the parking garage. I must have been refusing which is a little surprising to me as I normally did what my mom said, but she wanted me to get out into a darkened parking garage by myself when I was around 5. I was terrified and knew no good was coming from me getting out of the car. But the flood of memories could feel her anger and her demands and her pushing me out of the car.

“Get out!”

This little piece of repressed memory has left me intensely suicidal for days. Somehow it was better to think I randomly encountered the creepy man in the parking garage than to know this was yet another man my mom had set me up for.

Another betrayal.

It is not like this is news to me that my mom was a disgusting, narcissistic, psychopath. I have known that for a long time.

But, this little piece of the memory still hurts so much. I guess it is hard to come to terms with someone’s evilness when you keep getting new pieces of evilness tossed your way.

It is not that I forgive, I don’t. It is not that I love her, I don’t. She deserves my hatred and worse, but I am limp with weakness when it comes to having any appropriate or real feelings toward her.

Incidentally, I ask my parts to tell me more, and I am often frustrated when they don’t. I feel like I can handle it, but now I realize each new fact brings new pain.

So what is it like to receive repressed memories. It is fucking awful, and there is nothing you can do to prepare for it. The best I can hope to do is to ride it out without killing myself.

Staying alive has been really hard with this stupid new piece of a memory. The worst part of a memory is not always what seems like the obvious worst part.

I do believe it is important work to work through memories to move toward recovery. I disagree with those who avoid it and say it is not necessary.

For me, I may not heal, or integrate, or even find happiness, but I will at least know who I really am before I die. And that has to be enough.

Drifting

Drifting toward health.

Drifting toward death.

It doesn’t seem like this should be so confusing, but it is.

Some days ago, a little girl, maybe 4 or 5, stood in my childhood bedroom watching in freeze mind as my mother threw out her toys into the big green dumpster my mother had wheeled into the room.

This child did not understand, as any reasonable person wouldn’t, why her mother insisted on stripping every bit of humanity out of her.

She caused no trouble in the house. She did everything her mother or brothers told her to do. She had sex with whoever wanted it. She tried not to breathe as she was afraid it would upset them. Her existence was so minimal.

Still, with trying to do everything right, her mother hated her with such sadistic pleasure.

Her mother had made sure to strip her of everything.

Decency. Humanity. Love. Free thought. All gone.

She was forced to live in a room that only had a bed and a piece of office furniture. There could be no signs of a human child living there. Only nothingness, so she would always know she was nothing and nobody.

The little girl is stuck in this place, long past trying to understand her life.

Confusion, obedience, and an ounce of pain belonged to her.

I watched her for days. She was stuck there. I was stuck watching her. I had no explanation to give her. Yes, it was all vaguely familiar to me, but I wanted to keep it “not me” because that looks like such a painful, awful existence. Who would want that?

Feelings of suicide had been circling us as a system. I was not in as much control as I usually am, partly because watching this little girl made me want to die.

So I let the others inside me deprive the body of oxygen until I reached an altered state of consciousness. Here, I could go to the little girl in the bedroom.

Like I would do with my own wounded outside children, I reached down and picked her up and held her. She had never been held before, but she did not resist me and gave in to trusting me and let me carry her away.

I held her tightly against me, with her legs wrapped around me, and I could feel her pain and confusion. It is stuck in my heart.

I wanted to promise her that she would never be hurt again, but I knew I couldn’t do that in this very imperfect world.

She had endured more pain and suffering than a nation of people.

She would experience it no more.

I delivered her to the angels in heaven as I knew of no other place that promises the end of suffering. I told her she would be safe there, and the angels would love her and take care of her.

After I delivered her, I gasped for breath to get some oxygen in my earthly body. I was barely there. I was barely making it out alive.

I struggle to care about the damage done to my brain, or my almost lost life. It seems unimportant in the scheme of things.

I look to my childhood bedroom everyday since then, and it is empty. She is gone. She is free from the cruelty dealt to her.

I am relieved to have set her free. And uncertain as to what this means for me.

Namaste

Hiding from my truth

I was getting too close to acknowledging the intense pain of my childhood abuse. It was coming for me. I got really scared.

As someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I managed to dissociate it from my awareness, and eventually switch to an Identity that doesn’t experience abuse and lives in the here and now.

My system is mad that this Identity went to therapy this week and basically “wasted” the session by talking about mostly nothing.

Our experience seems normal on the outside. We are taking care of the kids and participating in life to some degree.

Our memory is still severely impaired. My son asked me my neighbor’s name, who I know well, and I couldn’t remember it. So, so frustrating.

I don’t know how long we can hold out in this safer position. I feel sadness and suicide creeping around nearby tonight.

I read an article about Designer Kate Spade’s suicide at age 55, and found myself jealous. She left a note to her 13 year old daughter telling the daughter it wasn’t her fault. My children have always kept me from doing it.

I have a mostly good life, yet I selfishly want to end it. What is wrong with me besides the obvious?

Facing the truth of our childhood

Where do you belong in the world when you were raised as nothing or no one that mattered by your family of origin?

I find that lots of people try to tell me that this history doesn’t matter—that I am still someone–no matter how horribly I was treated. I find these well intentioned people have one thing in common: they were all raised by at least one parent who thought they mattered and cared about their wellbeing.

I keep coming back to the metaphor of a house to explain my thoughts. In order for a house to be strong, sturdy, and even to stay standing, it must have a solid foundation. When it doesn’t, people can keep throwing money at the house to try to repair the faulty foundation or build around it, but they never end up with the strong home they long for unless they tear it completely down and rebuild it.

My start in life was bad. Both of my parents were alcoholics, and my mother was hitting her peak of alcoholism when she was pregnant with me and during my early years.

My parent’s alcoholism didn’t just affect them. It affected my entire family system.

For reasons I may never clearly understand, my parents were involved with some sick and on the fringe behavior and people.

I have two older brothers, but my parents wanted a girl, so they tried one last time. I had always thought they wanted a girl for the normal reasons one might want a girl after having two boys.

I was wrong. My mom hated me for as long as I can remember, and possibly from the moment I was born. I was never good enough for her, and she criticized me daily about who I was.

What has become clearer to me recently is that both of my parents treated me in ways that no child should be treated.

From a very early age, my value in my family was to meet the sexual, sadistic, and financial needs of the family.

My entire family sexually abused me on a regular basis. I tried to deny it as long as I could, but my dissociative barriers started really breaking down, and my childhood amnesia is starting to get filled in.

With the memories of my incestuous abuse from a very early age, I can no longer deny that my family not only didn’t love me, but they also didn’t even care for me enough to treat me like a human being.

I was intentionally hurt for their pleasure or financial gain. “Parts” formed in response to keep me alive through this horrific childhood. My spirit died, but my body stayed alive. This distinction is important because I am not sure one can recapture a dead spirit, at least I haven’t so far.

I live today with many, many parts who are like people sharing my body with me. Some people may think it is cool, but I do not. I envision many souls trapped in one body leaving all the souls to live an incomplete existence under the best of circumstances.

The many parts living within me are all smack in the middle of facing the truth of our childhood in many different ways. The truth has taken our breath away. Some sit paralyzed with this new information, others feel extremely despondent and broken with this realization. It isn’t easy for any of us in our system.

Forget the processing and grieving of what we have been through. How does one even pick up the pieces to carry on with knowledge that no one loved us, or cared one bit about our innocence as a child. We did not matter to anyone for a very long time.

It is hard to face the truth that we were merely a “thing” for people to do whatever they wanted with. Either they did not see us as a human being, or they had no humanity within them.

Facing the truth, and not believing the fantasy version of my life I created, is an extraordinarily painful state of being.

I alternate between these states: incredible sadness, suicidal feelings, anger, self-harm feelings, and feelings of being lost and numb.

I don’t know what the next step is for me. My therapist worries the memories and feelings are too overwhelming for me. The way I look at it is I have two choices: I can face the truth and hope I don’t die in the process, or I can stay dissociated and keep myself living in La-La Land.

Neither of them sound appealing, honestly. Since I have been living a dissociated life for my entire life, I suppose it makes sense to travel the newer road.

As I choose this new road, I worry about the questions I can’t answer right now. “If I am not who I thought I was, what does that mean for my identity today?” “If I accept the truth that I was treated like garbage by my family of origin, can I still exist knowing that my creators valued my life at zero?” “Is there something inherently wrong with me that my family decided to treat me as garbage who didn’t matter to anyone?”

I can’t find sufficient words to describe my feelings about this journey. I have never quite understood how this journey works, but somehow I have always had the feeling that someone else, someone wiser and more powerful, has control over the path this journey takes.

There is comfort in knowing I am not in control of the journey, perhaps because I would hope a higher power would show me more mercy than I give myself.

Not able to name my perpetrators

I have been struggling a lot lately with the idea of naming my abusers, or even publicly claiming my abuse.

I realize I am still holding overwhelming shame and fear about the abuse I suffered. With every mention of child abuse on my Facebook page, I worry what my mother would do to me if she found out I was telling anyone. What would my oldest brother do to me who is a narcissistic, psychopath living a seemingly proper life?

I have more abusers than I could actually name if I wanted to. I did name one recently who was a very public figure, and now I am being asked to help others take him down in a very public way (he is actually dead, but still has prominence in the world). Not sure what I will do about this situation.

My abusers did a really good job in keeping me quiet. Even at my very adult age I still fear naming those I could name.

It is complicated for me. Every day it is a struggle to keep my fragile mind intact with regards to the severe trauma I endured during my childhood.

My brain was so fragile before age 11 that I truly cannot remember most of my childhood. I mostly remember snippets of abuse, but I can’t remember hardly any “normal” or good memories.

Most of my abuse happened before age 11, but still lots of abuse happened after age 11, too. Once you get branded with the invisible “V” on your forehead to let the predators out there know you are a victim, new predators can find you easily.

Because my child abuse was severe and happened when I was so young, my mind did not come together the way it should have through proper development. Instead, the trauma caused me to develop Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which can still wreak havoc on my life today.

My mind is a jumbled mess of brokenness.

My emotions, memories, capabilities, and needs are broken into separate parts of myself. Though I can appear very strong, there are many days when I am at my breaking point and no one outside of myself even knows it.

I know I must stay functioning and strong for my children. They need me and are more important to me than anything else in this world.

Sadly, I don’t even feel a need for justice toward my perpetrators by naming them.

I barely survived my childhood, and still struggle to survive in my adult self.

Just about every kind of abuse has been done to me, including mind control. And I am weak because of this.

So, forgive me if I am not in a place to name my perpetrators. I believe I would do it if I knew of someone in imminent harm by one of these people.

One day I will be stronger, but that day is not today.

Sharing an abuser with someone famous doesn’t make it any better

When I first started reading the New York Times op ed piece of someone famous recounting how they were abused growing up, my heart started tightening with each word on the page.

I knew, with every word written describing her abuse, and not naming her abuser, she was literally describing one of my many abusers. My chest was tight, and I was barely breathing.

I felt frozen. My mind was alternating between paralysis and flashbacks of this man we shared as our abuser.

She was able to describe every despicable detail of this man and how he started sexually abusing her when she was 14.

My mind was flashing back to a day of being in this man’s van, in my childhood neighborhood, watching in terror out the front of the van window as my mother and this abuser argued outside it. They were arguing about me, and something my mom wanted in exchange for me. I was only 7 or 8 years old.

This was a habit of my narcissistic, sadistic mother. She would trade me to men for things she wanted from them. I think she usually got whatever it was she wanted.

By the time I was in the van watching this “heated negotiation” go down, I was already broken by all the abuse I had previously endured.

My being was silent and resigned to this way of life.

As I write this, I can feel this disgusting man on top of me. His sweaty skin touching me. He was a pig.

My mom got what she wanted from this man for a couple of years. She wanted this former Olympian and pillar of the community to coach one of my brothers to become an Olympic swimmer.

I was excited for my brother because he could have made it to the Olympics. He was a great swimmer, and still has the body of a great swimmer some 40 or so years later. The chaos and pain of our lives derailed those plans.

For this negotiation to work out between the coach and my mom, I had to be on the swim team, too. Sadly, I was a pathetic swimmer, but had to get in the pool with some of the best swimmers who also wanted to be Olympians.

With each lap my weak body swam during those practices, I cried and screamed and wished I was dead while I went from one end of the pool to the other. Sometimes I would swim to the bottom of the pool and try to will myself into staying down for good.

Sometimes I focused all my attention on the cheeseburger I was going to get at the snack bar afterward. Food was scarce for me in those days, so it was a luxurious treat I wasn’t accustomed to.

By this point in my life, I was lost, alone, and like a robot. I didn’t feel human, and thought I was already dead floating around the planet with seemingly no control over my life. I had no one to turn to. It was just me, on my own, in a very cruel world.

My life has always felt ruined because no matter how many years pass, the horrific abuse I experienced is still there. My mind holds it alive for me and won’t let it die.

But, to read this famous person’s account of her awful abuse by this man, I felt terrible. I think she has always struggled to get people to believe her because no one wants to believe this Olympian and pillar in the community also molested children.

I don’t care if anyone believes me. It doesn’t matter to me in my healing.

I reached out to the famous person by sending her a message on Facebook with the intention of validating her by telling her he abused me, too. I never thought of anything past that.

The next day, one of her employees contacted me through Facebook saying the famous person wanted to talk to me.

At first, I was like sure, here’s my info. Then I felt panic and fear sink in. What had I done? I know better than to talk publicly about my abuse while my mom is still alive. It is more than forbidden.

A couple of hours later as I was at a baseball camp with my son, I see a call from Los Angeles come in. I listen to the message and it was her. The tears welled up inside me as this brought this particular abuse front and center in my soul.

I felt pathetic and ashamed because I didn’t even feel worthy enough to speak to her. Not because she is famous, but because I am so ashamed of me and my abuse history.

She has the courage to speak up because she is strong and has made something of her life. She can remember every detail of her story.

I grew up like a piece of garbage to my family. I was disposable as they let my life unfold the way it did. I never mattered to them, so often I don’t believe I matter to anyone but my children.

How can I explain to this strong, courageous woman that I am so worthless as a human being that my own mother facilitated my abuse with our shared abuser?

I can’t just join the “me too” campaign and rock on with my sisters in the world who admitted their abuse.

There is only a small minority of the world who understands the type of childhood I had, and the baggage that goes with it.

My mind shattered. I am not whole. I am a 50 year old woman who lives her life with different “parts” of myself who helped me survive the never-ending abuse of my childhood.

My brain and spirit are ruined most days. I continue to fight and believe that one day I might recover from the brutal experiences of my life.

It’s interesting. I have learned there are those who have been abused who want to punish their abusers, and there are those of us who are only trying to hold onto our lives and have no expectations of trying to get justice because holding onto life is hard enough.

Sadly, Justice left me the moment I was born. Justice is overwhelming and complicated for me. It is not for me.

In the end, I am fairly sure there is no real justice for any of us who have been abused, because you cannot change the lost innocence and the damage done to those of us who manage to carry on with our scarred lives.