One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)

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thetruth

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One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« on: November 05, 2018, 10:49:12 AM »
Hi,

I haven't posted in this area before because I have been more focused on workplace harassment issues that took place much later in life than the event which I plan to share now.

I have just been watching Richard Grannon on youtube, something he said has prompted me to think about an event in my life and what it has done to me. It may in fact be the root cause of much of the emotional difficulty I have had in life. I am sure some other people on here might relate to the experience I had.

When I was 14 I was beaten savagely with a stick around the legs by my father. My mother screamed her support for him to do this and later that evening she told me that they wished they didn't have to do things like this but it was for my own good.

My crime was that I forgot to come straight home from church to get my homework done in order that we could go to my Grandmother's house. In fact, to this day I have no memory of that instruction being given. I wasn't given any opportunity to explain that, while at church I had simply forgotten my mother's instruction and that my friend had suggested going to look for golf balls on the golf course straight after mass. The rage in both of my parents meant that there was no point attempting to verbally reason with them. In the last 29 years I have never brought up the subject in order to explain that I had simply forgotten the instruction that morning. Their ferocity can only be explained by their assumption that I didn't follow their instruction in order to spite them.

Maybe I should add that I was the oldest of 6 young children, my mother had slightly older sisters who were reporting the wondrous academic achievements of their children and my mother had been pressurising me for about 5 years already at the time of the assault, to achieve top marks at school. She resented me for pointing out to her that the grades she so desperately needed me to get were more for her to tell her sisters about than they were for my well being. My mother created a war around this issue and she involved my father in it too. She made it his duty also. To this day I am dismayed at my fathers anger that morning. I can understand my mothers rage as it was her war we were playing out but I don't fully understand the degree of my father's rage that day.

Richard Grannon said that after such an event a wound can be inflicted on the central nervous system and after that point the world is no longer a safe place. I remember a weird numbness following that event. I think it was my first big trauma but maybe it was just an introduction to a new type of trauma, an unprecedented intensity of trauma which would happen repeatedly thereafter. He says the core message after such an event is that "reality isn't safe".

I think that event maybe had a very big impact on my psychological experience/landscape. That day when my parent's did what they did, they showed me that life wasn't safe. They became my greatest source of danger. I think they set me adrift on a new path of uncertainty, fear and insecurity. I think it has made me feel different from my siblings and my peers. I think it has fostered a lot of feelings of loneliness. It is very likely the reason I have had so much depression in my life.

Any feedback would be much appreciated. I think my world changed that day. I think my life has been more emotionally difficult because of that event.



« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 04:56:45 PM by thetruth »

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Boy22

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2018, 01:20:25 PM »
I am sad.

I understand what you are saying about the significance of this event and its shaping of your brain and nerve systems.

Your uncovering of this now is a sign of both how damaged you are and how ready you are to heal.

But being ready can be a frightening thing.

Good luck.  :grouphug:

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thetruth

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2018, 04:09:09 PM »
Thanks for your response Boy22. I'm 43, I am reflecting on a life shaped and defined by bouts of depression. My entire life has been about emotional management. I mean it has been designed around trying to not become depressed again. Work has been very haphazard and disjointed. I've never maintained jobs nor relationships. My parents lost faith in me after numerous failed attempts at careers and relationships. I recall being spoken to as if I was a failure. I am now 100% certain that the emotional instability which made it impossible to hold down jobs and stay in relationships was their doing. They messed up my head and then said, why is our son such a loser?

Since I posted this morning I read some other stories in this section of the forum. It is very clear that my case is comparatively tame compared to some other cases described here. However, there was nothing tame about the depths of the depression I have experienced and nothing tame about numerous traumatic psychological crises that I have experienced during my adult life. My 5 younger siblings do not know those experiences in their own lives. I hope they never ever know them. I only say that because I think it is telling that my mental health has been so erratic and so poor compared to my siblings who did not endure the same process of psychological abuse, nor did they get unjustly beaten with a stick for just being an ordinary teenage boy.

That solitary event scarred my mind. I remember how it changed my outlook. After it I ceased to regard my interests and desires as important. All of my thoughts after that day were processed via a filter which sounded a bit like, 'If it doesnt please mother it could be foolish to think about it or do it.'  This was like a new mantra. Everything I did had to be pleasing to my parents. I was utterly controlled after the beating. I think my life became underpinned by a quiet desperation since that day, a constant state of insecurity. By 24 I was in a very scary dark place for the first time and I was put in hospital for the depression.

I now know why that happened. They removed my sense of worth and no matter what I did, I could not achieve a sense of security. They gave me a one way ticket to depression and then wondered why I was depressed. At the time I could not tell them why, I now know better.

I hope my experiences are not unqualified to be in this section of the forum, the other tales I have read here are of more extreme forms of abuse. I am shocked at what some of the contributors have been through. The cruelty is appalling.

« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 06:36:36 PM by thetruth »

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LilyITV

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2018, 04:46:00 PM »
OMG that incident was horrific.  Yes, even one incident like that could cause trauma that could affect you the rest of your life. 

Also, although you focus on the physical abuse you experienced at 14, it sounds like your parents were emotionally abusive and neglectful as well.  Emotional abuse can be very subtle and often flies under the radar but is just as damaging as other, more easily identified forms of abuse.   Emotional abuse is very broad and isn't limited to name-calling.   

Another thing that stands out to me in your post is that you really minimize the abuse you suffered in your childhood.  I bring that up because I do the same thing, but over and over again in all that I've read is that minimization is a big stumbling block for C-PTSD sufferers in general.  Even people who have suffered from very overt forms of abuse do it and it's very counterproductive. 

You deserve help and you don't have to justify your need for help to the world.

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thetruth

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2018, 06:29:13 PM »
LilyITV,

You are right. The emotional abuse was ongoing and damaging. When I read Pete Walker's description of the damaging nature of parental contempt it really struck a chord with me. My mother treated me with contempt because I wasn't top of the class like her sister's son was. Another sister had a daughter who was also 'top of the class' material. I was told about this over and over and over. I was compared to 2 cousins who were top of the class and I was expected to be 'better' than virtually all my other cousins and peers. She needed me to be as good as those top 2.

When I wasn't as good as them I was regarded with contempt. She had a face and she had tone of voice which exuded a kind of disgust for me and my grades. Even at 13 years of age I knew instinctively that everything with her attitude towards this was all wrong. At a very early age I knew I was being demanded to perform in a way that none of my friends were. That was damaging to the psyche. The rope I had to jump was always higher than everyone else's and the unfairness was obvious.

Lily for me it is hard to know if it was the emotional abuse or that one extreme physical assault that put me on the path of deep insecurity leading to a life punctuated by depressions. I suspect both things played a role. The whole thing was driven by my mother's own low self esteem. I struggle to feel much empathy for her, she didn't teach me love or empathy. She taught me how to dislike myself. She didn't mean to but that was the result.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 11:49:44 PM by thetruth »

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Boy22

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2018, 06:41:30 PM »
Hey thetruth,

I am 50, it all fell apart for me 18mths ago.

I agree reading some of other peoples lives as revealed here is truly horrifying. I can be grateful that my childhood wasn’t as horrific. Fortunately no-one here seems to hold that against me and there is no competition.

We are all survivors sharing and learning and healing.

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Deep Blue

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2018, 09:16:42 PM »
Hey truth,
I relate to the core message you wrote about.  Reality wasn’t safe.  One of my constant battles to this day is to remind myself that I am safe now.

My brain often flashes back to certain instances of P.A. and “punishments.”  I put punishments in quotations because my abusers were creative and sadistic in what those were.

I learned to dissociate then and still do on accident today.  The fact that you are minimizing is very common.  Your abuse was awful and you didn’t deserve it.

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milk

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2018, 10:14:48 PM »
Hello Truth,

I felt trapped listening to your story — I am sorry you went through that, your parents were not parents at that point; they were sick.  I can relate to Richard Gannon’s Statement about ones body reading reality as unsafe and your response to the damage; depression. I had a similar experience when I left my family of origin, after feeling trapped in an abusive family system. One thing I did to restore my sense of self was travelling. When I was eighteen I lived overseas in Italy and went to school — it was the beginning of me coming out and leaving behind the dissociation. The theory was to experience how other families deal with problems —- it worked, I cried a lot and then I lived (I discovered laughter, flirting, adult play, etc) I sought experiences that were life giving and those dark memories started to fade.

Your world did change that day —-  yet, it doesnt define who you are. In the ‘Body that keeps the score’ there is a chapter about our brains being rewired through new experiences that can start with meditation and mindfulness. I experienced this through hot yoga many years later (a deep release of pain) —- literally being pushed out of my body while I looked at myself in the mirror.

Boy 22 has it right - we are all survivors, sharing, healing, and learning.  In your acknowledgment  here and in all our responses, may you find a way through your pain that will open you up to all the possibilities you are capable of.



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thetruth

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2018, 12:07:39 AM »
Thanks for the responses, it's a bit late for thorough responding on my part tonight.

Since that day I have always had a particular feeling for my parents, both of them. I think the best word I can come up with to describe the feeling is simply antipathy. It's a strange feeling to have for your parents but I'd say it is a feeling shared by many people on here. I cannot believe what they did to a 14 year old. It was violence for a completely innocent mistake.

Thanks you all for the validation!!

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Three Roses

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2018, 01:46:52 AM »
That incident of physical abuse sounds horrific, truly horrific to me. I'm so sorry you went thru that. I'll echo what the others have said - abuse is abuse and it's damaging, it makes us hurt, it causes us to lose any sense of safety, stability, or seeing that others are trustworthy around us.

In the book "The Body Keeps The Score", Bessel van der Kolk says, "After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system that has an altered perception of risk and safety." I know that's certainly been true for me. I think your parents' minimization of you and the constant pressure to be someone different than who you were, the constant comparisons to your siblings and cousins, were every bit as traumatic and damaging as the incident of PA you described.

I hope you'll feel at ease among us, and not minimize the pain you've been through. That is your parents' voices still telling you you're not worthy of esteem, of acceptance, of being wholly and joyfully celebrated as the unique miracle you are. Give yourself permission to stop listening to them.

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thetruth

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2018, 10:02:08 AM »
Hi Deep Blue,

Yes that was an enormous component of the thinking post-beating. Richard Grannon hits the nail on the head with the words, "reality isn't safe". I also felt deeply betrayed by my parents. From that point on everything was different.

When my mother justified her irrational amounts of pressure on me to achieve top grades, by saying that it was for my own good as I would never get a good job if I didnt do well at school, she installed yet another fearful component in my thinking. She thoroughly convinced me that my future adult life was going to be frighteningly difficult. She made me believe my life ahead was going to be a very hard battle. This was an accidental instalment of fear. It was an incidental fearful programming that she never intended to do but it happened all the same.

She was justifying her pressure but I intuitively knew she was full of it. I knew her desires for good grades were fully to assuage her low self esteem and to avoid humiliation among her sisters. I knew I was a pawn and it felt absolutlely terrible. I knew I was being lied to and I knew I was being used. Young people are very perceptive.

They brought those clouds in with an act of violence when I was 14. They pain gestated for a decade and when I was 24 I found myself in psychiatric hospital with genuine clinical depression. I dont think they have the faintest idea of the reality of this process and the part they played in it.


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thetruth

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2018, 10:15:51 AM »
Hi Milk,

Thanks a lot for the kind words. Thanks also for bringing to my attention the book, 'The Body Keeps the Score'.
Three Roses has also mentioned the same book so it is something I must read.

I have always wondered why I have experienced certain deeply intense emotional crises. Im not really even sure what to call these experiences. Are they 'breakdowns'?  Ive had roughly 5 experiences in my life of unimaginable mental torment. I dont know what these things are. I once believed they were demonic attacks. I have dropped all religious belief now and I think it is much more likely these experiences are caused by a certain type of relationship with a certain type of trauma that not everyone has?????

I'm trying to figure out why I've had these really bad experiences, could it all stem from that one original trauma at a young age?

Edit..... those extreme emotional experiences I mentioned above, might they be flashbacks as opposed to breakdowns? Oh I dont know. I'm just thinking out loud. I should read Pete Walker again and get 'The Body Keeps the Score' too.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 10:54:33 AM by thetruth »

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thetruth

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Re: One extreme event in adolescence (Trigger Warning)
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2018, 10:30:32 AM »
That incident of physical abuse sounds horrific, truly horrific to me. I'm so sorry you went thru that. I'll echo what the others have said - abuse is abuse and it's damaging, it makes us hurt, it causes us to lose any sense of safety, stability, or seeing that others are trustworthy around us.

In the book "The Body Keeps The Score", Bessel van der Kolk says, "After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system that has an altered perception of risk and safety." I know that's certainly been true for me. I think your parents' minimization of you and the constant pressure to be someone different than who you were, the constant comparisons to your siblings and cousins, were every bit as traumatic and damaging as the incident of PA you described.

I hope you'll feel at ease among us, and not minimize the pain you've been through. That is your parents' voices still telling you you're not worthy of esteem, of acceptance, of being wholly and joyfully celebrated as the unique miracle you are. Give yourself permission to stop listening to them.

Hi Three Roses,

Thanks for your response. Yes I think I have had a very altered perception of risk and safety after that event. I also think that after my first bout of bad depression my altered perception of risk and safety was compounded. The knowledge of what depression could be like actually meant that reality was scary. It was scary because that might happen again.

I am starting to come to terms with the possibility that all my difficulty with low self esteem and depression is a product of emotional abuse as an adolescent, enabled further with some additional violence for good measure. As a late teenager and early 20 something, using alcohol to self medicate certainly didnt help matters. However all my peers abused alcohol during the same period and I dont know of any of them that had to go to hospital for depression at 24.

Drinking was not the major factor influencing the depression, it was the emotional desolation I was trying to medicate.