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Development of CPTSD in Childhood => Causes => Neglect/Abandonment => Topic started by: tiasarah on June 12, 2015, 03:58:58 AM

Title: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: tiasarah on June 12, 2015, 03:58:58 AM
I know there are people who've had it much worse than me, and sometimes I feel bad that what happened to me hurt me as badly as it did. Compared to people who have spent 50, 60 or more years feeling worthless, the 40 I spent doesn't seem like much. And reading people's stories on here, they have suffered horrific sexual and physical abuse. For me, it was almost entirely emotional neglect.

My earliest memory of my dad is when I was 5 I remember him standing over me yelling at me that he never wanted me anyway. I had tried really hard to convince myself I didn't remember that. I didn't remember much about my childhood anyway, until I started remembering as I worked on a 12 step program and doing the moral inventory. I started thinking "OK, I did this thing, and I know it was wrong to do it, why did I think it was OK?" and I'd trace that back to something earlier that had happened that made me think that was OK, and then I remembered stuff. My dad liked to slap kids around, but he didn't do anything horrifying or prosecutable under the standards of the time. He threatened to beat my brother to within an inch of his life, he bruised my sister's face, but all that happened after I left and he never mutilated anyone or caused major physical injury. Nobody ever touched me inappropriately until my now ex-husband came into my life.

Mostly it was just the ignoring and the constant criticism that got to me. I spent most of my time in my bedroom, reading, because that was what I was allowed to do when I wasn't at school or at church or playing with my only friend. I had more freedom as a child than as a teenager. I was allowed to play outside and ride my bike. But I learned that if I wanted to get away from my dad's criticism, my room was the place to do it. One time my parents were mad at me because I hadn't cleaned my room, so I came home from school to find my bedroom door nailed shut, with a note on the nail that said "Condemned By Order Of The Fire Department". I was shut out of my room for three days. Luckily my mom had just done laundry and so I at least had clean clothes to wear. I was so afraid of my father's verbal criticism that when he accidentally caught some rope hanging on the wall on fire, I was afraid to mention it to him lest he tell me how stupid I was for not understanding why he set the rope on fire, in case he'd done it on purpose. I did mention it though, and he was able to put out the fire before it got out of control. I didn't know this wasn't right, because they sent me to a private school that was just exactly the same. Kids were routinely locked in dark closets, given 5 minutes to eat lunch (or not allowed to eat lunch until 2:30pm) so as not to disrupt the school day, I was made to stand for 10-15 minutes with my arms out and books on my hands, we were made to sit still not moving a muscle for a minimum of 5 minutes (and since we had to start over every time we twitched, I was there for about an hour trying to get my 5 minutes in), etc. They ran out of math to teach me so I was taught secretarial skills and I earned my own tuition starting in 4th grade.

The incident that had the most lasting effect on me was when I broke my foot in an accident at a swimming pool. My friend's parents brought me home, and my mom put me on the couch with my foot elevated and iced. My dad was a doctor and she begged my dad for probably 10 minutes to look at my foot and see if I needed to go to the hospital. He argued with her about it longer than it would have taken to actually look at my foot. He said I was making up the pain I said I was in, in order to get attention (bet I was making up the swelling and purple too) and that I had just bruised the bone and that I needed to shut up and stop whining about it. He allowed my mom to wrap it in an elastic bandage and for two weeks I walked on that broken foot. My mom's car was in the shop and my dad was on call so he couldn't give her his car, and in those days you had to walk everywhere to pay bills and such, and I was the oldest and only 10 and couldn't be left home alone, so I had to walk everywhere with my mom and siblings. The only reason it got any medical attention was that I had my annual checkup already scheduled. Luckily the fracture wasn't all the way through, and it had been well wrapped so it was healing correctly, so I only had the cast 4 weeks. But from that incident I learned that nobody gave a flying bag of horse crap about me and that if I was ever in pain I was making it up to get attention, and that attention was something I did not deserve.

As a teen I was very isolated. I was allowed to go to church, where the girls made fun of me. I was allowed to go to school, where no one would be my friend. I was allowed to play in orchestras, where I was too busy making music to socialize. And that was about it. I wasn't allowed to go play at friends' houses, even if I'd had any. In the six years I was in junior high and high school, I think I went out with friends maybe half a dozen times. Most of those were in my last 2 years of high school.

That's just my childhood. I married a man who paid attention to me, until he found more interesting things to do like hurting our kids, forcing me to watch TV with him for hours every night instead of cleaning up after dinner and putting kids to bed, stepping over me when I passed out due to a medical condition while pregnant, handing me a gun when I was suicidal, and many other things too numerous to mention here.

It wasn't really THAT bad... was it? Some of the people who know my story say "that's worse than what I suffered," and these are people who were thrown down staircases or passed around like party favors from the age of 5. I don't know what to make of it.
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: keepfighting on June 12, 2015, 10:50:01 AM
Hi, tiasarah,

first off:  :bighug:

Kudos to you and your younger self for being a fighter, a survivor, a person. You did well in bad and loveless circumstances.

I know there are people who've had it much worse than me, and sometimes I feel bad that what happened to me hurt me as badly as it did.

For years, that's the way I felt/thought as well. Luckily, my t caught this invalidating way of thinking and my tendency to minimize the impact of my own experiences. She taught me that it's ok to grieve the love and affection I never got, to grieve the childhood I was denied and to feel compassion for the teenager struggling to survive, to find love and friendship.

You have every right to feel and acknowledge the hurt that you have experienced in your life. My heart goes out to you when I read your story. So many betrayals by persons who should have protected you - and so much pain that was not allowed to surface and be tended to.  :hug:

I hope you are in a place right now where it is possible to grieve and to start treating the old wounds with (self)compassion and (self)care.
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: Indigochild on June 12, 2015, 06:24:01 PM
Hi Tiasarah

Welcome, if you are new!

I have no idea what the rules are on here, and i think it would make sense to not say certain things to avoid upsetting people, or of balancing them.
I have no idea if its the right thing to do, but as you feel bad for what you have been through I have to say this:
I really don't think that you understand the magnitude of what you have been through.
Below states what i know to be true based on the information you provided.
TRIGGER warining.
I really urge caution reading ahead.

Firstly, I am so sorry you had such a painful childhood.

Emotional neglect is at the core of all abuse.
If you are being abused, in whatever way, you are being *emotionally* neglected.
Who ever is abusing you does not care about your emotions and how you feel if they are doing that to you.

Emotional neglect is emotional abandonment.

I am so sorry you had to endure your dad saying such hurtful things to you, and the shouting.
Thats got to really cut deep.
I have to just point out, that saying to a child that he never wanted you anyway, is emotional abuse. Very emotionally abusive thing to say. And shouting is verbal abuse.
Constant criticism is also emotional abuse. Tears you down. Wrecks your self esteem or any chance of developing any as a child.

Being ignored is incredibly painful. That is psychological abuse.
It sends the message to a child, that they are unimportant.  They don't matter.
That they are not special and loved.
Im so sorry you had a childhood spending most of your time in your room. That happened to me too. Its such a sad way to grow up.
And spending time outside, because you were allowed to do what you wanted because your parent/s didnt bother?

Your parents not letting you into your room for three days - just because you hadn't cleaned it!! Nailing it shut!?? Thats crazy behaviour!
That is extreme for the circumstance- a child not cleaning their room!
Sever punishment for what you did.

Social isolation too is a form of emotional abuse. And its abuse to have to observe acts of violence, or threatened acts of violence, to you, or to another sibling.
Even if you wasnt punched in the face like your sister? sorry i cant remember what you wrote...and you had left home, no child, adult or not, needs that kind of pressure of knowing that their sibling is hurt. That is not the kind of thing any child or adult should be worrying about. You needed to focus on yourself and being

It sounds like you were very scared living with you dad. Not the way a little girl should grow up.
Your school also sounds abusive. Im sorry you didnt get much of a break at school either.

That is physical neglect- your parents making you walk on your broken foot!!!
He should have looked at it and your mum should have left him as he put up with her *begging*! and didnt do F all.
Of course it thought you that known gave a crap about you and how much pain you was in.

Im sorry your in a bad marriage. or where in one.
The way we feel about ourselves, we attract all we think we deserve, as well as attracting similar man to your dad / parents.

Im sorry you feel bad.
I think you would fit very well here.
Your experience is extremely valid. It is horrifying. It is abusive and neglectful.
No wonder you are in pain.  You have every right to feel the way you do, and you are very unfortunate to have had 1 day of this crap, let alone 40 long years of it.
Emotional neglect and emotional abuse undermines who we think we are. We can not separate easily from the experience as it distorts our conditions, even in later life when we learnt that it was emotional abuse. The brain has to learn new patterns.

Also, i leaned that nothing is worse than something else.
Its how a person feels about it what happened to them.
And there is nothing wrong with how a person feels. Its not their fault they feel that way. Some people go mental if they stup their toe.
Maybe thats because for bill who stubbed his toe- thats the worst thing he has ever been through in his life.

Ps. its normal too, to block out awful childhood experiences. We do it to survive.

Maybe you have learnt that your feelings are not ok to have therefore, you minimise your experiences.
You are important and worth being cared about. Your experiences, you, how you feel, should be validated.
I don't want you to feel guilty anymore, or that your experience wasnt anything compared to others . Thats bull!

I hope that if you get to grips with this, that you can face facts, and not hide away, but it you do hide, thats ok. It can be so hard to face the truth.

Hope your ok after this post.

Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: Indigochild on June 12, 2015, 06:30:47 PM
ps. just another thing i forgot to mention:

You wasnt thrown downstairs, or passed around a parties, but the man who you loved and who you hoped loved you back, didnt seem to care when you were suicidal.
You suffered marital abuse.

People who are saying this to you that its not as bad as what they suffered- are not the right people to tell your story to.
They do not understand what saying that does to someone.
Maybe they are bitter about their own experience, but they are not understanding how yours effected you. They would probably feel the same way as you do had you guys swapped stories and had each others lives instead.

Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: mourningdove on June 12, 2015, 07:33:55 PM

What you described is clearly abuse, and I'm so sorry that you had to go through all that.  :sadno:

If you have three minutes, you might find this video helpful. It's from Discovery News and it's called "Emotional Abuse is Far Worse Than You Think." It's based on recent research and I find it helpful to watch whenever I start feeling like maybe "it wasn't THAT bad."

Welcome.   :hug:
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: woodsgnome on June 12, 2015, 10:53:41 PM

Degrees and comparisons of what we think others experienced, or fantasies that “oh I didn't have it so bad” are sort of like false leads; tricks the ego plays which only abets our avoiding some things head-on. Quite understandable, as it's scary territory and surely this pain will cease on its own. Yeah, right--that's what I thought, too. Until the pain cried out, "help me!"

One of the first therapists I tried noted that on my info sheet I'd checked the child abuse line as an issue I was aware of. But I didn't indicate that to her when I initially inquired. Because I was still in huge denial and, frankly, afraid of going there. All I knew was I wanted some vague relief from my long depression.

We went through various life episodes and she started to hone in on some things that kept cropping up; especially those related to parental abandonment and physical/emotional abuses from religious schools I'd been in. And she began to sense a pattern.

Well, okay, but I assured her I'd worked with that stuff on my own, that I knew so much about personality issues, etc. She didn't buy that and continued probing the abuse issues.

I started to point out that “others had it worse”. She explained that the abuses I had described were as bad as any she'd ever come across. I'd venture a “but” about some incident and start a comparison with the “worse-off others” and she'd counter with...”how do YOU feel—its' never about THEM.” Slowly I saw the truth of what she pointed out, the real pain I'd avoided for years. The tears rolled, and I realized that my cover for seeking therapy only concealed a huge iceberg of pain, grief, and anger.

So, Tiasarah, comparisons truly don't count. It is about you--your feelings, your bruised soul, your frustration. You began by saying the physical abuse wasn't there, and then relate the school incidents, plus the constant threat of physical consequences to back up the emotional slams. And from what you've described, and your guilt over even thinking that maybe at least it wasn't so bad—no, it WAS, and is, and don't worry about the others (easier said than done). The only person you know hurting is you, and you want to find a way beyond the pain. It's not easy, but avoiding the comparison trap might at least keep it more focused on your healing journey. And no one else's.
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: whatissafety on August 22, 2015, 04:32:00 PM
hi Tisarah,
when i was 10 i broke my ankle and my mother who was a RN told me to stop beinga silly little girl and just walk on it. i couldn't and after 10 days her boss told her to take me for an xray it was a bad break not only was i in a cast for 8 weeks i was not allowed to go to school in cas i got knocked over. my mother also told me to stop whinging and let her sleep when i was screaming in pain as my appendix had burst, that time she took me to hospital after she had cooked dinner. this probable would have been bearable if she had been the bad parent but she was the nice one, my father was a really horrible man. i know this sound terribel but it is so great to read that somone had a similar experience to me. i also have trouble recognising my mothers neglect/abuse i always believed that she was a saintbecause she was sober and didn't throw me into walls but it wasn't so they both sucked and it was that bad for both of us.
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: tired on September 06, 2015, 10:32:35 PM
I couldn't really tolerate reading the whole thing but I'm going to respond to the gist of it.

People like to tell me it wasn't that bad maybe because they think it makes me feel better.  Or in the case of my siblings they say they had it worse. And I say really? Because as far as I know, none of you were molested.  Maybe mom laughed at your hair or dad made you get a job.  You were forced to take care of me when mom went on vacations for weeks at a time.  But molestation is at a different level. 

But the truth is, I wasn't physically harmed to the same degree as most people I hear about and so I feel stupid complaining about it. Especially since, as my mom liked to point out, I didn't run away or tell anyone, so I shared the responsibility.  Yeah, she feels that way. 

It makes me uncomfortable sharing what happened or participating in any group related to this problem. 
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: stillhere on September 06, 2015, 10:50:08 PM
To be told "it wasn't that bad" is dreadfully dismissive.  It silences and undermines the person trying to address the effects of the past.

I've learned to tell some people that, yes, it was "that bad."  Or I've occasionally pointed out that whoever was denying my experience doesn't know much about it.  But much of the time, I just stop talking. 

I sometimes think that people who say such things mostly don't know what to say.  They don't want to think about what might have happened to someone they know, so invalidating the story (whatever it is) becomes a default response.  But that's a benign explanation.

Tired, I don't think you'll hear such responses on this site.  And in the short time I've been here, I've read nothing like your mother's response.  Validation is something people here seem to understand.
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: Dutch Uncle on September 07, 2015, 12:14:34 AM
Especially since, as my mom liked to point out, I didn't run away or tell anyone, so I shared the responsibility.  Yeah, she feels that way. 

This behavior of your mom, that nasty trick, has a name: "Blaming the Victim." It plays on the Guilt: "If I didn't run away, if I didn't resist, if I didn't prevent it, it must have been OK, really."
Don't fall for it, it's a mind-game they play.

Even without having heard your full story I can say to you: "No, Tired, you didn't share responsibility for your molestation. And you still don't. The molestor has FULL responsibility for it."

And welcome to OOTS.  :thumbup:
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: Dutch Uncle on September 15, 2015, 01:54:32 PM
This is not directly related to the Opening Post, but I still rather make this a post in the vein of "It wasn't THAT bad, right?" than making a separate thread about this experience of mine:

Today I had a flashback/memory to the day I left the parental home, to go and live on my own. A sort of University dorm. I guess, I'm not really acquainted with that concept, but in any case I was to live with 15 other students on a floor of a 4 storey flat, and the off-campus 'compound' (an 'island' surrounded by canals, with one bridge as access) had 32 of such 'floors'. Free as bird, these roughly 600 students. No guards, no restricted access: on your own folks!

I was the last the 'fly out of the nest', and I don't recall much of my bro and sis moving out, as I was still a child then.
So I packed my things, my bed, some furniture etc. from my room, hired a trailer for dad's car, and packed it in there with a couple of friends.

During the process, which must have been quite an ordeal: four or five adolescent guys hauling all that stuff down the (open) staircase, basically through the living room, I do not remember taking my parents any part. I'm not even sure if my mom was there at all, but dad did what he always did: read in his chair, oblivious to what was happening around him.
Possibly they were there and I told them to bugger off, that I had everything under control. It's possible, but I don't think so.

Anyway, at some point all was done, and it was time to say goodbye, that I was going. So I went in a 'last' time (I think my friends stayed out, exited and all). I was a bit nervous, nothing big but the 'thrill of the moment' didn't pass me by, so to say.
I don't remember much of what happened then, but that is mostly due to the fact NOT  MUCH HAPPENED. I said goodbye (still have no mental/emotional picture of mom) but I remember well that my dad treated this as a insignificant affair. It was like I was going out to buy some groceries, or was going of for a pick nick, or at the very best for a holiday.

Decades later a conversation with my dad (I think he was already divorced by then, or I would have never had the opportunity to speak to him on such matters) touched upon this event. I think I basically told him what I wrote above, and he said to me: "Yeah, I was shy with the situation, and actually had wanted to bless you then."
"Wow, right!" I thought, "let's have it!"
Nothing happened. My anticipation died slowly.
I couldn't ask for his blessing at the moment. Perhaps I should have.

Another few years (another decade perhaps even) I was still so haunted by the blessing I never had gotten that I actually DID ask him for it. I was in a difficult period of my life, and I desperately needed someone to tell me I was a fine man.
It was a major disappointment. He laid his hand on my head and blessed me like a vicar would do. Gave me the blessing of God or something. There was nothing from him (well, safe for his Faith I suppose, which means a LOT to him, so perhaps I shouldn't whine) and there was nothing for me.
It was like this was a ceremony where neither of us actually needed to be present.

I left as gloomy as I had come. perhaps even gloomier. Now it was certain I would never get DAD's blessing. A hope now lost, that had kept me going for quite a while, that some day dad's blessing could come my way.

I felt and feel neglected.  :bawl:
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: arpy1 on September 15, 2015, 09:12:22 PM
oh D/U that is heartbreaking.  i am so very sorry it happened that way.  i wish there was something that would make you feel blessed, truly and deeply and in your heart.  once again, all i have is my support to give you, and there is a metaphorical boatload of it crossing the Channel as i write this.

maybe your dad on this occasion got all overcome with awkwardness the way some guys do when faced with something emotional. maybe in his heart he wanted to give what you asked but just couldn't get it out of his mouth the right way so he had to revert to the formulaic, which made you feel even worse.

and no, you were not whining. don't think it! you were feeling pain.

you are someone who is able to express what you honestly and without pretence. please don't diss it, it's a precious quality.  :hug:

Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: stillhere on September 15, 2015, 09:38:23 PM
Dutch Uncle, your story reminds me of the wise words of a friend, from many years ago.  She related something similar, seeking parental approval or at least recognition.  Like you, she is the youngest of three (not sure that matters).

Visiting me after a therapy session (hers), she said, "I think one of the hardest things is to stop going back to an empty well." 

The words have stuck with me for more than twenty years.  We may be thirsty, but the well is now dry and might have been dry all along.  I think I've learned to stop going back.  I'm not sure I've stopped wanting what could/should have been, but her word have helped me a bit.
Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: Dutch Uncle on September 16, 2015, 04:12:20 AM
maybe your dad on this occasion got all overcome with awkwardness the way some guys do when faced with something emotional. maybe in his heart he wanted to give what you asked but just couldn't get it out of his mouth the right way so he had to revert to the formulaic, which made you feel even worse.
I've come to suspect my dad is an Asperger's, and what you wrote fits the bill. As far as the gender thing is concerned: I think both my sister and mother, who both had my dad as a 'primer'/'template', think all man are like him. My sis is a lesbian, so she never had an 'anti-dote'. I'm pretty sure it's not a coincidence I first thought I myself was an Asperger's (I couldn't make sense otherwise how I could 'read' her so bad, as she claims/acts out), and only through researching THAT I saw the pieces fall into place regarding dad.
I'm pretty sure he blessed me in the dearest way he thought doable, but for me he felt uncomfortable alien. It's telling the syndrome is described as "people from another planet". There's even a (self-help) website for Asperger's with a name like that.

"I think one of the hardest things is to stop going back to an empty well." 
Thanks for sharing, it fits very well.
Since I've come to realize my dad is an Asperger's I've stopped expecting my thirst get quenched, via him.
It's been a hard time of letting that want/desire go, and in a significant way I'm still in the mourning process. This realization is still fresh, two years or so.

Thank you both for your kind words, your insights and your sharing.

Title: Re: It wasn't THAT bad, right? (triggers)
Post by: EmoVulcan on November 01, 2015, 06:53:05 PM
 "I married a man who paid attention to me, until he found more interesting things to do like hurting our kids, forcing me to watch TV with him for hours every night instead of cleaning up after dinner and putting kids to bed, stepping over me when I passed out due to a medical condition while pregnant, handing me a gun when I was suicidal, and many other things too numerous to mention here."
 :hug: so sorry you have experienced these truly awful things, and your children as well. :sadno:
That paragraph, recalls some awful things I spent time minimizing.  It is hard to have perspective, when we are actively denying, rationalizing, or accepting but not able to define why we deserve the responsibility, blame and consequences of serial attacks on our being.  The fact that others will hold up ready examples of far worse events, with a easy recovery...implying a smidgen of hope in this. It can get better, as we desperately want to believe. We live in poverty of compassion, from adults who suppress their empathy.

It was many years after I had fled, that I slowly realized the enormity of those trivialized well as facing the fact that often there was a deadly component inherent in some of them: a gun, that is most serious baiting of tragic actions, without regard to any far reaching damages.

The main and most damaging component to the victims is  a lack of recognition of extreme unwarranted suffering...this is not a case of degrees of abuse, as the results are virtually the same given two or more incidents, be they physical, or psychological.  Denial of outlets to vent, lack of validation and compassion, dismissal of our factual reality, and glib simple, shiny advice to suck it up and let go, implying we have nothing to be torn up about. :doh: of course it WAS that bad, most people underestimate the shock.

Everything about these interactions is a rationalization to keep us in doubt, and that alone threatens us with overwhelming evidence it must be me, if no one sees what I see
Yet, we know, just cannot pin down the disconnects, that is willfully denied by all, in hopes we go away, and take our 'trivial' obsession with us.  I guess emotional distress overflowing has no other interpretation but attention seeking and dramatic acting for appearances sake.  This is a problem.  I have never been so frustrated as confronted by someone who has fixed scenarios relating to behaviors...and it also tells me, that person has a thought proceess relating to ulterior motives, rather than causes of same.