Step5:I was powerless over my abusers' actions which holds THEM responsible.

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C.

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Reminder: In order to honor our group process we ask that only current members post and respond here please.  Thank you.

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Hello group, 

I look forward to our discussion this week.  I don’t know about others, but I was a bit relieved to see this as the next step after the challenge of remembering.   Here's to another meaningful & healing week for our group.

In gratitude, 

C.

STEP FIVE

I accept that I was powerless over my abusers' actions which holds THEM responsible.

By now you know that survivors grow up believing the classic myth of child abuse: that they, not their parents or abusers, were somehow responsible for the abuse.  The "justifications" for this myth are as varied as your imagination is fertile.  "I let him do it to me."  "I should have been able to protect myself."  "I liked certain aspects of the abuse  the attention, the gifts, the pleasurable sensations, the sense of being special."   The child's often distorted perceptions of who was responsible are enhanced by the parents'/abusers' indictments.  "I'm beating you because you are a bad boy."  "I am showing you how much I love you."  "I wouldn't be calling you stupid if you showed me you have more than half a brain in that head of yours."  "You have the devil inside you and I'm going to beat it out of you."  These words are truly toxic because they do more than simply (and unjustly) place the blame for the abuse on your shoulders.  They eat away at your positive sense of self, and the lingering messages continue to do so in your adult life.

You can challenge those words of your parents/abusers that continue to echo in your mind by coming to understand your dysfunctional family and recognizing the real reasons why you were abused.  This is an essential step in recovery because, without seeing that your parents/abusers were at fault, you will have difficulty in facing the remaining tasks of recovery: directing your anger away from yourself and towards them, uncovering your shame and understanding how the abuse affects your life today.  Most importantly, you need to understand that you were the child and that you had neither the power nor the authority to make your parents/abusers do anything to you.  The abuse was their responsibility because, quite simply, they had the greater power and they did it to you.  Nothing you could have done would have changed this, because families and society are set up to give power and authority to parents (and adults in general).  Children have little or no power over their abuse, or much of anything else.

Besides recognizing the reality of who was responsible for the abuse, think about the following realities as well.  As a child, you were not psychologically equipped to believe that what your parents/abusers were doing was wrong, much less speak out about it.  Because you were dependent on them for so much, you couldn't risk alienating them by speaking the truth, even if your child mind was precocious enough to make sense of the complex web of issues that comprises child abuse.  Few, if any, children can do this effectively because their intellectual capacities are not sufficiently developed to do so.  You desperately wanted to love them and be loved by them.  It would have been foolish for you to incur their wrath and dash whatever hope of love, caring and nurturing you harbored inside. Think back to what it would have meant for you, the child, to accept that the people who were supposed to love you were actually hurting you.  It's not surprising that few children can face this horrible reality, because to do so would cause them to become emotional orphans in the process, and little could be worse than that.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 08:38:09 PM by C. »

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Kizzie

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An "emotional orphan" that's it! And I dared not acknowledge it until recently because it was so painful, and would have felt almost life threatening as a child. How frightened I must have been and so very alone. No wonder I locked my IC away behind a BIG wall. 

I can now face the idea that I was alone and abused and it doesn't knock me to my knees or take my breath away as it once did -- and not all  that long ago.  I think last year when I had the really bad bout of drinking and panic attacks is when I finally admitted to myself that I had grown up alone, an emotional orphan I just didn't realize clearly until I read through the instructions for this step that that was what had happened. 

Anyway, I do remember that it was then that I finally let go of the last vestiges of hope of ever getting the parents I needed and wanted. One of the things that lead to that bad period was seeing my NPDM before we left to move here. She reached inside me and slapped my IC repeatedly and it knocked me to my knees emotionally.  Then I was on my own in our new house where we moved for about 8 months as my H was finishing up his last posting with the military on the other side of the country.  I was so alone and it all caught up with me.  I remember the pain of knowing my M had never been there for me and had in fact used and abused me for her own purposes.  I never meant anything real to her or my F.

So today I say loudly and clearly that my parents are responsible for my CPTSD, I have no doubt whatsoever about that any more. Further, I did not deserve to be abused and there was NOTHING I could have done to prevent their abuse.  They had all the power and I had none.  I stuffed me away because it was all about surviving and no child should have to do that. I deserved to feel loved, supported, to belong and to matter. I didn't.

:hug: from older to younger me.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 08:51:13 PM by Kizzie »

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marycontrary

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In a bizarre way, I am sorta...kinda...thankful???!! They drove me to being damn near a Buddhist monk...minus the celibate part. Seriously, I am deep in to detachment of a lot of worldly, meaningless *. I do not watch TV, play video games, see movies. Barely do facebook. Do no follow trends or fashions. Am not aware of status or castes systems. have very few possessions. No credit card for 20 years.I am very much detach to worldly outcomes. If I had had a stable upbringing, I might be a lot shallower and more materialistic.


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Annegirl

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Good yes, they are responsible. I like this attitude of gratitude too mary Contrary. And I felt what you wrote Kizzie, this was an empty cold upbringing you had. Starved of anything that would help a child to grow.



I like the phrase "emotional orphan". But I think I was orphaned for a long time, slowly starting when I was six or eight, and complete when I was thirteen. I only understood later that my mother was parentalized when she was a toddler, that she finished school at age fourteen (it was normal to do that back then) and found a job that offered room and board so she went and lived there. She was probably a "grown-up" when she was six or eight, too. She wasn't consciously abandoning me, she was simply assuming that her own story was normal: once you stop being a very tiny child, you start fixing all your own problems and you take care of people around you.

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Annegirl

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I struggle with this one. I can't see it yet, although i know it would be freeing to see this.
I tried to accept this sentence of being powerless over their action and holding them responsible but it made me very angry and I stopped myself going there. I feel like I could have been something so much more and so much more successful and integrated into society, have more friends etc if my mother hadn't treated me the way she did. But then on the other hand I would not have understood about these effects in the way you raise children.

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Kizzie

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I too feel I am a much better parent for my parent's treatment Anne.  I do sometimes wonder how much 'lighter' parenting would have felt if I had not been so driven by the fear of making the mistakes my parents made. Now that our son is older I find I am enjoying his company so much more because I am not as responsbile for him, I can just relax and be with him. 

I just had this surge of anger as I was writing this about missing out on so much with my son because of my CPTSD, of just enjoying being a parent rather than feeling so responsible and focused on not being abusive all the time.  Hunh.  Sorry, I took a bit of a left turn there but I think it's still relevant lol.   


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C.

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Wow.  Great point Kizzie about parenting.  I think I am still there w/my son, kind of hyper-vigilant about doing the "wrong" thing.  And I think that hyper-vigilance is probably necessary b/c I AM at risk of doing the wrong thing given my story...being too critical of him, seeing all the mistakes in my parenting, etc.  But I see hope here of the parenting becoming easier and getting there as I become healthier myself....like I hate that my teen son seems to have a very loud ICr, but some of that is normal development but some of it could be my poor role modeling, his NPD father or my criticism of him.  I've decreased the criticism (correcting).  My correcting is always around his triggering behaviors, like him yelling or being "mean" towards me...Hopefully my directness and open communication w/my son will help us through it all.  Parenting is so difficult for me at times.  I am riddled w/self-doubt :(

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Annegirl

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I have this on my wall at home so i can keep reminding myself. "our children are perfect the moment we don't expect them to be anything other than who and how they are." (Naomi Aldort).
Its funny because treating them like this helps them to see themselves accepted and takes away all their "trying to please" "struggling to show us they are better than we think" and rebelling because they give up trying and are angry on top of it."

And if we mess up its important to be kind to yourself and stop the IC. Even if we validate them once in a week at first when they are upset and triggering  instead of yelling back at them, its a positive start. Validating doesn't mean doing what they want but acknowledging "Yes I can see you want to hit your brother" Afterwards if they want to talk i say "I also used to want to hit my brothers and did so many times but it gets easier when you get older not to get angry at your siblings."

On my car I have "Discipline is helping a child/teenager solve a problem, Punishment is making a child/teenager suffer for having a problem to raise problem solvers, focus on solutions not retribution" L.R Knost
At supermarket or in town, or people walking past our house always stop to read it. and I have had a few people take photos of this saying.
 Which made me see many people are confused about the difference between discipline and punishment because of abuse probably.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2015, 11:24:37 PM by Annegirl »

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VeryFoggy

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This topic of "I was powerless over my abuser's" is very important.  I was powerless, I accept that.  But I also know that I kept something, some part of me, safe, no matter how bad the abuse was. I don't know if it's genes, or I call it rebel, or what it is, but I did feel like I saved me. Somehow I knew it was bad.  I don't know how I knew.  It's not like I stood on the street corner at 8 years old and had discussions with my friends about like, how bad do your parents beat you?  That never happened. But there was something inside of me that said "NO!  This cannot be right!"

And I also know I made many very clumsy attempts to cry for help many, many times. Sometimes it was self inflicted wounds, and later in my teens it was drug overdoses, but I was screaming for help. Nobody heard me which is why I left home at 16.  But I knew I could do better by myself than with these people.

But I do think I saved myself, because I was talking about this with my T the other day.  And we were talking about my feeling of being a very strong person.  Because I do feel like I am a very strong person. To have lived the life I have, and to have done very well in an outward way, as well as going on to survive many more abusive horrific situations, such as losing my children when they were only 1 and 1/2 and 3 years old...

And she said yes, you are a very strong person. And if you were not so strong there would be a lot more wrong with you than simply having CPTSD.  And I said like what?  And she said Multiple Personality Disorder. Which was very sobering. And brought me up smartly, sharply, and jerked me to attention.  That I really do have so much to be thankful for.

So even if it was tough, and not my fault, I am so thankful that I was gifted with enough resources to not disintegrate into fragments of many personalities in order to protect myself. I only have CPTSD.  And that is a blessing. That I am grateful for.

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Annegirl

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 :applause:
 Thats awesome veryfoggy. Yes you are/were very strong to have kept part of you intact and I'm sure that part is even stronger now than it was

i am impressed that a part of you thought "NO this cannot be right" Im afraid i just thought all mother's smiled outside the house and were angry inside the house.

I really feel deeply for you about your children being taken away from you. This is something heartbreakingly unbearable for a mother.

that Multiple personality disorder was what the therapists diagnosed my mother as having. I personally diagnosed her recently as being npd. My mother was proud of being so abused and used it to her advantage constantly getting her T's to back her up telling us how to never disagree with her.

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C.

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I completely agree w/you on the parenting Annegirl.  I've noticed that every time I feel angry or frustrated w/my son he's triggering something either from my childhood or my marriage/his father.  But he is his own person, perfect as is, like you said.  So the more aware I am it gets easier.  Another reason why I think I need to learn the strategy you mentioned in other places about seeing another person's "inappropriate" behavior as a statement about themselves, and trying to understand it.

Funny you mention the hitting brother example.  The other day my son said that he almost hit a peer at school, that he really wanted to, but instead he (from what he said) appropriately asserted himself w/the peer and set a standard of treatment he expects.  I applauded that telling him I was so heartened to hear he chose the "difficult" way to work things out by talking with the individual.  And that hitting the peer would only have hurt my son through the serious school consequences.  He heard me but still said "next time I will hit him"...ahhh...I just reiterated how the other method worked well and validated his frustration...

And a side note about multiple personality disorder, or DID as I think they call it now.  I have enjoyed watching some episodes of The United States of Tara and seeing the personalities she draws on to cope.  So, knowing that, I had a couple of psychiatrists somewhat jokingly tell me it would be great for me to "dis-integrate" my personalities a little, hence the child-me, mommy-me "me's".  And I think they were on to something in that w/C-PTSD the ICr and fawning is so integrated that I couldn't see how the way I behaved in some situations could actually be useful for Me.  That I could step outside and observe myself and "fawn" towards myself, in other words listen and be loving.  Is it called meta-analytical thinking?  Thinking and analyzing my thinking.  Like I can be a great mom, a great supervisor, a great advocate, a great listener.  So do that for Me.  I'm finding this hard to explain.  But honestly, I think that I was too "integrated".  I needed to be able to step outside, observe, and use my other "personalities" to help myself.

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Kizzie

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I feel almost grateful too Very Foggy to have only ended up with CPTSD.  Weird to say that but it's true.  Not to much futher down the line and I think I would have ended up having a full blown personality disorder like my M and B.  There is some inner strength or resiliency that kept us from ending up broken and brings us here looking to recover.   :hug:

Riddled with self-doubt - yes that's parenting anyway and x 2 when you have CPTSD lol. I knew I would make mistakes, we all do, but in the end I believed my son would be OK because he was loved and supported. I can't remember where I read this but it stuck with me - if an abused child has even one significant adult in their life (and it could be a coach, a teacher) who values and validates them, they are able to develop into a healthy, resilient person. I really enjoyed The United States of Tara too by the way. 

Anne - I love the reminder you keep for yourself about parenting - "Discipline is helping a child/teenager solve a problem. Punishment is making a child/teenager suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions not retribution"  :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 11:45:01 PM by Kizzie »

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Annegirl

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 :thumbup: Thank you Kizzie,  and C :hug:  :hug:

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anosognosia

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Quote
I can now face the idea that I was alone and abused and it doesn't knock me to my knees or take my breath away as it once did -- and not all  that long ago.  I think last year when I had the really bad bout of drinking and panic attacks is when I finally admitted to myself that I had grown up alone, an emotional orphan I just didn't realize clearly until I read through the instructions for this step that that was what had happened. 

Anyway, I do remember that it was then that I finally let go of the last vestiges of hope of ever getting the parents I needed and wanted.

This resonates with me beyond the eloquence of the prose.

It took me a long time to accept and face what I had lived through, and to realize I was all alone... in all honesty only hit me when I gave my testament to you guys in a PM and it was reflected back to me. 

I also love how someone wrote on here that there's nothing that could have been done as a child to prevent the abuse. As it was THEIR actions, not ours.