Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?

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Dyess

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2015, 10:01:46 PM »
hmmmmmm...depends on who it is and why they want to know. I had told people about witnessing my grandfather's death at 5 , I was actually right behind him when he fell down some stairs to his death. I'm thinking, now, that may have been the start of the PTSD. Prior to that I really don't remember much about my childhood. After that is when it went to * on several levels and that is something I haven't shared with anyone. The fact I said it went to * should be enough without discussing the details. So I give this general descript., they can take it or leave it, up to them. But I can see where the T may want to know more, to determine if there was a chance of development issues, that may lead to issues now. It wouldn't be comfortable though.

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KayFly

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2015, 10:04:44 PM »
Woodsgnome

I was pretty worried about this for awhile too...but I talked to my T and some others about it. My partner just naturally said to his family "She had a bad childhood."...basically, to sum up, I'm not really going to want to talk about it.

I usually just say, "I don't want to get into it." or what is more comfortable is just simply "I had a bad childhood."

Because people ask. So it's good to have a plan. Sorry that's so overwhelming. I get it

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stillhere

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2015, 03:46:18 AM »
Answering Trees's question from several posts back:  yes, I know much about my close friend's sources of distress.  I've spent much effort to try to understand the dynamics in her family, which are different from mine.  The effort has meant that, over more than 25 years, we've become extremely close and consider each other something like sisters, even though we are from very different families.

Coming to understand family dynamics for a few close friends (not many), over many years, has helped put my experience in perspective.  It helps me realize just how unacceptable my uNPD mother has been and just how much my father acted as an enabler.  I've learned some new labels, like CPTSD, recently, but I've known for a long time that my story is a hard one for some people to hear.

And so answering questions about it is an occasional challenge.  My response often reflects my assessment of the relationship and its prospects (is the inquiry casual, or does the inquirer really want to know?  is the relationship fraught with power differences?  how vulnerable am I willing to be over time?). 

The few long-term friends, the people I count on, know much.  A few have been witnesses to some horrors.  Anyone I might come to know as well in the future probably needs to be "let in," and that's always a risk.


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woodsgnome

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2015, 07:30:30 AM »
While I've always found "what was your childhood like" to be problematic, I think my first post in this thread was more like a cry of despair. Because wouldn't it really be grand if it was really okay to be asked that question? Not to have to feel like hiding, to be proud of what happened, and not be in all this shame about good memories others take for granted? Oh, if only that were so.

I know. It didn't work out that way, did it. So “what was your childhood like” becomes kind of half-question, half-lament. It's like one's inner child peeks out and wonders: “Can't that happen for me, too? What must that be like?” And we know we better not answer upfront, if it was asked; we'll be misunderstood or face that fear business where we'll feel ridiculed or taunted as some misfit who needs to get over this weakness. But it's sort of a wash either way; there's just this void where once more we have to shut up and take it. Hold it in, all that rot.

I'm sometimes asked to entertain for a local historical society and the folks there tend to love nostalgic tales about their good ol' times growing up (embellished as some of them sound). When it gets rolling, I notice my own inner tension rising. It intrigues but also scares me how fond they can feel about their life stories. They felt so safe, so secure, so happy. I'm left feeling like a tourist in a distant country, and I'll never be able to speak their language.

I sense that they want to draw me in, but when I seem reluctant, in turn they pull back, too. The loop circles around and my invitation to share and join hits me flush; if I'm playing music in my entertainer's role, I retreat into it and let that be my talk. Lonely? Used to that.

On the one hand I'm fascinated by their joyful memories—it gives me a a “good for them” vibe. I just hope I'm not asked THE question for all the reasons mentioned. Cue up “When You Wish Upon a Star...how I wonder how you are...”.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2015, 03:54:21 PM by woodsgnome »

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Dyess

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2015, 07:51:34 AM »
It would be great if there were no issues to hide or not want to talk about. But I think on this forum it would exception not the rule. I think what we are all dealing with stems from issues long ago. I could say my childhood was picture perfect but it would be a lie. Even though we are all different we are a lot alike on some levels. Yes, it would be nice to say childhood was wonderful like out of a movie and there may be childhoods like that, I don't know. I do have some good memories, it's just the bad over power them right now.
There were kids in my neighborhood that I envied because they seem to have the perfect family and life. They still have issues as adults. I hope at some point I can learn to focus on the good points of childhood and maybe that will help me heal and move on. As long as I hold on to the dark memories there's no room for the light. The key, for me, is finding out how to make that transition.
My T has been the only one to ask me about my childhood as part of her assessment I guess. Though we have talked in detail about it and I'm not sure we ever will.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2015, 09:21:51 AM »
I'm sometimes asked to entertain for a local historical society and the folks there tend to love nostalgic tales about their good ol' times growing up (embellished as some of them sound). When it gets rolling, I notice my own inner tension rising. It intrigues but also scares me how fond they can feel about their life stories. They felt so safe, so secure, so happy.
[…]
On the one hand I'm fascinated by this—it gives me a a “good for them” vibe.
I sense a lot of happiness in these sentences.
Would it be possible for you to 'take in' what they share with you? To let their good stories rub off on you? Take a small bite of each of the stories and let it nourish you? They share them with you after all, and sharing is free giving, no?

What you wrote, and my reply to it, brings me a flashback to many months back.
A dear friend of mine, whom I have confided in regarding my troubles with my FOO, made a sort of proposal/hint I should meet her family. Which is a good and caring one by all accounts. She wants me to have some of that, I got the feeling.
I was so touched by that gesture.
I haven't followed up on it yet, it feels weird.  ;D (not in the least since she is in a divorce atm, and I'm certainly not going to marry her (nor she me  ;) ), but "what would the family think?". Probably nothing, or at best: "Nice she has such a nice man as a friend." Period. Says my cognition. But I think my Inner Critic finds that a ridiculous concept.)

I hope I will have the gut someday to meet her family, and let the kindness, kinship of them rub off on me. I'm pretty certain it would do me good, even while it might remind me of what I never had. At the moment itself, or later.

I sense that the community you are part of, albeit as a "sociable hermit" as you described it IIRC, is already rubbing off on you. I hope and wish there will be much more for you coming from that source.

 :hug:

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stillhere

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2015, 02:34:34 PM »
For me, participating in other people's family life has been a source of both solace and sadness.  I have felt welcomed and comfortable.  Years ago, when parents of friends were younger and healthier, I could occasionally seek a little surrogate parenting.  I have happy memories.

But nothing ever truly compensates for what wasn't -- or for what was instead.  I enjoy only a corner of functional family life.


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coda

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2015, 03:23:11 PM »
For me, participating in other people's family life has been a source of both solace and sadness.  I have felt welcomed and comfortable.  Years ago, when parents of friends were younger and healthier, I could occasionally seek a little surrogate parenting.  I have happy memories.

But nothing ever truly compensates for what wasn't -- or for what was instead. 
Wow, that's so beautifully put and very true for me. From childhood into adulthood, I once thrilled at being included -- at seeing how a healthy family life functioned when I had zero experience or knowledge. Meals, plans, traditions, the joys & tribulations of "ordinary" everyday life. I even imagined I was a part of it, but I never truly was. There are always limits, and eventually, always the searing, at times almost unbearable feeling of being outside, pressing my nose against the windowpane.

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arpy1

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2015, 03:41:10 PM »
Quote
From childhood into adulthood, I once thrilled at being included -- at seeing how a healthy family life functioned when I had zero experience or knowledge. Meals, plans, traditions, the joys & tribulations of "ordinary" everyday life. I even imagined I was a part of it, but I never truly was.

 :'(  what a painful chord that strikes, stillhere. in a couple of sentences you have summed up my life. and of late, having realised not only  that i never truly was, but that i never will be, i have stopped trying. if i am to be alone, then i shall choose  to be alone. i shall make a virtue out of a necessity and optimise, make it the best i can. that way it won't hurt so much, eh? that's the theory.

Conform? Healthy social interaction? huh, tried that so:
 
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Jenny Joseph

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Dyess

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2015, 03:45:16 PM »
I like that :)

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Cocobird

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Re: Any safe way to duck the "what was your childhood like" question?
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2015, 02:26:16 AM »
It depends on who asks me, and why they are asking. I don't need to go into abuse with people I don't know well or trust. I just mutter something about moving around a lot, and change the subject.