Trying not to cry ** triggers **

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Wife#2

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Trying not to cry ** triggers **
« on: May 11, 2016, 08:22:10 PM »
How many times am I going to start writing, only to delete it all? What am I so afraid of, telling my story? I've told it so many times, to so many people and therapists. I have no diagnosis - I started here because my H is uC-PTSD. But, as I read stories on here I realize mine belongs here, too.

Emotional neglect and abandonment define my life. Neither parent was particularly cruel or intentional about it - it just happened. My parents are good people, they just were lousy parents to me. 'Lost in the shuffle' pretty much wraps up everything in one little cliché.

And I'm catching myself again, ready to tell the stories. I'm actually pretty good at telling them. I've been found to be a very interesting study by more than one therapist. I guess because most emotionally abused people tend to be introverts. And I am certainly an extrovert. At least that's what the evidence supports. But, you know what? I'm not, really. I say the stories of my life in an interesting way because that way, you'll be distracted from the meat of the meal. WHY these are the only stories I have. HOW I can laugh at my pain. WHO I've become because of all those years of neglect.

The trigger, I think, is that my DS will be turning 8 soon. And 8 was a critical year for me. It was when I realized that my parents loved me the best they knew how, but that they had too much else going on to give me any real attention, guidance or love. It was the year they completely forgot my birthday. I mean at all. Couldn't be bothered. Didn't even ask why I was crying at dinner. My sister followed me to my room and asked. SHE was the one who realized that the whole family had let me down, and tried to do something about it.

I have so few memories before that day. Most of the loving and loved feelings I had include the face of that sister. Not Mom. Not Dad. Yet, they weren't mean! They just weren't there.

I developed a way of coping which was to reach out and try to become part of other families. Thinking, maybe mine just doesn't have room for me. Maybe if I join THIS family, I'll get the motherly attention and fatherly kindness I seek. Of course, the clock always reached that point where the mother in that family would send me back home. And I'd go. With dread and sadness. I didn't WANT to go home. The only one there who acted happy to see me was middle sister (Missy - made up name). And even then, Missy was closer to other siblings in age and personality. She had her own friends and her own life. But, most of the time, she did try to make time for me, too. Missy always did have a hard time saying no.

I attached to Missy so much, I began to think of her as my 'real Mom'. Later, I'd morph that to heart-Mom. To this day, I still think of her that way, though she's been in Heaven over 20 years. Is it wrong to be a little bit angry at a God who would take her so young, yet leave my Mom - a smoking heart-attack-survivor, cancer survivor? It feels wrong, but I can't help that. I know I should be thankful that my Mom is still around. I did enjoy seeing her on Mothers' Day. But that detachment I felt as a child is still there.

I'm trying to ramble a little so I don't get back into storyteller mode. That's not easy for me. I'm the youngest, storytelling is one way I set myself apart from the rest of the 6 kids. That and my love of math. Numbers are so logical. They make sense. Either they are right or they are wrong - no ambiguity. 2+2 will always = 4. No amount of insisting that 2 is really 3 will change that. You can't lie about it. I like that. It pleases me.

So, I'm trying to plan my son's 8th birthday. I'm getting NO help from the husband, who does NOT know why the big deal. Yes, he knows about my missed 8th birthday, but doesn't really connect those dots the same way I do. Nearly ALL his birthdays were ignored.

I was trying to figure out why I'm acting out in certain ways that make my husband angry. I'm embarrassed, but being shamed is a major trigger for me - and H is really quick to use shame if I do something foolish. Before I can apologize, he's already lit into me about how he's sick of me doing this (I didn't tell him about something that would cost money - for the car - until I was kind of cornered with having to. He calls this being secretive. I call it stupid, but the way I do things. The car is mine, I have to handle it, I don't want to talk about it). Then, I get my nose all out of joint because he can't mind-read my reasons and is just mad at the results. So, he's mad at me for keeping him in the dark *again*. I'm mad at him for not understanding and for not letting me just apologize and move on. DS7 is in the van while this is going on. I try to hush H because I'm driving. I try to hush H because DS is in the back seat. I try to hush H because I really want to cuss him out and yell at him until he feels as bad as I do and I don't want to cry and cause an accident and I don't want to do any of this in front of DS and just STOP!!!! But he won't.

One of the biggest challenges between me and H, especially if we both really do have C-PTSD (no DX's here), is that we respond so differently. He's a confronter - get it over with and done. I'm an escaper - I can't cope with possible consequences so I bury my head and hope it goes away. He shouts, I hide. The harder I hide, the louder he gets - hoping I'll hear and respond. My hiding feels like ignoring to him. The more he shouts, the deeper I hide. I can't stand the internal tension caused by shouting. I want to run away until I can't here it anymore.

Running away (just to the creek behind our house, or the woods, or the empty playground, or anywhere I could be alone) is how I handled the tension between my then-preparing-to-divorce parents. I was 11. The tiny problems of my life meant nothing. THEY were fighting to end or keep the marriage. THEY were fighting over who caused it, what would happen now, how much Dad drank, how much Mom spent on herself. They didn't fight about the effect on us kids. And through that horrible, horrifying, sad, lonely year, my Missy, my Heart-Mom, was travelling internationally and not aware of all this. I had nobody to turn to. I had nobody who cared what was happening to me! So I ran. And I told the creek. And I told the trees. And I told the swing EXACTLY how I felt. I wrote it in my journal (that a supposed friend would later steal) - Missy's idea from before she left - she was a smart one.

To this day, I run away in my mind when things get too tense. NOT a good thing for marriage or parenthood. I quit with the journal only because of the one that got stolen. It was such a breach of my childhood and my privacy that I just have a hard time writing down this stuff where people can tie it to me. The anonymity of this site is all that gives me courage. And I'm still terrified that someone will recognize things and know.

What will they know? That I'm still that whiny, needy kid who never felt she got enough attention, still wants more than her share. That I've married the worst possible man for my personality. That my child is even worse than I was for being needy. That I'm a horrible parent, pretty lousy wife. And that this part makes me sound like I'm trying to have a pity party when in all reality, it's just that failure is what I do best. When it was just me, ok - I got to where I could deal with that. But, now that my failures are impacting other people, especially my innocent son, well, that's too much for me to handle.

It's just making me cry. I'm in too deep and don't know how to fix it. I try every day to let my son know he matters, that he is important to me. His opinions and fears and accomplishments all matter to me. I let him know that I do expect him to have some manners, some respect and some diligence. On the other hand, I let him know that it's good to play, have friends, get away from home then return home. But, the part I don't often share, the part that makes me a bad mother, is that I don't defend him often enough. I don't encourage him as much as he should be. As great a little person as he is, I've held him back from reaching his full potential. Because I don't know any better is a copout.

So, I'm here. Ready to get to the bottom of it. Not as a pity-me thing where it's all Dad & Mom's fault. But, in a way that helps me help myself and to hope it's in time to not damage my son anymore. I don't think I could stand knowing my son had reason to be a member of this site. As it is, I do think he needs therapy already. He's beginning to realize he can talk to me about anything. I may not agree or I may advise against some things, but I do and will hear him. But, he doesn't trust me enough to actually tell me everything.

Ok. I'll give in to my muse and tell three stories.

1) I'm 12. Mom and Dad have just recently split. I'm applying to a specialized high school at the encouragement of my teachers. While waiting for the results of the first round of testing, I overhear my parents talking.
Mom - I'm sure she did fine.
Dad - Really, Mom? This is Wife2 we're talking about. Why are you encouraging this?
Mom - Do you have somewhere else to be? I want her to make it, but I know we can't afford it. Can't we just have a little hope?
Dad - You shouldn't have built her up just so she'd fall so far.

PS - I made it past that round, but failed miserably on the next round - so their predictions of my failure were true. Thanks for the support, Dad.

2) It's later that summer. I'm on my week-long summer visitation with my Dad.
Dad: Why do you seem so sad? You always seem sad.
Me: I'm not sad, Dad, really. I'm just thinking. (Lie - how do you tell your Dad you're furious he's moving out of town, out of state, essentially out of your life?)
Dad: Do you know that you are really special to me?
Me: Sure, Dad. I'm your baby girl.
Dad: Sit up, Punkin. You're so much prettier when you don't hunch over.
Me: Ok (fix posture).
Dad: Lisa (made-up-name) agreed to marry me. She and her kids will be coming with me.
Me: Can I come, too?
Dad: No, I can't take you from your mother.
Me: Why, not? She'd barely notice anyway.
Dad: No. That's final. It'd be too confusing with you and Lisa's kids all together. Stay with your Mom.

Now, I'm a teenager. I'm active at school with theater, marching band and friends. I also have a part-time job.

I'll be on stage for a play. I figure she skipped the others because I was a backstage hand. So, I ask if she'll come.

Me: You know they're having the play on Thursday and Friday night? Are you coming?
Mom: I'll try, dear.
Me: Really? Which night?
Mom: I don't know (exasperated sigh).
Me: Well, I need to know so I can leave your comp ticket for you.
Mom: Wife2, stop. I don't know IF I'll make it, let alone which night!
Me: I'll just have it there both nights. I hope to see you there!

To this day, she insists she saw that play. I never saw her in the audience and she didn't stay after to greet me. The role had me Stage Right in front of the curtains throughout the play, so I didn't 'miss' her.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Trying not to cry ** triggers **
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2016, 06:41:51 AM »
Welcome here, Wife#2.  :wave:

Neglect and abandonment is such a hidden grief. It's such a heartbreaking story you tell of your 8 and 12 year old self.
I can relate.

I hope you'll find some sort of 'family'-comfort in this community. You're most welcome to stay for as long as you want.

 :hug:

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Wife#2

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Re: Trying not to cry ** triggers **
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2016, 01:25:34 PM »
Thank you, DU. You are a kind person and I know from other posts that you can relate.

I was having a VERY bad day yesterday. Because of it, I took a deep breath and sat down with DS7. He had been crying because he missed is older brother. H had yelled at him for crying like a baby. DS ran to his room to cry in peace. I gave him a few minutes, then joined the little fellow. I let him cry. I let him tell me in a voice too high for me to understand all that had hurt his heart that week. I held him and rocked him and let him know that it's ok to cry when it's all too much.

When he could talk clearly, he told me of his horrible, rotten, no good, very bad week. For him, it really was all that. All I could do was let him know that I understood how it feels to be called the awkward, clumsy one at school. I knew about having only one or two friends, and those you can tell would be just as happy calling someone else friend and leaving you in their dust. I had no answers, but I did have understanding and sympathy.

Hearing him pour out his heart and being there for him helped my lousy, sad day. I'm not a bad Mom. Maybe not fantastic, but not bad.  At least my DS does trust me enough to tell me some of what's going on. And I do love the little man. He's going to be a fine adult one day. Maybe because of me, maybe despite me, but he will be. And that fact is enough. Today, anyway. At least my son will know that HIS mother WILL 'put down the .... fill in blank with Mom activity' and spend time with him.

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Wife#2

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Re: Trying not to cry ** triggers **
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2016, 07:51:46 PM »
Near tears again. I've just spilled the beans on something that happened in my pre-teen years and I'm spent. The saddest thing is that I've also come to realize that I grew up thinking that what I feel about something isn't as important as being 'the fine one'. Sure, I was sullen, sure I had bad days and I could totally be a 100% brat. But, my main thing was that I was always 'fine'.

During my 20's my Dad called me on that once. He'd called to see how I was doing, and I gave the standard 'fine'. What? Was I supposed to tell him that my most recent boyfriend hadn't broken up with his fiancé when we started dating, as I'd been told? Or that I was about to lose my job (again) because I kept being so distracted at work? Or lots of other stuff that was going on, about which he could do nothing and was really all TMI for a father? So, I was 'fine'. Always 'fine'. He said he'd stop calling if I kept it up. We couldn't have a real conversation if I kept shutting him out. We talked less and less until now it's the occasional email.

I've tried answering honestly. But, I have a lousy time defining boundaries and what is TMI. So, especially with parents, I opted for not-enough-information (NEI?) instead. And, honestly, I choke back so much of what I'm feeling, afraid it's not appropriate or that my emotions will make others nervous or anxious, that I'm not even sure how to express what I feel anymore.

And the reality is, after H made such a big production out of hating to see his daughter cry, hating to see me cry and accusing us of manipulating him by the use of tears - the best I can do lately is be near tears. It has been a while since a genuine tear for MY emotions fell from my eye. I can count the number of times in the past year on one hand. THAT'S NOT NATURAL! I watch other women tear up over all kinds of emotions and I'm jealous. And it affects them, too - it's hard to convince them my empathy is genuine when I can't cry.

So, I bury intense emotions and deny myself the opportunity to cry. How am I going to heal? I wish I could cry right now.