Others who's core trauma was in first year or two of life? (Trigger warning?)

  • 77 Replies
  • 16447 Views
*

Gwyon

  • Member
  • 97
    • View Profile
Greetings community  :grouphug:

This is sort of an introductory post and I feel blessed to have found a community of people who's experience and struggles resonate so strongly with my own.  Thank you, @kizzie, for creating this space for us.

I believe that my core injury occurred during my first year of life and I'm curious to find others for whom this is also true.  I find this created a "unique" challenge for me in that I felt horrible from my earliest memories and experienced all the effects of c-ptsd as we all know them, but it was difficult to identify a source that could account for the severity of my challenges in a way that I could articulate to myself others.  It wasn't until I started becoming aware of the profound impacts of trauma and stress during the first two+ years of life, and started processing what was going on for me during that time, that I began my (still continuing) road of recovery. (And please know that in no way am I trying to make other experiences than mine somehow less traumatizing -- there are so many ways that we have been harmed, and our experiences so unique and nuanced -- that I would never minimize anyone's experience. If you are suffering, that is all that I need to know).

In my case, my family was in a violent disintegration when I was in the womb (my father was abusing my mother). My mother left my father when I was 6 months old, taking myself and three older brothers to live near her own mother. My mother was (understandably) depressed, unable to cope with an infant and 3 older children, and ended up being admitted to a hospital for depression for a few months during my second year (we apparently lived in a children's home during that period). 

All this is to say that during my first year of life I experienced the stress of witnessing anger and abuse in the household and most definitely did not receive any of the mirroring and secure attachment that an infant needs.  I'm certain that all the wiring for stress management, self-worth, and a positive sense of the world did NOT get laid down for me.  This was followed by continued trauma and shaming through custody battles and family dysfunction throughout my childhood.

Some of the resulting symptoms I've experienced are ones that most of us know well: painful chronic depression, a relentless inner critic, social anxiety and dysfunction, emotional flashbacks (of the "freeze" variety), dissociation during times of intimacy or stress, cognitive deficits (largely due to the cognitive load of managing all the other symptoms).  Most of my life has been a journey of re-parenting and building that wiring on my own and with the help of a few trusted therapists and loving friends.

One of the consequences of my trauma being so early in life was that my parents, siblings, others often told me that since I wasn't aware of what was happening back then, and that my parents were already divorced by the time I was "aware", that I was the least affected by the family dysfunction.  The "you don't have a reason to be so troubled" message, which of course was immensely invalidating and shaming, on top of the original injury.  (Adding insult to injury, as I like to call it).

I would be interested in hearing from others who's stories have a similar arc.  Did you also feel "wrong" from your earliest memories? What are some of the ways it has manifested for you? When and how did you first recognize that the timing of your trauma was a key factor, and start forgiving yourself?

And thanks. I'm glad to have found this group to share experiences and successes with.




« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 02:51:24 AM by Gwyon »

*

Andyman73

  • Member
  • 479
    • View Profile
Hey Andrew, Andrew here, nice to meet you.

Trigger warning - sexual abuse

I am only getting into my next phase of life. This past January my first suppressed memory exploded into my head. And that was male on male ASA by a predator, when I was 20 and 21, a few weeks before and a few weeks after my 21st birthday. Anyway, long story short, the earliest abuse memory I was late in my 3rd year....a few weeks shy, or maybe more, of my 3rd birthday...was CSA/R by grown man my father's age, or a little older.

And I'll leave that here...
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 09:41:56 PM by Dee »

*

Gwyon

  • Member
  • 97
    • View Profile
I'm horrified and truly saddened to hear of your experience. I wish you healing.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 02:51:05 AM by Gwyon »

*

woodsgnome

  • Member
  • 2104
  • I did not wish to live what was not life
    • View Profile
Hi, andrewc, welcome to OOTS  :wave:

***TRIGGERS throughout the following***

You asked if others have memories of very, very early core trauma? Sadly, I have a major one that, given that I've carried it my whole life and floats into mind daily, will probably never cease to haunt me. Yes, of course I'm seeking to release its grip any way I can, but it's been a long, hard slog to find any daylight from this.

I'm not up for much detail at the moment (or ever, at risk of being violently sick), but the basics are stuff that happened in a crib; my memory is too clear on that and has never deviated or been somehow confused with anything else. While some memories can be vague, that one has always been crystal clear. So there's my first inkling.

In the years that followed infancy, even way beyond the crib molestations, I recall the m doing unsavory acts (and yes, they did seem 'wrong' even before my mind had a clear notion of right/wrong). Many times these happened in or en route to bathrooms. As I grew older, she'd just burst in (no inner door lock). This often caused constipation as I feared going to that grim place. Fine with her--she loved using enemas or suppositories; all for my good, of course.

This continued until age 9 when in retrospect it seems the f found or figured some of this out, disapproved, threatened to leave, and the bathroom visits ceased. I actually don't care why anymore (I was seeing a child psych at the time at the f's behest)--all I know is that the abuse just migrated to other forms--not as directly physical but fully as devastating. But the worst part was--somehow the monstrous actions on her part were blamed on me!!! 

:stars: My fault? Talk about adding insult to injury...blame the victim.

Regarding the crib memory, for years I'd hoped that had been and was still somehow an illusion, an aberration of my mind. Nonetheless the memory remained certain and clear. I had no doubts, but still in some desperate hope for a 'false memory' I allowed a very reputable tribal shaman, who knew nothing about me, to undertake a psychic retrieval process about 10 years ago. I was, and remain, highly skeptical of psychic methods. But in this case I was insatiably curious to confirm as best as I could my lifelong suspicions--it didn't involve money or other gratuity, I wanted another angle, the shaman seemed very trustworthy, and so I consented.

Basically, he entered a trance state knowing nothing of my past (we had only met about 5 minutes before he began). He didn't ask, and I didn't tell, any of my story--zilch about anything. So his 'journey' was undertaken in general terms, trusting his own inner process. When he reported back to me afterwards (I was there the whole time--several hours), he indicated that he'd noticed a sordid string of incidents with an adult woman (he didn't identify her as the m) all the way back to infancy and, at least by his determination, this was real. His detailed description of the surroundings matched my own too-vivid memory as well. Science can scoff at this, but I was sure after that point that my memory had substance. Of course I already knew the 9 hellish years that followed, no psychic/shaman needed; but those also were witnessed in the process.

In a way I felt relief that my memory wasn't off base, but it also was devastating in so many ways. I had no reason to doubt his veracity...he didn't set out to find harmful info, but reported honestly on what he'd found. Plus there were an abundance of other things he noted, all 100% accurate according to my memories.

So that's my experience. Not pretty. I'm ashamed to have had a role, even an innocent part, of the m's apparent glee in what she did. And I have to stop; this already took me longer than I thought it would.

I wish you well in your recovery process, andrewc.


*

Gwyon

  • Member
  • 97
    • View Profile
Woodsgnome, Your experience sounds horrible and painful. I wish you well on your journey towards daylight.

*

Gwyon

  • Member
  • 97
    • View Profile
I'd like to clarify a bit what my inquiry is here.  I'm particularly interested in hearing from those whose primary trauma was in-utero or during infancy about which they have no memories since it was too early.  And especially around neglect and abandonment, as that the thread this is posted in.

Who else has suffered from very beginning of life due to inability of the primary caregiver to provide any secure attachment when you were first born?  What has your journey been like?
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 02:50:47 AM by Gwyon »

*

sanmagic7

  • Member
  • 8217
  • learn something from everything
    • View Profile
i think i can speak to this.  i believe a lot of my core issues happened before i have memory of what went on.  my first clue was when my mother told me (much later in life) that when my sister was born, 21 mos. after me, she told my father 'not to be so hard' on their second daughter.

i never got details, so i can only imagine.  what i've lately discovered is that i suffer from alexithymia, which is the inability to verbalize, recognize and understand what i'm feeling, and have for most of my life.  much of my life, i felt 'floaty', like i simply floated thru life, kind of like a leaf on the wind.  i had no direction, no sense of self, no opinions, and no idea how i or anyone else was feeling, unless they told me.

i believe that my dad expected me to be perfect, so denied any feelings that weren't happy/smiling ones.  throughout my life, until maybe the past few years, i got angry possibly 5 times (i'm 70 now).  instead, i was tolerant, patient, and understanding, no matter what was happening. 

i would take cues from other people as to what feelings might be appropriate in a situation, because i had mostly none at any given moment.  touch is very important to me, as it gives me a sense of being.   from my research on this, i've learned that emotional neglect/denial at a very young age doesn't allow the proper connections between the emotional and verbal parts of the brain to be formed.  through my recovery, i've worked on re-wiring, but it's pretty difficult. 

i'm learning, also, that being out of touch with my feelings is probably the root of my substance abuse, cig. smoking, and eating problems.  i would feel a disturbance in my body, but couldn't pinpoint what it was, and would use something to try to ease the distress i felt. 

so, yes, i'm battling all my life to be me, without having had a chance of a clue.  i'm less floaty now, more self-aware, but i still struggle much of the time with recognizing what emotion/feeling i might be experiencing at any given moment.  most of the time i still couldn't tell you.

sending you a big hug, andrew.  here's hoping, for all of us, that we find our way.

*

Gwyon

  • Member
  • 97
    • View Profile
Thanks sanmagic7. And I notice my other post about grief resonated for you as well. I don’t think this is coincidental.

Yes, my experience is similar. A poorly  formed sense of self, dissociation from emotions. I recognize all this. And it is hard to scaffold in those connections after the fact. It is  a work in progress.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 02:50:31 AM by Gwyon »

*

ah

  • Member
  • 526
    • View Profile
Hi andrew,

Welcome :)

I can relate for sure. I was in a lot of danger many times in the womb, also after being born. Then I stayed in an incubator for many months, back when there was no human touch for babies in them, after which my mother left my abusive father but got back together with him when I was still a baby. So a lot happened long before I could speak.

I have no idea what safety is, I can't dig into my memory and find a time when I felt it. My mother used to say I was a very strung up baby, that my body never relaxed. She didn't realize it was because I was already traumatized.

I knew it was all wrong but at the same time I thought it was all normal, it was the only reality I knew. That in itself has always been crazy making. Some of the things that happened to me seemed impossible, they just couldn't happen. I didn't even have a name for them. Not being able to talk about them made me lose even the little sense of self I might have had if I could. My sense of self and my body were formed in trauma.

But the funny thing is that because my body, and my brain were formed and grew up like this, for me, this is reality. I functioned well for decades considering... but I was never fully present. It's far too easy for me to dissociate and be gone all the time. I can't quite call it my "life", never been able to call this a life because it hurts too much but I also feel too little emotion. I'm not alive. I sort of... vaguely... exist. It's incredibly isolating.

And I'm with you, I have no doubt neglect at such a young age is extremely dangerous because it leaves you dead inside, you learn to neglect yourself in order to survive it.

Yes, people used to believe babies' brains weren't formed enough for memories, so things that happen to babies don't have lasting effects. But science has shown it to be totally untrue. Things that happen before we can speak are probably hardwired into us and become habits we're not even aware of.

The saddest thing? So much of my mother's childhood was recreated in my own... she was severely neglected as a baby, her earliest memory is as a baby, standing in a crib crying bitterly for a whole day, looking out the window searching frantically for someone to save her till she collapses, all alone. She had good intentions and a big heart but she was neglecting because she was neglected long before she could speak.

woodsgnome + Andyman,
I'm speechless. I'm so, so so sorry. Speaking of unthinkables... oh the things that we had to go through, all of us, and we're still here.






*

Gwyon

  • Member
  • 97
    • View Profile
I have no idea what safety is, I can't dig into my memory and find a time when I felt it. .... My sense of self and my body were formed in trauma. ...  I can't quite call it my "life", never been able to call this a life because it hurts too much but I also feel too little emotion. I'm not alive. I sort of... vaguely... exist. It's incredibly isolating.

This is all very familiar, Ah. Thanks for sharing your story.

Are there times that you have sensed your core self, so that you have a reference to point to? The periods of the "vacant soul" can be very bleak... I know this well.

When it hurts too much, I have been working with visualizing my infant self, holding him, and loving him unconditionally as if he were my very own son. Sometimes I can even break through the shame and self-loathing and actually FEEL loved -- actually feel worthy of it. I'm hopeful that with sustained practice I can begin to redeem my infant self.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 02:49:56 AM by Gwyon »

*

sanmagic7

  • Member
  • 8217
  • learn something from everything
    • View Profile
interesting, andrew, that there might be a connection between this constant crying/grieving and emotional neglect.  my t mentioned that my crying may be leftover tears that went un-nurtured when i was a baby.  i like your visualization, too.  it seems very intense to me.

what i did with my baby me was relegate her to an angel to take care of.  i found a picture of an angel holding a baby and printed it out for myself.   that's as close as i got to nurturing my baby me.  some time in the future i may do what you've written about.  it brings up a lot of anxiety within just thinking about it.

thanks for writing this.  definitely something to look at for me.    big hug.

*

Gwyon

  • Member
  • 97
    • View Profile
I understand. I believe I circled around this concept warily for years before I could really embrace it and practice it. Kind wishes to you.

*

Andyman73

  • Member
  • 479
    • View Profile
I honestly don't know what's what, but I have the sense of something before that first fully known experience. I know I had a root canal when I was younger...one of my baby teeth came in dead. But I just have the sense of something happening when I was younger.

*

Gromit

  • Member
  • 368
    • View Profile
 :wave:Gwyon

I believe my issues stem from that early, pre-verbal stage too.

My mother had some kind of breakdown after the birth of my sister (1st child), and was in hospital so my sister was cared for by grandparents for the 1st year or so. My mother was on tranquillisers, and told not to have any more children. Then she had me, 7 years later, because her friend was having a baby.

From my own experience as a mother I know people assume you know what you are doing 2nd time around, especially if you keep quiet about past difficulties. My mother stopped her drugs whilst pregnant but started them again as soon as I was born, she didn't try to feed me. Having seen the way she mechanically tried to soothe my baby son when he was crying I don't think she was a natural mother.

I learnt about the infant stage of development and heard other mothers say how instinctive it was with their baby. Really? I hadn't got a clue, couldn't tell if my boy was hungry, tired or what. (Second time around, yes, I had much more idea and things were naturally easier because of that.) so, I believe that, as my mother didn't look after her first infant she was as clueless as I was when I came along, and probably had less help.I grew up with the saying that my sister was such a wonderful baby my dad wanted 6 more just like her, when I came along I was so terrible he wanted to chuck me out of the window. Like @Ah my mother made comments about me as a baby, being rigid, impossible to console. I did experience that with my son too and I hope that I have put my mistakes with him right, he certainly isn't scared of me, and does turn to me with worries.

I grew up feeling that she must have really wanted me to go against the advice but, when I came, I was a massive disappointment.

Growing up my mother still took tranquillisers until I was 16, and, when I was small, she still went to see some person that I referred to as 'a shrink', I have no idea how I knew that. But, she was still scary, to all of us, and unpredictable.

My counsellor says it is as if I am always waiting for negative criticism and, we were discussing 'safe places' this week, and she doubts if I ever had a person or place that I felt safe.

My triggers, as far as I know are around having to ask anyone for anything, people being angry, unreasonable, bullying, even if they are not angry at me. I was bullied at school from an early age and that made me highly vigilant throughout school. As a consequence I would rather do things by myself, secretly, I even find positive feedback hard to take. Sometimes I make mistakes and dread being 'found out' even if I have put them right. I get overwhelmed because I find it impossible to ask for help. I believe my attachment style is 'anxious avoidant'.

As for family, I was the scapegoat, always trying to make sense of the chaos. Everyone else just kept quiet, for an easy life. My sister cannot remember, or doesn't want to, she thinks I should just 'let go'.
But, how can you let go what you do not remember, what happened before you understood language?
G

*

Gwyon

  • Member
  • 97
    • View Profile
Thanks Gromit.   :heythere:

This all sounds very familiar to me. I suspect I was a difficult  baby (I had breath-holding spells and was sensitive to any sensory stimulus) and if a mother is depressed it must be doubly hard to cope and stay engaged.