No longer in danger
Tuesday October 20, 2009
I have been reading your book ‘Free from Lies’.
I am taking the liberty of writing to you in the hope that it may help me make a breakthrough. You may publish anything providing it is anonymous.
I don’t actually need you to respond. although I would be happy if you do. I think it is the writing that counts.
I have been struggling with episodes of paralysing anxiety for many years now. I have tried therapy and psychiatrists. They have made me worse. I am even afraid of my GP now. He made such a poor referral. I just don’t know where to turn. I am afraid of all doctors. I used to have such trust and faith in them. They are obsessed with medication.
At the moment i am physically sick with anxiety. it is horrible. Intellectually, I know that it will pass. it has before. Emotionally, I think that this disaster may be worse than all the others.
I was physically punished as a child and I do remember an awful lot of it. There may have been more things that happened when I was small that I don’t remember. I don’t know. I don’t think the punishment was anything much worse than that many others have suffered. I am angry with myself that i can’t seem to get passed it. I also have quite a few happy memories of my childhood.
Despite the remembering. it doesn’t seem to help me overcome anything. Perhaps writing it down and telling you will help. I don’t know, but i can at least try. I am 50 years old. I don’t like to be blaming my parents. They were less than perfect it is true, but they did feed me, clothe me and house me. For years, i have felt sorry for my mother more than anything. She was such an inadequate person in so many respects. She still is.
I was the oldest child in the family. I was a girl and my father wanted a boy. Common enough scenario. My great uncle liked to tell the story when I was a child, that my father had a bottle of champagne ready to celebrate my birth, but when it turned out that I was female, he put the bottle away. My next brother was born when I was three. He was always a wanted and indulged child. He could do no wrong. I could do no right. There was one set of extremely tough rules for me. There was another set of very lax rules for him. If he cried, there was comfort. Not for me.
I have some very clear memories of when I was very young. prior to the birth of my brother, I slept in a cot in the room with my parents. I even remember getting in bed with them.
When my brother was born, I was put in my own ‘room’ . This was not really a room but a curtained off alcove of the sitting room. i remember being very much afraid of the dark. I would have horrible nightmares. I would wake screaming in terror. My mother would come and be very angry. I have a memory of her standing over me with a torch. Her face is purple and contorted with rage. She is wearing a nightie. I can’t remember if she hit me, but that memory seems to come back to me in other situations.
(I remember as young adult after I had left home, that one night i was sleeping in my sisters bed, when i visited home. I became aware that someone was standing over my bed. I kicked and kicked. The person kept saying “It’s only me.” The more she said this the more frightened I became and the more i kicked. It was my mother and she had come in to get an alarm clock off the end of my sister’s bed. I was so frightened of her.)
(On a recent occasion, I was sleeping in an apartment room with an acquaintance. In the middle of the night i became aware that someone or something was standing over the bed. I was asleep but i screamed in terror. it turned out that it was my temporary room mate who had got up to go to the toilet. The room was very small and she was getting back into bed. She was leaning on the small cabinet between our beds. She was wearing a nightie. She wasn’t doing me any harm, it was just that she was like an apparition. it reminded me of my mother.)
In my small room, as a child, I would have horrendous nightmares and my screams became frozen. I would have nightmares in which my legs were paralysed. I would kick off the blankets in my nightmare and would lie there freezing cold for hours because i was too frightened of the dark, and something under my bed to pick up the blankets. The toilet was outside and I was too scared to go on my own, but i was too scared to call my mother, so I would lie there in the dark in extreme pain because my bladder was full, often freezing cold and too scared to call my mother. When I would wake in the morning, my bed was always pulled apart. I was a very poor sleeper.
One of these nightmares repeated over and over. In this particular nightmare i am in a desert. It is a very grey dull sort of desert. There is four-wheel drive track and it follows along an electricity line or a telegraph line. There are only three wires in this line. There is a huge black crow and it is swooping me(It swoops like an Australian magpie, but it looks like a crow). I try to run but my legs are paralysed. i try to scream but my voice is paralysed.
This all went on for about three years, so far as i can remember. At the age of six we moved out of that house and I had a room of my own and I don’t remember being quite so terrified. Also, the new house had an internal toilet so that i could get up and go by myself. I also think there was a light by the bed so that I could switch it on if i was afraid of the dark. I loved this house but we only lived in it for year. It was not our house.
The terror, the pain was extreme in that situation however and I believe that it may have had a lifelong effect on my bladder. I have a problem with emptying my bladder fully. I think I may have permanently damaged the muscles. I may also have damaged my vocal chords by freezing the screams. I have polyps on my vocal chords and trouble projecting my voice.
I was reading your book today, page 151 and there was a comment about learning to accept cruelty in silence. That is very much my problem, I was taught not to scream. Not to express my pain. My distress, my pain was not taken seriously. When I was small child I was not allowed to cry. However, I did sometimes cry. If I needed to cry, I would go and hide and cry in privacy. I would hide under the house or go along way from home and hide in a small bit of scrubby forest. Sometimes, I would wait until bed-time and cry silently to myself. If my mother had known that I cried, I would have been yelled at and punished. She had a strap, i would have been hit. If she told my father he would have supported her absolutely. For me to cry was apparently to be self-indulgent. I did cry, but only in secret.
I was very careful. I remember being discovered crying only once. I was nearly thirteen at the time. We had just moved house, one of many times. I had just started at a new school. The girls in my class were being very bitchy and unwelcoming. I was missing my friends at my old school. I had gone to bed, shut my door. My head was under the blankets and I was sobbing silently. My mother kept a few thing in boxes on top of my wardrobe. She must have come in to find something. She heard me crying, switched on the light., pulled the blankets off me, Next thing I know, she has called my father. They are both standing over me yelling. The light is in my eyes. There is no sympathy for my distress, no reassurance. Not that I would have expected any. I had learned long ago not to expect any. I am told yet again that I am just selfish. Not that I deserved this because I wasn’t making any public fuss. I was just privately expressing my distress.
By this stage of my life I am angry at them. I know that other people don’t behave like this. My privacy was violated. A little gentleness would have gone a long way and I know that other people, outside of the family can be gentle. It is just that everytime we move, I lose my friends again and they are my emotional supports, not my parents.
That is not the end of the story, there is more. However, I might send this as a first episode.
I hope you don’t mind. let me know, if you do,C
AM: You write first: “I don’t like to be blaming my parents. They were less than perfect it is true, but they did feed me, clothe me and house me. For years, i have felt sorry for my mother more than anything. She was such an inadequate person in so many respects. She still is.” Then you describe a hearth-breaking HORROR of your childhood in a very calm way. You were not allowed to cry, to complain, to rebell in any way against the cruelty of both of your parents. It is understandable thus that you still are afraid of feeling your rage that they deserve. But you are 50 now and it is time for you to understand that you are NO LONGER in danger and that your body absolutely NEEDS to express the RAGE accumulated in you for so many decades. Nobody will punish you today if you dare to FEEL eventually what you MUST feel and what is more than JUSTIFIED.