World Mental Health Day was yesterday. To be honest, I kind of forgot, until so many of my Facebook friends and pages posted about it.
What good timing, though, because I went to yet another appointment to solidify my treatment plan for this godawful anxiety and depression and the other detritus floating around in my brain following childhood trauma.
It was a long time since I’ve had to give someone a recap of my childhood and my disowning saga. I think I must have talked for 45 minutes or something at that appointment. There was no clock, so I’m not sure.
I told her about walking on eggshells. That we think he has narcissistic personality disorder though it will never be properly diagnosed. It’s funny–if you tell a mental health professional that your parent has NPD, they immediately know what kind of trauma you’ve been through. So that was kinda helpful.
I told her I thought the problem was ME for so so so long until I stumbled across a book at the library that started me down the path toward better boundaries and independence. Even as I could barely put one foot in front of the other, I managed to get a second job, find a place to live with a roomie, and start packing. It took so much effort. But I did it. I told her how I tried not to tell my father about it until there was nothing he could do to stop me–my roomie and I put down our deposit before I told him, because he has this way of making the sky green and the grass blue and make you doubt everything you ever do.
I told her about how I was like a mom to the four littlest siblings. The family dynamics. How I mothered then when my own mother failed–like when our father yelled at a hard of hearing brother because he made him look so stupid at a Boy Scouts meeting because he kept nodding “like a fool” and looked stupid instead of responding to people. That was one of few times I actually stood up to him. “He couldn’t hear! I do the same thing!” so after my brother was grounded and sent to bed early I snuck in to comfort him and give him some practical advice, one deaf person to another, on how to navigate noisy situations and some good stock phrases to use. “I’m sorry, can you restate that please?” “Could we go some place quieter to talk? I’m having difficulty hearing you.” I think he was only 8. I forget.
Or how I would sneak in and hold my 5 year old tender-hearted sister and tell her that daddy was being unreasonable because he is sick and that she is still a good girl, and not a bad person, and that I love her no matter what. I’d let her sob in my arms for as long as I dared, and then sneak out because if I was caught, she and I would both be punished. I think that time it was because she broke a dish and he raged.
I told her how I moved out, got engaged, and then was disowned and taken off of health insurance and how I returned the car that I owned half of but refused to buy the other half from him, and the phone that I had to use to call when I got someplace, call before I left, call and ask permission if I was going to be late, call when i got to some place new.
I told her how my mom and my brother, who was the black sheep for so long, became the golden child and soaked up all the attention and I honestly couldn’t blame him because he was treated so awfully by our father, came to my work and tried to get me to come back by giving me the phone and keys even after I had already secured my own phone and car, but she didn’t understand that and thought I was rejecting the “huge, huge olive branch.” I still didn’t understand what I had done to deserve being disowned, even after the 10 page email my dad had sent. Thankfully my workplaces were understanding when I told them to not release any information about me to them if they should ever inquire, and my boss chased my mom and brother out of the building.
I told her how I always keep my eyes open for my siblings on social media. How I have been no contact since 2009, because my parents “live in their own reality,” as this therapist offered. How I tried to keep in touch, but then was told to stop mailing cards and gifts to my siblings. How it felt like I lost four children of my own. How if I ever found them online, I would send a simple email saying that I don’t know what they have been told, but that it is probably not true, and that I love them and am here if they ever want to reach out.
It is a very very long story. But I had to tell it once again, because she was getting an idea of my background before I started up DBT therapy.
I’m doing the intensive DBT program in once place first, to tide me over and give me some useful skills until this program that she leads starts a new module next month.
Then I did mom things like buy a toddler bed mattress and some used toys from other moms online for my daughter. And I rested. I still don’t have my usual stamina thanks to depression. But I did okay.
And I think I will be okay, especially once I retrain my brain to undo the damage that the deleterious inner voice I grew up with did to me, and try to sweep away the detritus. I want to break the cycle and give my daughter a childhood she doesn’t have to recover from and be a healthier mom and wife and employee.
That’s why I didn’t post yesterday for World Mental Health Day.
Because I was taking care of my own little world, trying to get going on the path to mental health.
May we all be well.
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