Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Defining Moments, The Final Cut

So, here they are. The moments that have defined who I am are:

Oh, Is that why you….?
I will count two traumatic events as one, as I never think of one without the other. Being forced to eat out of the garbage, and having my nose rubbed in my urine both had the same meaning. In both cases I was reacting to physiological stimuli in what most people would consider a “normal” manner (throwing away food when full, saying ouch when hurt). In both instances my mother proved there was no action she would not take to control my every move. I was not to think or feel without consulting her first. I also learned that she only did these things because she loved me and just didn’t understand why I would do what I did - because she became so nice to me after I threw up/started bleeding.
2. Before and after: It is impossible to know exactly what I was before these moments. I knew I was powerless against my mother, and I was afraid of her. I suppose after that powerlessness was intensified by the knowledge that she would do anything to make sure I never had any power. I learned that I was too stupid to make my own decisions. I learned fighting her in any way was futile and wrong. My job was to comply with her every demand, and if I didn‘t, I deserved to be punished in any way she saw fit.
3. As a result of this moment I stopped making decisions for myself, I stopped thinking for myself, and I stopped feeling for myself. I was too afraid to move without someone telling me how. Fear still grips my life and effects too many of my decisions.
4. This defining moment distorted my authentic self. Being so paralyzed by fear to even think for myself goes completely against any authenticity a person has a right to. So much of my life has been wasted by this fear. This fear has been so great that I really never knew I even had an authentic self until I was well into my 30s.
5. I do believe my interpretation of this event is accurate. There is no way I deserved to be treated the way she treated me. It wasn’t the first or last time she took control away from me. I don’t know when it started, and she would like for it to never end.
6. As far as keeping or rejecting this in regard to my concept of self, nothing would make me happier than to reject it. I would give almost anything to lose this fear. Obviously, I want to uncover the authentic self that this incident along with others, have hidden.

“Kiss her!”
Being accosted on the playground by older boys, along with being molested by my grandfather, led to my believing my female body gave me worth. It definitely had a huge effect on how I would perceive myself in relation to the opposite sex. It effected how I saw my own sexuality and what purpose it was meant to serve. I still have confused feelings about my sexuality.
2. Before and after: I was just a little girl with no real value. I hated being held down so that a disgusting boy could kiss me. But because of this incident, along with being molested by my grandfather, I learned that my body had value. My sexuality was important to other people.
3. As a result of this moment I have had a very confused idea about what sexuality is for. It is almost impossible for me to guess when a guy likes me or my sexuality. And I definitely see me and my sexuality as separate entities, sex being the more powerful.
4. This defining moment distorted my authentic self. I think if I were authentic, I would know how to integrate my sexuality into the rest of me. I would not use it to try to feel valid.
6. As far as keeping or rejecting this in regard to my concept of self, obviously, I need to reject it. I think until I do I will never feel like I am truly connected to any other person. I know I have value outside of my sexuality, in my head I know that. In my heart I doubt it.

Ruthanne will always deserve a special place in my heart. I didn’t know why she hated me, or why Shari liked me. I really do think now that this is where I learned that I had no control over who liked me, or hated me. I was at the mercy of everyone in my life. I had absolutely no power, what so ever. And there is very little mercy in this life for me.
2. Before and after: Before Ruthanne came into my life, I knew I was not liked, but I felt there was some history to it, like at least they had a reason. But once Ruthanne blew through I never knew why I was disliked. I felt like a walking target for anyone wanted to bash me.
3. The long term residual effects of that defining moment are feelings of insecurity, powerlessness and complete valueless-ness. Ruthanne became the voice for all of the people who picked on me, and the people I didn’t know could easily be another Ruthanne. So I was afraid that I would never be liked, or valued.
4. This defining moment distorted my authentic self because I internalized it and let it be about my worth and not Ruthanne’s attitude. She was being a big bully that year. She didn’t even know me, how could she like or not like me? And her opinion of me should never have been my opinion of me. I decided I had no value and was not likeable. Not everyone is Ruthanne, some people do like me, and they think I have value.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? At the time I thought it was about me. As an adult I can look at the situation and know that Ruthanne was having a really bad year and saw me as the most convenient person to take it out on. Her hatred toward me was not about me. She had no reason to hate me, and I shouldn’t have taken it so personally.
6. I should definitely reject this with regard to my self concept because it is not an accurate statement of who I am. I should not base my self worth on what anyone else thinks of me. I should live the best life I can, be who I really am, and be proud of all that I have accomplished. Ruthannes will always be there, but I have to stop letting them affect what I think of myself.

Lyle finally made his move. In a desperate attempt to protect Kim, he kidnapped us to Arco. I was starting to feel safe, then all of a sudden they pull the rug out from under me. Even though he professed to trying to make me safe, he was hurting me deeply, and making me feel, once again, powerless to have any control over my life.
2. Before and after: Before this happened there was just a handful of people I believed would never do anything to hurt me. After, he had hurt me, just as badly as my mother had. It was like getting the rug pulled out from under me.
3. The long term residual effects included the inability to really trust anyone anymore. It is very hard for me to have any trust in anyone now. I don’t believe anyone ever sees my interests first for any reason.
4. This defining moment distorted and clarified my authentic self. It is quite true that there are very few people out there who are genuinely more concerned with my interests than their own. As a matter of fact, I can only think of a couple of people who did. I don’t think anyone can really be completely counted on, but I may take it too far at times.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? I do know that Lyle really did have our best interest at heart, but he chose to do the one thing that would hurt the most. Instead of teaching us to have that personal power so that we would have better tools to live by, he took that power away from us, and I only came away from it more hurt.
6. I should accept/reject this with regard to my self concept because; This one is hard because I don’t really know. I think it helps to keep me safe to not trust people, but it also keeps me isolated. I would like to trust unconditionally, but even I continue to let me down time and again.

Being invisible was safe.
Jr. High school was a totally new experience. I had spent so many years being ostracized and tormented by my peers that I had come to know it as an integral part of my life. As I walked through the halls of that jr. high school, however, I found a solace - a welcomed reprieve. I was no longer the most despised among the mass. I was completely invisible. I walked through the halls, unnoticed, untouched, unseen. It was a wonderful experience. I was at peace. I was happy. I even made a couple of friends.
2. Before and after: Before I was always afraid that I would be accosted either verbally or physically by my peers. After, I felt safe from them. When they didn’t see me, they didn’t hurt me.
3. The long term residual effects include packing on weight, losing it and become scared of other people's reactions to me, then putting it back on. I tend not to take the lead unless I am certain I am safe from ridicule. I am scared so much of the time of being disliked, that I seriously lack the courage to be me.
4. This defining moment distorted my authentic self because it reinforced the notion that I had no value. I wasn’t even valued enough to be picked on anymore. I learned it was easier to hide than to face the world. Even now I tend to hide when I feel I have less than an acceptable foot to put forward.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? Sure, I was safe, but I wasn’t alive, and I wasn’t me. I was going along to get along, which is how the authentic self is slowly destroyed.
6. I should reject this with regard to my self concept because I not only have a right to my authentic self, I have an obligation to be my authentic self. We are all here for our own very special reasons. I am denying the universe the pleasure of me when I hide me in fear.

How does 15 year old jailbait compete with a 32 year old easy lay?
Damian was my first serious crush, but she just had to have him. To get me out of the way she threatened to legally take care of any relationship I might have with him. It would have been a completely valid argument if she meant to protect me, but she didn’t. Damian was the first, but not the last guy she felt compelled to compete with me for. The world is full of guys who are looking to have sex with young girls who are willing. Usually, those same guys love the idea of the mother/daughter conquest. And I was ripe for spinning out of control.
2. Before and after: Before I knew that my sex had power over men. After, I learned that I could use my sex to hurt women too. And I did use it to hurt other women, not just, but especially my mother.
3. The long term residual effects are my warped sense of how sex makes a relationship work. It is especially common for me to assume that I am simply being used just for sex by men, and equally common for me to compete for the sexual attraction of men who are liked by women I feel de-value me.
4. This defining moment distorted my authentic self - God I hope it’s distorted. People say that sex is a tool that brings intimacy to a relationship. I realize that to some extent that is true. But I still can’t help but see it as a very sharp sword.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? That’s a hard one. My mother was very sick, and competing with your daughter for the boys she wants is sick. I don’t think the lesson was valid because even though she hurt me, two wrongs don’t make a right. She wronged me, but so did I.
6. I should reject this with regard to my self concept because I know in my head that using sex for anything but bringing intimacy to a relationship is self destructive. I’m tired of destroying myself over and over.

Suicidal thoughts.
After being beaten with a broom by my mother, and seeing the shocked look of the people I worked for, I considered suicide. I chose to survive, however, and promised myself not to let anyone hit me again. It was the first time I ever really saw any end to the abuse. It was the first time the concept of having any control over my own life entered my mind.
2. Before and after: Before I really felt there was no hope, that I was stuck in that situation forever. After, I had hope. I think that may have been the first time I saw something in me that was really me; my hope.
3. The long term residual effects: I have thought of suicide often, but I know that I won’t do it as long as I can feel even the most trivial amount of hope. I gave myself purpose then, and I know I can do it again.
4. This defining moment clarified my authentic self. Once I could see myself as being separate from what my mother told me to be, I knew I could maybe have a self. I don’t know if I have seen all of that authentic self, but I am looking, I know it is there somewhere.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? My interpretation of that moment and the events that preceded and followed it are accurate. Well, I did interpret the looks on the faces of the people at work incorrectly. They didn’t think I deserved it, quite the opposite. They just didn’t know what to do or say. But I did know for sure no one had the right to hurt me, that I didn’t deserve to be hit, and that mother would not have my blessing if she did it again.
6. I should accept this with regard to my self concept because it was the first time I actually felt like I could stand up for myself. It was the first time I knew I should count on myself. It was the first time I knew there was a self. In almost every way, it was the most profound moment of my life. My life.

Tappy: sent to make me see my mother in me.
One day I was moving from the couch to the bed. When I got there, I found that my 6 month old Doberman puppy had pooped on my bed. I lost it. I grabbed her and started to beat her while she lay on the floor beneath me. I had a sort of out of body experience at that moment. I was looking down on me beating that poor puppy, and I saw my mother. I was about to have a baby, and I was my mother. I stopped and got up off the dog who ran to another room. I felt sick to my stomach. I knew right then that I had to change. I couldn’t be my mother. I wouldn’t be my mother. I wouldn’t.
2. Before and after: Before I thought it would be easy not to treat my children the way my mother did, that it wouldn't be a problem at all. After, I saw my mother in my rage and knew I was wrong. I knew I would have to work hard at not being angry enough to be her.
3. The long term residual effects I have spent hours reading and borrowing strength from people I didn’t even know, but it was worth it, because I never have hurt another being they she hurt me.
4. This defining moment clarified my authentic self by showing me that I had an awful rage inside me, and that I needed to control it.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? It was so accurate. Seeing myself like that was a huge eye opener. I was the abuser, but I knew deep inside I would learn to beat it.
6. I should accept this with regard to my self concept because it brought me to a place where I could get angry without losing control. Now instead of hitting, I cry. Which is better.

Megan was four, just about the same age I was when my mother did those horrible things to me. I was living in my childhood home, and would walk around a corner and have flashbacks, full pain, smell, everything flashbacks. The scene would play out completely leaving me feeling as worthless and powerless as I felt then. But this time I had Megan, and I would sit and rock her until the little girl in me felt better. I kept telling her (the little girl in me) over and over that she didn’t do anything to deserve that, she was totally innocent and sweet, and only a monster would treat a beautiful child like her that way. And I would cry for hours.
2. Before and after: before having the flashbacks, I did feel guilt, like I had done something to deserve the abuse. After, I knew better. I was an innocent little girl who was being tortured by a psychotic mother.
3. The long term residual effects have been to put the blame where it belongs. It might take a little while, but I always hold accountable the persons who are mean to me. It’s hard to do, but I do know I am not to blame for other’s rages.
4. This defining moment clarified my authentic self by taking the guilt of the innocent child inside me and giving it to the woman who hurt me. I learned that I wasn’t has horrible as I thought.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? My interpretation was accurate. It was a very healing thing to see a childhood abuser with the privilege of having adult eyes. As an adult it was so easy to see that I was without guilt.
6. I should accept this with regard to my self concept because it makes me stronger. I know when I am wrong and I am not afraid to apologize profusely for those wrongs. But this event shows me that I am not always the one who is wrong. Sometimes, someone else deserves to take accountability, and in order to find my authentic self, I need to remember that deep down I am always trying to do what is right.

Protecting my children from my mother, and My Life for a house - a great trade
My mother lied to me about how she disciplined Megan. When I found out about the lie at a family function, I was furious. Something was starting to happen inside me at that moment. Maybe I couldn’t protect myself from that monster, but I would protect my kids from her.
We went to see her at the ranch. I told her I couldn’t take anymore of her abuse, and that I certainly wasn‘t ok with her spanking Megan for any reason. I told her she could have her house back, but in return I wanted my life back - without her in it. As we drove home, I felt the most intense feeling of relief and freedom. I have never regretted making that decision, not even for a moment.
2. Before and after: Before I took my life back I was basically unable to stand up to my mother. I was still afraid of her and let her do most of my thinking. After, I did stand up to her. I still feel fear towards her, but now that she is not allowed to be in my life to continue the emotional and mental abuse. I stood up for my kids, now I know I have the tools to stand up for myself.
3. The long term residual effects: I am stronger. I still have a long way to go, but I know that I can advocate for myself and others when push comes to shove. I just need to feel the push before it becomes the shove!
4. This defining moment clarified my authentic self. I actually came a step closer! Now that she isn’t around to beat me down, I can see the better parts of me.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? My interpretation was accurate. I need to take control for my kids and I did. Now I need to make that happen for me.
6. I should accept this with regard to my self concept because it is a step closer. My authentic self was dying day by day. Now I am getting stronger day by day. It doesn’t always feel that way, but I know it is true.

“A” student
I signed up for classes at the local college, and declared psychology as my major. A couple of weeks into classes, my psychology teacher asked us how many of us were there for intrinsic reasons. I raised my hand. He looked around the class and said, “only two of my A students?” I was shocked. No one had ever accused me of being an A student before. I really liked that label. I liked it so much that I vowed to make it true. And I did. It’s strange how one comment made for an entirely different reason can make such a huge difference in a persons self concept!
2. Before and after: Before I believed I was stupid, after all, everyone said so! After, I believed I was just as smart as most people, because I said so.
3. The long term residual effects: I have come to love learning, and I can objectively listen to what someone is saying and decide for myself if it makes sense or not. Unless they are telling me that something about me is inadequate, then I believe blindly!
4. This defining moment clarified my authentic self by showing me that I am capable of having good rational thoughts.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? Absolutely! I was a straight A student for 2 semesters, and remained on the Deans list up till now. My college gpa is 3.87! Obviously, I have what it takes to be smart enough to think for myself.
6. I should accept this with regard to my self concept because it gives me the power and freedom to think for myself, which has to happen if I ever want to find my authentic self. It is very reassuring to know that I have as much intelligence and sometimes more, than the people who would like to make my life choices for me. This takes the power out of the hands of the people who want me to behave the way that makes their lives easier, whether it is in my best interest or not.

My first purpose outside my kids
Most of the students in the class seemed fun to me, but there was a boy there who was blind, didn’t talk, sat in his wheelchair all day and had seizures often. I was terrified of him. On day I stood in the classroom looking at this little boy, yes he was tiny, when I thought, "why are you scared of him?" So, I asked the aid who worked with him if I could take over. She was more than happy to let me. During the next nine months, this boy would teach me the real meaning of unconditional love and acceptance. It was then that I really started to see God for what He is, and not for what everyone said he was. It was magical, and every time I sit down with a person who is profoundly disabled, I feel that kind of unconditional love. For the first time I actually had hope that I would be ok.
2. Before and after: Before this job, I was lost spiritually. I firmly believed that God had to be as described in the bible, which was a little too much like my mother. After, I came to understand unconditional love and acceptance. There is not feeling in the world like knowing I have as much value and validity as anyone else here in existence. I know how to give that kind of unconditional love and acceptance, just not necessarily how to get it.
3. The long term residual effects: I have spent countless hours working on my own ability to accept and love other people. I can honestly say that I unconditionally love my mother, and that I accept her unconditionally. Understanding how it works makes any guilt others try to pile on me for not allowing her in the lives of my children or myself completely dissipate. Loving and accepting unconditionally means not needing to control, heal, or save anyone else. Nor does it mean letting everyone in to abuse me, as that would not be unconditionally accepting.
4. This defining moment clarified my authentic self because I finally realized that I might really have an important authentic self. It was a part of me worth trying to discover. I am still trying to develop and solidify that concept towards myself. That is the way to being able to have the courage to be me.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? My interpretation is accurate. Everyday I am with such wonderful and unconditional beings it is reinforced. They are happy, they are trusting and they are content.
6. I should accept this with regard to my self concept because it gives me a reason to keep living, no matter how bad things might get, I still feel I owe it to God and to me to give this life a real chance.

And here we are today
I met Dale. As I wrote in my blog, I wanted to believe this was “it”. I wanted to be in this relationship forever. I systematically pushed myself to the back and ignored that voice inside until I nearly exploded. He is an alcoholic and was completely unaccepting of me. He thought there were plenty of things wrong with me and apparently I didn‘t disagree with him. I wasn’t fast enough, I wasn’t thin enough, I was too emotional, and not nearly enough like Kendra. When he couldn’t accept my kids, I figured it was more him than me, maybe that’s why it didn’t kill me.
He’s an alcoholic. Just like so many other people in my life have been. I don’t really know how much of that to take personally. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m making the decision to take this book and actually do the work to find and fix what’s wrong.
2. Before and after: Before I thought I was just about there, I thought I was strong enough to be me no matter what. After, I realized that I still have a lot of work to do. Actually reading and doing the work in this book is just the beginning to doing this hard work. Before I can fix what’s wrong, I have to identify it. Before I can heal it, I have to own it.
3. The long term residual effects are yet to be seen.
4. This defining moment clarified my authentic self because I was able to see that I was still not completely healed or authentic.
5. Was my interpretation accurate? It likely is. I do believe I was loved, but only as well as an addict can love. I do believe I was loved, but only as much as a person can be loved who is afraid to be herself.
6. I should accept this with regard to my self concept because I want to heal. I want to know why I keep putting myself in situations where I completely abandon my authentic self. Even though I know no one else will ever be able to love and accept me if I don’t, I still refuse to stand strong for who I am. Maybe this is a catalyst for finding out who I am, once and for all.

7. Reviewing these defining moments as a whole, the bottom-line effect on my concept of self, having live through them is: I don’t have faith in myself or others. I believe people when they tell me I am stupid, fat, ugly, not valid and not valued. I even tell myself these things every time I fail to achieve even the most inconsequential of goals. I believe people when they don’t like me, I have internalized their remarks as truths about me. I have been too afraid to make the really hard decisions in life that would bring me to my authentic self. I have vowed not to let anyone hit me and get away with it, yet I have been hit since, and did nothing about it. I have vowed to never make decisions based on fear, yet I remain so paralyzed with fear that I have not been able to find my own purpose in life. I am too afraid to find myself, for fear I really won’t like me either. I lack the courage to claim power over my own life.

I have made gains, which is very good. It shows me I can go forward. It shows me I can improve and grow. It even offers encouragement that I should improve and grow. It tells me I am obliged to try.

And so life was full of pain and abuse. But that is over now. I lived through it then, and it cannot kill me now. And so life is what I choose to make it. I can make choices that will lead me to my authentic self. No, I can’t control the future, no one can. But I can definitely choose what the rest of my history will be.


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