Day 148: Mother F-ing Letter Part 3 - How it Affected My Life (Major Trigger Warning)
To my Pandy's friends, I can't tell you how much your support, understanding, comments, and encouragement means to me. I know this has been painful for you to read, possibly as much as it has been for me to write. I am, as always humbled and astonished by the generosity, compassion, and courage you possess. I would not be able to undertake this healing work without you.
This is part 3 of 4 of the letter to my mom. I have been bowled over by the pain this exercise generates, and then amazed at the relief I feel when the intense emotions have subsided. Most incredible to me is how I feel I am drowning but then I hear from you and I know my head is still above water. And, you throw me a life preserver. I climb back onto the ship, bedraggled and exhausted, but surprisingly unharmed.
Once again, major trigger warning for the contents and language of this posting.
I'm not finished with you. You think throwing away this letter put an end to my words, but it did not. You now must hear how all of these experiences affected my life. No doubt you don't care at all about this because you see me as unharmed. I have a good job. I am successful in my career. I have a stable marriage, healthy/happy kids, and good friends. In fact, for more than 25 years, you have only heard good things from me. I have never shared anything that would make it seem like there was the slightest problem in my life. Of course, I learned not to when I was a kid.
Let's begin there.
I have kept secret the majority of pain and problems in my life, not just from you, but from everyone. Your neglect and abuse developed in me an absolute belief in the rule, "one does not share anything painful or uncomfortable with other people." You said to me countless times, "Do not be beholden to anyone," and, "Do not give them a chance to hurt you." HA! It would have helped me immeasurably if you had said, "Do not give me a chance or your step-father a chance to hurt you." You convinced me everyone was out to get me, to take advantage of me, to hurt me.
You made me distrusting of people in general, and completely unwilling to go to the doctor. In dozens of ways you showed me it is wrong to go to the doctor. So, I always waited until I was no longer ambulatory before being willing to be seen. And, even then, only when forced to go to the doctor. Here are some examples of health-related things that happened to me as a result:
- I didn't go to the doctor when I had my third concussion and I ended up with long term effects of brain injury. This led to multiple bike accidents because I lost consciousness. I kept losing consciousness to the point I lost my driving privileges.
- I didn't go to the doctor after one of these bike accidents, and ended up nearly losing the use of my right hand. What could have been easily treated when it happened, but because I waited it required a major surgery to move my ulnar nerve. And, they weren't sure I would get the use of my hand back! It was months of painful physical therapy before it was clear I would recover the use of my hand. And, to this day it is often painful and I cannot do certain things. Some of the damage is permanent. And it was avoidable!!
- I didn't go to the doctor when I had an infection "down there" and I ended up passing out at work. They hauled me to an ER where I was given a medication I later discovered I am violently allergic to. When I started having welts form on my skin I STILL didn't go to the doctor. Because I was "ambulatory." I went to bed. And, I nearly died from this! I was scooped out of bed three days later and hauled again to the emergency room. They gave me god knows how many different medications and fluids. I was in the emergency department for almost 24 hours. They tried to admit me to the hospital, but I checked myself out against medical advice, because I just knew they were lying to me and were taking advantage of me. Then, I got extremely sick at home and missed an entire month of work! I lost my apartment because I didn't have enough sick leave to cover my time off work. I ended up homeless for several months. I never told anyone.
- After my hysterectomy I checked myself out against medical advice after I bled out and had only half of my blood volume. I was incredibly sick and would not accept the care they offered. I ended up off of work for six weeks because of that! They could have given me blood. I could have been better much faster and experienced a hell of a lot less pain. In fact, it took me six months to fully recover from that. I was close to death, but all I could think about was your disapproving words that I was so weak as to let a doctor control me!
- I was raped by a doctor. And, I never told anyone. I didn't tell anyone because I was so accustomed to being violated and ignored that it didn't even phase me when it happened. Hear me right now saying that. It didn't phase me when it happened. I didn't even realize it was wrong because I was used to being violated and because you taught me so thoroughly to think the worst of doctors.
- You must accept some of the blame for me being raped by the doctor. You fucking set me up! You allowed me to be repeatedly sexually abused by my step-father. You showed me there is not reason to tell anyone. You shamed me for trying to protect myself or ask for help. You convinced me doctors are evil. I didn't protect myself from this doctor because of you. I went back to him because of you. I didn't report him to the police because of you. I was raped because of you! Yes, he is equally to blame. EQUALLY!
- I have had to be held down in the emergency room twice because I was so terrified of doctors after having been raped; and I didn't even know why I was so scared. It is a truly horrifying experience to try to get free and being surrounded by people holding you down. I was out of my mind with fear, just like when you shoved those medications in me. I was sure they were going to violate me as you did and as the doctor who raped me.
- When I moved to my current city I ran out of medication because I was too afraid to go to the doctor. I went for months without it, getting sicker and sicker until finally I had to go or I would ended up in the hospital again.
- I have had to undergo months of therapy, and will have to continue for many months more, in order to be able to go to the doctor and not have a panic attack. I have become so afraid of doctors I can't let them touch me. For fuck's sake! You did that to me!
- I had to undergo years of therapy in the past just to get myself under control and stop my suicidal activities, or I would probably be dead by now.
Your abuse and neglect made me unable to feel my emotions. This caused me to get married to two unhealthy men. The first was wild, like I was at the time, and led to a quick divorce. The second is emotionally shut down, like I am. I have lived in a loveless marriage for 18 years, not knowing love existed, not knowing I need it, not knowing I could be capable of it.
I still don't know if I am capable of it!
Your abuse and neglect was so absolute that I didn't believe love even exists. I didn't believe the emotion people write songs about, the emotion that drives a painter to a canvas, the emotion that people experience as giddy, head-over-heels, actually exists. I was 100% sure it was a fantasy, an immature, made-up invention . . . like an invisible friend or the monster in the closet. I never understood why there were love songs, or other expressions of love. I would scoff in my mind, just like you! How moronic people are for acting like love is a real thing.
I DIDN'T KNOW LOVE EXISTS! You fucking did that to me!
I am unable to love. I am unable to be loved. The exception is my children. I worked very hard to learn how to love them, how to hold them, how to create boundaries for them, how to make them the center of my decisions. All things you would never consider for one fucking moment.
I have never been in love. I made a commitment to my children to stay married for their sake. I am sure you would approve of that choice. It doesn't matter to you if I never experience love, if I go to my grave not knowing what it's like to be held by someone who loves me. I probably will too.
Your abuse and neglect made me afraid of people. I am afraid of groups. I am afraid of strangers. I am afraid of doctors. I am afraid of women. I am afraid of anyone coming up behind me. I am afraid of people touching me.
I AM AFRAID OF PEOPLE TOUCHING ME!
Because of all of this, sex is not pleasurable to me. It's just a climax, a physical release, just my body doing what it is designed to do. It's like eating a meal I don't like. There is no joy in it. It is just an obligation. And, I don't even want it to be otherwise. I can't feel my emotions. I can't be in love. I can't stand someone touching me for any duration. I can't trust people.
You destroyed my ability to love!
Your abuse and neglect caused me to be bullied at school. I was beat up, knocked down, spat on, kicked, laughed at, and every other form of bullying, because I was a target. I was afraid of other children. I didn't understand them. I couldn't be one of them. I couldn't talk to them. I couldn't play with them. I couldn't be near them. One of the most difficult things in my life to overcome was my shyness. I couldn't look people in the eye. I couldn't show anything about myself to them.
I got in violent fights at school because of this. I had to beat up other kids with terrible ferocity to get them to leave me alone. I had to defend myself with black rage, with a willingness to take another person's life.
I had to learn how to behave like other people behave. I had to study it. I had to go to counseling for it. It took a long time for me to learn how to be like other people, how to act like them so they would stop attacking me.
Your abuse and neglect filled me with rage. It is trapped under a suit of armor and emerges unexpectedly and uncontrollably when someone pierces that armor. And, I learned how to make it look socially appropriate. I became so schooled in social norms and in emotional control that I focus my rage in incredibly harmful ways. I have hurt several people severely because of my sharp, uncaring tongue. I have driven people to quit their jobs. I have caused people to move away. And when I did these things I was proud of myself. To this day when someone irritates me I pride myself in getting back at them in a way that makes them look like a buffoon. I have no compassion when I am angry. YOU DID THAT TO ME. You gave me this well of anger. You gave me this suit of armor. You taught me to be cruel and uncaring.
Your abuse and neglect caused me not to let anyone near me emotionally. I have never had deep friendships and have been mortally afraid of letting anyone see the real me. I have been sure the real me is unacceptable, ugly, and worthless.
Your abuse and neglect not only caused me to be raped by a doctor, it caused me to be sexually abused by your husband for the better part of a decade. It caused me to be molested by a female classmate and molested by an older neighbor girl. It caused me to be molested by a bum in a park. It caused me to be raped by a baby sitter.
It caused me to have indiscriminate sex. It caused me to have sex at age 13 with three different boys.
Your abuse and neglect caused me to accept harassing work environments for years and years and to never think to stand up for myself. It caused me to accept a career that was not my passion because I was completely unworthy of the career I wanted. "You have to be the very best of the very best," you said to me about pursuing music. You told me I would be wasting my time studying something I could never make into a career! That was a deeply, deeply painful wound. You so thoroughly disbelieved in me that you didn't even support me to pursue my dream.
You described me as "Fonzie" when I had my hair cut when I was 13. I cut my hair off because I had been sick in bed with mono and couldn't face you ripping the hair out of my head again. Then, you dragged me to the barber shop and had it shorn so I looked like a boy. And, you called me Fonzie. You laughed at me. This was the worst period of time for me at school. I was repeatedly abused for looking like a boy. I saw myself that way for ten years as a result. I was ugly. Permanently ugly. That's part of the reason I became so promiscuous, to disprove this to myself. But, it didn't work.
I have never been comfortable in my body. My body has a lot of pain I ignore.
I have often dissociated. I have long stretches of no memory because of it. I can't remember even things in my current life because of it. I have to rely on other people to be a memory trace for me. Part of this is the traumatic brain injury. Part of this is being emotionally fractured. I regularly spend stretches of time dissociated and cannot remember what happened. I just have to believe people when they tell me things I have said or done, because I have such a bad memory. That happens to me all the time. I act like I remember, but I don't.
I have a very painful bladder condition because of your abuse and neglect. I can't even remember what caused the scar tissue inside of me. But, I have scar tissue that compresses my urethra. All those years you refused to let me go to the bathroom, and all along the problem was scar tissue, not me being unwilling or not remembering to go to the bathroom. You put me through excruciating pain holding my bladder when it was near tearing from being over full.
Because of my bladder I cannot go on long hikes or drives. I have to stop to go to the bathroom every 60 to 90 minutes. I have been repeatedly teased about this all of my life. I have to accept people's chiding about it; and can't tell them I have damage from sexual abuse that made me this way. I have to laugh along like it doesn't bother me, like I think it's funny too. It's not funny to have this problem. It painful. I have pain from it every single day.
I have passed out from receiving ultrasounds because of it. And the doctors never fucking believe me when I tell them I have a stricture that causes me to have such pain. They don't believe me and make me go through the damned test like any other patient. And, then the pain reaches unbearable and I pass out. And then, there is a whole room of people surrounding me, terrifying me. And, the test has to be done trans-vaginally.
It's like being raped again and again. This has happened to me three times. It is absolutely fair to describe myself has having been raped by doctors four times, even though these other three times they didn't know that's what they were doing. That is what it was like for me!
And, I couldn't tell them what happened to me because of you. Because of you I can't tell doctors what I need. I can't tell them about my history. I can't tell them I'm scared. I have to dissociate, or not receive health care, or be held down while I try to fight my way free.
Ack. I have to stop. I can't take any more. I have so, so much more to say. Your abuse and neglect has caused massive damage to me. It is pervasive. It is insidious. It is demoralizing. It is shameful.
I will tell you one last thing for now:
Your abuse and neglect made me not want to live. It made me harm myself in countless ways, countless times. You made me wish I was dead.