Monday, 29 September 2008

Part #14

So. First therapy session has now been and gone - this morning at 11am.

The dread I was feeling prior to this morning dissipated during the night and I woke up feeling numb, unwell and hollow. There had been a few 'Will she? Won't she?' moments, I must admit. I think, upon waking today, I had just resigned myself to the inevitable, but not in a defeatist way.

I really have felt unwell today. I cannot begin to express the pain which is searing through my legs and hips. Every step I take is like having a red hot poker going up through my pelvis. Sitting, standing, lying down, walking. I don't get any respite, no matter what position I attempt. It was a bit difficult for me to get comfortable at the therapist's. Although she had a huge sofa chair and also offered me a cushion, it just wasn't happening. Added to this, my bowels were on fire from the laxatives I had held off from taking until the very last thing, last night.

I allowed myself some pride in my efforts yesterday. I didn't go near the scales and had it in my head NOT to take any Dulcolax. I nibbled on 'safe' foodstuffs through the day and drank quite a lot of milk. So, I retired feeling pretty pleased with myself. But the slightest thing can make me feel inadequate and an ill-perceived slight led me to the Dulcolax and the fridge...then the toilet...And it was all my fault, and I know that to be true.

The therapist was everything I hoped she would be. Her name is Susan. Her room was like a sparsely-furnished living room, but not so austere as to make you feel cold and uncomfortable. And she was approachable, warm, understanding, pertinent and competent. She didn't make me feel a time-waster like some therapists have. And nor did I think she would feel I was fabricating things - indeed, I asked her that after she remarked that I had been surrounded, for many years, by people who had criticised me and dragged me down.

It's a strange thing when someone acknowledges this. Although I want someone to understand, the minute they do, I feel inordinate guilt - as though I have been 'naughty' and ratted on someone. She remarked on this, too. It's normal to respect your parents, and therefore, when you have no respect for them, it goes against the norm...if you know what I mean? 

We talked a lot about Anal, actually. Probably more about him than my family. We also talked about my relationship with Ian and the girls - I think these mentions were the only ones at which I smiled. I also confessed the one thing I have 'achieved' at which I do, secretly and quietly (but not any more, I guess!) give myself a pat on the back for - and that's the integrity I have instilled into Beth. Beth has more moral fibre than any person, adult or child, I have ever known. She looks out for the underdog, is fierce about right and wrong, and is not frightened to stand up for the 'right' side, either. She's as vocal and adamant as I wish I could be. We've talked morals together for hours on end. I've tried to teach her right and wrong; about love, care and consideration - about unconditional love. She's soaked it up like a sponge. Rosemary also has these morals - I am sure of that as I witness the way she defends her friends when they are in trouble...but she, at the moment, is absorbing boys, make-up and education more than 'fighting the good fight'. And that is how it should be for her, too, at this time of her life.

I must confess that this first session was quite draining for me. I had to use the bathroom part-way through and suddenly found myself wanting to 'grey out'. Some deep breathing cleared my head and didn't make me lose my sight. It left me feeling very nauseated, though, and I admitted to Sue that I felt somewhat unwell. She offered to end the session, but we ploughed on.

These spider webs of memories can be painful. Ian and I went to the pub afterwards for a chat. And I tried to relate to him as much as my tangled head could recall. So much junk in there which needs taking to the bin and destroying, once and for all - no recycling here, thanks!

When I was little - I can't think that I was much more than 7 or 8, I ended up in hospital. I had made myself ill with my own thoughts, I guess. My mother was constantly threatening to desert me; impressing upon me that her own unhappiness and malcontent with my father was due to my existence - "I'd have left if it hadn't have been for you being born" - and I started to fear that every time I left the house, I'd return to find her gone. I stopped coping with food due to the nausea. I found eating very, very difficult. And I also started pleading sickness in order to stay at home and keep an eye on her. Ensure that she didn't leave without me. I lost a lot of school that year. My mother took me into her bed with her at night because I was sick so much. I liked that even more - I had her under my beady eye 24/7 in effect.

When I started vomiting blood regularly, I was taken into hospital. The medics suspected kidney or liver damage but tests revealed nothing of the sort. I had hospital schooling for a while and pleaded to go home on what seemed like an hourly basis. My mother had been told she could stay with me in her own room if she wanted, but she decided that she didn't. So, I didn't have her anyway.

Upon my discharge, tensions were very high at home. My father was sick of me; my mother was, too, and I was just so bloody terrified of my own shadow that the nausea was there on a permanent basis. I started vomiting, involuntarily, at school, too. I'd only have to have a drink and it'd come straight up. And I could never get to the toilet on time. The amount of times my teacher berated me are numerous.

My mother has mentioned this time to me only once and described it as when I was 'a total pain in the arse and going round the bend...' Then again, she has often described me as a 'useless bastard'...

I did get over it. My father threatened me with all sorts of punishments if I didn't 'straighten [myself] up'. So I had to as he terrified me. One particular night, when he had really had enough of me whimpering for my mother's return, he smacked my backside so hard, it was raw, and then threw me into a scalding hot bath from which I was not allowed to move. The heat was so high it was like ice, almost. I cried quietly, not daring to move as this would mean the heat circulated even more. He roared at me to stop crying, but the pain was intense and I didn't know what the hell to do. I will never forget that night as long as I live. I remember staring at my face in the bath overflow, all distorted and strange-looking, sitting on my hands, attempting to protect my buttocks. 

My mother has denied this event ever happened. That my father would never do any such thing. But how would she know? She was out dancing with her fancy-man.

Ian has referred to this, and other things, as 'abuse'. It doesn't sit easy with me. I often remark, At least I wasn't abused as a child. He refutes this. It's hearkening back to my statement above. One doesn't want to think ill of one's parents, and to do so goes against the norm.

I told Sue today that I really miss 'A Mum'. Not her - A Mum. She discussed this with me very empathetically and perceptively. I got a lot out of her empathy there as I have often felt a bit of a wuss admitting it. Many people are unlucky enough to lose their parents and some struggle to get over it. A close friend of mine is still heartbroken at the loss of her lovely Mother and I have wrestled with my guilt at divulging my own feelings towards my mother to her. Thankfully, she is an objective woman and can see big differences in my upbringing to hers. (And thanks for that, Melon.)

So, the start of new and hopefully good things to come. I explained to Sue that I want to get rid of this rubbish once and for all. She has told me, honestly, it's going to be a long journey. I know that - I'm not daft! 38 years of incessant degredation and criticism don't disappear in six weeks, do they?

Ian told me today that he was proud of me for taking this step. He told me he wondered if I would go through with it as twice I had threatened to cancel. I have asked him to turn Captain Caveman on me if I wobble, sling me over his shoulder and club me. But get me there. We got into a bit of a debate as to 'who should be thanked/praised the most'. I have agreed to disagree on this one and asked him to tell me he is still proud in about four weeks - perhaps I will then have the grace to accept it?


Annie T - ex Agnes Mildew said...

At the risk of sounding like the "old" guy in Karate Kid, every journey has to start with a single step. You made that step today Annie, and I am proud of you.

Ian T - Parsnip no longer... said...

Oops. Looks like I didn't log you out before I logged on...

Mars said...

i hope this doesn't come off the wrong way - but you got yourself sick so that you could have your mother around? a mother like her? i suppose as a child, no matter how bad the mum is, children see their mums as divine.

and its hard to feel that without feeling some sense of shame or guilt when you realize they really are that awful. like how can we think that way? they're our parents. all parents are supposed to love their children.

unfortunately, short of killing the child, parents can also look like they love us, but not really. that's how i've felt with my dad and it took me ages to come to terms with it. and not sure if its completely hit home yet.

i'm glad you're seeing someone. there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and its amazing step you've taken.

Karen ^..^ said...

This was by far the most horrifying to me. That your mother would devise such a monstrous breach of trust in such a little child, put such a burden on you, is unconscionable. I could cry for what you went through, Annie. I am so sorry. Surely you must know that this was the sign of a very very sick woman. Yes, it may go against us to perceive our parents as anything but respectable human beings, but anyone can breed.

It takes a special person to actually put your offsprings needs and emotions before your own and love them unconditionally. You are that person, and as soon as you stop beating yourself up for your perceived flaws, you will see that, and feel the pride you SHOULD feel about that. Yes, Beth sounds like a wonderful girl. I smile every time you describe her, she sounds like such a gem. And Rosemary is coming into her own, and seems to be doing just what a girl her age should do. Remember, each of our kids is totally different from the other, sometimes it is difficult to beleive that they both came from the same womb!!

To say how proud I am of you almost sounds trite, but I want you to know that I am. I am proud of you, because you took a very difficult step and followed through admirably. I am proud of Ian, because he is unwavering in his support of you. You are a wonderful pair, and I am proud to call you both my friends.

Rock on, Annie! You are on the mend. Love to you all!

may_be said...

Annie you are amazing. Proud you found the strength to go, and so happy that Susan is such a lovely, understanding woman. Keep rocking on lovely lady!

Bob J said...

Dear Annie,

The word "abuse" is a hard word to use, particularly for the first time. I guess we all think we have an idea of what abuse consists of, but of course it always applies to someone elses' situation.

We sometimes forget that there is something called psychological abuse. I speak with a lot of people who have been abused, and it's one thing to hear about physical and sexual abuse, and another to hear about psychological abuse. While all forms of abuse are bad, it has always seemed to me that the psychological aspects are the part that do the most lasting damage. Yes, it was bad that you were spanked and put in a painful bath, but to my mind it was the psychological betrayal by someone who should have provided love and security that seemed the most worrysome. A child is building a sense of themself during those years; an inner foundation on which the rest of their life will be built. How can a child build any kind of solid foundation in the face of such insecurity and emotional betrayal ?

Understanding what the roots of the problem are from an intelectual standpoint is certainly part of the work. Framing past events in realistic terms can be difficult and painful. But there is intelectual discovery, and then there are the emotional discovery aspects. Perhaps we can resolve things intellectually, but that is only part of the work. While we can put our logical minds to work on the intellectual parts.....what parts of ourself do we put to work on the emotional parts ?

If you were scared to go....well....that's the emotional part at work. Funny how easy it pops it's head up, and what power it has.

Good for you for taking the step to see ( and trust ) this woman.

This is a real and very significant step down the path, for sure.

Annie T - ex Agnes Mildew said...

To Me: I don't remember writing that??

Ian: Aahh! OK. It all makes sense now!

Mars: I think you answered your own question there, didn't you?! It is natural for a child to trust its mother implicitly and desire nurturing. It was only when I left home to go to Uni that I started to suspect what type of person she was. Takes a long time to come to realisations.

As Sue said to me yesterday, to have a dog, you have to have a license - but any twit can have a child.

Karen: I do see that she is sick. I see the way she tries to get to the girls now - she contacts them via the ex who encourages it. I just keep countering the poison she drip-feeds into them and tell them she's just a barmy, old, bitter woman. And that makes them laugh and then ignore her. But I hate the way she behaves to them and have told her how she makes them feel - reiterating exactly what they have said to me. Even Beth has told her she makes her feel 'guilty'. She just screams abuse at me so I have to put the phone down. The girls are now refusing to see her, too. They'll chat with her briefly by phone, if she calls the ex, but they refuse to go out with her.

Ironically, the ex has never liked her. Indeed, when she was visiting us in Oman he used to tell the girls to 'look out for Nanna's broomstick in the sky'. But he'll do anything to counter me.

May: Thank you. I also hope that your boyfriend finds some help soon, too.

Bob: Thank you for your insight. You obviously have a great handle on the mind and its behaviour. Yes, logic is something sorely missing from my thought processes regarding my parents and ex. I can apply logic to many things but when there is emotional attachment, it gets a bit more blurred and confusing. Hopefully, Sue will help me pull logic back, kicking and screaming.

I think there is a strong chance of getting through this now.

Linda and her Twaddle said...

I wonder if Beth is like you, like you would have been with a caring upbringing. Your framework is all there, but other people deemed it okay to build nothing but an abusive network around you. You mother was obviously unwell, so maybe you will be able to excuse her for her neglect of you. I wonder, have you ever asked her about her upbringing? Although, in my opinion, there is just no excuse for abuse of children irrespective of upbringing. I mean, you have managed to continue to care for and love your daughters despite everything negative that happened to you. I am sure that over the years you have internalised all the abuse onto yourself as a form of self protection, not only for you but also for your children.

You are so brave. I hope you keep that thought in mind, just in case you feel a bit inadequate now and then.