“Protection Mode”

For all but maybe two years of my life until the age of 38, there was at least some sort of abuse to which I experienced.

I am not one to banter about the past without there being a solution to a problem/ / fault about myself that I have learned. In other words, this is not a “Woe is me,” hand-wringing post.

Again, I survived and experienced abuse of every sort over the first 38 years of my life except the 2 years I was single.

This bred something underneath my awareness.

My mother did not like me writing, so I would hide my papers that I wrote in various places in my closet: in pockets of my clothing, etc. This was because I wanted to not be so robbed of me totally losing a facet of my life that was both therapeutic and exercising my individuality.

My first husband was physically abusive, so I hid my keys and cell phone in similar ways. The whole purpose was to have a way to leave if things were that bad based on my assessment.

Then, I left my first husband. Abuse ended with him. My parents were mostly out of my life, so that was less likely as well, not to mention, Dan (my present husband) knows and knew and guarded against anything happening to me or my children.

After I left my first husband and later connected with Dan, I WOULD STILL hide my keys ad phone! I was STILL SCARED even though my environment was immensely altered. I slowly shifted when my trust grew, and I realized everything was okay.

THEN, I fell twenty feet and obtained a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). On a side note, I loathe mentioning this as I do not want to have it sound like AN EXCUSE. THE THING IS THE BRAIN CHANGES after such an event. FURTHERMORE, it often relapses with memories, emotions, etc. I will say I did not lose my memory of the present; however, my emotions relapsed.

What does this mean? Well let’s go back in time, BEFORE my fall, I did try to protect Dan, the love of my life of… disappointments, etc. I did not share all information with him that I had come to know or of what I was in control.

Was this maniacal, and was I attempting to be deceitful? No, believe it or not. You see, I love this man far beyond what I ever felt for my first husband (note to those who do not know me: I did not say I loved my first husband). Finding Dan has been the best part of my life, and I value finding him and his love for me so much that I ERRONEOUSLY was not straightforward with all of the woes life brings. It’s like… I wanted to protect him like one of my eight children.

BECAUSE this was so much a part of my life in the past before Dan MIXED WITH the cognitive / cerebral transitions, I took this “Protection Mode” regarding him BEYOND what should be. More and more I am believing that “Protection Mode” should not exist so much amongst life partners.

My point in this post is to communicate one of the errors in my ways along with provide insight into how others may also have learned to cope and survive.

Please, if you are with your Soul Mate and he / she is good to you, this way of living should not be a part of how you operate. IF YOU DO NEED THIS to survive, please consider how unhealthy your life is and seek a way to create a new pay.

Changing Oneself Alters Perception of Others

It has been a little over twenty-eight months since I obtained a TBI, traumatic brain injury. Within the first year of my return to my family, it was apparent to other close loved ones that I changed; but it was not so evident to me. Upon returning home, I was given a list of restrictions, etc. which was very difficult to appreciate. The goal of the medical staff was for me to continue to improve and not have another “unhappy surprise.” Outside of being directed to wear a brace, I physically felt largely the same. Furthermore, my wittiness was as strong or grew stronger, meaning that it was EVEN LESS evident that there were changes.

I am very honored to have my husband, Dan, to have ever been a part of my life, let alone to endure through all of our trials and tribulations. One of the most traumatic and dramatic hurdles has been my recovery physically, mentally, and emotionally. (Note: I AM NOT claiming I am recovered to the point of being exactly the person I was before I fell.)

Through this time since my return home, my husband has, on occasion, told me what I “need to do,” whether it’s based on emotional changes or financial struggles. He and I have always been a team, but somehow, I lost part of “the we” (not to be confused with the Wii). In essence, when I have been told what I need to do, it has felt like there is / was a focus upon how I have changed, etc. I LOST SIGHT OF THE WE. This means that I lost sight and perspective of he and I still being a team. It has, until this week, always seemed like just another way to articulate how I am different and what I NEED TO DO to improve things.

Part of this discombobulation is that this was not articulated as a mindset of teamwork until very recently. For there was no onset focus stated in a way that kept me feeling secure and calm as I am coached on what I need to do for THE TEAM.

My reason for focusing on this is, just like with anything else, there are two sides to every coin. Furthermore, as my husband states, “What you focus on, you create.” I felt isolated along with feeling that there was focus on how much I need to change versus new goals for us as a team. This is because this was how I placed my attention. The flip-side of this is that my husband did not remind me that we as a team STILL ARE A TEAM.

I feel that with many physical changes that  there is a tendency to feel isolated. The thing is that the one feeling this way is often the one causing it him/herself, taking away the union that he/she has with someone. We mustn’t lose sight that we still are the same person, even if we have changed. Furthermore, those people who are advising us down a different or altered road means that those persons ARE STILL ON THE JOURNEY WITH US!!!! It is even good to inquire about that team still remaining. This would help the caregiver understand part of the fight; furthermore, it offers emotional support along with confirmation logically that this IS NOT something lost. (Otherwise that person or people WOULD NOT be communicating with you, let alone offering advice as to what should be done to improve life (for all parties involved.)

When we can become more in touch with whom we have not lost and not thwart ourselves away from them, due to feeling rejected, this adds to the comfort we have along with help the supporters to not lose love or appreciation for us.

Overcoming CoDependence Regarding My Parents

I have not lived with my parents in over twenty-seven years. I remember the day I was made to leave.  It was February 14, 1989, with a  verbal “Happy Valentine’s Day” wish from my mother.

I was never allowed to have my own thoughts or feelings when I was with my parents without being chastised. It was considered “disrespectful” EVERY time. This is not to mention all the forms of abuse that occurred in their house.

My family consisted of my brother who was seven years younger than I along with my sister who is two years younger than I. When she was born, she was a normal, cognitive baby girl. However, nine months into her life, she had a TBI before it was as well-known as it is today, causing her to be both autistic and mentally retarded. She does not even know me or recognize me. My mother was caring for her at the time of this… “accident.”

When I ventured on my own, I craved my toxic mother and passive father, who had his own means of administering abuse. I cannot tell you why I missed them. Maybe because I wanted approval. I WANTED and CRAVED to feel loved by them, and that dream did not come true.

I am a military brat, although my father did live a civilian life for about five years. Within my eighteen years, I lived in four states and eight residences that I remember from the ages three to eighteen (there were more relocations before this, but I do not remember the houses or even the names of the towns).

When I was fourteen, we moved from Georgia to Alabama. Sadly, it took me until the fourth  year to adjust to Georgia, and it crushed me to move. I even begged for my parents to let us live there until I graduated, as it was spring of my freshman year of high school when we moved. At this time, my emotions were already on a downward spiral. That summer, I lost my virginity, and my mom walked in on me at the end of this act. In essence, MY PARENTS KNEW. About half a year or year later, we moved into another house in the same town. Between the move and what seemed to be my father not giving me attention at all, let alone he’d wipe my kisses off his face, it caused me to feel very unloved.. that he didn’t love me. My response was an occasional cry-out to my mother asking her if he did. She would always say “yes.” I never really believed it.

Around the age of sixteen or seventeen, it’s been too long to remember exactly when, my father finally started giving me attention. At first, it was innocent. I would get to sit by him in his chair while watching television. Then, it slowly changed. He was giving me the wrong kind of attention, as fathers should not do. I was quite confused. I craved and craved and craved to be loved, and now… it’s wrong. It’s the wrong kind of love shown. But how was I to stop his caresses and kisses? How? How could I turn down attention from this man who was my father, when I pined to be his daughter emotionally for two to three years?

One night he tried to take things too far. He wanted more than to caress me. The blouse I was wearing wound up with a button popping off of it, and I never repaired it. I could not. I told my father to leave my room. I think he understood this was passed the bar of weakness. To my recollection, he never made another advance at me.

A short time later, my father had to attend an NCO school, as the military aim to keep their enlisted educated. At that time, I wrote my father that these sorts of things would never happen again. On top of that, I told my mother what occurred. Eventually, it was blamed on me.

When I was eighteen, three months and three days old, I was banned to live with my parents and brother. Again, I would crave them. I would crave time and conversations with them. I have eight children, and I craved this relationship to be something wonderful for over two decades.

Recently, I had a dream that my youngest child, my son, was violated. My husband and I then talked about my father and my mother. My mother has tried full force to prove to the state of Florida what a bad and unfit parent I am with every claim being “Unfounded” by the representatives who investigate. Within our many conversations, my husband and I have deduced that my father has “covered” for my mother regarding my sister becoming brain damaged. My mother has covered for my father with his indiscretions (if I was at fault, why would I ever tell my mother and not just “keep quiet”?) He then told me  how I have placed my parents on pedestals, perceiving them to be “better” than they are. He talked of how unhealthy this was and how foolish it is for me to keep hanging on to them.

I take walks every day Dan works. It is an outlet. It is a way of “finding myself,” especially since my TBI and also to help me stay even keel emotionally. On the next day’s walk after his insight was bestowed, I settled on letting my parents go. After all, if my father loved me, THAT would have never happened. Also, IF MY MOTHER LOVED ME, she would have defended me. She would not defend the perpetrator, my father. She would EVEN understand the boundaries I placed upon my children, her grandchildren, regarding them not being alone with my father. HOWEVER, that never was the way it was. LOVE is not only sweet little words. It is actions… As my mother taught me, “Actions speak louder than words.” Their actions were not full of love. Even though I still, for whatever reason, love them, I am no longer going to emotionally be connected to them.

This story is not written out of spite. There is much humility that I felt before deciding to write this. This is for those cases THAT DO HAPPEN to adolescents, as they have enough battles with love and acceptance, let alone THIS SORT. I have not come across any stories regarding adolescents and family members and the emotional struggles it causes that young person. Adolescents are considered to be “young adults.” I agree with this; HOWEVER, EMOTIONALLY, I do not. This is based on a firsthand experience that I wish I had never had. I think it would have been easier and less befuddling if my father had never displayed such unacceptable behavior and, instead, just shrugged me off and have me keep feeling there was no love. I am not saying it would be a cake walk to live that life either; however, what I endured without even understanding from an adult perspective what transpired on emotional level, not including my own mother saying it was my fault, I have battled guilt off and on. The truth is I never wanted that sort of attention from my father. I wanted innocent hugs and pecks on the cheek.

It is sickening to think of how he heard I didn’t feel he loved me and then that being what he considered his “open door.” It’s sick that he would always make jokes that I was attracted to Charles Schwab, who was born in 1937… 9 years before my father was born. He would do this in front of my mother every time a commercial for his corporation aired.

My point is for readers to understand that adolescents are not emotionally adults. Loving one’s child has the above not even consideration, whether it’s blaming the child or preying on that child… NO MATTER the child’s age. That is still the parents’ child!!!!

I’m letting go, and I hope if there are any victims of this out there that you can let go too!

Overcoming Denigrating Self-Worth Begins

My life has been filled with many hurdles, as I believe everyone’s life has. I do not believe that one person has an easier life than another. However, there is difference in where the difficulties exist.

I was raised in a way that if I had a different opinion, even if politely stated, it was labeled as rude. Within my childhood, I was beaten both with a belt and thin branches from outside, forcefed to the point of regurgitation, along with being a survivor of child molestation. Furthermore, there was much sexual abuse in many ways, for which my mother blamed me. In my adult years, my former ex-husband physically caused two miscarriages along with reinforce my parents’ grooming that I must agree with him. He also forced himself upon me sexually.

Throughout my teenage years, I noticed that my dad would talk about all these good-looking women with desire and curiosity, from Wrigley’s Doublemint twins to Baywatch babes. I felt awkward as I would never look like that and neither would Mom. Hearing my dad desire voluptuous women made me look down on myself physically, as I did not understand what beauty was and that inner beauty is more appealing than outer beauty.

I told my mother about my father’s incestuous ways, and she blamed me. The consequence of this was for me to lower my opinion of myself further throughout my life far passed those years as a child. Here, I told my mother about this event knowing I was possibly going to lose my father with the surprising result of my mother turning her back on me from then on to eternity.

When I married my first husband, he talked of how he wished I was taller than he. He would kiss and compliment me hoping it was foreplay every single time. I felt like a sex object early on, and this along with the physical abuse led to me filing for divorce.

The thing is that until I returned home from this traumatic brain injury, I had never faced the fact that I was abused. I faced the events and could speak of what occurred; however, I never looked at myself as a victim/survivor of abuse.

Am I going to plead innocence? No, not on everything. I could have eaten the revolting over-easy eggs. I could have kept drawing the line to my former ex-husband regarding how to treat and how not to treat his wife.

What does now stating that I was a victim and am now a survivor cause? It causes me to make boundaries. Stating that I was abused by my parents makes me really not want my underage children to ever see them again. For now, based on this new label, it is a deeper meaning. I, as a mother, do not want my children to have the chance of being exposed to this.

This statement has also begun the process of me feeling these various misdeeds with the ability of letting them go. It is a chance to give myself compassion for all the ways I feel I have failed along with a new understanding as to why my self-image has been six feet under.

Furthermore, due to the sexual abuse that I experienced, that diminished having a man make love to me and me understand it is more than a physical act but an emotional tie shown. Even after this has been stated to me time and again by my husband, it is JUST NOW BEGINNING to sink in. I have been questioning physical intimacy with my husband since the beginning. Now that I have labelled the past as mostly abuse, it is having me look at the past and present under a new precept. Have I ever felt my husband was demeaning to me? No; however, I have wondered his motives more than I should. Sure, we as a married couple are allowed lust. However, if sex is only from lust and the goal of release, then it no longer falls under lovemaking.

Who knew that there could be such positive things from a TBI? Who knew that having the past flash before my eyes would be another way of letting go of the horrifying experiences to prepare for the beautiful present and future?