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Adult surviors of child abuse...How do you deal with the memories?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I've been having a lot of flash back lately. I didn't have this at all with my DS...I can only think they reason I'm having them now is because this is my second child and I was the second child.

 

How do you deal with them? I just want to cry...alot and hold DS. But I need to also function and can't break down a lot.

 

When I was a child I lived two lives, week day with my parents, weekends with my grandparents. On one hand I was neglected unwanted and uncared for, other other very loved very very well cared for and wanted very badly.

 

I've been able to move past a lot of the emotional not being wanted or loved, which I think was the biggest hurt. I even have a decent relationship with my parents. But now...

 

I'm remembering being hungry. My parents rarely had food in the home as they would grab something on the way to work. We were not given lunch money or lunch (there was no food in the house) and dinner would sometimes happen and sometimes not, mostly they would grab something on the way home from work and eat in the car.

 

Much of this (I now know) was due to my stepmom not wanted to spend her money on us kids and my dad not have any of his money due to half the bills being his and not much left over, but he could afford fast food everyday....

 

I am remembering how I came to not have school lunch. The first few days of first grade my Step mom made me lunch, two days in a row I forgot to bring it with me and the school called because I accepted the PB and J they gave to kids who forgot their lunch. I was then forbidden to accept that lunch and was told lunch would no longer be made for me since I was ungrateful. Being 5 or 6I really couldn't make anything, and there was nothing to make....

 

I remember getting told on for stealing the dry pasta made for crafts and 'cooking' them in hot water in the bathroom to eat. The look on the teachers face and she said nothing, but didn't leave me access again.

 

The cafeteria workers used to give a free ice cream to kids who helped clear tables. They stopped this 'program' because I wasn't allowed to do it because I didn't eat my 'lunch' but they felt bad denying me.

 

I wasn't allowed to eat at friends house...

 

I just remember being hungry....

 

I remember the look on my grandmothers face (we came to live with her full time in high school) when I was shocked she was going to give money for school lunch, even enough to have a full lunch. She really had no idea all of this was going on.

 

It hurts and I'm crying as I write this, but I don't know what else to do. I have food now, my children will never go hungry. I will never go hungry, but I'm haunted.

 

Any advice is really really welcome as I want to get past this.

post #2 of 9

hug2.gif  i'm sorry.  i just wanted you to know i read your post, even though i don't necessarily have advice.
  becoming a mom has changed the way i see a lot of things about my childhood, and have realized things i saw as "normal" were really not.  kind of like you being surprised that your grandmother would give you lunch money, because it had been normal, to you, to go without.  for me, therapy helps.  having a couple of people in my life who were not a part of my childhood, who can listen and not judge and understand what i'm feeling, really helps.  talking to my family does not help.  even though i do love them and think they are basically good people - they don't get it, think i should get over it, and to them it is also normal.  not hurtful, not shaming, just the way it is.

 

i'm sorry for what you went for, and that the pain is resurfacing.  grouphug.gif

post #3 of 9

hug2.gif  I wish I had time machine and could take you back in time so you could feed and nurture that little girl that you were, go with that 5 yr old you to talk to your grandmother to let her know what was happening so she could intervene sooner.

 

 

I second the suggestion to do therapy.  I realized when my oldest was a toddler that I needed to process some terrible things about my childhood so I could be a good mother to my child(ren).  It was very triggering when she got to the age that I was when really bad stuff started happening.  A few months of therapy here and there really helped.

 

In the meantime, keep writing it all out.  Journal it, write a letter to your parents or your grandmother, find a safe place online to get it all out (maybe the surviving abuse forum here?)  Maybe look for a local charity that support abused/neglected children and find a way to support them and help others?  Maybe they have advice for adult survivors?

 

Don't forget the happier ending -- you survived, you grew up, you have a family of your own, and your own children will never know that kind of abuse.  You are looking for tools to help you deal with the old pain so that it doesn't overwhelm your life now and impair your ability to parent them, setting an awesome example for your kids.  Well done, mama!


Edited by Aubergine68 - 12/9/10 at 1:46pm
post #4 of 9
Your post made me cry a bit too, mama. I'm so sorry. greensad.gif I have such similar memories of hunger and neglect and it hurts terribly. I remember stealing food before I knew better, and then later watching longingly (but never saying anything lest my mother find out somehow) as classmates and friends ate real, normal lunches at school while I pretended I'd eaten mine on the bus or that I wasn't hungry. I remember being so embarrassed in class because my stomach was growling so loudly and other kids could hear it. I remember being 11 or 12 and having my heart in my throat as I scrounged pocket change from my father's dirty slacks on the laundry room floor so I could afford a cheap roll or cookie at school the next day, knowing that if I got caught I'd be in terrible trouble. I remember thinking this was normal and being totally blown away when a friend casually showed me that her mother actually packed her lunches and even gave her dessert and a napkin with a heart drawn on it!

Therapy and writing about these things really help a lot. But mostly just thinking back on myself as a child and letting the anger come has been most healing. It's important for you to let yourself feel those awful feelings, that hurt and that anger. It's so cliché, I know, but let it out. Acknowledge those feelings and let them come. Letting yourself feel them helps a lot.

I'm so sorry. Be gentle with yourself and know that you don't just "get over" being abused as a child. I don't know if the pain ever fully goes away. It does get better. And facing it and deciding conscientiously to NOT do what was done to you can make you one awesome mama. But yeah, it hurts, and it seems to really hurt the most right after I have a baby. Hormones are high and seeing that beautiful, helpless, totally innocent and dependent little person and realizing that I was once that lovely and innocent and helpless and my parents intentionally hurt me anyway...there are no words to describe the sense of rage and loss and pain I feel. There's no excuse for what they did and that's the worst part.

Hang in there.

hug.gifhug.gifhug.gif
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks hug2.gif

 

I think I will start writing again.

 

Its just so frustrating. I have worked through so much of the crap that happened and gotten over so so so many other things. I even have coping skills for the food issues (that has gotten much better) This just threw me for a loop.

 

I actually saw my parents yesterday and I'm not angry with them. I went through the angry, denial and all the fun stuff already and am just at the forgiveness lets move on stage with them.

 

I think often I don't see them as the same people who did those things, in truth in many ways they aren't my Step mom (who was a primary parent Bio mom not involved) actually bought me and my son gluten free food just because we were visiting, which takes so much forethought...the same women who didn't think we needed to eat?

 

I don't think therapy will help at this point. (I always feel so sac religious when I say that as my degree is psych) But I will say 98% of the time my past doesn't even come to mind And I mean 98% of the year. Its funny because when it does come up Dh even says he often forgets that anything ever happened because I am just so well adjusted. My best friend even didn't 'fully' believe me until she saw some of it with her own eyes, because in truth who really thinks its true. Its like the people that complain about how bad their parents were and you find out their offense was missing a school play once because they had to work.

 

This is so blindsided me. I morn for the little girl...

 

Dh and I were foster parents for the past three years, but now we have to stop as there is a limit to how many under 3 you can have in your home and we're adding to our family though birth. I defiantly want to foster again in the future.

 

This all actually one of the main reasons I chose my field. I get to work with kids (autism) who often are unloved, misunderstood and many times unwanted (I always took the severe non verbal cases, but some of the parents were amazing and showed me what true love is) but working with these kids and letting them know someone loved them and heard them helped me a lot (as well as, I hope, them)

 

 

I guess I'm just angry that I haven't moved on. I hate that this is always there in the background. I mean haven't I done my pence? I just feel like at some point it has to stop. I don't want my kids to see me shoveling food in my mouth as quickly as I can because I'm in the middle of a break down (it makes no sense I have tons of food, I don't ever binge (its been years) but I was so scared all over again) I function. I am a good mother, I was great at my job and I am good wife and good person. I just want it to stop...

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by dakotablue View Post

I guess I'm just angry that I haven't moved on. I hate that this is always there in the background. I mean haven't I done my pence? I just feel like at some point it has to stop. I don't want my kids to see me shoveling food in my mouth as quickly as I can because I'm in the middle of a break down (it makes no sense I have tons of food, I don't ever binge (its been years) but I was so scared all over again) I function. I am a good mother, I was great at my job and I am good wife and good person. I just want it to stop...


I can relate to feeling angry about not having moved on yet.  I was also abused as a child...emotional neglect, verbal abuse, sexual abuse.  It has taken many years to work through it all, and a part of me still feels "damaged".  My self-esteem still isn't at the level I want it to be, I still have some sexual issues, I still react like a scared little girl if someone says something mean to me.  These things still come up...much less than they used to, but the fact that they're still around bothers me.  I keep reminding myself that it took many years for the damage to be done, so it's naturally going to take awhile to feel whole, but I just want to be DONE, you know?  Continuing to love ourselves more and more, abuse included, seems to be the only real way to move on. 

post #7 of 9

I have been through all of this, minus the grandparents who were nearby. I did see the grandparents during the summer.

 

It gets to me that no one seems to have registered how severe the abuse was and what I had to deal with. Grandpa died years ago and Grandma comes to visit and does not "get it" that I do not want to come over and hang out at my mother's house to visit with her. I never had school lunches. I accepted a free lunch, where my parents were billed, for a few days once and got beaten for it. I never had school lunch again.

 

How to deal with the flashbacks? I don't know. I am having a hard time.

post #8 of 9

I like Pete Walker's 13 Steps for Flashback Management.

 

http://www.pete-walker.com/13StepsManageFlashbacks.htm

 

There's a lot of wonderful stuff on his website to help.

 

The thing about traumatic childhoods and safe trauma recovery that you need to remember is this: 

 

You don't have to resolve EVERYTHING right now.  You also do not have to go digging up old hurts looking for resolution.  As they come up...let yourself grieve.  Grieve only as much as you are able to at any given moment. 

 

HTH

post #9 of 9

Have you read the book Tuesdays with Morrie?  He talks about letting an emotion really penetrate you, but then getting to the point where you say, for example, "Ok, that's just anger.  I know what it is.  I don't have to let it rule my life.  I'm going to choose to feel a different emotion now." 

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