MANAGING THE CONSTANT CHAOS INSIDE MY HEAD
©2023 Kelly Jeanne
I suddenly realized I should make a point in telling you that this series ‘Living With Trauma’ is, in no way, shape, or form dealing with my being on the spectrum.
This makes me sad, because it means that most only see me as one dimensional. This is why I titled my blog ~ I AM ME ~ MULTI-FACETED ~ LIKE A DIAMOND ~ to stress that – like anyone – I have many sides to my personality. I even put it in all caps to hyper-exaggerate this point.
By not recognizing this about me means that people have automatically put me in this box labeled ‘Aspergers’. They don’t see me as anything else. I’m not seen as a full and complete person who is capable of having a gamut of life experiences that are no different than anyone else’s.
This series on trauma I’m writing is only dealing with the neglect and abuse I received, having been raised by a narcissist and pedophile, and how, having dealt with that every hour of every day (except when I was sleeping) for 2 1/2 decades really messed me up. Yup, ‘messed me up’ is an actual term that’s used in the mental health field. Not really, but it should be.
So, without further ado let’s continue talking about the resulting mental health issues I had inherited from the abuse.
Here I want to discuss and break apart the old refrain that so many are fond of saying:
“Do you think you’re the only one with problems?”
So, what’s wrong with this statement? After all, it is true that I’m not the only one with problems, right?
The main reason this statement is so toxic: This is a most invalidating statement. By telling me this, you are saying that my feelings are not important, not valid. What I have experienced; am experiencing don’t matter. More importantly, I don’t matter.
You’re also showing me that you are devoid of sympathy and empathy. It shows me you’ve never been on the receiving end of such a statement, because if you had, you would know how invalidating those words would make anyone feel, making the chances of your saying them to me less likely.
There was a woman at the last church I had attended, who, when I told her about the time I was 7 and had been attacked by an 80 or 90 some pound German Shepherd while the family did nothing and let the dog attack me. All she could say was,
“You’re not the only one with problems, Kelly.”
In effect what was she telling me? We all have our problems, but was her casual response to such an incident her way of saying that most children experience such a level of abuse by their parents? If so, than I believe every adult should get themselves spayed and neutered right away. That’s not how you raise children.
Is she telling me that she’s lived a life free from pain – whether physical or emotional – that she couldn’t find it in herself to express any kind of concern for me?
Did she really feel that her feelings were more important than mine? Or maybe she just didn’t like me?
Having spent entirety of my childhood being invalidated by my family since infancy has really damaged me. I was taught, day in and day out, that I didn’t matter. I grew up denying my own feelings. When I left home the abuse from others continued because I honestly didn’t recognize such treatment as abuse. This resulted in being bullied, mocked and ridiculed by others even after I left home. If I mentioned this before please forgive me, but there were even a couple of times when I was beaten and spit on by these ‘mature adults’.
I was so indoctrinated, so brainwashed by those who raised me. My subconscious only knows one reality. But, I’m almost 65. This means that things have improved for me, right? Not really. Especially when you consider when the neglect and abuse started, how severe it was, as well as the length of time it lasted. These are all very important factors that need to be taken into consideration. Because my subconscious knows no other reality, that ought to tell you when my abuse started: In my infancy.
As an adult, I can use logic to understand that this is not normal. That nobody should be treated like this. The problem is I shouldn’t have to reason out, on a cognitive level these things. This should be automatic. I shouldn’t have to stop and think about whether or not the way I’m being treated is wrong.
My subconscious knows for a fact that I’m invalid and deserve to be treated poorly. I constantly have to fight that and tell myself that I am valid and deserve better. Understand that I’m not saying I can’t improve or I don’t want to improve. I’m simply laying out how my subconscious mind is.
“So, Kelly, you’re nearly 65. What’s the problem?”
It’s very complicated. On top of the level and length of the abuse, I’m also dealing with multiple concussions. My impulse control is practically non-existent. That’s why it’s so easy to lash out so quickly in anger. A brain that’s been physically damaged – especially multiple times. – means every day is a constant struggle to survive. When the part of the brain that regulates emotions is damaged this can cause a Jekyll and Hyde effect.
About 5 years ago I was at a grocery store, the same one I’d been going to twice a month for years. One particular time I was at the register with all of my purchases. As I had everything in my cart and was just about to pull my cart away, the store manager walked up to me and said,
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave and never come back. You’re not a very kind person. In fact, you’re downright mean. The employees here work hard everyday. They don’t deserve the way you treat them.”
As he was saying this to me I didn’t react at all. I felt as if I were having an out-of-body experience. It all seemed so surreal, yet at the same time, this scene had played out countless times in my life. When he was finished I said, “Okay.” and walked out the door with my groceries.
It’s funny, but as I walked out, I had no sense of shame or embarrassment. Not because I didn’t take any responsibility for what happened. It’s just that this had happened so often in my life that all I felt at that moment was numb and empty. I felt gutted. It’s as if my nerves have been cauterized, which prevent me from feeling. I’ve been like this most of my life.
Remember King Sisyphus who was made by Zeus to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill incessantly? That’s how I feel. The daily burden never ends. Mentally and emotionally I’m exhausted because I’m constantly having to drive away negative thoughts. Most times I don’t succeed.
Every once in awhile it gets worse. Horrible feelings of abandonment take over. I find myself taking certain things that happen to me personally. It’s a Herculean effort to fight those feelings and not act on them. Usually when I do, it doesn’t end well, with very few exceptions. Most times when I lay into people either through fe-mail or Messenger on Facebook, I end up regretting it.
One time I laid into someone through fe-mail, and we became sworn enemies. Another time I unleashed Hyde on someone in Messenger and in the end we became more bonded. That doesn’t happen very often. These two incidents happened about a year apart. As you can see, life is a cabaret for me…NOT!
I am not a bad person at all. In fact, I spend much of my time defending those who are different against bullies. I encourage others. I’m very empathetic to the point where when I hear about what someone is going through, I end up feeling uneasy, as if I’m experiencing it myself.
I’m hoping that someday medical science will soon make it possible to perform brain transplants. I’ll be the first to sign up for it.
In Part Four I’d like to deal with the statement
“You need thicker skin.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this rather lengthy entry. I truly appreciate it!
Do you have any thoughts about this? Have you been through similar experiences?
4 thoughts on “Living With Trauma”
No. My life has ben relatively stable. Some things could have gone better, but the reason they didn’t is generally down to me. Possibly in part because I didn’t communicate enough. But back then we didn’t. We tried to ‘fit in’ without winding up trouble. I’ve got away with a lot I didn’t deserve to get away with too – win some, lose some.
It’s by communicating that we can let out feelings to be dealt with, but not everyone wants to help with that. Not everyone is able to help.
Some of my regrets are about going along with the tide to avoid a scene and ending up somewhere I didn’t want to be. But most are centred around times I’ve hurt others to some extent. Sometimes I wasn’t thinking; sometimes I didn’t realise… .
Why is it that as I age I remember the bad times more often than the good ones?
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I think it has to do with the fact that, as we age our thoughts become deeper. We do a lot more reflecting. We ponder more deeply.
I’ve done my share of trying to avoid a scene, just to create an inner peace within myself. Get away from all that inner turmoil.
Life is going to be different for each and every one of us. We all take our own paths. Sometimes the path takes us against our will and drags us by the hair.
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My heart is aching for you as I read your post, Kelly. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and HELL you’ve walked through. You’ve been through sooo much. I don’t know how you didn’t give up and just curl into a ball. It shows you have strength and resilience and those are amazing characteristics to possess. You’ve also written kind, caring responses to my posts when I’m at my wits end and have blessed me so much with your compassion. I don’t think you’re a “bad person” at all and can’t imagine why a Store Manager asked you to leave the store! I was hurt on your behalf and appalled someone could do that to you! You were just getting groceries! You weren’t doing anything wrong by the sounds of it?
You are indeed multifaceted and have so many layers of complexity to you. That makes you pretty amazing.
I can’t deal when someone says something dismissive to me if I disclose my suffering ‘people have it a lot worse” “You have a job, a home and a loving husband – WHAT are you complaining about now?” “You’re so blessed, Janet – everyone loves you” “You’re fine, stop worrying”. All those statements put the onus on the person suffering AND THAT IS NOT COOL. IT’S SO WRONG! My brother is the worst for that. When he was talking to me (rare occurrence), Jay would also respond to my suffering with depression with a picture of a homeless man in torn clothing “HE has a right to complain, not you” Jay would say. Every time. It robs me of my right to feel upset and it makes me feel like an asshole because yeah, I’m not homeless. I don’t like when people do that to others, so I can relate to you on that point very strongly. I think people should respond to someone struggling with kindness and care – or shut their mouths, really. That’s it. Just be kind.
Sending you big hugs and hoping you are feeling better when you read this reply xx
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Thank you for your kind words. They are so nice to read!
There is an area where I don’t think I got my point across very well. That was to do with the store manager and how and why he treated me like that.
The point I was making was because of my multiple concussions I DO have more Jekyll and Hyde moments like that. The concussions make it very hard to control my emotions, especially my anger.
As a result, there are many times (more times than I care to count) when I can be downright mean to people. Much of this is beyond my control. It’s as if something otherworldly takes over and Hyde comes out.
The store manager had every right to tell me to leave and not come back. If you read it again you’ll notice my reaction is that of resignation. I wasn’t angry at all, mainly because I knew I deserved it.
This series of blogs entitled, ‘Living With Trauma’ is my doing my best to explain the chaos inside my head. Much of it can’t be helped. I’m trying to show people what I live with on a daily basis. Additionally, what I’m living with is no picnic and, as in the case of the store manager, can be uncomfortable and unmanageable. It’s just my cross I have to bear. Trauma is no fun to live with every day. This is what trauma has done to me.
I think I’ll go inside the post and explain it better. Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting on it😊
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