I grew up needing to be rescued, but no one ever came.
I grew up knowing something was wrong with me, but never knowing what.
I believe these are 2 of the biggest reasons my personality became fractured and in some ways, warped.
The person who made me did not meet my basic needs, and also consistently hurt me. Now that i have the benefit of some education and emotional distance, i can see that it created both an empty well and a vacuum inside me. I’m not even sure my mother loved me, although i do believe she tried. I think she rebelled against her parents and refused to give me up for adoption because her well was empty – she needed someone to love her, and she knew (hoped?) that her child would. So growing up, not only was i not fed properly on an emotional level, what bounty i may have had as a child to share with others was almost entirely used up by her. And so i lived my life needing: attention, acknowledgement, acceptance, affection (henceforth to be referred to as the 4As)… All i can tell you is i must have gotten enough to keep me alive, because here i am, but it was most definitely not enough for me to grow and develop properly. I was nutrient starved – both quantity and quality was lacking. I was malnourished, and as with any child who’s not properly fed growing up, my growth was stunted. And i was always hungry.
I can see now how emotionally immature i was growing up, indeed, how far i’ve yet to go. As a child at home, i learned to keep to myself and be as quiet as i could be in order to avoid abuse. I could still be very… well, ME, at home, but only when Mom was of like mood. My home was the very embodiment of the adage, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and so i learned to behave in accordance with her moods. Even if she was in high spirits, it was possible for her to turn violent. In a flicker of the Almighty’s eyelash she could go from laughing with me to beating me.
From this i learned to gauge the moods of the people i was around, to determine how i should act in order to get what i wanted. And since i almost never got anything i wanted from anyone, i learned that my thoughts, feelings, and desires were probably not right/good/appropriate and i should therefore bury them. Not that i had much success, mind you. I was a terrifically abused child, and my woundedness leaked out all over the place. I had discipline problems at school and elsewhere, and i’ve written much about my social ineptitude.
I was constantly starved for those 4As. I was afraid to ask for them, and plus, i didn’t even know how to ask. I rarely asked for the tangibles, like food, clothing, shelter, entertainment – even though i often went without. Parents are supposed to meet their children’s needs without them having to ask -at least in the beginning- and then slowly teach them how to meet their own needs, AND give them the emotional vocabulary to ask for what they want from others.
This is where i believe i got a bit warped.
On some level i knew i wanted the 4As, but i didn’t know their names, nor did i know how to ask. The behaviour modeled for me at home was immature to say the least, and nothing short of abominable in many respects. I learned very early on though, that we behaved one way at home, but entirely another way whenever we weren’t. From that, i think i was able to glean some information on how i should act, based on how i saw other people act. Still, what little instruction i received from babysitters and relatives and educators was not enough to counteract what i was receiving at home.
This is very complicated, at least it is for me, and i want very much to be clear. I’m not sure i’ll be able to entangled all the thoughts in my brain sufficiently to communicate what i understand was going on, but i’m trying very hard. Just on the off chance that there is someone out there like me – someone i might be able to help, if only by sharing.
You see, my mother didn’t have any small emotions, she only had big ones. For what i suspect are myriad reasons, she couldn’t stand peace. She craved upheaval, chaos, and drama, and if there was none, she would bloody well create some. She kept her mask tightly in place for the outside world (it slipped over the years), but once safely ensconced at home it came off, and she would be her real self. She was angry and mean. Now that i’ve learned a few things, i suppose underneath all that was fear and pain, but mostly what i saw was anger. Even her silences were menacing; they filled me with dread. Sometimes it was a relief when she’d snap and beat me. Okay, she hit me all the time, but i mean lose all semblance of control and beat the everloving snot outta me. She’d often be quite a bit nicer to me for some time afterward. (The last few times she beat me there was no nice period.)
So, whatever natural personality traits i may have been born with, like being theatrical and gregarious and effusive and intense, i think they got contorted somehow, becoming misshapen by my upbringing. Further, i misused them to achieve my unmet needs.
And therein lies the tremendous difficulty i’ve had accepting my DID diagnosis.
More on that, probably tomorrow. Until then, may your Monday be as good as a Monday can be. Heh.
Love and Peace to All,