I haven’t been writing on this blog lately because I am deeply involved with writing my response to Question #6 my daughter has sent to me for the book we are working on about my 18-year childhood with my severely abusive Borderline Personality Disorder Mother. This is saddening work. I could say it’s ‘depressive’ but sometimes I hate that word because it tells me nothing about my actual or real experience. Sad is what I felt as a child and sad is what I mostly feel now.
I have written several posts on this blog about the neurochemical ‘Substance P’ named as the ‘reason’ why we feel all kinds of PAIN in our body — physical and emotional. Substance P is very very real. Without it we would not know what harms and what helps us in this world. The problem for severe infant-child abuse survivors is that we were forced to feel this Substance P in our terror and our fear throughout all of our developmental stages from birth or before.
As I work to write my story I realize that my mother’s treatment of me interrupted my own life-living process as it SHOULD have been every step of the way through my childhood. Every time my mother interfered with MY infant and childhood life she was stealing from me what was rightfully mine — my own life. This morning I woke at 4 a.m. and was up before the sun thinking about two words that when linked together deftly explain what severe early abuse survivors are most likely to experience all of our lives.
“Disorganized-Disoriented Insecure Attachment Disorder (D-DIAD).”
A mother has to work really really hard to give her infant this kind of insecure attachment disorder. Not only that, but to really ‘do this right’ the mother must deprive her infant of the opportunity to safely and securely attach to anyone else at the same time she is debilitating her own infant’s chances to understand anything about living in a world that is not dangerous, threatening, chaotic, unstable and toxic.
My Borderline mother had, I believe, the same underlying D-DIAD that I have, as much as I HATE to say so. The difference between her and I was that her genetics combined with the particular traumas of her earliest life gave her an option I did not have — Borderline Personality Disorder.
Suffering is suffering. Feeling PAIN through release of Substance P is PAIN however it is named. But Borderline Personality Disorder forces a very young developing body, nervous system including the brain, mind and self into a certain kind of ‘corral’ that will then limit and define that BPD person’s entire experience of life. All of this happened for my mother I am certain before she was nine years old based on her experiences that happened to her from the time of her birth.
I ‘get to’ experience the core D-DIAD reality. My mother did not have to because of the way her BPD altered how she perceived and experienced her life. Her severe abuse of me was one of the main ways she DID NOT have to feel her own terrible suffering. She split it all off, projected it onto me, and then did everything in her power to bash HER own perceived BADNESS and the BADNESS of the world out of me.
Her universe was ORDERED and ORGANIZED in a very particular way by her Borderline Personality Disorder. There were no frayed edges to the garment of her life, no ripped seams, no flapping torn-off pieces left for her to deal with. Her BPD was extremely effective and efficient at ordering and organizing her thinking and her actions ENOUGH that NOBODY either inside or outside of our family saw, knew or recognized the truth of what was going on in our lives.
Now here I am at nearly 60 years old left living in a body that has D-DIAD without me having BPD. I have to FEEL my own experience. Dissociation built itself into both my mother — and through her treatment of me — into me as well. Dissociation, if a person has not lost their ability to maintain something close to conscious awareness of their ongoing experience — feels like a nearly continual breaking apart of life into smaller and smaller tiny pieces that one KNOWS all fit together — but does not seem or feel to fit together into an intact and flowing whole.
What is so flippantly called ANXIETY by ‘professionals’ is, to me, the FEELING we recognize that comes from the continual flooding of our body-brain with Substance P. ANXIETY is pain. It is meant to tell us to avoid what will harm us in our life, but because the anxiety is our own physiological body-based experience of living our life in our body, our anxiety has us in a terrible double-bind. We cannot AVOID living our life in this same body that severe early trauma built in the beginning.
Every time anxiety overwhelms our ability to live our life in a smooth, ongoing way that feels GOOD to us, we at the same time experience our Disorganized-Disoriented Insecure Attachment Disorder. If you Google search those terms you will see pages appear that attempt to describe what this state LOOKS like in an infant whose early caregivers have so upset the little one’s internal stability that nothing can be made of life but a disordered, disorganized TERRIFYING and therefore at times NUMBING mess of unsafe and insecure chaos.
My mother’s terrible and terrifying madness DID have a structure. That making me suffer was the structuring process of her inner core didn’t matter to her one bit. Every single time she attacked me she ‘tipped over my apple cart’ — so interrupting my own ongoing process of growing up as an infant and child that my own sense of myself in my life was continually shattered into billions of pieces — one cell at a time my growing body-brain had to continually try to right itself in the midst of hell.
I had to continually try to orient myself in her mad bad world as I tried to create ORDER inside of myself at the same time these ‘accidents’ she did to me overwhelmed me in my own world. At the same time I had to continue my own growth and development that infancy and childhood requires. Having to do this changed the way my physical body developed — for the most part permanently.
I am tackling an extremely difficult task in my book-writing right now. I am daring to track my childhood as the actual time line of my early life appears in my mother’s own letters I have carefully ordered and transcribed. It is hard to find my own self and to stay in touch with my own self and MY reality — then and now — as I do this.
I have to keep consciously clear that every single word my mother wrote of every single event that transpired during those years was completely contaminated and made toxic by her dis-ease, her Borderline Personality Disorder. As I feel right now that I am in a toxic and contaminated reality as I do this work I have to let myself know I am completely CORRECT!
The world my mother describes in her world feels to me like a dead and rotten beast of a carcass crawling with maggots and stinking to high heaven.
In the midst of, and entrapped helplessly within this rotten toxic contaminated carcass was a pure and innocent child trying to LIVE by enduring the unendurable. That little one was ME.
In the midst of this horrible rotten stinking dead MESS that was my mother’s control over me I WAS THERE! And what I see so far (I am only up to being age 6 1/2 so far) I can see if I look HARD and pay very close attention — myself as a little girl continually ON MY OWN seeking and finding peaceful well-being. That was my OWN and my NATURAL inclination — to see, feel and do the RIGHT THING. I was doing an excellent job of doing two things: (1) being my own self and (2) being a child.
That I encountered a Horrible Monster Beast of a Mother (I shudder to even use that word to describe her, but like my daughter reminded me she was the only mother I had) nearly every step of the way through my infancy and childhood made my task of keeping my OWN SELF alive in my own center extremely difficult.
It is also extremely difficult for me today as I work on my story to locate this self of mine and to track her through my childhood. I have invented my own GPS that allows me to find myself in the midst of my mother’s hell — but it’s hard to do!
It is extremely important to me to help myself know that there is a reason I am doing this work! The ‘negative self talk’ that arises around every letter of every word I work through would be more than enough to stop any lesser being dead in her tracks.
I WILL forge ahead! I HAVE THAT RIGHT and it IS right that I do this job, do it now and do it well. There IS a reason I am doing it even though keeping sight of this reason is pretty darn hard when I am trying to tell a story that happened in a world where reason itself never truly had the tiniest foothold.
I AM going to orient myself in my own body in my own life and I AM going to force order to the story of the first 18 years of my life! Left on its own my body has NEVER truly let me remember the horror of those 18 years. My body has chosen to remember ONLY those memories of abuse that include my own experience of the beauty of being myself as a pure child that happened at the same time (actually immediately before) one of Mother’s vicious attacks on me.
I do not remember thousands and thousands of incidents of abuse. That frustrates me, disappoints me and brings me anger! I say to myself, “Linda, you have a right to remember all of what she did to you!” But reality is that I cannot — because I know in my essence I do not WILL or ALLOW myself to know what I refuse to remember, strange and troubling as that may be to accept.
At the same time I say, “Nobody should have to work this hard to locate their self in their own life.” Well, this is the reality of severe early abuse survivors. Our abusers did everything in their power to keep our entire focus ON THEM — one way or the other — AND NOT ON OUR OWN SELF. We were not allowed to live our own life. We were forced to LIVE THEIRS!
I was there in my own infancy and childhood — somewhere! But I think today I need to allow myself to find and put on a super-duper hazmat suit to go back there and locate my own self in that toxic-beyond-belief world I grew up in. I have to keep myself moving forward in time as I write, and as I do so what I will be encountering about my self in my life with BPD Mother will be harder and harder to tolerate the older I become in this story.
The truth of the matter is that the older I got the harder my mother had to work to obliterate me. She was extremely effective at what she did. The older and older I got in my childhood the sadder and sadder and sadder I became. But I am going back. I will find myself. I will find that pure, innocent and SHINING me that my mother worked so hard to obliterate from existence.
And I will decontaminate my story from hers.