Sunday, January 12, 2014. I can’t imagine another word to describe the sadness that took me over at one point in my day today. Without warning. Without direct provocation. Such a searing sadness.
It cuts as if I am branded by it; that I could look my body over and find the marks of it on my outsides the way it burned me on my insides. It is not far from me right now. I am not sure it is far from me very often in my life. I write this post to other severe early abuse survivors. I believe you know what I am talking about. This sadness BURNS.
I traveled with my beautiful daughter to her new job site on the university campus here. I was happy to be with her, happy to see her new place amidst others as we went to put the lengths of cloth she had chosen along the top edges of the walls of her cubicle, happy to help her — happy to be HERE and not 2000 miles south where such a lovely sharing would be impossible.
I saw the other spaces where others work on this particular floor in this particular building. And SO MUCH CAME BACK TO ME! Searing BACK TO ME.
Unbidden. Uncalled for. Unwanted. A FLASH of sadness like a blast from a monster wildfire I could not escape.
It is even hard for me to write this. I have to leave this for a while. There is too much sadness.
I will jot some thoughts down here as they come to me as I move around the apartment here doing other things. I don’t think I can sit with this topic long enough or get close enough to it or let it get close enough to me to write a well put together anything right now.
+ I would not wish this kind of searing sadness, this burning sorrow on ANYONE. I am probably fortunate in my life that I can say this and mean it with all my heart. I would not wish it on my parents who were the source of the 18 years of abuse that created this feeling state within me. It would only be someone who harmed my children or my grandchildren that I might be tempted to curse with this feeling — and God help me that such a condition ever arise in my life!
+ When I wrote about the sorrow of my little grandson I was NOT talking about this kind of sorrow. The kind of sorrow that belongs inside of us as humans allows us to feel the human emotions of compassion that allows us to CARE about the sorrow and suffering of others — so that we are motivated to HELP in appropriate ways.
+ I did not WANT to feel this feeling today and certainly did not expect or anticipate it. Once it swooped in and swallowed me up I was able to delineate some aspects of what triggered it specifically today. I DID WANT to use my undergraduate BA degree in psychology and my following MA degree in art therapy! I DID want to have a successful career doing what I LOVE and what I am so gifted to do.
My disabilities caused directly from the severe traumatic abuse I suffered took this away from me.
Again – I need a break from this….
I wanted to be in “an office” and part of a team like my daughter is along with those she works with. It is a GREAT loss to me and a GREAT source of grief to me that I have been denied these opportunities in my lifetime through no fault of my own and due to NOTHING but the horrible unrelenting psychotic abuse I suffered from birth until age 18. (My mother did not even let me attend my own high school graduation, a fact I did not even remember until it was time for me to graduate with my BA.)
I solace myself by saying that as one of the ripples of my research into the neuro-physiological long-term (permanent) damage early abuse causes a developing infant-child that evidently some of us are not DESTINED to complete in our lifetime personally what lies within the range of generations following us.
We are part of a familial DNA chain – the chain which in some families includes the awesome brilliance of very high intelligence and marvelous creativity at the same time our chain carries within it the corresponding and LINKED high risk genes for mental illness such as my mother (psychotic Borderline Personality Disorder), her first cousin (a math and science genius who developed schizophrenia) and even, I believe, her brother (a billionaire movie producer narcissist, sadist to my mother as a young girl and alcoholic) acquired due to early relationship attachment trauma during their development that triggered those risk genes.
High healthy empathy allows people to care, to recognize, validate and respect the suffering of others without PERSONALLY feeling that sadness themselves, and to be altruistically motivated to help to create a society that stops the causes of the worst of human suffering especially to infants and to children.
As I became overwhelmed with toxic sadness today even the fact that my nearly 4-year-old grandson was going at attend a birthday party today became sucked into the maelstrom of my trauma history feelings. My mother tortured me as a young child with letting me believe I could attend birthday parties I was invited to up to the last moment when she ALWAYS manufactured some “bad act” I supposedly committed that “made” her have to keep me home.
Oh the HURT of that — over and over again — BECAUSE I WAS A LITTLE CHILD and I had no choice but to believe her (1) that I COULD go and then (2) that I was that horrid that my poor mother could not allow me to go.
The pain of losing the dreams of my career and everything entailed must be deeply and inextricably connected to ALL of the pain of my childhood including the party tortures. Walking onto that particular campus today also triggered old memories of myself right after my 20th birthday. I had arrived in Fargo the first time with my 18-month-old daughter as I was in the midst of a marriage breakup June 1972. By fall I had enrolled myself on that same campus to use my GI bill benefits to try to get an education to better my life and the life of my daughter.
There had been nobody to help me and no money for childcare so I had taken my very precocious and very well-behaved charming little girl to campus with me — until the university forbid me to do so in the middle of the semester. They threw both of us out!
I am still very proud of myself that I marched myself to the university president’s office with my daughter and demanded a meeting with him to express my conflicts and to demand that the cost of my tuition be refunded to me. I was granted that meeting and my costs were returned but that was the start of my educational difficulties that I eventually fought for another 20+ years.
What I told my daughter today about this great searing sadness I was feeling and could not run from or deny was that had I known THEN that in the end my disability would so overtake me that my education was useless I would not have bothered to even try to follow those dreams of my soul. I have never recognized that specific feeling until today.
I also told her that if I had felt the full weight of my trauma-created disabilities at a younger age and had been swallowed up by them as I am now at 62 I could not have raised my children.
If we want to mouth to ourselves as a nation some concern for the well-being of infants and children toward an end to the causes of their suffering it is to their LIFETIME of suffering we have to pay attention — not “just” to the suffering of little ones we might happen to think of as “cute.”
Those whom we deem failures at life, those who do not live up to our expectations as a nation of what a successful adult life might include, are those who most often were deprived of what they needed to gain a foothold on a life of health and well-being right from the start. That fact should pain ALL of us!
That I do have children who are doing well in their life gives me hope that the talents and potentials in our DNA pool will be increasingly fulfilled in the future. At the same time I grieve that I was so thoroughly blindsided by early abusive trauma that a great deal of my own talents and potential were made null and void. There is no way I cannot grieve that fact — and it is a bitter, big, searing grief I don’t want any more than I want to have suffered all of that horror in the beginning of my life that created this whole damned mess.
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